I'm painting the frame on my coupelet and was wondering if the frame was completely assembled then painted. Or were individual pieces assembled painted. Would the spring brackets and associated hardware been painted or left natural?
If you are talking about the frame's manufacture, it was first assembled and then painted. All were primed completely, but some frames had only their outside surfaces finish painted. I believe that most did, however.
The rear spring hardware would probably have had some thin gloss black slobbered over them with a brush by hand; the fronts, at least in the later black era, were painted with two baked coats as part of the complete axle assembly.
FMC painted the frame and sub assemblies before final assembly of the chassis.
In Arnold and Faurotes The Ford Methods and the Ford Shops they show a diagram of the rear axle painting machine. The grease cup holes were plugged and the assembly lifted by the u-joint over a vertical tank. The tank was raised completely submerging the axle up to the u-joint ball. Then the tank was lowered and axle was allowed to drip before it was moved and hung over a drip pan until the paint was dry enough to handle.
Similarly, the frame itself was dipped painted. In the collections of the Benson Ford Research Center is a collection of 4 photo images showing a Model T frame being dip painted. The frame was placed in a long horizontal tank of paint then it was picked up in a vertical position where it was transferred to a small carousel over a drip pan. After hanging over the drip pan it was removed and put into a paint drying oven.
For the most part, Model Ts were painted piece by piece.
To add to Trent's description I found it interesting that in one of my books it tells that the dip tanks only had 2 inches of enamel paint with only water underneath. This way the process would not need massive quantities of paint .
Trent, do you know the dates of the frame painting photos you mentioned?
The springs were not black. They were a graphite black paint mix. A good like system is tractor graphite brush on paint.