Hey folks I am new here just wanted to say hello and introduce myself a bit...My name is Terry and oh how I love these old Fords...My trade is auto mechanic but I also fabricate race car bodies in my spare time and other fabricating....My goal is to see if I can make a full 1915 body from scratch....I know its probably easier to buy a junk body and restore it but I can get sheet metal very cheap and just want to see if I can do it...After 25 years of doing this type of work I might have enough skill...lol My question is where would I find the dimensions and other detailed sketches such as panel gauge thickness and radius information? Thanks! Terry...This site is the most informative ones I have ever seen!
The body is a sheet meat skin over a wood frame. You want to have the wood pieces at the same time to fit them together. I did not build my 15 sheet metal from scratch but I did fit all of the wood. It's a ton of work but something to really be proud of when you are done!
i have some vague measurements if you want them, i can post them in the morning.
Rather than try to work from measurements and pictures alone, I'd try to find somebody nearby with a 1915 they'll let you study. It might be easier to make if you can see the real thing first hand.
What body style are you planning to build?
Moldings, fold-overs, points-of-attachment, mounting brackets, top brackets, compound curves. There are a LOT of details to consider if you want it to look like the real thing when done. You should have someone close by to assess those details on an existing car. Hopefully, one that is about half apart so you can look at all sides of the panels. Just a few measurements ain't gonna cut it!
I am currently (finally) in the process of restoring my '15 runabout body. Fortunately, for me, most of the sheet metal is fairly good and mostly straight. But only less than half the wood remained, and about a third of it was beyond even using for patterns. But I had bought a wood plan set several years ago, and was able to fill in the missing pieces. The wood structure is about half done now. Hopefully another week or two and I can start preparing the metal to go back on.
Both touring and runabout bodies remained very similar from 1915 into the early '20s, even though a half dozen different companies built those bodies for Ford. Many panels are interchangeable, across years, and across manufacturers, however they do not always fit quite the same. In addition, there are many variations in the wood structure (not adequately covered in the plan set I have). There were also major changes in the seat and floorboard risers over those years. I have recently been studying photos that I have bookmarked over the past several years and finding a LOT of variation there.
Sounds like an interesting project, and if done right it could be great!
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
Thanks for the information folks! I am going to have the wood backing just wanted to make the sheet metal pieces myself...The curves are a challenge and getting it to look correct is going to take a long time I understand that...I spent 800 hours working on a belly tank speedster many years ago and it about killed me but looked great when I got done...I really like the Runabout body and I want to see if I can create it with the correct look and style...I am hoping I can find someone in my area to get some feedback on the project..
Terry -- Howell's Sheet Metal in Texas makes the body panels for '15 Runabouts, all but the cowl. I'd buy new ones from them before spending 800 hours re-inventing the wheel. But if you want to do it just to say you did, go for it.
Be sure to post pictures for us to see when you're finished. I expect you'll get rave reviews!
Terry, I just finished hand fabricating a new right hand rocker panel for my '16 touring... I used 22 ga steel. Since I do not have access to an english wheel or planishing hammer,I made a series of wooden bucks to form the shape, then finished shaping on a sand bag. The lower door sills were formed separately then welded onto the rockers.
Like Steve said, duplicating existing body parts where shapes and curves can be copied would make the job much easier. The only difficult part to shape as I can see would be the cowl top. If you have the skills and time, I would say... go for it.
Terry, good for you. I am taking a different route, JUST TO SEE IF I CAN DO IT. I purchased a 1923 Touring chassis and a pile of sheet metal, hoping that everything was from the same car. You never know. Then I purchased a set of re-wooding plans from Leon Parker, scrounged around for suitable wood and begin fabricating wood pieces, test fitting sheet metal as I go. So far, so good. I did not want to spend a great deal of time repairing sheet metal if it did not fit or was from a different year or model. I am really enjoying the challenge and spend time most every day on this forum asking questions and looking for answers.
I saw the ones from Howell's and look great so I might buy a few small pieces to see how hey look and take it day by day...I am not retired yet so working full time does slow me down quite a bit...I have an English wheel and I took the full course from Ron Covell and learned quite a bit I have old tree stumps all over the place to hammer on but I know some of the curves will be hard to do...I do have a few chassis parts laying around also. If I run into trouble I will buy what I need to complete the car...Buying the wood sections will make things much easier for me so I decided to do that...I will post some pictures once I sort things out...Things guys it means a lot to have the support and information.
Why don't you buy a junk 15 body, make your parts to match, then sell the body ?
Hello Ted, I might do that once I figure some stuff out like cost and where a body is located...Its would be easier for me to create panels with some sort of guide.
One alternative is to find someone with a body you want to duplicate, then make flex molds using fibreglass packing tape. I'm not sure if Covel uses this method or one of his students developed the technique.(as I recall he fabricates whole body bucks from MDF).
If you're not familiar with the process you cover the body shape with the tape in one direction then run tape at 90 deg. to the first layer. When you pull the tape pattern off the body part, you will have a perfect mold of the shape to copy when wheeling the new part. Cheaper than buying a body.
You might give John Regan of Fun Projects a call and see how you could work with the Benson Ford Research Center to obtain the drawings you need.
I am familiar with using the packing tape method its a good idea and a lot cheaper...I have many options I won't start building anything until after summer since I have more important work to do but I just wanted some feedback since I have never done it...
It is doable and a lot of work. We had to re-skin the body on my brothers 1911. Fortunately we had good patterns and wood to work with. A 15 body is constructed in a similar manner. Getting patterns from an original body or creating patterns from drawings will be your a big challenge.
If you dig through these photos you can see how we restored the body on the 1911.
If you can't find a real car to copy i can tell you some measurements from mine.