Tag: ford car

How to Drive a Ford Model T in Plain English (Summary)

Ford made the Model T easy to drive compared to today’s cars since the people he sold his cars to did not know how to drive anything other than a horse. It is not like driving a modern car, even though there are three pedals on the floor like a modern manual transmission car. A Model T has a steering wheel that works the same way as in cars of today, but almost everything else is different.

The first Model T’s did not even have a starter like a modern car. This is the powerful electric motor in a car that turns the engine to make it run when it is turned off. The engine on the Model T was started with a hand crank on the front of the car. A wire loop near the radiator worked the choke on the carburetor to give the engine extra fuel to help start it when it was cold. This could be dangerous if a person was not careful. If the levers that controlled the engine were not set the right way, especially the spark control, the engine could backfire, or spin the wrong way. Many people got broken arms this way.

Doctors even had a special name for this kind of break: the “Ford Fracture.” Many Model T owners added electric starters to their cars and it was not long before Ford started doing the same. A Model T is in high gear by default, so if the Parking/Clutch lever was not engaged, the car had a tendency to run over the operator when started.

To make a modern car go or accelerate once the engine is running, a person steps on a pedal on the floor to engage the transmission into low gear. To make a Model T accelerate, move two levers near the steering wheel. The lever on the right was the throttle (or engine speed), and the lever on the left adjusted the time that the spark plugs fired. These levers needed to be set properly before the engine could be started.

The three pedals on the floor of the Model T were for the brake on the right, reverse in the middle to make the Model T go backwards, and a pedal on the left to shift the gears from low to high speed. A lever on the floor worked the brakes as well as the clutch. Pulling the lever toward the driver would set the parking brake and help keep the car from moving while parked. When the lever was placed in the middle, the transmission would be in neutral.

Once the engine is running, the driver now has to make the Model T move on its own. Step on the pedal all the way to the left, move the throttle lever to “give it the gas” and gently move the floor lever forward. This is low gear, the powerful gear used to get the Model T moving. Once it’s moving, move the right lever up, let the left pedal come all the way up, and give it more gas to shift into high. To make the car go faster still, move the throttle lever as well as the spark advance lever. Stepping on the left pedal only halfway puts the car in neutral, the same as the lever. This helps the Model T come to a stop without causing the engine to stop as well.

The brakes on a Model T work the rear wheels by the use of brake bands inside the transmission. Modern cars have brakes on all four wheels. No brakes are on the front of a Model T.
More than fifteen million (15,000,000) Model T cars were built. It was not until 1971 that the record was broken by the Volkswagen. Today, the record for the most cars built is held by the Toyota Corolla.
The Model T was nicknamed the “Tin Lizzie” and “Flivver” by the people who drove it. A new car took the place of the Model T in 1928, the Ford Model A.

Mitch Taylor

New South Wales, Australia

www.FordModelT.net

FordModelT.net - For Model T Owners & Enthusiasts



How to Drive a Ford Model T (Part 10)

Transmission

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

www.FordModelT.net

FordModelT.net - For Model T Owners & Enthusiasts


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

www.FordModelT.net

FordModelT.net - For Model T Owners & Enthusiasts



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

www.FordModelT.net

FordModelT.net - For Model T Owners & Enthusiasts


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.
Or
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

www.FordModelT.net

FordModelT.net - For Model T Owners & Enthusiasts


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

www.FordModelT.net

FordModelT.net - For Model T Owners & Enthusiasts


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

www.FordModelT.net

FordModelT.net - For Model T Owners & Enthusiasts



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