I recently bought some sheetmetal parts from a member on this site. one running board and one fender had what appeared to be original paint. Upon sanding the running board I noticed the paint didn't seem very thick and noticed a definite lack of primer, while sanding the fender I noticed the same thing. I guess my question is did Ford prime the sheetmetal parts before dipping them in black? Just wondering.
Since seeing your question, I've been rereading the very interesting paint article by Trent Boggess on pages 579 to 587 in Bruce McCalley's encyclopedia. While many kinds of black paint (or varnish) and several methods of application (dipping was just one) were used, I believe the short answer to your question is no, no primer in the modern sense of the word. Here's the conclusion of Trent's article:
There are four main conclusions to be drawn from this investigation. First, the paints used on Model Ts during the black era years of 1914 to 1925 were really color varnishes. These types of paint bear little resemblance to the modern automotive finishes used today when restoring a Model T.
Second, over 30 different types of black paint were used at the same time to paint Model Ts. The different types of paint vary according to the means of drying them (air versus oven drying) and were also formulated to satisfy the different means of applying the paint to the different parts.
Third, Model Ts during the black era were painted using the techniques of brushing, dipping or flowing the paint on. Paint spraying equipment for finishes did not come into widespread use in the Ford factories until 1926.
Fourth, the color black was chosen because it was cheap and it was durable. Black paints, especially those containing asphaltum, were noted for exhibiting better damp proofing properties than other colors during this period. The claim that black was chosen because it dried faster than any other color is not supported by the Ford engineering documents, the contemporary literature, nor by the first-hand accounts of Ford Motor Company employees.
The Model T was a most practical car, and no doubt Henry Ford was convinced that black was simply the most practical color for the job.
Interesting info, thanks Steve!
Wonderful information Steve, Looks like I need to purchase a copy of Bruce McCalley's book. I have been away from the Model T hobby for the last 40 years, other priorities, work family divorce etc. seemed to take over but after I retired in 2009 I purchased an unrestored 1927 coupe and was hooked. The coupe is in progress, but I am building a 1925 utility wagon on a running chassis. Should be done by spring for next summers touring and shows. Thanks again for the great answer to my question. Harv.
For my money the best deal on the encyclopedia is the disk version because of all the extra information it includes. I have it on the computer and the reprint from Krause on the shelf, but if I had to choose only one I'd go with the disk.
Here's a source for the disk version: