Two of my Ts are a result of extensive searches for correct model parts to build a complete car. The bodies are both commercial types, a van and a shooting brake.
Three others are restored originals, a tourer, a Tudor and a roadster buckboard. Now I have my Wide body Duncan and Fraser roadster on the way, and it poses a new quandry.
The original Ford mudguards and splash panels are way beyond restoring. They are rusted beyond recall. I have a good set of original replacements put aside. The unique body suffers from the usual rot in the timbers along the bottom, and the panels are rusted out too. They will need new replacement timbers and it will probably be better to make new flat panels than try to graft replacement sections along the bottom of each panel. The doors will need re-skinning too.
I have a Ruckstell to replace the rear axle and the front end was so badly worn, most of it will be swapped for much better parts. Which brings me to the frame. It is extensively rust pitted from the rear pan mounts back. While still straight, it will require a lot of filling and some attention to the front cross member. I have a much better one just sitting in storage, but if I swap them over, what have I really got left of the original car?
The engine block is yet to be stripped and inspected. I want to save it if at all possible, as it is the only identifiable piece original to the car, given it has the engine number.
I have a set of 23" Hayes wire wheel to replace the wonky 21" wooden wheels, which I think are replacements anyway.
So, have will I still have an original, restored car, or another collection of parts?
Allan from down under.
Lets see, mmm, dads axe has had 6 new handles and 2 new heads, but it's still dads axe!
Many years ago, Denis Jenkinson wrote in Motor Sport about restoring a Bugatti. As it was to be raced, lots of parts were being replaced. One day, a fresh faced lad arrived, explained he was trying to rebuild a Bugatti and asked if he could rummage through the reject pile. Taking pity on the impoverished lad, Jenks said he could have anything he wanted, so the lad came back as the project progressed and took away the scrap stuff.
Months later at a Bugatti Club meet, Jenks hears the young man's voice behind him - Well, I have car Bxxx in pieces at home, just need a few more bits and I'll start the rebuild. Jenks is about to spin round and say - But I own Bxxx! when he realises, no the man is right, he has the car, my car is a repro!
I have always marveled at stories of rare vehicle restorations in which a complete vehicle was built starting with a bare engine block, or nothing more than a frame or fender, and every other piece was hand fabricated or machined, and the entire body was hand beaten from sheet metal by a super talented craftsman. How is this a restoration?
Much like Frank's axe, there was a story in one of the 4x4 magazines several years ago about a '69 Ford F250 4x4. Over the years it had gotten a suspension lift, bigger tires, etc. Then the owner decided to go "all out" with a full custom made frame, super lift suspension, five-ton military truck axles, and huge tires, monster truck style. Now the engine wasn't up to par, so a full blown big block chevy went in along with special trans and transfer case. Eventually he rolled the truck and the body was damaged beyond repair so a later body ('78 maybe) was installed, but the article said it was still a '69 Ford F250!
While they're laying in a pile, you have a collection of parts. When fully assembled, you'll have a restored car.
After all this time, the majority of Model T's are a mix of parts from multiple cars and/or reproduction parts.
In a few years, you will be dead. The time you waste pondering what action to take
is time you could have been doing something to move forward.
I used to do the mental "lock-up" thing on taking a "wrong path", but the USMC put
it in my head that "doing nothing will get you killed". I apply that logic to my "lock-up"
moments and remind myself that the clock is ticking, I am mortal, and doing anything
is better than doing nothing at all.
Push forward, what ever you do !
There's a Latin expression for an ancient Greek philosophical concept; "Reductio ad Absurdum." According to Wikipedia, it's a common form of argument which seeks to demonstrate that a statement is false by showing that an untenable, or absurd result follows from its acceptance. For instance (again, according to Wikipedia):
There is no smallest positive rational number, because if there were, then it could be divided by two to get a smaller one. This is a mathematical proof by contradiction, arguing that the denial of the premise would result in a logical contradiction (there is a "smallest" number and yet there is a number smaller than it).
When I was younger, I unknowingly used a similar school of thought to try to comprehend basic principles of mechanical physics (like how a transmission or differential works). The point is; mentally taking a concept to its extreme is a quick and dirty way of determining for one's own self whether an idea might be a winner.
We've all head it said that "It's only original once." While true, taken to an extreme, the result is a $360,000 museum piece like this:
Now, let's go with "Reduction ad Absurdum" and take that already iffy concept to its ridiculous extreme: Back in 1962 (when a million dollars was worth a heck of a lot more than it is today), one of Andy Warhol's paintings of a Campbells soup can changed hands for 11.7 million bucks. In the same sense, a classic car, seen either as a work of art by a connoisseur or an investment by a speculator, is worth what somebody is willing to pay for it. But given $360,000 to spend on the car hobby, there's no way I'd go for the rusted hulk pictured above—and I don't give a flying flip what anybody thinks it's worth. The split-windshield '63 Corvette, nicely restored—however incorrectly with disc brakes and radial tires—would be ever so much more likely to get my nod.
But hey, that's just me. Okay, now I've taken a long, round-about route to get to the point I'm trying to make: Ford Flivvers are not a rare commodity. There will never be a shortage of beautifully restored Model T Fords to serve as historical references and to set the bar for winning awards. We're not talking Duesenbergs, Mercers and Pierce-Arrows, here; so while, yes, you are indeed the custodian of an historical relic (or several, as the case may be), the weight of that should not rest so heavily on your shoulders that you don't allow yourself to enjoy the darned thing. Adaptability is part of the warp & woof of the Tin Lizzie, a legitimate part of her history. Her charm is in her stalwart heart, however held together with bailing wire and duct tape; and her story is that of the common family man who struggled against the adversity of a robber-baron age, hanging on by his fingernails and scraping by through Dustbowl and Depression—and incidentally keeping his second-hand car running with a pocketknife, a pair of pliers and a big dose of improvisation.
I have a 19 hack that was painstakingly restored in the mid 50's.
Almost all the wood is original, the motor has never been rebuilt, and only the typical were parts have been replaced.
We have the original 1919 registration showing the motor number and a full ownership history
I was concerned about hurting the motor because it is somewhat loose and I heard horror stories about broken cranks, two piece valves etc. so I replaced it with a rebuilt 26 motor.
I was thinking about having the 19 motor rebuilt and putting it back in until my son said that I should keep it "as is" because once it is rebuilt it is not "original".
A bit like it is only original once.
Sometimes I wish I had "put together T" so I could "drive without care" but there is no room in the garage because we have an unrestored Model A taking up the room
Bob posts a picture of the Bugatti found in a lake. I was told that its discovery after so many years caused some embarrassment because the same chassis no is on a car in an expensive collection. In other words, someone found a book which said 'car xxxx is missing since 1939, assumed scrapped' so they built a repro and stung some collector nicely. Don't think we're quite there yet with Ts.
Yeah, when you are dealing with million dollar plus cars, you can afford to spend a lot of money replicating however much of it is missing. In some ways, that is a good thing. A lot of incredible cars from the Roger Baillion collection in France will be restored for future generations to appreciate only because the future value is there. It would be best if as much of the original car (basically any car) was preserved as part of that car, as is reasonably possible. Often, that is not always advisable.
Allen B, As long as you keep it mostly true to itself, I know whatever you do with it, it will be a wonderful representation of Australian bodied Ts. Whether you replace the frame or clean up that one won't really matter. A Rucktsell or not won't significantly change it. Restoring as needed, and preserving in general these pieces of history is important to being able to present them for people to see and understand their, and our, history.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
Let's see how it runs! The. Let's see how it looks. I it looks good and runs good you will enjoy owning it and the restoration is a success.
Allan, All the parts you mention, chassis, guards, axle etc could have all been damaged and replaced during its original life because of wear or an accident. So replacing them with like parts does not affect its originally in my view.
The body likewise needs to have poor sections repaired, something it would have had done if it was in service long enough for such deterioration took place. As an apprentice cars in a smash got replacement panels, most 1950-60 cars rusted so quickly they had new parts or were repaired with part panels also.
Restore it so it once again is in new condition, its gone past being an original surviver.