Sunday, April 26, 2009

Model T Ford

I’ve mentioned a couple of times that when I was, I think, a Senior in High School, I bought my Grandpa’s 1927 Model T Ford for $25. (I’ve just NOW learned, from Wikipedia on the Internet, that 1927 was the last year the Model T was built.) In addition, after dinner Easter Sunday, our family started to discuss “old” cars that we could remember, and of course, as an “old” participant, I mentioned the Model T.

Further from Wikipedia:

The Ford Model T (colloquially known as the TIN LIZZIE and FLIVVER) is an automobile that was produced by Henry Ford’s Ford Motor Company from 1908 through 1927. The Model T set 1908 as the historic year that the automobile came into popular usage. It is generally regarded as the first affordable automobile, the car that “put America on wheels”, some of this was because of Ford’s innovations, including assembly line production instead of individual hand crafting, as well as the concept of paying workers a wage proportionate to the cost of the car, so that they would provide a ready-made market.

The Ford Model T was named the world’s most influential car of the twentieth century in an international poll. Henry Ford said of the vehicle:

“I will build a car for the great multitude. It will be large enough for the family, but small enough for the individual to run and care for. It will be constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it will be low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one - and enjoy with his family the blessing of hours of pleasure in God’s great open spaces.”

The following information is from my memory of operating a Model T by including starting, going forward, backward, and turning.

The controls on the Model T were, basically, a clutch, reverse gear, brake, throttle control, spark control, and, in later years, a starter pedal on the floor. There were 3 pedals on the floor - the one on the left was the clutch/gear pedal; the middle one, rather shaped like a pear, was reverse, and the right pedal the brake.

For the earlier models, the car was started by retarding the spark, setting the throttle, engaging the hand brake, (which doubled as a lever to put the gear in neutral), and then going to the front of the car to engage the “crank” to turn over the engine.

In cranking, one had to be careful to not keep the hand on the crank after the engine engaged, lest it would “back-fire”, and the handle would then reverse, and possibly break an arm.

After setting the brake, spark and throttle, one turned on the ignition on the dash, then got out and, engaged the crank by pushing it forward, then turning the crank clockwise swiftly, until the engine “caught”, and started.

Getting back in the car, shutting the door and adjusting the spark and throttle for a smooth sounding engine, one could begin to drive.

In the later model T cars, there was an electric starter that one engaged by pressing down on the starter button - after, of course, turning on the ignition, retarding the spark slightly, and advancing the throttle. When doing this, one must be sure either that the hand brake is fully engaged, putting the car in neutral, or, half-way engaging the foot clutch. Both of these actions put the car in neutral. Thus, the hand brake should not be disengaged until the left foot pushes the clutch half way down.

When ready to back up, one must push the left hand pedal, (the clutch/gear) forward half-way, while increasing the throttle speed. While the left hand clutch is in the neutral position, the middle pedal is pushed forward, and the car begins to go in reverse. The reverse position is not as smooth as the forward position, and the car seems to “jerk” a little as it backs up, while making a kind of grinding noise.

To go forward, then, one must increase the throttle speed, while fully engaging the left hand clutch/gear pedal, putting the car in first gear. Gradually increasing the throttle makes the car go faster, then the left pedal is released to the far back position, which is the second, or driving, gear. When the clutch/gear pedal is released, there is sometimes a “jerking” of the car, as it goes into high gear.

The foot brake is the pedal on the right side of the three. To stop, one must reduce the throttle speed, while pressing the left clutch/drive pedal half-way forward. The right hand pedal, the brake, is then engaged to stop the car.

The car must NEVER be left running with no one at the wheel.

The Model T did NOT have power steering. The large wooden steering wheel turned the front wheels, but the task was not real easy.

I’ve just given to you what my 85 year old memory permits, and doing so, gives me a sense of accomplishment and joy in remembering.


Molly Sabourin said...

I love that last line of your post, grandpa!!

Don't you wish you had kept that car around? It would be worth a bit more than $25.00 these days! :)

Grandpa Mike said...

Whew, Molly!

You've got that right!