Those of you who have done this job, I have a complete set of Mel Miller plans for a 1923-5 roadster. The plans call for Mahogany, White Oak or other type of hard wood. What is your preferred type of wood? I am considering Alder. Please respond with your preference and why.
I used oak for many years but was told Ash was better. I have been using that and some Poplar with good results. I even used pine on one car but it won't last as long. Others who re-wood cars have their favorites.
I used Oak only because I could get a supply of 8/4 lumber cheap (2"). It would not have been my first choice, as it can be brittle. But then again most of our T's never leave pavement, so it should not be an issue. I would choose Ash, as it is readily available. I understand they were originally Beech
I like ash as my first choice, white oak for the second choice. Red oak is more brittle but works in the doors and smaller pieces, but not very good for sills or the door posts (pillars). Maple is also a good first choice instead of ash if you have it available, cost usually rules out maple. Never had anything to do with Alder, so I can not say one way or the other for using it. Mahogany would be a good choice, but unless you have a barn full of it from way back in Grandpas days, cost would be very high .... I have re wooded a few bodies, and it is time consuming, tedious work, but is very rewarding when you see it done ... have fun ....
My 24 Fordor has maple, Ash and poplar in the body and doors.
I used ash and had good results. To me it seems to work better than Oak. Its not as 'brittle' and has better workability. My opinion of course.
Ash is preferred with me. Plan to predrill all screw holes.
When most people refer to Oak, they mean red oak, which is comparatively cheap and readily available. White oak is vastly superior, and is virtually rot resistant as well
That being said I prefer to use ash as a good compromise. However I have used red oak, birch, maple, and poplar. These "deviations" generally happen for pieces that require a larger or odd shaped piece and this is what I can find!!!
I'm not sure how much "wood butchering" you have done, but I will at times make a "practice piece" from spruce or pine or whatever is cheap until I am confident I know the order of cuts. Usually this happens if I don't have decent pattern and have to create my own!!
I am using, mostly salvaged old fir as it is readily available in the NW. Good results so far. Also using some old fir doors for the pieces that are thicker. Salvaged old fir is very hard.
Paul in Tacoma
I used white oak from a local saw mill on my 24 touring. If I had bought it at Wood World in Dallas it would have cost 3-4 times as much as bought in the country. Our saw mill operator is 88 and independent but he did run some walnut and cedar for me about 2 years ago.
My experience with red oak is that it is the poorest wood available as it absorbes moisture and swells. The best application for oak is water and whiskey barrels and fire wood. I do not know about white oak, but if you use oak, you had better seal it well to protect the steel from corrosion.
Any oak would be my last choice for body wood. The open-pore grain leads to splitting, and early rot. Ash, Poplar, Birch, Maple are all, IMHO, good choices. Old Fir is very good too.
As far as the metal & the wood interacting, that is very possible, I know Ash & Aluminum like to interact--the old body makers' solution was to put wax paper between the metal and the wood.
I am nearing the finish of re-wooding my '15 runabout. Had a lot of family interruptions and didn't get to work on it as much as I wanted to.
Being broke, I mostly used wood I had leftover from other projects.
I used a lot of oak, both red and white, and about half of it I don't know which it is. I used some poplar that I had for non-structural applications. I even managed to use some of the original wood in the cowl area. I used maple that I salvaged from some old (but not old enough) chairs for a variety of things. The curve of the chair-back was almost perfect for the door posts.
Some very old floor pieces salvaged from who-knows-where were perfect for the rear decking.
The one piece it looks like I will have to buy? The tack strip that runs around the outside of the seat. That should be fun to do.
There are many kinds of wood that can work very well, and mixing a few of them up is sometimes a good thing. Tack strips, body sills, corner bracing, or door posts often are better from different kinds of wood. Strength characteristics both offered and needed are different for all those different applications.
I used oak for the sills, which actually were several pieces. Oak is very hard, EVERY screw, EVERY nail, had to be pre-drilled, and often tapped to fit the screw. Oak is not the best choice for body sills, too ridged, and too brittle. But as long as I mostly keep the car on decent roads, it should be good for a lot longer than I will be around to enjoy it. Actually, if it finds its way from me to people that will continue to keep it in decent inside storage, it could be good for hundreds of years. Ash would be better for body sills.
Good luck with yours!
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
I'm working on my '25 Coupe and using ash for the body wood.
I used to own a '28 Franklin. In addition to its aluminum body being nailed to ash, the chassis frame was also ash.
Wasn't 1928 the last year for Franklin to use a wooden chassis frame?
What is a good sealant that I can use to seal the wood stepside? I used red oak. I do drive the car so I would need something that will hold up. It is not driven during the winter
Alder is a bit better than Poplar. I will stick my neck out here and say I'd only use oak for top bows (open & closed car) as it splits easily, the open grain invites moisture and rot, and my experience with old car wood is that any oak has deteriorated badly while the fir and other woods are in much better shape.
Of course, most of our cars will not be subjected to bad weather and being left outdoors, so most wood will work.
What did Ford use?
Ron the Coilman
Ford used the most plentiful, cheapest to procure sh?t he could. Longevity of his product was of almost zero concern.
Ooooh, Ed, that's harsh.
but close, I have seen Fir, gumwood, poplar, alder, etc. as original wood--sometimes it's hard to see what it was! Ford also became adept at taking culls and laminating them together with a dovetail-like system. Lingerwood??? I forget, and with only one hour left in the year, I'm too lazy to try to find it!
(well, at least I'm honest! )
David, I think that was Linderman stock?, I'm sure someone will chime in here on that, I have some original floorboards with those dovetail joints. Also, the "old wive's tale" says that shipping crates were used by Ford for floorboards and such. This has been debated for years and pretty much deemed nonsense, BUT, I have seen two floorboards that had something unusual. One, had an odd concave, hollowed out area about 4" or so in diameter and maybe 1/8" deep on the bottom that didn't correspond to anything on the car. It's been many years ago, but I think it was one of the original floorboards from my '25 coupe that was in it when my now deceased friend first got the car. The other one is an original floorboard section(not sure what it's for) that I found that had a name or number stamped into it that didn't match up to anything. I think I still have that one around here somewhere. Food for thought. Dave
Again it bears repeating that we generally tend to restore Model T's better than Ford originally built them.
The guys at the factory did a good job in the time that was given them to do it BUT getting the cars out and about was Ford's TOP priority. Paint runs and different types of wood and all!
David S, Yep, that sounds right. It wouldn't surprise me if large crates found their way to the wood supply pile!
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