I have always been told that towing a Model T would take out the 4th Main Bearing, if the engine was not turning over to lubricate it.
Today, I was asked if two extra quarts of oil was added to the engine/transmission area, would it then be safe to tow a Model T.
Has anyone ever done that with any success?
There is no safe way to tow a Model T more then to move out of way or to pull start. It is not the 4th that is the problem. The engine is not turning over to lube the transmission = blown up engine. Google towing Model T.
If you added enough extra oil to the trans so that the clutch disks would be lubricated and the plugs were removed so that the normal engine lubrication would lube the engine, and the trans was in neutral. I think you could try it in an emergency situation.
65 years ago my dad helped Royce's dad tow a 1917 Ford roadster on all fours with a tow bar from Hastings to south Minneapolis, a distance of at least 25 miles.
They removed the spark plugs and left the transmission in high gear.
Not long ago several people posted photos of the results of towing
a T. I was particularly impressed with the broken hogshead being held
together by the transmission inspection cover on one.
Bad Idea Jeans
Yes you can tow in high gear as the engine will turn without combustion and lubricate itself just like it is running. The car doesn't know if it is running or not but the oil goes where it needs to go. No you can't tow in neutral without damage no matter how much oil you have in it..the oil has to move and lubricate and not just sit there at some level.
Get a trailer and no worries about the car.
The only safe way is secured on a trailer
How did they tow them with the wrecker?
I don't think the oil will just sit there. if a part moves the part will be in the oil and the oil will move. You could fill the trans up to the top if you are worried about lubrication not moving.
No problem if you have an auxiliary transmission in neutral. Ralph Ricks did it all the time
Do you remember the pictures??
when towed with a wrecker they need to be towed from the rear and you had to lock the steering through the door with a belt of some kind( usually an old fan belt worked well). only if it had a rear bumper, if there wasn't a rear bumper straps or tow bar would be resting on the body that used to cause a lot of damage
Don't tow in neutral, it won't work out well or do tow in neutral to prove a point then post the results...I already know what they will be. Not good to tow backwards either, bearings can screw themselves tight and lock the front wheels.
The point of the original post has been side tracked. We all know towing a model t will result in damage because of the model t splash lubrication system.
The point was if you over/over fill the engine and trans how can you possibly damage parts that are encased in a bath of oil?
The answer to ricks question is an auto ambulance
Made by Manley or weaver you could get all 4wheels off the ground.
I also think we tow at a much higher rate of speed then "back in the day" They towed with a truck that could only go 30 MPH.
Damage may occur regardless of lubrication, as the T isn't designed to have the transmission and a dead engine driven by the rear wheels.
Ford Service Bulletin warned of towing a TT on all fours, as the worm gear axle isn't made to do that.
Similar reasons not to tow a Model T on all fours, lots of excess strain on tires, and rear axle being tasked to turn the transmission, flywheel and crank, rods, cam, valves and pistons.
Sure you can relieve compression force by removing the spark plugs, but towing a T on all fours has to be a last resort. And such tow should be at very low speed, 10mph or less IMO.
And likely back in the day, the T's towed were pulled slow, or if axle busted, were fitted with those auxiliary rear wheel mounts, clamped to the axle backing plate, and that allowed one wheel to free-wheel.
Have moved T's with stuck transmission also by removing the rear wheels, pulling out the axle keys, and greasing the taper end of the axle shaft and refit the wheels. Easy to roll then, as the wheels spin only the axle ends.
Carry your AAA card, all the tow trucks today are rollbacks, and can pull your Ford up on the deck and carry it home at highway speeds!
Years ago, In ignorance we towed Ts "on all fours" a few times, once about 25 miles, never further, and never faster than a T would drive itself, not above 30mph. Couldn't have been a good thing, but there were no disasters. I wouldn't do it again !
I am done with this debate. Do it with your car to experiment and let us know as apparently the point is lost on the internet so do a real life study with your car first before speculation. They were not designed to tow in Ford neutral. 40 years now in this hobby, probably 20 or more cars, trucks, Model T tractors, racers, many overhead valve and overhead cam conversions and yes I have actually rebuilt T transmissions and understand how they work.
My old neighbor towed one about 25 miles in neutral, the hogs head was dull red in spots. If he would have added a bunch of oil the fire could have been bigger. If in high gear it could have been OK but not something I would do.
I would not tell anyone it is OK to do that based on what I "think"...go tow your car with extra oil about 100 miles in neutral with confidence then let everyone know how well it worked and what a good idea it was. I will use a trailer.
Going out to the shop now to fill up all the rear axles to the top as that will be better for them.
So, we have made the point that a model T ford should not be towed, but we have also made the point that we do not have any experience to determine if a model t ford with extra oil in the trans/engine can be safely towed.
Won't take too much experience for the wise to know excess oil (as in filled up to the brim) will create excess resistance and drag.
Major components of heat generation.
Arnold, after reading all the testimonies, and seeing the pictures of the carnage that happens when done, why would you even take the chance? It seems like a no-brainer to just load it up onto a trailer rather than to temp fate for something that may, or may not work.
Arnold,How are you going to tow it,and how are you going to stop it?? Bud.
Just think, in all the time discussing this the OP could have rented a trailer and moved a T across the country the right way.
Arnold, everyone recommending against it has some pretty good empirical evidence for why it might still go wrong and isn't willing to bet their own car that you're right. I suggest you either drop it and leave the answer as "maybe but probably not" or try it out yourself and see how it goes.
Kenneth, presently I have not formulated a method of testing the idea. I can only hope that if someone on this board gets into a situation where he has no choice but to tow his car, he would dry the extra oil and report the results on this forum.
Erik Johnson gave the correct answer above:
"65 years ago my dad helped Royce's dad tow a 1917 Ford roadster on all fours with a tow bar from Hastings to south Minneapolis, a distance of at least 25 miles. They removed the spark plugs and left the transmission in high gear."
Fast forward to the Islamic Republic of Iran 2012, Tehran - Qom motorway:
Following a near catastrophic overheating which caused the alloy Z head to warp (engine didn't lock up and survived unharmed probably because of engine oil choice and the alloy head acting as a relief valve; an iron head would not have warped allowing heat to escape) and with AAA and Freighter Jim unable to assist I had to take what help was on offer to tow me back to the closest town which I had already passed through...the Shiite holy city of Qom about 16 miles away. I didn't want be towed to the next town ahead; that would have been cheating.
I pulled 3 of the 4 plugs out (plug no. 4 refused to move). Tow truck driver told me to put it in neutral but I put it in high gear instead and off we went. Was a 60mph motorway so moving at 10mph was not an option; we travelled at speeds of 35-45 mph. And I do think if you have to tow your T a long distance in such a way you'd splash more oil around the engine the faster you go.
I cannot remember if I checked the oil level before being towed but normally I fill well above the top petcock; that may have helped as well.
Also, the engine was an "Engine Joe" Bell rebuild...need I say more.
Rest is history, I fixed the warped head thanks to the help of wonderful locals and the advice from guys on this forum, see:
(I remember laughing reading the debate about using toothpaste!)
and continued to Moscow; no damage to the engine or transmission that I'm aware of.
In Ford Model T we trust
(Message edited by m2m on April 08, 2017)
Dan T., that service bulletin warning has always kind of intrigued me. If a TT shouldn't be towed because of the extra strain on the axles and tires, what happens to them when being driven, and then close the throttle when slowing down or going down hill? Same difference. I have pushed my TT several times by hand and it just rolls right along with the auxiliary Chicago three speed transmission in neutral. For a ring gear to be impossible or even hard to drive a worm, it would have to be a VERY large reduction. A worm drive winch with about a 20 to 1 reduction or so will still drop a heavy load without a brake on it to assist it. Been there, done that. Granted, if the ratio is large enough, it would be different. I don't think a TT gear set is anywhere close to that, although I wouldn't want to drag it down the highway at 70 MPH either! JMHO Dave
Arnold,In the last picture we see a T being towed with a very short tow strap which if you have a normal T how are you going to stop it? I think Tim Moore and others have given very good advise,but we all pay our own bills so it's up to you.Bud.
Kenneth, it's a steel bar not a tow strap in the last picture. Wrecker driver was Ayatollah certified...he knew what he was doing.
Let me be clear, if you can avoid towing a T on all fours do so, it's not worth the risk; but if you cannot avoid then pull the plugs, put in high gear and add oil and you'll probably be okay as my experience shows.
Again, if your T has an *auxiliary* trans with a "real" neutral there are no issues. The late Ralph Ricks towed his every where on all 4's. On the other hand the OP didn't state whether or not this T has an aux trans
For the record, my car pictured above did not have an auxiliary tranny.
Gary,Evidently you don't remember the pictures!
The only pictures I recall were the ones of him towing it behind their Jag. He was always a proponent of towing on all 4's.
The hitch on the Jag was very high,the tow bar very short,and pulled the front of the T down.RD went over rail road tracks and it wrecked both front wheels!! Oak spokes were blamed but the Jag had power,weight,and speed!! Something had to give and it was the T!Sorry RD,Rest in peace!! Bud.