As a newbie to the hobby I got to wondering if there is any information or records that speak to the kind of longevity and amount of service work that was needed on the typical T back when they were in everyday use? Do we have any dealer service records or possibly factory testing or durability information on the mechanical drive line?
I know that the T was supposed to be very durable and with the large number of dealers and all of the "Genuine Ford Parts" that were available you could literally have kept the car running forever by just replacing whatever wore out or broke.
Was this Henry's intention, that someone's model T should last him a lifetime? Bob in South Jersey
Robert, I think you will have to define "service life until something specific needs to be repaired or replaced". Otherwise, some Model T's already have a service life over 100 years old!
Robert I don't know about Ts but my dad was a mech. For a ford dealer in the 30s before he started his own shop he told me if you got 10 to 15,000 miles with out a ring job that was doing good at that time ford had a rebuilt eng. Exchange deal that was very cheap for v8 engs he put a piece of sheet metal up next to rad. So he could slip eng. Out to save time
In the earlier days, Not just model Ts, but most cars in general really didn't last all that long. There were many exceptions. A Hupmobile touring was driven several tens of thousands of miles and clear around the world in 1911/'12. Several Studebakers were proclaimed to have gone over 200,000 miles before the mid '20s. Locomobiles and Pierce Arrows were also famous for over 200K, supposedly without major rebuilds. Just to be fair, Rolls Royce also did so.
Most cars, however, were literally beaten and ground (by dirt and dust) to death in 50,000 miles or less. High mileage cars were usually city cars. But not always.
On top of that, before the late 1920s, cars were like computers were twenty years ago. Technology was changing so fast that in the early days, a car could be obsolete in only one or two years. By the mid '20s, they were still obsolete in only a few years.
Most cars, including model Ts, had a maintenance list. Things you did every day that you drove it. Things that were done every 50 miles. Things that were done every 100 miles. Things that were done every 500 miles. And yes, if you drove a long way in a day? You were supposed to stop and do the 50 mile service every 50 miles (or thereabout).
Rings and valves were commonly done every 5000 to 10,000 miles due the the dust and no air filters. Knowing that, I sometimes doubt the high mileage claims made for some cars, but, then again, some city cars did not see a lot of dirt roads.
Nowadays, a properly rebuilt model T engine (properly driven and cared for) should easily give over 50,000 miles of good use without any major work (maybe a rod tighten or two). Several people have gone way beyond that amount.
Henry Ford knew he had a good thing going. Even building cars very well to last a long time under the conditions of the day, he knew they would need to be replaced over and over again.
Robert D! Welcome to the affliction! For many of us, model Ts have been a life-long illness, for which there is no cure. The only treatment is more model Ts, work on and drive them often. However, fear not. They also connect the afflicted to a better understanding of history and the rest of the world around us more than almost any other thing in the world can. That is their gift to us.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
Bob, here's some info I try to pass along to all the new folks: http://dauntlessgeezer.com/DG80.html.
The museum here has a '22 Buick 6 cylinder OHV. There is no provision for the motor oil to lubricate the rockers; one is expected to manually oil them every 59 miles. An oil can is on the firewall for this! (very much like the Ford oil can, but a shorter spout).
I'm sure we all treat our T's a lot gentler than they did back than, One thing i have never heard mentioned here is, if they had some sort of warranty program?..What happened if something broke a week after you bought your beloved T? ..Anyone know how Ford dealt with these people?
The Model T was produced in ridiculously large numbers (over 15-million), which gave it a tremendous head start in terms of sheer survival numbers. _By the time the role of the Tin Lizzie had switched over from that of a practical, hard-working, basic means of transportation to the object of the car collector's affection, a very large supply of reasonably-priced spare parts had been stockpiled by a plethora of dealers.
The above two conditions kept each other nourished, forming a kind of symbiotic "circle of life" that endured since about the end of WWII. _Model T Fords still existed in large enough numbers to justify the manufacture of after-market parts—and these replacement parts kept that large number of cars in existence to the point of creating a demand for more parts.
Then, the internet came into being and this had the effect of centralizing a great percentage of the world's collective Model T talent, knowledge and experience (right here). _In other words, the internet gave us what is probably the very best and most secure owner support of any automobile ever built. _It's a big enhancement to the Model T Ford's already impressive numerical survival.
Added to the above is the car's almost go-kart simplicity. _The Model T was intentionally designed to be maintained by its original purchaser and today's owners certainly benefit from this characteristic. _
With all that, the car is as adorable as a kitten sleeping in a teacup. _Everybody who sees it loves it. _I suppose it's entirely possible that barring a destructive accident, the average Model T Ford can be maintained to run indefinitely.
Bob is right. I have one grandson who is particularly interested in our TT. I have taught him that we can keep it running and on the road as long as we choose to.
Thank you and everyone else that has responded to my musings. I have always been fascinated by mechanical things. The era from the last part of the 19th century and the first 2 decades of the 20th century saw the flowering of mass production of all kinds of mechanical devices. Everything from mechanical music machines to automobiles to home appliances and farm machinery, and Henry Ford and his Model T were right in the middle of all of it.
I am glad that The members of the MTFCA are keeping the model T alive and preserving the actual living part of that time in our past when automobiles were just beginning to become part of our everyday life.
Thanks again to everyone who is having fun driving and working on an important part of our history.
Bob in South Jersey