Road. We had gone nearly 5 miles up the mountain when, without warning, the engine
started a loud knocking sound. Ben pulled over immediately on the narrow
slanting shoulder and checked everything he could see. We crawled up a little further, to a flatter pulloff, and started calling for
Clearly, something bad had happened and it sounded like a rod bearing had gone
out. While waiting for AAA, a pickup pulled up and Dick Whited of nearby Columbia
Falls, a volunteer with the tour, offered to help. With the Warford transmission and Rocky Mountain brakes, we could actually tow
our Model T. (DON’T try this in a stock T.) At the top, we ran into Russ Grunwald from Ft. Worth, whose rental unit had an
enclosed garage that he was willing for us to use to work on the T. When dropping the inspection plate off the bottom of the engine, it became
immediately apparent that the engine had no oil in it and the No. 2 rod had
melted out the babbitt.
Since we had driven only 24 miles since Ben checked and added oil, the big
question was - "What happened to the oil?". Also, there were questions about what else may have been damaged. Was the No. 1 rod okay? It is normally the one to go when an engine loses oil. What about the main bearings? What about the cylinder walls? They, too, sometimes get damaged when an engine runs without oil.
So far, Ben has determined everything except the No. 2 rod babbitt appears to be
in good shape. We have already been able to arrange for some replacements rods from two
sources. Ford and More in Spokane, WA is machining a rod to the specifications for our
crankshaft as this is being written and will bring it to Whitefish on Sunday
morning. If all goes as planned we will have the car running Sunday evening and be able
to drive on the regularly scheduled tour on Monday. Ross Lilleker of Lilleker
Antique Auto Restoration also has two rods that fit the specifications for our
engine and is sending them out to us as a backup plan. They will arrive on Tuesday.
So now we’re down to “truth and comsequences”. When Ben checked the oil in the morning he did so with the Akuret Oil Gauge but
also opened the upper petcock to see how they compared. The Akuret Oil Gauge showed that the level was right at the low end of the “OK” range and the upper petcock dripped very slightly so both indicators matched
and it needed oil. However, as Ben was adding a quart of oil, he got interrupted for about twenty
minutes. When he went back to the car, the oil can had finished draining so he took it
out, put the oil filler cap on and shut the hood. What he discovered after the breakdown was that he did not close the upper
petcock. Embarrassing as is to admit, this pain is self inflicted.
Russ Grunweld, who was there helping Ben when he discovered the open petcock
valve offered, “I won’t tell if you don’t tell.” to save Ben from embarrassment. But in the interest of the hobby, we feel that it is beneficial to learn from
other people’s mistakes instead of having to always create our own learning experiences. Now, you don’t need to do this yourself to learn that if you leave the upper oil petcock
open, it will be a very bad learning experience. Ben will never forget this and, hopefully, you will not either.