This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California

Simpler times? Or, how to start a Model T

People often say that things were simpler "back in the day", but in many ways I disagree. Things like starting a car, for example, are much simpler now than they were. Here are the instructions for starting a Model T:

• Pull the choke adjacent to the right fender while engaging the crank lever under the radiator at the front of the car, slowly turning it a quarter-turn clockwise to prime the carburetor with fuel. Get into the car. Insert the ignition key, turning the setting to either magneto or battery.

• Adjust the timing stalk upward to retard the timing, move the throttle stalk downward slightly for an idle setting, and pull back on the hand brake, which also places the car in neutral. Return to the front of the car.

• Use your left hand to crank the lever (if the engine backfires and the lever swings counterclockwise, the left arm is less likely to be broken). Give it a vigorous half-crank, and the engine should start.

The car that I have now, which is nothing special, starts with the turn of a key. Then I put it in "drive" and go. Simple.

Photo at the top of this post: Mission Service Station in the 1920s, northeast corner of Mill and 8th Street (now University), Tempe, Arizona.

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