It is not my intention to offend anyone nor my intention to point a finger at anyone but I am becoming concerned for the safety of those who made ride in, or be near a Model T that is not properly repaired and made road worthy by someone just learning about antique automobile repairs. I see an increasing number of questions and comments on the forum from folks trying to repair or rebuild an antique car and don't even know how to identify the parts they are asking questions about. Perhaps they want quick answers from forum members and don't want to take the time to learn the different parts of the car and I think this can be dangerous because the rebuilder may get confused and make a mistake in identifying the part they are trying to repair and thus get the wrong information. This may cause an injury to the novice mechanic during the repair or an injury to the occupants or bystanders after the car is back on the road. I would like to suggest to those who do not have experience in auto mechanics to contact a Model T club or an experienced antique auto rebuilder in your area to assist you in your project. Nothing could be worse then to put yourself or your family in jeopardy riding in an unsafe automobile. Please take the time to learn the correct terminology for the car parts so you can get the correct information and help. I am not an expert and I don't pretend to know all about auto mechanics. I just want everyone to be safe and enjoy the hobby without it ending in disaster. Again I am not trying to upset anyone I'm just trying to promote safety and fun within the Model T hobby.
Dennis, good advice. When I first got into this affliction the first thing I did was buy my nose in the "black book" to learn the stuff that makes these things tick. Then went to the library and got other books. Then onto the encyclopedia and the CD. You can't learn enough for sure!
Ditto to what has been said above. Part of owning these wonderful cars is like any other hobby, learning the lingo and using it to communicate with fellow hobbyist so you are on the same page esp if you are going to work on your own car.
At the least I suggest, even if you don't do your own work, the Service Manual, Owners Manual and parts book that covers your year or "FREE" catalog from one or more of the parts suppliers.
Even growing up with old cars I've learned a lot of the terminology from those free catalogs.
Safety goggles & fire extinguisher, need I say more?
I agree – safety FIRST. I am a newbie to this hobby- though I have been around antique cars for most of my life. I got my T (’14) about a year ago and knew NOTHING about them. The first thing I did was reach out here on the forum to find the club (Space City T’s) and meet local experts. I have all the service books and have re-read many times. Before I attempt anything I read, watch the videos and read again. It is a big learning curve and the lingo (name of parts) is definitely humbling. In Texas (as I suspect is true in most states) there is no inspection for these vehicles – “self-inspection” is the expectation. That is a hard thing to do when you do not really know what to look for.
Having said that, the whole idea of learning the lingo and “exploring the unknown” is exactly why I took on this task. If I don’t know what they call the whozwhatzit I find out from the materials available, research – then dive in. So far I have replaced pistons after one failed, tightened rod caps that eliminated my rod knock, replaced the radiator with a brassworks flat tube (hot in Texas), tightened the clutch fingers for a sluggish high gear shift, removed the firewall (and steering column to get the wall out) to refinish it, and replaced a wheel with loose spokes). I never would have attempted any these things w/o a ton of reading and knowing I have an expert that I can call when and if I get stumped (so far so good). I do admit that funky planetary transmission is still a mystery to me even after re-reading too many resources! But even that will come.
Do I KNOW my car is safe? Well I think so – I go over her routinely testing tire pressure, fluids, lubes, breaks and lights (yes I have signals and break lights – pretty important to me for safety on the road – I am more worried about others and how THEY drive!). I have read multiple articles on safety checks both here on the forum and other web sites… I still stay close to home (overheating made this a necessary – but the new radiator just changed that!) I want to get on a tour – but I am not sure she is ready yet (Bessy is her name). Until I learn the transmission and differential – I am not ready – but that is me – perhaps overly retentive? What else can a man do?
I think the biggest issue is forgetting you're in a 90+ year old car. In my "new" car driving is effortless. When I drive one of my old cars I have to think about and plan for things like stopping and turning. My Imperial is over 5000 lbs. and has drum breaks. You don't stop it you give it suggestions. When I do get my T on the road I plan on doing lot's of practice before I get it out in any traffic. Don't think you're not mechanically incline YOU JUST GOT A MODEL T! If you didn't know anything about fixing cars Don't worry you soon will. Don't let your eagerness get in the way of being safe.
Model T Fords have been repaired by owners since the early days. with the shop manual, MTFCA booklets, and videos, I don't see why we anyone should be discouraged from repairing their own cars. Joining a local T club would be an excellent idea.
When you drive a Model T everyone else thinks you can stop like a modern car. Of course you can't but only you know it and you must anticipate what could happen and drive accordingly. The biggest danger comes from other cars on the road.
Dennis was not suggesting that people shouldn't work on their own cars. However, there is was a skill set in most folks many years ago that seems to be lacking somewhat in today's collector community. Not so much the older folks, (I guess that's beginning to be me), but in the younger ones who did not grow up "fixing stuff" or who are lacking a certain mechanical aptitude. I have noticed this in the forum postings as well and have, at times, had a knot in the pit of my stomach about the road worthiness of some cars. As with Dennis, I do NOT want anyone to take this the wrong way. I too have much to learn and have learned much here! Bottom line, please be safe!
I can't think of a better way to pick up that missing mechanical aptitude than tinkering on a hobby car like a Model T!
Here's the best bet for the mechanically challenged among us!
I don't care if it
Rains or freezes
As long as I've got my
Ridin' on the dashboard
Of my car
Through my trials
And my travels
Through the nation
With my plastic Jesus
I'll go far
Ridin' down the thoroughfare
With a nose up in the air
A wreck may be ahead
But he don't mind
He don't see
He just keeps his eye on me
And any other thing that lies behind
With my plastic Jesus
Goodbye and I'll go far
I said with my plastic Jesus
Sitting on the dashboard of my car
When I'm in a traffic jam
He don't care if I say damn
I can let all my curses roll
'Cause Jesus' plastic doesn't hear
'Cause he has a plastic ear
The man who invented plastic
Saved my soul
With my plastic Jesus
Goodbye and I'll go far
I said with my plastic Jesus
Back in the days when I could afford to fly airplanes, we dauntless knights of the wild blue would throw around the term, "risk management." _In those two simple words resided the acknowledgement that playing it 100% safe, 100% of the time, made for a life not worth living, and for a pilot to perish by means of slipping and falling in a bathtub would be ignominious in the extreme. _The opinion of life-insurance companies notwithstanding, we intrepid airmen set about the business of setting down guidelines, official and otherwise, intended to allow us to slip the surly bonds with a reasonable expectation of reuniting, consciously, with loved ones that evening.
Speaking of love ones: My daughter walked away from an impossible bash a couple of years ago when her Honda Civic slammed into an immovable object at highway speed. _The mechanical safety features which came into play included a collapsible, energy-absorbing steering column, front crumple zone, shoulder harness and air bag system. _Though the car was accordioned all the way to the firewall, there were no injuries worth mentioning—and I thank God for that.
Of course Ford Flivvers don't have that kind of safety equipment. _Some car magazine (and I'm sorry to admit that I can't remember which) decided that the Model T Ford was #1 of the top ten cars too dangerous to drive. _I would guess sheer production numbers were the deciding factor in presenting that particular prize because pretty much all of the Brass-Era cars were in the same safety category and you can pick nits off a gnat's knuckles over whether it would have been worse to smack that concrete overpass with a fully pressurized Stanley Steamer as opposed to a Tin Lizzie. _A discussion about which horseless carriage deserves the undisputable #1 spot for lack of safety reminds me of a saying popular among antique airplane owners: "The Piper Cub is the safest airplane in the sky; it can only just barely kill you."
Okay, so in the modern context, antiquers like us do things like add electric brake lights and maybe turn-signals, but the practice of traffic-jamming a horseless carriage among modern cars is fraught with all kinds of hazard. _We're protected primarily by extreme vigilance and, as our collector-car insurance companies would put it, "reduced exposure"—meaning most of us don't drive these cars every day. _Bearing that out are the safety statistics generated by antique cars, and even muscle cars compare quite favorably with modern cars, the general consensus being that the owners of old iron tend to be very mature, very careful, very conservative drivers. _That would tell me that the most effective safety feature is located between the ears.
On this forum, we talk about brakes a lot and for the new Model T operator, that does deserve a good deal of consideration. _Secondary to stopping distance, but still perfectly capable of killing a brass-car driver dead as Elvis, is the matter of wood-spoke wheels. _Even in good condition, they can't take a whole lot of the side-load as would be encountered in a curve taken at high speed, and such stress can put you squarely into the maybe/maybe-not zone. _Though hickory spokes don't fatigue, when they finally do let go, you're likely to see the shattering story on your local news station. _Same deal with potholes. _Those asphalt ambuscades lurking in springtime shadows can rattle your vertebrae right up to your teeth, bend the steel rims of even a modern car and smash antique wooden spokes to kindling. _At speed in your Chevy Cruze or Toyota Camry, you may be able to see a deep pothole in time to swerve and avoid, but the word, "swerve," does not exist in the lexicon of Brass-Era automobiles.
And then there are other things like a tippy, high center of gravity, the front wishbone design of the Model T Ford which I don't fully trust, and of course, side and frontal crash protection is practically non-existent in any brass car. _Now, pardon me while I digress just a little bit, here: I use the word, "practically," here because once upon a time, when a musician, I owned a 1961 Volkswagen Micro-Bus, the frontal crash protection of which consisted of a headlight and a pair of sunglasses, and so, incredibly, was even worse than that of a Model T Ford! Come to think of it, when carrying a Hammond B3, Leslie, various guitars, amps and a load of hippies, braking action was also worse than that of the aforementioned Flivver. _That this rolling blood-box could actually attain highway speeds (albeit only after the passage of an impressive interval), was perhaps indicative of a residual desire on the part of the Germans to knock off a few more Americans—and testament to the belief in invincibility only possessed by youth. _It's entertaining to imagine that by, instead, tooling around town in a Model T Ford, I had actually increased my odds of survival. _Imagine that!
I don't advise any of this and didn't purposely set out to do any of these things, however, with regard to wood wheel strength; I have taken corners so hard that I've slid sideways and have run over unprotected railroad tracks with wood wheels. Haven't had the slightest bit of damage. (Probably due the guy that Jay pictures in his posting.) Have also seen a badly damaged T, having flipped over, that had all 4 wheels solidly intact, but with front axle and spindles badly bent.
Not saying wood wheels can't and don't break. Just saying we don't have to be afraid of them, as long as they're in excellent condition.
That Jesus guy was a middle-eastern Jew. I think your plastic figurine is
made to look like Steve, the hippie guy at Woodstock.
I kinda thought he looked like Kelsey Grammer.
This may sound silly but I learned a lot by taking the quiz on the homepage of lang's. It's fun and educational too.
Gee guys. You're scaring me. I think I had better sell my old cars before me or my family gets hurt. Or better yet, just have them crushed, so no one else will ever have to be put in danger.
Bob I think you forgot what my flight instructor said the first time I crawled into a cessna 150.
"There are old Pilots and there are bold Pilots, but there are damn few old bold Pilots!"
Bob and his VW micro-bus reminded me of my first adventure from home--I went to college in Hollywood! The school had a museum of mechanical "stuff" player pianos, automatons, etc. -- so much weird stuff that the Mattel engineers would visit to get ideas.Oh, I just remembered the name, Gloria Folk Art Gallery on Western Avenue--across the street from the last existing Studebaker/Packard dealership.
Well, onto the story; Sister Margret Martin, the curator, had a VW bus That the shifter was almost gone--you just aimed for where you thought the gear you wanted would be an prayed. Many is the time I would try to shift into 4th for the freeway and would get second instead. So one day I was tooling north on the Hollywood freeway, and at that time the freeway went through a cut, and onto an over-crossing about 4 roads high. Well, there was a side wind blowing on that bridge, and the van, large sail that it was, immediately tried to change lanes; I had to correct by steering sharply right. Once I got back into my lane completely, I glanced over at what might be in the lane I almost changed to. It was a white Rolls Royce, and the guy driving it was looking at me, and his face was whiter than the car. Oh the things we do as young kids, thinking nothing would happen to us!
Reading all this, I gather the concept that a Model T is horrendously unsafe travelling at highway speeds on modern roads runs parallel to the innumerable gadgets, "upgrades" and modifications so many of them are fitted with in order to do just that.
A Model T was designed to lope along on dirt roads and through the brush at 25 mph. Makes for an entirely different range of "risk" even if some kind of major mechanical failure happens, like a wishbone parting from the crank-case.
Bottom line, it's not unlike crawling on a bronc-y pony. If you feel like you're unsafe . . . you probably are.
So long as you know the difference between these two thinks you'll do just fine maintaining and driving your Model T.
Aye Jay, there's the rub. These days too many don't.
Jay You Really got to me this time LOL
BTW I Do know the Difference
Gene, Sounds like no one can say you don't have some well cared for shoes!
It has never failed to dismay me the condition of some of the cars that show up for tours, even regional or national tours. Perches in backwards for negative caster, half a mile of slop in the steering, missing cotter pins or safety wire in critical places, rear wheels falling apart because of hardware store grade carriage bolts on Rocky Mtn brakes, and not staked to boot. The list goes on. One thing not mentioned yet is safety glass. This is such a no brainer that the most stuck up snobs in the old car hobby will not deduct points for it at shows. Many clubs will not let you tour without it. I once saw a guy come within seconds of bleeding to death when he lost brakes in mountain country on an original T loaded with plate glass. He survived because there was a car in front of him that was able to stop him. If you are new to model T's please consider contacting others to look at your car with you for a safety check. It would be hard to find one person, myself included, on this forum that would not do that at the first opportunity. After all, it's a chance to look at another model T! Tour season is coming. Be safe.
Here's a few good links on Model T safety for starters.
For more just type:
"model t safety check list" (without the Quote marks)
into the Goggle search engine for more links on this subject.
Being one of the newbies that is asking questions and hoping for a little mentoring from the people that have the knowledge I do not I just want to pipe in on this. I have most of the manuals that is talked about on this forum but sometimes need a little clarification do to the fact the car is 40 years older than me. I assumed it was alright to get clarification form the group on things that I am not 100% sure of or maybe advice from some experienced folks.
A little background on myself, I was a mechanic most of my adult life and a Certified Master automotive and truck technician for most of that time and pretty darn good at it. I now work in the engineering department at a local factory because of my background.
Now the name of a part in 1926 is sometimes different from 1990 so I would rather be able to ask and verify before proceeding and what might seem that people have no knowledge might be mistaken for people being thorough. I personally rather give my experience freely and help those that do not know rather than them make the mistakes and create a safety issue.
Not saying I won’t make mistakes but hope that someone will point them out if I do. My family and friends safety is very important to me. I read the forum daily and love the information I get from it.
The club I belong to in calgary has a annual "safety day ". We encourage ALL members to attend with a T (or other car if that is appropriate). The individual member is assisted as required to inspect their car. Inspection check lists are provided to assist them BUT with the understanding that these are only assisting "guidelines ". After over 40 years in the hobby even I can learn things from being involved. Our club has a extensive collection of T specialized tools to assist all members in the repair and maintenance of THEIR car. Any arrangements made to have repairs made by other than the owner are STRICTLY between the owner and the individual. However guidance and counsel are freely given to the inquiring mind. Many safety related issues have been discovered and safely managed and a LOT of knowledge has been exchanged and passed on.
Just something to consider
I see absolutely no point in all this doom and gloom talk !