Engine serial number

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Model T Ford Forum: Forum 2014: Engine serial number
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Michael Conte on Friday, August 15, 2014 - 12:21 am:

Hello all
I recently purchased a 1924 Fordor Sedan; I say 1924 because the person I bought it from was going by the date on the front axle but that is the date the axle was made. As a new member to MTFCA I have many questions, this will be my first. I have been trying to figure out what the worn out numbers stamped on the engine are. I am hoping that people more familiar with the model T would have a better chance of seeing what’s there. Here is what I see.
The first number is 7 the fourth is 5 and the fifth appears to be a 9 the rest is my best guess making the full number 7 9 3 5 0 9 0 or 7 9 8 5 2 9 0 and possibly 7 9 8 5 2 9 2. There seems to be room for an eighth number but I don’t see anything there.
If anyone can figure it out and give me a date of manufacture it would be great. I know this is only one piece of the puzzle and making one out of a million tasks completed. Thanks!
engine numbersengine numbersengine numbersengine numbers

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Steve Jelf, Parkerfield KS on Friday, August 15, 2014 - 01:11 am:

Howdy Mike, and welcome. I think you're our second Staten Island member.

I can't make out your number much better than you can, but I can date the three candidates. 7935090 is Tuesday, July 3, 1923. 7985290 is a week later, Monday July 9. 7985292 would be the same day, just two cars later.

July is the tail end of the 1923 model year, with 1924 beginning on August 1, 1923.

Some people claim they can tell from a picture whether a car has a high or low radiator, but I can't. You can measure and find out. Take the measurement here.

The low radiator used on 1923 cars is just under 17". The high radiator used on 1924 model cars is a little over 18". That's one of the features that helps determine the year of these cars.

If you place a magnet on your car's body, it will stick at various places and not at others. The first 1923 Fordors had all aluminum panels, but later some panels were steel. The use of both steel and aluminum panels continued into the 1924 Fordors.

Finally before I go and hit the sack, here's something for all new Model T owners: http://dauntlessgeezer.com/DG80.html

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Allan Richard Bennett on Friday, August 15, 2014 - 04:41 am:

Steve, telling the height of the radiator can be done on sight given a couple of clues, and provided things are standard.
The low radiator, like the one you show, has the narrow finisher across the bottom. The tall radiator features the apron through which the crank handle is fitted.
A slight side on view will show that the low radiator shell sides are parallel to the radiator side, while on high radiators, the shell side is angled to follow the line of the hood. At least, that's the way I see our Canadian sourced cars.
Without these clues it is indeed difficult to pick them.

Hope this helps.

Allan from down under.

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Hap Tucker in Sumter SC on Friday, August 15, 2014 - 07:50 am:


Bottom Line Up Front: “IF” the engine is original to the car and “IF” the front fenders, radiator apron, and body are original to the car, it is an early 1924 model year Fordor that was produced during 1923 calendar year.

Additional details (or SPAM depending on how much time you have):

Welcome to the hobby and to the forum! Steve Jelf’s book suggestion is always helpful. In your case for questions about the history of the car his recommendation in the lower right hand corner of that page of Bruce McCalley’s (RIP) “Model T Ford” is excellent. He listed there how to order the larger CD version that has been updated considerably over his original book. A soft copy version of his book is also available, and while several things have been updated since it was published in 1994, it is a lot easier to carry around for folks that don’t have a digital tablet handy. It is available in a SOFT cover reprint from the vendors as well as from the club at: http://modeltstore.myshopify.com/collections/frontpage/products/model-t-ford-the-car-that-changed-the-world If you are only going to purchase the CDs or the book, I would recommend the CDs – as there is not only the updated book there, but 95% of all the USA “Price List of Parts” and several other good books are included in the CD set.

Below is the photo from your profile page. If it is the car you are discussing it is a 1924-1925 model year Fordor Sedan. (Nice looking car by the way!)

Assuming (and that can get us in trouble sometimes) that the parts are correct for the car (i.e. the original ones or ones of the same style that replaced the original ones over time) it can only be a 1924-25 Fordor. Why? Because it has the features of a 1924-25 which are the “lip” on the front fender to match up with radiator apron under the radiator. And it has the larger 1924-25 higher cowl. And yes, sometimes it is difficult to tell if it is a low cowl or a high cowl car from a photo. But we are assuming it has the high radiator and if it had the high radiator the hood would not fit the low cowl and the high radiator. In addition to measuring the radiator you can also measure the firewall:

Note your engine number is NOT missing a digit at the end. Why? Because we know the engine serial numbers went up to 15,176,888 which was the last Model T engine assembled by Ford USA on Aug 4, 1941 (ref page 537 Bruce McCalley’s “Model T Ford”). If you add any digit to the end of your car’s serial number you would have 79,350,90x which would be way too many numbers.

Based on the one photo (which we still need to confirm is your car) and the engine serial number from the early Jul engine logs you appear to have a very early 1924 Fordor sedan that was produce in 1923.

Note the engine serial number doesn’t necessarily give us the date the engine was made or the date the car was assembled. It is the date that the engine number is listed on the engine logs. For an engine assembled at the main assembly plant it actually would be the date the engine was assembled (main plant was Highland Park for many years and after Dec 1924 production began to shift to the River Rouge and the shift was completed by Feb 1925 (ref pages 531 & 532 of Bruce’s book)).

But for the engine numbers that were sent to be stamped onto an engine that was assembled in another location -- it could be days or even weeks later.

In his CD and on page 523 of his book Bruce stated, "Blocks of engine numbers and "knocked down" engine continued to be shipped to Long Island and to other assembly plants. The serial numbers are listed in the records but are not shown her after December [1919], for they serve little purpose other than being of some interest. The production figures shown from here on are for Highland Park only. The differences between the serial numbers and the production numbers are due to the shipment to the branches.”

Not directly related to your car – but for those with engines assembled at the River Rouge (starting in Sept 1924 with overlap of production at the Rouge and Highland Park) I believe the car would normally be assembled after the engine was produced.

How long did it take to ship an engine from the River Rouge to the Highland Park Plant. Glad you asked that.

From: http://mtfca.com/encyclo/C-D.htm#Chassis1 Bruce shares:
Accession 94. Walter Fishleigh files.
“Motor number was first placed on frame side member R.H. on Dec. 12, 1925. Motor No. 12,861,044. Information obtained from Mr. Burns, Final Assy., Highland Park.”


From page 533 of his book, “The Model T Ford” Bruce shares,

Dec 1925 engine production records:
Dec 5, 1925: 12,8555,160 to 12,863,164 were produced.


Some of us have wondered how long it took for the assembled engine to be placed into a car. In this case engine #12,861,044 was documented as being in the frame on Dec 12, 1925. Which for that engine meant it probably took 7 days (Dec 5 to Dec 12) to go from assembled engine to installed in the frame.

(Technically it could have been fewer days – if the engine number had been sent some where and then returned and then used. That happened sometimes as described on page 515 right hand side – Jan 7 1918 and Jan 16 1918 combined with the note on page 523 left hand column after Dec 31, 1919)

Other engines may have made the trip in a shorter amount of time but that one appears to have taken about 7 days.


And of course some engines were occasionally stock piled for example at: http://mtfca.com/encyclo/doc24.htm
See Mar 18, 1924 Letter from Chicago Branch: "We hear stories that some salesmen are telling their customers to be sure and look at the motor number of any car when they buy in order to be sure they get a late motor number. These particular salesmen are just making a lot of trouble for themselves because at the new plant we have hundreds of motors that have been standing there for thirty days or more and will be going into the cars in the course of production. This means that all dealers will receive motor numbers from the Burnham plant that will be considerably lower in number than those motors received from the Chicago plant so just stop your salesmen making any remarks at all about motor numbers because in so doing they are going to make a lot of trouble for you when we start shipping from the new plant."
A.W.L. Gilpin
Branch Manager
P.S. In correspondence the old Ford plant in Chicago is referred to as the Chicago plant and the new plant is referred to as the Burnham plant because it is near the Burnham railroad yards.

For additional reading see: http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/29/8925.html

Be sure to check out the local Model T Clubs : http://www.mtfca.com/clubpages/chapters.htm and http://www.modelt.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5&Itemid=15 . And from memory (not as good as it used to be) I’m 90% sure there is another member on Staton Island who has posted on the forum.

Again welcome to the hobby and the forum.

Respectfully submitted,

Hap l9l5 cut off

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mike Conte on Friday, August 15, 2014 - 03:33 pm:

That's my car, saw it on eBay 2 hours before biding ended won the car by one dollar!

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Wayne Sheldon, Grass Valley, CA on Friday, August 15, 2014 - 03:58 pm:

Just a thought from me.
Maybe the engine block was an era replacement provided with no serial number. Garage mechanics were supposed to stamp the original number onto the new block back at that time. It takes a pretty good swat with a heavy hammer to make a deep, clear, stamp. Those numbers look about how I did when I had to stamp some ironwork we built years ago.
Nice looking sedan! (Except for the rear-view mirror) Welcome to the affliction!
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dave Wells on Friday, August 15, 2014 - 04:42 pm:

To get a better look at those numbers, sometimes you can see them better in total darkness by shining a flashlight across them at various angles.

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Ken Todd on Saturday, August 16, 2014 - 11:00 am:

Pretty nice lookin' car for a dollar!

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mike Conte on Sunday, August 17, 2014 - 02:34 pm:

Thanks for the help!!!

I want to use this number when I register it
Those mirrors were the first things to go.

I won the car by bidding one dollar more than another bidder with one bid just two hours before it ended and I was not aware of the auction before that

I did it on a whim and won. I was in shock when I won!!!

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