Well I'm the proud new owner of the '12 "Tweetie Bird Torpedo" that was listed on ebay. I looked it over last week and after reading remarks, research, and some dickering with the owner it will be moving to Texas in a couple of weeks. The car has had some changes through the years but has good bones and this is my first entry into the Brass era after 45 years with later T's. And yes there is something called Brass Fever! NOW the first of what I'm sure will be many questions. There is very little that I have found about the atypical B series 1912 cars. Basicly some 12000 were built after the start of the 1913 models. This one is B3XXX. The motor transmission frame and body follow the traditional '12 features. After repainting it the correct blue, My first hurdle is the fenders. Going into this I factored in the cost of replacing them. I don't have the time talent or patience to make flat surface fenders look perfect. My First question concerns the front ones on the car. They appear to be the same age and "life" as the rears. They don't have the bill that standard '12 fenders have BUT are forward flaired flange fenders typical of the early "13's. Since this car was built after the start of the '13 year I think it's plausable that these are actually original. At present I don't have the the inclination or money to turn it into an over restored point car but I want to invest my hard earned money into parts that will increase or at least maintain it's value. I know "it's my car and I can do what I want" but I am looking for input from some of the forum members in the know on how to address this, Go "Correct " or preserve the apparent linage of this car. If anyone has information on other B series 12's I would love to hear from them. I don't know what the judging guide lines say or if the B series have ever been addressed. Thanks in advance, Malory
Congratulations! It sounds like the car got a good home. If this is the one I am thinking of, it does need a little correcting, but as I recall, you are right, it looked like it was a really good start to a desirable brass T. Transition cars have always been tricky with model Ts. And all 1912 is one of the worst transition times as Ford prepared to change production facilities and company focus. Even experts disagree a lot on what is correct when. But as a transition 1912/1913, almost anything between late '12 and early'13 could be right. Personally, I would be tempted to keep anything like fenders if they appear to be correct for either late '12 or early '13 since the car appears to fall into that transitional area. If I recall correctly, it had a later steel coil box? And I know a later steering column. Things like that I would try to replace with something more correct for its era.
It does sound as though it may be a "made in 1913 model year" car, but it is definitely a 1912 model year style body. This sort of thing is likely to have been done at that time, but it may not be possible to ever know for certain whether or not it was originally done this way for this car. My best advice for that? Is to just quietly go with it. The car is what it is. A rare and desirable body style that has been through a hundred years of unknowns. I like to see cars restored as close to era correct as is reasonable. And then I like for them to be seen, driven, and enjoyed. So I do hope that you enjoy this car a lot!
And I would call it a 1912. Provided it is the one I am thinking of? And these are just my opinions.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
Wayne and I are like minded. Fix the things you believe are wrong, and leave the other things unless you find a definitive answer. I think it will be a great project.
I've got an awesome color for Midnight Blue. I'll be happy to pass it along.
Congratulations on your new Ford. After years of working with the black radiator cars you know the radiator is hot even with a shell. But it is even hotter without a shell (I keep forgetting that one).
Recommend you or anyone who has them, please post some photos of the actual car. That would save everyone a lot of time as we would not have to speculate nearly as much. I looked for a “sold” 1912 Ford on e-bay and did not find one listed. (Although there was an interesting sold 1911 touring that if I had more time I would have looked at). If you have the e-bay number, e-bay title, or a link to the posting – that would make it a lot easier for folks to find them. Longer term, recommend you or someone else post the photos from e-bay so folks will be able to see what was discussed. If I could have found the photos I would have gladly reviewed them and posted some of them.
A great explanation of the B-series engines (called motors by Ford) is located at: http://www.mtfca.com/encyclo/11-12Ser.htm A very short summary taken from that is:
Even more interesting is the uncovering of the "B"-numbered engine information contained in the dealer account books. Previous literature has mentioned the fact that Ford made 12,247 B-numbered engines "during fiscal 1913 in Detroit." Apparently these engines were built in the late summer and early fall of calendar 1912 and seemed to have gone into the bulk of the cars assembled between October [1912 and] January 1913 (1913 models). It also seems as though these engines were placed in a pile and were installed in a chassis in a random order, apparently whichever number was easiest to take off the stack.
Ford's engine production records indicate that the first engine serial number in fiscal 1913 (October 1, 1912) was 157,425. Early in October 1912 the B-numbered engines began and the standard serial numbers vanish from the books. (We examined just seven of the accounts receivable books, with over 2200 cars between September 1911 and 1914 listed, so we can't give an exact date for the last standard-numbered or first B-numbered engine.) Once in a while during this period a "standard" number appears but most are B-numbers until late November 1912 when the standard numbers resume, mixed with the B's.
Data for 1912 is further confused by the significant number of engine numbers listed in the early months of that year which are out of numerical order. Serial numbers as low as in the 86,000 range are mixed in with numbers as high as in the 113,000 range between January and April 1912.
For a B-serial number discussion please see: http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/179374/198922.html?1300844408
Note of significance to you, while many folks cannot find out any details about their car, you have about a 22% chance or so that you engine serial number is listed in the accounts receivable ledgers. From that same reference above Bruce (R.I.P) stated:
“Recently [that was last century now], however, the Research Center at the Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village located a substantial amount of material which has opened new vistas in the evolution of the Model T Ford. Included in this material are some, but not all, of Ford's account books covering this period. These books contain the name of the dealers, what they bought, when they paid, and the dates and serial numbers of the Model T's they purchased.”
It is not an easy task, but if you want to see if the Benson Ford Archives has your engine number listed in one of the few ledgers they still have (75 percent or so are lost – maybe one day a few additional account receivable ledgers well be found hiding in the wrong box – see: http://jupiter.plymouth.edu/~trentb/HFMGVStacks/Stacks.html
for why that could happen). Those original ledgers are located in Accession 623 of the Benson Ford Archives. [For others they and some other ledgers cover 1903-Jan 1915 or so.]
Additional posting on the ledgers – how to find them, how they are organized by dealer and NOT by serial number see:
“IF” you did find your car listed in the Accounts Receivable ledgers it would give you the date the car was shipped which would give you and excellent reference point for when the car was produced. I.e. some time close to when it was shipped and clearly NOT after it was shipped.
And if you have the engine rebuilt there is a good chance there is a date stamped on the transmission shaft. That is the date the transmission was built – but usually would be close to the date the engine was assembled, which for a late 1912 should be relatively close to the time the car was assembled. That would also help you further verify the date of your car.
Finally there is a longer version of the serial numbers from Bruce’s research. Still not complete but longer than what he included on the web site. That listing is available on his CD which is available from: http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/331880/333725.html?1357665853 (shipping was $6.25 in Mar 2015). If you do not have access to that, if you send me your engine number, I will run a search and see if it is included. If it is, then you will have the date your car was shipped, and if not you still have a chance that it is listed in one of those remaining ledgers. Note the first B engine that I have a date on is B1330 that has a transmission shaft that was dated Aug 28, 1912 [we do NOT know if the transmissions were stored before they were assembled with the B numbered engines. So that may or may not be of much help]. On Oct 8, 1912 B-4,121, B-4,239 ## B-4,267 ## were shipped. And on Oct 15, B-1,348 ## B-1,567 ## B-3,232 ## were shipped. And at the other end of the B-numbers on Dec 1, 1912 B-3,384 ## B-4,298 ## B-4,318 ## were shipped. And on Dec 20, 1912 B-1,054 was shipped. And Bruce stopped on Dec 31, 1912 and there was number B-11,316 ## and there were some in Jan 1913 also based on Bruce’s comments above. So you can see they are all over the map with which serial number was shipped when.
And yes, since we have documentation that a B-numbered car could have been shipped anywhere between Oct 1912 and as late a Jan 1913 – clearly if your car was one of those assembled after the introduction of the fenders without the lips – it would have been fitted from the factory that way. You should be able to use other chassis information to help you establish that the car was later rather than earlier 1912. For example if it was a late 1912 Torpedo we would expect to see the late 1912 rear axle under it. The one that was used from late 1912 to early 1915.
We look forward to seeing and hearing more about your car. In general keeping it like it was is good advice unless you have a good reason to change out an item (i.e. safety [it should have come from the factory with bronze thrust washer back then – but were they replace with the later babbitt ones?] or for a clearly documented wrong era part. I.e. no way that would have happened such as a 1926 engine in your car etc..
And of course Bruce’s book on pages 120-125 has a lot of photos of an original 1912 Torpedo serial number 129,xxx which could serve as a great reference for you.
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Here is a link to the car in question. It was also discussed on another thread recently. A nice example of an older restoration of an original 1912 Torpedo. As others have mentioned, Some things not correct but easily sorted. In my opinion, one of the nicest T's Ford built! Good luck with your project Malory.
Thanks so much for link. And that one allows us to find the original e-bay posting at: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Ford-1912-Model-T-Torpedo-Runabout-/121606217375?ssPageN ame=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2047675.l2557&nma=true&si=4Uq9yQsMqCj9Xa6pQg227N 8tc9k%253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc#ht_152wt_932 that has the photos we will want to review. No time at the moment.
If someone has the earlier link where the car was discussed on the MTFCA forum, that probably has many of the questions and some of the answers that are needed to better date the car. I looked quickly but I did not see a photo of the rear axle pumpkin.
I did a quick search on the engine number and I did NOT find it in the subset of engine numbers that Bruce had in his CD.
Thank you again Warwick for the link!
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As you can see already, this time frame Fall of 1912 through Fall of 1913 is interesting to quite a few folks. I second those above much more experienced than myself to keep the car as it is. Most of the transition cars end up shedding light on some aspect not previously known.
The date, struck by hand, on the transmission stub shaft that Hap mentions looks like this:
Of course this cannot be seen until your engine is apart one day.
So far, these transmission dates seem to be about a week or so in advance of the complete engine assembly date. The "7-11-13" is in an engine cast on 6-19-13, with a serial number indicating an assembly date of 7-17-13 by Bruce's Book. Bruce shows another picture on page 106 of his book and that date was done with a chisel.
Anything can happen but if that transmission date falls after the casting date by about two weeks to a month, it could very well be that your engine assembly is an "as assembled at the factory" unit. Essentially for the B's, the "earliest date" the car could have been assembled with that engine.
Why did Ford date the transmission shaft? Quality control? Don't know. However, if I were trying to be sure that the engine assembly line did not stop, it would tell me how close I was to the only other assembly line that could stop it; the transmission line. Just a guess on my part and I am often wrong but Ford didn't do anything without a reason.
It sounds like your car is a 1912 style car. Please post some pictures when you can.
Ken in Texas
Those fenders without bills are typical beginning in October 1912. See the notes in the ROC October 1912:
OCT 1 Acc. 575, Letter 352, Ford Archives
T-1414-B and 1413-B Front Fenders. Notes the change in the front flange (bill) from the 1912 pattern to the new 1913 pattern (no bill). Further comments that if one fender is replaced on an older car, both fenders would be needed to have a "matched set." Other minor modifications were made in the overall design to better facilitate installation on the 1913 cars.
The 1912 Torpedo Runabout body style continued to be used until October 1912, which fits the use of a B series engine block and no - billed front fenders nicely. So everything about this car (except the upside down horn mounting) is compatible with the record of changes, and the Accounts Receivables information that I researched several years ago.
See the notes in October 1912 ROC:
This could be your car:
I should further mention, if this were my car I would title it as a 1913 because that is what Ford would have called it when new. Great car!
Keith I would love to have the paint formula. I will pm but there may be others interested on the forum as well. Hap thank you for your information. I bought the CD from Bruce at Chickasha shortly before he passed. I didn't realize there was more info than in the book. Royce I wasn't sure what year to register. I don't have the title yet but believe it says 1911. Can I just change the year on the title when I get it to Texas? Is anyone aware of any other B 12's around? I will post some other pictures as soon as I figure out how to resize. Thank you all and if anything else comes to mind please post it. Malory
You should be able to talk to the person registering the car at the DMV, and bring with you a print out of the 1913 model year page from the MTFCA web site as evidence that the previous title was in error. Also bring a picture of the serial number on the block, and the date on the cylinder head. You should have no problem.