1927 Ford Model T Tudor Sedan

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Model T_1

I owned this cute little car for just a short time. As you see it, is the way I purchased it. It was not running at the time, however. The engine would hand crank but the starter was not working and it appeared that much of the electrical under the hood had been tampered with.

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Model T photo 1
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The Model T and Model A’s were Henry Ford’s first generation of car technology. The advent of the V8 marked the second generation that continued thru the early seventies. The third generation is noted by the introduction of computer technology and emission systems.

I grew up in Generation Two, which means this little car, although of very simple design, was like nothing I had ever worked on before.

I look back on selling this car and feel a little sad. She is so cute. However, I also had my blue 35’ Ford pickup truck. I had garage parking at my house for only one of the two vehicles so the other was kept at my Dad’s house across town. Mostly the pickup was at Dad’s and consequently was being driven very little. The Model T, while a sweet little car, was very difficult to drive. The crazy pedal arrangement for shifting required your complete focus and attention when driving in traffic. For some reason it felt like a very fragile car. I think it was because the springs were very soft. When you stood on the running board to get into the car it almost felt like it would sag and turn over under your weight, but looking at the old photos available tells a much different story.

The owner just prior to me knew nothing about the car. Not even that it had a 6-volt electrical system. Consequently, he tried to jump-start it from a 12-volt truck. The starter must have turned VERY fast. Not wanting to buy a new 6-volt battery, he jumped it a couple of more times and burnt out the starter. Fortunately, he sold it very quickly to me before any more damage was done.

The owner before him however had taken very good care of the car. I never could determine to what extent the car was original and what was restored. I could not find any evidence of body repairs but it had been repainted a long time ago. I am almost sure the interior was original. It had the “old-car” smell.

This is the Tudor (2-door) model. Access to the rear seat is from the passenger side only. The front seat folded forward. The interior is rather roomy. The back seat especially has room for long legs to stretch out. Access in and out through the driver’s door is nearly impossible. The parking break lever when engaged blocks the door. Secondly, there is no exterior key lock on the driver’s door. The passenger’s door only, has the key lock (my 35’ pickup is the same). The intent was to discourage the driver from exiting on the street side. The driver would engage the driver’s side door lock in the inside and then slide across the seat to the passenger side, exit the car, and use the key lock to lock the car from the outside.

The car had both the manual hand crank and an electric starter. I never got the hang of hand cranking it when the engine was cold. Once the engine was warmed up though it would hand crank start with a simple flip of the crank. If there was an “audience” I would always hand crank start. No one had any idea just how easy it was to crank start once the engine had warmed up but it sure looked cool to do.

The engine does not have a water pump. The water circulates through the radiator and engine via thermo siphoning, with the hot water rising to the top of the engine and into the radiator and as it cools it sinks down through the radiator and back into the engine. I would think a very clean cooling system is a requirement for this system to work well. Living in Florida I never did have any overheating problems.

The engine does not have an oil pump either. No oil pump, no oil pressure. The oil just splashes around. The large black box on the top of the engine contains the ignition coils. Unlike the typical one round soda-can-shaped ignition coil for the entire engine, The Model T has four individual, finely crafted wooden boxes one for each spark plug.

The engine and transmission share the same cast iron housing. The motor oil in the engine is also in the transmission. The transmission, while not an automatic, does not have a clutch either.

The transmission is the nemesis of this car. There are three pedals on the floor. NOT the usual clutch, brake and gas we are used too. The one on the left is the Hi-Neutral-Low pedal, in the center is the Reverse pedal, and on the right is the Brake pedal. The gas is a lever on the steering wheel. The parking brake lever is connected to the Hi-Neut-Low pedal. When you move the parking brake lever forward the transmission shifts from Neutral into High. While the H-N-L pedal moves from Neutral to High.

Getting under way:
Lightly place your left foot on the HNL pedal but do not apply any pressure.

Put your right foot on the brake pedal and press down so the car will not roll.

As you release the brake lever, you will feel the HNL pedal push back against your foot. You must hold the pedal in this Neutral position or the car will go into High gear.

With the brake lever released, press down on the HNL pedal and the car will move forward in low gear.

At about 20 mph you will then shift into High gear by simply removing your foot from the HNL pedal allowing the pedal to shift from low, past neutral, and into high.

Stopping involves depressing the HNL pedal only half way to the Neutral position and depressing the brake pedal to stop. If you are used to driving a manual transmission you are also used to pushing the clutch pedal ALL THE WAY TO THE FLOOR and holding it there as you press on the brake pedal. With the Model T you will have shifted past neutral and into LOW gear. No matter how hard you press on the brake pedal you are still going forward and rapidly approaching the rear end of the car in front of you. With this car, you have to FOCUS.

With your left foot on the HNL pedal in the neutral position, put your right foot on the Reverse pedal and press down. The harder you press down the faster you will go in reverse. To stop, remove you right foot from the reverse pedal, and press down on the brake pedal and remember to keep the HNL pedal in the neutral position at all times.

All that fun and the top speed is only 34 miles per hour.

I sold the T to a gentleman in Illinois thru an add in Hemmings Magazine. We talked on the phone and I sent him the photos you see here. He called me back and asked for a video. I borrowed a video camera and my wife shot a video of me starting and driving the car. He liked what he saw and sent a car hauler to her to her new home.