Model T Ford

Transmission Bands

Kevlar band lining and rivets

The question "Which bands should I use?" invariably provokes considerable discussion and opinion and there is no real "golden rule of thumb" here. Basically it's up to you to make a decision, but, I have compiled this page to summarise the different types of band materials, the perceived pro's and con's, images and suppliers of each in an attempt to help guide you to select the band material that suits you and your T!

One of the main things people often want to know is "how long will this band last?" In reality, nobody can really tell for sure, because there are so many variables that affect band lining life.

These are some:

  • Your driving style
  • Your driving conditions
  • How frequently you drive your Model T
  • The band lining you choose
  • There are four main types of band lining material commonly used today.

  • Cotton - Known as Scandinavian Linings (the brand name)
  • Wooden
  • Kevlar
  • "Hard" bands

  • DISCLAIMER:It is important to note, the following information is a summary of the experiences of Model T drivers from around the world. Each driver has their own style and as such can affect the life span of the bands of their choice, both positively and negatively.

    Type Pro's Con's
    Cotton Originality, can be more gentle on drums, relatively cheap Easily and rapidly worn out if misused, release lint into engine oil, require regular adjustment, typically shorter life span
    Wooden Harder wearing, provide harder pedal feel, minimal chatter, require less adjustment More difficult to fit, require more pedal effort, can release fibres into oil, some chatter on slow braking
    Kevlar Typically longer life span, minimal to no adjustment once bedded in, easy to fit, can withstand abuse/higher temperatures Require care and frequent adjustment during bedding in, can unravel at the ends if not treated at installation, resistance to heat can cause overheating of drums.
    Hard Typically longer life span, harder wearing, harder pedal feel, improved drum "grip" More difficult to fit, can cause jerky changes if not operated properly, linings need to be commercially fitted/bonded

    You should make your own mind up as to which suits your needs and cannot be responsible for the outcome as the choice, installation and use is beyond our control.

    Cotton Linings (also known as Scandinavian)

    Cotton woven linings were the original type fitted and specified by Ford. Like all band materials, if "abused" they will not last their normal lifespan. The same is true of all other band lining materials, however, the others described below do seem to last longer when subjected to improper use. Generally, the cotton lining is "kinder" to the drum surface with damage to the drum only being caused by the retaining rivets scoring the drum surface. This in itself does not pose a problem, however, again, like all bands, a dragging band, caused by improper adjustment WILL result in an overheating transmission and engine, rob you of power and in the case of cotton linings, rapidly destroy the band lining. Overheating transmission drums WILL eventually cause them to crack, making them unuseable. Cotton bands have been criticised in the past for releasing lint into the engine oil as the lining wears. If not removed, this lint has been known to block the internal oil feed line to the fron of the engine, with obvious disastrous results.

    Wooden Linings

    Wooden linings were originally offered as a "longer life" accessory part during the life of the Model T. They are a single piece of steam bent hickory fitted to the normal Model T Transmission band and experience has shown them to have a long life, often more than the original style Cotton linings.

    Because of their nature, they create a different feel to the pedal and have been reported to cause some level of "chattering" on slow transmission braking. More so than other types, wooden bands must be very carefully installed to ensure they are not bent out of shape or even snapped! Wooden bands have been reported to require considerably more effort in applying the transmission brake.

    Kevlar Linings

    Kevlar linings often create a fair amount of discussion. They are a modern alternative lining with Kevlar fibres woven into a polyester band lining. Kevlar bands have been reported to have an extremely long life span, even under adverse usage conditions. It seems that they generally need to be more carefully bedded in and require frequent small adjustments in the initial run in stage, but after this, require little to no adjustment for very high mileages.

    Because of the nature of the fibres, they have a very high melting point and can therefore stand a lot of slipping and heat, however, the heat tolerance of kevlar is much higher than that of the actual drum that it is clamping. Model T Ford drums are prone to cracking and high levels of heat exaccerbate this considerably, so the heat resistance benefit of the Kevlar is counteracted by the adverse affect it has on the drum. Of course, with proper adjustment and even moderate care when driving, this is not a problem, but you should be aware that this can happen. It most cases, it is believed that properly fitted and used kevlar bands will outlast the car. Only time will tell.

    Update 2010

    Below is a photo of the Kevlar band material removed from my car during it's rebuild. There are mixed results. The reverse band as you would expect has the least wear. The low gear band has improper wear as a result of being poorly fitted and an uneven drum surface, neither the fault of the product. The brake band however, although treated as best as a driver can, still shows excessive glazing of the material. Fortunately this did not result in overheating of the drum. You can draw your own conclusions from this, but for my new rebuild, I'm trying the wooden bands and have created a video on fitting them to be available soon.

    "Hard Bands"

    Hard bands are standard Model T Ford transmission steel bands that have a composite material bonded then riveted to them. The material is similar to modern brake linings. These bands give a very different feel to the pedals, with much more of a "bite" feel. The sensation is of a definite "grip" of the drum and seems to noticeably increase the feel, in particular of the brake drum. They are however, not as forgiving of sloppy driving habits and can give a jerky change between gears if not done properly and/or stalling of the engine if the revs are not correctly maintained when starting from a standstill. Like wooden bands, Hard bands must be installed with great care to avoid bending and damaging the hard bonded surface.

    A "must have" transmission accessory

    Irrespective of your choice of band linings, it is commonly accepted that the "must have" accessory for the Model T Ford is the transmission oil filter screen. Perhaps the greatest flaw with the Model T lubrication system, is the oil supply to the front of the engine. The standard system is an internal collector mounted near the top of the flywheel which forms a funnel, feeding a narrow tube to the front of the sump pan. This tube is prone to blockage from transmission band lint and other impurities in the oil and can result in damage to the front bearings in particular if not cleaned.

    Click here to read about the transmission screen.

    Model T Ford Accessory Transmission Screen

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