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Model T Mysteries

May 2024
1min read

I enjoyed Albert B. Stephenson’s article on the Model T Ford (July/August). I drove a Model T for years, and Stephenson’s fond review of the machine’s eccentricities reminded me of others.

In balmy weather the Model T was always ready to go places; her planetary transmission was limber and her “hot-shot” dry battery was strong. In fact she would often start right up “on compression” the instant her switch was turned on, provided she had a charge of gas in the cylinder and her spark lever was set on the fourth notch. I used to show her off this way down in the village; I’d pull up on the crank a few times to compression, set the spark on the third notch, turn on the switch—and leave her! Returning with some of my cronies, I would nonchalantly step up to Tin Lizzie and give her front tire a swift kick. This really shook Model T to her frame; the vibration jiggled the spark lever down to the fourth notch and sent the hot spark buzzing down to start her engine with a mighty roar!

One of the major appliances that I attached to Tin Lizzie was a large pressed-steel pulley bolted to a rear wheel, which, when jacked up, provided a ready source of power for sawing wood and filling the silo. But such intermittent loading-and-idling service got her engine to pumping oil and fouling the spark plugs. I solved this problem by screwing half-inch pipe elbows into the cylinder head and then putting the spark plugs into the side of the elbow, out of the way of the oil.

No man was ever the master of the Model T, but she was the willing servant of him who gave her care.

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