GazetteXtra do-it-yourselfers Andrew Reuter and Nick Crow share their successes (and failures) on a variety of topics.

ProjectLab: How to drive a Model T—without breaking your arm

Share on Facebook Comments Comments Print Print
Andrew Reuter
August 6, 2015

Somehow, you and your friends have been transported back to the 1920s. The wool-clad locals are growing suspicious of your colorful T-shirts and comfortable shoes. What do you do?

You could "borrow" a Model T to use as a getaway vehicle, for one. But how do you drive it?

Prepare yourself for this likely scenario by watching the above video, "My 1925 Ford Model T: How to start and how to drive." In it, you'll learn that:

The Model T has three pedals on the floor, and none of them are for the gas. One pedal controls the brakes. One pedal is a clutch of sorts; you push it in to engage first gear, but leave it alone in second. The final pedal is dedicated to reverse. Meanwhile, the accelerator is controlled by a lever near the steering wheel, similar to a tractor.

Where you'd expect to find a blinker switch on the steering column, there's a spark-advance lever instead. This lever basically lets you dial back the explosive power of your engine, preventing it from backfiring during starting and overheating when going up hills. I find this interesting because it shows how far technology has come. Modern cars don't even have choke switches anymore, much less spark advance levers. Today's automobiles drive themselves, by comparison.

This car has a push-button start. That's right--that fancy feature found in today's automobiles was available back in 1925. One big difference: Today, you'll find the button on the dashboard. Back then, the button was the floorboard. Just put your key in, switch the car to the battery mode and step on the floor.

If the battery's dead, you still can crank start it. Just don't use your right hand. Because of the way the engine spins, the crank could break your right hand/wrist/arm if you're using it when the engine backfires. But your left hand will be thrown out of the way. (Good luck remembering which hand to use when a mob of 1920s villagers is nearly upon you.)

If you're ready for the advanced stuff, part two is here. This second video shows you how to shift gears while moving, which could come in handy during your escape.

Have you driven a Model T? Have you gone back in time? I want to hear about it. Send me an email at [email protected], find me on Twitter at @andrewreuter or leave a comment below.

Share on Facebook Comments Comments Print Print