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Is this 18% grade too steep for a Model T to descend down?

Posted: Mon May 20, 2019 6:23 pm
by NorthSouth
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Hello fellow Model T-ers,
As many of you know, I am hosting the Golden Gate and Alexander Valley Tours June 3rd thru June 10th.

I would like to include a one mile loop segment out over the Golden Gate and Pacific Ocean but am uncertain as to whether or not an 18% grade is too steep for a Model T to descend down. This thin stretch of asphalt road has been recently repaved and is in perfect condition. Only parts of it have an 18% grade. However, it is only one car wide (a one-way single lane) with zero shoulder on either side. Our tour would be the only traffic here on this Monday afternoon. You can view this beautifully spectacular, yet ominous, stretch on Youtube. Here's the link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjRCHcmmfos

What do you guys think? Should I include it on my 'day one' Marin Headlands tour or avoid it altogether and choose a flatter way?

I would appreciate your advice.
By the way; We still have 2 spots available on these tours.

Re: Is this 18% grade too steep for a Model T to descend down?

Posted: Mon May 20, 2019 7:01 pm
by Les Schubert
Steven
Have you driven your T down it? How did you like driving your T down it? How much T touring have you done?
I consider these important questions.
On the video the hill doesn’t look like 18%,but that can be deceptive

Re: Is this 18% grade too steep for a Model T to descend down?

Posted: Mon May 20, 2019 8:03 pm
by George House
No, it’s not too steep for a Model T to decend - but awfully, awfully dangerous. A fairly new Model T owner/driver would probably incorrectly use the brake band and emergency brake lever. You might see a lot of cracked brake drums from the Kevlar guys. On the other hand, you could instruct all in the morning drivers meeting to use low pedal to decend. And, conversely, low Ruckstell and low Warford.

Re: Is this 18% grade too steep for a Model T to descend down?

Posted: Mon May 20, 2019 8:35 pm
by otrcman
I've not seen this grade first hand, but am inclined to err on the safe side and not do it.

Here's my reasoning:

1. You are not making the decision for yourself, you are making the decision for many individuals. You probably don't know the detail condition or equipment of every car, nor do you know the precise skill level of every driver. Even if a typical T with a typical driver can do it, you are working to the lowest common denominator.

2. Group dynamics will come into play here. If one person says, "No sweat", then his friend will be reluctant to pass on the same task. And once half of the group decides to do it, the other half will go ahead and give it a go just through peer pressure. As the tour leader, you don't want to put people in these difficult positions.

3. As you said, it's a single lane, one way road. If somebody breaks down on the grade, he will block any further transit. How are you going to get the trouble trailer into position to load the disabled T, and worse yet, how are you going to safely load it ?

Re: Is this 18% grade too steep for a Model T to descend down?

Posted: Mon May 20, 2019 9:23 pm
by Burger in Spokane
Loss of brakes should be no issue. That guardrail will slow any runaway down. 😜

Re: Is this 18% grade too steep for a Model T to descend down?

Posted: Mon May 20, 2019 9:31 pm
by Norman Kling
There are several pedestrian crossings along the course. I didn't see any pedestrians, however, if someone walks out in front of a T expecting the T to stop for them, they could get run over.

If the cars have auxiliary transmissions and external brakes, it might be safe, but on a tour, there are probably some T;s with stock transmissions and brakes.

A problem is that if one T gets out of control, it could affect others in front of it.

I personally would not recommend it for a tour.

Norm

Re: Is this 18% grade too steep for a Model T to descend down?

Posted: Mon May 20, 2019 9:35 pm
by AndyClary
There will also be bicycles on the road, there are always bicycles there and they will probably want to go faster than the T drivers. We passed on these types when we put together our national tour. As already mentioned, you can't account for everyone's experience level. If you have to ask you probably know the answer.

Andy

Re: Is this 18% grade too steep for a Model T to descend down?

Posted: Mon May 20, 2019 9:39 pm
by babychadwick
I've been up and down far worse in a model T, the skill of the driver in dealing with long downhill grades is essential. Running this road the problem will be the bicycles.

Re: Is this 18% grade too steep for a Model T to descend down?

Posted: Mon May 20, 2019 9:52 pm
by NorthSouth
Your comments against including this segment on the tour make sense. I sort of knew this already. I just hate to have everyone miss such a spectacularly
beautiful stretch of road. Nevertheless, as you all have confirmed, and for various reasons, it would be too risky (perhaps even stupid) to include an 18% one-way grade, with no shoulders, on a Model T tour. C'est la vie.
Thank you very much for your advice.

Re: Is this 18% grade too steep for a Model T to descend down?

Posted: Tue May 21, 2019 3:48 am
by wayne sheldon
I have been on several tours with very steep hills. On Catalina Island one time, we came VERY close to a disaster. The touring, two cars ahead of us, made a loud CRUNCH noise. The touring lurched a couple times, then started to roll backwards. Now, this was on a barely more than one lane, about 11 percent climb, with about three hundred feet to the rocky beach below (no guardrail). This was about as close to a disaster as one can have without being a disaster. Due partially to pure luck, and a great deal to the skill of the touring's driver (although in a not well prepared car), the driver rolled (FAST!) passed the car right in front of us (we in my first boat-tail roadster), he barely clipped the rear fender of the '27 roadster pickup in front of us, then swung really fast back end of touring car into the sharp hillside rising above us. He missed us entirely, but for about two seconds I was really wondering if my car's large drum outside brakes could hold us both on that steep hill or not!
J W Silviera, the owner/driver of the '27 roadster pickup, seemed to not be upset at all by the ding in his fender.
A later tear-down revealed the cause of this was a pinion gear that split in two.

Some years later, I went on a nickel age tour not far from where this tour is going to be. The driver's meeting warned us of a very steep downgrade at one point. Nothing remotely bad happened this time. But just thinking about a couple dozen large cars with two wheel brakes does give one a pause to thought. I spoke up and stated aloud, that anyone following me be well aware, I GO SLOW down steep hills, and recommend everyone else do likewise. It is good advice always. While going up steep hills can be dangerous, going down can get out of control quicker and often be worse.

Beyond that, like the prevailing opinion seems to be forming? Probably best for all to avoid such a potential danger area. As long as there is a better, safer, route readily available. Yes a lot of people including me would enjoy the sights, and probably nothing bad would happen. We want a good time to be had by ALL! I wish i could go.

Re: Is this 18% grade too steep for a Model T to descend down?

Posted: Tue May 21, 2019 7:14 am
by It's Bill
I think it is great you are asking for advice on this. I am a newbie, and 2 years ago at BBC we got sent down a road that turned from a beginners slope into a long triple black diamond with no warning. Thank God it was a rainy day and we were driving modern iron. Funny thing was, we were the only car on that stretch, all the old cars had gone another way. How they knew about it, I have no clue. A drivers meeting is a great idea to warn of tricky stretches. Good luck with your tour! Cheers, Bill

Re: Is this 18% grade too steep for a Model T to descend down?

Posted: Tue May 21, 2019 7:56 am
by George Andreasen
I've never been on a tour, nor driven my T on other than Bay Area city streets years ago........

BUT!

I know that section of roadway fairly well, and I'm here to tell you that the bicyclists are an absolute menace. Not because of their hobby (sport?), but because of their attitude. They will weave in and out, pull in front of you and generally disregard safety almost arrogantly. Combine that with an antique car whose braking ability is marginal at best, and you have a recipe for disaster.

It's a beautiful stretch of scenic highway, but consider another route if possible.

Re: Is this 18% grade too steep for a Model T to descend down?

Posted: Tue May 21, 2019 9:42 am
by Steve Jelf
I'd drive it myself, but I wouldn't take a tour down it. As the other guys have said, you don't know the condition of all the cars or the skill of all the drivers.

Re: Is this 18% grade too steep for a Model T to descend down?

Posted: Tue May 21, 2019 11:25 am
by Original Smith
I had a talk with the tour leader this morning, and advised him to group the cars at the top of the grade, and let them go down every 30 seconds. That way there shouldn't be a problem.

Re: Is this 18% grade too steep for a Model T to descend down?

Posted: Wed May 22, 2019 11:54 pm
by HalSched
IMHO, a Model T on an 18% grade without brakes, or other transmission function, will overtake the T in front of him is less than 30 seconds. What is the 30 seconds supposed to be used for? In my opinion that beautiful stretch will be hazerdous for at least one of the T's on the tour and 1 is too many.

Re: Is this 18% grade too steep for a Model T to descend down?

Posted: Thu May 23, 2019 2:30 am
by Jugster
An 18% grade is 16.2 degrees from level, right?
(Just making sure I understand the question)

Re: Is this 18% grade too steep for a Model T to descend down?

Posted: Thu May 23, 2019 5:00 am
by DickC
Most people who tour with T's are looking to enjoy the ride and not too interested in heroics. (that is just my opinion). We have toured on roads that I wish we had not because we were not comfortable and glad we got through it. On one tour the slope was enough that the only way I felt I could control the speed was to approach the hill very slowly, retard the spark and turn the engine off. The compression and no brake kept us at about 25 MPH all the way to the bottom without touching the brake. I would not like to do it again. Just my .02.

Re: Is this 18% grade too steep for a Model T to descend down?

Posted: Tue May 28, 2019 2:35 am
by Jem
The London-Brighton Veteran car run got re- routed down Reigate Hill (approx 18percent grade) in 2017 resulting in 4 car crash & 1 driver fatality, after his brakes failed.

Re: Is this 18% grade too steep for a Model T to descend down?

Posted: Tue May 28, 2019 7:28 am
by perry kete
I would suggest that an alternate route be available and let the drivers make a choice if they want to take the hill or the alternate route.
Model T Sedan on a hill.JPG

Re: Is this 18% grade too steep for a Model T to descend down?

Posted: Tue May 28, 2019 10:30 am
by Original Smith
I'm going to drive the grade, no matter what all the experts think! The only thing dangerous about it is all in your minds. If you have a good running Model T, that grade will be no problem. As I mentioned earlier, start the cars down the hill one at a time with a 30 second interval.

Re: Is this 18% grade too steep for a Model T to descend down?

Posted: Tue May 28, 2019 1:58 pm
by Bill Thompson
Too steep!

Re: Is this 18% grade too steep for a Model T to descend down?

Posted: Tue May 28, 2019 4:54 pm
by Susanne
I think you're fine until the first person pops a U joint right before that first 15 MPH curve... or their Ruckstell pops into neutral...

I like the alternate route idea... those who feel their car could do it can go ahead, those who do not have a bypass route.

BTW I used to live on a steep road in the east bay, in the Oakland Hills, and lost it one time when the car started to roll backwards downhill... there were angels on my shoulders that kept us from rolling the car and injuring all 4 of us... but it was an experience I would *never* want to repeat.

Re: Is this 18% grade too steep for a Model T to descend down?

Posted: Wed May 29, 2019 12:39 am
by critterpainter
Only the passengers will enjoy the view. The driver will be keeping the car under control and should NOT be sightseeing!1

CAMERA CAR

Posted: Wed May 29, 2019 1:32 am
by Novice
:o Let Larry drive the course with cameras installed in His car and check it out. Play the video at the drivers meeting or the night before, restrict the route to veteran T drivers with properly equipped cars. Larry should have no problem with His cable operated Rocky Mountain brakes. Drag Chute might be helpful

Only Drivers with Brass Ba--s need apply.

My 2 Cents worth maybe less.

Re: Is this 18% grade too steep for a Model T to descend down?

Posted: Thu Jul 04, 2019 10:45 pm
by NorthSouth
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Just so there is no confusion, when the opportunity actually presented itself, way up there in the foggy heavens, Larry Smith did indeed recklessly fling himself and his perfect Model T pickup down this cliff ...only to be seen alive again back at the motel's cocktail hour. And, just so you know, the rest of the Ts on this tour, those who had considered the above comments, sanely turned themselves around and safely coasted back down to sea level the way they came.

Re: Is this 18% grade too steep for a Model T to descend down?

Posted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 9:36 am
by Original Smith
Well Steven, you are certainly into the dramatics! I didn't recklessly drive my car down that 18% grade, and it certainly wasn't a cliff either. It was a nice paved road. I'm sure more folks would have driven down that grade if you hadn't scared them off! What was interesting to me was looking at all of the old bunkers on the way down that the Army built.

Re: Is this 18% grade too steep for a Model T to descend down?

Posted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 3:54 pm
by John Warren
Good job Smith!!! Oh and thanks Larry. :lol:

Re: Is this 18% grade too steep for a Model T to descend down?

Posted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 4:51 pm
by Dan McEachern
Just another hill!

Re: Is this 18% grade too steep for a Model T to descend down?

Posted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 8:41 pm
by FordFool
It’s no hill for a climber. Right Larry?? I have been down 18%+ dirt roads in Cajon Pass a couple of times in my 16 touring. It felt like I was standing on the floorboards. Lo gear and low gear KC Warford. Enough to pucker a$$ h...e but it was fun at the time. Don

Re: Is this 18% grade too steep for a Model T to descend down?

Posted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 9:23 pm
by John kuehn
Going down the hill is one thing if your the only one on the road. It’s a whole different story when there is other people on the road with bikes or anything else. I’m for one having fun in old cars but not at the risk of getting killed in one.

Re: Is this 18% grade too steep for a Model T to descend down?

Posted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 9:36 pm
by Dennis_Brown
I would not go down it. You may Have an all restored t with lots of new repo parts but you also have parts that are 100 years old and any one of them could let go at any time especially under a strain and that could put you over the guard rail or barreling down the hill like a rocket. I have never been on a tour but I believe they are meant to enjoy , not to stress you out about an overly steep downgrade with curves or put you in danger.

Re: Is this 18% grade too steep for a Model T to descend down?

Posted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 10:00 pm
by babychadwick
We had a pretty decent downgrade on this years endurance run. I believe it was about 2300 foot drop in 3 miles single lane dirt with no guard rail. To my knowledge all the speedsters went down just fine. I drove as I often have, engine off ruckstel low alternating between bands/rock to bring to a near stop and then coast again allowing the engine to do most of the braking.

Re: Is this 18% grade too steep for a Model T to descend down?

Posted: Sat Jul 06, 2019 10:23 am
by Rich Bingham
That run represents an average 14% grade if I did the math right. Good on ya, Chad !! :D

(Maybe harder to descend "up" ?? :lol: )

Re: Is this 18% grade too steep for a Model T to descend down?

Posted: Sat Jul 06, 2019 11:09 am
by Original Smith
I've never been able to figure out where people get Ruckstell low from! You are either in Ruckstell or you are not! When I was going down that hill, I had my car in standard Ford low, and that was all that was needed.

Re: Is this 18% grade too steep for a Model T to descend down?

Posted: Sat Jul 06, 2019 11:12 am
by NorthSouth
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Correction: Larry Smith was not "reckless" that day way up in the clouds. Rather, he opting for that ominous 18 degree plunge was a testament to his life long driving experience and to the refined and capable condition of his T.