I've restored one vehicle in my entire life, a 1942 Ford GPW WWII jeep. My wife wants us to undertake a Model T project that he has had in her family since the 60's in a barn in Leavenworth, KS. I need to pull it out and get it home to GA along with all the spare bits and parts. It will be a speedster project which I hope will allow me to understand the basics of the Model T without the constraints of a specific model or year. With my jeep, it was join a local club, national club and a lot of forum discussion and manual reading.
What's the best way to start with this Model T project?
Same way.. First evaluate the body, you don't want to discard a perfectly good body. get some books from the MTFCA as needed. After the evaluation start with the motor, then rear axle. front axle , wheels. Look at everything, check everything for wear and looseness, Easy really, takes about a year of weekends....
Same way as you did with the jeep.
Join a local club, national club, frequent this forum, ask lots of questions, plan to get dirty, and have fun.
Post good pictures here!
Welcome to the affliction!
Tony was faster than me!
Don't forget the last item I mentioned.
Caution. Model Ts have a tendency to multiply so make sure you have a big garage!
This is only photo I have of it so far. As I mentiond, need to pull it out and get it home. Just wanted to start researching some good books or manuals prior to ETA in GA.
Let's try again.
Robert - This is a very active forum with lots of experienced Model T folks. Hopefully you will find it helpful.
This is a good start, and often overlooked:
Also these books, which are published by the club and will guide you through rebuilding various components:
Interesting rear suspension. Shortened drive shaft and super long springs.
Robert, it looks like what you have is a tractor conversion. It likely still has plenty of T parts in it but will take some dedication to make it back into a car. Any chance you can trade it for what looks to be a red roadster behind?
Adding a little to what Tony and Dan posted: http://dauntlessgeezer.com/DG80.html
Wow, not much to work with there!
You have a T-based doodlebug there. Pretty nice one from the picture. As Tim pointed out, it COULD be made back into a car (pretty much anything can be done) - but with the availability of so many uncut frames, the enormous amount of effort and cost that would involve in returning that one to it's original state would not make sense.
There are many of us on here with T doodlebugs (and there are some, like me, who ONLY deal with doodlebugs). Google search MTFCA Doodlebug threads and you'll see all the posts over the last 3 or so years - lot of pictures on there.
I think you have a jewel and would restore her as a doodlebug. They are unique, a hell of a lot of fun and important examples of American ingenuity in the face of necessity. Check out my profile pics and you'll get an idea of what yours could look like when done.
Hmmmm. Understand now the doodlebug "bones" and am wondering if this is something I want to undertake as my first Model T project to learn the basics of a Model T, or if this cration will lead me down more "wrong" turns than correct one. All of the cars in that garage are now in my family. The red Model T roadster was going to be a future project after I learned some basics. Perhaps I should start with the 1917 Model T and let someone else play with the doodlbug?
What would you do? The other 5 cars in the garage are various Model A vehicles. My wife has an attachement to the red Model T as she remembers it running and her Dad driving her in it. For that reason, I will probably have to keep it pretty original. I saw a replication of an 1917 Model T WWI ambulance and my wheels startid turning, but I picked up on the vibes that this roadster should be restored as a roadster.
If the red roadster is the one we see behind your "project, yes, it looks like a better candidate to learn on. Keep the doodlebug for later, you may have some real fun with it after you get the 'T bug' in your blood. The Model As look pretty nice. Looks like you've got a '29 and a 30/31 Tudor there.
If I wanted something to drive, I would sell everything u have there, and buy something u can drive, a lot less work, and and cheaper too, and u wont get frustrated half way thru and then sell, for less than u have in the projects
Well that may be an option as well. We had some "experts" come in and look at the cars and parts. The two model T's, 3 complete Model A's and two extra A bodys and all sorts of wheels, starters, axles, etc.
They offered $2400 for all and we passed. Didn't think $2400 would buy us anything driveable to replace all the "potential". But, yes, if we could get a Model T or Model A driver out of this collection, we would consider that.
We understand, after our jeep project, that we'll never get out of the final product what we invest in it, it's either a labor of love, or a personal journey. Not a cash cow.
The doodlebug is disappointing. I could see me or my wife driving around in a little bright yellow speedster or racer. Not plodding along in a black high wheeled tractor.
Maybe I can start with the doodlebug bones and cobble up some sort of pick up or small flat bed stake truck. Just thinking out loud.
Never underestimate the fun of a doodlebug. They are popping up in greater quantities at tractor shows now - so many were claimed for parts or scrap, that people make a real effort to save the ones that are left.
I'd HAPPILY take that one off your hands if you were closer.
yes the $2400 was to cheap for what I see there,
$2000-2400 might get you that one two door body!
Who ever offered you 2400 for what you have was a expert at trying to screw you out of what you have. I of course haven't seen any of the cars but if Model A's the are any good at all I would think you have closer to 10 K worth of parts and cars. Don't be in a hurry to sell. Get several opinions from people in the Model A clubs and the Model T clubs. The Clubs are all over the place.
It actually takes a some effort to sell anything if you want to get a fair price.
Also, you don't have to sell it as one lot.
All good advice. My wife, after seeing photos of Doodlebugs, seems to remember large knobbed or grooved rubber tires on the rear, so it makes sense to her that this would be a tractor type vehicle rather than a racer or speedster.
We need to discuss this some more as the speedster plans and now off the table. Perhpas selling what we have and purchasing a driver, even if we want to restore it as we go, at least we have something for immediate gratification. And, it wouldn't necessarily have to be a T, it could be an A or something along those lines. I realize we need to get back there and inventory all that we have and get things out in the light and photographed and turn engines over by hand and count wheels and frames and bodies, etc.
Would it be a correct presumption to at least seperate this into two lots? T stuff and A stuff? Or are people just looking for one project at a time? There would be value to us to sell as one or two lots and not get into the vintage parts business, although that would bring optimum prices. Time is money and vice/versa.
We are thinking of possibly selleing all the A stuff and using the funds to restore the T roadster and selling what T stuff is left with the Doodlebug.
"We are thinking of possibly selling all the A stuff and using the funds to restore the T roadster and selling what T stuff is left with the Doodlebug."
That sounds like a workable plan, Robert, especially since your wife has family ties to the Runabout. The doodlebug might sell better as a separate lot, rather than with a lot of T parts.
Mike is correct - I'd happily relieve you of the doodlebug if you were closer.
I got to get a look at the Dodlebug engine to see what is under the hood. From what I've read it could be anything from a Model T motor to a Ford tractor motor to almost anything else, two hamsters in a wire wheel. Also want to look around for the rear tires and see what I can put together to make it as "complete" as it ever was. Now that I know what to look for. Think farm, not racetrack.
Robert - she has a T engine. Pretty clear from the picture you posted above.
I know they are not the best photos, but here's some more of what's in the garage.
Model A coupe with the back cut off and replaced with a PU box. Also common during the Depression and WW2.
Silly question, remember that I know NOTHING about Modelt T's. But, if it has a Model T motor and some sort of cobbled hood and tub and two axles and some sort of frame, what is keeping this from being a speedster or some sort of "Bubbamobilt" rather than a farm impliment. Someone mentioned a beefed up spring and rear suspension, but is it an entirely different frame? Could I put 4 regular wheels and tires on this and get it to some sort of speedster resemblence? Or am I destroying something that should be restored to what it was once, even if that something was not a factory model?
It's a T frame - shortened, T engine, T cowl. Springs came from something else. Suspect the rear end is TT, because that was the rear end of choice (but would need better pics to confirm). With a doodlebug, you can do pretty much anything you want (there is even a crowd that converts them into something called "Doodlerodz" by dropping a rodded engine into them and gearing them for speed while retaining their tractor appearance). They were purpose-built to do work (farming, logging, etc) during the Depression or WW2 (when someone couldn't afford a tractor or they were not being made due to war production). Each is different and each a study of individual ingenuity and engineering. Honestly, for those reasons alone, I think it needs to preserved for what it is. In today's throwaway society where few can wield a wrench, never mind create what they NEED out of junk, it is a piece of American history. But I'm biased - I've been messing with them for almost 40 years and go to what others would say were ridiculous lengths to save every one I come across (especially T-based ones, which seem harder to find).
Robert -- I agree with Ron. The doodlebug should be rebuilt as a doodlebug, not something else. There are lots of folks who go crazy about them, so let it go to one of them. Forget the speedster idea, then you can concentrate on your wife's Runabout.
I have resurrected six speedsters over the years. I also have an appreciation for the tractors and doodle bugs. My feeling for a very long time has been that far too many speedsters and doodle bugs have been parted out rather than restored. They too are a significant part of model T history. Although I do not have any tractor/doodle bug stuff, I read the doodle bug threads often. When I was little, my grandfather was still running the family ranch in Modesto CA. I can remember the tractors he had built way back before I was born. I have commented several times on those threads that I really wish I could go back and have one or two of those "home-built" tractors. Being family pieces, they would be be very special to me. But, alas, they were gone a long time ago.
Parts to put together a speedster, and even original speedster parts are still easy to get (at least around Califunny). If it is an option? I would recommend taking on the runabout first. It is family, it is there (you could replicate an original type rumble seat kit and carry four people). At some time later you could also do a speedster. You may find that you would enjoy the doodle bug/tractor also.
Welcome to the affliction!
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
Make a short little roadster. This guy has a lot of fun with this one.
In some areas youngsters built shortened "strip downs" out of Model T's during the 30's that resembled doodlebugs but were more like speedsters in character.
The springs for the rear axle on the shortened T above makes me think it may also have been some type of strip down since most doodlebugs had unsprung rear axles, I think? Doodlebugs must also have some kind of extra trans for power at the cost of speed, can't see any in the picture?
Here's a story from an oldtimer about his strip down T, Norris Chambers from Brown County, Texas:
Have been following your posts, but didn't get the "red Model T roadster" until I lighten up the photo you posted.
This 'red roadster' is most certainly a candidate for restoring. Its seems all Model T, frame and all. Body is needing body wood, door and a cowl added, you then add fenders, aprons, and running boards for a nice looking T.
This other 'project' is a collection of non-Ford stuff on a cut down Model T '26-'27 open car. The body is just the cowl, the frame has been cut down, and the rear crossmember moved to shorten. The rear springs are non Ford. Appears an accessory transmission to gear down to 10mph or less Doodlebug speed is under the tractor tires mid frame.
Sell this Doodlebug stuff and use the $ to redo the red roadster runabout....you can street drive that....the Doodlebug is off road grass/dirt only.
Not sure there is anything "non-Ford" on/in that doodlebug - no idea what the springs are from....could be Ford. Everything on that doodlebug, with the exception of those springs and the rear hubs, is indeed T however
The rear end under that is non-T, and probably non-Ford. I may be old Chevy. They used a torque tube similar to Ford up until 1954 I think. Chevy rear ends and transmissions adapted easily onto Ford engines. Actually, that chassis with some modifications (mostly moving the rear end farther back) could be used to make a very nice speedster or race car. I still think it should be preserved as what it was used for (if you can determine really what that was).
The runabout (roadster) would be more work and money to restore. But the end reward would be a lot greater also. Re-wooding an antique automobile can be scary? But the runabout is one of the easiest bodies to do. I am nearing completion of re-wooding my '15 runabout. For cost savings reasons, I have done every bit of the work myself. It wasn't nearly as difficult as I expected.
If we are all talking about that same runabout? It looks as if some of the restoration has already been done? If so, that car could maybe be done fairly easily. Again, better pictures may help here.
Whatever you decide to do with these? Good luck and enjoy them.
Robert, I've been given 3-4 frames, 5-6 differentials, and as many drive shafts. If they aren't any more rare there than here, you could make a speedster or whatever out of that doodlebug, or whatever you want of it for very little $$. If one of the engines is in running condition, you could get something running while you are working on the other and switch engines if desired later. You have lots of options.
My initial thinking was that there was value in learning the Model T by working on this Doodlebug Speedster vehicle and not feeling any "pressure" for a mis step or shoulda/woulda/coulda application. So, even if it ends up being a Roberbug type thing, it would be a nice transition into the roadster from a education point of view.
Even if I didn't want to go with the dirt tractor bug, I could get the running gear into shape and see what there was to use as a foundation and maybe do a short bed pick up or stake truck or something that kept it in the farm implimnet field (no pun intended) but would have a somewhat borader appeal to the general public. I could keep it in the stable or offer it for sale and use those proceeds to move forward on the roadster.
My wife rembers the roadster running in the /50's and there was partial restoration started at that time, so it should be complete although it is a much earlier (1917) than the Doodlebug parts will be. Presuming a Model T engine is a Model T engine.
Ron -- What do you mean " if he was closer" ?
Robert is only in Atlanta,
Just a short Sunday drive from Massachusetts.
And you would be able to get out of the state for a few hours!
What more do you want?
Fred - I went to Philadelphia to haul my Shaw out of a collapsed barn where she had sat for 40+ years and Wilkes-Barre to pickup my '27 T/IHC mower. PA probably marks the limit of my hunting ground to the south/southwest.
"Presuming a Model T engine is a Model T engine." Well, yes and no. With the introduction of electric start in 1919 models, there were some major changes in the block. Some parts will interchange and some won't.
Robert, I'm in Fairmount, Ga about 60 miles north of Atlanta. I have 40 years of experience with Model Ts. I will be glad to help any way I can.
Is there a local club? Atlanta or N. GA?
We used to have a local club in the other model t club. MTFCI.
I'm still contact for the club but we aren't currently active.
So, my game plan is to go back to Leavenworth in a few weeks after getting my garage here in ATL orgainized so I've got room for it. Then, take the trailer back to Leavenworth and pull the Doodlebug and all Model T parts that we can identify as Model T and bring it all back to ATL for further evaluation and possible restoration/creation. Then, if we proceed to the 1917 roadster, we will have all the parts in ATL and just to haul back the car.
Would love to have the roadster completed by the 100 year anniversary of the end of WWI in 2018, but I think that will be pushing it. Light patrol car? Staff car? I like OD green.
Appreciate any advice or guideance in my game plan. Really can't make too many decisions until I can get my hands on the rust.