Thursday, April 26, 2012
Collin County Farm Museum offers Model T driving course
Participants may go on to drive the car at weddings and other events.
Modern driver's education is tossed out the window. It doesn't teach levers or 15-minute-start routines.
The Collin County Farm Museum's Model T Driving program proves that older certainly doesn't translate to simpler. Void of air conditioning, radio and power-anything, the car is still more than just a blast from the past -- it's complicated.
"You have to really think about what you're doing," said Jennifer Rogers, museum coordinator who is in charge of the program that began last month. "You use both arms and legs, and definitely your mind."
The museum, stationed at Myers Park and Event Center in McKinney, thrives on restoration. Farm equipment, antique displays and photographs foster a living understanding of the county's rural heritage from its earliest settlement through the 1960s.
Its most-recognized piece -- previously just for show -- is the Ford Model T automobile. From 1909 to 1927, Ford Motor Company built more than 15 million Model T cars, transforming the transportation industry with assembly-line production, according to The Frontenac Motor Company, a private collection of brass-era automobiles.
Dubbed by many as the "car of the century," and called by nicknames like "Lizzie," the Model T had a 20-horsepower, four-cylinder engine, reached a top speed of about 45 miles per hour and got between 13 and 21 miles per gallon of gasoline, according to a Ford website, media.ford.com. A ceremony May 26, 1927 marked the formal end of Model T production.
But not the end of the Model T, completely. Roger Meier, a volunteer with CCFM for several years, restored a Model T to its one-time, complex luster.
The museum rents the car out to weddings and events held at Myers Park, and proceeds go back into restoring and maintaining other museum tools and displays.
Now in his 70s, Meier has a life's worth of mechanical and electrical experience, and car restoration is one of his specialties, Rogers said.
"He can generally just look at manuals and figure it out," she said. "He does remember a lot of vehicles from the 1940s, remembers doing work on them, so he just uses his knowledge."
His wisdom includes driving the Model T, an affinity Rogers wanted to use for outreach and recruitment. Meier taught the first Model T driving course March 31 at Myers Park, to relay his knowledge and garner interest in driving the car at park and local events.
Course participants' first two-hour lesson: how to start the car.
"It takes 15 to 20 minutes to get it going sometimes," Rogers said. "Everything is much different from our cars today."
Eight of the 11 students who attended will end their weeks-long anticipation Saturday at Part II of the course - driving the car. Even volunteers from Plano's Heritage Farmstead Museum, which also has a restored Model T, came to Myers Park to learn to drive it.
They'll learn they must crank a lever near the steering wheel to accelerate, and push a separate pedal to reverse.
Once this weekend's session is done, attendees will earn another learner's permit, years after their first, and must complete six half-hour driving sessions with Meier before they can drive the Model T alone.
Five already plan to put their soon-acquired skill to use, as "designated drivers" at future parades and weddings, Rogers said.
The museum plans to teach another group this fall.
Until then, the first Model T Driving class will be years behind, yet levers ahead of their modern-driving peers.
"I was pleasantly surprised at how immediate the response was," Rogers said fall. "We want to keep it going."
The Collin County Farm Museum is open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday and Saturday, and is located at 7117 County Road 166 in McKinney.
Pegasus News Content partner - Star Local News
- Possible pipe bomb found near rural McKinney park
- Woman in McKinney wants compensation for damages to her home during police raid
- Frisco murder case raises questions of attorney-client privilege
- Collin County inmate hangs himself with television cord
- McKinney holds job fair on Sept. 15 to recruit police and fire personnel