The 1910/1911 Torpedo rear spring was supposedly a 7 leaf not 8, and have seen it claimed that this rearend gearing was not the 3.63 standard. Questions: If these statements accurate...which rear spring leaf was omitted..what was the differential gearing revised to become....and which Torpedo production used the Saxon double twist horn? Besides the horn, which if any of these features were changed for the 1912 Torpedo production?
The 1911 Torpedo and Open Runabouts used a special 7 leaf rear spring. It was not simply an 8 leaf tapered leaf spring with one leaf left out. An 8 leaf spring can be modified to a 7 leaf spring, but it will require reaching the spring assembly.
Note that the pedals used on Torpedo are the 1909-10 style that have been rebent to clear the steering column. 1911-14 lettered pedals are too tall to clear the steering column.
The standard 3.63-1 rear axle gear ratio was used in Torpedos and Open Runabouts. They also used stock 1911 front axles, spindles and spring.
There is a difference in the frames of Torpedos and Open Runnabouts as compared to other 1911 Model Ts. The running board braces are closer to get her than a regular Model T, so the location of the running board bracket rivet holes are different.
1911 Torpedos and Open Runabouts use a modified hand break lever.
The torpedo dash to frame brackets are unique to this year style.
There appear to be two styles of Torpedo and open Runabout horns used. One is the conventional double twist horn. The other bells out longer but never really turns into a bell like the double twist horns do. They sort of resemble the horns used on 1913-14 Model Ts. I suspect this second type of horn was used to allow the hood to clear the horn better when opening the left side.
The 1912 Torpedos were redesigned in order to use a stock Model T chassis. The only difference is the body and gas tank itself.
This by no means a complete list, but it is a beginning.
If anyone needs an original 7 leaf 1911 Torpedo Runabout spring I have an extra. PM me for details. It has the original riveted clamps.
Here are a couple of threads discussing the Saxon horns used on part of the Torpedo production:
Royce,I sent you an email.
Scott, after collecting a lot of era T/OR photos in the quest to build my car, my observation has been that only the earliest T/OR's used a conventional Rubes / Nonpareil double-twist horn. The double-twist Saxon seems to appear fairly early in production, around February 1911.
The earliest cars have one-piece spindles, one-piece pans, 1910 lamps, and these are the cars that typically have conventional horns. By the time 1911 lamps (and other "1911 features") appear, the Saxon horn also seems to be commonplace. I have one photo that's an exception to this.
Many thanks Trent, Roger, and Walter....clearly more unique about this model than I was earlier aware of. Am I correct that both of you drive your completed Torpedos, and assuming so, would you be so kind as to offer a general driving critique, as compared to the comparable year Touring? I saw one of the correct Saxon horns come up for sale here on the Classifieds recently, and am curious how obtainable they are? As per Roger's post, I have previously seen the similar style horn by others where this bell has a lesser tilt angle than the 1911 horn. Since I have yet to see this incorrect style horn in early photos, I will assume this was not used on the Ford.
Ron Miller has a 1911 open runabout. One thing I noticed is that you can't reach the mixture control while sitting in the driver seat. Other than that I like the seating position. It is the same as the Torpedo Runabout as far as seating position and pedals and steering column, so you can see it in person and judge for yourself.
My June 1911 Torpedo Runabout is not my favorite car to drive. The driver needs to be long legged, and it can be a challenge to get in or out of the car, especially with the top up. There is very little storage space, mostly under the seat cushion. It is easy to see why the first thing many new owners of 1911 Torpedos and Open Runabouts did after driving their car away from the dealer was to buy and install a box just behind the gas tank.
Just one more thought, a friend of mine, who is well respected research for the MTFCI, has owned several early brass era Model Ts including a 1909 First 2500 car and a 1911 Torpedo Runabout. He also owns a 1915 touring. He once made the comment to me that it really wasn't until until 1915 that Ford really got the bugs worked out and the cars became bullet proof. Electric headlights are much easier than o use than gas lights too. This probably explains why I drive my '16 touring and '25 roadster the most. Early brass era cars, in my opinion, tend to be a bit on the fragile side.
Hello Royce and Trent:
Thanks for this response. I can imagine multiple issues with getting in and out. Put a set of rain curtains on, and I'll bet this is very complicated to enter and leave. What did drivers from the day do to get around the carb afjustment issue? Am I correct that the operable drivers door is of little use....seems like band maintenance would appreciate this, but not much use for regular operation? This is an example where this car's looks would initially sell me on it...drivers convenience be damned. Surprising that they didn't sell better among the younger set back in the day.
Then as now the younger people probably didn't have the money.
I have a May 1911 Open Runabout that is not driven so I can't really give you any feedback on that. I like it better than the Torpedo because of the absence of doors. The early T/OR had a lot of problems not the least of which was that when you hit a bump the windshield might jump off the dash and land in your lap. This was because Ford was using modified touring car windshield-to-dash clips and since the windshield was tilted back the rear clip was trimmed back so as not to hit the glass on the rearward leaning W/S. The front clip now was just barely enough to hold the dash down and it didn't always do that. Ford came up with an emergency fix that went from drawing to car in less than a week and it was a CENTER mounted w/s clip that wrapped up over the w/s tube and held the windshield down. This was used roughly from Feb thru Mar when they redesigned the outboard clips to work the same as the center clip then they did away with the center clip. A T/OR built during mid Feb through Mar of 1911 would have had 3 clips with the center one being different than the 2 outer clips.
I hear what you say about the kids and the money, John. Had not heard this account of the windshield failure...yikes! I'll speculate that that this kind of PR did large sales damages before being brought under control. Between this and the on-board storage issue, this model looks a lot like the toy cars of the early brass era, where appearance trumped practicality. Amazing that some similarly impractical sold as well as they did. Examples that come to mind are the early Stanhope steamers and the Schact high wheelers that were built here in Cincinnati. Practical or not, I'm a big fan of the 11 T/OR...good looking for the sake of good looking...I like it.
Scott, if I might ask, what is your interest -- are you considering buying one, looking at one for sale, etc.?
Just another nosey hobbyist, Walter. I may build another some day, but will likely wind-up needing to sleep in it out in the barn...so it must have generous leg room, and a flat surface for an alarm clock. May I ask, how your T/OR turned out? What production period was yours built in, and were you able to locate all of the signature parts needed?
Thanks for sharing, Scott. I was the one being nosy!
My car is pretty much as you currently see it in my profile photo. Over time, the project has evolved in different ways. As I learned more about what makes a T/OR unique, the quest got more complicated. I am trying to use as many original parts as I can scrounge and, where I can't, I'm trying to make my reproduction pieces as correct as possible. That's just me, it's what I like to do. There are also simpler (and faster) ways to build a T/OR, and there's nothing wrong with that either. If the user gets enjoyment out of their Model T, at the end of the day that's all that really matters. They are all equally fun to drive.
I have decided to build mine as a "square" tank car which makes it early January 1911 or earlier. I went that route for a few reasons, partly because (as best I can tell) there aren't any original examples out there. In going this route I made things more complicated for myself since the early 1911 cars use a lot of 1910 parts. Some of the body parts (like the tank, windshield stay rods, etc.) simply don't exist, but I have been able to get the blue prints from the Archives. This has been a years-long process and where I am right now is I want to get my car assembled and usable and, if some of the mechanicals I either can't find or afford at the moment come along later, I can swap them out when the opportunity presents itself. I don't want to have to remake anything with the body. Bolt-on stuff such as axles and whatnot is not so much a concern.
You're not too terribly far from here. If you ever find yourself in Pennsylvania and want to look at stuff up close, please don't hesitate to call.
Thank you for your kind invitation Walter. I fully understand the 10 parts being a complicated requirement, and I appreciate your diligence in sticking to your construction vision. For what these projects cost, you have to get what you really want out of the chase. I too prefer the square tank configuration as opposed to the later round....looks like a more aesthetic application to me?
My thoughts on the "square" tank are -- there are some original round tanks out there, there are a lot of reproduction round tanks out there, but I have never seen an original or reproduction "square" tank either in person or present day photos. There weren't a whole lot of them to begin with. A couple of cars have them today, but they look to be adapted from something else.
Changes like these usually have a reason behind them, so it tells part of the story and, if an original can't be had, there ought to be some representation of it. Some say on an incline they didn't drain every last drop of gas as well as a round tank. I suspect they were also more difficult to make. At this point I figured what's another hundred hours of work. There are lots of other little details built into T/OR's, too. Maybe the hunt is part of the appeal.
Scott, If you think you would have to sleep in anything new you got? Might I suggest a '24 coupe? The trunk in mine looks huge! (Changing the battery is a pain! I am six foot even and almost have to climb inside to change the battery.) I have given serious thought to putting a handle inside the trunk lid and camping in it on road trips.
But the '24 is not brass era, and I too prefer brass era cars. The TR/OR are my long-time favorite body styles for Ts. I don't think I will ever get one. Not enough time or money. I do have a good start to a late '12 MIL roadster project pile. There are possibilities there, but too many serious changes needed to make it anywhere near right. I probably won't live long enough to get to it anyway. There are at least four cars ahead of it that I don't have enough time to get work done on.
I am enjoying this thread about the TR/OR cars. Thank you all!
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
Wayne, I think you are supposed to remove the seat backrest to get access to the battery, at least that is what I have read. Haven't tried it myself yet on my '25 coupe, but I will. You are right, doing anything with the battery from the trunk is a pain! Dave