Is the radiator shell on a 1927 T nickel plated or painted? Mine is painted black (touring) but many photos that I have seen show nickel (or chrome) plated shells.
Radiator shells were made in nickel and painted black for '26-'27. TT's mostly were shod with the painted version as were the "loss leader" cars without starters and generators.
Stupid question? Definitely not. Silly question? Not even.
There were a lot of minor, silly, and confusing changes made during those last two years or so. There are many supposedly reliable resources that state specific colors and options such as wheels. However, there are other good resources that say something different. Then again, there is the "fossil record", which disagrees with most printed sources. Coupes, for instance, were green. At least two different shades. Unless they were maroon/red. Or unless they were among the thousand or more coupes that were originally black (lots of fossil record).
A '26 touring? The preferred choice would be nickel radiator shell. However, it would appear that a lot of them did have black painted shells. If it were me? And the car already had a black shell? I would leave it that way just to mess with people that think they know better.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
If you find one at a swap meet, you can tell a real one from a repro easily with a magnet. The real ones were made of brass and then nickel plated. Mainly because it's a one step process (straight plate to nickel), rather than making them out of steel and then nickel plating them which is a two step process (copper plate, then nickel plated) Ford saved money anyway he could...even if it were mere pennies.
The only problem with the brass shells is that over time from the constant heating and cooling that the shell goes through they develop stress cracks in the folds and around the mounting flanges. They can be easily repaired with silver solder.
OK, now I know about the '26. How about a '27 touring? Nickel or painted? Thanks.
Post #2. Hi Martin, I stuck a magnet to my black-painted '27 radiator shell and it did. According to your post, that makes the shell a reproduction. If so, it is an ancient reproduction because the mounting studs and springs have a "patina" that matches everything else under the car. At present, the radiator is out for replacement - the radiator shop which specializes in such things says that the radiator is original for a '27 and looks to be 87 years old. I could find no evidence of accident damage, so I could find no reason why the shell would have been replaced nor evidence that it has been. Are you sure about the factory shell being made of brass? I would think that making the shell from brass would be more expensive then stamping it out of steel and plating it with Brass or copper, then Nickel. Cost is why Ford stopped using Brass accessories in the first place.
RADIATOR: Same as 1925. Nickel shell offered as an option; became standard on the closed cars. Radiator valence had a nickel trim strip to match the nickel shell.
RADIATOR: Same as 1926. Nickel shell offered as an option on most open cars, was standard on the closed cars. [Which is in conflict with the statement at: http://www.mtfca.com/encyclo/P-R.htm#rad that says:
1927 Four and five-row, round-tube, radiators used. Nickel-plated-shell now standard.] The MTFCI judging standards agree with the first version: nickel-plated shell standard on closed cars and optional on open cars 1927. Remember all of this is for USA production.
And the index for the on-line encyclopedia is located at: http://www.mtfca.com/encyclo/index.htm
John if you are relatively sure the radiator shell came on the car – use it again – it will work fine. The only time it is really important to try and get things the way Ford manufactured them is if you desire that yourself (some of us do) or if you are competing for a Stynoski Award. Trent Boggess at: http://jupiter.plymouth.edu/~trentb/Stynoski.html summarized the Stynoski Award competition as follows:
Each year the Model T Ford Club International awards the Stynoski Trophy for the best restoration of the year as picked by the international judging team. The judging team consisted of Steve Hubert, Chief Judge; Mark Cameron, Technical Editor; John Regan, President acting as an observer;
The following rules apply to cars competing for this prestigious award:
1. The car must be a full bidied Model T Ford as it cam from the factory.
2. The MTFCI approved judging form must be used.
3. The award can be won only once bya particular car.
4. Winner is automatically removed from all calss judging and special tour awards consideration.
5. If mininum specifications set by the International Judging Team and Board of Directors are not met by any car entered, the award will not be presented for that year.
So with the exception of those two reasons – you do not need to worry about what is correct as long as it is safe (for example you can put a front spindle on the wrong side of the axle and the wheel with stop turning when the bearing tightens up – not very safe).
That said, if you really want to know, if you contact the Benson Ford Archives and ask them to provide you the factory drawings for both the factory number 8737C part number 3947C the high radiator shell painted and factory number 8737D part number 3947D high nickel radiator shell along with the change cards for both of those parts, I’m 90% sure you will find a very good answer. Base on the Price List of Parts I believe both style of radiator shells were used in production from 1925 to1927. But were the mandatory on the 1927 touring is your question. I personally suspect they were not – but again – that information from the Benson Ford Archives would most likely resolve that for you. It may turn out to be “they don’t clarify it” so you can do what you want. Or they may clarify it, and you can still do what you want. To contact the Benson Ford Archives please see their web site at: http://www.thehenryford.org/research/partsDrawings.aspx
See also: “Trent’s Visit to the Stacks” at: http://jupiter.plymouth.edu/~trentb/HFMGVStacks/Stacks.html and note that the name Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village (HFMGV) has now been replaced with Benson Ford Archives. See also: http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/29/41405.html
For Wayne – I agree with you there are no dumb questions. And often times a question can save a person from making a costly mistake – which gives them more time or funds to spend on more important things like accessories for the T. While I would suggest it is probably impossible for anyone to say how all the 15,000,000 plus Model Ts were originally configured, it is possible to restore one that it typical for the time frame. I like that Bruce (RIP) often used the word typical when describing features etc. for the different model years for the T. With the many different branches, suppliers, dealers, and then add in the different countries they were produced/assembled in and the variations could and sometimes did occur. And I believe that both the fossil record and the printed records are both helping us learn more and more about how the typical Model T was originally produced. And in some cases the written documentation gives a lot of information on a specific Model T if it is one that we have the shipping documents on [available for serial numbers 1 & 1,119 through approximately #70,700ish the end of Sep 1911 ref: page 478 to 499 Bruce’s book].
I love the illustration John Regan shares at: http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/29/43281.html?1198287177 where the “fossil record” indicated a pointed spring existed around 1916. That led to his research at the Benson Ford Archives that found the documentation that said they did use that pointy spring. He also shared how many folks tossed those springs thinking they were after market and not originally supplied by Ford.
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Back in 1955 I bought a nice original May 1927 roadster. It had an original pained radiator shall, wood wheels and original green paint.
Something to help muddy the waters. Back in the '50s, ''60s, and '70s, a lot of restorers had steel shells nickel or chrome plated. Realize, that is about half the car's lifetime ago. Improperly restored parts these days can look like they are nearly 90 years old.
Hap, I definitely agree with trying to restore Ts to "typical" of their era (although I do also like to preserve some of the oddities, and sometimes mess with people). I do believe very strongly that many (probably many thousands) of '26 open Ts were originally sold with black painted steel radiator shell. I really cannot say that about the closed cars or '27s, even though I have seen several. Those few could have been altered at some point.
Also, Hap, THANK YOU for all that you do trying to organize all this mess of information from so many sources. I have said it before. It amazes me how much more is known today than was when I got into the hobby more than 45 years ago. I remember so many things that people did believing they were right, including a '13/'14 rear end in a '23(?) runabout. Many people in the T clubs thought it was correct, they told me so (I really didn't believe them). The fellow that restored the car said the rear end was in the car when he got it and was original to the car. Many people believed him.
Without a few very special people like Bruce and Hap, I don't know where the hobby would have been now.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
Thank you for the kind words. I really appreciate them and it helps keep me going at very slowly trying to continue to build on what Bruce, and others have already compiled.
I really appreciate what Trent Boggess once said,
"There are no “experts” on the Model T alive today. They are all long gone. All we have today are students who study what are sometimes incomplete records, then look for original cars to see what matches the records. But at this time, both John [Regan] and I [Trent Boggess] agree that the best information we have to go on now is the Ford engineering records." [ref: http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/29/41405.html -- which while discussing the type of material Model T gas lines were made from, does an excellent job of explaining the relationship of original cars and the documentation in the Benson Ford Archives. ]
Darrel -- I believe it is highly likely that the 1927 open cars could still be purchased from the factory (not just the dealer swapping out the radiator shell) with a painted shell. But I do not yet have a Ford Motor Company reference that supports or corrects that assumption. An early original photo could also help document that, but as I looked through the few I have, they were all early 1926 intro photos or top of the line "Sport Roadster" or "Sport Tourings" for my 1927 ones I looked at. And those few 1927 early photos of the “Sport” models that I looked at all had the nickel shells. Not proof that they all 1927s did -- as it only takes one exception -- but I have not yet found the supporting evidence I would like to find.
In that same posting mentioned above Trent also had a great word picture for the progress we are slowly making and in this case he was discussing the material used in the gasoline line:
"The point of the examples above is that we found out about the variation first by reading about them in the records. Then later we stumbled upon surviving examples and were able to identify them for what they were. This is why both John and I have a healthy respect for the accuracy of those records. When we are presented with a claim that a part was used that we can find no reference to in the records, the only response we can make is that we cannot find any evidence in the records to document that claim. If you have a part that you believe to be original to your car but which is not supported by the documentation, then by all means leave it alone. The day may come when we may find documentation that shows that that variation was actually used. But that day is not here yet [for the steel gas line]."
Thank you to everyone for your support to our hobby. From those that manufacture parts to those who give rides in their Ts you are all helping our hobby grow. And for those that post and/or send me information about the Ts -- thank you. My goal is make the information available in an orderly fashion so folks who want to know how it was originally produced can more easily find the information. [For additional details please see: http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/80257/111749.html or as they sang in the movie "South Pacific" ...“You gotta have a dream. If you don’t have a dream, then how you gonna have your dream come true?”]
And in some cases we may want to encourage folks to make safety modifications such as using safety glass or replacing the original babbitt rear thrust bearing in the rear axle etc. While not original, I think those type of changes are smart.
What a great hobby with a lot of great folks. And I get to be a small part of it -- thanks for listening.
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To Hap and everyone else who answered my "stupid" question: Thank you for all the great information. You also answered a future question - my headlight rings are painted silver. I will have them Nickle plated. As to the radiator shell - It has a significant crack at the left mounting flange. As welding the crack will damage the paint, my choice will be repainting it or having it Nickle plated. I'm leaning towards having it plated.
I wonder what parts in this pile are original to my car? Anyway I finished it and added some from swap meets or repro parts.