flat towing a T

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thom
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flat towing a T

Post by thom » Tue Aug 20, 2019 8:37 pm

I've watched the videos of past OCFs several times and one shows somebody with a T tow-truck towing a T around. That makes me wonder. How is the correct way to tow a T with the rear wheels on the ground? Remove the driveshaft? :?:

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Mark Gregush
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Re: flat towing a T

Post by Mark Gregush » Tue Aug 20, 2019 8:46 pm

That would be a lot of work to remove the driveshaft! Dolly or flat bed. Short distance, plugs out in high maybe. I would not suggest towing with back off the ground, the steering would have the car all over the place and I would not trust a rope to hold the wheel. Find a clear area and try backing up a little faster then normal, but be prepared to have the wheel ripped out of your hand when you loose control.
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Re: flat towing a T

Post by Scott_Conger » Tue Aug 20, 2019 8:48 pm

Tommy

I'd almost suspect that the combination you saw was set up to safely do that for display purposes...

For you and me, there is no safe way to tow a T on it's rear wheels for any real distance; for short distances, car in gear (brake lever fully forward), 4 wheels on the ground, spark plugs removed, pulled S-L-O-W-L-Y, and plan on wiping down the engine compartment for all the oil sprayed around.

Where to secure to the T without turning the front axle into a pretzel...that's another story for another day...
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Re: flat towing a T

Post by Scottio » Tue Aug 20, 2019 8:53 pm

I don’t think there is a safe way to flat tow a T at all. The last time this subject came up there was a fellow that jumped in and told of the time he tried it and destroyed his engine and transmission. I would only tow a T if the wheels, all the wheels, were off the ground. Flatbed or trailer only.


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Re: flat towing a T

Post by Altair » Tue Aug 20, 2019 8:57 pm

I towed my T for 30 miles with the rear wheels on the ground and the engine idling.


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Re: flat towing a T

Post by rickg » Tue Aug 20, 2019 9:30 pm

How did they tow the cars back in the day ?, there are still some wreckers around.

Rick

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Re: flat towing a T

Post by Jeff5015 » Tue Aug 20, 2019 9:52 pm

How do you think they got the name "wrecker" ?
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Re: flat towing a T

Post by Billdizer,Spencer In » Tue Aug 20, 2019 10:39 pm

In 1959, my dad and mom and the four of us kids moved from Indiana to Utica NY. We flat towed my grandfathers 1925 coupe behind our 1958 Plymouth Fury the whole way, about 750 miles. The universal joint was disconnected, not sure if it was removed or not. I suspect it was removed. I was seven at the time, so I don't know! The only problem we had was the grease in the front wheel bearings got soft with the heat, and dad had to repack them. I still have the tow bar that my dad and uncle made for the trip. U bolts went over the axle and the wishbone through two straps that were hinged to the tow bar, so it could move up and down for bumps. The T tracked just fine all the way. We had our dog riding in it the whole way! He sat on the seat and looked out part of the time! The T is now back in Indiana with me. Been in the family since 1942!
So, yes, they can be flat towed, at least with a front end that is in decent shape!


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Re: flat towing a T

Post by Scott_Conger » Tue Aug 20, 2019 11:01 pm

Scott

as I recall the story, it was a worm drive TT and it was towed a considerable distance at a considerable speed.

They can be towed, at a low speed, under conditions as I related above

As far as towing "back in the day", a rear wheel could be removed from the axle, this device could be installed over an axle shaft, the wheel remounted on the device, and the car safely towed with the rear wheels on the ground. It was made specifically for this purpose.

Most people mistakenly attribute tool this to facilitating the retrieval of a T that has a broken axle (and it will do that), however that is not it's primary designed purpose.
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Re: flat towing a T

Post by Wayne Sheldon » Wed Aug 21, 2019 3:13 am

Take a good look at the tool Scott C shows above. Think about it. There were other tools made to tow a T with a broken axle. The one he shows is made to tow a T with other reasons for towing. The "spindle" is held out away from the backing plate because it is intended to go over an intact axle. If it were intended primarily for towing a T with a broken axle, there would be no need to hold the spindle so far out as usually when the axle breaks, it comes out from the rear end (yes, I do know there are exceptions to that), leaving a close connection practical. Scott C's device is made to clamp onto the backing plate over an unbroken axle.
As Bill D's story illustrates, A T can be towed for some distance IF the U-joint or somehow other drive-line is disconnected from the motor. AND IF the steering, wheels and other pieces are up to the task AND a good well-built tow bar is used. These days, with the availability of proper car trailers, still not recommended.

TS should not be towed on their wheels except for very short distances, at very low speeds, only as a desperate measure. And best in high gear with the spark plugs removed. That is my opinion. I would never recommend more than a couple blocks or about a quarter of a mile even at that.

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Re: flat towing a T

Post by dlmyers » Wed Aug 21, 2019 6:50 am

The old forums are a gold mine of information.


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Re: flat towing a T

Post by denaborderic » Wed Oct 23, 2019 7:48 am

I think you can contact towing experts, they know how to tow a vehicle easily and safely. They have many experiences in towing heavy duty and other vehicles.


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Re: flat towing a T

Post by yukonjack » Wed Oct 23, 2019 8:13 am

rickg wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 9:30 pm
How did they tow the cars back in the day ?, there are still some wreckers around.

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Re: flat towing a T

Post by pdgriesse » Wed Oct 23, 2019 12:37 pm

You can also tow a "T" by just removing the rear axle keys, then tighten the rear axle nuts---probably not good for long distances but works fine to load a trailor or move it somewhere ----I did that after I joined the two piece crank club, no problems....

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Re: flat towing a T

Post by TMiller6 » Wed Oct 23, 2019 1:52 pm

When the cars at the Village aren't running, they are towed short distances with the front wheels up and transmission set to the neutral position. They also have an Auto Ambulance that can be placed under either axle allowing the whole car to be raised for towing if necessary. Most towing is done with S-Brackets supporting the front axle.

The flat towing of the cars back to the T-Garage has not produced any noticeable problems.

My personal observations, I do not speak for Greenfield Village.
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Re: flat towing a T

Post by John kuehn » Wed Oct 23, 2019 2:02 pm

In 1959 my Father and my Uncle towed my 24 Coupe I inherited from my Grandfather. It was about a 12 mile trip one way. I was 11 years old at the time and had just got home from school and minor knowledge about a T.
My Father had a chain run through a piece of pipe to keep the T from running up on the back end of my Uncles truck.
I remember that My Father had the brake lever in neutral. I do remember when they pulled up in the driveway my Father commented that it smelled a little warm!
A few weeks later my uncle came over and got the T running. It did smoke a little. Don’t remember much after that. It sat in the barn a few years more before I finally was old enough to drive and it seemed to run and drive OK. I guess it survived the 12 mile tow years before.


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Re: flat towing a T

Post by Scott_Conger » Wed Oct 23, 2019 2:15 pm

You guys DO know this is a 2 month old post that was resurected by someone with 1 whole post to their credit, and did it to post a commercial link to their towing/recovery business, right? Like they have a clue as to how to tow a T.

Continue if you wish, but you got re-started by SPAM, and the OP is not likely still looking for advice.
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Re: flat towing a T

Post by Tom Hicks » Wed Oct 23, 2019 4:35 pm

I find threads like this very discouraging. I like "yes" or "no" answers. When the guys who really know can't agree it confuses me.

I would like to know. Would towing a T with a locked up clutch a few hundred feet do any damage to the engine internals? None? Or yes immediate, or yes wear that will shorten the life of the drivetrain.

I like the method of removing the keys from the rear wheels for short distances, but maybe that is unnecessary?
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Re: flat towing a T

Post by Bills Auto Works » Wed Oct 23, 2019 4:59 pm

Tom Hicks wrote:
Wed Oct 23, 2019 4:35 pm
I find threads like this very discouraging. I like "yes" or "no" answers. When the guys who really know can't agree it confuses me.

I would like to know. Would towing a T with a locked up clutch a few hundred feet do any damage to the engine internals? None? Or yes immediate, or yes wear that will shorten the life of the drivetrain.

I like the method of removing the keys from the rear wheels for short distances, but maybe that is unnecessary?
Scott_Conger wrote:
Wed Oct 23, 2019 2:15 pm
You guys DO know this is a 2 month old post that was resurected by someone with 1 whole post to their credit, and did it to post a commercial link to their towing/recovery business, right? Like they have a clue as to how to tow a T.

Continue if you wish, but you got re-started by SPAM, and the OP is not likely still looking for advice.
Scott,
I caught that as well LOL I also clicked on their link & got a nice laugh. Chances are very good they would be clueless about a "T" because they are not a specialized transport service like myself!

Tom,
As much as you would like to hear someone tell you your engine is still good, there is NO possible way for anyone to know if they did damage to it not knowing how to properly deal with a "T"! Each case is different! You will just have to hope & pray. I would think you would have had it by now if they loaded it last Thursday.

As far as commenting on a thread like this, I learned long ago not to bother telling people the proper way. Even though I have well over 3.5 million accident free miles & have transported hundreds of "T"s in the last 36+ years...There is always some guy who did one or two times that thinks he knows it all & will say I am wrong. Just like how to properly strap them down in the trailer.....I let them go on believing what ever the hell they want & laugh at their attempt to look intelligent.

God bless
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Re: flat towing a T

Post by Tom Hicks » Wed Oct 23, 2019 5:20 pm

Tom,
As much as you would like to hear someone tell you your engine is still good, there is NO possible way for anyone to know if they did damage to it not knowing how to properly deal with a "T"! Each case is different!
God bless
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It is good to have someone understand my aggravation...
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Re: flat towing a T

Post by Erik Johnson » Wed Oct 23, 2019 5:56 pm

Nearly 70 years ago, my dad helped the late Royce D. Peterson flat tow a low mileage, unrestored 1917 Model T roadster from Hastings, Minnesota to south Minneapolis which is a good 40 miles. (Royce D. Peterson was Royce N. Peterson's father. Royce N. currently owns the roadster.)

They removed the spark plugs, put oil in cylinders and put the Model T transmission in high.

In 1951, my dad borrowed Royce's tow bar to flat tow a worn-out 1913 touring from Waldorf, Minnesota to St. Peter, Minnesota, a distance of approximately 35 miles. Same routine as above.

Royce's D.'s father owned an automobile repair garage in Eagle Bend, Minnesota and, subsequently, the very mechanically inclined Royce started working on Model Ts from a very young age in the 1930s if not earlier. He owned a number Model Ts throughout his 98 year life. I wouldn't doubt that he flat towed quite a few Model Ts without consequence.

I'm not necessarily advocating flat towing, especially in today's traffic. Just letting folks be aware that it was done years ago.


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Re: flat towing a T

Post by Tom Hicks » Wed Oct 23, 2019 6:08 pm

By Royce Peterson on Sunday, May 27, 2007 - 10:22 pm:

The only way a Model T can safely be towed on 4 wheels is at low speed - say less than 20 MPH - with the spark plugs removed, the throttle lever down and in high gear. Even that is dangerous and not worth it except maybe for a block or two.
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Re: flat towing a T

Post by John kuehn » Wed Oct 23, 2019 6:19 pm

“When guys who really know can’t agree that confuses me” Yes that’s usually the way it goes. From self appointed experts to wannabe learners and everything else between.
The best thing to do when something on a T is locked up and you want to move it any distance would be to back a trailer to it and use a wench to pull it on using some sort of dolleys under the rear wheels. Just an opinion from a 71 year old farm boy. I agree with myself on this one.
And how you get it off is another story.


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Re: flat towing a T

Post by Tom Hicks » Wed Oct 23, 2019 6:33 pm

For clarification,

I did not start this thread, but I find it germane because I bought a T and in loading the clutch was locked up. It had to be moved about 150 feet both forward and backward with the engine being forced to turn after not running for 2 years. My concern is damage that may have been done to the drivetrain.

What is done is done, and hopefully it is NO damage, but now the question is, what should I look for as I prepare this car for many miles of driving? I drive my T's a lot, and I want them mechanically sound.

Some tell me this is no big deal, others act like it is the end of the world. I don't know, but I am concerned...
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Re: flat towing a T

Post by Allan » Wed Oct 23, 2019 6:40 pm

I have a question. What purpose is served by removing the sparkplugs when doing a short flat tow?

Allan from down under.

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The Difference

Post by FreighTer Jim » Wed Oct 23, 2019 7:29 pm

I recently had a “ locked up “ Model T to pick up on a Sunday kinda out in the sticks.

This Model T belonged to Ken Jones in Minnesota who passed earlier this year - KD used to clean and polish as a kid growing up in Washington state.

This Model T started it for Kim .... :mrgreen:

Larry ended up buying the car to finish restoration.

Like every Model T that I haul - it had an important history .... ;)

It also had no tires - but nice wooden rims that the new owner had tried to protect with blue painters tape.

I called out a rollback tow truck.

We used floor jacks on the rear pumpkin and front axle to lift the T on wood blocks to get it from the rear garage on the property up to the driveway where the rollback could grab it and carefully winch it onto the deck using skates.

Then we transferred it into my enclosed trailer.

This took a few hours - but no damage was done.

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Re: flat towing a T

Post by Bills Auto Works » Wed Oct 23, 2019 8:01 pm

Allan wrote:
Wed Oct 23, 2019 6:40 pm
I have a question. What purpose is served by removing the sparkplugs when doing a short flat tow?

Allan from down under.
Hello Allan,

Hope all is well "Down Under"

The most obvious reason would be to allow the compression to release, making the engine spin freely....If you are by yourself pushing this will make a world of difference! LOL

If I had one stuck & wanted to get it in my trailer, I would not "jack around" for hours. I would do the common sense thing & put my car dollies under the rear wheels, get it to the range of the winch cable & winch 'er in ...probably take about 10 minutes. Even though I hate the dollie casters on my RaceDeck flooring!

God Bless
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Re: flat towing a T

Post by TMiller6 » Wed Oct 23, 2019 8:21 pm

I believe it was Floyd Clymer who detailed the plugs out rationale in one of his books.

When a T is towed in neutral, the flywheel is not spinning and the steel clutch plates lack lubrication as they rotate. Towing in high gear makes the clutch spin as a solid assembly and allows the flywheel to spin and provide lubrication to the moving parts of the engine assembly..
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Re: flat towing a T

Post by Duey_C » Wed Oct 23, 2019 10:20 pm

Jack, THAT was the exact photo I was thinking of too!
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Re: flat towing a T

Post by Tom Hicks » Thu Oct 24, 2019 12:50 am

I am fairly new to T's, but I don't see how it can be good to force the engine to turn over by towing a T.

And I don't see why loading or unloading one without forcing the engine and drivetrain would be complicated.

But I will soon be unloading one with a locked up clutch, so maybe I will find out first hand just how deep my ignorance is.

I have wheel dollies to put under the rear wheels when I back it off the trailer. Once off I will remove the rear axle keys so I can push it up the driveway. Maybe I am just too stupid or too ignorant to understand how this is a difficult thing to do. And maybe it is not necessary, but it looks like the professionals take the extra time to do it.

I don't see anyone posting to just roll it like it is, so I guess the little extra trouble I will go to is justified.
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Re: flat towing a T

Post by Corey Walker » Thu Oct 24, 2019 7:23 am

From a 1920 service bulletin:
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Re: flat towing a T

Post by Susanne » Thu Oct 24, 2019 10:40 am

I've seen a couple of films like that but it's been the tow rig taking a vehicle considered (by the standards of the day) to be not worth repairing, to the foundry to be remelted down... :( so it really doesn't matter if they're running the gears without oil and damage the clutch plates, transmission gears, etc... they intend to shove the whole kit and kaboodle into the furnace anyway.

The only safe way to flat tow a T - is on a flat trailer!


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Re: flat towing a T

Post by Scott_Conger » Thu Oct 24, 2019 10:46 am

Tom

pulling the car 150 ft with engine in gear likely did no damage or create any wear that could be detected. Starting a car after many years sitting, without pre-oiling the bearings is far more brutal on the babbit, and it is done regularly by people who don't give a second thought to it.

Even with oil drained for transport, there remained oil in the dips to lubricate rods and run back to the mains. It would not have been good to go a lot farther (with no oil) though. If the plugs had been pulled, there would have been less resistance to rolling and be easier on the car at the tie-off point.

In reality, most non-owners will want to tie off to the front axle, and that can be problematic as the axle can be bent some if care is not taken or there is a lot of resistance to being pulled. Most owners will secure the winch cable around the spring/frame and that is not a problem.

As far as this advice, it is what it is. Best of luck getting on the road and having fun.

As far as expertise, or lack thereof, I have read of methods, and seen work presented on the forum that ranges from questionable to exemplary. And yet, in all the years of participating here, I have NEVER read where someone promoted themselves to be an expert. It has probably happened, and I guess you've seen it, but I've never seen it. Be it metalurgy, machining, engineering or just plain wrenching, that level of knowledge typically becomes self-evident before the end of the writer's post.

As in everything in life, the above is a combination of facts and opinion, and worth exactly what the reader paid for it.
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Re: flat towing a T

Post by Tom Hicks » Thu Oct 24, 2019 11:17 am

Scott_Conger wrote:
Thu Oct 24, 2019 10:46 am
Tom

pulling the car 150 ft with engine in gear likely did no damage or create any wear that could be detected. Starting a car after many years sitting, without pre-oiling the bearings is far more brutal on the babbit, and it is done regularly by people who don't give a second thought to it.
From you, that is good to hear.

So should I skip the wheel dollies for unloading and removal of the axle keys for pushing up my driveway?
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Re: flat towing a T

Post by Erik Johnson » Thu Oct 24, 2019 11:50 am

If the clutch is locked-up and you need to push the car up the driveway, instead of removing the axle keys, remove the spark plugs, squirt some oil in the cylinders and push the car. With the transmission in high and zero compression, it should be easy to push.

The bearing surfaces in the motor or transmission will not be bone dry from sitting for a couple years. If lubrication bothers you, before pushing the car, jack up one wheel and crank over the motor by hand a dozen or so times. If the car was sitting in poor storage, I would be more worried about the possibility of stuck valves.

All of the above assumes the oil in the pan is at the proper level.

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Re: flat towing a T

Post by DanTreace » Thu Oct 24, 2019 12:22 pm

Tom

All good advice for just moving a non-running T a short distance. As your will be up-hill, the dollies under each wheel would make the job that much more fun, esp. with a couple of helpers. Then in your garage you can address what is needed.

Visited this original custom bodied T in south FL, to help the neophyte owner get a grasp of what the Model T is all about.

When there, he said it took 4 large guys to push the T into the garage as the 'clutch was stuck', that is what the delivery hauler guy stated, he had a hard time winching it onto his rig.

Well, that was not the case, they just didn't pull to center the emergency brake/clutch hand lever for 'neutral'.

They all thought hand lever forward was the rear brakes off :?

I showed him to pull back the lever to middle spot, and pushed it easy. So, you never know :D



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The best way is always the simplest. The attics of the world are cluttered up with complicated failures. Henry Ford
Don’t find fault, find a remedy; anybody can complain. Henry Ford


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Re: flat towing a T

Post by Scott_Conger » Thu Oct 24, 2019 12:38 pm

I would concur with Erik and Dan

Since the car was drained of oil, I'd add some after unloading, before too much more moving occurs... just to get some splashing when flywheel turns, and like they said, pull plugs and put in a little oil and you're golden.

I use dollies in the shop to line up cars for the winter...they're great if you buy the ones with cast iron wheels (they won't flat-spot over time). I'd be leery of using them on an incline, though. Too much slope and things can get away from you. If that's not an issue, then that's not an issue.

Again, good luck.
Scott Conger

Full Flow Float Valves - deliver fuel like Henry intended!

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To Clarify

Post by FreighTer Jim » Thu Oct 24, 2019 1:46 pm

To Clarify:

Wheel Skates

17F62484-DD45-4AC7-B866-81B1BDF85623.jpeg


Used by commercial tow companies to slide a non-rolling vehicle onto a rollback or other tow platform - they slide on diamond tread or aluminum deck or smooth asphalt/concrete roadways.

Typically used at accident scenes.


Wheel Dollies

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D0EEE1FA-9869-4486-AAC5-C2D906FD5F35.jpeg

Typically used on smooth & level hard floors to move a vehicle easily within a confined space.

Both rely on the weight of the vehicle & a smooth and level surface - neither device has a design provision for attachment to the wheel to keep the device secured that I have seen.

In the real world - when you are trying to move a lightweight vehicle that is locked up using either of these devices - on a broken or rutted surface that is not level - the vehicle has a tendency to fall off the device.

In the case of a Model T on nice wood rims with no tires - this can damage the wood rims.

Even with a person at each corner of the vehicle - it can prove difficult.


FJ


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Re: flat towing a T

Post by art32mor » Thu Oct 24, 2019 8:02 pm

Last time i towed a T had guy in T plugs out in high gear about 2 5 miles at 20-25 mph
Newly rebiult motor started right up with ease


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Re: flat towing a T

Post by Allan » Thu Oct 24, 2019 9:53 pm

I still don't get why the plugs are pulled. Whenever I have to flat tow a T on a rope, either a stiff new re-build or just a broken down car, the plugs are left in place. Given, the car is hard to push manually with the plugs in, but it makes no difference when towing. Except there's no mess, and the added compression makes for more efficient braking when slowing the tow-car/T. I usually pilot the towed T and I leave the car in neutral, but let it into high gear every 1/2 mile or so lubricate the trans. It stays in gear whenever there is a need for slowing.
Obviously, others do it differently.
Allan from down under.

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Re: flat towing a T

Post by Susanne » Sat Oct 26, 2019 12:56 pm

Until the ignition switch jostles over to "mag"... :shock:

It just makes it easier to tow, subjects the drive train to less reverse stress without having to pull it over on compression, and reduces the heat generated from said compression...

I'm still trying to figure out how leaving the plugs out when towing it would create a huge oily mess... and if somehow that's a concern, throw a towel over the head to catch the oil spewing from your spark plug holes...

Saying all that - put it on tow dollys or a flatbed. If you REALLY have to tow your car, tow it on the front wheels, make sure the rear end is up high enough to reverse the caster effect of the front end, and pray really hard the axle nuts don't decide to snug themselves... We experimented with that once on a T using a modern tow rig - once you got the back wheeks up far enough, it would follow you like a lost puppy.

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