I am in the process of pulling the engine. I decided to pull the firewall because it was loose and in multiple pieces. When I pulled it out, it came apart in 6 separate tongue and groove pieces. There was a veneer facing which had separated and was pretty much destroyed. The firewall pieces themselves are in excellent condition so I plan on cleaning them up a bit then gluing them back together. Question is....was this the original design or did someone replace the firewall at some point? Honestly, it made removing the steering column a breeze so I may leave an unglued seem where the firewall goes thru.
Sorry, in my post I meant to say "where the steering column goes thru"
From your description, most likely original, they were made that way.
Yes, that is the way they came from the factory but they were all glued solidly together. And yes, you should be able to re-glue and refinish the pieces.
I would not recommend leaving the seam for the steering column loose. A firm firewall helps the steering respond/act better. That is one reason when Ford went to the metal firewall just a little later they added a brace on the dash to help stabilize the steering column.
I looked for the photo of the wooden dash being built up and clamped but I couldn't find it quickly. If I run across it later I will try to post it. If you look at the posting at: http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/29/9016.html it has a lot of additional details about the wooden dashes including the 1915-16 dash.
It is not that hard to take the column out by removing the pitman arm and in many cases you can unbolt the steering column and leave it loose in the firewall and have all the clearance you would want to pull the engine etc.
Hap l9l5 cut off
John Regan can tell you the correct thickness and species of wood for the veneer.
Thanks Dan -- that was the photo I was trying to find.
Hap l9l5 cut off
Were the 15-16 firewalls painted black or left natural? Mine appears to have been painted black, but it is original and so dirty and old that it's hard to tell for sure.
Black. Here's the original black paint on the RVW '17 firewall.
Thank you Royce..
Thank you for all of the amazing answers and pictures! Hap, I dont care what they say about you. You're alright! Just kidding....about the what they say about you part of course.
The picture that has been posted here and before is not of a 1915-1916 dash since it is of the later dash which was trimmed to clear the starter motor. If you look at the man who is holding the dash and focus on the part that is in his left hand, that is the "trimmed" later dash that was trimmed to clear the starter.
The veneers for 1916 were hard maple and 1/16 thick on both sides with a 9/16 thick core which is the part that you have. 1912 and later veneer dashes fell apart because they reversed the direction of the grain of the core and veneers. Up until sometime in early 1912 the core grain direction and veneer grain direction both were horizontal allowing the veneer and core to expand and contract together thus not pulling apart. When they reversed the grain directions between them then the veneer expanded and contracted in direction that was 90 degrees opposite the core. This pulled the dashes apart. You simply don't find original dashes made 1912 and later that are not separating yet I know of several 1911 original dashes that are as solid as the day they were made. They reversed the grain directions in hope of reducing warping that mainly was a storage issue for uninstalled dashes. There was also a later 3 play version of the dash which had the face veneers running opposite the core just like the veneer design but because the 3 ply had 3 equal plies, I suspect it may have done a bit better with regard to falling apart - haven't seen enough of them to say for sure. Early 1915 dash was 3/4" thick but soon became 11/16 thick and stayed that thickness until 1923 when the wood dash gave way to the metal dash.
"3 play" should read "3 ply"
John, it's a good thing they did not make four ply firewalls or your typo would have been embarassing!
Perhaps an easier way to spot that the gent in the photo is holding a starter type firewall is the presence of two slots on the right, the usual one for the mixture control rod and the second one for the in car choke rod.
Allan from down under.
When I restored my Australian bodied, Canadian built '21, it had a tongue and groove firewall in it.
I can only assume it was in there originally as was all other items save for some newer leather trim and some rather poor repairs to front end (axle, steering, wing) damage. Whether it was a Canadian built or Aussie built firewall, I cant say. Unfortunately it was beyond repair and I replaced it with one made of marine ply.