When I hit the starter in our '24 Touring the engine turns over very slowly. I will add that today the temp is about 45-50 degrees. I first thought I had a battery problem but when I put the "T" battery in a '37 Ford it started right up. I took the battery from the '37, put on a full, slow charge and it turns the T very slowly. In the '37 I use 20w50 oil and in the T I use HD30--both vehicles are inside. I have made sure any electrical connections are clean--maybe better check again. Anyway, I'd appreciate any comments.
Well the obvious things are things that cause a loss of voltage which are BATTERY DISCONNECT switchs, bad starter switchs, too light of battery cables, and dirty connections on any of the cables. Absent those then one would have to question the starter itself. Since the T is indoors I doubt that the 30W oil would be that much of a factor unless it is really cold indoors.
In winter weather you should use winter oil for best results. Try changing to 5W-30 in both cars. You can go back to straight 30W in both cars in the summer.
The Model T should start easily using the hand crank if you use 5W-30 oil in temperatures above 20 degrees F.
Thanks for the comments. I appreciate that. When the car does start it runs great. Sometimes it will spin over just fine. As John says, does it look like a dragging starter maybe? I don't have a battery disconnect switch and I have cleaned all the connections. When I push on the starter it just turns over slowly. Thanks again.
What's the temp where the car is stored? My car turns over slowly when cold, it was about 42 degrees here today when I started it up. Once warm, it spins over much faster. It has 15-40 in it. My Chev truck (1950) has straight 40 in it, and it does not like the cold temperatures, so the oil gets preheated. (Thinner oil falls out of the truck)
Can you for test purposes temporarily by-pass the starter switch with a jumper cable? This would eliminate the possibility of your starter switch being the problem.
After cranking the starter 30 seconds, run your hand along the cables and connections, feeling for hot spots. It's even easier if you have an infra-red thermometer.
I'd bet on a bad starter switch, either original or repro.
my T did the same thing and I need to use a thinner oil in the winter.
John, if you have an original Ford starter switch they can be easily disassembled and rebuilt with great success. Some of the reproduction switches are crap(excuse the expression)and sometimes fail after just a few starts. I like Rick's suggestion
of checking for "hot spots". Makes good sense.
I'm betting he's got 12 volt battery cables.
The model T should have size 1 battery cables. That
s going from the battery to the starter switch and also the one from the starter switch to the starter.
The ground cable needs to be also a size one (or bigger) that goes from the battery to the frame.
Anything smaller will be too small and cause the engine to turn over slowly.
If you need to replace the cables it's best to get size 1/0. That is the next size bigger than size 1. 1/0 is pronounced "one ought". 2/0 is the next bigger size but that is overkill and won't really help much.
Best to get welding cable from a welding supply store. But get the ends from a good auto supply. They are much cheaper and they look better than welder terminal connectors.
You put the terminal connector in a vise and heat it with a small torch and stick the end of the cable in after heating it too and melt some solder in. Have a glass of water handy to cool the whole ting with.
Some say you must run the ground cable to one of the starter bolts. I dissagree. The frame is a better conductor than 3 feet of battery cable.
I've cranked mine by hand (don't have a starter), when the temp was 45-50 deg. F (30W oil) and it was extremely hard to do. I just about didn't get it started. In warm weather, it is no problem to start.
The best way to learn is by experance so use the starter on the front of the engine and i think you will drain the hd30!! 50 plus years ago Tin Lizzie said the equiv oil of the time for the model T was thought to be SAE-10!! 50 years later the Vintage Ford says 5 w 30 and i think they ment year round for the model T world?? Bud.
I use 5W-30 year round. It works fine. I normally never use a starter unless the car stalls in a busy intersection. The cars all start on one or two quarter pulls when cold. No reason to use a starter.
Nothing like cold weather to bring out electrical problems!
Well, you have given me several things to check. As soon as "SHE" releases me from getting ready for Christmas I'll check them out and let you know what happens. Thanks a lot.
There's a lot more drag in a Model T engine than in a 37. you have the bands and the disks. when the weather gets cold and the oil gets a bit sticky, it is harder to turn the engine over. Jacking up one or two rear wheels will also help you if you put the lever forward. You then eliminate the drag of the clutch disks. A lighter weight oil will also help. A fully charged battery, good connections in all the cables and a good starter switch will all help you to get all the starting power out of your starter.
Good suggestion on jacking up the rear wheels. I'll try that next. Just came in from jumping across the starter switch and that didn't make any difference at all. Thanks for all the good suggestions.
Hey, jacking up the right rear wheel with the lever forward worked. I did that and the old buggy fired up in about 2 seconds. Thanks a lot for your help. Maybe I'll try some lighter oil for the winter, however we don't have a lot of winter here in Texas--thank goodness.
If you jack up one or both rear wheels be very carful to use something "solid", not prone to wobble or wiggle. Also, it's probably a good idea to chalk the front wheels (and the other rear that's not jacked up). It's never happened to me, but I've heard stories of folks being chased or run over by a suddenly starting Ford when it jumped off the jack.
Just be careful!
Thanks, good idea and I'll be sure to have some chocks with me. I used to fly a small plane a lot and I have used them many times for good reason. Thanks again.
John,Sorry to have to say it,but i think jacking up a rear wheel is for little kids!! I live in central Mich and i stem wind both T's year round!! Yes i have jacked up a rear wheel on a T to start it but after i learned how to start and maintain a T,i now make the T work for me instead of me for it!! Way to old fat and lazy to do things the hard way!! Bud.
If it starts easily with the back wheel jacked up, it could be the high speed clutch plates are stuck together with congealed oil (black pasty substance which sticks really well and creates lots of drag).
This is what I've experienced and it gradually got worse over the years.
Interesting--the point of "congealed oil". Would Marvel Mystery Oil help to clean it up? What if I add it to the oil and run for a while? It has helped clean up some flatheads I've had. Thanks.
I have been watching this thread and notwithstanding the fact that you got it to start by jacking up one rear wheel (the easy solution) it is still not clear what/where the problem is.
You never answered Aaron's 12 volt battery cable question or Ralph Rick's recommendation on checking for "hot" areas of the electrical connections. You should address both these questions first.
Failing that I suggest you start the car and get the engine fully, and I mean FULLY warmed up. Stop the engine, drain the oil and refill the engine with 3 quarts of oil and two quarts of kerosene. Run the engine (do not drive the car, but cycle the transmission through all gears for at least one hour) at normal operating temperatures. Stop and drain the engine oil. You may want to through this sequence twice or more and not with the original oil/kerosene mixture. You are trying to clear the transmission of crud. Refill with 5W-30W oil and give it a try when cold. This should help.
Ron the Coilman
Ron, thanks for the comments. By the way, would the Marvel Mystery Oil do the same thing as the kerosene? I already have some of that on hand. Regarding the cables, they don't get hot--I did check that but overlooked including that comment in the post. I had a '35 flathead and ran the MMO through the carb while running and it really did a good job of cleaning up the valves--made the backfiring stop. This my first T and really do enjoy driving it--spent all one Sunday afternoon teaching a grandson to drive it--we had a good time. Thanks again for all the help.
John, the next step is to get a DC meter and measure how many volts you read between the starter terminal and engine with someone stepping on the starter switch. Most engines will slowly turn over with as few as three volts. Then backtrack to find the lost voltage. If you only have the same voltage acros the battery, the battery is the problem.
Another way to do this, although slightly awkward, is to put a voltmeter between the (+) pole of the battery and the starter terminal. Then when you mash the button, you'll get a reading of the "voltage drop" in the entire system - cables, switch, terminals. A drop of, say, one volt is not drastic - but more will affect the starter's ability to crank.
Similarly, using the same technique between the (-) post on the battery and a bolt at the starter, will tell you if there's a voltage drop in that side of the circuit. Typically, the ground strap from the battery to the frame can be visually inspected, but the "hidden" location for voltage drop is the motor-to-frame connection. The bolts are not tight because of the wood blocks, and there tends to be paint, grease, etc. between the metal parts. For that reason, many of us have put a cable between the frame and the engine, separate from the motor mounts.
As James said, there is always the battery to consider. Sometimes a battery will test 12.6 volts, as it should, at rest - but when a load is put on it, it can drop dramatically. this signals a bad cell or bad intra-cell strap. If the voltage at the battery terminals drops below about 10 volts when cranking, I'd call the battery 'suspect.'
That would then be 6,3V at rest and below 5V for a regular 6V Model T installation.