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How To Start and Run a Model T Ford


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#1 Magoo

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 10:58

Being able to operate a Model T Ford is a core skill for gearheads, like double-clutching or adjusting breaker points. And while the process seems difficult or at least strange, actually it's quite easy and fun. Here's a great little video tutorial.

Video: How to Start and Run a Model T Ford | Mac's Motor City Garage.com


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#2 275 GTB-4

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 11:20

Being able to operate a Model T Ford is a core skill for gearheads, like double-clutching or adjusting breaker points. And while the process seems difficult or at least strange, actually it's quite easy and fun. Here's a great little video tutorial.

Video: How to Start and Run a Model T Ford | Mac's Motor City Garage.com


Only 85 years too late with that helpful "talkie" Bill....but thanks :up:

#3 Magoo

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 12:13

Only 85 years too late with that helpful "talkie" Bill....but thanks :up:


It's true we've fallen somewhat behind but we're working hard to catch up. Next week, the Packard Single 8.


#4 Tony Matthews

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 13:23

You seem to have ignored steam altogether, which is disappointing.

#5 Kelpiecross

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 04:56


This is a very well done video. I know from personal experience that it is very difficult to make a video of this type without appearing to be a complete idiot.

I doubt if all Model T's were as well-behaved as this one seems to be .

#6 Tony Matthews

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 06:51

The Model T Ford and the starting of same is mentioned in some of John Steinbeck's earlier books. 'Tortilla Flat' and/or 'Sweet Thursday' I seem to remember, and probably 'The Grapes of Wrath'.

#7 RCH

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 07:02

Doesn't seem to want to let me see this video, however I'm a bit concerned by the position of the starter's thumb in the picture! My father, who learned to drive on his father's Model T reckoned you could start them by giving them a kick, a well known music hall act at the time.

Edited by RCH, 17 April 2013 - 07:02.


#8 Catalina Park

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 07:36

I have never mucked around with a T. My motoring history only went back as far as the model A. (I'm second from the left)

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#9 Tony Matthews

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 07:47

...however I'm a bit concerned by the position of the starter's thumb in the picture!


That's a point! It is just one frame from the video, so, like a half-closed eye, it might be fleeting. My father taught me never to have my thumb over the handle.


I have never mucked around with a T. My motoring history only went back as far as the model A. (I'm second from the left)

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Great photo, and the unmistakeable gum trees in the background.

#10 275 GTB-4

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 09:35

You seem to have ignored steam altogether, which is disappointing.


Live Stim, or Dead Stim?



#11 Catalina Park

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 09:59

That's a point! It is just one frame from the video, so, like a half-closed eye, it might be fleeting. My father taught me never to have my thumb over the handle.




Great photo, and the unmistakeable gum trees in the background.

That was my grandfathers Model A on his farm in the middle of nowhere at Turill NSW.
He retired the Model A to farm use in about 1960, mum says he drove it to her wedding in 1959. He sold the A in about 1972 for $30.
This photo was taken in about 1968/69 and it was still going well enough to drag a scarifier plough around the 40 acre cropping paddock. (look carefully behind the Model A)


#12 Tony Matthews

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 10:37

Live Stim, or Dead Stim?

Pity the person who took the video hadn't got his land legs. Why is it that people wave their bloody cameras around as if they are trying to film a swarm of midges? Rock steady, me, Mr Pan'n'tilt...

Apert from that, thanks!

#13 Magoo

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 10:51

Doesn't seem to want to let me see this video, however I'm a bit concerned by the position of the starter's thumb in the picture! My father, who learned to drive on his father's Model T reckoned you could start them by giving them a kick, a well known music hall act at the time.


The thumb issue is explained at length in the video. This is the problem in doing how-to videos. People will always try to sharpshoot you, even when they haven't watched.


#14 Magoo

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 11:29

This is a very well done video. I know from personal experience that it is very difficult to make a video of this type without appearing to be a complete idiot.

I doubt if all Model T's were as well-behaved as this one seems to be .


I watched over a dozen videos on the subject and was considering doing it myself when I found this one. I really like it --accurate without being pedantic, long enough but not too long, professional but not too slick.

A Model T is a very gentle creature. This is sort of a generalization, but for the most part either they run or they don't.

#15 Tony Matthews

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 15:40

Having been interupted three times just as the opening titles came to an end, I've at last been able to watch it to the end. The nicest part is the guy's quiet enthusiasm. That car will be cared for, I think.

#16 Magoo

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 11:34

That was my grandfathers Model A on his farm in the middle of nowhere at Turill NSW.
He retired the Model A to farm use in about 1960, mum says he drove it to her wedding in 1959. He sold the A in about 1972 for $30.
This photo was taken in about 1968/69 and it was still going well enough to drag a scarifier plough around the 40 acre cropping paddock. (look carefully behind the Model A)


In Australia did you have what we called doodlebugs? Tractor made from Model A Ford or suchlike with two car transmissions in tandem for very low gearing, a shortened wheelbase, and some scheme to fit large-diameter wheels?

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#17 onelung

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Posted 14 May 2013 - 05:52

In Australia did you have what we called doodlebugs? Tractor made from Model A Ford or suchlike with two car transmissions in tandem for very low gearing, a shortened wheelbase, and some scheme to fit large-diameter wheels?

Don't know about "doodlebugs" (weren't they the V-1 flying bombs?) but here's one way of achieving tractor-like gearing on a 1915(?) Overland, using the internally geared wheels from an even older horse drawn farm implement.
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Edited by onelung, 14 May 2013 - 05:55.


#18 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 14 May 2013 - 06:59

Now that is country engineering. Though lubricating those teeth is a true impossibility. Though I guess it has been working for many decades like that.
An interesting selection in that shed. A couple of early Valiants, a Wosely? A 50 Chev? Maybe a early Falcon ute beyond the wolsley and what is hiding behind the Overland? looks sporty/ muscle.

#19 bigleagueslider

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 06:25

Don't know about "doodlebugs" (weren't they the V-1 flying bombs?) but here's one way of achieving tractor-like gearing on a 1915(?) Overland, using the internally geared wheels from an even older horse drawn farm implement.
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Incredible! A water-cooled, side valve, inline 4 engine, driving through a rear axle, connected to an open, steel, ring & pinion gear drive at each rear wheel, which have wooden spokes and rims. There also appears to be a drum brake located at each rear axle pinion. And finally, the vehicle has right-hand steering.

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#20 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 08:25

Incredible! A water-cooled, side valve, inline 4 engine, driving through a rear axle, connected to an open, steel, ring & pinion gear drive at each rear wheel, which have wooden spokes and rims. There also appears to be a drum brake located at each rear axle pinion. And finally, the vehicle has right-hand steering.

Right hand drive is very common in South Australia. We drive on the left!

#21 Tony Matthews

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 10:12

We drive on the left!

Quite right too!

#22 Magoo

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 11:08

Incredible! A water-cooled, side valve, inline 4 engine, driving through a rear axle, connected to an open, steel, ring & pinion gear drive at each rear wheel, which have wooden spokes and rims. There also appears to be a drum brake located at each rear axle pinion. And finally, the vehicle has right-hand steering.


1915-ish Overland Model 80, pride of Toledo, Ohio. Note the transmission mounted on the rear axle housing, a common Overland practice. Note also the individually cast iron cylinders; not visible, the outdoor (exposed) valve gear on the other side of the engine. However, I am pretty sure the enormous, hand-hewn dead axle is non-OE fitment.

Pre-1915-ish, many if not most American-built brands were RHD. Pierce-Arrow for one held out with RHD until 1920 or so. Opposing schools of thought...one idea was that chauffeur-operated vehicles should place the servant on the curb side. The major step in standardization was the adoption of LHD in the Model T Ford. Its great success in the marketplace eventually settled the matter. Before the Model T, Fords were also RHD.


#23 Magoo

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 20:40

Don't know about "doodlebugs" (weren't they the V-1 flying bombs?) but here's one way of achieving tractor-like gearing on a 1915(?) Overland, using the internally geared wheels from an even older horse drawn farm implement.
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Steampunk has NOTHING on this. NOTHING. Hang it up you posers.


#24 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 00:24

1915-ish Overland Model 80, pride of Toledo, Ohio. Note the transmission mounted on the rear axle housing, a common Overland practice. Note also the individually cast iron cylinders; not visible, the outdoor (exposed) valve gear on the other side of the engine. However, I am pretty sure the enormous, hand-hewn dead axle is non-OE fitment.

Pre-1915-ish, many if not most American-built brands were RHD. Pierce-Arrow for one held out with RHD until 1920 or so. Opposing schools of thought...one idea was that chauffeur-operated vehicles should place the servant on the curb side. The major step in standardization was the adoption of LHD in the Model T Ford. Its great success in the marketplace eventually settled the matter. Before the Model T, Fords were also RHD.

What Mr Overland did not build his cars with a fence post rear axle mount? I am disappointed. :rotfl:
It is fairly obvious this is a very old conversion. The rivets, clamps and old style nuts with square press nuts give that away. The chassis seems extended to compensate for the large dia wheels. Maybe done by a farmer, maybe done by a country engineering place. If it was done in the last 50 years it would all be welded.
at country museums I have seen similar types of engineering though defenitly not this type of job.
What were those geared wheels from? Something very agricultural in the true sense. To be geared it must be some sort of powered device.

#25 gruntguru

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Posted 17 May 2013 - 01:58

Now that is country engineering. Though lubricating those teeth is a true impossibility.

Mud lubrication.

A wonderful piece of re-engineering by the way.

#26 Greg Locock

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Posted 17 May 2013 - 03:45

Mud lubrication.

A wonderful piece of re-engineering by the way.

There's the famous and relevant observation "If it is stupid and it works, it isn't stupid".

Big ring gears like that are often used in grain mills, back in the day they were made of roughly 1 ft-2ft sections of cast iron that were then bolted to the wheel. As such they were fairly disposable items, your average blacksmith would be used to them.


#27 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 17 May 2013 - 23:32

In my fathers vineyard we had an artesian bore pump jack that had 2 straight cuts gears to operate. One very small driven by an electric motor and one probably 4 foot in dia. External teeth. That was all lubricated by black sticky Ampol grease. I don't no how old it was but it was there when he bought it and there when he left it. Probably a 35 year span.
Our 'new' bore on the same 15 acres was more ingenious. It was a Vanguard Spacemaster with a tram car compressor mounted in the middle and it literally blew the water from the bore. When the Vanguard finally died [It had boiled dry a few times] after probably 8 years it went to a submergible pump. That had to be replaced at least once in the last few years he had the vines.

#28 onelung

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Posted 18 May 2013 - 07:52

I'm guessing that this is the sort of device from which the rear wheels came - not an easy thing to search on the net for anything incorporating "stripper" in its name, BTW...
It's located across the road from the Orroroo garage (go Google it, you non-South Australians) which is a time-capsule gem of a place in itself.
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#29 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 10:16

I'm guessing that this is the sort of device from which the rear wheels came - not an easy thing to search on the net for anything incorporating "stripper" in its name, BTW...
It's located across the road from the Orroroo garage (go Google it, you non-South Australians) which is a time-capsule gem of a place in itself.
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I should have understood this set up before. The wheels drive a harvester, or a super spreader. There was a few around when I was young of various styles. We had a super spreader which was wheel driven. And was set up for a normal tractor drawbar. Worked fine providing you used a constant speed, no stopping or starting

#30 Magoo

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 11:55

That's how it appeared to me as well -- that the wheels originally drove something rather than the other way around.

#31 NTSOS

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 15:21

It could be an early prototype of a Scott's Weed & Feed spreader. :|

#32 Magoo

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 17:01

I bet we could get that engine running in around an hour -- long as it's not seized up.

#33 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 23:23

I bet we could get that engine running in around an hour -- long as it's not seized up.

With gearing that low just tow it around the block in gear, that should free it. Fresh petrol and we can use it this afternoon to harrow the bottom paddock.

#34 gruntguru

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 01:21

You need tall gearing to free a siezed motor.

#35 Catalina Park

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 10:01

You need tall gearing to free a siezed motor.

Vinegar and a blow torch.

Take a google at the E G Staude Manufacturing Corporation of St Paul Minnesota and their Mak-A-Tractor conversions.


#36 Magoo

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 16:48

Vinegar and a blow torch.

Take a google at the E G Staude Manufacturing Corporation of St Paul Minnesota and their Mak-A-Tractor conversions.


Ok, I googled "Mak-A-Tractor" and the first hit was "Scientists build working tractor beam." So who knows, maybe this essential plot device will soon be in household use.


#37 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 21 May 2013 - 00:28

You need tall gearing to free a siezed motor.

Tall gearing just drags the tyres.
A generous dose of CRC or similar [Even just kero or diesel] down the bore the day before helps a lot too. And don't turn on the ignition until the engine seems smooth and pumped it all out.
I helped a friend many years ago with an old Holden. Had been sitting for a dozen years with the bonnet open and no airfliter. Towed it around the block twice in gear after it freed up [in first gear] at about 20mph. Turned the ignition on an it ran fine. He then proceeded after a fluids change to drive it too work for the next year or so.
My fathers Vanguard ute was the same though that needed a headgasket which is why it was seized in the first place.. It did have a terrible rust mark in the bore, but lived fine for several years after and never used much oil.
Personally I would have had the engine out and cleaned it all up, and at least honed the bores. He just wet and dried the rust mark and it lived!

#38 gruntguru

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Posted 21 May 2013 - 06:50

Tall gearing just drags the tyres.

If you try to clutch start a car in 1st it drags the tyres. Try the same in top gear and it will turn a siezed engine or slip the clutch but it won't drag the tyres.

Short gearing drags the tyres. The tractor conversion has ultra-short gearing and would just drag the tyres - even if the motor wasn't seized..

Nit-picky technical point I know but this is the "Technical Forum".

#39 onelung

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Posted 08 June 2013 - 23:50

Nit-picky technical point I know but this is the "Technical Forum".

Aha! Thread police, eh? :wave: Hope this is technical enough, but what the hell is Kano Kroil? (I'm looking forward to Mr Mathews' offering here)
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#40 desmo

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Posted 09 June 2013 - 03:46

Both Kroil and the acetone/ATF mix are well known to any group of hobbyists dealing with vintage equipment with threaded fasteners. The real question is why isn't someone premixing the acetone/ATF and selling it, given that it really does appear to work significantly better and is cheaper than any of the existing products marketed for the same use.

#41 Catalina Park

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Posted 09 June 2013 - 06:11

I have used one called Penetrene for years, it is good stuff.
Then I found one called Yield and it is fantastic. I wonder how it relates to the best on this list? I have had rusted in clevis pins fall straight out after a squirt with Yield.
I will try the acetone/ATF mix and see how it compares.