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More On The Model T

May 2024
1min read

Albert B. Stephenson’s “Secrets of the Model T” (July/August) revived my memory of two Fords—a 1915 touring car and a 1921 coupe. Mr. Stephenson touched on many of the T’s idiosyncrasies, and I should like to add one more, the lighting system.

Early models depended on acetylene to fuel the headlights. By 1915 the two electric headlight bulbs, wired in series, were powered by the magneto. At highway speed (thirty miles per hour) the lighting was adequate. At ten miles per hour there was only a glow, unless the driver depressed the left foot lever to low gear while advancing the throttle lever with his right hand. If one bulb burned out, the other could be rewired. It would burn brilliantly but briefly before failing. The single tail light was kerosene and produced mostly heat.

By 1921 the essentials of a modern electrical system—steady lights, battery, generator, and even a starter— were available.

I hope other drivers will throw additional light on more quirks that contributed to the behavior of a remarkable vehicle that performed for twenty years without a major mechanical change.

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