PUGET ISLAND — In late July time appeared to move backwards as seven Ford Model Ts, their owners and friends gathered at Norse Hall on Puget Island. They came together at Raymond Badger’s suggestion for a trip across the Columbia on the ferry to Westport and lunch at the Berry Patch.
Badger drove his Depot Hack that he built from parts he collected. Agreeing it’s a little like the Johnny Cash song, he noted, “The bigger parts like the fenders, engine and transmission are from a 1926 but then there’s a 1923 frame, parts from other Model Ts and Weyerhaeuser wood.”
Badger’s son George drove his 1925 Doctor’s Coupe of which he is only the fourth owner since it was originally purchased.
Larry and Sandy Hart and John and Lorna Jackson brought their 1926 Roadsters, both capable of speeds in the 45 to 50 mph range.
Jon and Cheryl Pierson and Bob and Kay Templeton brought their 1926 Touring Cars that provide that top down open-air appearance of elegant travel. The Piersons’ vehicle is a four-door, equipped with the original coil ignition system.
Keith and Paula Olsen rounded out the group with their 1924 C-cab pickup. An outstanding craftsman, Olsen built the cab himself and one would be hard-pressed to pick it out from a line-up of factory-built cabs.
The common denominator among these aficionados appears to be mechanical aptitude, a sense of humor and love for a less-complex time in automobile history.
The headlights of Badger’s Depot Hack each sport two candles. One candle is short and one is tall and are laughingly explained by Badger as his bright and dim lights.
With its 177 cubic inch, 20 horsepower, four cylinder engine and three speed (counting reverse) planetary transmission, starting and driving a Model T takes a bit of getting used to. Putting the hand brake in the upright neutral position, the driver adjusts the spark advance using the lever on the left side of the steering column. The hand crank at the front of the vehicle is then pushed in and turned clockwise to start the engine. With the engine running, the leftmost of the three foot pedals is then pushed to the floor to start the vehicle forward in low gear. A hand lever on the right side of the steering column serves as the accelerator and is slowly adjusted downward to increase speed. When the correct speed is achieved, the handbrake is pushed fully forward and the left pedal is let all the way up, putting the vehicle into high gear. Stopping requires a reverse of the above along with stepping on the rightmost of the pedals which activates a brake on the transmission. The handbrake can also be pulled all the way back to assist in the stop and serve as an emergency brake to hold the vehicle in place once it is stopped. To drive in reverse, the hand brake is put in the neutral upright position and the center of the three foot pedals is pressed.
There were 16.5 million of these Model Ts produced by Henry Ford between late 1908 and mid-1927. To date, they continue to be eighth in the top-10 list of most sold cars of all time.
Ford once stated: “I will build a car for the great multitude. It will be large enough for the family, but small enough for the individual to run and care for. It will be constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one — and enjoy with his family the blessing of hours of pleasure in God’s great open spaces.”
He certainly was a man of his word as proven by these 90-plus year-old vehicles that are still roadworthy and a blast to drive and ride in.