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The Ford Model “T” was one of the most widely used vehicles the world has known. What made the “T” popular was not so much it’s performance, which was not spectacular, but it’s reliability, ruggedness, low cost and ease of maintainance and repair. The "T" was durable, and could take a lot of punishment and neglect.

The design was extremely simple. The solid front and rear axles were live, each set on a single transverse leaf spring. The engine was a 177 cubic inch four-cylinder side-valve engine developing 20 to 22 bhp at 1600rpm. It had a two-speed forward and reverse planetary transmission operated with pedal actuated bands rather than a clutch and sliding gear transmission -- for easier driving than using the conventional clutch and stick operated sliding-gears, no gears to crash. There were no water pumps, oil pumps, starters or generators to fail. The engine was hand cranked to start. There were no ordinary brakes, as such, instead there was a contracting band on a drum in the transmission. There were hand-lever operated emergency mechanical brakes on the rear wheels, which were rather inadequate except for parking, the problem being that the operation of the hand-lever placed the transmission in neutral, thereby eliminating engine braking. However, with the lever pulled back, the reverse pedal band could be slipped to achieve a measure of engine braking. "Rocky Mountain" rear wheel brake assemblies by other manufacturers for better braking were a popular add-on.

Its success came also from the ease with which it could be adapted into a large number of different roles. The Model T came in five body styles, five-passenger Touring, two-passenger Runabout, seven-passenger Town Car, seven-passenger Landaulet and two-passenger Coupe. Depot hacks, light vans and pickups, ambulances, patrol cars and paddy wagons, and the railroad section maintenance cars running on the tracks, were all custom fabricated on the basic chassis and cowling. The variant shown here is a 1914 Depot Hack.

During World War I, before the entry of the United States into the war, some charitable organizations offered Model “T” ambulances to the Allied forces. The standard Ford Model “T” basic chassis and cowling was provided, but without any bodywork beyond the cowl. Legend has it that the first ten ambulance bodies were made out of the wood of the transport cases! Later bodies were produced by the Kellner Carriage Works of Boulogne, France. The ambulance could carry three patients in litters or four patients seated, and two more could always sit up front with the driver. Some 27,000 ambulances were built and used during the war.

The Model T proved to be an excellent vehicle for its time, affordable by the ordinary citizen. It’s light weight of about 1200 pounds made it well-suited for use on the muddy and rough roads of the nation and the world, paved roads being unknown except within towns. If it got stuck in a hole or mud, a small group or a span of mules could haul it out without much ado.

Years of ManufactureOctober 1, 1908 to May 26, 1927
Total Units Manufactured15,458,781
Serial Number LocationIf the chassis is marked the serial number is on the right frame near the firewall, or under the right floor board, matching the original engine number.
Average Price$550
Average Weight1200 -1500 pounds
Wheelbase and Track100 inch x 56 inch
Length and Width134 inch x 66 inch
Engine4 cylinder, 4 cycle, internal combustion gasoline engine, cast-in-bloc, 3 crank main bearings, "L" head with 2 side valves per cylinder, splash lubricated, water cooled
Engine Displacement177 cubic inches - 2.9 liter
Engine Horsepower20-22 BHP @ 1600 Maximum RPM
Engine Torque83 Ft-Lbs @ 900 RPM
Cylinder Bore and Stroke3.75 x 4.00 inches
Compression Ratio4.5 to 1, Cylinder Pressure 50-70 psi
Bolt Torques – ft/lbs5/16 – 15, 3/8 – 30, 7/16 – 45, 1/2 - 75
Intake Valve Gap.010"-.012" (adjustable tappets, stock cam)
Exhaust Valve Gap.012"-015" (adjustable tappets, stock cam))
Engine Oil Capacity4 quarts, All Synthetic 10/30W recommended
Cooling System Capacity14 quarts water or antifreeze 50/50 solution
Ignition SystemCommutated 4 coil vibrating reed system. Electricity from 6 Volt batteries or flywheel mounted magneto delivering from 4 to nearly 30 VAC
Firing Order1-2-4-3
Coil Amps1.2 - 1.4 A
Coil Point Gap.029" - .031" – See NOTE 1
Spark Plug TypeChampion 25, Motorcraft F-11
Spark Plug Gap.031" - .035"
Magneto Clearance.025" – .030" between magnet keeper faces and coil ring pole bosses
Fuel Capacity10 Gallons - Range approx 200 mile.
Fuel ConsumptionApprox. 20-25 MPG @ 35 MPH
Drive TypePlanetary transmission, 2 forward speeds, 1 reverse, rear wheel drive via torque tube driveline and bevel cut gear closed differential, final drive ratio 3.64/1
Differential Capacity2 pints 90W – 120W
Wheels and TiresWood spoke demountable clincher rim "Artillery" wheels, tires balloon type 30x3" front, 30x3 rear
Inflation Pressure55 - 65 psi
Front Axle AlignmentCamber 3 ", Caster 5 °, Toe-in 1/8"-1/4"
Top SpeedApprox. 45 MPH, normal cruise 35 - 40 MPH
Engine RPM@Speed1400@35 MPH, 1600@40 MPH, 1800@45 MPH

Model T Ford Controls

ATransmission Neutral / Parking Brake Lever
BHigh Gear / Neutral / Low Gear Pedal
CReverse Gear Pedal
DBrake Pedal
ETwo Speed Rear Axle Shift Lever
(if Ruckstell 2-speed rear axle is installed)
FBattery / Magneto Ignition Switch
GThrottle Lever and Quadrant
HAdvance – Retard Lever (opposite G behind wheel)

The Model T Ford Engine

Note 1 – Adjusting the Model T Ford Ignition Coil

The upper contact cushion spring should have approximately .005 clearance at A to the upper bridge D. This clearance should extend the full length of the cushion spring. Push the vibrator spring down to core and adjust nut C until the upper point just makes contact with a .029-.031 feeler gage. Lock C position with upper nut. Adjust tension on the vibrator spring by lightly tapping the back of the vibrator spring bridge (or by prying it up) until the coil draws 1.3 amperes at 6 volts input. When all 4 coils are properly adjusted, they should all have a uniform pitch like the sound of an angry bee, about 275 cps.

The Model T Ford Chassis

Slide Show of Model T Engine Being Rebuilt.

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