Several times we've seem inquiries about the year of cars having an engine serial number that doesn't seem to make sense. One explanation that's often given is that replacement blocks came without numbers and it was up to the users to stamp their own numbers. So I wonder: When did Ford start producing unnumbered blocks? Are there yearly production figures for them, as there are for complete engines?
I have a 13 casting block with a 12 number on it.
Any year parts books come up with a block, #3000
I think that they are no more than a spare part like anything else, if trying to fit them into a production number sequence would surely give a false number of T's produced.
I have a October 15' block with a 12' serial number.
Forgot to mention why I posted that I think that, I have a 16 with no engine # stamped at all.
I just left a response to a question by David Kriegel concerning an odd and damaged serial number on his newly acquired '26 touring.
Ford, of course, had to begin providing replacement blocks and engines for model Ts soon after the model T hit the market. I have read of defective engines being replaced by Ford as early as 1909, and I am sure car owners were finding ways to blow engines about then also.
Part of what I said there; Your engine could be "an engine block originally sold for a non-automotive use. Many such original users had a serial number system of their own. Some of them had spaces, others had combinations of letters (usually, but not always ahead of numbers). These odd blocks often did find their way into the engine exchange builders over the passage of years. Several such blocks have been discussed on this forum over the years. (Don't expect me to find them! I am not good at such searches at all.)"
I think it also fits here.
I would add that I am eager to find out if David's engine block is a '26/'27 or an earlier block. The number, while damaged, clearly looks like "4", followed by a lengthy space, followed by another "4". That much looks clear. It does not look like a Ford factory number. It may have been altered? Or it may be something else?
Since original numbers were often stamped onto replacement blocks, earlier numbers on later blocks are probably a lot more common than anyone would guess. It is easier to tell if the block has a casting date on it. Otherwise, from about 1922 to 1925? How can you tell?
By the way. My mostly '13 speedster's engine I think has a replacement block. Not far off, just a bit.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
In northern states it was easy to get the block cracked in wintertime, glycol based antifreeze wasn't available back then. If the engine block cracked one of the first seasons it wasn't necessary to change much more than the block and the gaskets, so the innards were reused.
Complete spare engines were also sold by Ford, but they were always numbered. I suppose spare engine sales was the reason for the increasing difference between engine numbers and car numbers from 1911 until car numbers on the patent plate were discontinued in 1915?
That's also why the real total number of Model T's produced can be hard to pin down..
I am a little confused on non-automotive engines. The serial on my TT engine dates to March 1929. In speaking with someone else that had a 1929 engine he noted that the hole for the throttle rod on his looked to have been manually made between the cylinders. I looked at mine and it appeared like it was also put in by hand. He believed that his was an industrial engine that eventually ended up in a vehicle. Mine may be the same but I have no idea. Were the majority of post 1927 engines sold for industrial use? Did Ford make non-automotive blocks before the end of Model T production and number them in standard sequence?
The throttle hole was discontinued some time early in calendar 1927, I think, since all production used vaporizers with the throttle rod going over the head. When using a replacement engine on an earlier car you had to crack open the thin cast iron between the cylinders. Seemingly this practice continued after Model T production ended. The last replacement engines were made in 1941.
Perhaps it is now the time to establish a register
of all the Model T's and TT's. Said register would be maintained by one individual, on a computer not
ON LINE ( to avoid virus's ) This would secure for us a single point/ Reference in case a T is Stolen and a n almost clear number of T's still
running down the backwoods. I am not trying to create a job for my self, but would like to see such a registry created.
You could also buy blocks from Western Auto Supply along with most other Model T parts that could be found in the Ford parts catalog. They did a booming business in mail order. From the number of parts listed in the catalog, too many for them to make, they must have had contracts to sell the parts. So who knows what the numbering would have been on those blocks.
I think I have seen blocks made by outside companies in era advertisements that were not connected with Ford.
There were blocks made by companies other than Ford and sold through places like Western Auto. I do not know if I have seen one or not, but I have talked to people that swore they had one.
Outside of regular car and chassis sales, which would then be modified for a specialized use, Ford also sold components to specialty manufacturers for various uses. Short blocks (engines without pans and transmissions) were sold either with or without flywheels. They were often mounted on special pans with other parts as necessary for boat engine or other use. Several such boat engines have been posted about here in the past. Surf City Sound Ralph has posted pictures of one his brother had (if I recall correctly). Engines were also sold for use in threshing machines and other farming equipment (Henry Ford was sympathetic to the needs of farmers). Several companies used them for factory tugs, railroad switch tractors, generators, and other power sources. They were a good light duty engine with the advantage that any needed repair parts were readily available. Many of these engines were sold by Ford without serial numbers. A lot of them were later stamped with some sort of identification number (often with a letters designation for the company using the motor). Some of them went out into the world without any stamping.
Again, a few of these engines with unusual serial numbers have been pictured and discussed on this forum in the past. However, I and Google don't seem to get along well, and I usually cannot find the threads that I am looking for.
These engines often found their way into the engine rebuilding shops that provided replacement engines on a partial exchange basis. Affordable replacement engines were available this way from the early '20s well into the '50s for model Ts. I can remember shops like this offering model A engines even into the early '70s. These shops almost never made any change to a serial number, so whatever odd number a block may have had as perhaps a factory tug, it wound up with in somebody's car.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2