My first intimate acquaintance with Model N, motor number 116 came the summer after finishing high school. I secured a job as ‘grunt’, a telephone linesman’s helper. Boss Linesman, Jim Scoon had purchased his predecessor’s Ford roadster, Model N motor number 116 along with annexing the job. He’d had no previous ‘auto’ experience and knew only what he’d discovered through his short experience, through actual trial-and-error methods.
An order came through to Jim for the installation of a phone in a yet uncompleted house in a new land development, 30 miles ‘in the sticks’ from home base. It required the building of half-a-mile of line through a newly plowed field and we loaded tools and ourselves into the Model N and set out to attack the job.
We reached the site without incident and turned off the road to follow wagon tracks along the route the line was to be built. The Model N’s tread being narrower than the tracks left by wagons, denied our car use of but one track at a time. The unfavored wheels opposite were therefore compelled to make their own way through the deep soft soil of the freshly plowed field. The Model N’s motor buzzed determinedly and I thought alarmingly, as Jim ‘low-pedalled’ toward our destination. Steam spouted from around the N’s radiator cap and the odor of hot oil would have stopped wiser operators. But we, along with practically every person of the period, were mechanically dumb. What need had there been prior to the coming of the ‘autos’ for mechanical knowledge?