My center door wheels are natural wood finish. There is testimony that states that the only options on the car were the natural wheels. That comes from a family that owned it for 30 years or so but not from new. There seems to be some paint in the wood grain (or dirt or grease or soot). How might I identify the brand of wheel or otherwise figure out if they should be painted? I really don't care either way. Trying to stay original is important to me. Also if I must remove paint from the now black rims and the galvanizing is no good Is there a good place to have it done? (posting a picture is way to complicated for me)
I have yet to see a set of original wheels that came from the factory unpainted... there are a lot of people who will leave their restored or refinished wheels unpainted (or more accurately, clear varnished or varathaned) and I *have* heard one or two instances where a dealer would allegedly strip the wheels of paint as an option, but... think on this... the labor to strip factory paint from spokes would be pretty intensive, and for a car that cost + or - $500 new (likely -) the profit margin for doing this (plus violating Ford's rules for dealers) would be on the minus side of plausable...
I personally love the look of clearcoat wheels, and had them on the '20 (with zinc coated demountables - schweet!) but I can pretty much guarantee that ford never sold them as a factory option - as Ford didn't have "factory options" back then, and even the much esteemed Ruxstell rear axe was a dealer-installed option.
Hope I didn't burst a bubble...
Centerdoors were last offered in the USA in 1923. Ford USA did not offer from the factory all natural wood wheels as an option on Model T’s until 1925 ref: http://mtfca.com/encyclo/U-Z.htm#wheels scroll down to 1925. Also see: http://mtfca.com/encyclo/doc25.htm
Which says in part:
MAY 14, 1925 Factory Letter
NATURAL WOOD WHEELS announced. T-291-1 front wheel, balloon, with hub and less rim, at $5.50 each. T-2815G rear wheel, balloon, with hub and less rim, at $5.50 each. These were sold as a set to the dealer for $13.20. They were to be sold to the customer on an exchange basis (for black balloon wheels) for $15.00. Ford would allow a credit of $6.00 for the returned set.
I do not recall seeing anything about the 30 x 3 1/2 clincher wood wheels being offered in a natural finish. If someone else has any documentation on that, please let us know. If you are not having the car judged – feel free to do it either way. And of course you can have one set for driving and another set for judging.
Hap l9l5 cut off
Ford factory wood wheels were painted, up to 1925 when varnished finish was an option, if desired,or not.
Now perhaps your center door sedan was fitted at some time with aftermarket wood wheels, demountable, those could have been natural wood finish from the aftermarket company, many were sold in the 1917-1921 time frame just as Ford was making demountable wheels available. You could specify black or natural finish.
I am completely aware that my car had black wheels when built. The story is that the nat finish wheels were put on at the dealer. If this is the case I will keep them like that. Any way to tell if these were an after market brand? I believe the story is weak because the car was 2 years old when acquired by that family. Interestingly I have a letter from the H.F. museum addressed to that family that says nat finish wheels were supplied by dealers and could be considered correct. The letter is from the early 60's. If the wheels are factory issue there gonna be black.
Generally the aftermarket styles will have 5 lug demountable rims.
Assume your wheels on the '22 Center Door are metal fello, demountable rim, where there are lug bolts and nuts holding the clincher rim onto the wood spoke wheel. Ford factory wheels would have only 4 lugs.
While the letter from Les Henry is nice, most facts point to Ford only supplying black finish, hard to imagine a Ford agent / dealer, being able to order 'varnished' spoke wheels from the local Branch Assembly plant, or for that matter, Dearborn main factory.
If your desires are factory showroom look, black wheels are correct. The rims would be galvanized when new.
If you are preserving your family tradition, leave the wheels natural, many Ford owners do this today, looks good either way to me.
Factory new look
Aftermarket wheels with varnish finish look