Replacing a Model T Ford Crank Bushing Sleeve T3903

The earliest Model T’s did not come equipped with a starter, so the hand crank was or is the only way to start the engine other than push starting. The fellow above is displaying risky form. You should never wrap a thumb around the crank while cranking, and all pressure on the crank must be upwards.

The crank bushing wears out from constant use. Very seldom did anyone bother to lube the crank bushings. And with the bushing on the front of the car, mostly exposed to the elements, water gets in and causes rust. At some point the Model T mechanic will need to replace a crank bushing for one or all of these reasons. Let’s take a look at how it is done.

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The 1914 Model T Ford

Ford had a difficult year in 1913. The new 1913 bodies looked more modern and were cheaper to build, but the touring bodies were too flimsy. Often the bodies broke in half in the middle of the rear door sills. A factory recall, which sent kits to dealers to repair and reinforce the flimsy bodies was the largest recall in automotive history up until that time. Ford was still the most profitable automaker on the planet, with Ford sales eclipsing the entire output of their ten closest competitors.

At $750 the 1914 Town Car was the most expensive model in Ford’s catalog that year. Almost 1700 of them were sold.

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Ford’s Highland Park Manufacturing Plant

Henry Ford knew before he started building the Model T Ford that his manufacturing ability was the limiting factor to his success. Ford had followed typical early automotive principles when building the earlier Ford cars. Wheels were purchased from several companies, bodies from two companies, lamps from several other companies.

The Dodge brothers, Horace and John, built Ford’s chassis and delivered the chassis parts to Ford. The Dodge brothers had been the manufacturer of the curved dash Oldsmobile, and were well known for their ability to supply a high quality automobile chassis and engine. This arrangement allowed Ford to build a fairly large quantity of the Model N – R – S car, which was the most profitable and prolific automobile manufactured  anywhere in the world from 1906 – 1908. Not only were the Dodge brothers the manufacturer of the Ford chassis, they were also shareholders in Ford Motor Company. No doubt they were not happy when Ford announced plans to build his masterpiece of automotive manufacturing, the Highland Park Plant, in 1908.

The new Ford plant would be able to manufacture everything from bodies to engines, and every part of the Model T chassis when it was fully operational. The Dodge brothers knew that when it was finished it would spell the end of their ability to sell parts to Ford. On top of that source of displeasure, Henry also lowered stockholder dividends in order to pay for the new plant with cash on hand.

Summer 1910 photograph of the Highland Park Plant nearing completion.

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Fixing a 1915 Model T Round Fellow Wheel

The Model T Ford continued to evolve from the day the first Model T was built in the fall of 1908 until the last Model T rolled off the assembly line in 1927. Very few parts were unchanged for the entire production run of the Model T. Not to be classified as a part that went unchanged were the wheels. The first Model T Fords had very frail looking and fairly complex wheels. The wheels used in 1909 model year had a “teardrop” shape for the spokes, with the pointy end of the teardrop facing the hubcap side of the wheel. They were built with non – demountable rims in 30 X 3 size on the front and 30 X 3 1/2 on the rear.

While the size of the wheels was the same in 1915, the wheels had become much more burly in construction, as well as being easier to manufacture. 1915 wheels had  a round profile to the spokes, with neither a front nor a rear side. This simplified manufacture, and made the wheels stronger, albeit somewhat heavier.

Even though 1915 wheels are sturdier than 1909 wheels, they still fail occasionally, especially after 100 + years of use and abuse.  We will take a look at how to fix a common problem with Model T wheels, a broken or loose rivet.

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Repairing a New Day Timer

One of the most common aftermarket timers for the Model T Ford was – and is – the New Day. Made from a very hard Bakelite type material with copper contacts and a bronze wiper style brush, the New Day was popular because it needed virtually no maintenance. The original old New Day timers are one of the best aftermarket timers that you can find. Often they are found for sale at swap meets for less than $10. My advice is to buy any good ones that you see. On eBay they tend to command $40 – $50 in good shape with a usable brush.

In more recent times there have been attempts to manufacture the New Day timer for sale by the Model T parts trade. Results have been mixed as we shall see. In any case, occasionally there are defects related to wear and age that can be corrected to salvage a defective New Day timer and make it into a usable one. This installment of Model T Ford Fix will show you just how to do that.

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