Ford Model T Blog

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My 1925 Ford Model T at ‘Craftathon’, Taree, NSW – with Taree Historic Motor Club

Members of the Taree Historic Motor Club were invited to show their cars at Craftathon 2013.

I Took my Model T along to support the event at Taree PCYC. A number of other members’ cars from the club were also present.

Mitch Taylor

New South Wales, Australia

How to Drive a Ford Model T (Part 10)


The Ford Model T planetary transmission has three bands, one for low gear, one for reverse and one for the brake. These bands need to be changed from time to time, but if you can wear them all out together you will get the longest time between band changes.

The brake band has the hardest life while the reverse band gets relatively little use. The wear can be equalized by using reverse pedal for some of the braking. Use reverse first to slow the car, then slide the foot across onto the brake pedal to come to a halt.

These bands and gearing run in the engine crankcase oil. If they are allowed to slip too much the oil is burned off and the lining of the band will be worn very quickly. To avoid this always hold the low gear pedal down firmly and do your braking in relatively short bursts releasing the pressure to allow the oil back round the lining.

The transmission is an Epicyclic or Planetary gear transmission. Using 3 triple gears rotating around a driven gear, like the planets orbiting the sun.

Because the different gear teeth are always in mesh, it is not possible to “crash” or “grind” the gears as can be done in a more traditional style gearbox.

Mitch Taylor

New South Wales, Australia

How to Drive a Ford Model T (Part 9)

A Three Point Turn

Once the finer points of maneuvering have been mastered, the Model T three point turn-around much loved by the likes of Laurel and Hardy can be tried.

This consists of getting an instant reverse by pressing the reverse pedal when going forward and then doing the same thing with the low gear pedal when going back to give a second instant change of direction. This should be done with some care so as not to strain the transmission.

Other drivers are mystified as to how this is done without any grappling of gear levers.

Mitch Taylor

New South Wales, Australia

How to Drive a Ford Model T (Part 8)

Maneuvering a Model T

Maneuvering the Model T can really separate the men from the boys. It is suggested that the novice driver avoid tight situations until some practice has been obtained.

To reverse hold the left gear pedal half way down in neutral with the left foot, gently press the reverse pedal to go backwards with the right foot. Relax the pressure on the reverse pedal and press the brake with the right foot when you want to stop. Alternatively, apply pressure to the left pedal to brake bringing the car to a stop. This can also be accomplished by use of the hand lever to place the left pedal in neutral, so that when the reverse pedal is released, the brake pedal can be applied. We only have two feet to operate 3 pedals.

The reason why instant action may be needed is this, it takes some time for a driver used to ordinary controls to come to terms with pressing pedals to go rather than stop. In a second you can find that the car is going too fast and the harder you press the pedal the faster it goes. If you keep the right foot ready on the right brake pedal, disaster can be averted. This is the only pedal that will hold the car stationary.

Mitch Taylor

New South Wales, Australia

How to Drive a Ford Model T (Part 7)

In normal driving the two speed pedal operated gear change works very well. It gives a very simple easy gear change enabling you to nip up and down the gears with a minimum of effort. However it does have its drawbacks. The obvious one is the large gap between the gears, there are some circumstances when bottom gear is too low and top is too high. A Ruckstell two speed rear axle alleviates this to some extent.

Places where you may find difficulty are:

1. Changing up a gear on hills.
2. Going into junctions or roundabouts (traffic circles) where top gear is too fast.
3. Going over rough ground or grass.

All that can be done is to grind along in low gear until top gear can be used again. The only other answer is to install an auxiliary gear such as the Ruckstell two speed rear axle.

In practice a bit of coasting around obstructions and then with a quick burst of low gear before going back into high again will negotiate most of these situations with ease.

Mitch Taylor

New South Wales, Australia

How to Drive a Ford Model T (Part 6)

The steering on the Ford Model T is very direct and lively by today’s standards. It is a direct ratio of the sun/planet gears in the steering column below the steering wheel.

Direct steering is common with most cars of this age. The Ford, with a transverse front spring, is subject to “twitching” over lumps and bumps in the road. As the front wheel hits an obstruction it causes the front axle to move sideways on its shackles, “twitching” the steering. You can fight the steering every time it jumps, holding the wheel with a vice like grip in which case you will have arm ache after a twenty minute drive, or you can relax your grip and let the steering wheel twitch rather than the road wheels.

It goes without saying that there should be no slack or play in the steering linkage. The camber, caster and toe-in of the front axle should be checked carefully for correct steering geometry.

Mitch Taylor

New South Wales, Australia

How to Drive a Ford Model T (Part 5)

A Model T Ford will climb an 8% (1 in 12) gradient in top gear with full throttle, and will come down it in top gear with no throttle and no brake application. They can safely negotiate 20% or more grades in low range, so hills should hold no fears for Model T Ford owners, but a few words of advice at this point.

Going up is relatively easy, just give the Lizzie full throttle and retard the ignition a little as the speed falls, and she should slog up the hill in fine style provided there is a reasonable amount of fuel in the tank. The T needs about a quarter tank full to climb a 20% grade, as the gravity feed system becomes less effective the steeper the grade. It was common practice, if the grade was too steep and the engine starved for fuel, to back a T over the grade.

As a general rule going down hills should be done at about the same speed as going up. However, the real secret is to successfully use engine compression to slow the car speed on a hill. Move the throttle lever up to minimum or to a setting which will maintain a safe down-grade speed. As there is no return spring on the throttle lever it can be set as slow as necessary, and will hold position. If braking is still necessary, let the pressure off the pedal every so often to prevent burning the linings. Reverse pedal can also be used to brake for added effectiveness if needed. (see “Saving Your Bands” below).

If you need to stop on a steep grade, use low gear as you brake, but be careful to not over speed the engine in low gear. Be aware that there is no engine braking, if the left foot pedal is held in neutral between high and low gear positions. Jamming all three pedals down will stall the engine and skid the rear tires, not an acceptable solution to emergency braking, except on dry pavement, and even then not recommended. NEGOTIATE HILLS AT SAFE SPEEDS, do not allow the car to “Roll Out.”

Mitch Taylor

New South Wales, Australia

My 1925 Ford Model T – A Closer Look: Coil Boxes (Trembler Coils)

In this video, we take a detailed look at the Ford Model T ignition system, more specifically, the coil boxes, also known as trembler coils. We take a look at how they work, and also how to test them and set them to achieve the correct current output.

Mitch Taylor

New South Wales, Australia

Wingham Rotary Town and Country Expo + Show n Shine

This annual events returns this year over three big days!  Wingham Rotary Town and Country Expo covers everything that’s good about the town and country lifestyle from craft, recreation, health, livestock, finance, solar, books, food and wine, DIY, lifestyle, leisure, fashion, home and garden, outdoors and much more.

There will be a full music program including five local bands plus a great range of exhibits and other attractions for young and old

Family friendly event includes live music, fashion, leisure, food and classic car show. 

Concludes on the Sunday with a Ute Muster.

This is a major fundraiser for The Rotary Club of Wingham. ‘A day where the town meets the country.’ 

Mitch Taylor

New South Wales, Australia