Help With Body Tag number: Take two

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Model T Ford Forum: Forum 2016: Help With Body Tag number: Take two
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Marty Bufalini - Grosse Pointe, MI on Friday, April 15, 2016 - 12:44 pm:



Well, I took the plate off and here's what I've come up with. To me, the numbers look like 141912. What do you think?

The pencil rubbing didn't work nor did the numbers show up on the reverse of the plate.

So, given the above and taking into consideration the following numbers:
Engine casting: 5 27 14 (June 27, 1914?)
Stamped on the engine: 543051
Brass tag on the dash: 510752

what does all this tell me about my T.

Again, thanks in advance for all the help.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Tim Wrenn-Monroeville OH on Friday, April 15, 2016 - 07:42 pm:

Well, first, I think you meant "May 27, 1914" for the casting. Probably so.

Engine #543051 makes it a July 6, 1914 car, or when the engine was assembled?

Dash tag from what I understand is when the body mfg. assigned the number. They say they're usually lower than the engine, yet others have said the opposite. So it beats me.

Best I can help with!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By David Dewey, N. California on Friday, April 15, 2016 - 08:12 pm:

Marty,
Is that the tag mounted on on of the body rails? There's usually longer numbers, often dashes in the numbers, so look over the entire piece carefully.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By David Dewey, N. California on Friday, April 15, 2016 - 08:21 pm:

Marty, It also appears (but can't guarantee it) your engine and body left the factory together. It was common for an engine block casting to "sit around" for a while before it was assembled and put in a chassis.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Marty Bufalini - Grosse Pointe, MI on Saturday, April 16, 2016 - 08:04 am:

David, the tag was nailed to the front wood frame member under the front seat. In other words, when you take the front seat off, it was nailed to the piece of wood toward the front of the car where you lift the lid to get at the gas tank. Also, how did you come to the conclusion the left the factory together? Given the originality of the car, I just assumed that.

Tim, sorry. Yes. May. Does the engine number mean that it rolled out of the factory July 6,1914? And, thanks.

But, does anyone agree that the tag number is 141912? And, if so, what does that tell me?

It is a Beaudette body as it has the "B" stamped in the front seat riser.

Thanks.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Tim Wrenn-Monroeville OH on Saturday, April 16, 2016 - 08:17 am:

Marty, from what I've read, the engine number usually is when it was assembled at the plant, not necessarily when it was put in a car. Could have been, might not have been, obviously we'll never know. I think for simplicity's sake we all just take the posture that the number of the engine and it's respective date of stamping makes it the date of the car. That sounds reasonable enough to me. No sense in wasting time splitting hairs at that point, as more than likely that engine ended up in a car pretty quickly after it was stamped. Just my thoughts. I'm not that "up" on body numbers, so can't really help you there.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Wayne Sheldon, Grass Valley, CA on Saturday, April 16, 2016 - 05:19 pm:

Marty, I have been trying to sort out those body tags for some time now. My "spring '15" runabout has one very similar that is the only number left original to the car (it had been parted pretty much to the winds a long time ago). There have been several discussions about them in the past on this site, but searching for all of threads effectively would be difficult because there are few key words specific to just these.

From what I "think" I know.
Yours is in poor condition. Bent, partially broken , severe rust pitting, the numbers are not clearly legible anymore (they probably were originally). Several in good condition have been pictured over the years on this site.
That style plate was used by Beaudette (and maybe one other body supplier according to speculations a few years ago here) from some time in 1913 through at least 1917. I would like to see a lot more contributions to the beginning and ending of their use. Sometime before 1913, Beaudette, and through later years, other body suppliers stamped (burned?) the numbers directly into the wood framing.

What do the numbers mean? So far, on these continuing discussions, nobody had given a definitive answer. They either have something to do with the body "order number" from Ford or are a serial number by the body builder/supplier having to do with the time frame in which the body was actually built. Most of these suppliers were finishing dozens if not hundreds of bodies each day. However, in reality, it took several weeks from start of cutting to completion for delivery. This time line also varied a lot by whether the bodies were delivered completed, or "in the white" which was a term meaning at some stage of unfinished. That could mean painted, but no upholstery, or even unpainted. Completed bodies could wind up on a chassis at the Ford factory with a couple of days. A body "in the white" could require another month at the Ford factory before it could become an automobile.
What do the numbers mean (again)? Next foremost. The number you give "141912" is missing one digit, the first one. The first three (sometimes four) digits in the sequence on most of these tags indicate the month and year.



The 2-15-XXXXXX means my car was at some early stage of becoming a car in February 1915. Was it early February? Late February? Was that when Ford ordered it? Or the point at which Beaudette was nearly done making the Body? Was the body installed on a chassis a couple weeks later? Or not for about three months later? I don't know for sure. But a few cars have more complete information than mine does. The engine dates are commonly within two months of the body date-code. Sometimes they have been as much as seven months off. In a few cases, the body-date code has been about a month earlier than the engine serial number code. It probably depends on how fast which parts of the factory were running at the time, and which pieces sat in the corner of the factory longer than usual.
As I look at the photo of your tag? I think I can see a "4" ahead of the 14XXXX. That would make your body tag an April of 1914 serial number 1912. So far, nobody has figured out just what the "1912" means. It could be a serial number, series number, order number, or? If a hundred more people could post good photos or information on their body tags? We might be able to decipher it.

What condition is the rest of this car in? Pictures? (Antique car people and pictures of antique cars are like dogs with squirrels)
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Eric Hylen- Central Minnesota on Saturday, April 16, 2016 - 11:18 pm:

Okay, I think there's at least one digit missing on each end.. There appears to be an 8 after the 2 and I think the rust claimed the first digit.

If you look at the body tag from my car that Hap posted on your earlier thread, you'll see 4.14. 90 something. That body sits on a car with a well documented history. The block was cast in January of '14 and assembled in mid March. The serial number is 477,XXX. I can't remember the exact car number on he dash tag, but it is like yours, about 30,000 lower than the serial number. I have the original purchase agreement and bill of sale, which shows the original owner took delivery of this new Ford in early July of '14.

It's pretty clear that it often took time for parts and assemblies to get from Detroit to the assembly plants and ultimately, to the customers. Ford was building cars faster than had ever been accomplished in history. His suppliers struggled to keep up.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By David Dewey, N. California on Sunday, April 17, 2016 - 01:41 pm:

Marty
Sorry to take so long to reply--was at a toytrain meet, then stopped on the way home to look a Terry Horlick's "new" '15 body (Wow, worst case of termite damage in a car body I've ever seen--but what a neat body-. I offered to take care of the termite problem in his garage at no cost, but he didn't 'bite'--in fact, he changed the subject rather quickly!:-) )
So, my conclusion is based on all the other numbers I've seen bantered about. Your engine number and "Ford Vehicle" number fall within the "usual" differences. The analysis of the Body Tag number by others also puts your body within your engine's number--so, without any other evidence, it is logical that you actually have a complete, as assembled by Ford, car--well, as far as your body and engine! That's pretty neat--not many can say that--I can't even say that about my Dec '15, but '16 year model Touring! My car is pretty much correct, but it is most likely a "Mongrel" made of period-correct pieces (it was found in pieces in a Barn belonging to a car person--along with a bunch of other T and A parts).
Oh, I would be careful with that rusty piece and somehow keep it with the car. You may want to make a replica of it to re-nail to the cross-member, but that location is probably too exposed/wear area to keep the original piece there.
Congrats!!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Ken Parker on Sunday, April 17, 2016 - 10:31 pm:

Wayne, Eric and David are on the money. My original guess on the first number was a "5" for what we call the month from your photo but it's just a guess:



One of the interesting aspects of these "body date" stampings or tags is that they don't precede the engine/chassis assembly date as far as I can tell.

Obviously, a body assembled at Beaudette on May 27, 1914, and stamped "5-14-XXXXX" could not possibly ship to Ford, get painted and be assembled into a May car.

I suggest that numbers such as "4-14" are an order number based on Ford's intended production dates. Also, it could explain why some cars carry "body dates" months behind chassis assembly date and its associated "dash tag". Speculation on my part.

If it were a real date, it is the only one on the car done that way. All the rest are month-day-year, 7-11-13 and so on. We may never know but interesting just the same.

If Marty's engine is an original assembly, the transmission stub shaft will also be dated and should carry an early mid-May date.

Wayne- Have you seen a 1913 calendar year body date, like "10-13-XXXX" on a metal tag fixed to a Beaudette body? I've been watching the forum on this general topic for quite a while but easily could have missed it.

The numbers were struck into the wood itself at Beaudette during 1913. Also, they used a "1" turned on its side for the "dot". Mine is too hard to see but maybe someone has a summer or Fall 1913 Beaudette body stamp to share.

Beaudette also numbered the front right riser support block but it is under the floorboard. I see I am not the only one interested in the topic and thanks for sharing.

Ken in Texas


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Wayne Sheldon, Grass Valley, CA on Monday, April 18, 2016 - 03:03 am:

Ken P et al,
Still more questions than answers about this detail.
I do believe I have seen one picture posted of a late calendar year '13 tag posted on this forum. If I were really any good, I would have bookmarked it and be able to find it. I do have literally hundreds of forum threads bookmarked, and in about ten different folders to help me find things I am trying to research myself. Unfortunately, "body identification" tags was not an early effort of mine and although I have about a dozen such threads bookmarked (for various related things), finding the one I want is a problem because I did not bookmark them all and what I do have might be found in any of about five folders.
I have seen a few '14s pictured, several '15s besides my own, as well as '16s and a few '17 or later. I do not know when Beaudette stopped using these tags, maybe when Ford stopped buying touring and runabout bodies from them?
I have also read that some bodies had both these type tags as well as another number near the heal boards, seat frame, or floorboard riser. My body does have both this tag, and a number on the floorboard riser. Both "appeared" to be original to the body, but given the condition of the body, and the fact that someone before my good friend got it had done some poor quality work on it? No telling for certain what may or may not have been done to it.
My runabout doesn't help much, because it did not survive very intact. The body appears to have been in fair condition, but had been left outside for a few decades. Someone probably replaced the original body on its chassis with a later something in better condition back in the '50s or early '60s. I preferred the idea of a correct original body, and thanks to a very good friend that had had this one for several years, made it possible for me. I had most of the chassis and many other parts to return the body to being a fairly correct car. But realistically, not an intact survivor.
Unfortunately, at this point, all we have in relation to the "date code", is speculation. Most body date codes and engine serial numbers seem to be within a couple months. Either the engine or the body could be earlier than the other. So we speculate what the relationship means.
Sometimes the body "date code" trails the engine number by a few (as much as seven) months. These likely (more speculation) are either the bodies delivered "in the white" (unfinished) that required time for painting and upholstery at either the Ford factory or sometimes another facility, or they could have been somehow damaged or required some sort of re-fitting before final assembly to a chassis.
Also, of course, we can rarely be certain that an engine or other part could not have been changed at some point nearly a hundred years ago. Even in cars with a "known" history, sometimes things were done to them that were later forgotten about.

For whatever it is worth, I have speculated for some time now, that the date code could be an order date. However, a few people have offered examples of what appear to be intact original cars where the body date code does precede the engine serial date by about a month or a little more. These could be bodies delivered completely finished as opposed to in the white, coupled to a chassis that got held back for a month for some unknown reason and sat in a corner of the factory.
One thing is for certain. Ford employees were scrambling to complete cars and get them out the factory doors. Not everything went according to schedule.

As to the "incomplete" date code. I can think of one other model T part that also used an incomplete date code. Brass era low heads. Interestingly enough, these cast iron heads had date codes of month and date, no year. Speculation is that the incomplete date was sufficient to track casting errors and make mold corrections and repairs. Heads were usually machined within weeks of casting and used soon thereafter. So it is believed that the year was considered unnecessary for that purpose.

For my own immediate selfish needs? I think I can safely say that my runabout, at least the main portion of the body, was manufactured and became a car by the end of spring 1915. So, for now, I call it my "spring '15" runabout. Most of the chassis parts, lamps , and other significant pieces are appropriate for that time-frame.
I still want to try to help sort out this particular piece of the puzzle. If I can ever catch up on the sleep I have missed the past several weeks? I may have to spend a few evenings sorting through all those bookmarks.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Ken Parker on Monday, April 18, 2016 - 09:21 am:

Wayne,

Forgot about the head date! There are all sorts of situations that could have happened and the only thing we can be sure of was that Ford and Beaudette weren't trying to confuse us a hundred years later. They were only trying to track what they were doing.

The dash tag relation to the serial number/chassis seems to be far more significant. Ford was counting "cars built" with that dash tag during 1913 (car number 300,000 for instance). We have seen countless pictures of the boys sitting up on chassis starting and driving the "car" off. After that test run Ford had to do something with those chassis.

1000 in a day and the firewall is already on it! I speculate that the dash tag is also.

Also, a car could have been shipped with a runabout body on it and the customer could buy a touring body from a dealer for a spare or replacement so anything could happen.

However, Ford noted "chassis" quantities in yearly production which suggests a body was earmarked or installed on the others.

Lot of speculation but it is interesting what others post in that regard.

Ken in Texas


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Bill in Adelaida Calif on Monday, April 18, 2016 - 09:54 am:

There was a post late last month from Mark Chaffin and his early 14 (Oct 13) original T and he showed pictures of the body number. If you believe the number to be a date the body was built in 1914 and the chassis in 1913!
I too have an early 14 T touring and it also shows body numbers similar to Marks car. My engine was produced about three weeks later than Marks and it too has a two-piece drive shaft.
Unfortunately I dont have the numbers handy to me at the moment.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Marty Bufalini - Grosse Pointe, MI on Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - 05:45 pm:

Wow! You guys are absolutely amazing! The wealth of knowledge is incredible!

Wayne, here's a picture of the car in it's current condition:



David, yes, the car seems to be all original from the factory, with a prior engine rebuild and a much prior repaint. As near as we can tell, the body has never been off the chassis.

Ken, if that is a 5, that could mean the Beaudette body was built in May 1914?

I'm trying to determine, as close as possible, the "birth date" of the car. Everything seems to point to it being a May 1914 roll-out.

Agreed?

Thanks again. You guys are amazing.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jesse L. Ashcraft on Wednesday, April 20, 2016 - 11:52 am:


quote:

To me, the numbers look like 141912. What do you think?




Hi Marty - Nice buggy. I notice your brass bulb horn isn't painted. Neither was mine. I also have a Beaudette body and the number was printed on the wood seat bench member. It was so gone, I couldn't see it. I took the top off and exposed the area to the shop lights but I still didn't notice it until I happened to be looking for something else and it appeared in my peripheral vision. Strange. So I went after those digits with my Dad's penknife to give them some relief. The next guy won't have any problem finding it.

There's a "3" behind the "2" so it appears to me the number we see is:

1419123

Look further to the left, perhaps completely out of frame, for the month number. By the way, I called my psychic today. She ask: "How can I help you?" I said: "Don't you know?"


(Message edited by jesselashcraft on April 20, 2016)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Wayne Sheldon, Grass Valley, CA on Wednesday, April 20, 2016 - 03:31 pm:

Marty, That is a beautiful car!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Marty Bufalini - Grosse Pointe, MI on Wednesday, April 20, 2016 - 04:51 pm:

Wayne, thanks but don't look too close!!

Given the engine serial number and the body plate number, I'm going with May 1914.

Jesse (and anyone else): so, it seems the very first number is rusted out and that could be a crucial number as it gives the month of body manufacture?

Thanks again


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Wayne Sheldon, Grass Valley, CA on Wednesday, April 20, 2016 - 05:26 pm:

Marty, Just like my '24 coupe. Those are the best model Ts! Nice enough to look great in a photograph, nice enough to park next to a beautifully restored high-end car, and not be ashamed of how your car looks. If mechanically sound, drive it, enjoy it, have a lot of fun! And not have to worry about scratching a fender because someone sets the picnic basket there.

These body tags are still a bit of a mystery. I have asked, but no solid answer yet. I don't think anybody really knows for sure yet, and we don't even know if the answer is even in the archives to be found. It has been pretty well established the the first three characters (sometimes four) on these body plates refer to a month and year. But the month and year of what? A date the order was placed? A delivery date that the order is expected? Or maybe when construction of the body was begun? Or maybe finished to some specific stage? We do not know the answer to that yet, and maybe we never will. Unfortunately, the correlation between such body tags and suspected original engine numbers has not given a definitive clue. Either appears to sometimes be earlier than the other. Usually, they are within two months apart. But sometimes a half a year or slightly more.
Also, unfortunately, I am not in a position to go there myself and do the searching through archives.

I call the '15 runabout I am restoring "my spring '15 runabout" for lack of a more definitive date. With a body code of 2-15, the car could actually have been completed before spring of '15.
Drive carefully, and do enjoy that beautiful '14! W2


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Marty Bufalini - Grosse Pointe, MI on Wednesday, April 20, 2016 - 06:11 pm:

Wayne, we have an unbelievable amount of fun with our T. Judi and I regret not getting one years ago, even though we have four other antique cars.

I've made it a driver with new wheels, double wishbone, rebuilt rear-end, etc., and was lucky to start with a very, very solid car.

Of course, I owe a debt of gratitude to Jerry Van for persuading me to get a T, advising me on the purchase and, lending a lot of time and wisdom to getting it into the shape it's in now.

I had to have a 14 touring for a number of historical and aesthetic reasons.

I'm sticking with a May, 1914 roll-out date for my car.

Again, thanks to all for your help and knowledge.


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