I remember that car. I started it and drove it and I couldn't have been over eleven -- twelve at the most. I don't want to brag but in close to sixty years, I have never had a serious accident, hurt a living thing. I have had about 6 traffic citations, but no insurance company has paid out any money due to my negligence.
The Car It was much easier to start the Ford with one person in the driver's seat and another in front to crank it. They had to be friends and trust each other. It also demanded close cooperation or the cranker could wear himself out. The one in the driver's seat had to pull down the pedal and "depress" or push up the spark which both were on the steering column. The clutch pedal (the one on the left) had to be all the way "in", otherwise if and when the engine started the cranker could be run over, because when the clutch was let out, the engine was in gear and go forward. The only way to stop it was to "idle" the engine and put on the emergency or press down on the brake pedal on the right. The middle pedal was for reverse and was used either to back up or stop. Also it was sometimes used to get up a steep hill by turning around and backing up.
The cranker had to know what to do or he could be run over, or end up with a broken thumb or elbow. Or something else if the friend didn't retard the spark. Don't ask any questions, just let me explain.
On the left in front was a wire with a loop on the end which, when pulled out, flooded something, I think the carburetor, and if it was not done just right a space of time had to elapse before starting over. Then the crank had to pulled out and notched. The thumb had to be curled back and the elbow bent, otherwise if your friend and partner in the driver's seat had not retarded the spark, the engine, instead of starting would backfire and the crank would go around backwards with a vengeance, breaking the thumb, elbow or other. The best way was to start on the downbeat on the right, easy once, faster on the second and then, taking a full deep breath, and pulling on the choke, go all the way around and "spin" the engine. After once around it was best to let go the choke. After three or four turns the engine would either start or not. If it did, your friend pulled down the spark and raced or warmed up the engine. If it didn't, you waited a few minutes and started over. If it didn't on the second try, the partners were reversed because the cranker was all worn out. But it always eventually started and if not, the hood was lifted and the inside looked at. This usually was enough because it was a sensitive piece of equipment and although stubborn at times responded with either kind words or a kick. The kick seemed to work better than kind words and many owners always swore at it before cranking, believing that in some way the Model T started better with this treatment. This statement could never be proved or disproved but who cared so long as it worked?
The one-man method for starting the Ford was the same only it naturally required one person instead of two, and also required more agility. But the responsibility for safety rested on that one person only. The operation had to be just right and coordinated or no start. Everything had to be just right inside - the spark retarded, emergency brake on tight, gas half way down and the key on. OK. Then around to the front to assume the position of cranker: elbow and thumb of right hand in proper position, choke pulled out with left index finger, then easy one, up down again with two, up and on three all the way down and around and spinning. It usually took two or three spins or something was wrong. When it did, something happened to the crank, but I can't remember what. But when the engine started, you dropped everything and made for the spark and pulled it down. If you made it in time, everything was fine, but a second too late and the engine died. And the process had to be started all over again. The two man system was best and usually used in the winter time. It was no fun starting any car in the winter time and many cars were put up on Jacks and not used during the winter at all. There were two reasons for this (or more) but principally oil and water. There was only one grade or thickness of oil at that time and it didn't unfreeze very easily, also water froze so it had to be drained every night in the winter and refilled in the morning. This was done by opening the "petcock" so the water would drain out at night and closing it in the morning so the radiator would be filled with boiling water in the morning. This "petcock" was put in most impossible place to get at, a principle followed by every automobile designer who followed.
The gas tank was right where it should be; under the driver's seat and easy to get at. In order to find out how much gas was in the tank, everybody had to get out, and the seat cushion removed, usually just tipped up on its side. Then the tank cap was removed, and the gas stick was inserted through the hole. The stick looked like a ruler, but if it was inserted flat on the bottom of the oval tank, when it was brought out, the wet part would show how much gas was left in the tank. This was one way of knowing. The other was when the engine would start to splutter and then stop. This was the sure sign the tank was empty, but the knowing driver always had an extra gallon of gas along in a separate can in case of emergency.
There weren't many gas stations then and if you did run out it was a long walk to the nearest gas station. It could also be used as an excuse if you had a date and didn't, for some reason, get home on time. All you had to say was "We ran out of gas." It usually worked, even though the grownups may not have believed it. But how could it be disproved?