Although still cold outside, and I am stuck in my 'recovery' room with a new hip, I am looking forward to the car season and finally doing a tour in our 1915 T Runabout. Most likely this has been discussed before but is a second, bottom wishbone on the front axle a necessity for touring in a T? What are the dangers of not adding one? I am not a fast driver with my brass-era cars but if this is a serious safety factor perhaps I should consider added one on. Where is the best place to get one (I think someone else asked this recently)? Thanks for any and all advice!
Best wishes on the hip.
I was definitely against them for a while. My early front end cars had a low speed shimmy I could steer out of. I picked up some second wishbones at swap meets and have added them to each of my early cars. I am now very happy to have them installed. They do provide a more stable steering.
Others can tell of the more serious consequences of not having them.
It is not the speed that one travels, it is the sudden stop of forward motion (think "pothole") that may cause the axle to fold under.
I have the above on my '15.
(Not saying you should - just sharing what I have done to ease my mind somewhat).
Henry Ford and the Reason for the Radius Rod Upgrade
In the summer of 1914, I was walking across the Highland Park Garage. There were two cars standing in there. Mr. Ford waved to me and said, “Joe, get in here!”
I didn’t have any hat or coat on, but I got into the car, and I didn't get back to Detroit for three days. When we started out, I didn’t know where we were going.
We landed up in North Harbor Beach. Mr. Ford had a log cabin at Harbor Beach. Before we got up to the cottage, Mr. Ford stopped at the grocery store and bought some bacon, eggs and went over to a fish place where he got some fresh codfish. He bought a dozen or so perch and we then went out to his log cabin…
We stayed there for three days before we went back. The roads in those days were not very good. They were not gravel, but sand. Mr. Ford seemed to want to drive faster going home than he did coming up. He told the driver to step on it. When the driver wouldn’t go fast enough, he would grab the old Model T throttle so that the car was wide open.
I was about a hundred feet behind Mr. Ford and Frank Kulick. We came to a hill, and I thought his car was going too fast for a car in that sandy road. All at once, I saw the car going end for end, and Mr. Ford was dumped out in the ditch. Frank jumped out. He [Mr. Ford] didn’t get hurt other than a scratch on his face, but he was dazed a little bit. It is a wonder he didn’t break his neck.
Two of the boys went up to Maryland to get a new front unit. I stayed with Mr. Ford … They came back and changed the front axle. We found out that when the car hit that sand the front wheels had buckled. We drove back to Detroit.
We were late, and Mrs. Ford was worried about us and wondered what happened. I heard later that Mr. Ford never told her what happened. It was all kept very quiet. Nobody knew anything about it right up to the time Mr. Ford died. I said to myself, “There is one thing we have to got to do and that is fix that radius rod.” I made up a radius rod, which was holding the axle top and bottom, and made it about two and a half inches near the axle, all the man would have to buy was a new radius rod and a spring perch which supports the front spring.
I made about two dozen of these and put them out on the farm to make tests. I told Ray Dallinger to try to do everything he could do. “Drive in the sand head first. Drive into the bank and see what you can do with it. He could do anything with it and couldn’t even bend it.
Mr. Ford found out about two months later. I think somebody must have told him that Joe [Galamb] had a radius rod he couldn't bend. If I had told Mr. Ford about it when I first started to build it, it would have been alright. All Mr. Ford would let me do was increase the wall of the tubing … so that the front end was larger, and people wouldn’t see that there was any change. We sold twelve million cars after that with the old radius rod. When we changed over to the Model A, Mr. Ford let me change it then. That just shows how stubborn he was. He was practically killed with the old rod, but he still didn’t want it changed.
We had the high wishbone on the 15 speedster. It is only held by the friction of the nut and after a big bump in the back country, the axle buckled under and we ended up hitting a tree. Heather went feet first thru the windscreen and the gas cans 50 yards up the road. We now have a second wishbone and a new chassis.
My personal opinion,.....a good safety idea on any Model T with the radius rods mounted at the top of the axle, and an absolute MUST for safety when any kind of front brakes are installed!
When I bought my '15 Touring, I had the front end changed over from an overhand wishbone to the later, underhand wishbone. _It's not correct, but one could argue it's somewhat safer. _Also for the sake of safety, I added turn signals and brake lights. _My car also has Rocky Mountain Brakes, which improve braking ability dramatically, from abominable to poor.
When that happens does the front spring hanger break and the frame open up and do the perches break off, and I assume the wishbone breaks off at some point as well as the tie rod. Just wondered.
If you have a car which is trailered to car shows and not driven on the road, you can leave it original. However, the reason for the reinforcement is for positive castor. Positive castor is when the point of contact with the road is behind the pivot point. You can see what I mean by looking at the castors on your furniture. You will notice that the wheel runs behind the pivot point. If you push the furniture in a different direction it immediately turns to put the axle behind the pivot point. It is a very good safety improvement.
When you bend the front of the wishbone or the bolt holding the spring perch, your pivot point will become behind the axle. When this happens, the wheels can suddenly pull to one side and even pull the steering wheel right out of your hands. This can cause you to have a head on by changing lanes or can cause you to go off into a ditch. The reinforcement goes under the axle and greatly reduces the likelihood of negative castor.
That sentence "It is a very good safety improvement" should be at the end of the post. It prevents negative castor.
Tom, It is an easy fix to simply add another to the bottom of the axle and attach the two together at the rear. I cut off the ball and formed a couple of plates with a bolt thru them on my '12.
The scary part of when the axle bends back is the you loose control of the steering. Well not really but the car will then either be going hard right of left hopefully into a nice smooth ditch.
I have a later wishbone on my '18. Tried the original over the axle wishbone and perches, but went straight back to the later one. Handled and felt better.
At a national meet with a hundred Model T's, I counted how many early cars had the original wishbone. It worked out to 1/3 original, 1/3 original with a brace, and 1/3 with the later wishbone.
My 1915 has the wrong (under axle) wishbone, and I intend to keep it that way. I'll correct other "wrong" things, but not that. It's a driver, not a show car.
I almost rolled my 11 openrunabout at 15 mph in a curve with a willow in the turn. Didn't drive it for a while until a KGB gave me a second wishbone that bolted on. Now I've driven it hundreds of miles. Even Henry wrecked in one with his driver. Fix it.
Tom, I have the double wishbone arrangement on my '14 and wouldn't leave home without it.
If your T is anything but a 100% show car, you should have one of these. It's a definite safety item and will not cost you any points if you have your car judged.
I have no experience with the early over the axle wishbones, but wouldn't one of those with the extra brace underneath be even better than the later style under axle wishbone by itself? Kind of a "more is better" approach? I think I would do that before switching wishbones and perches to the later style. JMHO Dave
This classic picture shows a 1917-18 T with the over the axle wishbone where the axle folded under in an accident. Seemingly the tie rod was bent by the same obstacle that folded the axle, thus the angled wheels.
But that accident wasn't caused by the wishbone itself. Clearly the car mounted the sidewalk and the axle dug into the wood.
I did a "first drive" in a car my friend bought. A 14 with a high wishbone. An overall inspection before the drive showed that everything "looked" o.k. We drove around the block. Everything seemed fine. I made a left turn at an intersection and the car kept turning left even when I needed to straighten out. I finally grabbed the wheel for all I was worth and yanked the car back straight after almost hitting another car.
I'm not going to blame all that on the high wishbone however. There was severe wear at the stud ends of the wishbone and in the perch holes where they mount. That's what caused it all, along with my missing it beforehand. However, none of that would have occurred with a later wishbone. Once better parts were installed, it steered very good and drove well. Still, we installed a second, lower wishbone. Wow, huge difference in feel even after the original front end was rebuilt.
Thank you everyone for your response. Sounds to me that adding a second lower wishbone is a must have safety feature. Is there one available from any of the T suppliers or should I look for an original? Can anyone send photos of an lower wishbone installation? I am still not absolutely sure how to mount one.
See the 3rd entry on this thread...Call and talk to the vendor...he/she (they) will explain.
Dave - none of the accidents are caused by the wishbone, they are caused by external accidents/disturbances - but the less sturdy over the axle design can take much less damage until it fails, so the best solution is a double wishbone, next best the later under the axle version.
I posted the picture to show Rick what happens when the axle folds - seemingly it's mostly the spring and the wishbone that is deformed.
Being new the T Henry wrecked was stronger and safer than mine at 102!! On the other hand the story tells how fast they were driving in deep sand.I have driven our 14 off road in deep sand with no trouble but i was in low.At the age of these cars i wonder how many have all the correct steering parts??I still have a mostly org car and i drive it in good weather alot. On good roads i doubt if you would ever have trouble but do you drive with your head or your right hand? There was and still is room for improvement with the Model T but some would change everything except the brass radiator?? It's yours so do anything you want! Bud.
Jerry Van, thanks for calling me a friend!!!
That was one scary ride!!!
Being new to Ts, I am unclear on some things.
Do the later Model Ts (26-27) models have any wishbone issues?
I Googled some past threads for this forum with a bit of luck, but is there a place (or person) that describes the steering assembly of the T for a beginner like myself?
I am checking out a 27 in a couple weeks time, and would like to learn more about such an important part of the T! Thanks
The early Model T's had the wishbone above the axle and the wishbone ends could bend. This condition caused negative castor. The later T's had the wishbone under the axle. The top of the axle was supported by the spring which was attached to the chassis and the bottom of the axle was supported by the wishbone. This made it much stronger in regards to keeping the proper alignment. However even the later cars could have alignment problems if the wheels hit something hard such as a curb or pothole. The reinforcement of the earlier wishbone which bolted under the axle makes it much stronger.
The 27 model had the wishbone under the axle so no reinforcement is needed for a 27.
Ryan, 1918 and earlier T's have the over the axle wishbone. Later T's have the under the axle wishbone.