A week ago I got involved in a discussion about 5-piece vs. 3-piece back touring car bodies. My hypothesis was that the 3-piece back was introduced to make it easier to ship the touring car bodies in a knocked down form that would allow more bodies to be shipped in a single railroad freight car. As evidence I cited a photograph I had seen at the Benson Ford Research Center that showed body sides stacked together in crates for shipment to branch assembly plants.
Today I arrived at the BFRC in order to attend the retirement party of a long and good friend. I had a little spare time to spend in the stacks, so I decided to try and find the photograph I had seen several years ago. I didn't take me long to find a picture of touring car body sides in a knocked down state. However, it was obvious that these were not 3-piece back bodies, but instead were 5-piece back bodies. The date on the photo was March, 1917! It provided proof that knocked down touring car bodies were being shipped to the branch assembly plants 5 or 6 years earlier than I thought.
So much for my theory about why Ford changed from the 5-piece back to the 3 piece back body. But what we now know that we did not know a week ago is that Ford was shipping knocked down touring car bodies at least by 1917.
I apologize if I mislead anyone in my previous post.
How is it known that the crates were being shipped to US branch assembly plants and not being crated for shipment overseas? Was there any documentation or notes with the photograph? There were a lot of Ts shipped overseas for WWI.
I'm puzzled by another thought (or two). Would Ford have the bodies shipped to the factory, painted, disassembled, crated and then sent to assembly plants? The bodies were being made by several makers during that period. How did the Ford factory receive the bodies? Why wouldn't the makers just ship the bodies directly to the assembly plants?
There was very little information on the photograph. It had a Ford Motor Company negative number and the date March 13, 1917. The photo was made just about 3 weeks before the entry of the United States into World War I on April 6, 1917, and most Model T production was still going on in the domestic Ford assembly plants.
We can't rule out your idea, but we can't confirm it either.
Thank you Trent B, for all your research and efforts to educate all of us. Together, we can all keep learning.