Probably an often asked question but I'm going to ask anyhow , what's the best way to "tune " up your car for crank starting ? My 27 Tudor starts fairly easy with the starter and runs fine on mag , but I can hardly ever get it to start with the hand crank , I'd love to start it this way , because I think it adds to the T experience , I have actually only started it this way once while it was warm , thanks in advance .
One way here: (Thanks Mike!)
How to Time a Model T Mike Robison:
1. Turn crank shaft around until crank pin is horizontal
2. Turn key to Batt.
3. Retard spark
4. No coils should be buzzing
5. If coil buzzes go to step 8
6. Advance spark rod 3-5 clicks on quadrant a coil should buzz; If coil doesn’t begin to buzz go
to step 9
7. Retard spark, coil should stop buzzing everything okay!
8. The timer control needs to be lengthened return to step 3
9. The timer control needs to be shortened return to step 3
10. Coil should buzz and quit buzzing every time you advance and retard the spark!
And there are many others. Mr. Thrifty has one, also.
With a good charge in the magnets you can start a cold T on MAG, but it will start easier on BAT because you don't need to turn the crank fast enough to fire the coils. The battery fires them for you
For easy starting you want a clean, well-functioning carburetor, clean plugs, coils in good order, a clean timer in good condition, and properly set timing.
Having the timing set correctly is a good start, but also knowing what your car likes for fuel adjustment is another. From a lot of the advice I see on here, I can't see how people aren't flooding the crap out of their engines. I see some talking about opening the needle valve 2 turns and more and also cranking with the choke pulled for multiple revolutions of the crankshaft. If I did that with either of mine, there would be a puddle of gas on the ground. I hand crank mine practically every time, even though one has a starter. I richen the mixture by 1/4-1/2 turn further open than its normal running position (which on mine is about 3/4 turn from closed), so starting position on mine is 1 to 1-1/4 turns open from closed. I then choke for 1 pull of the crank. That is 1 compression stroke, or what some like to call 1/4 turn, but it is really 1/2 if you consider it continuing to move on its own after it passes top dead center. Then it usually starts on the next pull. If not, it will almost always start on the following one. I attribute this to which cylinder it happened to be on when you choked it and whether the next cylinder to try to fire is on that same leg of the intake manifold. If it tries to start but immediately goes dead, it's a good sign you didn't have the mixture open enough. Give it another 1/4 turn open. You will likely need to choke it one more pull then it should start and run. OR....you can just choke it one more pull then if it starts again, reach down and hold the choke about 1/2 way and see if you can coax it into running for a few seconds, then you can let go. It's a matter of finding what yours likes, but I suspect that most starting problems on a car with a good properly adjusted ignition system are due to too much fuel rather than not enough.
If you are running a vaporizer crank starting can be an issue. I have 7 T's and only two have starters. They all start easily by hand cranking except for the '27 with a vaporizer carb. I too rarely use the starter and after going through 3 rebuilt vaporizer carburetors I finally gave up and switched to an NH. With a lot of tweaking I was able to start the car cold but had to spin the crank to do it and that is not what I am looking for. I hated to switch over to an NH as I like my cars original but it seemed better than winding up with my arm in a sling! I am sure there are any number of people who will tell you that their cars start just fine on the crank with a vaporizer but I am not one of them. For what it's worth the '27 did start easily on the crank after it was warmed up as long as it sat for no more than an hour.
Hal - I agree with everything you said,.....my usual cold starting procedure with hand crank is just like yours,......with key off, two pull-up compression strokes with hand crank, turn on ignition key, third pull-up will result in a start. On the rare occasions when it doesn't start, I'm sure the problem is too much fuel, because my usual procedure then, on a no start on third crank is this,.....I shut off ignition key, open throttle wide open, then pull thru' at least four compression strokes to clear out fuel. Then close throttle lever to normal start position of two or three notches open, turn on ignition key and practically a guaranteed start on next pull-up of hand crank, of course with no choke. This procedure works on all of my Model T's which, by the way, have Holly NH carburetors. FWIW,.....harold
oops,....second line above should have read,...."two pull-up compression strokes while choking,..........sorry,.....harold
Yesterday morning I did two pulls with the choke, turned the key, and got a free start!
I run a Kingston L4.
I have a Holley NH , sure it's not original to thecar as it also has an aftermarket manifold , can't think of what it says right now , any rate not a vaporizer , I'm going to check timing first off and then use the helpful information that you have given me , thank you , I haven't ran my Tudor since last fall , she runs good , I'd just like to be able to crank start her . Thanks for all the help , hopefully it will work out !!
Travis; Be sure that your spark plugs are gaped no greater than .250 inches and that your coils are set to about an ampere, then it should start by hand cranking on battery. Brad.
after last weekend, I can tell you how NOT to do it. cast will be on for 5 more weeks.
no bagpipe playing until august
Brad probably means 0.025 inch, not 1/4 inch.
Not to rub salt in the wound, but as an "educational" lesson for the new folks to the Forum, did the occurrence possibly take place while you were "windmilling" the crank?
Also, I can't remember, is it the Anderson flapper style timer you have?
Thanks for whatever lessons you will share with us.
I believe I have a new day timer or something close. fixed rotor on the cam and four terminal posts on the timer cover. roller type cam
knew better and was hand cranking it all day long at car show had an t owner show me how he did his as well two hand on the crank, thumbs out of the way and short upward pulls from the 9 oclock position to the 12 oclock position. unlock the crank after every short pull and reposition
for some unknown reason, after it did not start on a short upward crank, I left the crank in and put my right hand on it and grabbed the handled and slowly cranked it down to get to the upward position. timing all the way retarded at about the 4 oclock position, it chugged once and reversed itself about two inches no running in reverse, no handle flying all the way around, jus a short two inch backward chug
four broken bones in arm and wrist with one break a twisting fracture. no surgery, just a series of repositioning casts over the next six weeks.
but I won a frickin trophy !
Very sorry for the pain and anguish.
Thank you for the details. It would appear that the "take away" lesson is to not push on the crank - only pull up. Others may have a different explanation.
Appreciate the words.
it only hurts when I type
If T is tuned right pull on 1/4 turn
To choke turn on key pull once or twice off she runs
About the same thing happened to me when I first got my T running. I had a battery on it and I pushed the crank in to engage it with my right hand. Something jiggled and the motor spun backwards and the crank handle crammed my hand into the license plate. I made out with only stitches. Ever since then I don't like to use a battery. Back then though I didn't know anything about setting the timing.
How easy the engine starts depends on several things. How good the compression is, timing, where the spray needle works best, choking as needed, if starting on mag, how strong the magnets are, how well the coils are tuned, which carb you are using. When I was running the Kingston it started by cranking easy, the Schebler not so much takes a little more work.
My '26 with Vaporizer will ALWAYS (well almost) start if I first turn it over 2 turns with full choke and ignition off, and it will NEVER start if I don't.
Dave, that's exactly right. Only pull up. My broken arm came from going over the top.
I once had a running T chassis with a starter but it seemed odd so i gave it away.The two T's we have are both stem wind so every free start is a help! At a fast idle i retard the spark and count to 5 then turn off the switch.More free starts and less chance of kick back because while you should check the spark was left retarded.No battery no free start unless you park on a hill.Bud.
I have two techniques to crank my 12 hack. If cold, with key off I prime 4 times. I turn the mix a quarter turn open, switch to battery and usually get a free start. When warmed up, I prime once, turn the switch to battery, (usually it tries to start) but I do a quarter turn and it usually starts. It is quite a show at the ice cream shop when I go to leave. Most folks seem to think you wind it up with the crank and don't expect it to free start or quarter turn start. What is even better is when my wife grabs the crank and quarter turns it to start!!
I believe this video says it all:
Robert and Steve....I'm sorry about the broken arms.
If y'all haven't already, would you consider creating a separate thread with specifics about how these incidents occurred?
Up to this point, I've only heard that this was possible, but never actually heard from real people who've experienced it. The subject really does intrigue me, and like others, we hope to avoid it in the future.
So...at the risk of sounding like I lack compassion (I don't....I'm truly sorry and have had enough broken bones to empathize) I'd really like a more in depth discussion.
Three pulls with the choke , throttle 1 inch down, E timer, full retard, free start 95% of the time on a cold engine!!
Don, look at Robert's post above - June 1, 04:45PM - "he PUSHED" on the crank - that's bad.
As for Steve,
see this earlier post:
Maybe your T doesn't like the Bagpipes???
Sorry to hear of your incident, but it does reinforce the "never push down" rule even if you're not starting it!
And wow....that video (link below) really looks scary. It's the only time I've ever actually seen a car with a crank spin backwards by itself like that.
I'm new to T's but I had a '29 Model A roadster that I hand cranked plenty and was raised around old tractors that needed cranking. But I've never witnessed, nor have even seen a video of it until this one.