Were the low cowl T's wood firewalls painted before they were installed? I'm thinking they were assembled as a complete unit and then put on the bodies.
If they were they must have been painted with some kind of semi-gloss paint or no paint at all.
I have the remains of one and it seems to have been painted with some of type flat black paint. Some have painted them but I want to be authentic in my restoration as I can reasonably get.
I will be installing the firewall soon as I have the body painted.
My '17 has its original firewall and original black paint on it. It looks to me that it was painted black before all the wiring, coil box, etc were installed. It would have been painted before being installed to the body, because the firewall was installed on the chassis before the body in 1917.
This is a picture from Bruce's book showing the unrestored "Rip Van Winkle" 1917 firewall. The car has under 20 miles since new. It's firewall is glossy black.
For what year?
The first photo below is on the assembly line c.1914. The firewall (dash) clearly shows some soft reflections near the hood former. (Zoom in to view.)
The second photo shows the firewall assembly on later years. I'm not quite sure of the year but I have it noted as c.1915. It shows the firewall pretty much flat black. Also note that the steering column is bear metal so there would have been a later paint process. I don't know if the column painting included the firewall but I doubt it since it included the coil box and speedo.
On closer examination of the second photo, it appears the steering column is painted but has a protective cover. So in this case (year), the dash may have remained flat black.
Mine had the original wood firewall in it when we pulled it out of the barn where it had sat since the 30s. It was painted black.
I would think the firewall would have been painted before any assembly. Also the steering column. Too much work to paint around extra pieces. Steering shaft and spark rods may have not been painted at all.
In the foreground it shows some columns with the protective wrapping. Notice the spittoon on the left side of the photo. If you look at an original firewall you can tell they were painted before any assembly.
Thanks for the info. The wood firewall that I have or whats left of it has some type of long faded paint on it.
I am restoring a 21 Touring and was thinking to paint it with black gloss spray paint.
I have a feeling Ford painted the wood firewalls with the same paint as the body. At least in the 17-22 era.
I haven't researched it but it 'seems' like he would since he probably had barrels and barrels of the Japan black to use. My opinion
I doubt it. There would be no need to use Japan black on the wood. For the body, only the fenders were dipped. The body was "painted" with a black base that was flat black. The shine came from the clear varnish that was flowed on after the interior was installed. The last photo clearly shows the FW painted flat black. But hey, it's your car.
Unless you are certifiable, and totally OCD, nothing you do will be exactly like it was originally.
I want my cars to look like the could have been "ripped out of an original photo"! I want it to "look" right. That is me. Almost any paint you can get and use will be different, probably better, than the original. Make it look good and be happy.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
As pointed out, no one knows for sure exactly what the FW was painted with when new.
Depending on how 'pure' you want to be, no one can challenge you on this one. My own personal 'guess' view is that the FW was probably 'dipped' or 'flowed' with a black linseed oil mix. I base this on the fact that my own experience is that the 'finish' on originals is more of a stain than a 'paint'. I have never found one that peeled and whatever it is doesn't go all that deep. I certainly could be wrong with this 'guess', and just offer it as an idea.
Linseed would take a while to dry completely, but the mix could have had driers in it to make it skin faster, fully curing while it was on its way to the dealer. Just a hunch...and perhaps why the workers clothes are really groady in some of the pictures above. FWIW
I couldn't say for sure on a T, but on A's, the wood got a black wood preservative. Not sure what it was made from, but it was not the same as paint.
My wife's '18 Touring had its patent plate nailed to the firewall before the body was attached to the firewall. I can tell because part of the patent plate is sandwiched between the firewall and the sheet metal of the body. Since I doubt they would have masked off the patent plate when painting the car, I can only assume the firewall was painted (or 'preserved') before the patent plate was attached, and also that the body was painted before being attached to the firewall.
See Trent Boggess paint article in the encyclopedia, "All Model T's were black":
"Wood Model T parts were painted with an entirely different paint. Unlike fenders and hoods which could withstand oven baking temperatures of 400 to 450 degrees, wood dashes, wood wheels and even bodies, which had quite a bit of wood reinforcement in them until 1925, could not stand such high temperatures. So these parts were painted with multiple coats of air drying color varnish.
Air drying color varnishes differ from their oven drying counterparts in several respects. While they were still based on linseed oil, asphaltum was omitted and instead rosin was combined with the oil. Rosin is derived from the distillation of oleoresin from pine trees. When cold, the rosin is a brittle, solid material. The rosin must be heated before it can be combined with the drying oils to form the paint. The inclusion of rosin in the paint tends to retard gelling and results in a relatively quick drying varnish.
The oil and rosin gums in the air drying paints made up 44 - 60% of the paint. These paints frequently used lead and manganese as dryers, which constituted about 1 - 2% of the paint. Thinners were made from a combination of turpentine and petroleum naphtha and accounted for 39 - 52%. Carbon or lamp black was frequently used as pigments, making up from a trace to up to 33% of the paint. All of these paints required 24 hours to dry at a temperature of 80 degrees."
From the list of paints used during the black era:
F-183 Sedan Sanding Surfacer Prime coat on wooden body parts (Air dried)
F-189 Dash Oil Primer First coat on dash (Air dried)
F-190 Dash Velvet Finishing Second & third coat on dash (Air dried)
Exactly right, Roger. All evidence points to dashes being painted with body paint. Gloss Black.
Not sure I agree with the gloss black on the firewall. I don't think it was a flat black either. My opinion is it was a kind of satin or semi-gloss finish, same as was used on all of the other wood parts. Most likely it was a thin coat and the grain of the wood was visible. For wood parts I usually use a thin coat of semi-flat black and it seems to match the original pretty close.
F-190 Dash Velvet Finishing Second & third coat on dash
Dunn-Edwards paint defines velvet as looking flat when viewed head on, but having a slight gloss when viewed from an angle. It is positioned between a flat and and eggshell finish.
Interesting information to be sure. I guess if its black in color it will work.
Thanks for the information. I still think that Ford would have used the most common black that he had available at the time.
There's no Ford internal reference to any semi flat paint. I think if you were going to try to make a case for that you would need to cite some sort of evidence. For example; original unrepainted vehicles that have semi gloss firewalls, or a factory document that lists a special non glossy paint for firewalls only.
Even in the Model A era, and into the 1950's, Ford continued to use body color paint for firewalls.
I think Roger just provided the evidence.
F-190 Dash Velvet Finishing Second & third coat on dash
According to the gloss guide, Velvet finish is not a gloss finish. It's one step above flat.
Also, look at the rest of the wood in the body. It is not a glossy black, but not exactly flat either. Look at original floor boards. The wood is not glossy but the metal trim pieces are. The firewalls were not attached to the body when it was painted so there is no reason to think that it had to be painted the same as the body.
Later cars don't count. They had metal firewalls which were part of the body. They would have been painted at the same time as the body so would have used the same paint. The wooden firewall was finished separately and installed on the chassis before the body. Completely different situation.
John, Ford had several different formulations of black paint. The paint/varnish used on the body was different from the enamel paint used on the fenders and chassis which was different from the "paint" used on the wooden parts. So you can't say he had lots of paint for the body and that's what was used for everything. That is definitely not the case.
A few years back I painted mine with flat black rustoleum thinned with mineral spirits.
Finally got the bodywork done and painted. Just finishing up on fenders.