Even for the same year, they vary.
The encyclopedia has 1915 tail lamp rims made of brass, but on this one the "brass" parts are plated steel. Note the magnets sticking to both places. The brass plating on this one hasn't held up well.
On this side lamp the rim is actual brass, but the magnet sticks to the top.
The tail lamp is stamped with the ford mark...
...but I haven't found any marks on the side lamps to indicate a maker.
Lots of minor changes.
But think why your magnet sticks to some is the brass cap is only a cover formed over steel. So the underlying steel is attracted to the magnet.
This one is a Edmunds and Jones (E&J) Model 8, side lamp. No rivet lens cap clasp. Some have 1 rivet holding the clasp, some have two.
The brass rim also has some steel in the retaining rings.
Clasp is soldered, no rivets. Guess this didn't work out for E&J, so they added rivet and later two.
I am by no means the expert on this. But having played around with these these things a lot longer than I sometimes care to admit. I have never seen, heard, or read, anything that indicated the lamps ever originally had brass plating over steel on either the cap or rim. Ford did use brass plating on things like the brake handle a few years earlier, and in early 1915 the steering column spark and throttle quadrant was brass plated. That really doesn't make good sense to me, however, I have seen a few never restored examples. Therefore, the idea, or possibility, that Ford or one of their suppliers could have plated them does exist. But nobody whose opinion I believe has ever indicated to me that it was done, nor have I ever seen what I would believe was originally plated brass on these lamps.
I have seen a lot of lamps with brass plated rims and/or caps. Most of them were later style lamps, and showed some other signs of restoration or recent usage. Hundreds, probably thousands, of these lamps or parts thereof were plated in the 1950s and '60s. They were used on backdated-to-'15 Ts. They were often used on black era Ts (I have seen a lot like that). And probably at least half of them were used on hotrods. I have personally seen probably way over a hundred such plated in modern days lamps.
There also seemed to be more platers in the '50s and '60s that could do plating without buffing away the stamped name in the cap. I have seen quite a few of them with crisp, clean, name logos in the cap. But again, when on a black era lamp? Not likely to be Ford original plating. Caps and lens rims could of course have been swapped around later. In fact, one of the original brass caps I have came to me on a black era lamp. Fortunately, I already had a loose steel cap, so that lamp is still complete, and now more correct.
Steve, Probably, your plated-parts lamp was done way back when your runabout was restored. I knew of quite a few '15s like that years ago. You might be surprised how many HCCA people carried a magnet in their pocket so they could check Ts on tours.
It is kind of sad really, and a good indicator of how much more we know today about model Ts than was really known fifty years ago. Several Horseless Carriage based clubs used to require 1915 Ts to have brass rimmed and capped side and tail lamps. A car and its owner could be black-balled for brass plated rims or caps. We now know that Ford switched to black painted steel even before the switch in model year to 1916, and several months before the accepted pre-January '16 Ts. The HCCA (and as far as I know, all Regional Groups) now accept black painted steel rims and caps. However, my spring '15 runabout will get brass if/when I ever get it restored, as it should.
Just my opinions, based on nearly 50 years playing with and studying these things.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
I haven't been at this for 50 years yet, but I agree with Wayne, doubting that plated caps and lens rings were supplied by Ford. I have seen entire cowl lamps and other parts brass-plated on a '16. (Its owner swore it was "all original.")
In my experience, the brass and steel lamp caps are shaped differently. You can see in Steve's picture that the outer edge of the plated steel cap is "squarish", while the edge of the brass one in Dan's first pic is more of a half-round shape. That is an original brass cap. The reproduction brass ones you buy today are the squarish shape, like the later steel ones. It's easy to tell at a glance whether a brass cap is an original or a reproduction, when you know to look for that.
The '15 E&J lamps which I have seen and believe to be all original have two rivets in the latching tab of their lens rings. I have seen one or two which have no rivets but otherwise appear to be original. I deduced that those rims had been replaced at some time, but I may be mistaken about that. Non-E&J lamps I've seen usually have one rivet, sometimes none.
It would be nice if we were able to document some of these things. Nowadays we just have to form a somewhat educated guess.
At least one individual on the forum is optimistic about adding additional information to the excellent start Bruce and others before him gave us. With all the variations we probably won't get them all. But I believe we can add additional information between the archives, documented original cars, and other information.
I would say unless we find some supporting information – I don’t think Ford originally ordered brass plated steel parts on the 1915 lamps.
Note, some of the items mentioned in this thread are helpful. Also would you please let us know what the inside of your lamps look like? I.e. round style or later square style inside?
Hap l9l5 cut off
I have three sets of 15 side/tail lights. One with no rivets ,one with two,and one with just one rivet in the hinges/handle. Some are plain tops some are Model 8. All tail lamps were Model 9. I have found through the years,several different lamp parts spun from brass. (probably to use up otherwise scrap material.)
Hap -- As far as I know, the round inner shell is a '15-16 feature and the square ones '17 & up. But as we know, changes such as this didn't necessarily coincide with the change of the model year. So they might have been a few months earlier or later. Wayne mentioned on an earlier thread that he believes the extra row of vent holes in the chimney was eliminated sometime before the '17 model year began, and that the change from the round to the square inner shell occurred sometime during the '17 model year.
I'm thinking some of those lights may have originally come off of other cars besides a Ford T Model. Like maybe a Buick and others.
I agree with you that Ford often implemented “running changes” as the new parts were brought in. One noticeable exception was the transition to the “Improved Fords” around Aug 1925. They were so different that things like fenders, bodies, hoods, frame could not be phased in but came instead at the same time. But earlier in production we often saw times of such as Apr 7, 1911 where it was noted “First “1911 motor throughout” [Page 494 McCalley (R.I.P)] or even the other side of that on page 497 where the note, “1910 running boards” used on a number of cars.” Around Jun 17, 1911. And for many items there would have been overlap when both old style and new style parts were used (six months in the case of the two piece valve cover transition to the one piece valve cover etc.).
I’m looking forward to retiring someday or perhaps I could find a job at the archives? I suspect several questions will be answered in the future by closer examination of the photos there. And probably even more questions will be generated! For example on page 253 of Bruce McCalley’s book “Model T Ford” he has a photo of a prototype 1917 Model T Ford. There is a good chance the original photo has a date in the lower right hand corner. There is also a good chance we could tell if the side lamps did or did not have the extra row of holes. (And the classic find would be to see one of each style on the same car! It could happen – remember the different style door latches on the same touring car during 1916 (see page 220 the caption for the upper right two photos).
Thank you for sharing what Wayne had posted previously. All the puzzle pieces are helpful – some more than others – but all help us better understand what happened or that we don’t really know for that question.
Hap l9l5 cut off
I do wish I had some facts to support my casual observations. I would be curious to hear if others have seen what I think I have seen? Or do their observations differ from mine? It simply seems that way too many of the lamps I have looked at over the years had the combination of round inside (reflector) and no holes around the base of the chimney. That would seem to indicate that there was a considerable time between the elimination of the holes in the chimney and the change to the square reflector inside. Either that, or there was a crossover time where both types of inside reflector were used after the holes in the chimney eliminated. Several people with better facts than I have seem to indicate the square reflector followed closely after the elimination of the holes in mid '17.
I would myself doubt many of my observations from decades ago. But I have looked at dozens of lamps at swap meets and on eBad in the past four years since I decided to put together my '15 project pile as a runabout. I really should have taken notes. Five years ago, I had two and a half side lamps. The two complete lamps were later truck oddities. If I could only find them, I would love to post photos of them.
Gotta go right now. Maybe later I can describe that odd pair.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
Some models in the same year had different lamps the 15 coupelet had an E&J model 30 with a side hinge and it was handed, whereas the remaining models used a top clasp with bottom hinge (non- handed). One 16 convertable model used the E&J model 30 with the side hinge. It would appear that there was a direction to make things cheaper and the side (handed) hinge models gave way to the conventional non-handed models with the top clasp and bottom hinge, and somewhat later the brass was eliminated to make them cheaper yet. I managed to muster together two model 30s left and right, both with sheet brass tops and solid brass door rims, however one unit has is nickel plated over the brass door rim. I have been slowly able to remove the nickel plate to display the brass. I have a 15 touring and the model 30 may be incorrect but they are classy looking. David
I owned a company that used machinery to "roll" the edges like are on the caps you are talking about. On those, the upper die caught the cap (as we are talking about) and drove it down. The bottom die, two 180 degree dies, set the "roll" to clamp the top on the bottom. The roll is made as the top die drives the cap into the bottom set. The bottom is in two pieces so the finished part can be released.
In the case of the lamps, the operator set the lamp in the closed bottom die set, dropped a cap in on top, hit the trip and the machine drove the top on.
Buttons, both political and clothes buttons are good examples of the machinery used. That is why they are not easy to get off.
In the case of both the square and round T lights, the tops were clamped onto the inside top piece like a button. I can see the double bottom die marks on a John Brown 110 I have in my shop. It is almost the last operation of making the complete lamp.
Ken in Texas
After thought: I have a John Brown 115 that I am going to remove the top. I have not done it but I intend to make a small saw cut on the edge, heat the top up to expand the seal, then twist the top around and off. The reason to take it off is I can push the gentle dents out and then twist it back on. Touch of braze on the cut top.
Does anyone have a better way? Thanks
(Message edited by drkbp on February 11, 2015)
I have removed tops on many of my lites using a common screwdriver to carefully pull the crimp by prying against the chimney lower wider portion for the side of the screwdriver blade. The tops are crimped as mentioned here on this thread and not soldered to the top cap. Go slowly. About half way around and it comes off by prying with your hand. sometimes I see the brass top starting to tear a little then turn off the lights in you garage and using a small 0 tip and your accet/oxy tip on a torch heat the brass to a slightly red color this anneals the brass keeping it from tearing. Also helps in getting to re form the top after removing dents. Be CAREFUL as many of those tops uprights (3) are just soldered on to the chimneys. And those little upright vent tabs will come off making reassembly a lot more fun. UGH!! But DOABLE. It is the ONLY way to get those dents out. Remember do it at night in a dark room. The torch will be your light. Dull red. Small neutral flame. Neutral means balanced or correctly matched mix.
Joe in Mo.