A topic of conversation that seems to occasionally come up is whether the low style steel firewall was used on cars from the factory or if it was only available as a "replacement part"...
While looking for some other information, I was browsing thru the DVD-ROM of the Model T Ford Encyclopedia by Bruce McCalley. I read thru the three page section about "myths" which was authored by Mr. McCalley. On page 568 (of the PDF) There is a paragraph about 1923 Models and the following information. "During early calendar 1923, the wooden firewall was replaced with a steel one but the lower radiator style continued until the change in June".
If this is true, then most all cars produced from "early calendar 1923" thru "the June 1923 change" would have been produced with low style steel firewalls...
Is there any actual evidence or research out there that proves otherwise?
I was surprised by that theory. I have seen enough low steel ones to think they were more plentiful. A comment on the one for sale recently had me wondering. The early Fordor with wood one ('23) shown on another posting suggests that idea could be correct.
I have no answer but it is a good question.
I was wondering the same... they're far too common for me to believe they weren't original equipment.
I'm leaning toward them being used only through part of the model year, probably not for long. I have only seen the remains of the wood firewalls on a couple of weathered chassis. I think a lot, if not most, of the wood firewalls that were used were changed out over the years as they deteriorated. No proof, just a theory. Dave
I think that as time went by Ford would replace the older wood firewalls with the steel low firewalls when necessary. Probably during the 30's-40's people would find a steel low firewall and use them for replacements.
It would make sense as it would be an improvement anyway. Over the years I do have to say that I have seen more than a few. Maybe because I have 2 low cowl T's.
When I was collecting parts for my 1919 Runabout and 21 Touring I did notice they were fairly plentiful.
But I did use wood firewalls so they would be more 'original'!
Think of the source. I'm willing to trust Bruce's research over speculation from anyone else.
Keeping my last post in mind, my '23 Runabout, had a badly worn and cracked low steel firewall when I inherited the car. There was no evidence that it was a replacement. It was just as junky as the rest of the car. The poor thing barely survived being owned by farm kids during the depression.
I did a quick walk through the shop and the back yard and counted 5 low and 9 high dashes. (none for sale.) The low dashes having 9 terminal block holes. That and the fact that the Ford parts book listed them 17-23 (low) is where I formed my previous opinion. I agree the replacement idea could be valid but a lot of them showed up in Idaho. If they really are rare I will take better care of them.
"Just sayin'" as they say.
I found evidence of the use of the low steel dash in production while doing research in the engineering documents collection of the Benson Ford Research Center. The steel dash came out before the steel dash dash to frame brackets were available. There is about a half inch difference between where a wood dash attaches to the dash to frame brackets, and where a steel dash attaches to the dash to frame bracket. The later steel dash to frame bracket did not appear until about 6 weeks after the production began of the steel dash. In order to be able to use steel dashes when only the wood dash to frame brackets were available, the Ford engineers designed a round 7/16 inch spacer that wood go between the new steel dash and the mounting points on the earlier dash to frame brackets. Four were required per car.
Ford used these spacers as a temporary fix until the later style steel dash to frame brackets were available, then the spacers were discontinued. Anyone wanting to replace their wood dash with a steel one after that had to buy both the steel dash and the later dash to frame brackets.
I have seen these spacers in place on at least one 23 touring, and I believe a contributor to this forum may have posted pictures a few years ago.
I thought the spacers were the outer covers (caps) from the radiator mount which are approx 7/16 X 1 inch.
Here is a photo of a firewall(dash) with the spacers installed. They look much like a radiator *thimble* but are thicker material.
Firewall with spacers between mounting bracket
Link to the part for sale:
"During early calendar 1923,..." through June of '23 is up to 6 months, about half of a model year. The low steel firewalls (dashes) are not rare, they are quite plentiful for a part used for only 6 months.
By comparison, the high dash was used for only 2 1/2 calendar years.
Tell me more about the spacers. Or more pictures, or orientation.
Would you be more specific, please. It seems the two photos above deal with orientation. Would you like specific dimensions? Photos of what?
Dimensions (how thick)? I do not have them. If/when added should they move the firewall back, maybe 1/4" or so? Where are they available or should I make them from rubber grommets? What is the purpose of these spacers?
The spacers were steel, needed to be solid. The firewall brackets fasten to the front of the firewall, when the steel ones came out, they are much thinner than the wood ones, so the spacers made up the difference to keep the back of the firewall in the same position. Soon after, the firewall mounting brackets were modified so the spacers were no longer needed.
The firewall brackets attach on the engine side of the firewall. However, the critical measurement is the position of the passenger side of the firewall because this is where the steering column is attached. When the thick wooden firewall was replaced by the thin steel firewall, the spacers were initially used to make up for difference in thicknesses. Soon after, the firewall brackets were changed so that it positioned the passenger side of the firewall in the correct place without the need of loose spacers.
Bingo!! That explains why my hood opening is too short.... the 1919 was sold to me with a steel firewall and only the top of the hood (speedster style) and the radiator tilted forward. They must have built the car and drilled body to match the wood style brackets, then Oopsied the hood in. Anyone have any spacers for sale??
You might try the radiator thimbles, or go to the hardware store and pick up some steel bushings, cut them to 7/16" long. You could even use some large nuts that are that tall. Of course, if you want them to be 100% correct, then you'll have to look around. Don't forget, you'll also need wood firewall length bolts.
Russell, there are many of the correct brackets around, but spacers would be very easy to make, as David Dewey said. Dave