A while back, an ebay seller was offering NOS band linings with cork inserts. Mostly out of curiosity, I bought a set, not surprised to find the item smelled mighty musty, and the cork spots soft and degraded - the woven lining seems sound, but I don't think I'd trust it. I found a few period ads for various suppliers of similar linings, and a couple of "reviews" in trade journals of the time that seemed to be positive.
A few weeks back, I collected a group of parts from Dave Huson (thank you, Dave !) with the intention of rebuilding a transmission "ready to go" for when I pull the engine in my T. Among the stuff, I picked out a matched set of bands. Yesterday I started cleaning up "stuff" and was amused to find the bands I'd picked up had cork insert linings. As you'd expect, the three showed varying amounts of wear, but it looks as if the cork inserts performed very well - I wonder if anyone yet living has had first-hand experience driving a set of these linings ?
Here are some photos for reference. I picked up some NOS sets at Hershey a few years ago. The cork inserts in most of them were loose due to shrinkage of the band material over time.
Maybe not three sets, but from the look of those I just examined, I'd say they probably wore better than plain woven linings. Dan, I'd say it's the cork that has shrunk in yours.
A lot of cone clutch set ups used cork under the lining to prevent chatter and grabbing. Those systems are dry, not bathed in oil like T bands and the cork is used under the lining to raise it in spots to absorb initial contact with the drum and then compress for smooth engagement of the primary band material.
An "old timer" once told me that he did this himself, using regular lining and wine bottle corks to make his own. He punched out the lining and glued in the cork. He said it worked great. I think it probably would. Hudsons used cork in their clutch discs, which ran in a special kind of oil.
I've got a '47 Hudson and it has a cork clutch disc. I replaced it once and it's about 80 round pieces of cork in a metal disc. I've thought about getting a set of those cork bands when I've seen them advertised on eBay. That Hudson clutch is real smooth. It's supposed to run in Hudsonite oil, which you can get or just put a little ATF. It only holds 5 ounces. I'd like to know well how the cork bands work.
Back in 97 i pulled a low millage 17 T touring out of a barn had a set they worked great up until the top half rotted away and i had to replace them