I was thinking of writing a short article on say the top 10 T tips for new owner/drivers. Something along the lines of basic techical tips, driving tips and maintenance tips.
What would you recommend to a new T enthusiast?
Make sure the key is not in the ignition when the transmission inspection door is open.
Tell 'em to start out by pushing the low pedal at real low engine speed to not wear the linings out so fast and as soon as they can they should lock up the low band and then give it the throttle. Just run the engine fast enough to not kill it.
Turn the gas off whenever parked inside.
Be sure tell folks, "Yes, I bought it new".
Oh dear Royce, does that mean what I think?
Pull the hubcaps and make sure the front wheel bearings are full of grease and adjusted properly and the rear axle nuts are tight and cotter keyed. Dave
Drive your T as though it doesn't have brakes.
If its not broken don"t fix it.
An addition to Dave Stroud's advice. Make sure the spindles haven't been switched. Amazing how many cars I've come across where someone put the right spindle on the left and vise versa. Trouble waiting to happen.
When you push on a pedal push hard and stop the drum, to prevent band wear and drum heating. When you work on your car, Make it look like it was done on purpose. These two came fron E. Kinner of Crowell TX, back in the early '60's. They have served me well.
Put the bands on before you put the hogs head on ... Don't ask !!
stuf stuff stuff stuff rags in the transmission when changing bands. yeah I found out the hard way
Get a chanch to drive a model T and rember much of the technology is over 100 years old before you decide if you want one!/ Buy a driver first instead of a project car you might/will loose interest in/If the only reason you want a model T is a platform to complain about it's shortcommings,quirks,nuances,or the man or Ford the company,Please don't buy one!!!!!!!!!!!Bud.PS,Read the Forums!!!!!!!!!!!!! Bud.
When stopping the car, especially for a pedestrian push the low pedel only half way down. Never push it all the way down when stopping the car!
When cranking, ALWAYS retard the spark. If cranking using the crank, use only four fingers. Do not wrap that thumb around the crank handle. Position the crank handle at approx. 7:00 and only pull up. When the crank is pulled up to the 12:00 position, let go of the handle as quickly as possible, continuing the upward movement to get that hand out of the way in case of backfire. Never push down on the crank. If it starts long enough for you to get around there and advance the spark, then quits, do NOT forget to start all over, taking special care to retard the spark again. My Model T crank broke my wrist in 1982 during a backfire, when I failed to heed this advice. Jim
Back up slowly.Avoid backing down steep inclines, and do not turn the wheel sharply if you do.
Two big ones that come to mind are: crank the engine with your left hand, and pump the brakes when stopping to keep oil in the band. (I've always remembered to do the second one.)
Don't carry a jack unless you carry wheel chocks also. Don't climb a hill that your parking brake won't hold on, unless you have wheel chocks.
Following Tim's suggestion, count the rags as they go in. It's an awful mess if one gets misssed.
Steamboat, Good tip! You sound like a surgeon. After surgery, they have to count all the sponges that come out of a patient, hopefully arriving at the same number that went in. If they don't they have to keep looking for it in the patient until it is accounted for, for exactly the same reason we must account for all rags used to seal the transmission opening. Jim
If it looks like rain, try to avoid parking your (closed) Model T outside or driving, as there is no weather stripping across the opening where the glass enters the door, so any rain will run down the window right into the door cavity and stay there, causing rusting from the inside. When I first bought my 1926 Coupe in 1970, the bottoms of both doors were rusted out straight across, exactly 4" above the bottom of the doors where the water had been allowed to pool. You may want to drill several small holes at the lowest point in the doors to prevent this occurrence.
Additionally, if it looks like rain, try to have a psssenger with you to operate the windshield wiper and wipe down the inside of the foggy window for you. It is hard enough concentrating on driving the Model T safely without having to contend with being unable to see. Jim
Don't stand behind it when unloading it from a trailer. Mine ran over me 12 years ago.
Warren, good advice. I once took a hub off of a spindle(forget witch side) and could not get the lock nut off no matter what I tried. I finally in desperation turned it the other way and it loosened right up. Hmmmmmm I thought, spindle on the wrong side. OK, so I try to take the bearing race off, same thing, won't budge. Then I got to looking at the threads on the spindle, looked pretty rough. Tried turning the bearing the opposit direction, came right off. I don't have any idea how they managed to get the wrong nut on there, but they did. Just goes to show you can't take anything for granted with a T! Dave
No Jim, I'm not a surgeon. I think it was the 3rd time I did the bands I started counting the rags.
Except for emergency repairs, try giving the minor ailments a little time. Many T Models have an uncanny ability to heal themselves. "Let'er cool off a while, she'll step up."
Do not fill radiator to the top with water.
Nut threads on the right spindle are left-hand (Turn clock-wise to loosen). Nut threads on the left spindle are right-hand (turn counter-clock-wise to loosen, like normal nuts). Like most novice T owners, I had to find this out the hard way in 1970, by trying to get the nut off the right spindle by unsuccessfully turning counter-clock-wise. In desperation, I did what I should have done to begin with. I read the T-1 Model T Service Manual and discovered what I should have learned before starting the job.
This spindle thread configuration is intentional so that when the car is traveling forward, the front wheels will not catch the cotter keyed spindle nuts and suddenly tighten the nuts on the wheel so much that the spindle is twisted off. Threaded the way they are, when traveling forward, the nuts cannot tighten from the forward revolution of the front wheels but are perpetually loosened. Only the cotter keys keep the spindle nuts and the front wheels from loosening off the spindles. That is why it is so important to be sure you do not accidentally reverse the spindles. Jim
When out for a drive be ready to smile and wave back at all the nice people that smile and wave at you (and some that don't )
With regards to the transmission bands and hogs head. . . like a surgeon, be sure to count the rags going in - and coming out. This advice from a dear friend who couldn't figure out WHY his car wouldn't start. . .
P.S. The "friend" was NOT my husband!
One of the most important tips is to:
Install an outside oil line on your engine from the hogshead to the front of the block to force feed more oil to the front of the engine in order to prevent the front bearings from getting too hot and burning up, especially on long hills, which tends to cause oil to run backwards toward the transmission depleting the front bearings of oil. Jim
Guys, this is terrific stuff.
So far I have abbreviated everything to this:
Transmission - Prevention is better than cure - Keep foreign objects out when the cover is off. Lost objects = engine strip down to retrieve them.
- Do not leave the key in the ignition when the cover is off - easily knocked out and falls straight in
- Always stuff rags into transmission when working on bands to prevent things (including the above key) from falling in
- Always count the rags that you put in and make sure they all come out
- Whereever possible, change the bands with the hogs head off, life is so much easier.
Spindles - T's have different thread directions on each side of the car. Don't assume your spindles are on the correct side.
- When taking off the spindle nuts, read the Ford service book first to ensure you are turning the correct way.
- Remove the hubcaps and check the bearings are well greased, adjusted properly and rear axle nuts are tight and cotter keyed.
Starting - ALWAYS retard the spark. A T will break your wrist, arm or shoulder if it backfires and you haven't followed the next points.
- When cranking, ALWAYS retard the spark
- Use only four fingers. Do not wrap that thumb around the crank handle (unless you want it broken)
- Position the crank handle at approx. 7:00 and only pull up to the 12:00 position, let go of the handle as quickly as possible, continuing the upward movement to get that hand out of the way in case of backfire.
Driving - Your're driving an 80-100 year old car, treat it that way.
- Back up slowly. Avoid backing down steep inclines, and do not turn the wheel sharply if you do.
- When stopping the car, especially for a pedestrian push the low pedel only half way down. Never push it all the way down when stopping the car!
- when braking, always "pump" the pedal to allow oil into the band and prevent overheating.
- When you push on a pedal push hard and stop the drum, to prevent band wear and drum heating.
- Drive your T as though it doesn't have brakes.
- Start out by pushing the low pedal at real low engine speed to not wear the linings
- Lock up the low band and then give it the throttle, just run the engine fast enough to not kill it.
Runaway cars - Avoid runaway cars
- Don't carry a jack unless you carry wheel chocks also.
- Don't climb a hill that your parking brake won't hold on, unless you have wheel chocks.
- Don't stand behind it when unloading it from a trailer.
- Turn the fuel off whenever parked inside
- If its not broken don"t fix it. If you do you work on your car, make it look like it was done on purpose.
- If it looks like rain, try to have a psssenger with you to operate the windshield wiper and wipe down the inside of the foggy window for you.
- Except for emergency repairs, try giving the minor ailments a little time. Many T Models have an uncanny ability to "heal" themselves.
- Install an outside oil line on your engine from the hogshead to the front of the block to force feed more oil to the front of the engine in order to prevent the front bearings from getting too hot and burning up.
It's interesting that Jim posted some great information on starting the car. I think starting and driving (adjusting timing) are things maybe we overlook or take for granted?
Does anyone know of, or have any video footage on the tips to safely hand crank a T? I thing this could be really beneficial to new owners.
Don't push the "clutch" all the way in to stop.
My top 10:
1)Forget everything you learnt about driving a modern car.
2)Install an Anderson timer and rebuild the coils before frustration with the ignition system drives you to look for a distributor.
3)Don't drive without a working handbrake,
4)Don't slip the bands or they can be worn out in one trip.
5)Use engine braking to slow the car and then the footbrake at the last minute to actually stop it.
If you have a 26/27, the handbrake can also be used as the service brake and is more durable than the footbrake.
6)Clean all the electrical connections, starter switch contacts, and replace the wiring harness before deciding you need a 12V battery.
7)Retard ignition before starting. Crank as per Ford book with left hand.
8)Jack up back wheel and chock front, when starting cold.
9)Keep 30" tyres at 55 PSI
10)Keep a toolkit in the car. It WILL get used.
John, I'm not sure why I would jack up a rear wheel when starting if I use a modern multi-weight oil. I live in SD and can crank start mine all winter
When buying a T, ask the seller if the rear axle has had the original babbitt thrust washers replaced with bronze thrust washers. If the seller doesn't know, it would be best to disassemble the rear end to find out. If the Babbitt thrust washers are still in there, they are probably over 80 years old, and they often break, crumble or disintegrate. When that happens you can lose the brakes, ruin the ring and/or pinion gear. You might even have an accident caused by this.
My '27 Fordor still had babbitt thrust washers when I bought it, and they broke apart on a tour. Fortunately, others on the tour diagnosed it and we just had to have the car hauled back on a trailer.
Fordially, Keith Gumbinger
Unless I missed it, nobody mentioned fire extinguishers. Keep 'em handy and keep 'em updated! In your "T" and in your shop, near the exit!
Install a "Lint" screen, with a magnet, under the transmission door. The crud that collects in it will surprise you, until you've changed the oil a few times.
Thanks Alex, that was a real "doh" moment. I was just writing about them elsewhere and it didn't even occur to me!
Alex, good safety point too!
when changing spark plugs, remove the knurled nuts holding the wires to the plugs and put all four as far away from the car as you can 'till the new plugs are in...
science fun facts;
gravity and a funnel shape work well together.
brass is non-magnetic.
1. From the Army Ordnance Corps: If it won't fit get a bigger hammer
2. Corollary to #1 for T's - try to use a rubber one first.
3. Use email to order parts so that the purchase confirmations don't come in the regular mail. And make sure your wife does not have you email address.
4. Listen - T's are like hay balers - that little funny noise that just started might mean something.
5. Wear an OSHA approved mask when sanding. They invented leaded paint before leaded gas.
6. In fact, get your wife her OWN computer so she is less likely to find her way into your email.
7. Get a friend to ask your wife is she likes the idea of one of those T model tool charm necklaces or miniature oil can earrings before you go buy them. Rememeber most wives are familar with rule number 1 above.
8. The good old days really weren't. Charming is chamring, a flat tire is still a pain.
9. Buy a creek bottom with no fences to teach people to drive you car in. Land is cheaper than other things you might run over while screaming about the clutch only going half way.
10. Identify who the kid is you are going to be leaving your car with and start teaching him/her (but don't tell him/her until later on).
Yes sir - 3 and 6 from Steve are probably the best tips yet!
Should add - 11. use a 'dedicated" credit card for payments - certainly not the one the wife may see the statements for . . . .
Hey Steve, I know you're a LOOOOONNNGGG way away from me, but is that a thumb print I see on your forehead? :-)
Rule 12 is a footnote to #3. It's easier to say sorry than beg for permission...
Almost everything mentioned above requires one main ingredient,Patience. When it breaks you can't go to Auto Zone. I have learned a new respect for this patience thing whilst working on my machine.
Many Model T's have succumbed to devastating fires due to careless mistakes. Always be aware that dangerous situations can pop up when you least expect it. Never start your Model T in the garage. Always push it out to start it, especially if your garage is connected to your house and have an extinguisher next to you, just in case.
One dangerous aspect of the Model T is they almost always smell like gasoline, because they almost always leak gasoline from the shutoff valve, from the fuel line connections, or from the carburetor bowl, which is dangerously close to the exhaust manifold. If you have ever walked into a closed garage containing a fueled up Model T you'll be able to relate.
With this in mind, consider the following. Invisible gasoline fumes are heavier than air and will snake across the ground a far distance from the source. Some folks have their water heaters or central air heaters in their garage. If you do, and they are natural gas operated, with an automatic, open flame pilot light, it is a very real possibility that you couold suffer a catastrophic explosion if the fumes are ignited in your garage.
Also, on 1926-27 closed car models, where the fuel tank is located in the cowl, the shut-off valve is located right next to the exhaust manifold. In a car where the fuel mixture is improperly adjusted, the exhaust manifold can get red hot. Hot enough to light a cigarette from, or to ignite paper, so, be very careful. Never fuel up one of these cars while the engine is running or if the exhaust manifold is super hot. A splash of gasoline here, could ruin your day. Do your best to minimize or halt gasoline leakage by change the seals in your shut off valve, keeping the fuel line connections tight, and installing new gaskets in your carburetor and check often to keep the leaks as small and few as possible.
Also, on older models where the fuel tank is under the seat and the fuel shut off is a safe distance away from the engine, at some point, the fuel line must cross the exhaust pipe to get to the carburetor and the exhaust pipe can get pretty hot too, so try to position your fuel line as far away from the exhaust pipe as possible.
When diagnosing a problem BE PATIENT! Don't jump to conclusions. Take the time to troubleshoot. Most problems seem to be intermittent and elusive. Example: Your "dead battery" could just be a loose or dirty connection behind the ammeter. Also check other wiring, I found some things not wired according to the diagram
Never trust your model T to NOT START the instant the switch is turned to battry even WITHOUT turning the engine with a starter or crank!! Put the retard on the spark BEFORE you stop the engine and you should get free starts and you will not forget!! A kick back can dammage a Anderson timer and if the engine stops in the WRONG place you will NOT be able to retard the spark!! MAG STARTS,and ONLY MAG STARTS may REQUIRE some initial advance because the timer may not be in the right position when the current is available! This is not personal or aimed at any but if [your],and that's any of us,are offering Crank Starting Advise,Stop using the grinder and get in front of your Model T and Learn!! No,In no way shape or form will i ever be a expert but i was on my second model T and untill a real expert told me how to Mag start i tryed for 7-8 years with NO starts! Not grumpy just factuallBud.
Learned to MAG start by accident, I was headed into a busy intersection & the car ahead of me couldn't decide which way to go, kept changing lanes (of course no signals). I stalled with a dead battery (it had one good charge left & I was on my way to get new one). Took a chance, advanced the spark & throttle about 4 notches, put the ignition on MAG, crossed myself, pulled up on the crank, quarter of a turn she fired, ran & adjusted spark & throttle & she was purring. In my mind the Clouds parted, a ray of sunlight hit me & I heard a booming voice say "All Right", then I heard horns blowing & got the hell out of there.
Retard the spark fully before shutting the engine off, and slightly open the throttle. Then you will not forget when you start the car, and if you come back soon you may get a free start when you turn the key. Make it a habit, and you hand/wrist/arm will thank you.
I was told that by my very good friend before the first time I drove. Now I just expect to hear the engine slow with the nice deep sound before I shut it off.
My very favorite is "read the dang book! It's in there!"
Best tip yet Jack. Get rhe T-1 Model T Service Manual and the book Model T "Essentials" Service Bulletins and read the sections on the procedure you are about to perform so you will have an idea of what to do, how to do it and how not to do it. Jim
Don't put a floor jack under the rear end center section as with modern car. It stretches the bolts.
Replace the bolts in the differential housing with good Lake Erie brand USA made grade 8 bolts, then you can't stretch them no matter what you do. If you don't want to buy a whole box call me.
Gather up a set of T era tools. Use them to work on your T. Park the air impact, the Snap-on thin section box ends, the nice ratchet and laser engraved sockets and the full polish open-end/box-end set you got for Christmas and actually do a project on your T using a vintage set of Mossberg "Ford Special" sockets; the wrenches that came with your T when it was sold and that adjustable wrench in the bottom of your tool box that you got from your grandfather. You only get to have two screwdrivers, a big one and a little one. Both with wooden handles. That will give you a sense of how they were worked on in the day. Take the head off and lift the valve springs with one of those 29@ lifters or pry them up with a tire iron, pull the pins with your fingers and them grind the valves with a Zim grinder and put it all back together using the vintage wrenches. Adjust the bands with a pair of those pliers with the bent jaws. Pump up a tire with a hand pump. Next time you go on tour leave ALL your modern tools home--I think it gives you a real appreciation for how it was.
Hi Stan - your description sounds mighty like my modern tool kit :-)
I probably should buy some tools!
("a desk jockey" with limited tool kit).
Fantastic thread. I have been reading this Forum for around 10 years and I learned a lot more with this one tonight.
My contribution, when teaching someone to drive a T, have them use the hand brake half way back for neutral and constantly remind them to let off the left pedal when they need to stop the vehicle. I have developed a habit of using the hand brake to find neutral whenever I drive and I try to teach others learning to drive the same trick. Only let the hand brake lever down when you want direct drive and need the speed. When you want to slow the vehicle use motor compression with the fuel lever fully retarded until compression is no longer effective, then pull the hand lever back to neutral, then use low pedal to further slow the vehicle, then let off the left pedal only when you must use the foot brake to slow or stop. Trying to remember that neutral is not like a stick shift car seems to be the most difficult thing for newbees to remember and the use of the hand brake seems to be a good "crutch" to remind the new driver on how to find neutral, and avoid potential disaster.
Maybe I missed it posted already but my first advice to newbies, as they are known on this forum 'JOIN YOUR LOCAL T CHAPTER OR CLUB'so you can learn form those who already know and so that you can enjoy the wonderful company and friendship of other T owners at tours and swapmeets.
The best thing for your T is to drive it every day.
Heed what's in this thread: "Wife says I'm spending to much money on the T."
For safety reasons always carry a wheel chock in the trunk of your Model T.
Ron the Coilman
Wheel chock: My mother-in-law works well...
To be safe, you need two wheel chocks. Four is even better. Hmm, what 4 chock-like items do you find in a T? Most people even carry a spare or two, for some strange reason...
Wheel chock: A water pump works well too...
Ricks, I'll trade you 4 nice chocks made from a 4X4 with a piece of rope between each two for 4 of the chocks you mention, IF they've been recently tuned on a hand cranked tester!
This is a good thread.
Chris - Here is my answer to your question of What would you recommend to a new T enthusiast?
(Assuming no car ownership)
1. See a T. Become curious about knowing more.
2. Find a local car club. Ask who owns a T.
3. Meet the T owner. Learn to maintain that T.
4. Learn to drive that T.
5. Join the MTFCA.
6. Attend your state's antique car swap and sell.
7. Begin collecting books & magazines about Model Ts.
8. Add this Web site to your "Favorites" list on your computer.
9. Buy your first driving cap.
(Considering buying a car)
1. Sage advice was given me: if you can afford it, plan to buy a running car to enjoy and if you want to restore one, buy a second car to restore.
2. If you can't afford a car up front, you can do what I did. I bought a clunker for little $$$ and restored it over time (seven years). Yes, I didn't get to drive my T for seven years, but I know that car and will never forget my first drive. (Thank you Tex Sadler for ther instructions.)
3. Buy a copy of Mr. McCalley's "Model T Ford: The Car that Changed the World." There is no finer guide. The photos are excellent reference material.
4. Make sure you have the space to store and shelter your a car.
5. Have good tools.
6. Have a good workbench.
7. Have an open mind. You will learn many things that will challenge what you know because you are working with a car from a different era.
8. Accept the gift driving caps that friends give you. The hobby is more fun, anyway, when others participate in it with you.
(Owning the car)
1. Keep a fully charged fire extinguisher in the shop.
2. Make sure one of the lights in your shop hangs over the place where your engine most often will park.
3. Have a copy of the black cover Ford maintenance manual from the era. Stick strips of wide, clear packaging tape across the cover and spine to "laminate" it. This book will get lots of use, after all.
4. Post a lubrication chart on the wall. Follow it.
5. You may want to carry Model T-era tools for showing friends, but it may be more convenient to also have a set of modern tools with quick-release components.
6. Carry a roll of steel wire. The jokes about it are true: it is a handy substitute when you need a temporary fix.
7. Let your friends pick which driving cap they want to wear when you go for rides. It's part of the pre-trip excitement.
8. Have a spirit of enthusiasm for the cars and curiosity to learn more. Make a good memory and your visitor will be back.
9. Realize that there are few higher compliments in the hobby than to have gotten someone else interested in Model T's. When that happens, have that person go to step 1 under "assuming no car ownership" and follow the steps.
It will be worth the effort.