Anyone have actual experience with the ride quality of '26-'27 factory Ford shocks compared to no shocks? Is there a noticeable difference?
They are "rebound" shocks - they take the slack in quickly when you hit a bump as the axle is pushed to the body, and then drag as the cable is pulled out as the axle returns from the spring force keeping the springs from bouncing up & down until the energy is dissipated from the impact. I can't say I've ever noticed a difference even on bad dirt road driving, I only kept them on the car because of the extreme rarity of the accessories.
On modern paved roads, I don't think they do anything...
They're no where near a set of Hasslers, which are dual action. The Ford shocks sold through dealer parts departments are actually called "snubbers". They are 'rebound' shocks, single action, which means they don't control both the up and down movement of the axle. While they were a Ford accessory and are a lot rarer than say, a dash light or even a Ford Stoplight, they are probably better hanging on a wall or installed on a static museum car.
My experimenting with the single-action, recoil Ford shocks on a tudor sedan seems to indicate that they make an enormous difference when rolling over speed-bumps. I've never tried them on a dirt road, but the speed bumps on residential streets and in parking lots want to dislodge my rear seat cushion and toss rear-seat passengers upwards regardless of how slowly or carefully I maneuver. The rear shock does what it is supposed to do, dampen the rebound, but only if properly adjusted and with zero grease on the linings. The effect is very noticeable.
The shocks work using two friction linings on a steel drum. The first lining, which is externally adjustable, catches the drum on rebound and tightens the second, larger lining. The second lining provides the dampening friction. A helix spring recoils the substantial steel cable and retains tension.
A functional problem with these particular shocks, which are very robustly manufactured, is that Ford specified a flame retardant for the cotton bands, and, when warmed by friction, it makes an excellent adhesive, bonding the band firmly to the steel drum.
On the way home from the dealer with newly installed shocks, if the owner experienced a lot of bouncing, his drums became smoking hot. The next time he drove his new Improved Car, he might find the second band firmly adhered to the drum, and on his first significant bump he was in danger of biting off the end of his tongue. Something had to give, and it was usually the mounting bracket.
I am trying to find a solvent that will clean off the fire retardant.
Ford did refer to the shocks as "snubbing units" in the Feb. 1926 Service Bulletin and in the 1926 Parts Book. In the Burd-Gilman ads, in a Ford ad, and in the patent document, they are called "shock absorbers."
Fascinating stuff. Thanks. For now, I believe I will have to add these to my "Want to Have, Not Must Have" list...