Howdy folks, my name is Don and I'll be bringing home my first Model T next month.
It's a 24 Touring in original condition. It's been in a barn since around 1970 and if y'all will tolerate my ignorance, I have a lot of questions.
I'm not a mechanical novice. I've done a frame-off restomod on a 54 Ford Mainline sedan and also have a stock 66 F100 on which I've done a lot of work.
However, when it comes to T's and their quirks, I'm in the dark. But my aim is to tap into what I've heard is an immense amount of knowledge here.
Don, I would say that "what I've heard is an immense amount of knowledge here" is pretty accurate. Welcome. Glad to see another new T owner.
My first question is regarding babbitted bearings. I've done a lot of reading and have drawn the conclusion that it's probably a good idea to pull the rear axle apart before I do any real driving and swap out the babbitted thrust washers for some modern ones.
I've heard they don't age well and become brittle. True?
Also...on a car that's been sitting this long, can I reasonably expect the babbitted bearings in the engine to last any amount of time if they're in good shape now?
Thank you Dick. I'm the President of the 54 Ford Club of America and maintain the online forum there. We go out of our way to be informative and friendly and that seems to be the case here as well.
Welcome! Please post pics of your T when you get it home.
As we often say in these parts, welcome to the affliction. Yes, you're right about looking into an unknown rear axle. Here's a page about that: http://dauntlessgeezer.com/DG79.html
If the engine bearings were OK in 1970 I would expect them to be equally OK now. Somebody can correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think they go bad from sitting.
Your previous experience will be helpful, but the Model T, being unlike all other cars, contains some surprises. The first things you'll need are here: http://dauntlessgeezer.com/DG80.html
Yes, we like pictures. Let's see it when you get some shots of it.
When I got my T, an old friend and keeper of T's since they were only
30 years out of production told me that if the engine turns over freely,
there is a good chance it will run again without trouble IF you make sure
all systems are good to go. A year later and I blasted rod bearings 1 and
2 because I allowed band "fluff" to plug the forward oiler catch - bad me.
Otherwise, I'd probably still be driving it.
But good things come from bad, and my "hard knocks" problem has led
to a lot of learning and a rebuilt engine that I know inside and out. It even
helped lighten that heavy wallet that was dragging me down.
You will like Don Allen. We met at a local gas station when I stopped to gas up Otis a couple of weeks ago. Don and his son stopped by in their '54 Ford and, as I gassed up Otis Don said, " I want a T like that one." Well, I said, there is one in my garage that I haven't decided what to do with. Anyway, he came over and bought Velma. Pictures were posted here when we brought Velma back home. Don, please pardon me for jumping in the middle of your post but these guys like pictures. By the way, I really enjoy messin' with these old cars so Don got Velma for what I had in the car, plus the gas to go pick her up. He will have all the receipts. I put in all new wiring, re-built the starter, new gas line and valve, replaced the old tires and put in new tubes so far.
John, you're one of the nicest guys I've ever met in the old car hobby, and I've met more than I can count since I became obsessed with it since I was a teenager in the 1980's.
I'm making space for Velma and can't wait to get started with her. I've wanted a Model T for a very long time and am looking forward to learning as much as I can.
My plan is to retain the "weathered" look on this car and get the mechanicals in order.
Initial plans are:
- get the headlights working/install lenses
- windshield glass
- the current head has a "almost not there" crack. I may replace it. Maybe a higher compression head?
- may have to rebuild the carb.
- go through the rear axle
- check the timer
- get it running
- spend some time this summer putting around the neighborhood learning to drive it....finding and working out any bugs.
- find a weathered interior that somone's discarding.
I'm probably leaving something out. Feel free to suggest additions to my list.
Welcome Don, you came to the right place (forum). and yes it's ok to ask about oil,distributors and water pumps ( my butt is in a sling now ) , you'll get the joke as time goes by and your T knowledge grows. George n LakeOzark.
Don: Get a cheap camera and take a lot of photo's. I made the mistake on my first T not to get a lot of re-construction photo. My second on I took a lot of pic's.
And welcome to the affliction group. Get it safe and enjoy the fun driving it.
Welcome to the hobby and forum! Lots of photos of how you take things apart can often be helpful if you have a questions about how it goes back together. The one drawback -- was it put together correctly before you took it apart? And for that Steve's books and the forum can be a big help.
Since it is your first T, I would also recommend that you review the safety items at: http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/599638/696360.html scroll down to the posting By Hap Tucker in Sumter SC on Saturday, November 26, 2016 - 09:20 pm.
One safety item many new folks are not familiar with is they will occasionally leak gasoline. And that is a bad combination if you have a gas or propane water heater in the same garage. It can be a part that needs repair or replacement (fuel shut off leaks, connection has come loose etc). It can be an "oops" I forgot to turn off the gas or something else. But I have never had my wife's car fill the garage with gasoline fumes and I have had the T and A do that occasionally over the years. There have been a few homes and Ts lost because of that.
That same posting has the links for the local T chapters. John Mays has probably already mentioned that to you, but the folks there can be a big encouragement as you work on your car.
Again, welcome to the forum and hobby.
Hap l9l5 cut off
Don, in your post above you mentioned the "weathered look" of Velma and that's a good description. However, I have also seen that look described as "still wearing it's work clothes". That has described Otis more than once on this forum.
I love my water pump.
Hello Don - Welcome! I am new to this affliction as well (about a year now) and having a great time learning the ins and outs. I live in The Woodlands and happy to lend a novice hand when needed....
"Happy Motoring"- Humble Oil....
Don, one of the books you may want to get is "Model T Ford" the car that changed the world, by Bruce McCalley. Lots of good stuff in the book.
You guys are sure living up to your billing as a helpful and friendly lot.
I'm not detecting the pretentiousness that exists in other segments of the old car hobby that I've been around. Maybe it's because the cars are so unpretentious.
It's good to know that there's others in such close proximity
Welcome Don! Great folks and a ton of knowledge here.
Buy the Ford Service Book. It will answer almost all of your questions.
Peter...same here. I'm always eager to lend a hand and a wrench.
I'm not afraid to take things apart and learn how they work. Occasionally, I'll even successfully put them back together ;-)
Don, funny you should say that. I have often made the comment that it's very hard to be pretentious when you're driving a Model T...
Don-"taking things apart and learn how they work" - That is where I am at! And having fun doing it... My problem is when I start to take it apart for one reason - I end up having to take even more apart to solve "unexpected" discoveries!
After a little experience you begin to find out 'what not to do' when you start taking things apart.
Been there done that when I inherited my Grandfathers 24 T Coupe in the late 50's.
One thing to remember is DO NOT try to remove the starter before you take off the Bendix cover and remove the Bendix! I learned that lesson the hard way!
Concerning the Babbit bearings: They should be in the same condition as they were when the car was parked unless the crankcase was full of water. Unless you know why the car was parked and what was the condition at the time, it's a guess.
If you can turn over the engine with the crank (you might need to jack up a rear wheel) the next thing to do would be a compression check. This will tell you something about the condition of the cylinders and valves. Take out all the spark plugs and open the throttle all the way. Put about a teaspoon of engine oil in each cylinder and crank around a few times then take the test. If you have 45 to 50 PSI on each cylinder, your compression is OK. They should all be about the same pressure. Pressure will vary with altitude and also with whether the engine has the stock head and cam or something to raise the compression.
Next thing to check would be the ignition system. If you still have the coils, switch to battery and turn the crank. Each coil should buzz in firing order. 1,2,4,3. If they buzz, connect the wires to the spark plugs and with the plugs laying on the head see if you get spark. If so, install the spark plugs. With the spark lever all the up, the spark should come after the piston reaches top dead center. about 15 degrees. If so, your spark timing is correct. Next with fuel in the tank, open the gas valve. On your car it would be under the car in the middle under the front seat. Some owners put another valve near the carburetor so they don't have to crawl under the car every time they want to turn off the gas. Open the drain cock under the carburetor and let some fuel drain. This will tell you whether the fuel is getting to the carburetor. If the fuel leaks out when the drain is closed, you have a problem with the float or float needle which needs to be fixed. I would also suggest that you drain some fuel from the sediment bulb under the gas tank. This will remove rust, dirt and water which might have accumulated over the years. Be sure to have enough clean oil in the crankcase. I like to use 10w30. Also fill the cooling system.
Now the car is ready to start. Be sure to pull the parking brake all the way back before trying to start. This will also lock the transmission into neutral. If the engine will not turn with that brake lever all the way back, put it in the neutral position (Approximately half way between all the way back and all the way forward. Jack up one rear wheel. Always put the spark lever all the way up before attempting to start. This retards the spark. After it starts, pull the lever at least half way down. Turn the crankshaft two complete turns with the choke out. Then turn on the ignition to battery and try to start the engine. As soon as it starts, pull the spark lever half way down and switch the ignition to magneto. If your magneto is working the engine will seem to speed up and run smoother on magneto. If the magneto is not working, the engine will stop running. You can also try adjusting the fuel mixture rod to find the smoothest running point.
At this time you can assess the condition of the engine listening for knocks or vibrations caused by misfiring on one or more cylinders. When you have the engine running you can short to ground each spark plug one at a time. If the engine slows down, that cylinder was working. If it makes no change, that cylinder is not working. If it is misfiring on one or more cylinder, you will now need to determine the cause and repair.
Babbit in the rod bearings if bonded to the rods and caps and will not usually go bad. But the babbit thrust washers in the rear axle are free floating and those are the ones which are subject to breakage. I would suggest that you disassemble the rear axle to determing if those washers have been replaced with bronze and replace them if not. While it is apart, you can assess the condition of the bearings and gears. The booklet "Rear Axle" or "Ruckstell Axle" has good step by step information for inspection and repair of the rear axle, and I would recommend you purchase one of those depending on the type of rear axle you have in the car.
My book is finished!
Great information Norm...many thanks
Don, here is a link to another classic article by Milt Webb that was published in the Vintage Ford many years ago and is worth reading and may be of assistance to you.
Welcome and enjoy. Bill
Don, I've been collecting cars for longer than I care to reveal. In all those years I have never met a bunch of nicer, more helpful people than Model T people. Of course, that goes for the great people on this forum. My only regret is that I didn't get a Model T many years ago.
Enjoy!!! You will have a blast.
Don, welcome to the affliction. There is tons of overwhelming info that has been posted and you should read. As Larry Smith pointed out, get the "black book" Service manual. It is the blueprint for the car.
I am also one of the non shiny T owners. A great friend turned me on to Boiled Linseed Oil mixed with mineral spirits to use as a protective coating on the patina. It works good. Just be careful if you use rags and where you store them after use. Don't want a spontaneous fire happening and take it all away.
Don: Follow Larry's advice. Buy the Ford Service Manual. The older the copy you find the better. Pictures in the new ones are not that good. Look for a hard back copy. Dan
Sounds like the consensus is that I need the Ford Service Manual.
Can someone post a link to a copy so I can find out what I'm looking for?
Chad, I've been contemplating what I'll use to protect the remaining paint and those surfaces on which the paint has been long gone.
I don't want that shiny look that you see on varnished antiques hanging in trendy restaurants, but I don't think it's a good idea to just leave it raw either.
Can you post a photo of your car Chad, including a somewhat close photo of the finish you've achieved with the Linseed Oil/mineral spirits mixture?
John has had the head off of this car and says the cylinder bores are in good shape and measure exactly 3.750"
He also pulled the pan and says the bottom end looks good (visually).
These are both good signs.
Like I said previously, the head has a small crack in it. I probably mess with trying to use StopLeak and will find another head.
Surely a stock Ford head for these cars in good serviceable condition isn't a hard thing to come by.
Here are photos of the bores and the bottom end.
The lack of an "edit" function on this forum is noteworthy.
My previous post should read:
"I probably WON'T mess with trying to use StopLeak"
Wished you lived closer to me ......I would give you another head. They are heavy and too expensive to ship vice finding one in Texas.
A high head is pretty common. But as pointed out, the shipping is the killer.
Don, my T was "repainted" years ago---and by that, I mean that I assume brush painted--although there appears to be many original paint spots that are still shiny. So my T is actually black, just a very satin type finish. And any areas I touch up are kept the same.
My T doodlebug is where I started using the Linseed oil / mineral spirits. Here is a pic of my skis I redid last winter. This was the first time I tried the mixture, and I applied too much , thus these are shinier, because I didn't buff off the excess. Buffing off the excess will produce a low luster that looks great in my opinion (think of it like applying a stain to wood). The best part is, because it is an oil/petroleum based, if you get a scratch, a quick wipe with more will cover it right up. Also by not buffing off the excess, besides being shinier, it takes way longer to dry because it is so thick per-say.
Here is also a pic of Ron's doodlebug, the person that got me into all of this preservation stuff. You can see it is a lot smoother and much more satin because he removed the excess. And the sun does wonders to dry this stuff out too. I leave my doodlebug outside due to lack of storage so I recoat it a few times a year to try and keep up on the finish. Like anything, if kept indoors, the maintenance is far less.
Again, here is Ron's doodlebug
(Message edited by Chad_Marchees on January 11, 2017)
Oh, here is the link for the service manual.
Also get the Owners Manual that covers your year. They too can be gotten from the suppliers and "FREE" parts catalogs, they want you to buy their parts.
Looks good Chas.
That's what I'm after....the preserved look, but I want it to have a matte finish and not look wet.
Don, for a larger picture of the current service manual, click on my second link above at 10:53 PM yesterday. As Dan Hatch says, if you can find older editions the illustrations are likely to be better quality.
A good guide for getting a Model T going again after being parked for a long time are the Towe Museum instructions. Check out this thread from 2005: Getting a Model T Out of Mothballs
Don - wiping off the excess linseed/mineral spirits mixture within 30 minutes of applying will give you the matte finish you're looking for. Everyone thinks I've hit my stuff with a flat clear coat and are surprised when I tell them what the finish actually is. Super cheap, easy to maintain (got a scratch? Wipe the mixture over it with a rag and it disappears). Chad is dead on with rag disposal - throw the used ones in a bucket full of water until you can get rid of them).
I have a good head off my 26 after replacing with a Z head. I live in Bastrop, TX ( near Austin) and a couple of hours from Conroe. If in the area, you are welcome to pick up for free.
Thank you Dave. I'll take you up on that.
I'll send you a message
Everyone here has been extraordinarily helpful...thank you!
Once I get the T running, my main concerns are the wheels and the rear axle.
I'll pull the axle apart, examine it and replace the Babbitt thrust washers.
The wood in the wheels is not in good shape and if only be comfortable going VERY slow up and down the street in front of my house with the wheels like they are.
So...I'm on the hunt for some weathered, but otherwise sound wheels. I don't think its cost effective to replace all the spokes.
To Don Allen:
BEFORE and AFTER
That's gorgeous Erik.
What did you use to achieve that?
The original owner of the car had coated the body and fenders with shellac (a common practice).
Unfortunately, the second owner who bought the car 1947 did not keep it in good storage (I have photos of it from 1947 and was still nice and shiny). Moisture from being in poor storage cause the shellac to turn hazy.
First thing I did was steam clean the running gear and engine before I even brought the car home (was done by an auto detailer). Remaining dirt and grease on the running gear I removed with mineral spirits.
As far as the body, etc. is concerned - always start with soap and water.
I used denatured alcohol and rags to remove the shellac. The denatured alcohol will actually put some life back into the gilsonite paint. Be careful, however. Body paint is air-dried and you can dissolve right through it with alcohol. Fenders, splash aprons, hood, fenders, running boards have baked paint - the alcohol will clean and revitalize the paint it but won't harm the paint.
Next step is take some fine polishing compound (fine rubbing compound) and go over everything by hand. The old paint cannot be polished to a shine but the polishing will remove additional dirt and scuzz.
Final step is to wax the paint.
If you choose an alternative game plan such as the used car dealer trick wiping down the car with WD-40, kerosene, transmission fluid or mineral oil, etc. my advice to you is at least clean the car first - soap and water and mineral spirits (for grease and oil).
I'm not a fan of wiping down cars with kerosene or oil - although it looks great and smells good it can be a real dust and dirt magnet.
PS: your car has the wrong radiator, radiator shell and hood. That's why your hood goes "downhill" and there is such a between the bottom of the hood and the sill.
You should have the high radiator, shell and hood.
I thought might be the case Erik.
For the time being, I'll run it without a hood....in fair weather only. I'd really like to have a hood and radiator shell that match the weathered look of the rest of the car.
The hood that's on it now has a lot of bondo on it and almost no paint left.
It'll take some searching, but I'm sure I'll eventually find them.
Don, going through some of my Model T stuff I found that I have an extra copy of Bruce McCalley's book, "Model T Ford, the car that changed the world." If you haven't already gotten a copy I'll put this one in the back seat of Velma.
I'm no expert on wood spoke wheels, but my "spider senses" are telling me to only trust these on low speed runs up and down the street in my neighborhood.
So the question I pose is....should I try and find some better used wheels, switch to 26/27 style steel spokes, buy a bunch of new hickory spokes, or another option?
Those wheels with the square wood felloes were turned out by the millions, so I expect you could find some in good condition. My second choice would be new ones. If they were the steel-felloe wheels used on the higher-priced cars it would be easy to make them yourself, but with wood-felloe wheels like these I'd have an experienced wheelwright make them. The 26-27 wire wheels would be fine, but they would look wrong on this car. I think converting to them would also cost more than new wood wheels. The wires are usually pricey, and the special hubs they require don't come cheap either.
I'm gathering parts, etc in anticipation of the T arrival.
I plan on going through the rear axle.
Are their any special tools or gauges needed?
Micrometer, dial indicator, bearing sleeve puller, and probably a rear wheel puller. If you don't have a reamer for the new drive shaft bushing, a local machine shop can take care of that.
I forgot to mention the most important special tool. That's the MTFCA axle book.
Looks like I need to buy some tools.
Out of that list, I only have the micrometer
My little pile of parts is starting to well....pile up, in anticipation of my Model T coming to live with me next month.
So far, I have headlight lenses, a horn, misc books and a couple tools.
As I mentioned in my intro...I'm not a novice mechanic. I've torn a 54 Ford all the way to the frame and rebuilt literally everything and put it back together again (successfully), but learning all the Model T specific stuff is exhilarating.
I feel like I did when I first starting wrenching on cars and everything was new. Such fun!
The prognosis doesn't look good. This may be terminal.
Yeah....I'm infected for sure :-)
But, the truth be known, I've been harboring this "illness" since I was a kid (i'm 47 now).
I love all pre-1973 cars and trucks and have had everything from a slant six Plymouth Valiant to a '49 Ford coupe and lots in between.
But what's captivated me since I was a child was the spindly good looks of the Model A's and T's. I got to babysit a '29 Model A roadster for a while and got it running and driving after it had been sitting for 40 years but it's the Model T that I've longed to own.
I've had very nice, finished cars with nice paint jobs, but here in the last several years, my tastes have turned to cars that are showing their history and wearing original paint, etc.
So...I'll take my time with the T I'm buying from John and proceed with love as I make it roadworthy and safe while preserving and stabilizing the aged look.
My goal is to have a safe, running and driving car by the fall of this year.
Don, I have a stock high head I took off my 26 if you are interested. Also this could be a time to upgrade to a Z head or similar.
Thanks John. I'm going to pick up a stock head locally.
I appreciate the offer though.
I will upgrade the head in the future, but right now I'm just wanting to get it running without dropping a lot of cash on it.