Starting the Model T

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FieldMarshalRed
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Starting the Model T

Post by FieldMarshalRed » Sun Oct 11, 2020 2:06 am

Hello guys! It's Randy, a new member to the Model T Club of America. When I first became interested in the Ford Model T, I watched Mitch Taylor's tutorials and in those tutorials, he specifically stated that you must use your right hand when using the hand crank to start the car. However, I attended the Model T Canyon Drive on September 12 and I was instructed to start a 1915 Touring with my left hand. I am a little confused. Do you use your left or right hand to start up the Model T? Thank you


Jeff Hood
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Re: Starting the Model T

Post by Jeff Hood » Sun Oct 11, 2020 2:36 am

You will find that most people will use their right hand mainly because most people are right handed and it comes naturally. The argument is that there is less risk of a broken arm when cranking with the left hand. There are many stories of old timers who have "always cranked right handed," "never had any problems," "done it that way for fifty years," and then one day they get "bitten" quite painfully. Of course, the main issue is to always make sure that the spark and throttle levers are correctly set.


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Re: Starting the Model T

Post by Allan » Sun Oct 11, 2020 3:54 am

The most important consideration, no matter which hand you use, is you should crank pulling upwards from the 8 o'clock position. if you do forget to retard the spark or if you get a backfire, the crank handle will be pulled from your hand and at worst, rap you on the knuckles if you are slow getting out of the way. The real damage is done when attempting to start the car by stiff arming the crank when pushing DOWN. Any backfire then will severely damage an arm or shoulder.
Allan from down under.


Peter, Memphis TN
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Re: Starting the Model T

Post by Peter, Memphis TN » Sun Oct 11, 2020 7:44 am

I've always recommended doing it the other way!

Engage the crank at between the 2:00 and 4:00 position.
Stand in front of the left headlight. Hold on to the radiator filler neck with your right hand, standing upright.
Look at the spark lever, to make sure it's where it should be.
With your right foot, mash down on the crank.
Repeat as needed.

My reasoning: One, you can crank faster with your leg, which is stronger. Two, you can crank many more times before you get tired, for the same reason. Three, if the engine should kick back, instead of breaking your arm, the worst thing that can happen is that it'll knock you on your arse - that's why you hold on to the radiator neck. Four, it's easier on your lower back.


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Re: Starting the Model T

Post by Mark Osterman » Sun Oct 11, 2020 10:19 am

I’m not sure why you need to put so much pressure / speed on turning the crank unless your magnets are in really poor condition (assuming you don’t have /use a battery).

When I hand crank with the coil box set to battery all I need to do is set the crank at around 7-8:00 and lift very gently. I usually prime a couple of times before switching on the key for a cold start. Compression does the work. If I start on magneto I pull a little faster. On battery I retard the spark completely ... on magneto I advance about 7 notches.

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Re: Starting the Model T

Post by thom » Sun Oct 11, 2020 10:26 am

I use my left hand while holding the drivers side fender with my right. However, my left shoulder has gotten to the point that hand cranking is rather painful now. I'm glad our '21 Touring has electric start!

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Re: Starting the Model T

Post by Steve Jelf » Sun Oct 11, 2020 11:18 am

Allan has given the perfect answer. Left is better, but only pulling up is most important.
Mark is also correct. Starting on BAT requires no speed, only movement. Starting on MAG the electricity comes from you, so you have to pull fast.

http://dauntlessgeezer.com/DG101.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pv6HWWOGYA
The inevitable often happens.
1915 Runabout
1923 Touring


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Re: Starting the Model T

Post by Terry_007 » Sun Oct 11, 2020 1:13 pm

Steve is right - starting a T does not (or should not) depend on how fast or hard you crank it. If it's primed, not freeeeeeezing cold outside, and everything is set just right all you need is one gentle pull up when switched onto battery. Free starts are great too. I once had a spectator at a car show look at the crank handle and ask if that's how we wind up the car!
Terry


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Re: Starting the Model T

Post by Norman Kling » Sun Oct 11, 2020 9:09 pm

I check first the spark and gas levers. Spark up and gas down about 1/4. I also check to be sure the key is off. Then if the engine is cold, I use the right hand on the crank and the left on the wire to prime the engine. About 3 pulls up. Then I turn on the key. Sometimes I get a free start, if not, I go back to the crank and use my left hand. I pull up and immediately pull my hand away from the crank. It will usually start with one upward pull. If the engine is warm, like when I stop at a gas station and fill up, then get right in and leave. I will pull up with the left hand and it starts right up.

However since all my cars have starters, I only use the crank when someone asks me to demonstrate, or if it has been parked for a long time, to save the battery until I drive a while to charge the battery. On a tour last year The generator stopped charging the first day, so I cranked on battery and switched to magneto for the whole week.
Norm


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Re: Starting the Model T

Post by Erik Johnson » Sun Oct 11, 2020 10:35 pm

In my opinion, it does not matter which hand you use to crank your antique car as long as you do not wrap your thumb around the handle and you pull up.

In addition to the above, I do think stance and overall technique also does matter as far as safety is concerned. You may be holding the crank correctly and pulling up, but that may be irrelevant if you have an awkward stance and are cranking in a non-graceful, goofy manner, etc.

I have seen a lot of bad cranking technique over the years - both right-handed and left handed. Most left-hand cranking that I have witnessed is really atrocious and what I would call "up and over," using mainly body weight or running sideways to the right from the car with the left arm still fully extended at the end of the stroke.

Here is the number one rule regarding hand-cranking an antique car, Model T Ford or otherwise: NEVER crank an antique car that does not belong to you. You never know how the other guy has his car set up. Just because the spark lever is in the retarded position does not guarantee the ignition timing is actually retarded.

When observing people cranking their cars (Fords and non-Fords), I notice that many people appear to be afraid of their antique automobiles.

Two examples of bad technique and fear of the car:

The frantic, two-handed "hot potato" - notice how he "throws" the crank handle at the end of the stroke - it's embarrassing:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3DtRFs4 ... re=related

The left-handed "leap away" - note that he tells the guy in the driver's seat to "pull the timer half-way down" (yikes!). Also, he fully engages the crank AND THEN tells the drive to turn on the ignition - that is doing things in wrong order and extremely dangerous, especially if the engine backfires as soon as the ignition switch is turned on. Finally, if you need to hold something to steady yourself, put your free hand on the tire, the fender or headlamp, not the hot radiator.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIIg3FSB2Po


These folks below are comfortable with their Fords (most likely because of proper ignition timing) and have good right-hand technique:

Good example, except forgot to set hand brake:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1XRgNMX-gI0

Nice, slow stroke:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ga4A0cFe44E

My favorite, Royce's dad - note that the object is to just get the cylinder to fire. Cranking is just putting the piston in the proper position so internal combustion can take over. No fast lifting or spinning required, similar to the example immediately above.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhEnNzv6LBM

PS: if you are adamant about cranking Model Ts with your left hand, make sure you use your right hand when cranking a Brush, as Brush motors rotate counter-clockwise.


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Re: Starting the Model T

Post by jiminbartow » Mon Oct 12, 2020 2:00 am

I think Ford intended for the T to be cranked right handed, not only because there are photos of Henry Ford using his right hand, but because Ford put the choke ring on the left side. It is impossible to choke it from the front, cranking left handed.

When cranking, use your right hand. Grip the crank handle using only the four fingers of your right hand, keeping the thumb out of the way, then yank the crank up to the twelve o’clock position and release, continuing upward with your right hand, out of the way of the crank, should it backfire. Jim Patrick

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Re: Starting the Model T

Post by Steve Jelf » Mon Oct 12, 2020 10:19 am

It is impossible to choke it from the front, cranking left handed.

Of course. I do it this way. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5ycpdfIjDo
The inevitable often happens.
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1923 Touring


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Re: Starting the Model T

Post by Norman Kling » Mon Oct 12, 2020 11:00 am

Steve just followed my instructions! :lol:
Norm

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Re: Starting the Model T

Post by thom » Mon Oct 12, 2020 11:35 am

I've seen people who try to "wind 'em up" round & round. Our '21 starts with just a gentle upward pull. It's so easy I bet my 10 year old grandson could do it. I might have him try next time he's at our house. He drove it when he was 9!

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