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How to Drive a Ford Model T… – @FordModelT.net

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Contents

Controls of the Ford Model T
Starting the Engine
Making the Car Move…
Stopping
Hill Climbing
Steering
Drawbacks of a Two Speed Gearbox
Maneuvering a Model T
A Three Point Turn
The Transmission
Interactive Gearbox Simulator
How to Drive a Ford Model T in Plain English (Summary)

For the visual learners out there, the following video shows you what to do. If you learn better by reading, the “how to” section is below the video.

With the car on level ground and the engine off, climb up behind the wheel. Notice the hand lever on the floor to your left, the two levers on the steering column beneath the steering wheel, and the three pedals on the floor.

Let’s start with the hand lever. All the way back it sets the rear wheel parking/emergency brakes and puts the transmission in neutral. Half-way released it maintains neutral, and fully released it engages the planetary transmission in high gear. Feel it a few times, notice that it holds the left pedal in neutral mid-position, then release it, and notice that the left pedal is all the way up.

Next, the lever to the left beneath the steering wheel is the spark adjust advance/retard from before top dead center ignition to after top dead center. To retard the spark it is moved up, to advance the spark it is moved down. The Model T is always started in the retard position, as it was designed to be started by hand cranking. Unless it is retarded the engine can and will KICK BACK and do damage to hands, wrists and arms. NEVER crank it except in the retard position. After the engine is running, the lever can be moved down to advance the ignition until the engine chuckles smoothly, and when rolling to get the best performance.

Controls of the Ford Model T

The lever to the right is the throttle lever, there is no foot pedal like a modern car. Up is idle speed, down is as fast as it will go. Maximum performance in a Model T is like with a mule, with both ears laid back.

Next, the foot pedals on the floorboard –
The left foot pedal changes your forward gear ratios, up is high, down is low. The Model T has just those two forward ratios, high gear and low gear. Midway between high and low is the neutral “out of gear” position of the left pedal.

To engage first gear, let the handbrake lever off and push the pedal all the way down until it becomes HARD. Pull the handbrake up and feel how the lever holds neutral position on the gear pedal.

The center pedal is for reverse gear engagement, but either the hand lever or the left pedal must be in neutral position before engagement, or the engine will stall. All the way down HARD is reverse position.

The right pedal is the brake. It engages a band around a braking drum in the transmission, operating in the engine oil bath. Therefore, to avoid burning off the oil due to friction heat, and wearing out the band quickly, apply the brake in relatively short duration thrusts to allow the oil to wash and continue lubricating and cooling it.

Note: The Ford Model T only applies braking to the rear wheels.


Braking by right pedal is via the driveline to the rear wheels only, does not actuate the rear drum brakes, and can cause dangerous skids in slick road conditions, as the differential will allow one wheel to spin forward and the other backward. Therefore, in slick conditions, use the hand lever to apply braking to the rear drum brakes.

Starting the Engine


Get the feel of the controls, they will become familiar quickly

1. Raise the right side of the engine hood and check that the engine oil level is adequate, within the limits prescribed. This is done by opening the lower petcock at the rear of the engine. If it does not flow, close the lower petcock, open the upper petcock and add oil until oil flows from the upper petcock. Close the upper petcock, lower and latch the hood.

2. Remove the radiator cap and top off the radiator with fresh water and/or antifreeze solution in freezing weather. A 30-40% methanol (wood alcohol)/ water solution may be used, but a 50% ethylene glycol/water solution is recommended for all seasons.

Please observe that the hand crank is located in the center of the car below the radiator. To crank the engine, one must stand in the path the car will take if the engine starts while in gear. The car is NOT OUT OF GEAR UNLESS the Emergency brake/neutral lever is all the way back and the rear brakes set. This must be done FIRST, or you will get run over by your own car should the engine start, MOST EMBARRASSING!

NEXT, move the spark advance/retard lever all the way up to retard position. Move the throttle lever down approximately ? of the quadrant.

Observe that the Magneto/OFF/Battery Switch (or key) on the coil box or dash panel is in the OFF position. The Model T may be started in either Magneto or Battery position, usually in Battery position unless the battery has lost charge.

Observe the wire ring at the lower left corner of the radiator as you face the car. This is the pull wire of the hand choke. PULL IT OUT.

With the switch (or key) OFF, push the crank in and crank the engine over one or two turns, finishing by coming up against compression and just past.

Turn the Magneto/OFF/Battery switch to Battery. The coils will buzz, and sometimes the engine will start without further cranking, especially if warm. If it doesn’t, the engine must be cranked through one more cycle of intake/compression. Do this carefully with your LEFT hand, pulling up ONLY by ratcheting the crank as necessary. Do not grip the crank handle but cup it in the palm of the hand with the thumb on the same side of the handle as the fingers. As the cylinder begins to come up on compression, ratchet the crank down to the bottom. Now pull up swiftly, and the engine will start. If not, repeat the process.

WARNING!

NEVER start the car with your right hand. If the engine were to misfire or kick back, you would likely suffer a broken wrist and/or arm. The right hand may be used for priming the engine, as you need your left hand free to operate the choke, but when ever the ignition switch is ON, you MUST use your left hand. again, do not grip the crank handle but cup it in the palm of the hand with the thumb on the same side of the handle as the fingers.

The WRONG
 Way
The RIGHT
 Way

In cold weather the choke may need to be left out until the engine warms. It may be released (or set) from the driver’s seat by pushing down the choke/carburetor adjust knob to the right side of the dash panel.

Speed up the engine with the throttle lever, advance the ignition with the advance/retard lever about half-way, then return the engine speed to an idle. It will now chuckle over smoothly at about 400 rpm.

Read on

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