Another myth ?

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Model T Ford Forum: Forum 2017: Another myth ?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rich Bingham, Blackfoot, Idaho on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 - 10:26 pm:

Through the past year and a half I've been reading on the forum, an observation on road conditions in the Model T era has been repeated frequently, and seems reasonable enough that our intuition can easily accept it as a "fact":

"No wonder they had so many flat tires back then, what with all of the horse-shoe nails in the road !"

This rather baffles me. I'll submit my experiences are no doubt as remote from the highways and byways of the Model T era as anyone else's nowadays, but I've been an active horse rider, packer and driver most of my adult life, and I have never seen a stray horse-shoe nail on the ground, on the trail, in the road, or anywhere else that horses regularly travel. In 50 years, I've never had a pony throw a shoe, though I have rode with some who have, a pretty rare occurence I've witnessed perhaps three times all these years.

When a shoe comes off, or a farrier removes a shoe, the nails tend to stay with it. With use, the nail heads get pounded firmly into their holes and the tapered relief in the shoe; failing that, the clinch over the hoof wall keeps them from falling out of the shoe. It actually takes a fair amount of effort to remove old nails so a shoe can be re-set.

Moreover, nails on the road that would readily puncture tires are equally hazardous to the soles of a horse's hoof. I find it hard to accept that all the roads Model Ts shared with horses in those bygone days were strewn with horse-shoe nails, thick as seed. Keeping an open mind, I'm eager to learn what period evidence supports this generally accepted notion.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Chris Bamford, Edmonton AB on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 - 10:32 pm:

I read something related to this a year or two ago... the writer stated that the profusion of nails on the road were not from horseshoes, but rather from packing crates.

The idea is that a great many things were shipped by wooden crate back in the say, and those crates were generally broken up by the recipient and used for firewood. Subsequently, the ashes (and nails) were often scattered on the roads to control something — can't remember what, mud maybe? Thinking about it now, it would seem that ashes on the road would tend to increase dust, mud, muck etc.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Steve Jelf, Parkerfield KS on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 - 11:51 pm:

I agree that a plague of stray horse shoes seems mighty unlikely. I doubt the ashes theory too. When I empty the kitchen stove I spread the ashes in the ditch alongside the road. I don't think they would do anything to improve a muddy road. More likely the frequency of flats had to do with the quality of the tires and tubes.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jim Davis on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 - 01:15 am:

The quality of tires has improved by quantum leaps in the last 30 years to the point many car makers no longer provide a spare tire or jack with the car, Which I don't agree with, fix A Flat wont help a blow out, I remember in the seventies if You got more than 15 K out of a set of tires on a full size car You were doing good, small compact cars with smaller size tires did better 20 to 25 K now it seems 40 k is about average for basic tires and up to 80K for high quality tires, I have had radial tires that had some of the steel belts shift way before the tread was gone. and the last few flats I have had lately seem to be from construction debris, The Rodeo comes to Houston every year and they have hundreds of trail riders coming into town from every direction using public roads and I have never heard of a horse shoe nail problem, and if only one case was reported you can be sure the Six o clock news would make it sound like every other car got a flat tire from a horse shoe nail.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Kevin Matthiesen on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 - 02:43 am:

Back in the 1920's and 1930's it was common for county road crews to have a large truck equipped with a separate motor driven electrode magnet. A magnetized bar with chains would drag along the road picking up nails as it went. A long time ago the Vintage Ford had a story on such a truck, a 1929 Model A one ton I think.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Allan Bennett - Australia on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 - 02:50 am:

Jim, your assertion that the quality of tyres has improved greatly over the last 30 years must be qualified. The clincher tyres on offer by the vendors today are nowhere near the quality of those offered 30 years ago. I would go so far as to say they are not fit for purpose, given the often minimal time they will stand up before cracking so badly they must be removed and replaced to pass a roadworthy inspection.

The Australian made Dunlop tyres on my 1912 van were made in the late 1960's. They were new when I fitted them in 1995 and have done an estimated 23-25 thousand miles in 22 years, and are still quite serviceable.

Allan from down under.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jem Bowkett, Spalding United Kingdom on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 - 02:56 am:

I have seen 1920s photos of trucks fitted with electromagnets across the front, picking up nails on country roads.

http://www.prairiepublic.org/radio/dakota-datebook?post=33486


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Don - Conroe, TX on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 - 08:21 am:

After a hailstorm or hurricane hits around here and everyone is getting new roofs put on....you're virtually guaranteed to have a series of flats.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Wilbur Swearingin--Mt.Vernon,MO on Thursday, December 21, 2017 - 10:21 am:

My grandparents moved from North Dakota to Louisiana in 1919. My grandfather and the older boys took the livestock by train. My grandmother and the other children traveled by car along with another family. My family drove a Model T while the other family had a J I Case car. My grandmother kept a diary of the trip which I have. Multiple breakdowns of the Case car. Only serious breakdown of the Ford happened in Arkansas when a stump in the road knocked a hole in the pan. The only flat tire they occurred in Louisiana less than 50 miles from their final destination. Always heard about having to fix flats several times driving to town. Probably this is from depression days when people had to go on well worn tires and bad roads.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Lew Morrill on Friday, December 22, 2017 - 08:46 am:

Any chance you could share that diary with us? It sounds like it would be an interesting read.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dave Dunlavy, Iowa USA on Friday, December 22, 2017 - 08:52 am:

My thought about one of the biggest causes of flat tires was the fact they were pumped up by hand and never to a specific pressure. When the tire looked like it had "enough" air in it, the pumper quit. I've made it a practice to look at the squat of tires in old photos and don't remember ever seeing one that looked like it had enough air in it.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mark Gregush Portland Oregon on Friday, December 22, 2017 - 11:22 am:

Could part of the story be the tread less hand built tires that were little more then a casing vs the later tires with the tread cap attached giving them a thicker cross section at the tread?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Curtis Fesler on Friday, December 22, 2017 - 11:31 am:

Not sure what caused the failures but my Grandfather complained (owner of many a T) that he never went anywhere he didn't have a flat tire. That's most likely an exaggeration. He drove on dirt roads in Western Nebraska.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Bob Coiro on Friday, December 22, 2017 - 11:54 am:

Did nails really fall out of horse-shoes? -Oh, I suppose so... perhaps now and then. -Certainly there were more horses on the street back then than now. -Still, I don't know whether we can blame the majority of yesteryear's flat tires on poor ol' Trigger, Silver and Seabiscuit.

Back when I was a kid, the baby boom was exploding and new, comparatively inexpensive houses were being built for millions of GI's who had had just enough time to get their civilian lives back on track—meaning they now had jobs and expectant wives. -In places like Levittown, Long Island and many, many other towns just like it, frame houses were being erected at an unprecedented rate—and the residential streets in front of each such job site was liberally sprinkled with nails, screws and other minute instruments of celebrated sharpness.



At that time, cars were riding around on bias-ply tires, the rubber of which had been galvanized onto carcasses of flimsy rayon fabric. -These held air so poorly that inner-tubes of turn-of-the-century technology were still required. -As in the movie, "A Christmas Story," men engaged in the tedium of changing flat tires with such monotonous frequency as to have developed the art to a point where their speed and grace rivaled that of the pit crews at the Indianapolis 500. -The black & white TV-watching, 78-RPM record-spinning, Greatest Generation was still a long way off from steel-belted radials.

About a year ago, one of the strip-malls near my home was renovating. -While headed there to pick up a pizza, my wife admonished me to avoid the parking lot area nearest the construction so as to keep from puncturing a tire. -Because, as a man, I didn't appreciate being told how to operate a motor vehicle by a woman, I went right ahead and parked directly in front of the under-renovation pizza joint and promptly earned myself one of the biggest "I Told You So's" of my life. -Oh geeze, how I hated handing her, upon a silver platter, such copious quantities of heavy ammunition in one fell swoop.

Though old and set in my ways, even this old alpha-dog eventually learns new tricks. -For reasons of not wanting to get my tires punctured by building materials nor my neck by my wife's twin laser beams, I now avoid construction sites like the black plague.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Wilbur Swearingin--Mt.Vernon,MO on Saturday, December 23, 2017 - 07:03 pm:

My grandparents moved from North Dakota to Louisiana in 1919. My grandfather and the older boys took the livestock by train. My grandmother and the other children traveled by car along with another family. My family drove a Model T while the other family had a J I Case car. My grandmother kept a diary of the trip which I have. Multiple breakdowns of the Case car. Only serious breakdown of the Ford happened in Arkansas when a stump in the road knocked a hole in the pan. The only flat tire they occurred in Louisiana less than 50 miles from their final destination. Always heard about having to fix flats several times driving to town. Probably this is from depression days when people had to go on well worn tires and bad roads.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mark Lynn on Saturday, December 23, 2017 - 07:26 pm:

Nice family photo and yes sometimes we have to listen to the better half.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By George Hand on Saturday, December 23, 2017 - 08:01 pm:

I think the last man I worked for before retirement would scatter nails on his way home at night, seemed like we always had a lot of tires to fix at work !!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Erik Thomas on Saturday, December 23, 2017 - 09:10 pm:

I agree that the roads around here get strewn with nails and drywall screws that fall out of sloppy contractors trucks. I live on a main road, and in the gutter, I constantly find all sorts of sharp fasteners. Roofers are the worst, hauling loads of old shingles to the dump dripping roofing nails out of the back of an open, overloaded truck. I can only imagine that the ancestors of these contractors were no less sloppy.


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