Ford Model T Transmission

 

In the following simulator, the gears that are attached to the drums are shown only as an example of the number of gear teeth, action and direction of rotation when a gear is selected.

 

The Transmission Bands

 

What type of bands should I use?

 

This question provokes considerable discussion and opinion and there is no real "golden rule of thumb" here.

Basically it's up to you to make a decision, this page summarizes the different types of band materials, the perceived pro's and con's and also some images to help you to select the band lining type that suits you and your T.

 

One of the main things people often want to know is how long will this band last?

In reality, nobody can really tell for sure, because there are many factors that affect band lining life.

 

These are some factors to consider...

Your driving style

Your driving conditions

How frequently you drive your Model T

The band lining you choose

 

There are four main types of band lining material commonly used today...

Cotton - Known as Scandinavian Linings (the brand name)

Wooden

Kevlar

"Hard" bands

Disclaimer

It is important to note, the following table is a summary of the experiences of many Model T drivers from around the world. Each driver has their own style and as such can affect the life span of the bands of their choice, both positively and negatively.

 

Type

Pro's

Con's

Cotton

Originality, can be more gentle on drums, relatively cheap

Easily and rapidly worn out if misused, release lint into engine oil, require regular adjustment, typically shorter life span

Wooden

Harder wearing, provide harder pedal feel, minimal chatter, require less adjustment

More difficult to fit, require more pedal effort, can release fibres into oil, some chatter on slow braking

Kevlar

Typically longer life span, minimal to no adjustment once bedded in, easy to fit, can withstand abuse/higher temperatures

Require care and frequent adjustment during bedding in, can unravel at the ends if not treated at installation, resistance to heat can cause overheating of drums.

Hard

Typically longer life span, harder wearing, harder pedal feel, improved drum "grip"

More difficult to fit, can cause jerky changes if not operated properly, linings need to be commercially fitted/bonded

 

Cotton Linings

Cotton woven linings were the original type fitted and specified by Ford. Like all band materials, if "abused" they will not last their normal lifespan. The same is true of all other band lining materials, however, the others described below do seem to last longer when subjected to improper use. Generally, the cotton lining is "kinder" to the drum surface with damage to the drum only being caused by the retaining rivets scoring the drum surface. This in itself does not pose a problem, however, again, like all bands, a dragging band, caused by improper adjustment WILL result in an overheating transmission and engine, rob you of power and in the case of cotton linings, rapidly destroy the band lining. Overheating transmission drums WILL eventually cause them to crack, making them unuseable. Cotton bands have been criticised in the past for releasing lint into the engine oil as the lining wears. If not removed, this lint has been known to block the internal oil feed line to the fron of the engine, with obvious disastrous results.

Wooden Linings

Wooden linings were originally offered as a "longer life" accessory part during the life of the Model T. They are a single piece of steam bent hickory fitted to the normal Model T Transmission band and experience has shown them to have a long life, often more than the original style Cotton linings.

Because of their nature, they create a different feel to the pedal and have been reported to cause some level of "chattering" on slow transmission braking. More so than other types, wooden bands must be very carefully installed to ensure they are not bent out of shape or even snapped! Wooden bands have been reported to require considerably more effort in applying the transmission brake.

 

 

 

Kevlar Linings

Kevlar linings often create a fair amount of discussion. They are a modern alternative lining with Kevlar fibers woven into a polyester band lining. Kevlar bands have been reported to have an extremely long life span, even under adverse usage conditions. It seems that they generally need to be more carefully bedded in and require frequent small adjustments in the initial run in stage, but after this, require little to no adjustment for very high mileages.
Because of the nature of the fibers, they have a very high melting point and can therefore stand a lot of slipping and heat, however, the heat tolerance of kevlar is much higher than that of the actual drum that it is clamping. Model T Ford drums are prone to cracking and high levels of heat exacerbate this considerably, so the heat resistance benefit of the Kevlar is counteracted by the adverse affect it has on the drum. Of course, with proper adjustment and even moderate care when driving, this is not a problem, but you should be aware that this can happen. It most cases, it is believed that properly fitted and used kevlar bands will outlast the car. Only time will tell.
 

"Hard" Linings

Hard bands are standard Model T Ford transmission steel bands that have a composite material bonded then riveted to them. The material is similar to modern brake linings. These bands give a very different feel to the pedals, with much more of a "bite" feel. The sensation is of a definite "grip" of the drum and seems to noticeably increase the feel, in particular of the brake drum. They are however, not as forgiving of sloppy driving habits and can give a jerky change between gears if not done properly and/or stalling of the engine if the revs are not correctly maintained when starting from a standstill. Like wooden bands, Hard bands must be installed with great care to avoid bending and damaging the hard bonded surface.