Hey forum members,
What books or other sources exist that tracks or chronicles frame, drive line, chassis changes that were made to the 1 ton trucks? I have been trying to find a source of this information in order to help keep my TT accurate during its restoration and to pin point what year my chassis is. Your help is appreciated!
The MTFCI Judging Guidelines has some info on TT's by year. Probably not as much as you'd like, but it's a start. And it's an informative book to have on hand, with lots more info about each year's cars.
I've scrounged around a little over the years and found specific information on TT changes elusive. Even in the Ford Price List, Chassis and Body Parts, Model T One Ton Truck, Effective March 15, 1927 book there are discrepancies.
For example, we all know the chassis rear cross member was shorter in early production trucks, but the book only shows the longer version and lists is as "1918-27". Likewise, early production truck rear axle clam shells has a bead at the axle tube opening but the book only has the later clam shell absent the bead and lists it too as 1918-27. It shows only the axle housing cap with the plug when we all know the early truck units had no plug.
On the other hand, the book does differentiate between the differential pinion shaft 1918-23 and the differential pinion spider 1923-27. At the same time, it lists the differential case for the spider but none for the shaft.
I guess the point is that there were few changes in the TT chassis over the 10 years of production. It seems specific data on when those few changes were introduced is lacking, either because it was never tracked in the first place or because it's been lost over the years.
I hope you find more than I did and if you do that you share it here on this forum. I'd like to know more too!
Jason, do you have any pictures to post of your TT? There was a thread last year on them but not much action since. It would be nice to see some to keep the motivation up for my restoration also. I started looking into just the changes of the C cab by itself and found quite a few but facts are scarce and speculation is abundant.
I have an odd take on "restoration" and trucks in general. First
of all, I have little more than contempt for "cutesy" and contrived,
preferring just using the vehicles as maintained, period conveyances
to over-polished "pretty things" bandied about to car shows and
As a result, I shoot for a semi-correct, period appropriate look to
the cars/trucks as I remember them ... used vehicles, still on the
road, and doing what they were meant to do. In other words, "barn
fresh always beats out painstaking, flawless restoration. If my license
plate swings on a wire, or the horn isn't model-year correct, well that
is perfectly fine. As long as it looks period correct to a 10-15 year old
Model T (let's imagine it's 1939), then I am happy.
The opposite (in other car groups I am involved with) is a "Rainman"
type of fruitcake, who takes "correct" to the level of obsession and
turns a fun subject into a wet blanket affair. Not good. Just say "no"
to being a Rainman.
Have fun. Don't get too serious. Anything not "right" is easy enough
to change later, and even that should be fun as part of the vehicle owner-
I think there is room for all kind of folks in our hobby from those just checking it out to see if they might want one of those old funny looking cars to those who have painstakingly researched what they believe is correct for their car (and yes some folks really enjoy that part of the hobby) and all kinds of folks in between those two types.
It sounds like you are more interested in what will work properly rather than trying to get really close to what may have originally come on the truck from the factory when it rolled off the assembly line. And that works for lots of folks. But we still do not want to inadvertently mix the parts from different years and wind up with something that is not safe. For example a steering wheel that can rotate to far in one direction and have the pitman arm (Ford called it part #3547B Steering gear ball arm in the Aug 5, 1928 Price List of Parts) goes past center and is now pointing up rather than down. And now when you turn the steering wheel left the car goes to the right! That can be hard to learn at a slow speed in the driveway and can really be exciting if you add heavy traffic. Please see Royce’s excellent posting on what can cause that when someone inadvertently selects the wrong original Ford parts or modified parts or has way too much play in the steering etc. at the thread : http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/257047/300409.html .
And note also that just because a car is restored so it is as close as practical to having just rolled off the assembly line, doesn’t mean it has to be moved only in an enclosed trailer. See the story on Peter Ratledge’s very late 1911 that won the Stynoski Award in Jul 2012 at: http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/257047/301596.html?1343161095 It had completed an 80 mile tour the day before the Model T Ford Club International (MTFCI) judging. And I looked, but I did not find the posting on the Stynoski winner that after winning was seen driving through the streams with the other Fords on the tour.
Truth in posting – the Model T Ford Club of America (MTFCA) -- the site you are on, does not conduct a formal judging. The Model T Ford Club International (MTFCI) (http://www.modelt.org/ ) does hold a formal judging to identify the restoration that is closest to the way the Model T would have rolled off the assembly line. There are pro’s and con’s for having a judging and for not having a judging. Many of us belong to both clubs. I like the MTFCI’s desire to encourage folks to restore the car a close as reasonably possible to the way it left the factory, so others 100s of years from now will be able to see how they were back then. Having a car as it was back in the 1930s is also great. Not a right or wrong but an approach that is right for the different individuals.
Your TT looks great. I’ve often wondered about the vehicle on your profile page. It looks like it smokes a lot more than the average T -- but that it was probably designed that way. If you have a link to a previous thread with an explanation, please let me know. Or if you can post a short note on where it is being operated/web site etc. Thanks.
For Henry & Jason – I hope to add something a little later.
Hap l9l5 cut off
Ya' got me, Hap -- I just looked at Burger's profile page.
I strive to keep my vehicles "period correct", attempting to capture as much
of the period ambiance as possible, but I will not lose a moment of sleep running
"incorrect" wood bed stakes when the "CORRECT" metal ones are made of
pure unobtainium, add one more thing to perform metal-on-metal rattle, and do
not match the look and performance I want from my truck/s.
That said, it is not so much about the parts and general knowledge of what is
what ( I have no disagreement with that, especially on a safety angle). I would
advocate anyone to have as much fun with their vehicle as possible, and not to
get too invested in the absolution of correctitude as to become a Rainman sort
As for the photo on my profile. That's a dirt burner. If I could make my trucks
burn dirt, I'd be all over it. But alas, .... that might be a daunting proposition.
The photo is put their to convey the ambiance I envision when I think of Model T's
and other old steam-vintage cool stuff. It is the antithesis of car shows and parades,
judging and trophies. That shot was taken somewhere between Antonito, Colorado
and Chama, New Mexico.
For Burger – thank you for the update.
For Mike – oops, I didn’t mean to mislead you. But I was hoping to find out that Burger owned a steam train.
For Jason, Justin, & Henry,
First to “pin point what year” anything is on a Model T Ford car or Ton Truck can be challenging. In general Ford made running changes and did not necessarily make all the changes during the same time frame so it would be a “new year model” vehicle. Additionally Ford often used the “new style” part on some Models while some others might still be produced with the older style parts. For example the 1923 USA touring went to the slant windshield and one-man top in Sep 1922 while the roadster/runabouts did not get the slant windshield and one-man style top until Nov 1922 (ref page 308 Bruce McCalley (RIP) “Model T Ford.” And the change was not usually introduced at all locations at the same time. For example Highland Park began producing the 1915 cars with the metal cowl while many of the branches continued to produce the 1914 style cars. And there was often overlap when both styles of a part were produced for example the one piece valve cover engines began production Nov 1, 1921. But both the two door and one piece valve cover engines were produced at the main plant until Apr 3, 1922 – approximately 6 months when either style engine could be fitted to a new Ford. (Ref page 526 McCalley – and we don’t know if any branches continued to assemble the two piece valve cover engines after that or not. )
And of course parts were replaced over the years and even now.
Second the Price List of Parts was designed for servicing the cars and trucks not for identifying when a part had some minor changes. In general, if the previous part changed but the new part was not significantly different, the part number was not changed and nothing was added to the part number. The factory drawing and/or the factory change card would reflect that on such-and-such a date the drawing or specification was changed. Depending on the part, the change could be made really quickly or it might take a while for the new part to go into production. And in general Ford liked to use up the old parts before or during the same time period. There were a few times when the factory drawing was brought up to specifications on how the part was currently being assembled. In that case we don’t know how long they had been assembling the part that way before the drawing was updated.
So in the case of the Ton Truck rear cross member, part number 1123, Factory Number TT304, the same part number was used starting with the Apr 1918 price list for all the years of the Ton Truck. What does that mean? That you could purchase a rear cross member from the Ford dealer and it would fit any of the TT chassis. It might not be exactly like the one that was replaced but it would function fine.
You could find out when the change was requested or drawn up by checking the Factory Number TT304 (Factory Drawing) and the “record of change” card for the part. That would not give you a specific date, but it would normally tell you it was not before that date, as the drawing or the change card had to be done before the part would be changed. [Again, there were a few exceptions – the one I am thinking of involved the felt used to seal the hogs head to the back of the engines. The number or thickness of the felt changed on the line and then the “record of change” card was updated, “IF” I remembered correctly.]
In the mean time several folks have collected some information from various vehicles. Please see: http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/257047/294444.html?1339215516
http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/257047/292809.html?1338493486 -- note Fred Miller is working to compile information.
I think it would be great to better document the Ton Trucks. I believe it is usually just as easy to restore the likely correct parts for a given year range as other parts. So why not trade/barter/purchase the parts that fit in the same year range? Just my 2 cents YMMV.
Note, if the chassis still has the original engine, that can be a help in dating the chassis.
For some threads that add additional details about the Benson Ford Archives, what is there how the changes are documented etc. please see the postings below:
The following shows a factory drawing and record of change cards: http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/331880/410370.html?1388428168
Good luck with your search for additional Ton Truck data. And please let us know what you find and what you still need additional information about.
Hap l9l5 cut off
You are a wealth of knowledge. Thanks for your continual sharing.
Your point about running changes is how I understand the whole
T timeline to work, and little is "absolute" in terms of exact dates.
T's boil down into three groups, IMO, ... brass, black, and Improved.
Beyond that, it is a task of collecting knowledge on little details and
seeing where in all those details a particular vehicle seems to have
more or less of them to roughly nail down when it was likely made.
In that lucid paradigm of exactitude, I draw my "close enough" attitude
of renovation. I like them to be as representative of a given date spread
as possible, with a caveat that I don't want the thing "surgically restored"
to such a nitpicking level (unattainable without that allowance for lucidity)
that it more about spreadsheet data than just driving the damned thing !
No steam locomotive hiding in my backshop. Were I a trust fund baby
or beneficiary of a Nigerian prince, I'd probably be using my TT's to haul
locomotive parts around. As I chose my parents unwisely, I am relegated
to the lowly status of just owning a couple trucks.
I was out of town this weekend so I am just getting back to this thread. Thanks for everyone's input.
I really appreciate the great information and links you supplied. Hopefully they will allow me to narrow down the time span my chassis was made. I am really new to the hobby of vintage cars and trucks and kind of expected there to be more and/or better records kept by Ford but I can understand how we have what we have after all these years.
I am what you might call part of the upcoming generation of model T owners (I am only in my very early 30's). I like the 'pure' cars as well as the not-so-pure ones. They are all cool to me. I actually plan to keep my TT looking the way it does today --rusty! I love the weathered look on these old trucks. I also plan to use it once its running again. The bottom line with starting this thread is that it is driving me nuts what year my chassis is (give or take 1-2 years). The engine is 2/16/26 but the chassis has major hints that its older than that.
I might have been behind part of those threads about TT's last year. I bought mine last June as was asking some questions on here about it. Mine came as a rolling chassis and then had an aftermarket cab built. The bed is not original. Here's a picture of it (some people might recognize it)
I have a purty one:
And I have a nasty one:
The "nice" one will be used and abused until it has the well worn
look of a 10 year old farm truck. Most people would think this is a
nicely restored truck, and as far as I can tell, it is largely year-correct
for all those little details that say it is this or that. All who see it seem
to agree it is comprised of late-25, early 26 parts to suggest it was
sold as a 26.
The nasty one looks to be a largely unmolested 25 that needs a lot
of love, but is largely there and ready to go if given some attention,
new tires, etc. I will refurbish this truck to retain its "barn fresh" rusty
old appearance, with a mechanical refreshing as needed.
Bottom line: Americana in the face of an America only exposed to
"telephone apps" and tweets, having fun, and not taking things so