Learning How To Drive A Ford Model T

It is a challenge for the uninitiated to learn to drive a Model T Ford, especially in today’s traffic. Model T’s don’t accelerate or brake quickly. The brakes function using bands which constrict the transmission, unlike a modern car which uses brake calipers attached directly to the wheels. They don’t handle very well by modern standards although they navigate dirt roads and washboard like nothing else. In fact, this is the road surface for which they were designed.

There are three pedals on the floor marked from left to right when sitting in the driver’s seat: C (clutch), R (reverse) and B (break). There are two levers on the steering column, spark advance and throttle, and one floor lever to the left of the driver. The floor lever is neutral while in the upright position, second gear when in the forward position while the leftmost pedal (C) is not depressed, and emergency brake when all the way back.

Operating A Ford Model T


The gasoline tank is under the seat. See that it is supplied with gasoline. Always strain through chamois skin to prevent water and other foreign matter getting into the carburetor. When filling the gasoline tank, extinguish all lamps; throw away your cigar, and be sure that there are no naked flames within several feet, as the vapor is extremely volatile and travels rapidly. Always be careful about lighting matches near where gasoline has been spilled, as the atmosphere within a radius several feet is permeated with highly explosive vapor.

Unless it has been tampered with, the carburetor adjustment is right, having been set by the head tester, so do not meddle with it until you are certain it needs adjusting. To make adjustment, manipulate button on dash, when leaving factory, adjustment is 0.K., and arrow points up. To give it more air, turn to left; less air, turn to right.

The Ford Motor Company of Canada was founded in 1904. The company was located in Walkerville, Ontario and was originally known as the Walkerville Wagon Company. The Ford Motor Company of Canada was set up to manufacture Ford automobiles for Canada and the British Empire. The Ford Motor Company in Detroit transferred the patent and selling rights to the new company, in order to avoid the tariff rates for non-British Empire countries.

Ford of Canada were the suppliers of cars to the entire British Empire, except for Great Britain. As a result, Canadian built Model T cars are found all over the world, including Australia and New Zealand.


No mechanical device will operate very long without ample lubrication, neither will the Model T cars. Before your car is shipped the oil is drained out of the engine crank case and the oil reservoir. Before starting, the transmission cover should be removed and two quarts of high grade engine oil should be poured into the transmission and a half gallon emptied into the engine crank case through the breather pipe. Thereafter all replenishments are made through breather pipe.

There are two drain cocks in the flywheel casing which acts as the oil reservoir. The oil level should be between these two cocks. If it runs out of the upper, there is too much oil, and it should be allowed to drain out to that level. If on opening the lower drain cock the oil does not run out being at a lower level, a new supply is needed.

The Kind Of Oil To Use

We recommend only light high-grade gas engine oil for use in the model T motor. A light grade of oil is preferred as it will naturally reach the bearing surfaces with greater ease, and, consequently, less heat will develop on account of friction. The oil should, however, have sufficient body so that the pressure between the two bearing surfaces will not force the oil out and allow the metal to come in actual contact. Heavy and inferior oils have a tendency to carbonize quickly, also gum up the piston rings and valve stems.


All speeds are controlled by a foot pedal enabling the driver to stop, start, change speeds, or reverse the car without removing the hands from the steering wheel. The foot pedal at the right, operates the brake on the transmission. The pedal in the center, operates the reverse. The left foot pedal, is the control lever acting on the clutch.

The hand lever when thrown forward engages high speed; when pulled back, operates the emergency brake. The lever is in neutral when almost vertical and clutch is in a released condition. With the hand lever thrown forward in high speed, a light pressure on pedal ‘C’ releases the clutch while a full pressure on the pedal throws into slow speed; by gradually releasing the pedal, it will come back through neutral into high speed.


Before starting out with the car, see that there is plenty of gasoline in the tank; the shut-off valve in gasoline feed pipe open; the radiator filled; the proper amount of oil in the crank case; the grease cups, oil cups and other parts requiring lubrication given attention.

  1. Close the coil switch.
  2. Place the spark lever at about the third or fourth notch of the quadrant — wherever the best results are obtained.
  3. Open the throttle about five or six notches, and prime the carburetor if the engine requires it.
  4. Engage the starting crank firmly and pull up on it. Two or three times will usually suffice to draw the mixture into the cylinders and ignite it.


To Start Driving the Machine, slightly accelerate the engine by opening the throttle, place the foot on the clutch pedal, and thereby hold the gears in a neutral position while throwing the hand lever forward; then to start the ear in motion, press the pedal forward into slow speed and when under sufficient headway (20 to 30 feet), allow the pedal to drop back slowly into high speed, at the same time partially closing the throttle, which will allow the engine to pick up its load easily. With a little practice the change of speeds will be easily accomplished, and without any appreciable effect on the smooth running of the machine.

To Reverse the Car, it must be brought to a dead stop. With the engine left running, disengage the clutch with the hand lever and press the reverse pedal forward with the left foot, the right foot being free to use on the brake pedal if needed.

To Stop the Car, partially close the throttle; release the high speed by pressing the clutch pedal forward into neutral; apply the foot brake slowly but firmly until the car comes to a dead stop. Do not remove foot from clutch pedal, without first pulling hand lever back to neutral position. To stop the motor, open the throttle a trifle to accelerate the motor and then throw off the switch. The engine will then stop with the cylinders full of explosive gas, which will naturally facilitate starting.

When Driving the Car, the spark should he advanced as the speed increases until the engine reaches the highest point of efficiency. If the spark is advanced too far a dull knock will be heard in the motor, due to the fact that the explosion occurs before the piston has completed its compression stroke. The spark should only be retarded when the engine slows down on a heavy road or steep grade, but care must be exercised not to retard the spark to such an extent that over-heating will result. The greatest economy in gasoline consumption is obtained by driving with the spark advanced sufficiently to obtain the maximum speed. The varying speeds required to meet road conditions should be obtained by using the throttle, and with the wide range of flexibility whcih the model ‘T’ possesses, there is very little occasion for releasing the high speed cluch or resorting to low gear under ordinary conditions.

Summary of Engine Troubles and Their Causes

Engine Fails To Start

1. Gas mixture too lean.
2. Water in gasoline.
3. Vibrators adjusted too close.
4. Water or congealed oil in commutator.
5. Magneto contact point (in trans. cover) obstructed with foreign matter.
6. Gasoline supply shut off.
7. Carburetor frozen (in zero weather).
8. Water frozen in gasoline tank sediment bulb.
9. Coil switch off.

Engine Lacks Power – Runs Irregularly

At Low Speeds

1. Poor compression—account leaky valves.
2. Gas mixture too rich or too lean.
3. Spark plugs dirty.
4. Coil vibrator improperly adjusted.
5. Air leak in intake manifold.
6. Weak exhaust, valve spring.
7. Too great clearance between valve stem and push rod.
8. Too close gap between spark plug points.

At High Speeds

1. Commutator contact imperfect.
2. Weak valve spring.
3. Too much gap in spark plug.
4. Imperfect gas mixture.
5. Platinum points dirty or burned.

Engine Stops Suddenly

1. Gasoline tank empty.
2. Water in gasoline.
3. Flooded carburetor.
4. Dirt in carburetor or feed pipe.
5. Magneto wire loose at either terminal.
6. Magneto contact point obstructed.
7. Overheated—_account lack of oil or water.
8. Gas mixture too lean.

Engine Overheats

1. Lack of water.
2. Lack of oil.
3. Fan belt torn, loose or slipping.
4. Carbon deposit in combustion chamber.
5. Spark retarded too far.
6. Gas mixture too rich.
7. Water circulation retarded by sediment in radiator.
8. Dirty spark plugs.

Engine Knocks

1. Carbon deposit on piston heads.
2. Loose connecting rod bearing.
3. Loose crank shaft bearing.
4. Spark advanced too far.
5. Engine overheated.