I am sorry if this topic has already been discussed before and will gladly take suggestions if there is a site where I can go to learn proper, safe technique.
I am fully aware of the dangers of hand cranking a Model T. I do not have a starter on my 1923 pickup and have always had to hand crank my T. In the many times I have started it, I have only twice cranked it with the spark retarded. Each time it was in a hurried moment and I rushed through my normal and methodical routine. Both times the motor backfired and pulled the crank sharply out of my hand. It caused a momentary stinging in my hand but no broken wrist or thumb since I had my thumb tucked behind the crank as the old timers taught me.
After watching YouTube videos of people hand cranking their T's, I realized that there are many ways to hand crank. I was taught to grab the crank with my right hand with my thumb tucked behind the crank. I generally engage the crank down at a 6 o'clock position and pull it up sharply to a 12 o'clock position. Obviously, the direction is clockwise. When the engine is warm, the cranking is ridiculously easy. When the engine is cold I have had to resort to "winding it." Obviously, I do not like to do that but it gets the job done on a cold winter morning.
What is advised?
I know about spark lever, gas lever, carb mixture, choke, and ignition settings. Each Model T is different and each one will teach you its requirements.
Mark, that is exactly the way I was taught to do it, clockwise from 6 to 12 with the thumb tucked. Some people prefer starting a 1 and using their foot and pushing it to 6...never tried it myself as the other way works best for me. I normally crank it right handed so I can choke if necessary but if it's warm I do use my left.
Just my nickles worth.
If your T backfires with the spark lever all the way up, your T is either incorrectly timed, or there is a short (ground) in a wire at or from the timer. Firing order 1=2=4=3. When cranking a T on "Mag", set your spark lever approximately ½ inch from full up.
I quess I never thought about why I use the right hand until you reminded me that I need to use the left hand to pull the choke on a cold start. At this point some of these things are second nature.
I have long suspected that my commutator is incorrectly timed. I have been performing searches on various topics in this forum and need to check the bend on my spark control rod to get the proper timing. I have always started my T's on Bat and never tried to start on Mag. I probably could because I have strong, recharged flywheel magnets but I need to send my magneto field coils to Wally Szumowski and my ignition coils to Ronald Patterson. I quess I would have the magneto backup for starting if my battery were dead. I definitely notice that the engine runs better on a good magneto. I even notice the engine's RPM's go up a little bit, ignition coils make a louder buzz, and the engine feels stronger when I change the switch from the 6 volt battery to the magneto.
I am a strong proponent of kick-starting. There are several reasons.
(1) You're standing up, looking at the spark lever. It's harder to forget where you left it.
(2) You've got the radiator neck to hold on to, and a fender to lean back against.
(3) You get a faster spin than you can get by hand. And, you will get tired later if she is giving you trouble that day.
(4) In the event of a backfire, it's possible you could be deposited on your rump, but not nearly as likely a limb will get broken.
(5) Again in the event of backfire, if something is to be broken, I'd a whole lot rather it be a leg than an arm. I could get around on crutches for a while, but I can't write or properly pick my nose with a broken arm.
As to the issue of choking, every instruction I have read indicates you should crank a couple of turns with the choke on, but the ignition OFF. Then, turn on the ignition and crank to start. It's the start-cranks that I suggest are better done by foot, not the choke-cranks.
As you said, every T is different. These comments are based on my own experience.
The pain was so excruciating I lay down on the ground and passed out. When I came to, I got up and drove to the hospital. Years later that right wrist is still a little stiff. That experience made me a believer: NEVER, EVER, crank over the top. How I do it: WITH THE IGNITION OFF pull out the choke with the left hand and pull the crank up a couple of strokes with the right. THEN turn the ignition on, engage the crank at about 7 or 8, and pull up with the left hand. A kickback is likely to throw your left hand out of the way. If you use the right hand to pull, the crank may spin back around and whack it before you can get it out of the way.
It's better to not get the car started than to break your arm or leg. As the sergeant used to say on Hill Street Blues, "Let's be careful out there."
You must have been talking to my wife who is an ER nurse. I have never broken anything more than a big toe. I cannot imagine a broken leg or broken wrist.
Ouch!! Lots of sympathy. In my humble experience, when the engine backfires you do not have time to think about getting out of the way. Both times it happened to me, the crank had spun around 2 or 3 times before I thought about getting out of the way.
T and its associated ignition system was specifically designed to run on the mag and not the battery which is why the T run soooo much better on mag. I get about 10MPH on mag vs batt.
If the rod is set correctly, then I'd verify the wiring on the timer as well. I've seen folks get it backwards at the timer or at the coilbox or get a wire swapped on the timer.