So, I am getting ready to replace the top on two of my cars.... my 1913 Touring and my 1915 Touring. The 1915 is unrestored and the bows are original. The top was replaced in 1950's some time. The 1913 also has the original top bows and has a replacement top from the 70's. In any event, I need to replace some of the bows in the 1915 but I am concerned about the shape of the bows that are sold at the catalog houses. If you observe the photo's, you will see that the black and white photo of the 1913 as a rear bow that has a graceful, more gentle radius and does not have a flat top to the rear bow. This is EXACTLY how my 1913 rear bow is. If you look at the color photo of Royce's two beautiful cars which are side by side (thanks Royce!) they both have rear bows that have sharper radius to the corners and a much flatter top. This is EXACTLY how my 1915 rear bow is!
So the million dollar question is, what are the shape of the bows from places such as Langs?
And which one is correct? Or, are they both correct for their perspective year?
Were all the early bows originally gently arched like the photo of the 1913? Did they just flatten out over the years?
Personally, I like the look of the rear bow with the gentle radius. IT sits up higher and gives the car a proud stance.
In any event, your input if welcome.
bow rests are oval on the 15 and round on the 13. charley
The curvature and greater height of the '13 rear bow was provided by a double cut, wedge shaped slat which was fitted to the top of the rear bow before the top was put on. My brother makes that slat and has them available separately from the bows. I believe that the center and rear bows of the '15 touring are the same as the '13 and '114 cars. The front bow is different, however.
R.V. - Thanks for the info but I'm having a hard time picturing what you are talking about. When I look at the two different cars, I simply see a bow with a different curvature. Is the double cut slat something that pulls the bow into that shape? Otherwise, all I see is a bow when I look up inside the top. Hopefully, Larry Smith will show up with a sketch!
The slat is higher in the center than at the ends and is also wedge shaped, with the thin part towards the front and the thick part at the rear. When this is installed atop the bow and then covered by the top material it gives the rear bow the appearance of a different profile. The part was originally added to keep the top from sagging and allow better water run-off.
If I get over to Jon's anytime soon I can get a photo of it. He had a bundle of them at Hershey.
That shim or strip on the rear bow of tourings was used at least through the 1917 model year. Your 1915 top should also have one.
Here is a discussion regarding the shim that RV mentioned:
Here is a picture of the rear bow on my 1916 touring. The tapered slat adds a little bit of curve to the top of the bow.
Guys... Thanks for the information. I understand the description of the slat now. However, this cannot possibly account for the difference in contour that you see in the rear top bows of different cars. For one thing, you can clearly see the difference in radius from the inside of the car. I've attached some pictures with some editing to explain what I mean. Complicating matters, you can see differences in just about any car you look at. This is leading me to believe that many of these bows have "sagged" and flattened out over the years. I am inclined to believe this when looking at the photo above of the brand new 1913 right out of the factory. But then again, did they make a change some where along the line? It would be good to see a rear view factory photo of a 1915 car. In any event, I've also included two shots of my cars from the rear to show the difference in the rear bow contour from the outside.
Both the '14 and the '15 in my photo have their original top bows. Ford was using multiple suppliers for nearly every part of a Model T in 1914 - 15. Details of top bows, top sockets, wheels, hubs, carburetors - you name it - were different depending on the supplier.
I believe Ford specified only the dimensions for the top bows, not the radii.
Royce is 99% correct. Ford did in fact specify the radius of each bow but it's quite possible that one or two makers deviated a tad, perhaps because they used the same jig(s) in building tops for other makers. At that time, Ford was having a tough time building enough cars as it was so I don't think they would reject the tops as long as they fit.
I've collected top parts I plan to restore for my 23 touring when I get a round tuit. Some of them still have the original wood. The top pieces which look flat are actually slightly bowed to prevent puddling. I doubt that any tops of any year of any car were ever made completely flat, for that reason.