Engine serial numbers, curious data point from Bakersfield

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Model T Ford Forum: Forum 2014: Engine serial numbers, curious data point from Bakersfield
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Wayne Sheldon, Grass Valley, CA on Monday, April 14, 2014 - 05:01 pm:

I picked up an engine at Bakersfield. Being very much into Horseless Carriages, I of course was hoping it would be a pre-January engine, but by the serial number it was not to be.
That is where the curious point comes in.
It has been discussed on this forum numerous times in the past about how quickly blocks went from casting to complete engine at that time. I have had for awhile a block that was cast on December 8, 1915, with a serial number indicating it was a completed engine late in the day on the 13th of that same December. Merely five days later.
The engine I got at Bakersfield was cast on October 22, 1915, more than six weeks before the other block. However, the serial number indicates a motor built on 21st day of January '16, more than five weeks after the other engine. A rather big shift.
Of course, it is possible that the October cast block became a stock replacement and could have sat in the parts supply chain for quite awhile before the January car needed a replacement. It would have then been given that car's number.
Just some points to ponder.

Another related curiosity I saw at Bakersfield.
I looked at an early '14 block, if I recall correctly, it was cast about December '13. What was interesting about it, was that inside the crankcase, the inner molds for casting the block were different. I forget which end was which, but one of them was the earlier version with the earlier and larger embossment for block machining. The one that is rounded. The other one was the later, smaller, and square version.
I had never noticed one like that before.
Just another curiosity to ponder.
I would like to have gotten that block, but it was just out of my budget reach. I was glad to get the other one, because it was priced right! Thank you Erik.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Greg Griffin on Monday, April 14, 2014 - 07:12 pm:

My block has a casting date of 3-30-14, the serial no. (589893) indicates an assembly date of 9-29-14. That's 6 months! First in, last out I guess.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mike on Monday, April 14, 2014 - 07:22 pm:

I doubt if the concept of FIFO (first in, first out) had been adopted back then. The variation could have been the result of the foundry banking up a bunch of blocks at various times to allow for plant maintenance or vacation schedules that would affect when any particular block casting would get pulled to the machine shop & onto assembly.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Philip Berg on Monday, April 14, 2014 - 08:32 pm:

My 16 coupelet block has a cast date of 11-12-15 and was the third (970,533) engine assembled on 11-18-15.

Six days for seasoning, not a fine wine for sure.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rich Chillingworth on Monday, April 14, 2014 - 10:47 pm:

Wayne, I saw your block at the Bakersfield swap meet and was pretty sure it was a 1916 model and instead paid more for the other 1915 cast block at the same vendor. Its casting date is 4-27-15 with an assembly date of 5-1-15. Not much aging. However, I also own a 1917 block cast 4-3-17 and assembled 4-4-17. Hardly time to cool before machining! Perhaps not optimal, but production needs may have necessitated such at the time.

Rich C.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Barry Fowler - Eagle River, Alaska on Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - 12:29 am:

Phillip: My 15 Coupelet has a similar seasoning time. Cast date 1/31/15 - Assemble date 2/8/15


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Hap Tucker in Sumter SC on Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - 06:55 am:

Just a reminder the date listed next to the serial numbers for the 1915 and on are the date the serial number was listed on the daily log books of the engine assembly department of the Ford Motor Company (ref page 501 Bruce's book). For an engine assembled at the main plant that date was the date the engine was assembled. For an engine that was assembled at a Branch Plant, it would have been assembled later. And the engine may or may not have been placed into a car/chassis that same day.

It is always good to add additional data points. Sometimes they confirm what has already been accepted as truth and sometimes the tweak it a little and occasionally they send us back to the drawing board to say “how can the earth be flat if they can sail around it?”

Bruce McCalley’s excellent CDs contain additional information that is not included in the hard copy book that was published in 1994. It also contains lots of other books, pamphlets, etc. and can be ordered from:
http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/331880/333725.html?1357665853

Bruce shared under “Model T Ford Engine Serial Numbers and Casting Dates” the following summary:

For years it had been presumed that the
engine castings were “aged” for some time
before they were machined and assembled into
complete engines. Based on the examples
collected, this was far from the case. While
some of the engines were assembled much
later that they were cast, some were assembled
the same day they were cast. There appears to
be no real planned aging period; it is as if the
castings were piled in a heap and then
removed in a random fashion.
There are a number of questionable entries
in out compilation. Quite a few engines were
apparently assembled before their blocks were
cast! Even with Ford’s well-known efficiency,
this must have been a difficult task!
There are a number of possible reasons for
this seemingly impossible situation.
(1) The original engine had failed and its
serial number was stamped on a
replacement engine.
(2). The block was cast, machined, and
then shipped to another assembly plant
where the serial number was affixed. It is a
known fact that the Highland Park plant
shipped blocks of engine number certificates
to branches where engines were assembled.
If an engine was cast after a group of
numbers had been shipped, it is easy to see
how such serial numbers could pre-date the
casting date.
(3). It is possible that the serial number
and/or casting date was not clear and that
the person who tried to read them was in
error.


Bruce shared additional details including 9 1/2 more pages of serial numbers and casting dates. We can add the numbers that have been provided above as well as those that are shared in the future. He always wanted the information about our cars and how they were likely produced to continue to expand. So the goal is not to “squash” the thread – but to encourage folks to add to it.


Also for earlier blocks if folks could share what type of “freeze plugs” [yes, actually they are the core plugs] the block has -- either pipe thread or Welch (pushed in). Open or enclosed valves. And later blocks two piece or one piece valve covers etc. And the late 1926-27 blocks if the area between the cylinders has been punched out for the gas rod or not.

For additional information about the branch assembly plants that assembled engines and stamped the serial number that was provided by the main plant please see the posting at: http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/411944/435812.html where the summary below is taken:

From Bruce’s on-line encyclopedia at: http://www.mtfca.com/encyclo/sernos.htm he has:

“Engines were numbered when they were completed, and for the most part went into a chassis within a day or so. However, some engines were assembled and numbered at branch assembly plants. Highland Park would ship a block of engine-number records to an assembly plant and these engines might be made weeks or months afterwards.”

And he has a more detailed description on page 501 of his book “Model T Ford.” He commented that he used the daily log books of the engine assembly department of the Ford Motor Company. But that those books were only complete 1915 to the end of production. Engine logs prior to 1915 apparently were lost. He notes that the daily production figures for engines in 1913 and 1914 do exist. And he used those to produce the listing 1913 and 1914 working backwards from the 1915 ledgers that are still available.

He further comments on that same page 501:

“During the Model T era, great numbers of engines were assembled at the Ford branches. Apparently Ford printed engine number job sheets which were numbered in advance, and these were attached to engines being assembled. These job sheet numbers were stamped in to the cylinder block when the job was completed. Groups of these engine number records (not engines) were also shipped out, and these numbers were then stamped on the engines when they were completed at some Ford branch. Some of these record number shipments were noted, but most were not. As a result, while the Highland Park (or, later, the Rouge Plant) assembled engines on the days indicated, other blocks of engines might have been assembled days or weeks later.”

Respectfully submitted,

Hap l9l5 cut off


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dave Wells on Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - 10:03 am:

My block was cast Apr 1 1919 and the number was sent to the Long Island City branch plant nearly two months later on May 24 1919. While it would be easy to think that Highland Park would ship say 200 blocks and 200 numbers in a day, I'm guessing what really happened was they would simply keep the branch plant well stocked with unnumbered blocks which would be treated no differently than a pile of tierods. The block of 200 numbers would be sent as soon as 200 cars were planned for production. Does that sound about right?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Hap Tucker in Sumter SC on Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - 09:16 pm:

Dave,

Just to clarify a few things, you live in Canada but you have a USA produced 1919 Roadster. It has a serial number in the range 3,125,801 to 3,126,000. Those 200 serial numbers are listed as being sent to the Long Island assembly plant on May 24, 1919 (ref page 519 of Bruce McCalley’s “Model T Ford” also on his CDs). Do I have all that correct?

Do you have any history on the car?

The plot thickens! We do not have a nice easy to read spreadsheet of which Assembly Plant produced how many of what type of Model Ts until calendar year 1921 (see page 463 of Bruce’s book). So we cannot look and see how many T’s an individual plant produced in 1919. But….Long Island is NOT included in the 1921 to 1927 calendar year production listings. Clearly Bruce’s listing from the Ford Engine logs indicates about 200 shipped to Long Island every day or every other day from about Jan 6, 1919 to Dec 31, 1919. [Some days none, some days 400 an occasional 600, and a few days two different lists were sent (we do not know if they were snail mailed, telegraphed, or how the serial numbers were sent). But basically they clearly had an engine shop that assembled Model T Engines. Perhaps and this is only a guess, perhaps Long Island did not produce actual cars but instead shipped their assembled engines and any thing else to the Kearny Ford Plant that was not very far away? For calendar year 1921 the Kearny Ford Plant is listed as 93,409 Model Ts (included TT and T chassis). If I do that rough average of 200 engines every other day for 12 months it is about 36,000 engines a year (one of these days I am going to remember to never do math in public again. But someone out there with better math skills will say it is within the ball park or point out a much better answer. Another question to look for an answer.

It would be great if we could have some additional inputs on how the engine blocks were stored before they were assembled into engines. I.e. if a room with one door going in, then first in might tend to be last out. Although you could stack things so you continually circled around the room putting in the newest items and taking out the oldest items etc.

George at: http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/411944/435812.html on a similar discussion By George_Cherry Hill NJ on Saturday, April 05, 2014 - 08:14 pm: shared: “I have shared before how I had the chance to do a facilities review at former Louisville circa 1978, and how it could have been extremely easy for something to get lost for a long, long, time (first in / last out)with the way the receiving stalls and in plant rail siding were arranged...but I got tossed then because I was just a kid and still get tossed (because now I'm just a cranky old man) when I say that HP wasn't lord of the realm who gave bread-crumbs to the branches.”

If someone has access to “The Ford Factories” by Sorenson, it might (or might not) provide some good additional information related to this area.

Based on the almost consistent every other day a group of 200 serial numbers was given to the Long Island Plant, I believe they were very regularly producing the engines. But for a couple of blocks to be left in the corner could easily happen. And it may turn out that it was more the norm than the exception.

Note I also looked at Bruce’s list of casting dates, serial numbers, and engine log entries. I saw 4 that had at least 2 months difference between the casting date and engine log date. But when I tried putting the information into a spread sheet it kept switching the date from 1920 to 2020. NONE of those were from the Long Island listed engines. BUT, Bruce stopped listing the Long Island engines with the last 400 noted as sent to Long Island Dec 31, 1919. He commented that they continued to send groups of serial numbers to Long Island and other branches but he did not include them in the listings as they did not appear to add much to the data. (ref page 523).

Thank you for sharing. If anyone else has a 1919 engine with a serial number from the Long Island listings – we would love to know what the casting date on your engine block is. [And yes, there may be a few in the serial numbers, casting dates, that Bruce compiled. But I have not had time to compare them. If anyone else does – please let us know what you discover.]

Respectfully submitted,

Hap l9l5 cut off


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dave Wells on Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - 09:37 pm:

Hap, yes the info you have regarding my car is correct. The only history I have is it is from a state near the Long Island plant but I forget which one. Thanks for the info. Your postings are always the most interesting. Dave.


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