I recently obtained a '15 runabout project the hard way. My father picked it about ten years ago and always dreamed of restoring it. Now that he's gone, I've decided to finish the project in his memory.
The main reason that he and I never put the car together earlier was that he and I couldn't agree on what to do with the body. I just couldn't see matching the wrinkled, lacey mismatched body panels that came with the project to the NOS fenders and splash aprons.
So, my question is: are the available repro three piece body panel sets accurate dimensionally and are they good quality? Will they fit an original seat riser? I've got a good cowl and all the irons. I just need better tin. If the repro panels aren't up to snuff, I'll just keep looking for a complete body.
Don't know about the 15 era bodies but I do know the 17-22-23 bodies were made by up to 5 different body makers.
The body panels that Howells sheet metal makes and sells fit my 21 Touring pretty close.
They had a few very minor differences that I compensated for by slightly adjusting and etc.
Ideally I guess its best to have a good complete body but That's not always the case.
I have built 2 and now finishing up my 3rd T and when I had to purchase a new panel I always had to do a little fit up work.
I did buy an almost NOS deck lid for my 24 Coupe thinking it would just "drop in". NOT so!
After measuring it I found it was 3/8" out of square.
I have found that even on a complete original body
that things weren't always just right.
The main difference I found when doing my 15 touring was the seat tack rail around the top. Some have different ways of securing the wood to the top of the metal. If you are replacing the sides and the back, this should not be an issue as all three will then be the same. There are different seat risers, some all metal frames and some with wood. These should not cause a problem as they fit inside of the sides and attach to the wood framework.
There are no wood kits that I have seen in any of the catalogs, so if your wood is not good you will need to use them for patterns and make up your own. I was able to find someone in Minesota that sold me a wood kit he made up, but it was red oak and took a lot of adjusting. Some of the parts were just not usable (different style seat top).
Good luck with the project, show us some pictures, and don't be afraid to ask questions here. Some may tell you to just search past posts, but others will give you good guidance, even with pictures.
Oh, yes, Rootlieb has the best panels.
Eric, I had not heard of your dad's passing. I am very sorry for your loss. I enjoyed being around him on tours and other T activities. I really enjoyed being around all the Hylen family. My best to you and your family.
Same here. Sorry to hear of his passing.
Wayne & Warren,
Thanks, you fellas understand how close my father and I were. We spent countless hours working on Model Ts and even enjoyed a little time driving them. (several thousand miles per year).
It looks like my original question is a moot point. The Lang's catalog that shows the panels is out of date and I can't find the roadster body panel set listed on any of the big web sites anymore.
Dad dreamed of finishing this car for a long time. I intend to restore it in his memory. That means that it had to be the very best that I'm capable of doing it.
I'm sorry to hear of your loss Eric.
Sorry to hear of your dad passing away.
Have you tried calling Tom Rootlieb? Here's a link:
Glad to see you on the Forum. If you decide to get some new ones and Howell's is your only option you need to order them yesterday. Have been waiting for some C-Cab stuff since last February. If they fit as nice as the cowl pieces they sent me for the C-Cab, then you better stick with what you have.
Not sure but I don't think Rootlieb has body panels. THey have running board shields, fenders and a few other body parts but not panels. I could be wrong.
The only source I know for the panels themselves is Howells sheet metal. Most all of the sheetmetal parts that the vendors sell is made by Howell's. The fenders (T's) usually come from Rootliebs. Snyders has a few panels that are made in Sweden.
I live here in Texas and for the most part Howell's has sent my parts within a month.
If you are building a T and if you can go to Chickasha in March its usually best to buy your sheet metal there as they always bring a large trailer full.
I have had the best luck contacting them very early or very late in the day.