There is a current thread about whether engines were painted or not, and somehow early firewalls got in there too. I thought I should post this photo in case it might help anyone. This is an original 1913 firewall with some original finish. I sanded it down to bare wood in one area . I would say it was painted red then coated with shellac.
Looks very much like the original 1914 firewall I own. I agree it is a very reddish stain. Pictures often do not convey the accurate color, but this looks accurate.
From a tip I got from here, I used cherry gunstock stain, it matches the original very closely. You will need two bottles since they are small, and pricey.
Thank you Ray for the back up, as I was trying to explain in the previous thread that went off topic, about the firewall color. I realize it is hard to convey the accurate color in a picture, but your pic looks like the two original firewalls I have.
I guess there must be some differences in what we think of as dark cherry stain. If you are saying that Rays photo is the shade of your firewalls, I too say, that is the color of all the early firewalls i have. They do not look to be a dark cherry to me.
When you go to a cabinet maker or see dark cherry described in kitchen cabinet store,etc,
What they usually show is the shade below or even darker...
That said I do think a darker cherry stain,as the judging guidelines calls for, may look better but may not be correct.
Here's a couple more views
Yes, that seems to be the color and does not appear to be dark cherry.
And it certainly fits in with the description of "barn red".
I don't know how you get a better representation than what Ray has here that was found under the speedometer...
Here's the result of using Cabot Wood Stain, red oak, purchased at Lowes. Car is early 12. About three coats with steel wool in between, finishing by compounding and polishing.
Greg, I think we are splitting hairs. Maybe I shouldn't have used the word dark in front of the cherry red, but it is darker than what your firewall is. Your firewall has an orange cast to it, I'm not trying to say that is wrong, I have seen other firewalls your color of yours. The object of my post was not to say your color is wrong, it was to bring up the point that there are original firewalls out there that have the reddish cherry cast to them. Be they light, dark or in between. As everyone knows, there are hardly any absolutes in a researching Model T.
Hmmmm,.......there are Bing cherries, and then there are also Royal Anns,........???
It must have been the flash on my camera, my original looks just like Rays. Its not orange.
My only point is that I don't see any of what I would call dark cherry on a any of my original dashes. They are all,if the are clean and have been protected behind something for years, that red you see in Rays.
I think some people actually think the dark or black that seems to run in the wood grain which I believe is soot or dirt, is part of the original paint. Ergo, dark cherry.
Im about to have my new 1912 dash stained so Im kind of anxious about getting it right. Assuming there is a correct standard color..
The red color on the firewall seems to me to be some kind of paint, the way it is so imbedded in the wood grain. When I tried to duplicate the color and finish on some scrap cherry plywood I achieved the best results by spraying some red paint I had from a rattle can on the cherry, wiping it off slightly, and then wiping some other stain over that. Not something most guys would want to do to their new firewall.
I imagine there had to be a quick way of finishing the firewalls back around 1913, with so many being required. I can see that by spraying, hosing, or dipping the firewalls in some thin color solution that they could achieve the fast and consistent results they needed. So I wonder what they did.
interesting subject you bring up there . The idea of shellac never occurred to me .
It was used typically on old english mahogany furniture to give it a very shiny and hard gloss . It had to be rubbed in circles with a cloth soaked in a shellac solution several times . It is difficult to apply properly. It was also used to insulate electrical copper wire .
It gives the typical color like where the odometer was in your picture .
I have a similar color on the firewall of my 1913 touring . See the picture .
I was told it was the original plywood . Any idea how the blisters can be removed ?
Isnt that the veneer pulling off?
Should not be plywood , it should be a solid hardwood core with a veneer.
Here's a picture of my original 1914 firewall. The under hood area is indicative of the original color.
Beyond doubt, the original color was much more red than orange, and rather bright red at that. I think it was Bill Glass who once told me that someone living during Ford's brass era once told him that the Ts were known then as "Red Board Fords."
I successfully duplicated the original red shellac, but alas, in use it fades quickly, even under 5 coats of UV resistant clear.
I did not find any evidence of red shellac when I rubbed the outer layer off with denatured alcohol, just brownish shellac. What was left under that looks like paint, and the alcohol did not affect it. If it was originally coated with a red colored shellac, wouldn't a red color show up when it was rubbed off? I'm no shellac expert so I'm just curious. Could it be that red colored shellac was used on earlier firewalls or coil boxes?
I've never heard of red colored shellac. I've done a quite a bit of antique furniture refinishing and orange shellac was used extensively in the old days. It imparts a beautiful amber finish but is very difficult to work with.
With respect to Ford firewalls, it makes complete sense to me that the wood was painted and then shellaced, my guess is orange shellac. Ray has pretty much nailed it down.
Some points have been missed here. one being that a name is a poor indication of an actual color. You only have to check out different stain or paint makers to find each has its own take on what a particular color may be.
A particular stain applied to wood will result in different colors because the wood itself has color. It would be highly unlikely the timber used to make the dashes would have been sourced to only allow a certain original wood color so that all the dashes came out exactly the same. There would have been a wide range of colors from lighter to darker.
Each tree would cut up into its own tone, cut up many trees to produce a lot of dash boards and you will get the effect that you always have with timber surfaces ( floor boards, wood panelling, furniture, several shades varying from dark to light.
If the woodwork is high end such as top class furniture the French Polisher (person who finishes fine furniture) would use several products to aid in matching any big differences in the timber color.
He could add stain or various stains to parts or he could bleach dark areas to match light sections if the light color was wanted. I don't think the Model T ever had such a high end specification on it even early on.
In all the early books on painting vehicles and coaches or wagons (1890- 1923) I have they describe the finish used on timber for a wood grain finish as using a water or oil stain color (not a spirit stain) followed by a Varnish coating not shellac.
All the varnishes were not a water clear product, even today most clear finishes have a yellow tone to them. Only the top quality ones are truly clear and its only been in the last 20 years this has been obtained satisfactorily. If you put on a red stain and followed it with a varnish the yellow varnish would combine with the red stain and the end result would be a lighter "ORANGE" color.
Shellac was and has always been known to be terrible as a finish on exterior surfaces. It very quickly breaks down if exposed to sunlight and is only recommended for interior use on furniture, toys, wood trim internally on houses. In none of the books is shellac even mentioned as a finish for any part of a vehicle.
If shellac is present probably someone other than one whose job it was to paint or refinish the dashes did so after the car left the factory.
I double checked on your comment about peeling veneer and plywood . you can see in the picture it is plywood all right : 5 layers including 2 black ones .
Anyone to comment on this ?
Transparent varnish would have been made simply with linseed oil in those days. That would have a natural tendency to darken by old age , air oxidation or sunlight . It is the typical problem of old paintings . The old protective varnish makes them dull and is clearly visible in white paint brush strokes for instance . Once removed the paintings appear incredibly fresh .Synthetic varnishes , acrylic , etc , do not change color .
Never seen a plywood one other than a reproduction. I have only seen solid cores.
But John Regan would know for sure, if he is lurking out there....
That has to be a reproduction firewall. Its possible that if Ludo's car came from the US after 1960 that his firewall was made by my father Robert Syverson, or even by me later on. The original firewalls had a strong solid wood core with cherry veneer on both sides. That kind of "plywood" is not available anymore unless custom made or doityourself. John Regan would or still does make up firewalls by laminating cherry veneer to a solid maple core.
ray is correct.
i have a John Regan firewall with the solid core. Beautiful...
In as much as the firewalls were stained, as Ray Syversons example, I wonder why the veneer had to be cherry? It seems to me it could have been birch or some other veneer, which would have been cheaper than cherry.
I expect Ford used what ever veneer that was cheapest that week that was strong enough for the job. My experience is that Birch is not too strong. I kinda doubt Ford would have used Birch, but who knows?