I have been driving my T as much as possible this summer but have run into some issues that seem to be getting worse now that it's cold. The biggest issue I have had is getting it started, everyday. The engine turns over, the coils buzz, every once in a while it pops. And then all of a sudden its running like it never had an issue. Here's the road I have gone down. 1st issue I had was that I burnt up the original starter button. So I went and got a new one, and after a week or two burnt that one up. I did that a few times before I started looking into other causes. I cleaned all battery and ground connections from battery to starter. I took the starter out and had it rebuilt. I installed a 6v solenoid so I was relying on the cheap Chinese starter button to carry the juice. Yesterday I got it all back together and tried starting the car. Crank, crank, crank, no fire. Check spark at the plugs - all good. Check for fuel - cylinders and plugs completely dry after cranking for a few minutes. I loosened the petcock on the carb and lots of rusty, dirty fuel came out. The car had fresh fuel but has been sitting for about a month. Button it back up and try again. Crank, fire and pop but won't stay running. I'm past frustrated, kind of in my zen mode now and my mind went to the tales of jacking up the back of the car. I figured why not, I've tried everything else. jack the rear, climb in turn the key, push the starter button and it fires right up and runs fine. this has me thinking that maybe excess driveline drag had put a strain on the starter and that caused my buttons to burn up. But what about the dirty fuel? Do I put in a filter? How do I lessen the driveline drag? My plan is to drive through our Wisconsin winter but I'm not carrying a jack around with me. Any help or advice?
Are you richening up the mixture prior to starting, now that it's gotten colder?
If not, try turning the mixture screw 1/8 to 1/4 turn counter-clockwise (richer) just for starting. Once the engine starts and runs for a ten seconds or so, you can lean the mixture screw back down to your original driving setting.
You might also try a lighter weight oil in the winter. If you are running a straight grade oil, try a multigrade, say 5W-30 in colder weather. I run 5W-30 year round and it works fine for me, but if your car has always run fine on a thicker oil in the summer, you can switch back to it when warm weather returns.
Sounds like a fuel problem to me. You don't need a fuel filter. Model Ts weren't designed for them unless you also add a fuel pump. I'd drain the tank, try to clean it best you can, remove the sediment "potato" and clean it thoroughly too. Clean out the carb. Put it back together with fresh fuel, this time with some stabilizer, as you're going to be having it sit idle quite a while now that it's winter. Also, did you look inside the fuel tank to see just how good a shape it is? Dirty? Rusty? Might even be time for a new tank.
I agree with Mr. Wrenn 100%, and cannot say enough bad things about our current Ethanol gasoline. It has dealt me more misery with everything I own than I can say. I have had to replace gas tanks on everything I own, and my T twice, because of this junk, and that includes putting all the gasoline additives known to man in there. There is Non Ethanol gasoline out there, and that is what I have done, and cured 90% of my problems. Go on line and look for Non Ethanol gasoline in Wisconsin, there are lots of stations out there that sell it, it is pricier, but for all the good things it does, to me it is worth it.
John, Greetings from the top of the state. You probably have rust and crusty stuff in your tank. At the minimum you'll need to clean that out or it will continue to give you headaches. You's also better make darn sure all your electrical connections are in pristine condition. Electricity is like water: it takes the path of least resistance and flows fastest down the biggest pipe. This is particularly true of 6 volt systems. If you don't have a proper neutral setting and are using straight weight oil the drag in the transmission will be considerable. My T is slow starting in cold weather too. Even though my starter is a recent rebuild, the car starts slower in the cold. I suspect the majority of the electrical flow from a cold battery is headed to the starter and not the coils. I'd definitely look at using 5W-30 or synthetic oil in the same grade (if your car isn't a "gusher", that is). It also helps to leave the car with the hand brake/clutch lever throw forward when parked to squeeze some of the oil out of the clutch plates.
I agree with Tim and Grady. Ethanol gas in an environment that has a temperature swing leads to phase separation. I use non ethanol gas in my T , boat and all my small engine equipment. This has removed the majority of my fuel system problems.
Concerning the gas problem if it happened soon after you filled the tank, you might have gotten bad gas from the gas station. We had that problem on a tour once. All the cars which filled up at one station had problems but those who used the station across the road did not have the problem.
So First thing would be to drain the carburetor and sediment bulb. That might fix the problem. Or it could be your tank. If so it needs to be completely cleaned out and sealed with a compound which is impervious to the new gasoline. Or replace the tank. If your car is a 26 or 27 with the cowl mounted tank, they are not available and you would either need to clean and seal your tank or find another used one which is in good condition. The other types of tanks are available through the vendors.
As for the starter problem, If your starter won't turn and you keep the switch turned on, you could burn out the switch. The place of highest resistance in the circuit will get hot and that place could be the switch.
For the drag on the clutch and or bands If you put the parking brake lever in neutral you should be able to push the car without turning over the engine and crank the car without moving the car. If either push makes the engine turn or cranking causes the car to move, the clutch or bands are too tight. There always is some drag on the transmission and with cold weather with thick oil the drag can increase. I have been told that it gets very cold in Wisconsin, so you need a thinner oil in the winter time or multi-grade oil.
Hopefully something I have said will be of help to you.
Hey guys, thanks for the advice. I just didn't want to keep going down a rabbit hole if I didn't need to. I think I'm going to check the tank first. It really bothered me that the fuel looked so rusty. I like the idea of using 5w-30 but cant find any without additives. Which brand are you guys using? My free neutral isn't exactly free, but I had to adjust the bands to that point to get good engagement of low gear without pushing my foot through the floor. I actually had a bruise on the bottom of my foot from pushing so hard.
John, Go back and adjust for a free neutral FIRST according to the manual, then adjust the band so when pushed the pedal is one inch off the floor. What kind of condition are your bands in? Might want to pull the inspection cover and check that out. 5W-30 oil with additives is fine for your car. Just make sure it doesn't say "energy conserving" on the API label. Sometimes that stuff makes things slip that shouldn't. Motorcycle or anything wet clutch approved is fine for a Model T.
Go to Walmart and buy what's on the shelf, does not matter about additives, not sure what you mean by that anyway they are not going to hurt anything.
There's interesting videos on Youtube showing how to remove ethanol from gasoline. I might try it.
Ok so, fuel tank and sediment bowl, adjust neutral and change my oil. Its funny how a burnt up starter button could be caused by these things. Good thing these Model Ts are so simple. Lol. Why can't I run a filter on the fuel line? I have tractors with filters and they are gravity fed. I have no idea what condition my bands are in. I was planning a look-see though as I ordered a cover gasket with my last Langs order.
Oh and sorry for the horrible photo resizing job. It was my first attempt. Ill get it eventually.
A tractor gas tank typically is higher in relation to the engine than what you find on a Model T. An inline filter on a T, with low pressure from a tank barely above the carburetor, usually leads to fuel starvation. The only exception my be the good old glass bowl type. But that's just a duplication of the sediment bulb you already have under your tank.
I fought trash in the gas from an old tank in my runabout. Because of a loose baffle banging around inside, I bought a new tank. Problem solved. If you're keeping your tank and it's dirty, you have to clean it.
Something that no one has mentioned is choking technique. I know I'll get some flak for my method, but this is what I remember seeing people do with manual chokes on updraft cars, tractors, etc in the old days:
Set the mixture a little richer than normal (as described by others), open the throttle just a bit -maybe 1/4 inch or so - turn on the switch, pull the choke full out and hit the starter. Continue to hold the choke full on while cranking until the engine begins to fire. Once it fires, let off of the choke. If the engine doesn't continue to run, give it a short crank without choking to be sure that it isn't flooded. If it doesn't fire right away, the induction system is still too dry. Go ahead and give it full choke again until it starts. You may have to modulate the choke a little for the first ten seconds or so after start just to keep the engine running.
The key factors for winter starting are slow cranking (less suction), and poorer vaporization. It's important to have the throttle plate slightly open so that the choke plate dominates the system.
I've been using this "choke until fire" method on Model A's and T's for about 60 years. So far, so good. I don't believe I've ever flooded an engine with an updraft carburetor.
Thanks again guys. I went to start it today and "drove" it all the way down the driveway with the starter. I guess I really need to adjust/check my bands. It did hiccup a few times so when I finally threw the jack under it, it started right up.
Once I get some fuel burned out of the car, I'll remove the tank and clean it and the sediment bulb. Then I will go to straight gas. I was using ethanol this summer as I was driving a lot. I probably burned through 10-15 tanks this summer.
Dick, I think I have your choking technique down pat. That's the method I have always used for my tractors and it works well on the T.
One method I used for starting a car on the road side was to back the low band right off and disconnect the clutch linkage. Pull up the hand brake and adjust it until the engine was easy to crank over, connect the clutch linkage and adjust it to suit. Then tighten the low band as necessary.
So you are saying I should clean my tank?
Or maybe just get a new one?
I agree that the first thing to do is clean the fuel supply. However, I have had a 1915 (no starter) that on the first start, temp is warm or cold, if I don't get a free start I need to jack the rear wheel up and get it started usually on the 2nd or third crank. After the first start the car starts normally on one or two cranks. Everything checks out and I just put up with it.
I found another problem. I took the inspection cover off the trans to see if I could identify anything wrong. I've always had a hard time adjusting the low speed band, the only way I cold get good engagement was when the clutch pedal would stick, I'd have to pry it back with my toe. Looks to me like I got a little cam wear!!
Replacing the cam (low speed notch) will certainly help. If it isn't enough, you may need a longer low speed link:
That tank has had water in it longer then a few years. Water in gas tanks has been around longer then modern fuel. Modern or old gas, sucking from the bottom of the suppliers tank or just plain good old condensation, takes it's toll.
Re low engagement; what condition are the bands in and have you adjusted the link?
Re starter drag;
If oil is too thick or the clutch is miss adjusted so the disk are draging, that will cause drag. Also dirty connections. You said the starter was rebuilt, by who and do they know that the bearings and bushing need to be in alignment? You may just need to adjust the link as suggested, google "mtfca; clutch adjustment".
You can drain the tank, all you have to do is attach a drain tube to the petcock and open it. Or even just set a funnel in the gas can and open the petcock. In both cases you may need to open and stick a wire thru to make sure it's clear.
I adjusted the link, it was way out of adjustment. Instead of 1/16 inch it had over 1/4 inch of play.
The bands appear to me to be in good condition, they aren't coming apart at the edges.
Starter was rebuilt by a local reputable starter rebuilder. He knew what it was when I walked in so I assume he knows what he is doing.
Mark Strange recommended a new tank above, but the tank in the picture is rectangular, mine is the oval shape. Does the rectangular one fit? I'm ok with the car not being accurate, to me it's a fun daily driver. I am keeping all parts that I take off of it for future owners though.
"...rebuilt by a local reputable starter rebuilder...I assume he knows what he is doing." Don't assume. After the local expert worked on my generator I ended up using the MTFCA book and fixing it myself.
All the pre-26 tanks are available.
John, I apologize for showing you a link to the wrong tank. Lang's and the other suppliers carry the other tanks, just get the one that matches your configuration.
Mark, I kinda did the same thing on Jim K's plastic model assembly thread. He was asking about colors of the tank and straps...
I showed a gas tank that doesn't even have full straps around it (an early one)...
John, try the 2900TF tank that Steve links to. :-)
I got real lucky with my "new" TT, the old tank is very nice inside.
Like other fellas have mentioned on other threads and I learned this about bands too.
Perhaps your low speed band is all worn out down on the bottom along with the cam wear?
I guess since I have to remove the hogshead to do the cam, I might as well have bands ready to go. Anything else I should do while I'm in there?