I'm a British travel writer planning a US coast-to-coast drive in a Model T. The (bold) scheme is to buy a solid Model T on the East coast and drive it west on old highways, selling it at journey's end.
1) I've never driven a Model T (though hope to get experience soon via the owners' club here in the UK).
2) My maximum budget is around $12,000. I'm not too fussed about body style, but it seems from reading through your excellent site that a 1926/7 car would be the best bet.
3) Registering and insuring a car as a foreigner is impossible in some US states (eg NY and NJ).
I'd be grateful for your considered input! And especially keen if someone on the east coast has a decent example for sale in budget (yes - I do check the classifieds here regularly!). I've been inspired by the number of you that seem to routinely drive your Ts over very long distances (as evidenced by a recent thread here - 'How far would you drive your T?').
My hope is to set off in a month's time. I'll have to get the whole thing done in three months or my visa will expire...
Thanks for your time!
Any reason to go east to west and not west to east? I may be wrong here but there would seem to be more/better options in CA where there is less rust than on the east coast. As far as 26/27 true it is the "improved" ford but considering you are working on a budget you might get alot more car going a little earlier. Perhaps something with a ruxtel or other "improvements" that would make the drive better.
Well, there's a fine line between being adventurous and foolhardy - and this plan might be on the risky side.. If this was back in 1927 and you could still buy one of the last new T's from a dealer, then you could be fairly certain to be able to succeed with your plan, but now they're 90+ years old and repaired by various non standardized methods along the road, and while the spare part supply still is strong compared to other old car brands, you may still need a home garage and lots of time to first wait for the parts and then fix the issues that may arise along the very very long road ahead with an unknown car.
Most of those that has already done the trip were very experienced T'ers that had prepared their cars before and know them from inside out. That takes some time, and still there might be some issues - I know one guy from Sweden who participated in an arranged cross country trip back in 2009 with a very well tested car - but he still experienced a two piece crankshaft half way out and was very lucky to be able to borrow an engine from a fellow traveler to complete the trip. The new engine turned out to be too expensive to buy, so he just rented it for the way, but it's not easy to find such deals in a country where you have few connections.
My suggestions would be to first buy a Model T at home and try it out, fix it up and get to know it over a year - and save some more for your budget during that time. Emergency unprepared repairs tends to cost much more when they happen out on a trip and have to be fixed at the spot than when you're at home and have time to look for deals on the parts you need.
With some hands on T experience you would also have an easier time sorting out which car you want to buy for the trip among those for sale.
In general most T's for sale aren't cars you would start out on a cross country trip day one - look at all the threads here where new owners have to start by rebuilding an unknown rear axle and replacing valves etc. They may still have been used for years in local parades, but 300 miles from nowhere they'll surely break down without a month or two of preparation/ restoration first.
Cars evolved a lot during the early decades of the 20'th century. It would be a lot easier to find a little newer car that would do the trip with less preparation - but it would also be less adventurous, (but still fun )
I wouldn't do it in an unknown car. But that's just me.
I will say that I am probably one of the more "Throw caution to the wind/Devil may care" type on here. And I still wouldn't do it in an unknown car.
But again, that's just me.
Only a handful of US states will allow a foreign visitor/tourist to title a car in their name; and even then you'll need the help of a local and some planning. One of the main problems is having the "verifiable ID" the DMV wants to see. Proof of address is another issue.
No US DL and no SSN is a huge problem when it comes to insurance, especially for a classic car.
Be MUCH easier for a US citizen to buy and insure the car for you in their name; if you can find someone willing to do so.
When do you plan to learn to drive a T? It's not that easy; two or three hours of T driving lessons is not enough for your plans. Have you driven in USA before?
Many thanks both.
Chadwick - west to east might well be more sensible for the reasons you describe, but for narrative purposes it just has to be east to west! A Ruckstell is on my "ideal" list, along with Rocky Mountain brakes. More modern electrics would surely make things easier but I have to strike a balance between authenticity and reliability...
Roger - you are SO right about all of that. I'm under few illusions about the mechanical grief I'll suffer (though a broken camshaft would be a real bummer). I should have enough in the kitty to fund most en-route repairs. But it has to be a Model T - the car that launched the Automobile Age. And my deadline means I have to set off this summer!
Thanks Constantine. My research suggests that Virginia, Maine and Vermont are options - they don't seem to insist on a US DL etc. I have a good friend in New Hampshire who may be able to help out in the manner you suggest. I've done plenty of driving all around the world, including lots in the US - but I'm well aware that driving a T is a very particular skill! As I said I'm in contact with the Model T club here in England, and will definitely get in as much experience as I can before setting off for the US.
Hal - don't worry, it's not "just you" - it's every rational voice in the world!
Summer here starts in 30 days not enough time to do what you need to do to get ready for a trip of this magnitude. The only way to proceed in this short of a time schedule would be to hire a car and driver to take you across the USA and they would have to have a good car and driving experience.
Tim, I commend you for a very interesting proposition but your plan has Murphy's Law written all over it. (Does the U.K. have Murphy's' law?)
First of all, learning to drive a T is by far the least of your concerns. They're very different but not hard to drive with a little experience.
There are cars that have been restored by well known and reputable people that could make the trip but they would likely exceed your budget. Even then,you would still need to be prepared for the unexpected, and you'd better be pretty handy with tools.
Lastly, if NY and NJ won't allow a foreigner to register a vehicle I would consider that a favor. Navigating those two states in a T would be more adventure than you realize. Think of Georgia, Florida or South Carolina as a starting point.
Your post here might motivate a club member to volunteer their car and their services for a fee. I think it would be fun to join you, but unfortunately neither of my cars would be ready for the trip you describe.
Best of luck. You came to the right place for advice.
Tim, like Gary above, I commend you for your enthusiasm. However, I also agree with him about "Murphy's Law". Best not to throw caution to the wind. You don't have enough time now to find a car, get it in good working order, learn how to drive it (doesn't really take long), find insurance, plan your stops, maintenance, etc. I do not agree with Constantine about finding a US citizen to put the car & insurance in their name. No one in their right mind would do that due to the liability potential!
I really hate to be a Debbie Downer, in fact, I encourage you to continue your quest, but not this year. You need a full year of planning ahead, so maybe we'll see you in 2018!
Gary - you're absolutely right about driving in NY. The original plan involved the Lincoln Highway, but starting out in Times Square was just evidently ludicrous.
I'm a magnet for Murphy's Law. All my projects seem to involve asking for trouble and getting it. For my last book I rode a Communist-era shopper bike for 6,000 miles down the old "iron curtain". For the one before that, I went all around Italy on a 100-year-old bike with wooden wheels and cork "brakes"...
I guess I could push the budget out a bit (assuming I don't destroy the car, I should be able to sell it for almost what I paid for it). Company is always most welcome, but I'm committed to acquiring my own T.
Tim - I fear things are too far progressed (with my publisher) to postpone this for a year... I completely accept that it's going to be very, very tricky to get everything in place, but I'm determined to give it a shot!
Have to agree with Rodger on all his points, I'm still looking for someone who has actually purchased a Model T and found it in tip top condition and road ready. Usually you are buying a problem somewhere and anything could be wrong with it and usually is.
One thing not pointed out is that if the car is old and from a different country and registered in that country ( mine was on concessional plates as well) you can drive it in the USA.
I had no trouble getting insurance through the MTFCA but not having a need to place a claim of any sort I don't know if problems could have eventuated.
I was stopped by police a lot but they just wanted to see the Kamper or were checking if I was OK.
This has all the makings for an interesting story.
I don't know if it would be a comedy or a tragedy, but it would be interesting.
I figure that you'll need at least three Model Ts, a chase vehicle with a big trailer, a crew of knowledgeable people and it will take about 60 days considering that you will only be able to use back roads.
You'll need the three Ts because one will always be broken, one will be running rough, and one may be OK.
60 days does not take into account the time it will take trying to get over some of the mountain ranges -
I fondly remember a vacation that took us from Taunton MA thru Franconia notch to N Conway NH in a 1922 T with my Mom and Dad -
The drive thru the notch was - well thrilling with many stops to cool the motor etc. and when we did move traffic was blocked for miles.
What was a day trip in a modern vehicle took almost a week for us and we did not have any real breakdowns.
$12,000 is a bit low. You might be lucky and get two running Ts for that amount and their reliability would be questionable.
Have you considered getting a motorcycle, brain bucket, and sleeping bag? It might be a bit more realistic.
PS the N Conway trip was in the early - mid 50's
I am very interested to see how this plays out! Best of luck to you! Please post a few threads on your travels.
Tim, considering this is your only shot due to time constraints get your itinerary posted up here hasta pronto so other forum members know your route. That way you at least know where help is along the route plus you may get another T or two to tag along for portions of your trek. Best of luck!
That is an ambitious idea. I admire your courage. The skepticism expressed is well founded. I could imagine it happening with model T owners and club members helping you out along the way.
My imagination exceeds my courage and abilities.
I wish you well regardless of what happens.
Tim...I understand your "plight"! Forge ahead my man! Just "second think" every move you make so as to stay out of trouble! I agree with Gary Schreiber..be nice to know your route, so maybe some of us can watch for you, maybe even drive along for a bit! That'd be cool.
The "other Tim"
Seems to me to be one of those things that, on your deathbed, you'd rather say, "Boy, that was one heck of a trip!" rather than, "Boy, I wish I'd taken that trip."
Go for it and good luck.
The odds of successfully completing this journey under the current circumstances seems unlikely. However, I hope you will start a thread here documenting your daily progress, trials and tribulations. There are local T folks all over and no doubt many willing helping hands. Best of luck to you!
Thanks all - extremely buoyed by the upbeat encouragement and offers of assistance. Though at the same time duly sobered by the wise heads advising caution. Fred - tragicomedy is my middle name...
Peter - how much did you pay to ship your Kamper from Australia? If the registration issue proves insurmountable I might have to explore that option. There aren't many Ts for sale here in the UK though, and they're more expensive (this one looks OK: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/1926-FORD-MODEL-T-VINTAGE-CLASSIC-CAR-Z-TYPE-HEAD-NEW- CARBURETOR-ALTERNATOR-/132175105194?hash=item1ec6400caa:g:aqgAAOSwCU1Y3OBo )
I'll be sure to keep everyone here updated with my plans/route etc.
In the meantime, if anyone hears of a promising T for sale (ideally in the east), please let me know! I guess I can go up to $16-17K for a really good prospect.
Tim, being a Brit you've reminded me of the "Chock-Away" lads who tried to drive a 1934 Austin 7 from Dakar to Cameroon in Africa for charity, see:
My favourite quote : “Poor Sally [the name of the car], she is now in bits in the middle of a dusty town...”
Their sponsors British Airlines flew them and the car back to London after they joined the ten piece crank club.
You need a Model T mentor if you're going to make it happen; perhaps someone who will give you a clip around the ears when needed. You don't have a T, you can't drive a T, and you cannot legally even buy a T in most states. I'm giving 9% chance of success at this point.
A fair number of honest and discourging comments. What you are looking for is a touring or speedster year range probably 19-25. I base that on your budget or time constraints. Odds are greater of finding one of those two in a condition more ready to go. Its likely you will go thru a set of bands learning to drive as well as have some rear end problem and something engine related. I mentioned touring or speedster because they are more common and have been typically made to run. Unfortunatly for you your time constraints make finding something in your budget and location difficult. Another option might be to buy a cheaper T in the 7-9000 range and try to find an engine rebuilder within x number of miles and explain you have a running engine/transmission that you would like to exchange for one thats rebuilt. First stop would hopefully insure you have a solid engine for the trip. Second stop would be to do something similar with the driveline.
Perhaps I missed it but what is your mechanical background? Are you a writer that relies on others and $? Are you someone with basic skills? Or are you the "I can cut the sole out of my shoe to fabricate a bearing to make it into town"?
Your best bet at doing this is to enlist a co driver, experienced in long trips with a T, obtain a sponsor to provide the car, preferably a T parts vendor or machine shop and use a 26/7 because of the improved features such as the pan support etc.
If you were running in caravan with several other Model T Fords, and were accompanied by a vehicle towing a break-down trailer, and there were one or two experienced Model T mechanics going along, and you had a super-dependable car which had been proven by running for about a year after a thorough mechanical restoration including engine, transmission, rear-end and brakes, and you had more time and a bigger budget, then yes, it could be done.
It's been done before. _I refer you to the "Katie Across the Nation" videos on YouTube, which were shot back in 2009, when fifty-four Model T Fords did indeed make the transcontinental trek from New York to Seattle.
The endeavor was a masterpiece of pre-planning, and anticipating problems, and it was executed by people who knew their cars inside and out. _ Accompanying the group was a support team of expert mechanics and literal truckloads of spare parts, spare engines, etc.
We're talking about a type of car that cruises comfortably at no more than 35 mph. _Your average speed, of course, will be less than that. _Can the car go any faster? _Yes, but you won't be able to abuse the engine that way for 3,000 miles. _You would have to pre-plan most of your route in advance on secondary and tertiary roads and local streets because there's no way to safely mix a Model T Ford with modern highway traffic. _You'll wear completely through one or two sets of tires.
You can probably purchase a pretty good '26 Ford for $12,000, given enough time to shop around and a Model T expert to accompany you, but in my opinion, you have neither the time nor the budget.
Jim were money and time not an option I would agree with you.
Unfortunatly increasing you budget does not nessarilly increase the reliability of your T although it does allow for a nicer car.
Aside from the ugly paint job this is the best "start" I have found. If it is as advertised they should be able to offer information on engine/trans/steering/rear end
You may want to do some research by looking at the website http://oceantoocean.ning.com/ used by those who did the 2009 Ocean to Ocean trip. We had 5 years to prepare, had 3 vulture wagons, a major parts supplier on the route with us, had many late night, parking lot repairs and still had a few who didn't finish. Additionally you may to contact some of them to discuss their experience, comments and/or recommendations.
I don't mean to be hard but I'll be direct. In my opinion it is disrespectful of one who doesn't know the adage "A lack of preparation on your part doesn't necessarily constitute an emergency on my part."
With all that said, I wish you the best.
I looked at the listing you provided and while a Z head boost performance everything listed is all bolt on and without knowing whats at the core you are running risks. Its far more reliable to run a stock high head on a stock bottom end. True a good bit slower but speed isnt as important as reliability.
Now as far as bang for your buck this is what I would pick.
Nothing "special" is listed like the bumpers, horns, spot light, clock, jewled light, that normally drives the price up. The driveline is unknown as is the relativly stock engine. However the distributor (possible bosch plate) gives an indication that this was a driver as well. New tires are a given and regardless of what you get tires will probably need to be bought (summit is the place to go). Not to mention it's in Vermont. I would figure at least a week to go thru the car if you can figure a way.
Like Roger and others, I harbor reservations about this enterprise. But I wish you luck. Good luck will be necessary when it comes to buying a car already fit for the trip. As you're determined and committed, I'll offer a few suggestions I hope are useful.
If you happen to be a big chap, a car earlier than 26-27 will be more comfortable for you. Some large folks complain about the improved car being too cramped for comfort, especially when driving for several hours at a time.
"What is so rare as a day in June?" A month's time means early June. In much of North America that means pleasant weather and mild temperatures. But Lowell wasn't in the American West when he wrote that famous line. Bring winter clothes. The deserts will be warming up in June, but some of the mountain passes will still be closed by snow. I don't expect you'll want to use any of those passes, but the point is that much of the West is high enough to get pretty chilly at night, even in summer or late spring.
Yes, do post your itinerary here and keep us informed. Many of us would be happy to have you drop in for a visit, just for fun or for some needed repair. Last summer a Spanish friend and his 15-year-old son came to the USA, rented a car, and followed old Highway 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles. They spent a couple of days here seeing local sights and we drove through a bison herd. I think many forum folks along your route would enjoy having a visitor from across the pond.
Meeting some of the locals in ranch country.
Cool idea. Hoping to do a similar trip next summer with kids.... kinda a cooler version of Chevy Chase (I hope, well maybe not)
Don't forget to bring a copy of "Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance".....
Constantine - 9%! I like those odds. (My dad had a 1928 Austin 7 - someone else just finished a great resto job on it.)
Chadwick - very helpful suggestions there, many thanks. I'm not super handy with the spanners but could handle the basics. I managed to get an old Rolls-Royce across Europe a few years back. I'd seen that '27 roadster in NH before but the spartan listing put me off. Good spot with the distributor though - as you say that suggests a possible good prospect. As I mentioned I do have a good friend in NH who might be prepared to register and insure it. That red-and-black one's lack of roof deterred me. What about this: http://www.ebay.com/itm/1926-Ford-Model-T-/322498725978?hash=item4b166c085a:g:WP QAAOSww9xZBIFr&vxp=mtr
The cheapest Ts seem to be pickups/hucksters. Most of them look pretty terrible, but would one be worth considering?
Thanks for the pointers to the 2009 Ocean-to-Ocean drive. Some great pics on the site - a splendid achievement, but a rather different undertaking from mine (not least in scale). Steve - lovely pic of your car too. I'm not a big man so "size doesn't matter". I will certainly pack plenty of warm clothing...
I completely accept all the very sensible reservations, and would dearly hope to avoid imposing myself on MTFCA members' good natures. But I'm really going to try and pull this off.
The speedster listed in the classifieds might just be the perfect car for this. Certainly within the budget and its a proven car, and is located at the perfect location for a start.
I thought of that speedster but being on the wrong coast and with a lack of fenders/running boards the luggage/tools may be an issue.
Tim in response to the listing if what he says about the bushings and engine is true thats great. However the alternator and voltage are not mentioned, if its 6 volt that starter cable is a bit smaller than I would like. Its funny that he mentions the engine/transmission/bushing but not a word about the rear end which could be a big warning sign. Also under the listing it says clear title but mention is made to a notorized bill of sale, you might have REAL nightmare problems registering and then selling it. Going over the mountains with the heavier body and a stock engine will take a considerable use of low band.
Yes - the speedster is on the wrong coast, and I'd probably appreciate a roof! Would be a cool car to do it in though (in every sense).
Thanks for your expert input once again Chadwick. Seems I should probably give that Tudor a miss (though it might be worth inquiring further - Maryland's registration process doesn't look very foreigner-friendly though). It's already plain that this forum is going to be absolutely invaluable.
Ed Emerson's car in the photo, not mine, but the setting is hear here.
I think folks are being a bit too discouraging, here. Tim seems like a pretty adventurous sort. That, and a boat load of cash and time will get you through
My advice would be a either a touring, a pickup or a depot hack, if only for storing spare parts and survival gear. Definitely NOT a speedster. Have good headlights and fit it with modern tail lights/brake lights, etc.
I'd carry a cell phone and a satellite phone. Have a high quality tent, sleeping bag, and clothing for all kinds of weather. Carry enough provisions to survive for 4 days stranded anywhere. Sign up for AAA, you're going to need it.
As long as you have no time constraint on when you reach the Pacific, endless money for tows/repairs, etc. I think it sounds like fun.
I'd ask for specific route advise here, particularly for the mountains, the deserts, and the large metro areas. It is often more important to know where you should NOT go, then the route you should take.
A few thoughts ....
I've been known to take rather outlandish flights of fancy like this.
Your last minute planning is going to be your undoing, unless you
really luck out.
A well bought, thoroughly "known" vehicle is your best insurance
against unplanned breakdowns and delays. That said, I have bought
cars in far off places, sight unseen, done a bunch of work on them
to make them roadworthy, and set off for home. Often I had no real
problems, other times I had days-long delays to do repairs. But I DID
make it home, AND I had an adventure in the process.
Perhaps coordinating the rental or purchase of a car and shipping
of said car to your point of disembarkation is a way to get the right
car in the right place, but this last minute stuff is going to make that
tough. You should have been researching and arranging that a year
There are organizations or loose groups of T guys like the ones I run
with at the Antique Auto Ranch that can build a T to near perfection
that could prep your "chariot" for a trip like this, ship it to NY, and you
drive it west and return it/sell it upon making it back. Not sure what
other regional resources are out there like this, but there are bound to
be a few ???
I am building my truck to do similar long distance runs, but so far am
2-3 years into a long range plan to build it for reliability to avoid road
side problems. If I had trust fund type money and a keen sense of how
to diagnose problems, knew where all the parts I might need could be
accessed from a roadside breakdown, and no time constraints, I might
attempt to take off in a lesser known vehicle. But with less-than stellar
knowledge of the cars, no unlimited funding, and a job to get back to
by a certain date, I would have a strong Plan B on the back burner to
leave the vehicle where it died, have it trucked forward, and find another
way to reach the destination.
Yes, ... Pirsig is mandatory reading for this, as is The Old Patagonian
Good luck !
Geez Tim, I don't know....Zip experience driving a T. Zip experience driving the U.S.A. No car yet. Limited time and to tell you the truth (as I see it), $12G's isn't going to get you far. Especially if the car's price and trip expenses are coming out of it. You will have break downs. Count on it. Nature and age of the beast. You need what we used to call an agonizin' re appraisal. Understand I'm giving you the reasons I wouldn't do it but if you're not fazed by it..........
Everybody needs an adventure in life.
I hope there is no confusion going on here...I am also Tim Moore and have been here many years but the poster of this thread is not me, I am in Michigan.
Good luck if you choose to do this Tim, plan well and have access to this site and post daily so we know where you are at, you might need help along the way.
I think its a great idea. Live a little. If it breaks in half, it still will be a success.
Wood wheels, bands and babbit would be my biggest concerns.
Here is a route to look over:
do you plan on camping on your trip or staying in hotels or a combination of both?
Linus provided the wheels are good, the bands Kevlar, and the babit has good tolerances those shouldn't be a problem.
Problems areas I see are vibration, lubrication, and electrical.
It doesn't take much once a cotter key comes out to cause a problem. A lack of grease in any number of places will result in trouble. At some point there is bound to be a gremlin in the electrical system, definatly carry a spare coil and even a complete timer. Don't forget to understand how it all works.
Aside from a catastrophic problem (broken crank, axle, tranksmission, etc) problems I would Expect would be at least 1 flat tire. Fuel problem will either plague you or be solved shortly.
Unexpected problems you should be able to prevent will deal with hot and cold. Be prepared for things to get cold and possibly even freeze. A cracked block can be prevented just as freeze plugs should be checked and spares carried. But these are all things that make for a good story as well.
Hi Tim, You may have already read this:
I wish you well, and us T'ers are here to help!
If I read the OP's original post correctly:
Not a US citizen
Not familiar with driving cross country in the US
No firsthand experience owning - operating - repairing a Model T
One month preparation
Sounds like the plot for a good fiction story
Yes chad, I agree. Im just sayin that you can fix most of that stuff on the road. but not your main bearings or your spokes.
Hell yes !! I can ride that bull ! Here, hold my beer . . .
Tim in the UK, go for it, pard !! Hey - what's the worst that can happen ??
Tim, I don't know if your plan is to tackle this as a pure virgin T driver, but I'm in Kent and have a '26 Tourer. If you fancy popping down one day to familiarise yourself with how they work you're very welcome. I've PM'd you, lemme know if I can help.
Tim is writing a book, a well prepared car and an uneventful coast to coast trip would be quite a short and boring book.
I'd say go for it and write an interesting story of the trials and tribulations.
Please keep us posted here.
I have a dream of doing something similar, but I have 10 years experience of model T ownership and have tried most repairs.
Member of broken rear axle club, but not yet broken crank (knock on wood).
Jim, if he crashes the car or cracks a drum because of lack of driving experience, or the "restored" car he buys off Ebay breaks a crank 50 miles into the trip; with the limited money and time he has to fix it will also be a short and boring book. And if he does happen to succeed it will probably be a book about him riding on other people's generosity and shoulders Coast to Coast.
That's not cool, that's not being a tough guy, or the way overlanders do business.
He leaves in a month with no car yet or any knowledge of Ts or driving experience? Give me a break!
Watching Jay Leno's Garage or BBC Top Gear on Blu-Ray is cool, but will not help you overland in an antique car.
Tim, you would do well to contact Constantine and talk to him about his Model T adventure. See the link for the background story.http://www.melbournetomoscow.com/engcar.html
Your planned trip should be a walk in the park compared to Constantines journey. The key to a successful trip will be a well prepared car and your ability to understand it and drive it accordingly. Constantines car was extremely well prepared for the trip by a number of recommended T experts mostly from this forum. We were able to source a T very similar to the one he was to take on the trip and teach him how to drive it and care for it. I still did not have confidence that he would make it out of Australia but have since learned that that his level of preparation was impecccable.
Interestingly, another trip across the USA via Model T starts tomorrow. You may wish to follow this one and see what sort of troubles they encounter. Model T Coast to Coast on facebook.
Good luck with your quest. Something I would love to do one day!
Truly you are the voice of experience here - having traveled a good part of the world.
I am on the road every day - have been for years.
I can relate to the trials & tribulations of maintaining an older vehicle - I am on paved roads which is quite an advantage.
It has taken me a good deal of time to familiarize myself with my F350 7.3 PSD - I have done major repairs by the side of the road.
A responsible person does not undertake an adventure whose positive outcome relies on the luck of the draw or the kindness of strangers.
There has been a lot of good advise here. Some is more pessimistic than necessary though. I have not done a coast to coast trip, but I did drive from the center of the U.S. to the west coast and back. I did this in a 1926 touring, and was by myself with no trouble truck or backup. It can be done. It took me 7 days for the trip out, and 8 days for the trip back. Here is a link to the website of the day to day progression that I posted as I made the trip. Don't be shy about calling on club members for help if needed.
Since your goal is to publish a story, what is the worst that could happen. You get part way across the country, have mechanical problems and can't complete the trip. It would still make a great story, and be a fun adventure. Good luck.
You stated in your previous post, "Some advise is more pessimistic than necessary" and "what is the worst that could happen." Karen Johnson, who completed the 2009 Ocean to Ocean was a passenger in a Model T a few years later and is now with the Lord because of an accident. That is the WORST that can happen. A glass half full of water or half empty of water is just half a glass of water. Optimism, Pessimism or Realism is a choice we each make. An ounce of preparation can save a pound of heartache.
I like calculated risk myself!!!
Have a great day,
Find a T with a fairly new engine overhaul, a good rear end and preferably kevlar bands. Load it and get going. What's there to know about a T beside the engine is probably the standard 20 HP engine, it has 3 pedals (Low/clutch, reverse and brake), probably 30X3 1/2 tires and will probably be able to maintain 35 to 40 MPH. (A Ruckstell rear end is almost a must for the mountains.)
I am surprised that no one has mentioned that a Model T Speedster is leaving from the east coast via the Lincoln Highway to the west coast this month. Dave and Tom(an author) are driving Nathan's car across the country. You would just be duplicating their trip. Dave is a crack mechanic and can fix anything that would go wrong. I know it is mentioned somewhere on this web site.
They also have a facebook page where they will be posting daily about the trip.
I think it is a great adventure and wish you the best should you be able to proceed, but caution you as well. A lot of people have given you some great advice. Good travels.
I hesitated to mention, because I figured it would make me sound pompous, the issue of a lack of experience. _In this area, there are two major obstacles. _The first is the length of time it takes to become proficient at driving a Model T and the second would be (and I'm presuming here), a lack of experience driving on the right side of the road.
I was fortunate enough to have an experienced driver teach me the arcane art of driving a Model T. _I had the basics down that afternoon, but it took a week before I was comfortable driving my own Flivver around the immediate neighborhood. _In no was would I have been ready, at that point, to tackle a trans-continental drive.
I've often wondered what it would be like for an American to visit England and drive on the left side of the road. _One would have to respond adroitly to mirror-image situations, occasionally, with split-second decisiveness. _I doubt I'd be comfortable with that in the short run and can't imagine how uncomfortable I'd be if called upon to do it, cold, over a long haul (in a car with oddball controls).
Than again, I'm an old dog who isn't particularly good at learning new tricks. _Maybe I'm a little lacking in the spirit of adventure.
go for it Tim ! look forward to reading about the adventure - what ever happens, good luck !
One of the reasons Im building my T RHD, eventually Ill be living in THailand where they drive on the left side as well.
I'm a gambler, born with optimism, I'd do this in a flash. With all the help that's available across this illustrious country of ours from all the MTFCA forum guys and associates, even though it could turn out to be an adventure, it's definitely doable. The biggest problem I see is one of my "soapbox" items. Knowing who to listen to and believe.
Ed aka #4
Tim Moore: You have said this trip has to be this year because of your publisher but you have not said why it has to be in a Model T Ford. With your extended budget of up to $17K you could find a nicely restored Model A Ford 2 Door or Coupe that is in good mechanical condition. The Model A will travel 45 MPH, have four wheel brakes and more mechanics along the way will be able to work on it if need be. Model T's are great cars but one months lead time for this trip just isn't enough time for proper planning and Model T mechanical training for you. If you go get a US friend to follow you with a pickup and trailer, it should make some nice pictures taken from the pickup as you drive by.
I put "Tim Moore travel writer" into Google and now I understand what this is all about. A previous book he wrote was:
Travels with My Donkey: One Man and His Ass on a Pilgrimage to Santiago : Having no knowledge of Spanish and even less about the care and feeding of donkeys, Tim Moore, Britain's indefatigable traveling Everyman, sets out on a pilgrimage to the cathedral at Santiago de Compostela with a donkey named Shinto as his companion. Armed only with a twelfth-century handbook to the route and expert advice on donkey management from Robert Louis Stevenson, Moore and his four-legged companion travel the ancient five-hundred-mile route from St. Jean Pied-de-Port, on the French side of the Pyrenees, to the cathedral at Santiago de Compostela which houses the remains of Spain's patron saint, St. James.
The idea of the trip is not to drive a T coast to coast. It's about him jumping into a shark tank so "interesting" things happen in order to write a hopefully funny and entertaining book.
In other words, anything that goes wrong with the car will be a big plus in terms of writing the book.
Tim, why didn't you tell us the truth about your plans?
Just go ahead as you are and I'm sure you're going to write a great book!
You don't want advice from me as that will probably mean you'd have a fairly easy and uneventful trip...and that's not what you want.
I will offer one piece of advice; don't underestimate how difficult it is to drive a Model T safely and make sure you fit aux. brakes. It will not be funny if you end up hurting others or yourself.
Good luck and Stay safe.
(Message edited by m2m on May 06, 2017)
And by the way, I'm increasing your chance of making the trip from 9% to 40% based on your track record. I'm sure you'll do everything to succeed even if you have to beg, steal or sell your a##.
All good road-trip books need a happy ending.
Ed, It does sound like something from "Dearly departed spokes" the story from one of you Mexican 1000 runs in a Model T speedster. Weren't you within 100 miles or so of finishing when the steering arm broke the second time the last time you ran that SCORE 1000 off road race?
Tim contact various ''T'' clubs along your proposed route. Most of the clubs are populated by old geezers, retired and with knowledge and flexibility to assist if something comes up when you are within their particular neighborhoods....
One other point about the 'Improved' 26/7 cars is that the driving seat is lower and the open 2 and 4-seat cars are therefore rather cramped if you are tall. Fordors are heavy.
I just do not know where to begin. First, I want to just cry myself to sleep. Then Shout ED ARCHER SPEAKS!!!! Although short and sweet, I wish you would write more (for Moore), and more often.
Erik Barrett should have commented by now. I believe it was he and his dad bought a model T sight unseen (some background known) in Seattle Washington. Flew up and drove it down to halfway through California the long way. Total distance about a third of your coast to coast.
"What is the worst that could happen?" British Tim could get talked out of it. Stay home, and be killed by a drunk driver while taking his evening constitutional during one of the weeks he otherwise would have been here, enjoying a model T drive in the open spaces.
Every time you get behind the wheel of your T, and leave the safety of the little circle of private driveways you call home, you take a risk. Yes, I do believe in and recommend calculating some of those risks, and being prepared in mind and practice to avoid disasters.
And, I disagree with many model T folk. While I prefer the two lane back roads and byways? I never hesitate to jump onto the freeway provided my car feels good at 45 mph. I do not recommend extensive high speed travel, simply because the engine will NOT last as long that way. Unless of course, it is prepared to Montana 500 standards. Then it becomes 45 on the byways and 55 on the freeways (if you can find real gasoline to push it that fast). The center-door sedan I had years ago was clocked at 55 mph several times, and the car seemed to love it. That was due in part to some effort on my part to balance some pieces of the engine. In the rest of it, it was pure luck that that engine balanced so close to perfect.
A decent tired old model T engine, with no known serious problems should be able to go five to ten thousand miles if you do not push it too hard. Should be far enough.
The two things I would consider essential (maybe), would be the rear end, and the radiator. A new radiator from Berg's would be a big plus, either on a car you buy, or get the radiator and change it yourself. If you change to a Bergs, and maybe if the car you buy already has one? Have someone familiar with model Ts and Berg's check the fit. Mostly I only hear how fantastic Berg's radiators are. But I have heard of a few fitting problems that could have caused trouble if not corrected first.
Most model T people today want the rear end rebuilt to a very exacting standard. Personally, I think that is going a little further than you need to. The THRUST WASHERS are the most urgent to know about. Most originals were soft metal Babbitt. It was poor grade, and highly susceptible to corrosion from moisture or other contaminants getting inside the rear end. After nearly a hundred years, most of them are unsafe, even if they look good. Replacements are bronze/brass and should be good inside a greased rear end for a few thousand years.
The next most urgent thing, is the pinion bearing. Unlike the Babbitt thrust washers, the pinion bearing usually (NOT always!) gives some warning growls, jumps and clunks before it suddenly fails leaving you with no brakes. Best replacement option BY FAR is the new bearing setups offered by Fun Projects.
(I cannot take the time to go over all the whys and wherefores.
The outer axle bearings should be at least checked. Changed if needed.
Any and every part in a model T rear end has the ability to wear, break, or otherwise fail, and cause a major repair needed. But most of the rest of the rear end is fairly robust, and can usually go thousands of miles after most model T people today would have junked the part.
I figured out the focus of your book from a few comments you made, and I have to say I like the idea!
Since you are an adventurer in avocation, as well as vocation. I think you should follow through! Go for it! Make it happen! I wish I were in a position to offer real help or advice, especially on a car to buy. There must be a hundred T touring cars out there in nice enough condition and under 10,000 USD. Any year sedan would also make a good choice. The T model offers many challenges, but also many rewards. And if you are not careful, you may find that you will need one on your side of the pond.
"Ford model t coast to coast" is the Facebook page for the T speedster that left this AM from east coast.
It is leaving Sunday
Bob Coiro has some good ideas. I think that with some good planning, you might be able to have a tour across the United States with a number of other cars and experienced drivers and mechanics along. Even have a trouble truck following.
The first thing, of course, is to purchase or borrow a good car. Even then, you are working with something 100 years old, so the unknown is always a factor. Either have the car inspected and rebuilt by someone very knowledgeable or second best would be to purchase a car from the estate of someone who is known to have had a good dependable car.
Next thing would be to organize the tour. You could begin with the roster of the Model T clubs across the country. Contact each of them and tell of your plans. You might just get each club to plan the portion of the tour in their own area and have a number of members accompany you on that portion of the tour. Then meet up with another group as you cross the country. And continue on until you get all the way across. That way those who don't wish to go all the way across can go with you part of the way.
Some things to consider are the various weather patterns across the USA. In the northeast, there are cold winters with snow, blizzards and ice. In the midwest in the spring there are floods and tornados, and in the west, very hot dry summers. The mountains will have ice and snow until summer so you need to plan one or two months of driving and hopefully the weather will be good. I would suggest leaving the east coast in late spring, crossing the midwest in early summer and the mountains in later summer. Take along plenty of water for both yourself and for your car. I find a spray bottle of water helps to cool the body in the desert. You spay some water on yourself and the wind will cool you. It will also help with the radiator if it should get too hot. You might even want to cross the desert during the night or early morning hours and rest in the afternoon out of the heat if possible.
Anyway, these are some of my suggestions.
"Tim, why didn't you tell us the truth about your plans?"
Constantine, the first sentence in this entire thread is in Tim's opening message and it reads, "I'm a British travel writer planning a US coast-to-coast drive in a Model T."
In 1977, Anja and I shipped a 1936 Austin Ten to New York, flew over (with our 15-month-old daughter) to pick it up and set out on a 6,500-mile camping trip through 14 states and 4 provinces. Had a few mechanical problems but nothing that couldn't eventually be fixed. In hindsight, I think we were very lucky. A lot of very serious things could have happened. Not sure the trip was such a good idea, but it worked out and we had a good time. The daughter is now 41 and she and her husband have the Austin in their garage. He wants to get it on the road again.
Tim You can use KOA camp grounds all across the states. Using them you can plan your trip using 60 to 120 mile day trips between camps. They have laundry and wifi. Good luck and let us know your progress.
Many, many thanks for all the advice/encouragement/wisdom. Just to complicate my mission further I now have to go off on a completely unrelated assignment for a week - I will do my best to respond to all the queries and your sympathetic/brutally honest suggestions when I return. Plus fire out plenty more questions of my own.
I've already provisionally arranged to have some T-driving experience here in England - thanks to the very excellent Deke.
Have to say I'm extremely excited by this forthcoming adventure. And just a little terrified, which is all part of the fun.
Perhaps an idea that you may consider, but it will take considerable collaboration and coordination with many folks you don't know. Perhaps you could enlist the help of forum members to chauffeur you from state to state along the way in sort of a tag team effort. I'm sure along the way you will become a very proficient model T driver instead of just a passenger. You also have the advantage of people that know the best routes and their vehicle. Sure it may be a lot of planning in a short period of time but I bet many members here would love to be part of the adventure that will be chronicled in your book. Best John
Something to consider.
I can't say this is the right one? Mostly, I would be afraid of the potential of hidden damage, cracked Warford case? Tweaked pan resulting in broken crankshaft? Frame rivets broken? Etc etc etc.
But the price is right. Some of the damage has been repaired, maybe okay. At this price, one with a budget of $10,000 would have $5000 to make repairs. A second hand rebuilt engine could maybe be had for about half that. A new Berg's radiator. Maybe a Ruckstell? Might be able to do it.
Wheels are wrong year, but those tires are better for someone not used to model Ts anyway.
Might be worth considering.
A slightly tired model T could probably make the trip with some troubles.
Working the bugs out along the way should be part of the story!
Besides. I kinda like the outside door handles.
And, by the way. Mark Chaffin has an engine in the classifieds he says his rock bottom price is $2500. Older rework/rebuilt? Many new and improved parts pistons valves lifters. Not known who did the work, but Mark knows his way around these things and says he feels good about it.
Shipping and time could be a problem because Mark C is on the West coast.
I just posted this comment to illustrate one of what is out here hanging around in engines nearly ready to use. I know I had heard of one back East several weeks ago. May have been sold by now.
More and more, I want to see this happen! Heck, I want to go! Some things need to work out in my family, SOON!
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
As for a functioning T, I recall a thread less than 2 weeks ago where a forum member posted that he has a black era touring, tour capable T that I think also had an aux trans and brakes. He stated he can't even get $8900 for it. It was a nice looking T and it had nice accessory wire wheels. From memory it was a post where someone was asking what a fair price would be for a T they were considering or possibly an eBay listing.
I think you can register and insure a car as a non-USA citizen in Massachusetts. Two guys from the Netherlands with Massachusetts driver's licences flipped a Porsche with Colorado plates in my side yard in Massachusetts a few years back. The police didn't arrest them, so I guess that they were legal. Massachusetts has compulsory insurance.
OK, during the massive radio silence, plans for this coast-to-coast trip have proceeded apace.
I've had a couple of practice drives in Ts on this side of the pond (a 1911 and a 1926).
I've had some very helpful & encouraging messages from MTFCA members. Many thanks for those, and the informative & instructive messages posted on this thread.
And - ta-da! - I've bought this 1924 Touring via the excellent Ross Lilleker in Texas. Came from a guy who'd owned it since 1966. Has a Ruckstell and Rocky Mountains, bronze diff washer, side curtains, distributor, Kevlar bands.
Ross is doing some prep work, and will then be delivering it up to the east coast for me asap (though realistically not for a week or two, as he has prior commitments). Then I'm off!
I admire your persistence.
Best of Luck.
Keep us posted.
Very nice looking T and Ross's reputation is outstanding. Good luck
That's a smart move, getting a car through Ross and having him prepare it. I believe it improves your odds for success tremendously. If your journey takes you through this part of Kansas, do drop in for a visit.
I can't wait for that book to hit the bookstore !
There are a lot of us in the "flyover" portion of the USA that would love to have you stop by for a visit or if you need some assistance.
Noel Chicoine, Pierre, SD
You found a nice looking Model T and having Ross doing some prep work for you is a plus. Have Ross give you a short course on Model T mechanics and bring you a, how to book, on Model T mechanical repairs. Have a safe and fun trip with just enough, so called problems, to make your book interesting.
Many thanks all. Really grateful to have had Ross on board. Look forward to meeting some of you along the way (but ideally not too many!). Am very excited now. Will keep you posted.
Tim, if you can post major cities a day or two ahead that you plan on visiting. It will give forum members a chance to let you know where they are in case you need parts or some help in any way.
Thanks for the update. You've made a good decision and great looking car!
Congrats on the car, Tim.
Vern from New Orleans.
Tim I have made a lot of cross country trips, pretty much with no problems. I live in Colorado so I only have to drive 1/2 way to reach either coast, I have pretty much done them by myself. Your first bunch of posts about the trip sounded like the typical "THE SKY IS FALLING" bunch.
If you go through Colorado and need help I can haul you to my shop. I have any tool we would need to fix you car. I also have maybe the largest selection of T parts in Colorado. I have access to a New Rebuilt Motor that was built for a speedster but the owner died before he could install the motor in his speedster.
When I start off on a cross country trip I always carry a MTFCA roster. In case I need something in route. You might also get a list of all the clubs in the States that you will be going through. Each club has a president that would be glad to help you on your way.
My phone number is 303-774-9246 I would be delighted to help you in anyway that I can and I know the rest of Grandpas Café Model T Group would be glad to lend a hand also.
Keep us posted on your progress, you will make it. And you will have a ball.
outstanding, looking forward to your post - safe trip.
Quickly check the 2 MTF clubs rosters and check out regional clubs along your route. Get some phone numbers of members,join AAA auto club pay for the platinum plus membership( this gives you 250 mile tow for the price of the membership. They always use flatbed trucks,however if you call for a tow, tell the operator you have a newer all wheel drive Subaru to be sure a flatbed shows up.
Get a US cell phone perhaps a smart phone with map quest or siri either one is a great help. google siri and that will tell you how to use her for directions food gas what ever you need.
Buy some supplies oil, gallon jugs of water, hand tools, jack and lug wrench if you have demoutable rims. If you car is 12 volt buy a 12 volt air compressor or buy a 12 volt lawnmower battery just for the compressor.
I had a friend that drove a brass Maxwell across the Us a couple of years ago. That group contacted the car clubs and they joined in and traveled a ways then turned around. They had company most the way across the country.
Its very doable and will be a lot of fun. When I was 15 my family drove a 1913 model t some 3000 miles from Seattle to California and back. Take your time, don't push it and the Ford will do just fine.
Be prepared and enjoy the ride.
Sacramento has you covered
Thanks everyone, some great tips there - and high-grade encouragement! Great photo, Dave. Not sure I'll be passing through Colorado; might shave the east of it. At this stage my route is very much TBC. Plan at present is to start out from NH (I have a friend there), then across to Detroit (eek!) for a pilgrim-stop at Highland Park/Piquette, then maybe southwest through KY, AL, across to TX, then up to Montana & over to Oregon. Not exactly the short way! Small towns & back roads.
Brass car guy - didn't know about AAA platinum plus... essential, didn't like the sound of the 100-mile free-tow limit I was expecting. Am applying NOW! Will be getting myself a US cellphone SIM with plenty of data.
I'll be posting updates here. Current plan is to set off June 24...
If you want to make a really interesting story, throw away the GPS and the cell phone.
If you begin your trip from the top of Mount Washington in NH you should be able to get to Albany NY without starting the motor.
Tim, I have always admired people who do it "their way." This 10th generation American (I have ancestors who supported both sides of the unpleasantness) wishes you the best. I hope that you enjoy your trip. Starting on Mt. Washington is great - Cadillac Mountain in Maine would have been better - it's the first point in the United States to see the Sun in the morning, I hope that your trip is eventful (you will write about it I presume).
Tim, Sounds like you may be going north from Texas up through Kansas and maybe Nebraska. One tip if you get into Nebraska Take Highway 30 West into Wyoming. Highway 30 is farm country and you will not meet a car for miles and miles. The Road is very good it used to be one of the main highways from one coast to the other. When you reach interstate I-25 Wyoming you can head straight north to Montana. Interstate 1-25 sounds terrible but you will be North of Cheyenne and traffic is almost zero. I have traveled North on I- 25 to Montana and west to Washington in a T and its easy. Once you get to North Wyoming you will meet I-90 going West Once again very little traffic And it will take you West clear to Washington.
One bit of information, If you choose to go North on !-25 When you get to Kaycee jump on Wyoming 190 going north to Buffalo. It parallels 1-25 for 45 miles into Buffalo some of the times you can see 1-25 in the distance so you are not loosing any miles. You might meet two ranch pickups in the 45 miles and the road is good.
Once again if you do have problems in Colorado or even near by the Grandpa Crew and I will come get you and fix what ever it takes.
Tim, if starting from NH you may want to check the Mohawk Trail (MA rt2) between Greenfield and Williamstown. It opened in1914 as a tourist route and boomed until the MA pike opened in the fifties. It is steep and crooked and today's autos go way to fast on it. My Dad opened Brown's Garage in the Town of Florida on it (village of Drury) in 1920 and the T was his best customer for years, by the time I was born they were rare. I ran the Garage from 1972 until 2003 and closed it when I
"Retired". I have a collection of early postcards and a 1925 Tudor that has never been restored but kept in running condition. If you do come this way stop at 65 South St. just off the trail in Drury. Phone is 413 672 1857. In any event the very best to and will be watching for the book.
One of the stops that is long gone was "Moore's Summit" operated by the Fred Moore Family but the Whitcomb Summit is still operating as a Motel only.
I just started reading your post today. I would've offered you my car if I had read it sooner. See my profile :-). I would've offered to buy it back from you at the exact cost I sold it to you including shipping when you got back here to California :-)
It sounds like you have been cautioned by many. I look at driving these old cars as having similar dangers to driving motorcycles, one of the biggest risk is other drivers. I pray for safety and let look forward to seeing posts along the way.
I believe it's things like this that will bring in or young folks into the hobby.
Tim, You said part of your route may be thru Kentucky to Texas. If for some reason you pass thru Arkansas, I would be glad to help out any way I can. Have a safe trip and post lots of updates.
So, now that you have had more advice that you can process, put the rubber to the road and let the fun begin.
My motto is drivem' till they break, then fixem' and continue the adventure. You will have lots of help along the way just post your route as you go and keep us all informed. Help will just be around the next corner. You are doing what a lot of people only dream about.
I would roll the dice and go for it. Throw the map away and follow the sun west. It sounds like a great time.
I didn't have time to read the above postings. I would suggest buying a car from a person who will accompany you. Especially if he has some credibility. Wouldn't consider just "buying" a car and going. Second choice would be to take someone who has done this successfully. Good Luck.
RJL can be bought pretty cheap ...
Jennifer - on the other hand - is kinda expensive ...
The two little girls - well they are priceless .....
Currently in Virginia City, NV
Waiting on a rollback to unload
Tim, there is a Engine Show (in UK a Rally) at the Orange MA airport this weekend, 24 & 25, sponsored by the Central MA Steam & Gas Machinery Association. Just putting that out FYI.
I am a Brit living in Canada and I have a 1915 Model T Touring Car. Even if you offered me 3 times what the car was worth, in all integrity, I couldn't sell it to you for such an ill conceived idea.
Owning a T is all about developing a relationship with your car. Understanding the beauty in its elegant engineering and what is required to keep it running to its full potential. It requires simple but ongoing maintenance. To learn to drive a T take time - to know how NOT to damage it through overheating or poor pedal control etc etc.
You are welcome to visit us here in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada and learn a bit about Ts before venturing out onto the "open road".
Now that most everyone has had their say, lets look at some facts,
Back in the day, you put your money down, and got a shinny new Ford. The dealer gave you a few rudimentary driving instructions and off you went down the highway of happiness. He left the rest up to you.
I suggest we put a positive face on and encourage Tim to live his dream. Yes there will some hick up's along the way but there are enough T guys along his course that would be more than happy to help out.
This s not rocket science he's not going to the moon. He is traveling along the byways at a leisure rate enjoying the ride and the countryside.
Again, I say crank it up, pull the levers down point west and look forward to one hell of an adventure.
Go for it!!!!!!!
He's got this far so Good Luck Tim. If you want to see what that dealer instruction was like just watch the movie "East of Eden" Steinbeck was a T guy for sure.
Bump to get rid of the spam
It is indeed a nice looking car, and have somebody teach you how to use that Ruxtell and when to use it and when not to...it's not an overdrive.
Yes, by all means keep this forum updated with posts of your progress on your trip. There are probably more than 200 guys between where you're starting and where you're going, one shout on the forum puts anyone of them at your disposal in a pinch, to get you back on your road.
Good luck, travel safe and smart and we'll all be looking for you if you need help.
Here are a some pictures to help remind you about your car.
Ok, these are the basic controls of a Model T, but there are a few things to remember...like if you're going to use reverse, always pull the hand brake lever perpendicular to the floorboards. This kicks the Hi/Low pedal into neutral. When the car is in neutral is the only time you can go in reverse. Once you've been driving for a while you'll be able to judge where neutral is an just cover it with your left foot...but until you get the hang of it...use the hand brake lever.
Basic functions of the car, switching between the battery and the magneto (always start on battery and switch to magneto to run the car) and your headlight controls are here too.
This if fairly important...when cranking any Model T Ford, never you your right hand (even if you're right handed) Always grab the crank by your left hand (no thumb) and with your right hand grab the front fenders outside edge. The reason for this is in case of a kick back (could happen on very cold days) you won't break your bloody arm...if you do it the way I've described, the crank will pull free of your hand, not pull your hand free of you or break it in several places.
The little loop looking wire sticking out of the front side of the radiator is the choke or priming wire...what you do to start the car cold. Is with the key in the off position, pull and hold that loop out, grab the crank with your right hand (because the key is off you can safely crank the car with your right hand, but never try with the key on) for a couple of pulls...this primes the engine. Now go back and set the key to "BAT" position (battery) and go back round to the front of the car and use the procedure I first described.
The other thing you can do (which may be best considering) is just sit in the car pull the choke and step on the starter. Not that it'll start right off, just it's easier than using the crank on the front of the engine.
Another thing to check (often really) is the oil...if your car has one of these on it, just look at the glass...if not, you'll have to do it the way Ford said to do it...open the top petcock, if oil comes out, close it. You know you have enough oil to run the car. If not add some until it does come out that top petcock.
Here's something else you need...a gas gauge...Model T didn't have one other than this stick, so yes, you have to lift up the seat and stick the gauge down into the tank (to the bottom) and pull it on and see where the level is. This is where you have to fill you tank also (hopefully you know that already).
One thing you'll notice when your tank is about a little less than half full, if you're approaching a steep hill, you'll run out of gas before reaching the top...why? Because this is a gravity feed system and when the carburetor is higher than the tank, gravity is no longer in your favor with only a half a tank...so either fuel up often or you're going to have to back (in reverse) up the hill.
OK all - I'm finally off! Flying out on Friday, meeting Ross and his trailer at Newark on Saturday morning, then after a slight diversion (he has another T that has to be picked up in Long Island on Sat afternoon) back down to my new starting point: east coast of Virginia! (Long story, related to title/registration issues). Will head off on Sunday (hopefully the pre-July 4 traffic won't be TOO bad).
Thanks to Martin for those photos/advice, and to everyone else for their input & encouragement. I watched East of Eden last night: "SPARK UP - GAS DOWN!" Also must namecheck Deke for letting me drive his 1926 Touring around Kent.
Route plan as it stands is first to head northwest up to Detroit. Will take stock if/when I make it that far. Will be updating here...
Good luck to you, Tim. Prove the naysayers wrong. You're gonna be hooked before this is over.
God speed to you!! I you are in los angeles and need a place to stay or parts or service on you car , please let me know .Have a blast on the road , John
Please consider making a new thread for the start of your adventure. This one requires a lot of scrolling down to see the latest entries.
Best of luck to you and safe travels.
Gary, just hit the right arrow with the line under it. But I do agree he should start a new thread.
Woo hoo! I hope you come through Alabama/Tennessee. My speedster is running great and I'd love to drive with you a little ways.
Definitely start a new thread as you begin your adventure. Keep us updated on your route (I understand it may be a bit fluid).
Tim, Great to hear you are almost ready to go. My grandparents left Yale Oklahoma during the depression with everything they owned and my mom who was two months old in the rear seat, and headed to California. I know it is was only a trip half way across the US. But there were no hard surface roads and very few bridges back then. There are stretches of road that are just 3 or four miles long today, that were over 50 miles long back then due to all the "switchback curves" need to travel the same distance we travel today. So if they could make it, I give you a very good chance of making it also. Prove the "naysayers" wrong. Have fun and be safe..... and if for some reason you pass thru Arkansas and need help, we will do all we can to help....
Best of luck, Tim. You've got a lot of good people pulling for you and willing to lend a hand; you'll be fine!
Thanks again all. Feel genuinely humbled by the messages above (and excited/terrified by my imminent undertaking). Will start a new thread when I hit the road - hopefully Sunday.
When you hit Detroit, be sure to see the Piquette plant where the T was born. You won't be sorry. I'm sorry I'll miss you being here, I'll actually be in San Diego til the 15th.
Pip pip, cheerio, all that other improperly used by Americans British stuff!
Seriously. Safe journey. Enjoy, and good luck.
Any updates on Tom Moore ??
George, if you mean Tim Moore, he posted three messages before yours. (Haven't heard anything from Tom, though.... )
Thanks Dick, missed that one. You back in Missourah yet ??
George, we drove all the way through Missourah until we got to Missouri (and home).
How does anybody call Misery home?