T Thoughts – John O’Neill

Hi members,

I hope all is well with you in these strange times we are all living through. Our Secretary mentioned in his recent email our club is looking for things to publish on the website.

As I have plenty of unplanned time on my hands I have put together a small video (approx 11 minutes) of the construction of the cutaway engine which may be of interest to some people.   

Ford Model T Cutaway

The Irish Model T Ford Club is welcome to publish the video on the website and share it with whoever you please.  You can also follow this link to view the video on YouTube.

Best wishes to all,

John O’Neill  


John O’Neill is a very creative member of our Club.  He hand crafted a cut away version of a Model T Ford engine and transmission unit. It is much admired by all.  The unit has been on public display at 2019 Stradbally Steam fair and at a number of car shows around the country.   

It is also of considerable educational value particularly to the younger set who can see first hand how all the mechanical components fit together, work in unison and propel the Model T. To note special thanks to Eamon Dunne and Paul Murphy

The spring 2018 edition of The Irish T Times contained an article on John’s work which is reprinted here:  

The T Engine  

I had neither involvement nor contact with John O’Neill’s project whatsoever, suffice to say that the emerging idea had been festering in the minds of Eamon and Martin for some time. Like all good projects there is nothing like a time line to concentrate the mind.

The bi-annual car show it would seem to be the ideal launch date. This was to take place
in mid March 2018. Therefore a project was born with an end date in mind. Winter evenings, weekends and leisure time were confiscated for planning, sourcing and

To be fair to our colleagues, due credit must be lavished for the painstaking detail of the finished product. Starting with the head, a square piece was taken out revealing a cylinder, piston and copper head gasket. The spark plug attached was connected via a coil and magically at each second revolution a simulator red flash indicated the relationship to top dead centre and the firing order.

Progressing downwards another carefully manicured opening shows the three bands, the clutch forks and the triple gears so that on the cyclical movement of the crankshaft the dynamics of the drive train are all apparent, whether in neutral or first or reverse gear. Going along the side of the engine another gap reveals the relationship and the part that the valves play, the valve springs and guides and the connection as between the camshaft and the head.

Visually this is a work of art with subtle colours distinguishing the various elements putting emphasis on each and separate component thus giving the admiring onlooker a visual understanding of the mechanism. The pulley adorns a belt attached to a hidden away motor driving the crankshaft at a moderate speed, sufficient one would say to simulate an idling T engine with an extra bonus a distinct hum, just like a properly tuned running engine. Outing number one was at RDS in March 2018.

Elsewhere you will have heard that the engine was a show stopper. Anyone interested in mechanical matters were viewers and admirers, so much so that the chattering classes deemed the Irish Model T Ford Club’s stand as the best one there. Its first outing for private viewing by members was at the Adare assembly last month and to say the least it went down aplomb with everyone present.

I think we should not hide our lamp under a bushel and we must exhibit our wares at the NEC Car show in Birmingham in conjunction with The Model T Ford Register of Great Britain. Logistical and other considerations will present a challenge, but such barriers are to be overcome.

In closing I wish to pay a compliment to John O’Neill for his steadfast attention to detail and his tenacity in bringing this wonderful project to life. He surely deserved the praise that was lavished by members in the recent past. 

Text by W. Cuddy

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