This has been my Ruckstell experience, through a varying backdrop
of rebuilding and equipment changes …
My truck came to me with what was probably a once-rebuilt engine,
Kingston carb, 7:1 gears, and a Ruckstell. It was all I knew about T’s
up to this point, so I had no other experience for reference. It was slow,
vibrated like hell, and did I mention it was slow ? Ruckstell only made
it go slower !
Prior to buying the truck, I went to the fine folks at the Antique Auto
Ranch and announced my interest in making a TT go fast. I was met with
a rolling of eyes and the unspoken thoughts of “here we go again”, “crackpot”,
“another fool who will fade away”. But over the course of more visits and
lots of questions, a few tidbits of T wisdom were imparted that have affected
my truck’s mechanical evolution, and by extension, Ruckstell use.
The first bit was “You will need to find ‘high speed’ gears”. Immediately
followed by, “You will need to build an engine powerful enough to push
those ‘high speed’ gears”. From there, it was a trickle down of what it
takes to build a more powerful T engine.
So, the old, slow truck arrives and I am thrilled to finally own and
drive a T. And I begin to understand what everyone meant by “really
slow” … hehehehe ! But I also learned that my poor old engine, with
those farm gears struggled to make it up hills without using Ford low.
I began to experiment with engaging Ruckstell low on Altamont hill
and found it tricky to time the vehicle speed to the downshift, but if
I hit it right, could make the top of the hill without using Ford low.
But the key was hitting that vehicle speed point just right and popping
the shift with a quick stab of the clutch pedal. I found this far easier
to get right than shifting back into direct drive.
That operation required a rather jerky slowing of the truck to a speed
that once upshifted, forced me back into Ford low to make the second
part of the hill. Naturally, a parade of impatient drivers would instantly
materialize from nowhere every time I got on the hill, exacerbating my
tension to get it right and at least make the hill at a speed over 3mph !
Then I blasted a couple rod bearings and used that as my excuse to do
the engine rebuild. A stand-in engine was offered by Tom Carnegie, and
a new twist to the game was introduced. This engine was more powerful
than my old engine, and completely changed the need to shift and where
and how. It still required a vehicle speed syncing, as the clutch pedal
was momentarily engaged, but with more power, I could make it so far
up the hill that the brief use of Ford low was smoother and easier than
the jerky disengagement at the level section, halfway up. I could use
Ford low to crest the first steep part, drop back to Ford high across the
level section and build some speed before hitting the second part and
repeat the process on the second steep part.
I then installed the rebuilt rear end with ‘express gears’ and found that
I could hit 35 at the base of the hill, rather than 15, and the momentum
nearly carried me to the top at a decent speed, with no shifting of anything.
With the installation of the rebuilt engine - Scat crank, C-race cam,
Z-head, straight-thru NH, and a meticulous balancing, … the truck
will now pull the entire hill at speed in Ford high. No Ford low, no Ruckstell,
no nothin’ ! Just power all the way to the top. Now, I am kind of regretting
the rebuild and installation of the Ruckstell. I never use it. It chokes the
cab leg area with a pointless shifter and adds the extra weight of the unit
in back. A Lincoln 3-speed aux. transmission is planned for this winter.
That will give me an overdrive, yet another lever in the cab, and a gear
array that exceeds my math abilities. 50+ should be attainable on level
ground in Lincoln high, and Lincoln low should duplicate Ruckstell low,
Lincoln high and Ruckstell low should produce a whole different gearing
For now, I don’t care. The truck goes anywhere I point it with no issues.