Is it best to let your engine labor up a hill or gear it down and crawl,keep hearing about breaking cranks seems like a laboring engine would put stress on the crank
If the engine starts laboring shift into low gear unless you want a broken crankshaft.
Lugging the engine on hills or just lugging period is hard on the babbit. I was told by a reputable engine man that most cranks are broken on turns anyway, not hills. But if she's a lugging, might as well shift down.
I have had the misfortune to break two crankshafts. The roads were straight and up hill. The engine was NOT lugging and the transmission was in high gear.
I would expect that the broken cranks were a while in the making, such as a habit of lugging or misaligned bearings.
I guess the Model T has a fairly impressive measure of low-end torque—for its paltry 20-horsepower, anyway—enough so that, in residential areas, one can drive all the way around the block without having to downshift. _At least on level ground.
Now, I'm not the oldest of old-car enthusiasts, but I've been around long enough to remember how the ability to lug a car around a corner without having to down-shift was considered a good thing because shifting a non-synchromesh transmission was such a drag. _At the time, having fewer gears was considered a plus because it required less shifting and a car with an engine powerful enough to need only three gears was a good car. _Even after synchromesh became available between the top two gears, three was considered the ideal number (I've never heard of four-on-a-tree). _Dad's 1951 Mercury was one of those swell, three-speed cars.
GM's two-speed, automatic "Powerglide" transmission might have been a reflection of a philosophy which felt that the less shifting, the better. _For if an automatic transmission was good because it eliminated manual shifting, the fewer times it had to shift itself was even better than that! _Either that or it was just cheaper to build the transmission that way and the manufacturer could get away with it because, back in the day, our locomotive-displacement V-8's had vast quantities of low-end power, and with gasoline going for 28 cents per gallon (accompanied by green stamps, plaid stamps, dishes, cutlery and a guy in an actual uniform who checked your fluids and tire pressure with a smile as he filled your tank), nobody cared that they were getting only seven miles per gallon.
Then, somebody got the idea that the shifter didn't really belong on the steering column after all and somewhere around the mid-sixties, some American cars were coming out of factories with what the ad agencies called "four-on-the-floor" (as if that were something brand new). _The floor-mounted configuration combined with synchronized gears added up to some extra fun, which of course, returning American veterans who had experienced British sports cars knew all along. _Heck, shifting go to be so much fun that a few American cars eventually started popping off the assembly line with as many as six forward speeds.
But back to our Tin Lizzies (Did I go off on a tangent or what?):
As it was in the beginning with all cars, the less shifting the owner had to do, the better, whether you were talking Pierce-Arrow or Ford, and all car engines had long strokes to deal with that. _But because we have only twenty measly horses, many of which don't make it all the way to the rear wheels, when it comes to steep hills, it doesn't matter that your Model T's engine has a stroke as long as a dachshund owner. _With only two forward speeds, the choice boils down to either risking a broken crankshaft by lugging the car uphill or downshifting for that long incline and wearing the hell out your planetary bushings. _Either way, your front engine bearing isn't going to get as much oil as would be healthy for it. _An external oiler kit helps, sure, but I rather doubt it's a panacea.
I think, part of the fun of owning and operating one of these very old cars is dealing with the challenge of its severe limitations. _Like an airline captain, I double-check the weather forecast and pre-plan my route around hazards and obstacles that wouldn't even occur to operators of modern machinery. _Thus, I keep my hills shallow and my trip long. _As is always the case with me and my Flivver, it's never near so much about the destination as it is, the journey. _It ain't even in the same zip-code.
My apologies for being so needlessly verbose.
In 1956 I visited my English godmother and drove her car. It had four on the tree, although first was a stump puller that mostly wasn't used. I think the car was a Hillman Minx, but I wouldn't swear to it at this late date.
Gil, my wife will be just thrilled that another person other than herself proved me wrong yet again!
(Just for that, I'm coming out and visiting you this spring)
Gil and Bob, I was also going to mention the Peugeot 204 I owned in Holland. Four on the tree and I forget where reverse was, but not somewhere where you'd be likely to shift into it by accident....
One of the advertising boast for my 1910 Chalmers-Detroit was that it could run 10 mph in high gear thereby eliminating the need to downshift. What they didn't say was that it took forever to get back up to speed after that stunt! The crankshaft in that car is at least twice the diameter of a Model T crank and it has 20 more horsepower to play with and four real main bearings!
Bob I have to also prove you wrong I had a car with four on the tree first was where reverse is on the three speeds and reverse was way forward on the shifter and way down,the car was a Simca
One of my first vehicles was a 1963 Ford HD Econoline Van. It came with a 250 six cyl, a 9" ford differential and a 4 speed full scyromesh column shift. Turns out this transmission was the same unit they installed in the early Mustangs.
The column shift worked OK except as time went on the shifting locks became worn which allowed you select two gears at once,....which I learned is a very bad thing!
I added the Warford because of all the hills in the Portland Or area. I have found as long as I could have my speed up, except for the most steep, I didn't have a problem when just out driving using high. On club tours a different story, a lot of times I was getting behind someone that with a Ruckstell, Warford or such, they would be in underdrive and was I lugging the engine because Ford low was too low so was over revving the engine and driving in high I would be lugging the engine to keep at a decent speed for the traffic or road conditions.
Please explain how these cars were considered so durable with just dirt roads back in the day they must have been breaking cranks all the time with people just learning to drive these horseless carriages. So many guys are breaking cranks on modern roads, I don't get it
100 year old cranks and metal fatigue. Driving 10-15 MPH on dirt roads compared to 30-35 modern paved roads.
Another 4 on the column - My first car, a '61 Skoda Octavia. Also had a '59 Simca with similar affliction. I believe my sister's Goliath had the same. All seemed like mystery shifters at first. Real good theft deterrents as few had ever driven them.
Doug, in spite of what the legend has to say, the Model T is fairly delicate, compared to modern cars. _For instance, a pothole that might only dent the rim of a modern car could shatter a Tin Lizzie's wooden wheel, and a strong enough bump against a parking lot block could do crippling damage to the ball-&-socket end of the front radius rod. _And you already know about the delicate crankshaft. _The reason it's so hard to destroy a Model T has little to do with its actual toughness and much more to do with its tick-tock simplicity, making it the easiest of all cars to repair and a never ending supply of replacement parts.
Oh come on, Bob, they are not That fragile!
While I am not about to prove you wrong by sending any of my Ts into immovable objects at Ramming Speed, and I will concede that the robust front end of the modern automobile will withstand the clumsy mishandling of the modern driver, these spindly looking little cars are constructed from tough and resilient material.
And Mark Gregush has it right regarding modern failures of crankshafts: 100 years of metal fatigue on those poor roads, a too small diameter, and we now drive these cars at speeds which they seldom saw back then.
These are decent little cars and they hold up plenty well enough. Bill
My friend and I were heading into Yosemite in my speedster one Christmas (yes you read that right). On the way in we had been cruising nicely with the warford (direct with 4:1 rear) up and down hills. I stopped and shifted into Underdrive and got a funny face from him. Then made the right turn onto old priest grade (1.8 miles with an elevation change from 910-2450 ft). As we started ascending the T pulled the grade just fine in high. Had I not had that warford with 4:1 we would have been crawling trying to hold the low band in the entire way.