Are the 1913 Touring's safe to drive? I understand that the rear end did not have a cross member, and along with the lack of sills it made the body very weak. The problem was corrected in the 1914 model year with the addition of a cross member and shorter doors with a sill. If a 1913 Touring has not been altered, is it safe to drive? May sound like a dumb question but I'm not familiar with that year car and am considering purchasing one.
Ours was a very early 13 with all brass lamps and it did not have the after market body stiffener made of sheet metal and fit under the rear doors. When we rode with three in the back seat the rear doors would open under way. With the top up, the top kept the body rigid and the doors stayed shut. We trained the folks on the two outsides to hold the doors shut when we went over bumps.
It is always better to ask a dumb question than none at all. The best person to ask is Larry Smith. He has been driving a 1913 Touring for decades.
The rear "cross-member" per se, generally refers to the frame cross member. It is essentially the same on a '13 as it was on the '10s, '11s, and '12s. The change to the longer cross-member late in 1913 was a cost savings, not a strength issue. The earlier bodies, however, were built more like carriages with a box that had the rest of the body built onto it. The doors were higher and actually somewhat resembled the later doors. The '13 was the first "more modern" Ford touring body with the seat, sides, and doors built more integral up from simple "body sills". It was sort of an engineering "oops". The sills simply were not ridged enough to hold the entire rear tub (earlier cars had a seat set and bolted on top of that "box") steady enough. In mid-year '13, Ford added steel inside the sills below the doors and floor to help stabilize the rear tub on the thousands of bodies already built and until a better solution was in production. Sometime, late in '13 model year, the so-called '14 style touring and also runabouts started showing up.
I wish I had a '13 touring. Safety, however, is a relative term. I would use it, a lot. IF I felt it was needed, I would devise some mostly hidden bracing. The only thing better than a '13 T, is something earlier.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
safe to drive, fun to drive, pretty cool to look at too.
1913's are a great looking car; most of the early 'T's have their issues. 1909/10's I hit my head constantly on the front hood bow getting into the front seat. 1911's have no doors and open like the earlier 'T's to the weather. 1912's typically break the body in half just behind the rear doors. 1913's the bodies break, the windscreen folds forward away from the driver. The list continues.
I say just take any 'T' you are lucky enough to driver or own and enjoy the open road!
If Beaudett (also spelled Beaudette) was the body maker that produced the 1913 body, it tends to be stronger. See: http://www.mtfca.com/encyclo/A-B.htm scroll down to 1913 where it says:
JUL 14, 1913 Acc. 575, Letter 434, Ford Archives
Noted that 1913 Touring bodies were made by Herbert, Fisher, Wilson, and Beaudett. Apparently the Beaudett bodies differed in construction from the others. Beaudett bodies with a filler block on the rear door hinge posts apparently did not need the steel reinforcing pieces.
If it was a Beaudett body it normally will have a "B" embossed on the front seat heel panel as shown on a 1913 loose panel below:
If it has a "B" it normally would be a Beaudett body [assumes parts have not been swapped around on the body].
Note even the later 1914-1925 bodies "IF" the wood sill becomes damaged or rotted can have the rear doors pop open when you hit a bump etc. But even when new from the factory, the 1913s tended to have that problem. As pointed out above it can be corrected. And of course Ford issued a kit to be installed by the dealers to fix the problem. See: http://www.mtfca.com/encyclo/doc13.htm and read the body bracket paragraphs.
Note also that any of the late 1913s evidently did not need the reinforcements:
MAR 4, 1913 Letter, Ford to the Cincinnati branch
"In attaching the Touring Car body reinforcing brackets, be sure they are fitted 1/8" to 3/16" from the top of the frame so that when the bolts are put in it will pull the sill down. Unless the sill is sprung down 1/8" or so when the bracket is attached but little benefit will be derived by the reinforcement. All bodies coming through from now on will be fitted with heavier sills so that attachment of extra brackets will be unnecessary."
For additional information on the 1913 reinforcement brackets please see:
If you plan to carry several large adults in the back seat it can be more of an issue than if you have light weight passengers.
Hap l9l5 cut off
How do I get in touch with Larry Smith?
Wow, thanks for all the helpful information! Again, I am truly amazed at all the wisdom on this site and appreciate all the comments.
I've got over 50,000 miles on my early '13 touring. I don't see a problem. Yes the early touring bodies are weaker than the later ones, but they still manage to work.
Just to add to the research, my 13 is a late June car, with original wood, has a fisher body with no body reinforcements of any kind, and has never had the rear doors come open.... and I live one mile back on a rough, West Virginia dirt road.
If you land yourself a 13... enjoy it Wilber!