Sorry if this gets windy…but a few thoughts…
Folks mentioned that they may like to know a bit more about basic metallurgy and what was what in the T. I’m not volunteering yet, but I can see the day that I could/would.
I’ve started many research projects over the years on other things Ford T that Bruce didn’t get around to, and learned one big life lesson…maybe Bruce did get around to and there is a reason Bruce didn’t get to the bottom of the barrel! Lot’s of circular logic prevails on the pickles in the barrel the longest and at the bottom.
I’ve done some pretty deep research on Ford metallurgy and have come to some strong conclusions and opinions that a bunch of it was indeed ‘smoke and mirrors’ as PR to keep Fordism as Fordism. I’d like to leave those opinions aside were I to do anything here for the hobby as a reference tool.
As an example, it could be easy to simply ‘announce’ that EE steel was really nothing more than 1035 steel of today…but that would be making the exact same mistake the Chinese make today and we all grouse at what they do! For a steel to be ‘defined’ you need 2 factors…one is the chemical properties, and the other is mechanical properties. We have the Ford ferrous chemical properties and I could ‘guess’ at the average physical properties based on what I know the Ford furnaces to be at the time and where they started as to ore content purity…but then I’d be making the same mistake most low tier Chinese companies make today, so why even begin.
There is but one ‘key to the kingdom’ that I have never been able to find, that pickle in the bottom of the barrel. I have seen Ford drawings where they say to use ’60,000 psi steel’, and I have also seen Ford drawings that say to use something like- ‘A’ steel, heat treatment ‘E’ The later one is a slam dunk, as I do have all of the actual Ford process sheets for hardening and annealing and I can reverse engineer what that tensile rating (and yield rating) is and then from chemical properties as original, figure out the ‘best’ for today…and already know in this A/E model I’m looking for Rc 56 as the hardness and how deep…neither under or over engineering what would be needed.
It’s that ’60,000 PSI’ type specification on the drawing that knocks me for a loop as in all of my work, I have never found a correlation sheet used by Ford to get the strength rating and the chemical rating to match up! Some will say, ‘Who cares…60K is 60K just look it up and find the cheapest” and perhaps they are correct. While possibly correct as a rationalization (meaning original engineering intent was for strength and they didn’t care what material was used) I’d feel a lot better if I could find that lone ‘key’ that would tie it all together if one does exist, because this ‘almost right’ type assumption is what gets the Chinese in trouble today…
So, anyone out there have something that shows the Ford grades by chemistry and tensile strength on one paper? Anyone have a drawing from BFM that includes both a strength rating and a material grade selection? If so, send me a PM with the correlation and bit by bit I could have the whole puzzle, and then would be glad to put it together for the good of the hobby.
Thanks again for volunteering your expertise, George, and all your expertise on this Forum.
The late Jim Eliot ran the model shop for Rockwell, Seal Beach, where they made the first two dozen GPS satellites, so he knew his stuff on the practical end. He told me he had a book from the 1930s that showed the strengths of materials. Ford steels were far better than others, per the book.
I have no idea what the book was, or where it went. Maybe a local T guy knows. How about it, Smith, Harris, Barney and Frank, or even Tom?
Thank you George, I always enjoy reading your explanations of things. I have intended to continue learning for my whole life, and am continuing to do so. Metallurgy is a subject that requires many large volumes to get the whole story. So any of us expecting a complete answer in a few pages would be woefully misinformed. You have the gift of giving simple and to-the-point explanations that most of the rest of us can understand.
Again, thank you!
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
Here is Ford EE Steel and Ford AA Steel:
This steel is virtually identical to AISI 1038.
Carbon .35 - .40
Manganese .70 - .90
Silicon: .07 - .15
Phosphorus .03 Max
Sulphur .05 Max
This steel is similar to but not exactly AISI 5130.
Carbon .26 - .30
Manganese .65 - .80
Chromium .80 - 1.00
Silicon .10 - .20
Phosphorus .03 Max.
Sulphur .04 Max.
In the 1938 SAE Handbook it can be gleaned that about 10 or 12 years AFTER those steels were used in the '26 and '27 crankshafts, the Society of Automotive Engineers made no mention at all of Silicon content, and was not bothered by Phosphorus content in the 0.040 - 0.045 range.
All...thanks for the comments.
John, you are indeed correct and not to digress, a big part of Fordism was that they developed their own grades in a world where actual grading of steel and other material had already begun. Some might be surprised that even with the Ford way, 'some' parts were made from 'select stock' produced within a heat- i.e. high end of the carbon range when made and set aside for use on these specific parts when needed. Ford fought using emerging national convention for the entire run of the T, and the 'A'...i.e, rolled threads not being used until the mid-20's, Ford ferrous and non-ferrous mixes that do not exactly match what the later AISI grades stated, a somewhat blind eye to SAE when it didn't match what Ford wanted to do or was doing.
FWIW, AT the TIME, it was thought that any Silicon under 1% was considered to NOT affect mechanical properties in any way. As to Phosphorous, it was somewhat of a PITA that went along with the steel making process, expensive to control, and it was felt that Phosphorous up to .04 (Note the Ford spec was .03)was 'OK' without any detrimental effects but above .04 you had to worry a bit if there was post manufacture heat treat designed for < .04 as wherever the phosphorous may be 'high' at a point, the adjacent iron molecules would then become 'low' by natural 'alchemy' and a standard heat treat would yield a lower than expected hardness.
Still looking for physical properties to chemical properties
My work has involved 24 and later Model T Fords. Virtually all the threads on these cars were rolled not cut. A rolled thread has a much higher fatigue resistance than a cut thread and I suspect was less expensive to produce.
No Ford specific properties - the afore mentioned 1938 SAE Handbook has physical property charts for 1035 and 5140 with both oil and water quench on the 1035 and just oil on the 5140, with draw temperatures ranging from 800 to 1300 F.
I just bought a 1926 copy of "Ford News" with an interesting long article about the steels used by Ford at the time.
I'll try to include the scans - will send them to George too.
Wonder how locomotive boiler staybolts wandered in to that write up on Ford steels?
They are used as an example of Fords success in developing better steel sorts. From the article: "The Ford Motor Company, however, has developed a material for staybolts, classified as N steel, which is, in every way, superior to the usual stay bolt material"
Six years prior to this paper being published, Ford had purchased the DT&I rail line and received 80 locomotives which all needed repair. I'm guessing they were very interested in boiler staybolts.