With all this talk about the braking system I am beginning to wonder if it is worth getting it out on the road. Does anyone have good braking on a stock T - minie is a 1918 touring.
Mark, we bought our 1924 Touring in the fall of 1996, with stock brakes. We drove it locally until June of 2003, when we drove from St Louis MO to Dearborn MI and back for the Ford Centennial. In 2005 and 2006, we did two Show-Me Tours, one Hillbilly Tour and one Kentucky Fall Foliage Tour, all with stock brakes. In 2007, because we were planning on doing the Colorado Tour in the Rocky Mountains, we added Rocky Mountain brakes. (I figured there was probably a good reason they called them that!)
Are auxiliary brakes safer? Yes. With the stock brakes, if you lose continuity in the driveline, you have no brakes. On the other hand, I'm sure there are lots of T's driving around the countryside with stock brakes. It doesn't seem like a reason to leave the car in the garage and gaze longingly at it.
Like most opinions, this one is worth every penny you paid for it...
I think it depends on where you live and what type of driving you do. I live in east Texas. There are hills, but certainly no mountains. My T is stock so it isn't super fast. I am fine with the stock brakes. Probably wouldn't feel that way if I lived in Colorado or if it went 60 mph. It's probably got better brakes than my truck, I don't have to pump up the T brakes. Plus you can always pull the emergency brake if something brakes. Just my opinion.
I have driven T's for 35 years. Are the stock brakes marginal, yes of course. Are they dangerous, no I don't think so. It comes down to the type of traffic you are in and your personal comfort level. Will I add front brakes to all my T's, probably. Will I refuse to ride in a car that doesn't have them, NO.
As Dick said, just my opinion.
Mark - I have driven my car with stock brakes thousands of miles, I have driven in Colorado on 2 tours, the Canyonland Tour, Hillbilly Tours, The Natchez Trace and several other tours locally. I have never had a problem, You have to understand what your limitations are however. I have always said that stopping a Model T is a kind of planned event. I do have Kevlar bands and I have been happy with them, I know that others don't like them but they do not wear as fast and I have had great service from them. My point is I'm not afraid to drive the car with stock brakes. I can lock up the rear wheels, so I don't think you can stop any faster with any other brake except front brakes. They will work, but they don't operate like a modern car, for that mater there is not much in a Model T that operates like a modern car, that's why I love T's.
I live in Colorado & have only stock brakes on my fairly heavy C-cab.
It also has large drum emergency brakes that work very well.
I don't worry about my brakes in the mountains.
They are marginal but as with any antique, a little defensive driving is in order.
I also keep the band well adjusted.
If my T was faster I'd probably be a little more nervous.
I personally knew Walt Rosenthal. I think his death came from a car with a Ruckstell that got stuck in neutral going down a hill. (could have been up a hill)
The first Model T I got, I drove home and parked it. It didn't leave my garage until I had installed Rocky Mountain Brakes. I live in San Diego County. We have mountains and hills all over. There are very few level areas, certainly not around Alpine where I live. In fact I can't even go to town without going down a low gear hill. I can go about 1 mile from home with very few hills and that is usually where I test my cars after working on them.
Let me further state, the brakes on a Model T are adequate for the type driving it was intended for. If you don't exceed 35 mph and leave a decent following distance and anticipate stop signs and signals, you will do just fine. The addition of Rocky Mountain brakes is like adding power assisted brakes. Not only will it stop quicker and easier, but will have the safety feature of being able to stop if you lose anything behind the clutch in the transmission. The first time I drove on a club tour, I broke the driveshaft. It went into freewheeling. That was very soon after I installed the Rocky Brakes and they saved us from a possible accident. Let me say that the car sure pushes or coasts easier without the driveshaft and no brakes. It would have been impossible to stop going down the hill. (well I could have used the parking brake since it was a 26) but anyway, I don't think you need 4 wheel brakes unless you have a speedster or try to drive 50+MPH. I would recommend some type of assisted rear brakes though.
I have RMB's on my '24 touring and '25 roadster pick-up. I was a teacher for 35 years and have always had dogs in my family so I am quite aware of how both species can act. For safety sake I have a 30-35 mph speed limit while druiving my cars,. I want to enjoy them not have regrets that I hit someone or something. I agree that stock T brakes are fine for the kind of driving and times they were built for but we live in a different time now, much better roads, much more traffic. My $.02
As a profesional (sp?) truck driver, we abide by a rule, that states, "You go down a hill, in the same gear, that you went up the hill". With that said, as someone, who has driven down the road, with 80,000 pounds of HEAVY METAL, we drive jus a bit different. People, pronounced "Yuppies", seem to think, that they OWN the road, and you have no business, to be there in their way.
If you go back to when the Model T was being driven, as a daily driver, the brakes were fine. In todays world of , " Get the &)%# out of my way", I suggest that you enjoy, the wonderful piece of history, that you are driving. Enjoy yuor ride. Laugh at everybody else, in their own confusion, and have fun with it....
Of course, saftey hubs, and Rocky Mountain brakes, are a good idea. Thats the plan for my cars.....
Drive safe. The road is full of IDIOTS....
The previous posts are all excellent. I have driven my 25 Speedster many miles since 1980 and in the early years I could not afford the Rocky Mountain brakes. I got pretty good at changing the brake bands, even with the 26 wide band. On a long tour it is easy to run out of brakes when it is least convenient and mostly really hot(temperature/metal/oil). When I added the Rocky's
this problem went away. One of the first options I added to my mostly original 19 roadster was Rocky's. If you want to tour it is a good way to go, in my opinion. In addition I too like the ruckstell for gearing down on a steep hill. Sounds like the Lane Warford would be great for saving brakes too, especially with a 4 to 1 gear.
There are two stock braking systems. Pre 1926 cars have small rear wheel drums with cast iron shoes. The transmission brake drum is also narrower than the later cars. I really think it is wise to install lined shoes for the rear wheel drums, or Rocky Mountain brakes externally.
The Improved Fords of 1926/7 have a wide transmission brake drum which means less pedal pressure is required than the earlier cars. The rear drum brakes are larger, have lined shoes, and can be used as a service brake. The stock braking system in these cars works very well for what it is and doesn't need modification.
With either kind of car the brakes can (or should) be able to lock the back wheels...it is ultimately the two narrow tyres that limits the braking ability.
The brakes are adequate for the conditions the cars are meant to be driven in. I drive mine all over the place in both city and rural traffic and have never felt unsafe because of the brakes. The car will stop in surprisingly short distances when necessary although I don't make a habit of it.
It is also important to make full use of the engine braking to preserve the brake linings.
Whatever you do, don't go out in a T unless the handbrake is working. It will be the only safe way of stopping the car if there's a failure in the drive line.
Mark,It's true im a flatlander and have to travle to find a hill! It's also true that air brakes will not help you if you can't mannage your space or where anything you may drive is and what is arround you. Learn your model T and how to mannage your space for what you are driveing and you will be fine!! Everythibg works back to [do you want a model T or not??] The Model T is as safe as whoever is driveing it so it's your choice! As you will hear i think there are some who would rather read you a long list of the T's faults/do's and don'ts rather than drive one!! Bud.
Rear brakes depend on the proportion of weight on them. A roadster or speedster has very little weight on the rear, so no amount of additional brake will help, as the harder you brake, the less weight you have on the rear wheels. We're talking a 100" wheelbase here, and a center of gravity about 36" high. Do the geometry.
A touring or other body with more weight on the rear will help. Heck, just the weight of a ruckstell will help.
You don't need to worry about locking up the front wheels on a T, as the high cg keeps you from getting carried away. Seatbelts are an absolute requirement with front brakes, as without restraint, you will throw your passenger right through the windshield if you brake suddenly. I almost threw a young guy right up and over the windshield at 10 mph, while demonstrating the front brakes with just a hard jab. Again, it's that high CG.
I have no data at all, but I believe a lot of Ts are just garage furniture, due to lack of 4-wheel brakes.
Mark, I have Rocky Mountains on my car, I drive my car at least 2 or 3 times per week and I feel very safe in it, my brother in the other hand uses his car every day, with only stocks and he does very well with it, I see that you live in GA I don't think that you will do much driving in steep hilly conditions, I think that it will take some time to get use to driving a slower car, built your confidence and getting to know your car's limitations, after that you will have the time of your life, I know that I am.
Been driving with stock brakes since '78. No problems here. On the other hand, I've heard plenty of brake problems behind me over the years.
As with anything else on the Model T... With proper maintenance, the existing brakes work very well. I can slide the rear wheels on any of my cars with the foot brake or the emergency brake. The only limiting factor on a T in good condition and proper adjustment is the amount of surface area where the tire contacts the road.
If you wear your brake band down enough that it needs to be adjusted every few hundred miles, then you are not driving right or there is something wrong in the transmission that needs to be fixed.
If you can't slide your rear wheels when you pull up on your handbrake, then it needs to be adjusted, or something needs to be repaired.
It is important that both the foot brake and the hand brake be able to slide the rear wheels, yet be free when they are not actuated. If your T does not have this ability, then something needs adjustment or repair.
I am not against Rocky Mountain Brakes. I'm just a firm believer that you should be bale to understand and get what you already have in proper working condition BEFORE you bolt on an item that is supposed to eliminate a "problem".
I've had the band ear on a removeable ear band wear loose while driving leaving no brake pedal when I went to use it. You think you'll figure out using reverse and low to stop if that happens, but with only seconds to impacting the stopped car in front of you, your reaction time just isn't quick enough. I was lucky and was able to dart out without looking into the next lane to avoid hitting the stopped car in front of me. Fortunately for me no one was in the lane I darted into and I was able to get my witts and use the hand brake and reverse pedal to stop. It's a real sinking feeling applying the brake pedal and having it drop to the floor all at once. I am bringing this up here as a heads up to check your bands and make sure the ears lock properly, especially if you don't have accessory brakes on the rear wheels.
And if you are going to check your transmission bands to make sure no ears are loose, also check what side they are on. What happened to Jay can happen if you have the detachable band ears on the wrong side of the transmission. They need to be on the drivers side...
Adam, The removeable ears were and are on the drivers side.
Here's some close ups of the band and ear that failed. You can see how it wallowed out the ear, and the studs on the band are nubbed out. Morale of story make sure the 80+ year old bands your installing are not worn past safe use.