Ruckstell, Warford, Or Leave Well Enough Alone?

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Model T Ford Forum: Forum 2018: Ruckstell, Warford, Or Leave Well Enough Alone?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Bill Everett on Sunday, June 24, 2018 - 02:23 pm:

I'm about to disassemble and rebuild this rear end assembly. The car it will go into will be a driver, pretty much a roadster pickup with a Ray Wells body.

The engine is rebuilt, hand-crank to 4th main, with aluminum pistons and a Stipe 280 camshaft; otherwise, stock.

I have never ridden in a T with an under-drive, much less driven one, but the idea intrigues me enough to ask for opinions.

Setting aside the down-sides of either a Warford or a Ruckstell (expense, time required to acquire one, get it rebuilt properly, installed, and "something more to go wronglater", I'm asking...

For those of you who have used both a Warford, and a Ruckstell (no, not on the same car!) which do you like better?

I don't own either a Warford or a Ruckstell; I'm looking forward to your answers.






Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By William Hoffer on Sunday, June 24, 2018 - 03:35 pm:

Bill, my car has a ruckstell that I rebuilt this spring for touring. I have other brass cars, but had never driven a T before. The ruckstell made taking the hills much easier, both up and down. Safer, too. I wish they made them for my non-T cars, I would put a rux in every one.

Cheers, Bill


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By kep on Sunday, June 24, 2018 - 04:00 pm:

I like ruckstells but they're rather scarce. Only ridden in one but they do give a nice range of speeds, as in a 3-4 speed.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Wayne Sheldon, Grass Valley, CA on Sunday, June 24, 2018 - 04:04 pm:

I have had and/or driven several Ts over the years. Some have been very stock, with no additional gearing. A couple had a Ruckstell only, a few with Warford or Muncie only (and more than a couple with both!).
It mostly boils down to what individual owners want, and how they plan to use the car. I enjoy driving a stock geared T. Have been on several major tours, some fairly mean mountains, and even a few parades with Ts without additional gears. It can be a little bothersome that way, low pedal for a few miles of mountain road, keeping good spacing in the parade, etc. But I have never had a real problem from doing that, and enjoyed every minute of driving them that way. However, most of the Ts I have had did have some intermediate gearing. Once you get good at the shifting, and its tricky timings? It does make driving the car easier, and sometimes more relaxing. It is also easier on the car to not be lugging the motor, or spinning it hard trying to keep close to a pace without having those intermediate choices.
For me? I prefer brass era Ts to be stock gearing. More era correct that way. Black era or improved Ts I like to have some gearing choices because in those years, those choices were available and therefore era correct. But that is my silly preference.

A couple observations on your rear end. The back/middle (pumpkin as some call that) has the high fill indicating that it is a mid to late '10s housing. The drive shaft has the open spool, a '20s part. That combination of early and late parts can work just fine, sometimes with no extra effort needed. Other times, some extra effort IS needed to get the gears into proper mesh. So it should be checked carefully. Also, the spring perch barely shown does not look like a standard T perch. It may be part of an after-market shock absorber. It maybe should be replaced with the proper part. Unless of course you have and plan to use the full shock absorber set.

Good luck! Have fun! Enjoy!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Tony Bowker, Ramona, CA on Sunday, June 24, 2018 - 04:20 pm:

I have Ruckstells in the 15 Speedster and the 24 coupe. It is especially good in the coupe which is quite heavy and getting a little tired. It is easy to use and the left hand lever is very convenient. On my 14 Touring, I have a KC Warford. It provides a similar lower gear to the Ruckstell and an overdrive. I understand the overdrive gives an effective 3:1 final drive ratio and allows the car to run effortlessly at 40-50mph on open flat roads. My only complaint is the center lever which is in the way when I enter or leave the car.
If your motor has been “warmed” up a little and you don’t mind the lever, the Warford is the most versatile.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John Zibell, Huntsville, AL on Sunday, June 24, 2018 - 05:34 pm:

As Tony said, the Warford is the most versatile and you can purchase new. Cost of converting to a Ruxtell (new parts from Chaffin's) and the Warford are similar. If you purchase the Warford from the maker, I think they will shorten the driveshaft for you. You can contact them directly to ask. http://www.laynemachine.com/Products.html I also recommend using the Fun Projects spool for the rear drive end of the drive shaft.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mike Walker, NW AR on Sunday, June 24, 2018 - 06:35 pm:

The Warford ads say their cost is similar to a Ruckstell, but that has not been my experience. I can usually rebuild a Ruckstell for much less. I have had both types of equipment in my T's, and I like them both. Unless you live where the roads are totally flat and don't intend to tour anywhere else, the Warford overdrive is of little use unless you change the rear gear to 4:1. That is a great combination. But they are nice pieces of equipment; they shift like a Swiss watch. A Ruckstell with standard rear gearing will let my car go as fast as I want to go in a Model T. Adding the extra gears you get with either is the best thing you can do for your T to make driving it much nicer.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mark Gregush Portland Oregon on Sunday, June 24, 2018 - 07:32 pm:

If you an thinking about and original Warford, remember this they have straight cut gears and can be loud. There are aluminum and cast iron 3 speeds (over under and direct), then there are the original aluminum 2 speeds they were ether under/direct or over/direct. Then there is the mounting support brace depending on which one you go with, shortened drive shaft torque tube and radius rods. Most bearings can be found but not all.


The KC Warford is $$$ but comes as a kit.

The Ruckstell is more or less bolt in it it's in good shape.
I went with the cast iron 3 speed because I kinda fell into it and was able to do most all the work except cut the square on the drive shaft.
NO MATTER WHICH ONE YOU GO WITH, YOU NEED OUTSIDE BRAKES OF SOME SORT.
I suggest you google mtfca;warford or mtfca;ruckstell for more info.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Larry Smith, Lomita, California on Sunday, June 24, 2018 - 09:13 pm:

I'll go along with Wayne. I've had both too, original of course, and the Warford was a pain in the ass, so I took it out, and have used a Ruckstell ever since. I have Ruckstells in all of my cars.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Allan Bennett - Australia on Sunday, June 24, 2018 - 09:36 pm:

I have a Ruckstell in my roadster, and a KC Warford in my shooting brake. I much prefer the KC Warford. In the shooting brake it allows me to use the overdrive when conditions are right. It can be driven just as a standard T when in direct drive, and the underdrive is a boon in hills. The shifting is delightful.

Mike, rebuilding a Ruckstell is likely to be cheaper than a KC Warford. But that is not the same as buying the whole Ruckstell kit to convert a standard rear axle.

Allan from down under.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John Noonan - Norton, MA. on Sunday, June 24, 2018 - 09:49 pm:

What's the average cost on a Ruckstell these days that needs to be rebuilt, and how much does it usually cost to re-build one? Like bill, i was also thinking about doing this, but i don't usually see that many for sale. Probably for a good reason i would imagine. :-)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Ted Dumas on Sunday, June 24, 2018 - 10:05 pm:

Stay away from the old iron or aluminum Warfords. They are not synchromesh and get you stuck in neutral.

Staring from
Scratch like you are I would go with the KC Warford.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Kevin Whelihan Danbury, WI on Sunday, June 24, 2018 - 10:55 pm:

I have a Ruckstell kit I got from Chaffin's with new gears as well. Nice working with CNC machined parts. Went together very easy and fun doing it. It works well in my '26 Touring. That being said, I am thinking of pulling the Ruckstell out of the Touring and transplanting it into my Tudor when that's done. For the Touring I'd like to get a new KC Warford. For larger heavy cars like my Tudor, you wouldn't use over-drive much anyways.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Seth in Alabama on Monday, June 25, 2018 - 12:12 am:

Why pick one or the other? Just get BOTH!

I have a speedster with a Chicago AND a Ruckstell with 3:1 gears and I think it's the best thing since sliced bread.

If you have a mostly stock motor then keep your standard rear gears and get the transmission and the rear end. I was able to put my T in Chicago underdrive and Ruckstell, and crawl at 7 miles an hour IN FORD HIGH! behind a Tudor that was in Ford low. Now granted I have a lot of engine. But with 3.63's in the rear end, more gears just make your car that much more versatile. You can load onto your trailer at slower than walking speed, or you can put it in overdrive and enjoy low RPM's even at 45 mph. There's no need for 4:1's, you can use the Warford overdrive just fine with 3:63's, plus if you have a Ruckstell you can use that to stay in OD and make it up the hill.

I think the only "disadvantages" you might could claim are the Warford shift lever being in the center (I prefer the Ruckstell to have the shifter over to the left), and . . . um . . . well maybe it's one more thing to check the oil in?

Also, you can save a bunch of money by getting an original Warford or any other name brand auxiliary transmission instead of one of the new ones. I shift mine on the fly all the time.

Personally, I don't think there's any wrong answer. If you want to stay stock, ok! Haha if you like the idea of more gear choices so you can keep a happy engine RPM at any speed, ok!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By David Stroud on Monday, June 25, 2018 - 04:06 am:

If you install a foot feed, shifting a straight tooth three speed transmission is a breeze, once you learn how. No different than driving an older truck or pickup with a non synchro transmission. As far as the noise is concerned, I like the whine of of the straight cut gears, reminds me of driving the pickups and trucks when I was a kid. JMHO Dave


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Allan Bennett - Australia on Monday, June 25, 2018 - 04:15 am:

Ah David, the foot feed, [accelerator pedal] is key to easy operation. I have one in each car with an accessory transmission/2 speed axle.They are easy to fit to RHD cars.

Allan from down under.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Allan Bennett - Australia on Monday, June 25, 2018 - 04:17 am:

Ah David, the foot feed, [accelerator pedal] is key to easy operation. I have one in each car with an accessory transmission/2 speed axle.They are easy to fit to RHD cars.

Allan from down under.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Frank van Ekeren (Australia) on Monday, June 25, 2018 - 05:27 am:

I'm in the "Leave well Enough Alone" camp.

My little 16 pick-up has the 280 stipe and Z head and it will out pull in top gear (even loaded with camping gear) up hill better than any of my other touring T's which have rux's
So the cheapest way to go is with the Z head.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Neil Kaminar on Monday, June 25, 2018 - 09:31 am:

I like my Ruckstell but I have a friend with a Warford in his car, which I really like too. The Warford gives more options for gearing with an underdrive, direct, and overdrive. If I had a choice I would go with the Warford. The modern ones are lighter so they put less stress on the end of the transmission housing.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mike Walker, NW AR on Monday, June 25, 2018 - 09:38 am:

"Mike, rebuilding a Ruckstell is likely to be cheaper than a KC Warford. But that is not the same as buying the whole Ruckstell kit to convert a standard rear axle. "

Allan -- You are correct. But what I meant to say is that I can usually buy a used Ruckstell and rebuild it for much less cost than a KC Warford. Used Ruckstells usually go for about $800 around here; I bought one at the Petit Jean swap meet last week for $400. Of course you don't know what their condition is inside until you open them up, but most of them I have rebuilt needed only a few hundred dollars' worth of new parts to make a good serviceable unit.

I recently did rebuild a customer's stock big-drum rear end into a Ruckstell using Chaffin's complete kit. It was wonderful working with all-new parts! :-) Going that route wasn't much less money than buying a KC Warford, but the customer wanted a Ruckstell to be period-correct.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Gary London, Camarillo, CA on Monday, June 25, 2018 - 10:23 am:

I went with a KC Warford in my '11 for one reason..... I could use it with my clamshell rear end. I had already rebuilt a Ruckstell with a 13/14 housing, but when I finally found the clamshell I wanted to use it. The car has the primitive original appearance from the rear this way.

If you only want an under drive I'd vote for the Ruckstell. If you also want an overdrive, or are using the early style rear end like I am, I'd vote for the Warford. both work very well.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Norman T. Kling on Monday, June 25, 2018 - 11:19 am:

I have Ruckstells in all 3 of my Model T's. They are good for ascending and descending hills also for slow driving as in a parade or on a dirt road. Good also for loading onto a trailer. Whether you have a left or right shifter depends on your choice. Mine are all right shifts which makes it easier for me to remember how to drive each car because they are all the same. I am short, so have no problem getting around the shifter when I enter the car. It is also very easy to use my right hand to move the throttle and reach the shifter quickly. I only have to take one hand off the steering wheel. Either location of the shifter is fine. Just up to you to choose. In fact it might be a good thing to find a friend with each type shifter and ask to drive his car before you make your decision to see which works best for you.

The Warford provides more speed range and an overdrive for flat ground.

The Ruckstell takes fewer modifications to the drivetrain. Only main change is the left axle housing. If you keep all the original parts you can convert easily back to standard equipment. With the Warford you will need to shorten the driveshaft which includes the tube, the shaft and the radius rods, so after you do that you can only use your rear end for a Warford.

This is my opinion: If you live in flat land and don't do out of the area tours, stick with the original gearing. But if you drive on hills, use either Ruckstell or Warford. If you have a show car and want to keep everything authentic you can keep the original rear axle assembly and modify another one so that you can swap out with the original any time you wish to do so. It might also bring more money for a future sale if you have both axles available. This would be especially if you have an older model with the clamshell rear axle.
Norm


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John Aldrich Orting Wa on Monday, June 25, 2018 - 01:08 pm:

Only ever had a Ruckstel. Love it in my 1927 Touring as we live in hilly country. Don't have it in my 1915 PU but it is light weight and I really don't need one there.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Walt Berdan, Bellevue, WA on Monday, June 25, 2018 - 01:30 pm:

I drove a stock 25ish touring for many years with only stock gearing. It was fun and fine to tour with if you weren't interested in speeds above 45. A happy Model T that actually did fine on almost all hills.

My speedster has a Chicago 3 speed similar to an original Warford. Straight cut gears and no syncros. Easy to shift with a foot feed and makes the car very versatile on any road.

I also had a '26 Coupe with Z head and it liked the Ruckstell. The extra weight and modest power really helped on hills.

My experience is that the underdrive in a Warford or similar is too slow for anything other than a parade or loading on a trailer and overdrive is fine if you are going downhill or have a motor that has been warmed up a fair bit but not much of an advantage with a stock motor.

As you said you car will be basically stock, I would pass on the Warford and stay stock or Ruckstell. If mine, I'd drive it for a while with stock gears and see if it really needs the help of the Ruckstell.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mark Gregush Portland Oregon on Monday, June 25, 2018 - 04:12 pm:

My 3 speed Warford seemed to go fine when in underdrive and Ford high. While not speedy, nor is it crawl along. I run stock Ford ring and pinion.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Hal Schedler, Sacramento on Tuesday, June 26, 2018 - 12:46 am:

With a 3 speed Warford and a 2 speed Ruckstell how many forward speeds do you have?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Paul Flora on Tuesday, June 26, 2018 - 08:50 am:

Have one of each. The new Warford from Layne Machine is far superior, easier and smoother shifting, virtually effortless. Overdrive is really nice on the flats, significantly cuts engine RPM while cruising


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Seth in Alabama on Tuesday, June 26, 2018 - 08:52 am:

With both a Warford and Ruckstell you get 12 forward speeds. However, ultimately you end up using low pedal very very little. I only use Ford Low when I'm starting from a dead stop. As soon as I'm rolling, I end up in Ford High and just stay there, only using the pedal when I shift.

I start out in under drive and Ruckstell, low pedal to get rolling then out to high pedal. I don't even get up to 5 mph in Low pedal before shifting to high. Then shift from under drive to direct, then Ruckstell to direct. Sometimes, depending on the hills or if I want more speed faster, I'll swap and when I hit high pedal I'll shift out of Ruckstell first, then go from under to direct in the transmission.

Overdrive is for cruising and depending on the hills I'll either go into Ruckstell or go back to direct in the auxiliary transmission. The Ruckstell does a great job splitting the bigger shifts of the auxiliary trans.


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