|Marvelous Model T Tour|
|News - Pope County Tribune - Starbuck Times|
|Written by John R. Stone|
|Wednesday, 24 September 2008 10:50|
With their four-cylinder engines chugging along, nearly 30 Model T Fords came rolling into Starbuck Sunday morning.
Drivers and passengers were bundled up in winter coats and blankets in the cool weather, Model Ts, which were built from the fall of 1908 to the summer of 1927, don’t have heaters.
The tour of Model Ts started in Willmar Saturday and headed up the Glacial Ridge Trail to Glenwood where there was a noon meal. Then the group headed to Alexandria for the night. Sunday’s trip to Starbuck was followed by a tour down through Swift Falls, Sunburg and back to Willmar. In Starbuck the group was fed a brunch in the Starbuck Community Center.
Outside quite a few people showed up to reminisce as they looked at vehicles some remember from their childhoods.
Nearly 15 million Model Ts were built, according to Ed Walhof of Spicer. At one time Model T production was half the automobile production in the world. At one point in its life Model T production was half the automobile production in the United States. This is the centennial year of the start of Model T production.
Ford’s founder, Henry Ford, invented the assembly line which cut the time needed to produce a vehicle from a little over 12 hours to just over a single hour. He also worked to keep workers by introducing the $5 day, which was double the prevailing wage at the time. The efficiency of the assembly line allowed Ford to reduce the price of a Model T to as low as $290 by 1919. Things like automatic transmissions, turn signals, electric headlights, multiple forward speed gears, electric starting, windshield wipers, heaters, radios and much more were either options in later models or simply not available.
A Model T doesn’t have the modern features many motorists probably consider essential. Early models were started with a crank. Headlights were gas operated, water would drip on carbide in a canister and the gas was piped to the headlight through a hose. Lamps closer to the passenger compartment of the vehicle were run with kerosene or lamp oil.
Early Model Ts had cloth tops and some had side curtains that could be lowered in bad weather. Later models had metal bodies surrounding passenger compartments with windows.
Walhof said that in a group caravan the Model Ts move along about 35 miles per hour with their 20 horsepower engines. He said that some drivers like to go a little faster, such as 40, and some slower. The vehicles ride on narrow 3 1/2 inch wide tires and early models had wheels with wooden spokes. Later models had wire spokes.
By 1928 the Model T was replaced with the Model A.
Many of the Model Ts were trailered to Willmar for the tour but Walhof said that three from the Twin Cities area drove to Willmar. Those three vehicles left Alexandria Sunday morning for home, completing the trip to Willmar and then back to the Twin Cities would have gotten them back in the dark, something the drivers prefer to avoid with the gas lighting systems.