Suspended Animation – Storing your Model T Ford

With fall weather approaching many Model T enthusiasts face the last ride of the season. If you live in an area with snowy winter weather the Model T will probably be off the road until spring time brings more favorable driving conditions. This leads us to the subject at hand which is an in depth look at the best practices for keeping the old Model T in shape for that first ride of the next driving season.

Above we see Henry Ford’s personal car in the winter of 1914, a custom built 1914 Couplet. We see snow on the ground next to the driveway – straw hat season is over. Needless to say he would have driven the car to work that day with a bowler hat!

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The Highland Park Powerplant Story by Paul Rentz

When we wrote about the Highland Park Plant in a previous issue of Model T Ford Fix we got the attention of Paul Rentz who has researched the subject to a greater extent than we have. The building existed until after WWII, but the smoke stacks were silent from the day that power became available from the River Rouge plant’s generating station.

WWII era photo showing the Executive Offices in the foreground and the silent smoke stacks of the Power Plant Building. The clouds in the sky make it appear that the smokestacks are operating, when in fact there are no engines in the plant to produce smoke!

Below is Paul’s story of what actually happened to the huge DC generators inside, and why they went silent in the 1926 time frame.

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The Model T Ford Battery Charging System by Ron Patterson

The Model T Ford battery charging capability is a subsystem of the Ford FA Starting and Lighting System designed by Mr. Fred Allison at the Ford Motor Company electrical engineering department and introduced in late 1918 for use on Model T Ford cars and trucks.

Many people have trouble with the charging system on their Model T and need help repairing it. Here is an electrical (not physical) schematic diagram and technical description of how it works.

Above is a Model T Ford generator rebuilt by Ron Patterson equipped with a Fun Projects voltage regulator in place of the factory cutout.

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Repairing the Model T Ford Rear Spring

The suspension of any Model T Ford consists of a transverse leaf spring mounted above each of the axles. It is a pretty simple arrangement, which Henry Ford called his “three point” suspension system. This was superior to the common semi – elliptical setup used on most cars of the day because it allowed a Model T’s suspension to pivot significantly on the fore / aft axis, allowing the car to have both traction and control over very uneven terrain. Roads in the days of the Model T Ford were generally bad, unpaved, muddy, and full of deep ruts.

The rear leaf springs used on the Model T evolved over the years as most parts of the car did. Here is a brief (but not comprehensive) overview of the rear spring changes over the production run.

1909 – 1912

Eight  leaves (all body styles except runabout / torpedo / roadster)

Seven leaves – roadster, runabout, torpedo. End bushings either brass or bronze.

All springs were “taper leaf” design. This was a carry over from springs designed for horse drawn carriages. All but the main two leaves were ground both on a radius and to a graceful end for appearance sake.

Springs were clamped at each end with a bolt securing each the clamps. Several clamp designs were used depending on the spring manufacturer.

1913 – 1917

Springs continued in the same general design but were less carefully ground and somewhat less dainty appearing because they were not ground as much. End bushings were changed to less expensive and better wearing steel. In 1916 model year the spring oilers were deleted from the spring shackle, and a hole drilled through each main leaf and bushing to allow oil to be added (it never was by most owners).

1918 – 27

The taper leaf design was eliminated in favor of leafs that were simply cut off on the ends. A 9 leaf spring was added for sedans. Runabout springs became 6 leaf in 1920. Beginning in 1925 the new Roadster Pickup body style also used the 9 leaf spring.

In this issue of Model T Ford Fix we disassemble the rear leaf spring and rebuild it for best handling and ride quality.

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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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