Were early 1909 front axles different to later 1909 axles?
Below are photos of 2 1909 front axles. I say 1909 because both have traces of what I believe is the original paint which is red. The top one is much finer in general and has some markings which differ from most 1909-10 axles. Its hard to appreciate the difference between the 2 in photos, but the top one is at least 1/8” shorter in cross section all the way along the beam. Out of curiosity I weighed them and the top axle is about 2 kilograms (4 lbs) lighter. Note that it has a “W” in a circle and the number “T 202 F” on the spring perch housing. That is a feature which I haven’t seen on many 1909-10 axles. This lighter axle appears to be the same as the one on T #685. The axle from #314 also has the same “W” in a circle, but its rotated 90 degrees in orientation. The lower axle in my photos also has a “W” in a circle.
The lighter axle also has the W mark on the spring perches.
The top axle really is noticeably different in general construction. I’d be interested to learn whether this is just due to different manufacturers (unlikely as they seem to have the same forging mark), or whether the axle design was beefed up to make them stronger.
Can anyone post photos of the front axles known to be original to early 1909 cars – or for that matter later 1909-10 cars with the “lighter” axle?
What is the W with the circle? I'm working on an early frame, with P&B and a circle around it. Forgot what that stands for.
The “W” trade mark is for Williams which later became Transue Williams. When it became Transue Willimas it changed the trade mark to a T superimposed over a W. It became Transue Williams sometime around 1911. Ref Trent Boggess reply in on page Page 17 of the Sep-Oct 2003 “MODEL T TIMES.”
For frame trade marks ref: http://www.mtfca.com/encyclo/C-D.htm
Michigan Stamping Company (M.S.B. inside a pennant on the frame).
Parrish and Bingham (P&B inside a circle)
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Parrish and Bingham.
I was too slow.
Bottom Line Up Front: Recommend you contact the Benson Ford Archives and request a copy of the front axle drawing and the Record of Change Cards for the 1909-1911 front axle (part number 2701 and factory number 202). I think that would give you a lot of additional information that would be helpful as you review the fossil information that will also show up.
Additionally Kim Dobbins at: http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/179374/235567.html?1317105480
Posted some photos of his 1909 # 314 that show part of the front axle with the “W” in a circle trade mark. In the thread at: http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/80257/114164.html Kim also stated that the front axle does NOT have the spindle arm clearance notches.
Additional thoughts and comments but it does not bring resolution to your question:
Great question. And clearly Ford was trying to have as light a car as possible and still be strong enough to provide good service. If he could save 4 pounds he would have (ok as long as it didn’t drive the cost up much).
Please let us know if your front axles do or do not have a clearance notch for the front spindle arms. Below is a photo posted by Jem Bowkett at http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/80257/114164.html of his spare 1909 front axle:
Ref the MTFCI “Judging Guidelines 6th Edition (I need to purchase the update—they are a great reference for our cars and they are always looking for corrections and additional information) under 1909 factory number 202 in part has: Front Axle…. Clearance notches were added to the front of the axle, and later to both sides of the axle for the spindle arms. Both notches were removed by year’s end…
For the 1910 entry The MTFCI Judging Guidelines 6th Edition comments that there are “No clearance notches for the spindle arm….”
That leads me to believe the notches could have been absent on the earliest cars, only on the back side of slightly later early cars, or on both sides of even later early cars and then gone on the late 1909 cars (i.e. the change in Nov 1909 discussed further down. And there easily would have been some overlap during each of those changes when the old parts were still being used up and the new parts were also being used. In this case it would not have been because of branch assembly plants as all the 1909-1910 USA cars were fully assembled at either the Piquette Ave Plant or later the Highland Park Plant. (Canadian production is not addressed.)
So my hopes of being able to say “just look at the axle and if it has clearance notches that will give you a good time frame. Actually if it does have notches then I would think it would fall into “not the earliest axles” but the ones used during 1909 but probably not into calendar year 1910.
I looked at some of the photos I have of the 1909 Fords – but as I zoomed in on the front axles I could not make out any significant difference from one to the next. I.e. the photos were not high resolution and they were of the car not the front axle.
I’m looking forward to what you discover.
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Below are a couple of rabbit trails – but are included for anyone that wants additional trivia.
Clearly Ford was trying to have as light a car as possible and still be strong enough to provide good service. If he could save 4 pounds he would have (ok as long as it didn’t drive the cost up much).
Caution small rabbit trail: Illustration about Ford’s desire to make the car as light as practical: His desire to save weight is shown in the frames that were designed a little too light. Apparently the first 2500 frames had the fish plate reinforcements added on both sides at the frame rails to make them stronger. And from http://www.mtfca.com/encyclo/C-D.htm#Chassis1 scroll down to the
First 2500 1909
Trent discusses how the front “Frame Front End Spacer” was changed on/about Oct 13 – 14, 1908. And that the remaining 2400 plus frames not already put in a car and sold would have been modified with the new parts on each side of the front frame. The two new parts (left & right) were just a little heavier than the previous one.
Also from the thread at: http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/80257/114164.html Eric posted:
By Eric Hylen on Thursday, November 12, 2009 - 03:47 pm:
From the Encyclopedia, [http://www.mtfca.com/encyclo/F-H.htm#fr1 added by Hap] it shows the notches were to be discontinued in Nov. 1909:
Style with one-piece spindles. Tie rod above the wishbone, with integral ball/yoke fitting on right end, and adjustment yoke at the left end. The locking bolt of the adjustment yoke is at right angles to the steering arm bolt (was in a horizontal position as installed on the car). The drag link was threaded at the column end with a fine (20 T.P.I.) thread. No oilers on most 1909 production tie rods, etc. Radius rod ball cap secured with studs and nut in early 1909, then with a bolt from 1909 until 1913. Drag link and radius rod used pressed-steel end caps. In November 1909 the front axles were to have the notches in the yoke removed. These notches were there to provide clearance for the steering arm, but apparently were not needed.
By Eric Hylen on Thursday, November 12, 2009 - 03:48 pm:
Also from the Encyclopedia: [http://www.mtfca.com/encyclo/doc09.htm added by Hap]
NOV 29 [1909 added by Hap] Acc. 575, Ford Archives
T-202 and T-202F, front axle. "Remove steering spindle clearance notches in yokes at points marked "A"."
But that same thread seems to have some contradictory “fossil evidence.” In general I believe the Ford archives is more accurate than the “fossil evidence” that could have easily been changed out sometime in the past 100 plus years. But as pointed out by Trent Boggess & John Regan, the information in the archives says what was used during production. If someone has something on an original unrestored car that is not mentioned in the archives – that does not necessarily mean it is wrong but that so far the documentation in the archives has not been found or that it has been lost (some records are gone).
Below is some detailed information about the accuracy of the Benson Ford Archives as well as a few examples:
That is based on some of the research, observations, and comments from John Regan, Trent Boggess that in summary say Ford had to produce the cars and the drawings & change card information drove what the suppliers provided to them. Exact dates often lagged the date on the drawing but sometimes the drawing would be annotated with something similar to “brought up to date with current production practice etc.”
At: http://www.mtfca.com/encyclo/F-H.htm#fr1 scroll down to:
FRONT AXLE COMMENTS
By Trent Boggess
Trent Boggess and Ken Jones spent some time going over the releases and drawings for the front axle. Sadly, the information was very sketchy, mainly because only two drawings for the early one piece spindle front axle appear to have survived. Both were dated post 1911. The releases for the early axle are there, but confusing; they seem to contradict the most frequently observed characteristics. …..
I believe that Trent’s “releases” are probably what some of us have called “change cards”
By Trent Boggess on Thursday, December 06, 2007 - 09:35 pm:
I feel the need to step up to defend John Regan and to put some perspective into this thread.
Like John, I have spent some hours studying the Model T engineering records, and he is correct that for the most part the engineers kept very careful and detailed records on each part. When a change in a part was made, it was documented what was being changed, who authorized the change and when the change took place. Sometimes these changes occurred in rapid succession. In my experience, I have found them to be remarkably accurate.
But still I have found parts on cars that I have never found a record for. One car in particular has a transmission cover that I simply cannot find any indication in the records that it was ever produced or used. Nevertheless, it appears to be original to the car. Does this mean that the transmission cover is wrong and should be changed? Not necessarily, it just means that there is no documentation in the engineering records at this time to support that it was used.
The same can be said of the fuel pipe. The Ford engineers kept detailed records, and yet nowhere in the records do they indicate that any material other than brass was used for the pipe. Does this mean that a steel pipe was never used? Again, not necessarily, but what can be said is that there is no documentation at this time to support the use of steel in this part.
But there is one other point that makes me trust the records more: I am continually amazed at the many variations of parts that were used for only a short time during production that we can find surviving examples of. Here are a few examples:
The records indicate that for a few months in the spring of 1916 Ford replaced the malleable iron frame to dash brackets with some made from steel straps. They only used it for one or two months, but I have found cars with the straps still intact, and I eventually found one NOS steel strap frame to dash bracket for my modest collection.
The records indicate that for a few months in the late spring or early summer of 1918 the bronze horseshoe riveted to the clutch lever shaft was changed to a steel forging. This only lasted a few months but again several have been found on cars manufactured during those months.
In early 1919 the Ford engineers were having trouble keeping the face of the clutch disc drum from being scored by the heat and pressure it receives whenever the clutch pedal is in the neutral or low speed positions. For several months they tried using a clutch disc drum with a spiral groove cut in the face that rides up against the bronze top hat bushing in the brake drum. It turns out it didn’t do any good, but they produced them, used them, and I have since found several examples.
Did you know that at one time the Ford engineers tried to make the clutch disc fingers out of pressed steel instead of forgings? They did, the change was documented in the records and I have an output shaft plate that has them. When the pressed steel firewall first appeared in 1923 Ford did not yet have new dash to frame brackets in production to match the steel firewalls. The engineering documents records indicate that for about six weeks Ford used the same brackets as it had used with the wood firewall, but used four aluminum spacer pillars about ½ inch tall to make up the difference between the thickness of the wood and steel firewalls. I am still looking for a surviving example of these and if someone has seen them, please let me know.
The point of the examples above is that we found out about the variation first by reading about them in the records. Then later we stumbled upon surviving examples and were able to identify them for what they were. This is why both John and I have a healthy respect for the accuracy of those records. When we are presented with a claim that a part was used that we can find no reference to in the records, the only response we can make is that we cannot find any evidence in the records to document that claim. If you have a part that you believe to be original to your car but which is not supported by the documentation, then by all means leave it alone. The day may come when we may find documentation that shows that that variation was actually used. But that day is not here yet.
Fred Houston’s example of changing the amount of steel content in Model T touring bodies during WWI is another example of when we have learned something that changes our views. When Model T authorities reached the conclusion that bodies were made using less steel during the WWI it seemed reasonable and at that time we did not know how many different outside vendors were supplying touring car bodies to Ford during those years. When Ford ordered bodies from a vendor they provided the vendor with a set of “package” drawings – these specified the basic dimensions the body was to be built to, but did not specify precisely how each body was to be made. Some vendors chose to meet the overall specifications by using more steel than wood, while others did the opposite. So it was not due to the war itself that the amount of steel changed, but instead the amount of wood versus steel depends on who the manufacturer was. The first explanation was quite reasonable until we learned more about who was building Model T bodies, and then it became apparent that a better explanation came from who was the body manufacturer.
There are no “experts” on the Model T alive today. They are all long gone. All we have today are students who study what are sometimes incomplete records, then look for original cars to see what matches the records. But at this time, both John and I agree that the best information we have to go on now is the Ford engineering records.
By John F. Regan on Saturday, December 08, 2007 - 10:17 am:
Ford was having troubles with mag light bulbs because he did NOT understand that tungsten could NOT be made to operate over a wide applied voltage range without affecting its operational life expectancy. I once was going to do a research article on the very item you mention - namely light bulbs. Ford not only specified the dimensions of the bulb and filament material to use, he went so far as to specify the exact shape of the filament. Since headlights were a new item that affected other commerce by frightening horses and such - each state of the union was passing different laws and standards governing the briteness. The archive file on LAMPS alone is simply HUGE. I mean HUGE. I decided it was a major research project to document ALL of the bulbs and their various changes through the years since at one point it was looking like there might be a different bulb for every state in the union ha ha.
Since my company made some of the items used on T-100 project - the missing drawings you speak of were what Ford considered "accessory" items by classification even if every car got one and those drawings were not among those saved by George D. There is also a whole range of drawings missing (Trent and others of us call it the "black hole") that obviously did exist at one point. These unfortunately are in the range of speedometer parts and some coil parts. They just are not there.
Ford painted or otherwise finished all bare steel items by 1923 so near as we can tell.
The drawings in the archives ALSO state how many of the part is used on WHAT cars so as to direct purchasing on how many to buy. I don't know if you have ever been involved with manufacturing but purchasing departments buy thing per drawings unless the item is an industry standard like a paperclip but even on industry standard items most companies will still make a "part control drawing" to properly identify the part. One of the most often changed drawings in the archives with over 100 changes to it as I recall is the 1/4-20 NUT. Why over 100 changes? Because the NUMBER USED per car was constantly changing and each change of the number used per car resulted in a complete formal drawing change. THAT is how ANAL Ford was and why most of us are convinced that the use of alternate parts by production people allowed to do "gunslinging" on their own is just not likely. I only state what is IN the archives - you can accept or reject it as you wish but before you reject it as being unlikley - I strongly suggest you go there and look at the level and magnitude of the documentation and its detail. I think you will come away with a different view of whether production people were in fact ignoring it all when they felt like it. You cannot build 15M cars without absolute control and coordination of all aspects. Chaos ensues. I personally have looked for but yet have NOT found a single discrepancy between what the archive drawings show was being used at a time and what I actually found on ORIGINAL UNRESTORED cars.
By Hap Tucker in Sumter SC on Monday, December 29, 2014 - 10:15 am:
The MTFCI Judging Guidelines 6th Edition list them as brass plated steel with the change occurring to painted steel after Feb 1911. Ref page 4 of the 1911 section factory number 862B. Those guidelines are available from the vendors as well as the MTFCI.
While not stated in the guidelines many of the changes in the Model T had some over lap when both the older style part and the newer style part were both being used. If you want a more precise date, you could request copies of the Change Card for factory number 862B. That request can be made to the Benson Ford Archives. For an idea of what the Benson Ford Archives have please see Trent’s excellent article at: http://jupiter.plymouth.edu/~trentb/HFMGVStacks/Stacks.html Note that when Trent wrote that it was called the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village – thus his abbreviation HFMGV. They changed the name since that article and the entire complex is “The Henry Ford” and the Benson Ford Archives are included in that organization. Their web site is: http://www.thehenryford.org/research/index.aspx .
That change card and/or drawing would give the date the change was specified. But -- it often took a little time for the supplier to change to the new requirements. I.e. it wouldn't be done on the same day 99.99% of the time. What about the other 0.01% of the time? Sometimes the change cards or drawings were brought up to date with what was already happening on the factory floor. But that is the exception and not the norm.
And yes, it is also documented that Ford used older parts at different times. A very good illustration of that is on page 497 of Bruce McCalley's (R.I.P.) book "Model T Ford" where he is listing the information from every 100th shipping document. In the middle of Jun 1911 he commented " '1910 running boards' used on a number of cars." And specifically they were listed on car #59,400 which was manufactured Jun 17, 1910 and on car #59,500 which was manufactured on Jun 19, 1911.
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I have an unrestored 1909 touring that has a front axle that is 60 inches from end to end instead of the standard 56.
Neither of the axles in my photos has the clearance notches.
Earlier thread on "wide track" offerings by Ford:
Does someone have access to an early 1909 Ford they could check?
My Pre -Production T # 2436 had the clearance notch but i changed the axle to one without so as to stop the steering drop arm from going over centre when in a full lock position.
My #980 does not have the clearance notch.
Along the line of axle questions: About when did the "Ford" script show up on the front axle? I'm assuming it's after the relationship between Henry Ford and the Dodge Bros. dissolved? Seems a lot of the early axles were Dodge Bros. with the "DB" in a circle on the end of the axle, often with the number T-202.
Tim, I always thought about 1918 or 1919 for the Ford script on most parts.
March 19, 1919.
You see this date through out the "Record of Changes" or releases in the records at the Benson Ford Research Center. The key phrase is: "added the name FORD in script to this part".
Thanks you guys! Kinda thought that. I have an early T-202 DB on my "mutt '20" and Ford script spare axle, so sometime I think I need to do a swap out.
Thanks for your response. How do the markings on #980's axle compare to those on the 2 axles in my first photo?
Hi Andrew, no notches on 314. I think you took pictures of the warnings last time you were here. Kim
Not warnings, markings!!
Andrew, I have owned this car for 33 years and have never taken a close look at the axle until today. I would say it looks identical to your top axle. It has the W with the circle in the same place and orientation as yours, and has the number on the spring perch area too. It is that way on the front side on one end and on the back side on the other end. Thanks for asking me or I would never have known. I didn't check the spring perches, but will tomorrow. The spindles are very light weight too.
Thanks for checking Kim and Don.
Below are photos of the axle on T #685, Kim's axle, and another axle on an early 1909 car that has a marking like Kim's axle. All of these appear to me to be the lighter axles. The webs at the top and bottom of the beam have a finer appearance with a comparatively squarish edge.
#904 also appears to have the "light" axle with the part number over the spring perch shaft. Royce can you confirm?
Andrew I don't see a number or a makers mark on 904's axle.
Hi Royce. Thanks for checking. I noticed the series of light patches running vertically under the radius rod nut in the photo and thought I was seeing the number. Is there anything on the rear side of the other end of the axle?