This may be a stupid question, but can you use the engine serial number log with the data plate? What I mean to say is, using the engine log, can I put a date to the manufacture of the body of my car according to the data plate numbers? My engine number is 495,XXX which lists it at April of 1914. The data plate is 463,XXX, which, according to the same log, would put the body build at early March, about a week before the cast date on my engine.
No. The body patent plate number is not related to the engine VIN number stamping date found in the Ford factory records.
In general the body number is 30,000 - 40,000 lower than the engine VIN in 1914. The two sets of numbers are otherwise unrelated.
I believe that your 1914 touring actually has three numbers on it. It has the engine number which is stamped on the engine block and should match your title. The brass patent plate on the dashboard is the Ford "CAR" number. The body number is located under the driver's seat cushion. It is stamped into the wood, or stamped into a metal plate that is fastened to the wood, depending upon which company built the body for Ford.
I have recently acquired a 1914 brass patent plate for Ford "CAR" number 463487, which is close to Bill Elliott's patent plate number. (His is 463XXX.) This will go on another 1914 touring body that I have, that is missing it's plate.
Jim, my T came out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It sat in an auto parts store in downtown for thirty plus years until the previous owner rescued it in the 90's. The data plate is number 463748 so your's would be a tad earlier.
Ok, but which number tells you when the car is built? The brass plate or the body number, either stamped in wood or into a plate under the seat?
Some body makers stamped a date in the wood, others did not. If the date is stamped in the wood, then you have the date the body was made.
The patent plate stamping number is a sequential number that has no relevance to a specific date of body or car manufacture necessarily. Bodies were shipped to branches, they were shipped to Highland Park, and they might or might not be used or installed in any particular order. The factory stopped recording body numbers in the Accounts Receivables shipping ledgers in 1912. Body numbers were only used through 1915 model year. Patent plates did not have body numbers on them after about summer 1915.
Engines on the other hand are well documented, both by the factory (except 1912) and by comparing the engine block casting date to the serial number. You can be certain that the serial number was not stamped on the block prior to the casting date on that block.
Shipping dates are also well documented up to December 31, 1914 when the factory shipping records in the Accounts Receivable archives ended.
Bottom line up front:
The generally accepted number is the engine serial number.
1) The engine has a cast date, but it has very little to do with car assembly. Sometime the difference between cast date and engine assembly date is only a couple of days. Sometimes it is a month.
2) The engine has a serial number. On 1914 it is located above the water inlet. This engine number is the serial number of the car. This is the generally accepted method for dating a car. The Ford "fiscal year" went from Oct 1 to Sept 30, however the "model year" for 1914 the model year went from Aug 1913 to Jan 1915. A 1914 model year car would have the flat firewall and rounded bottom doors. If the bottom of the door is square, it would be the 1913 model year. If it has a cowl, it would be a 1915 model year.
3) There is a "patent plate". This goes by different term: patent tag, body plate, id tag...
It is confusing because this "car number" was used by Ford for inventory and shipping, but it has little significance for your 1914 today. On early cars, the serial number and the number on the patent plate was the same (up until early 1911.)
The engine was done and stamped first, then the chassis was done, so the engine serial number does not indicate the car's completion date. Don't get too hung up serial numbers.
4) There is a "body number." Do NOT confuse this with the "car number" which is stamped on the patent plate and attached to the body! The body number is a number that was assigned by the body builder. In 1914 there were a variety of body builders including Beaudette (often called Pontiac), Wilson, Fisher, Hayes, Hubert, maybe others. Depending on the body builder, this number is sometimes on a metal tag on the seat riser. Sometimes included is a date code. Earlier cars were stamped into the wood of the seat riser and even under the back doors. Other cars, I believe generally later, had the body number stamped into the floorboard riser on the passenger side.
After 1911, there is no direct correlation between the engine serial number, patent plate(car) number, and body number.
By 1914 the assembly line was in full swing, so production had more of an even flow and inventory was used on more of a "first-in first-out" basis.
On earlier cars is was not unusual to have an earlier style body on a later serial number engine and chassis, like on Royce's 1912.
For car s/n 1,119 to 70,750 there are "build sheets" or "shipping invoices" available which give a ton of details, but, sorry, they are not available for 1914 cars.
Neither the engine number, car number nor body number will determine the date your finished 1914 car came off the assemble line.
I'm not sure if I cleared things up or just confused you more...
: ^ )
The patent plate, or car number plate that was placed on the firewall ceased to have the car number stamped on it in late 1915. A '16 will have the same plate, but will have no number on it, it will be blank.
Ford did not use the stamped number found on the patent plate for recording shipping date in 1914. Ford had discontinued recording body numbers in the shipping records very early in the 1912 model year. See my post above.
Thanks Royce. I didn't realize that they discontinued recording body numbers in 1912. Seems odd since they kept numbering them so long.
: ^ )
Royce, my '12 torpedo doesn't have a data plate. I don't see any holes in the firewall to indicate that there was one. Being a B numbered engine built in the gray zone of '12-'13 should it have one and if so how do you think it would have been numbered? Malory
Thanks for all the input, fellas - you cleared things up nicely. Royce, I know you've done some research at the Benson Ford Research Center and found the shipping invoice for your car. I also know you sent me info on how to go about doing this, but for the life of me I can't find it! Can you tell me how to use the Research Center to see if my shipping invoice exists? I firmly believe my car spent it's entire life in the Milwaukee area prior to me bringing it to the Great State of Michigan.
The Accounts receivables records are at the Benson Ford archives in Dearborn. They are divided into files by dealer name. Within each dealer file the entries are by shipping date. If you knew the name of the original selling dealer it makes searching easier.
Perhaps 15% of shipping records are available for 1914, so there is no guarantee. I looked for the records for all my cars in 2008. I was only able to find the record for my 1913 touring. I was unable to find records for my 1912, 1914, or 1915 Model T's. I spent three full days looking at the records during that visit.
If you have the B serial number there are shipping records showing that number, or one close to it. We can assume with some certainty that your body tag would be 30,000 - 40,000 numbers lower than a normal serialized engine Torpedo shipped near the same date. Your block should have a casting date that again would lead to a certain numerical range of possibility.
Royce, the engine number is B3886 with casting date of 8/28/12. My assumption is the B's were first in / last out which would be in keeping with the early'13 nonbilled front fenders which I believe to be original to the car.
What is the date on the transmission stub shaft of B3886?
The transmission stub shaft was dated on the early cars and B3886 could not have been assembled into a complete engine prior to that date unless the transmission was/is not original to the engine assembly.
The numbers are about the same size as the serial numbers on the block.
Ken in Texas
Ken,I haven't had the engine apart yet so I haven't had a chance to check the assembly date. I will be in Houston this week, would love to get together. If you would like send me a pm and I'll call you.