Our T is the first car that I've ever hand cranked. Our '40 Chevrolet has the provision for it but I have no crank handle for it. I see T drivers that don't know how to hand crank, even some on Youtube videos. I also see owners, or drivers of other makes that start their cars, and trucks by grabbing the handle and winding like they are winding up a large wind-up toy. It seems like the danger of kick-back would be present on any hand cranked vehicle except for the ones with a slip in handle that disengaging and pops out. Yes? No?
I guess on later model cars the spark is retarded automatically when the engine is off? I had a 1938 Chevrolet with a 216 and I would crank it like a T, a few pulls up on the crank, I never spun it. I have a 1947 International that I made a crank for out of a sucker rod. Those cranks come in handy because if your battery is too dead to spin the motor, it usually can make a spark if you spin it with a crank. I started that International with the crank all the time in high school just to show people.
This will turn into a long discussion on what's safe and what's not and how careless some are for doing what they do and trying to convince others to do as they do out of care for the wellbeing of their fellow man. Mark my word.
I crank right handed. I wrap my thumb around the crank handle. However, i only pull up, never push downs. I also choke with the switch on. This is almost always on magneto, so yes, the spark is even advanced some. To some, this is a recipe for disaster. I'm not telling anyone to do it my way, but on the other hand, im a hard headed son of a gun, and I'm not about to start doing it theirs, either. As I've said before, I'll let you guys know if I ever break my arm.
By all means be as safe as you can.
That being said, for fifty years I cranked with my right hand holding it wrong, with my thumb wrapped around. I have escaped disaster. Apparently my engines don't have the power some have as when they do kick I hang on and hold it back. My 45 HP White has quite a kick even with a compression release. Twice I forgot to release compression and had my arm kicked up into my shoulder. At 70 years old I am having a little trouble cranking. Luckily I have saved my left arm for the next 70 years.
I don't see much evidence of folks cranking left handed in the old days. Making sure the spark is retarded seems like the smart thing to do and not how you crank.
This is not meant to be argumentative but just my poor choice and lack of knowledge.
I'll try to do better. ;o)
I will find the pictures of my arm after a tractor broke it. Hand cranks are bad juju. If you don't have a starter you have no choice but I wouldn't hand crank just for fun. Philip
Hal, I'm with you. I also will say every body has to do it HIS way, whatever that may be, whatever is comfortable for him/her--yes her!. Main thing is what each individual is seemingly safe with. Some guys are safely comfortable with standing on the crank with their foot and pushing down...yikes..if I did that I'd have the front of my leg so torn up it'd never heal!
Re the "winding"...well as I've heard from some experts..some T's are just that..."stem-winders"..
they are what they are. Yeh we can go into a litany of reasons why they shouldn't. But some just are.
Most of the time when I see someone "Stem Winding" a motor it is because they don't have it tuned properly or they have flooded it,not good! It also seems the ones who will "Stem Wind" also have a propensity to wrap their thumbs around the crank handle.......can we say Darwin Award Winner!
I would, and do. I consider it a personal failure if I have to even start on battery, much less use the starter. This is on the TT. The Touring, no starter to worry about, but even in the TT, i forget it has one.
Nobody should be afraid to hand start their cars. As always, if everything is up to snuff and the proper procedure is followed you will never break your arm hand cranking.
Several years ago, there was some guy on here seriously proposing we remove the cranks from our cars. Also several years ago, someone on here was brainstorming on how to add a hidden starter button to the end of the crank handle, so he could simulate hand cranking, but really be activating a starter solenoid. I dont remember who either was, and dont want to, but I think these are good examples of just how scared some people are of their car. I can understand adding a starter to a non starter car for those that are no longer physically able to hand crank. No problem with that. But being scared of your car? I ain't gonna be scared of my Car!
Steve Jelf has a lot of knowledge and experience with this issue and he created this page which deals it. -I would humbly suggest you do it exactly as he explains in his text and demonstrates in his videos, here:
See. Told ya.
Damn I'm good. I ought start me a 900 number psychic hot line.
I've had two cars with hand cranks over the years, a '29 Model A and my current 24 T.
My Model A was tuned so nicely that it would hand crank with just a slight tug on the handle. Even my current T, with it's need for new rod bearings will hand crank with just a slight tug.
Both cars had top notch, stock ignition systems with solid wiring and timing meticulously monitored and maintained.
I my opinion, if a car (especially when warmed up) doesn't spring to life, there's something wrong. Or if not "wrong" there's an adjustment that needs to be made. My other two oldies (54 Ford and 66 F100) literally pop to life when you turn the key. The engines don't even make a full revolution when cranking.
I hope this doesn't sound like bragging. It's just the way I was raised by my dad...a man who's had literally hundreds of old cars since I was a little guy. He always said that a well-tuned car with everything in good mechanical order should spring to life. If it didn't he'd find the issue, however slight, and fix it.
I'm fortunate to still have him around. It's funny, even to this day, if you bring up the topic, he'll go into his mantra about how engines need 4 things, compression, timing, fuel and spark. If all of them are present and in good working order, the engine has no choice but to run. If one is missing or ill-adjusted, you have a problem.
So...all that to say this...on my hand crank cars, I'm never afraid to hand crank them IF all is in optimal working order and the timing is properly retarded. If not....yeah, I'll let the starter get them going until I get them fixed to my pretty rigid standards.
Don, you more or less took the words right out out my mouth. I was going to say that I under-maintain and generally abuse my lawnmower but it always starts on the second pull. If my T, which I care very much about, can't start by the third pull then I believe it's trying to tell me something. At that point either it needs adjustment or I do.
It'd be interesting to know what years different manufacturers phased out the hand crank. I know my 47 International KB5 has one but I've got a 47 Hudson car that never had one. Maybe trucks kept this feature longer like tractors did. I thought about putting a starter on my 1921 T but that starter, generator, wiring etc. just looks like a lot of money and more things to fix so I just crank.
Hand cranking my T is not an option. I suspect that it has to do with the "free neutral" adjustment. I know that it has been discussed before, but perhaps in a few days I will start a thread asking for an explanation of how to do it. I have hand-cranked other Ts and there were no problems.
I remember as a kid back in 1984 Tom Butterworth cranking Doc Wallace’s yellow speedster he was spinning it. It kicked back and did break his arm. Be careful. If Tom is reading maybe he can step in and mention it.
I “stem wind” my ‘27 just for fun on magneto. Of course I always make sure the spark is retarded. I suppose that some T’s will start on mag just by pulling up, but I haven’t seen any. I started this practice when I had a 1919 Fordson tractor which had no provision for a battery, just the T style ignition. Only 450 cu in engine!!
If you crank right handed, you might be lucky every time, or you might just have it kick once and break your arm. Then, you must use the left arm until the right is healed. I would rather use the left and not risk the broken arm.
I agree with there are steps to make it safer just not safe enough for me all it takes is a malfunction in the timing in my case the impulse spring broke in the mag on the tractor so instead of cranking like normal it kicked . Cost me 10000.00 out of pocket and a month of work. Philip
Les, here's one. See the second minute.
I have a 63 Datsun that still has the crank handle behind the seat, the problem is that with rubber motor mounts if they squish down at all the handle won't line up with the crank. It still works but you have to really need to start it that way, it's way easier to push start even by yourself.
Absolutely “the exception that proves the rule “
I was always under the impression that the hand-crank "option" up through the '40s was more of a convenience for setting timing rather than "emergency" starting. I reckoned if you had a dead battery, you probably wouldn't have ignition. Some marques (like Packard) retained a vestigial "crank hole cover" on the grille with no actual access for a crank until . . . '39 (?)
I'm an un-reconstructed cranker - right hand, but early on, was instructed by my grandpa to keep my thumb on the same side as my fingers. Like Rich Eagle, a time or two I experienced a little push backwards, but nothing I couldn't hold . . . I could spin my first T like a hurdy-gurdy, and did the same with a Case Model D tractor I ran for years . . . the Case was well-broke, and never offered to kick.
For some reason (?) I cannot spin my current Lizzie, but I generally wouldn't need to even if I could. She starts easy.
I have to say while I can sympathize with the eventual need for an electric starter, I kinda hate to see that retro-fit on the early cars. I'd say, if you need a starter, get one of those new 1919 models with all the fancy stuff (like demountable rims). Kinda like crawling on my pony, it's getting tougher to throw a leg over from the ground - I'm starting to prefer the little 14h cuttin' horse over the mare that stands 15h-2" ! Guys who ride into their 90s make sure their pony will sidle up to the fence long before they need him to.
When I can no longer pull up on a crank, either I'll be too feeble to drive, or better yet, maybe I'll have some young buck trained to give me a start ! (Like Rich E, I've still got a right hand in reserve ! ; - )
It's been so long but at the rodeo was there a class/event called Working Stock with cutting horses?? The next question is does the Western Horseman mag still exist? I think when i'm to old to crank the T should be gone rather than changed.Bud.
I crank right handed, when it is inconvenient to crank left handed. Sometimes there is just too many bumpers and stuff on the car to stand in front of it in a way that allows left hand cranking.
The only reason, and yes I have thought about this, to remove the crank; if some numskull or kid walks up while the car is running, grabs the crank and try to mess with it. Kids I am more worried about. Of course they would probable burn them self on the hot radiator first.
My 48 F2 has a crank, I only use it for timing. There is enough drag and compression in the 6 that it would be a bear to start by crank except for emergency.
Rich B. is not exaggerating his "hurdy-gurdy" spinning. He was a regular sized teenager who didn't over eat in the 60's. One day we had his T at the local park. On leaving it didn't want to start and he spun it quickly over and over as if it were not even engaged.
About then this big burly football player came along with his girlfriend and some others. Wanting to impress his entourage he asked to help. Rich stepped aside and let him try. He was barely able to force it slowly between compression strokes and was pretty embarrassed his efforts weren't successful.
Rich spun it quickly several dozen more times and it came to life.
Balance and technique are acquired with practice. In those early days without coil testers and few resources we did a lot more cranking to get them started than most do today. I don't let anyone crank my cars because of the hazards but feel comfortable knowing what goes on there by now.
Just to add to the spin start method besides the thumb being on the finger side. I cringe when I watch guys crank by going slightly over center with their hand bent back toward their elbow and/ or with their arm locked straight at the elbow as they go over center. If you get a kick back at that point in the process, you stand a good chance of ending up with a very unhappy bone. Always keep the back of your hand in line with the back of your lower arm or slightly bent at the wrist, and if you do spin the crank, never lock your elbow! Its pretty simple mechanics if you stop and think about it a little bit. If you crank correctly, the worst that happens is you get whacked in the back of the hand by the crank handle. Merry Christmas!
Bumpers on Ts are good... you not only can break your arm if you don't know how to hand crank, but you have a chance of breaking a wrist too, it seems.
Mark, you're right, someone would probably get burned on the radiator before they stuck the crank handle in. Speaking of getting burned, I mentioned before that I've thought that someone might get burned on my kerosene cowl lamps.
And I mentioned before, long long ago, that bystanders think our Ts are worn out crusher bait when they watch us hand crank a cold car. We have to pull three or four times, go back to the dash for something , then pull at least once more.
I've had 3 T's (all w/starters) and hand cranked twice. Both times I had to stop & think. I'm right handed and left hand cranking, although I did it both times, was uncomfortable or unnatural. Felt for some reason that I needed a place to put my right hand and really couldn't find one. Just off kilter.
I have a friend with a 1912. On battery if you just 1/4 turn the crank you would be at it all day, spin the crank and she starts. Has the later style coils too.
My 1960 Renault 4CV had a provision for hand cranking. I did demonstrate the feature numerous times.
Here is a link to a 4CV being hand cranked:
Most later cars as in most with starters are to be timed with "initial advance" crank with caution, and as fast as you can, not all with crank furnished are easy to crank. I am a fan of about anything that can be started with a crank, foot pedal, flywheel, etc. v8 Ford, not as much. Dave in Bellingham,WA Merry Christmas to all
Ah, Bud, cow cuttin' would often be included in the small local rodeos, probably still is in a few places. It's an age of specialists nowadays. Pro rodeo is on a par with other professional sports, the National Finals is like the Super Bowl. Most fun for me these days is "ranch rodeo" - just regular guys doing their best, all ages participate. There are competitions now for performance horses separate from rodeo. Western Horseman magazine still exists, must do, they keep nagging me to re-subscribe, but in my mean old geezer opinion, they've fallen to near-worthless. I kept my subscription longer than I should have because up to a couple of years ago, I'd get to the point of dropping it, and then there would be a worthwhile article. Last I saw, it's a vehicle for selling clothes and jewelry to girls who think they love horses.
Dennis....I LOVE early Japanese pickups.
They’re so spartan, tiny and wonderfully goofy looking. Kind of like a Model T.
My great aunt had one in a garage that belonged to her husband. It was extremely original and solid. I went into the military in ‘87 and she was supposed to hold it for me till I got out. I got out and she had passed away and the truck was gone. It was a 1969 Datsun pickup.
Thanks Don, I love this little truck too, it was my fathers for many years and we use to run flat tire, lockout and jump start calls for our towing business some times with this truck just for fun and it was our parts runner for the shop. It was always fun to see the new guy try and figure out the 4 speed on the column. It's been in the family for almost 40 years but sadly I am going to be selling it, there is no 12 step program for cars and trucks and I got to step 17 and found out that is too many so I have to thin the herd and the Datsun is the one that gets driven the least so it has to go.