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fujioko HalfDork
5/26/14 8:39 p.m.

My neighbor dragged this old truck out of a barn and asked me if I could get it running again. My general knowledge about model T's are they have a funky ignition system and a bizarre set of controls. Otherwise I know next to nothing about these old cars.

My dad gave me a ride in a Model T coupe when I was about six or seven years old. I remember how I was fascinated with the old car and I have always wanted to drive one.

This particular T ran when parked several decades ago. The former owner started it every few years and at some point the car fell into decay and all hope was lost.

Let's take a look at how I'm going to kill my Memorial day weekend.

a rusty but solid old Ford.

A local company used this truck to haul bakery products many years ago.

Tires have seen better days....

The engine is complete and just needs some TLC.... The engine spins over freely with the hand crank, but breaking an arm isn't in my plan. I'll have a go at fixing the electric starter.

The interior is a bit rough, but the doors open and all the controls move.

fujioko Reader
5/26/14 9:07 p.m.

After a bit of internet sleuthing I determined that the buzz box ignition will need to work if the car is ever going to start. I soaked the fasteners in penetrating fluid and dissembled the point thingys. After a good cleaning I reassembled the first buzzer. I powered it with a few D cell battery and it actually worked!


I cleaned up the rest of the point thingys and went ahead and pulled the "timer" assembly for a good cleaning.

The timer was in surprisingly good condition. A quick buff with steel wool and some DeOx-it and it looked good enough to me.

Next up was the starter...

For giggles I hit the starter with 12V to see if it would spin... nope. Its got to come off.

Fortunately I had a look at the internet and discovered the secrete to pulling a Model T starter.

With the starter off, I partially disassembled it and cleaned up the armature and lubed the bushing. I reassembled the starter and it worked like new!

Reinstalled the starter and wired it with a Ford mustang relay. Sort of sloppy but functional.

The ignition is equally as half ass with a bunch of D cells packed together. I'm happy with the D cells for now in case of a major electrical problem the D cells dont have enough current to destroy anything.

The crankcase was drained and the old oil looked to be in great shape. I actually thought about putting it back in. Just for good measure I put in fresh 20W50.

I pulled the plugs and oiled the hell out of the cylinders and cranked the engine over for a few seconds. Everything seemed fine.

At this point the engine is ready to start....

So far I have about 8 hours into this beast and a little reward is would be nice...

Video of first start..


Stay tuned!

Toyman01 GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
5/26/14 9:13 p.m.

That is a thing of beauty. Keep us posted.

Woody GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/26/14 9:17 p.m.

That had to be incredibly satisfying. Good job!

RexSeven UberDork
5/26/14 9:21 p.m.

This is so cool! Good job bringing Ol' Tin Lizzy back to life!

petegossett GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
5/26/14 9:21 p.m.

I know local people who race Model-Ts and have a side business rebuilding the carbs, so if you get in over your head let me know & I'll put you in touch with them.

fujioko Reader
5/26/14 9:35 p.m.

Hi 'ya Pete.

I started the engine with a sock soaked in gasoline jammed into the carburetor. Sort of an old trick that will get anything going. The sock does a nice job of distributing the fuel.

Right after the first start I hooked up a lawn mower fuel tank and let the carb fuel the engine. The carb actually works and the car runs really good.

I'm not sure what my neighbor is going to do with the car, but for now I'm going to get it so it starts and drives.

wearymicrobe Dork
5/26/14 9:53 p.m.

You might want to start soaking the brakes, they get jammed up like crazy if these cars sit. Parts are easy enough to come by.

Any chance that the motor has been rebuilt at this point, if its on its original bearings you might want to check them at this point.

fujioko Reader
5/26/14 10:28 p.m.

In reply to wearymicrobe:

Good point, I'm a little concerned with the bearings. I had a look at a youtube video on re-poring the babbitt and grinding the bearings. Yikes!

If the engine sounds ok, is there still a chance the bearings will fail?

The left rear wheel spins freely and I had the car running long enough to engage low gear, high gear and reverse. (up on jack stands)

The right wheel is stiff and possibly the brake is stuck? We'll find out soon.

wearymicrobe Dork
5/26/14 10:54 p.m.

If it had oil in it and it has been run sporadically it should be OK and its not rocking around to much in terms of the crank. Fordbarn should have a trick to checking the bearings quickly based on endplay.

FYI nobody pours babbits on model A's anymore, or at least in the circles that I run in. They all do modern bearings on the stock block with a bit of machining. There are kits out there that can do it pretty cheap, at least for a model T upgrade.

Friction brakes on a T relegate the car to a parade float in my mind, especially with modern traffic. They can be made to work but it cost $$ not $$$ but still its something to think about. There are cheap upgrades out the but sometimes you really have to search for brackets and its hard to balance the car out afterwards without a proportioning valve.

MadScientistMatt UberDork
5/27/14 12:30 p.m.

Very cool project.

It always amuses me that model T's used a distributorless, multi-spark, coil per plug ignition.

fujioko HalfDork
5/27/14 9:16 p.m.

Had a chance to look at the rear brakes on the T this evening. The right rear wheel seemed frozen and I wasn't sure what to expect. The first thing I noticed was the brake rods were disconnected at the linkage in the front of the truck. Hmmm.. someone has been here before...

With the help from a buddy we managed to wiggle the rear wheel off the axle. I wasn't expecting what we discovered.

The brakes are brand new...

Although ruined from the axle oil, the shoes look like the were installed last week. I not sure what do do about this.

The differential was bone dry so I added some fresh gear lube.

The radiator looks a bit shabby but I figured I would fill it with the garden hose to see if it was any good. Once again I'm surprised by my findings. The rad holds water and doesn't leak a drop.

The upper and lower hoses are NFG even by my standards so I took a ride to the auto parts store and found a couple of hoses that would sort of work. The upper hose is two inch in diameter and the lower is 1.80 inch so my choices were limited.

Upper hose can be made from this longer hose.

This hose is a great starting point to build a lower hose.

With both hoses in place, I filled the cooling system with water and started the engine. the truck ran for about five min until it ran out of gas. No leaks!

The buzzer box on cyl #2 is intermittent and cyl #4 isn't working at all. The engine runs on two or three cylinders and still sort of sounds ok.

The new owner was speechless when I told him the engine runs. He originally wanted to paint his business logo on the side and use it for display. He really didn't expect the truck to ever run again. Well... not only does it run, it appears it is almost drivable.

Since the situation changed.... he is rethinking his plan.

What would the GRM folk do with this cool vintage truck?

wearymicrobe SuperDork
5/27/14 9:24 p.m.

Seriously get the brakes to work, get the buzz box fixed and make sure that all the knuckles are safe and get some new rubber and tubes, throw a blanket over the seat shell and drive the darn thing.

Woody GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/27/14 10:11 p.m.

Is this a T or a TT?

A T should just have a brake on the driveshaft, unless it has aftermarket Rocky Mountain Brakes or something similar. The brake pedal usually says Rocky Mountain on it. A T with a Ruxstell rear absolutely needs RMBs. If you get stuck between gears you have no brakes at all.

I don't really know much about TTs.

Woody GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/27/14 10:16 p.m.

It doesn't look like this truck has a Ruxstell, but it's hard to tell for sure from the side of the rear diff that is shown in the photo and the shifter might be just outside of the other photo.

Woody GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/27/14 10:20 p.m.

Another peek at the photos makes me think that it's most likely a T, as a TT would have a worm drive rear. I'm not sure if TTs used the car like cab in 27.

fujioko HalfDork
6/14/14 11:37 p.m.

The old truck managed to run long enough to be driven off the trailer. The transmission appeared to work fine but the flat tires were a buzz kill.


Tires,tubes and liners.

Figured out how to take the wheel off.

One of the rims had a broken muffler bearing..

...So I welded it back on.

A turnbuckle is used to "collapse" the rim for dismounting the tire.

Everything gets covered with baby powder... Inside tires, inner tubes and liners. I used a lot of powder.... mostly out of ignorance.

After sorting out the first tire, the rest were easy.

Looking good!

fujioko Reader
6/15/14 12:02 a.m.

In reply to Woody:

I think its just a T pickup.

Woody GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
6/15/14 5:43 a.m.

This just keeps getting cooler!

84FSP New Reader
6/15/14 9:49 a.m.

That thing is awesome. PLEASE don't let someone rot rod it.... Save the species!

Billy_Bottle_Caps GRM+ Memberand Dork
6/15/14 10:53 a.m.

Great build man a lot of progress in a short amount of time


HappyAndy UltraDork
6/15/14 5:03 p.m.

The sepia tone pics art oh so apropos

Timeormoney Reader
6/15/14 8:38 p.m.

Brilliant build

fujioko Reader
6/15/14 9:20 p.m.


This car is a natural for Sepia tone.

noddaz GRM+ Memberand Dork
6/16/14 8:04 a.m.

Very nice... And a real roadster pickup too...

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