I bought my pop's (thought to be) 1916 Model T with a 1921 motor in it and was looking for any guidance I could get.
What I know about the car - Chassis is thought to be a 1916 (though looking at photos may be a 1918+. Engine was made in Oct 1921. It hasn't run in 19 years so in my arrogance I took on the task of getting it running again. It needed a new radiator, battery, starter, and various other parts. In any case I did get it running (poorly) but it ran under it's own power for a few minutes in March. I tried to get it running again for the 4th of July but could only get it to run for 30 seconds or so and then it slowly died. So.....looking to see if anyone cared to take a gander at these questions:
1) Looking at the body what year does it appear to be (I looked all over the chassis and frame and found nothing, understand they didn't start stamping the frame until mid 20s. See photos on photobucket here)?
2) Video of the car running on youtube:
3) Today I could get it to start but the engine seemed very weak and giving it more throttle and another 1-4 notches of spark advance did not make a difference. The gentleman I got the car from indicated it was starting to have electrical trouble when it was last driven. Anything I should start digging into? Inspected the obvious stuff, wiring from commutator to coil, battery cabling (all loose but will still turn starter over). Noticed the coil buzzes when I turn the switch left or right (doesn't do it all the time). Couldn't keep it running more than 30-45 seconds at a time.
In any case am all ears and would like to extend a thanks in advance for any ideas. Otherwise the only other thing I know to do is find a repair manual and redo the whole thing which I really don't want to do. :D
Your car is a collage of various years.
1924-25 touring body and fenders but somebody has installed a 1918-22 top and a 1917-1922 windshield.
thanks Erik, I believe it as I understand the car was built from various parts in the late 60s\early 70s by a family member.
Try closing the carburetor control about a half a turn. :-)
Don't be afraid to mess with that carb control a lot until you get to know that engine and it wakes up fully.
Have you cleaned the commutator yet? Remember, dry for a brush type commutator and lube for a roller or flapper type.
Anxious for another video of it picking 'em off nice!
Doesn't sound like it's running on all cylinders. Take a screwdriver with an insulated handle and short out each spark plug wire to ground, one at a time. If the engine sound doesn't change when you short a wire, that cylinder isn't firing. Try swapping coils from the dead cylinder to another cylinder and see if the problem stays with the cylinder, or follows the coil. If it follows the coil, you would benefit from a freshly rebuilt set of coils from one of the suppliers. If it stays with the cylinder, either the spark plug is bad, or there is another problem, like low compression in that cylinder.
With the engine warm, pull the spark plugs and do a compression check. If all the cylinder readings are close but below 30 psi, squirt a little oil into each cylinder through the spark plug hole and repeat the compression test. If the compression jumps up to 40-50 psi after the oil, the piston rings are probably shot.
Will do, are you referring to the needle valve? If so how many turns up from fully closed would you recommend starting to play with?
I have not cleaned the commutator yet. Have any good 'how to' links to do this?
Again thanks for the ideas.
@Mark Strange - outstanding write up. I knew it was too good to be true. :D I will dive into your page and run through each item as my car falls into the 'it ran great X years ago' category and have worked on enough cars to know they don't improve by sitting around. :D
John, it sounds like you are off to a good start with what you have already replaced. My ’26 roadster sounded similar to yours when I took delivery of it. I started going through each system one at a time. The coils and box were shot. The wiring was frayed with bare wire visible here and there. Carburetor needed cleaned and rebuilt etc. The reconditioned coils from Ron the Coilman made a huge difference. Good luck with your project.
Not my page, it belongs to our own Dauntless Geezer, Steve Jelf.
Duey has a good point. If the engine is running pig rich, then one or more cylinders won't fire and you'll smell raw gas and your eyes will burn. IMO a half turn leaner is a lot, if it were me, I would try 1/4 turn leaner first and see if the engine runs better. If it does, try another 1/8 turn at a time until you find the best spot. At some point the engine will slow down and start to misfire again from being too lean. Hunt around and try to set the needle for maximum Idle RPM, which will be approximately halfway between the rich and lean misfire points.
There is a very active Model T club of southern Nevada. They meet in Las Vegas. You need to become active in the club and you will find someone who will be very happy to help you.
Folks thanks again for the great outpouring of information. Should the coils 'buzz' when you turn the ignition on? Sometimes the coils buzz and sometimes they don't and the car seems to have a better chance to fire when I do hear the buzz. Engine not even attempting to sputter now so it is sounding like the coils are toast. Will look at getting those replaced or rebuilt as they were last replaced in the 80s some time.
If you have the ignition switched to battery, each coil will buzz in sequence as you turn the motor over and the timer roller makes contact. The firing order is 1-2-4-3.
The coils will not buzz with the ignition switched to magneto.
No, the coils shouldn't buzz all the time. Turning the engine over slowly with the hand crank with the ignition switched to BAT, you should hear each one in order (1, 2, 4, 3) as the rotor in the timer (commutator) points to the appropriate terminal. The timer is really just a four way switch that completes the circuit to fire each of the four coils in order.
John - Lots of good advice from lots of well-meaning "T" guys here, but for a fellow like yourself that has not had much experience with Model "T"s, I can't help but think that there is an easy way to sort out the problems with what sounds to me like a really nice Model T:
I see by your profile that you are in LV, Nevada, and I know there are several Model "T" guys not far from you, one or more of whom I am quite sure would be jump at the chance to help you get that Model T of yours, "hitt'n on all four" like it should. I'm willing to bet that there is very little wrong with it than just several minor repairs and "adjustments.
If one of those nearby "T"guys would be willing to come over to your place with their good-running "T" and spend an afternoon with you, here's the "easy" (and almost fun) way to, if nothing else, at least determine which system (ignition, carburetion, etc) is the most seriously need of "adjustment, cleaning and or repair:
First, swap out the four known good coils from your helpers car. Might be that you'll see an immediate improvement in how the ol' girl runs. If she's still a bit rough, leave the helpers good coils in place for the present, and swap out carburetors. Here again, a big improvement could take place.
By all means, be sure the coils "buzz" individually by testing as Steve Jelf suggests, and this might just result from just carefully cleaning out the inside of the timer and lubricating properly, depending on what type timer you have, and your "T" guy helper will know. Of course, check wiring for shorts, grounding, etc.
With a bit of help John, this should get you "in the ball park", and if nothing else, I'll guarantee that you'll learn a lot in one afternoon, and make a "T"guy friend doing it. FWIW,....harold
Right on, will keep an eye out for some of the local guys and would be happy to feed\beer or water them and\or take em for a ride in my race car on the Mint 400 course if they would like.
Just determined that I was running it too rich. I spoke to my pop and he said to open the carb adjustment a 1/4 to a 1/2 turn and no more or I would flood\run too rich and it wouldn't run right. I easily had it open 2-3+ full turns. Will try again tomorrow with the right fuel mixture and test the coils to make sure they are good.
Turn the carb adjustment all the way down but don't force it and then open it 1.5 turns. Then work from there.
Also - read the owners manual if you haven't already done so:
Yes for sure check the carb adjustment. The gas in the carb goes bad sometimes getting stopped up in a very short period.
For the carb adjustment, go ALL the way down to answer 43. Much good info in that manual!
To be honest, I missed the fact about an owners manual on this site. Thanks Erik!
John, I was suggesting closing the needle valve some from the cloud coming out of the exhaust pipe in your second video.
Way rich it seemed to me. :-) May I say thank you for the videos. Sometimes they really help! :-)
Nice lookin' T by the way!
I find it strange but if you have an old single cylinder flywheel type gas engine, the carb adjustment is number one or two on the list of things to know, as opposed to the 43rd thing. I'm an old gas engine/tractor guy.
Ford obviously had great confidence that the factory or the servicemen would set that carb correctly for the owner when they had it in the shop. :-)
Teach the owner this nugget of info later. :-) Too much, too soon? Or, set the carb, another dollar?
John, you're getting there and you'll soon know exactly what that T wants. :-)
Tim's post made me think of something that might be your case. On a carb that hasn't been used for a long time, it is sometimes necessary to open up the needle valve WAY too far to get gas up to the engine. After running a bit, then it needs to turned "down" a bunch to suit.
Never be afraid to mess with the carb adjustment needle valve until it's running right.
The more you play with it, the better you'll know what that engine wants today. :-)
On one of my wore out T's, I open up a whole 1/2 turn for starting, then back it down right away to suit the weather and engine temp. :-)
Mindless babbling stopped. ;-)
Hey John. Welcome and thanks for being here. These guys really know their stuff! Good people too. :-)
I got a chance to 'wrench' on the Model T again in the last week and got it running again. It sounds good but not sure it's hitting on all cylinders.
Replaced the loose ground post to battery. Took fuel line out and blew it out to make sure there was no garbage in it. (none that I could see) Took carb apart and inspected both needle valves (both looked near new with no grooves or seats cut into them). Installed a gasket set on the carb as it had none left. Sanded the contacts on the coil boxes. I had it running around 7-8 minutes today.
I pushed each coil contact down and two of them made the engine bog but the other two didn't really do anything. One made the engine skip a little when depressed and the other did nothing. Will check gap and make sure they are making good contact and post a video here again later to see if it looks\sounds like it's hitting on all 4. Thanks again for all the guidance, suggestions, and resources you all shared.
Okay I think I have it running on all 4 now. I adjusted the contacts under the boxes and it runs much smoother now. When you short the boxes out there is now evidence all 4 cylinders are firing. Now to take it and see what else I am going to have to work on.
Sounds good! Are you going to leave the battery up under the hood?
I plan to leave it where it is. Where is it usually relocated to?
Here's a pic of the stock location. The vendors have all the parts needed if you decide at some point to move it back there.
Remember, stock T's are 6 volts, negative ground!
John - To add a bit to what Mark said,....and this is just my opinion, but you have a 6 volt battery now. I would stay with 6 volts, because I personally don't feel like there are any "electrical demands" made by a stock Model T that would ever require a a 12 volt battery, and all of the power of a 12 volt alternator. Why some guys insist on converting to 12 volts and an alternator is a mystery to me. Only advantage I as see to that, is that 12 volt is more common and easier in regard to replacing bulbs or adding any modern accessories, etc., and admittedly, it is easier to locate and purchase a FRESH 12 volt battery than a 6 volt battery, but 6 volt batteries are easily obtainable too if you go to something like a farm supply store. Actually (....and again,....OPINION) I'm a big fan of Optima batteries, but,....whatever.
Now then,....this is NOT just my opinion,....this is a fact. In regard to whether or not you move your battery to the standard factory location in the chassis, or, if you keep in where it is like you said, here's something to be aware of:
In looking at your videos, you now appear to have a 6 volt battery, but with battery cables that appear to need replacing. One of your cables is, by it's "skinny" appearance, a 12 volt cable. This is a very common mistake with Model T's with 6 volts. Both battery cables need to be the big fat, cumbersome looking 6 volt cables! This is important, and a common mistake that cause a lot of people to feel that they need 12 volts, to make the starter motor turn the engine over better. When actually, it's the "skinny" little 12 volt cables they are using, that is the cause of poor starter performance. Again, the "skinny" 12 volt cables are a BIG mistake, even if you are installing brand new cables. THEY MUST BE THE BIG HEAVY 6-VOLT CABLES!!! For what it's worth,.....harold
You got it John!
Runs good! :-)
I think I will leave the 6 volt battery where it is now as I have to charge it before I try to start it (sometimes months go by where I don't have\take time to start it).
I plan to use the correct gauge ground and positive wire when I replace these. Good eye! Just about everything on the car is what was installed on it in the late 1960s\early 70s when the car was put together (again) during the pre internet era. So it has plenty of pieced together areas. Just don't ask her what her age is. ;)
Got it running again today and put a few miles on it. I was worried it wouldn't make it up the steep hills. I gave it plenty of gas, a little spark advance, and low gear and it never stumbled up them. Was good fun to see it run again after sitting 19 years. We used to take it out every 4th of July and New Years and drive it around the rural neighborhood my folks lived in.