For a while I was drooling over the 1915 Runabouts, but it seemed like the body tub was almost always a later replacement on those. More recently, especially with my working budget, I've grown more attached to the 1923-25 runabouts. I'm curious to know if major body parts are frequently replacements on these, or if it was still fairly easy to find original cars? I don't mind a restoration so much as long as original body parts/engine are still in place. Just curious about the Ts from the '20s and originality. Anything to frequently look for in terms of replacement parts when looking over these years?
Most parts for model t's of this vintage ( I own a 1925 Tudor) can easily be found as there were so many made. Some original mechanical parts are not reproduced and may take a little hunting, but you can still find original usable examples. Most everything I have ever needed I've been able to locate through this forum.
One thing that you never want assume, is that the rear running gear, differential, driveshaft etc.is in good shape, no matter how good it sounds or feels. You need to do a full disassembly and inspection before you drive it. Your life depends on it. I had no idea mine was as bad as it was until I had it apart. All I was able to reuse were the axle and differential housings.
I know there are some really nice originals parts for sale from time to time for 26-27 roadsters. Not sure about 23-25Ts. Even though they are my favorites. Tim moo
Too bad you're on the opposite side of the country - I have a '25 Runabout basket case - 95% complete looking for a new home !
For fiscal year 1915 (Aug 1 1914 to Jul 31 1915) there were 308,162 Model Ts (includes chassis) produced (ref page 462 of Bruce McCalley's "Model T Ford" and on this site at: http://www.mtfca.com/encyclo/fdprod.htm ) In fiscal year 1923 there were 2,011,125. So more of them were made and while percentage of surviving rate may be about the same, the total numbers are more. Also the later open cars had more and more steel and less and less wood in them. And for the 1926-27 cars all except the Fordor body were all steel for structural purposes and the wood was used for attaching non-structural items.
You still need to do some checking. In many cases folks took the best parts from two or more cars and made one really good one and one that they sold for parts. I did that as a teenager trying to fund the better car (in that case it was 1928-29 Model A Fords -- but Ts were similar -- you can interchange the parts.) I know of one later black radiator car that the owner used a 1915-16 style body on it. And while you listed 1923-25, the 1923 cowl is the same size as the 1915-1922 and the rear tub on the touring is the same 1921ish-1925.
And with the exception of cars that were purchased from the factories and/or dealers near the factories, the cars were often shipped with the bodies off the chassis. So you never really know if the body was the one placed on the chassis as it was taken to the railroad loading dock. So literally most Ts were assembled after they went to the dealer. The exception were those picked up by the dealer or purchaser at the factory. Those would have been driven. [Note the very early Ts were shipped fully assembled -- but that wastes a lot of shipping space.]
Below is a photo showing the 1915 model year cars being loaded. I don't think they cared that much about which body was bolted back onto which frame. While unloading them in the order they were put in would mean a lot of the times the same body was put on the same frame -- it was not a guarantee.
And note, that the 2009 Stynoski winner for the most authentically restored Model T entered in the Model T Ford Club International judging started off as just a body. And the then owners Gordon and Marcia Koll hunted down all the parts so it could be restored as a Loss leader (no starter, no demountables) runabout.
Note the Model T Ford Club of America does NOT sponsor judging. But the illustration above is to let you know it is always possible to make a T that is authentic to the year, if someone desires to do that. All Model Ts were assembled from parts. Either at the factory, or at the train station, the dealership, or in later by individuals.
Have you visited some of the local clubs and struck up some friendships with some of the owners yet? That will help you understand the differences in the cars as well as preservation, restoration, speedster building etc.
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I think you might be missing the point on this "original parts" thing. The
beauty of a Model T for most people is the "bitsa" factor and the relative
ease and cost in finding parts, either original or reproduction. There are
few old cars and no other cars of the T era that allow a fool owner to just
drive the hell out of them and know that parts and help are just a phone
call and a credit card away. Try that with your Packard, Kissel, or pre-'30
Phil Hartman once did a skit on SNL called The Anal Retentive Carpenter.
It was presented like some cheesy public-access TV show. He fussed and
moved tools/materials around the workbench, running out of air time before
nailing a single piece to another. I could SO relate this humor to my own
ability to over-complicate things. It is all too easy with cars to get so wound
up on "perfection" and doing things "just so", that a person ends up with a
car that never leaves the garage or gets put back together.
It was a chopper crash in AFG that hit me between the eyes that I could be
dead at any moment and I should not waste my precious time anymore,
engaged in what I call "over-analysis paralysis. Or as my Grandad used to
say, "Sh!t or get off the pot !" (usually followed a string of expletives). The
moment I got home, I began thinking about a TT flatbed and made it happen.
I beat this old beast like a rented mule and enjoy the hell out of it. I am
easier on it than the original owners, I am sure, but I don't worry about leaks
or scratches and just keep fixing things as if it was the old farm truck that it
is. The fun is not in the perfection and fuss. The fun is in driving it and putting
big smiles on the faces of people who see it going down the road.
Decide what you want and enjoy. Life is too short to bind up trying to be
Burger, I'm reminded of an old rifle, a family heirloom that had belonged to my great-grandfather. It had been re-barrelled after the "original" had been shot out of it. Sometime, a new stock had been fit up after the "original" had split out at the wrist. The lock-work had been worked on, and broken parts replaced at least three times anyone knew for sure. So, was it still my great-grandfather's rifle ?
You said it. The fun is in "driving" it and putting big smiles on the faces of people who see it . . .
The original car to find is not possible, and some parts of the repair shop is also difficult to buy.
But happy to play on the line, and sometimes sit down and buy a coffee mugs drink coffee to enjoy life is important. https://goo.gl/m0bEOW
Rich, I'm with Burger on this one. The main thing is to just enjoy driving them. Of course if you insist on an original Model T, you can find them on T-bay all day long. :-)
I think we are getting bogged down in that word "Original" again. If I understand the "Original" poster's question, he was using the word "Original" to differentiate from "Reproduction". Or at least that is what I thought he meant.
? Warren, so am I. Apparently my meaning didn't come across. : )
I suppose the biggest thing to me or original tub and original engine. Period correct fenders or other small bits are okay if replaced, but for example, it bugs me if I see that a 1915 tub is clearly replaced with a later model T tub. At the same time, I realize wood rots, so sometimes this is impossible to avoid. I guess if I am buying an antique car, I want the major components to actually be an antique of the year I am expecting.
You might check with Langs located in northwestern Massachusetts ,he always has cars in the show room,I will be there next Monday PM me if you think I can help.
With attention to detail you can make the 1917-1920 touring body look correct in every detail to the 1915.
There are numerous parts that can be modified to work well and even look correct. For example it can be difficult to find original Model A Ford station wagon front pillars -- the part the front doors attach to. But there are one or two -- I don't remember which -- other closed car front pillars that can be modified relatively easily to function and look like the originals.
If your goal is to find a survivor and continue to preserve it -- they are still out there. But it is a different search than just for a Model T. They show up but are not near as common as the many parts are replaced or the original one that was restored. In the 1950-70s they routinely took what we would now want to preserve and restored it. And it was an easy restoration! But it would never be original unrestored again.
Take a look at the links below for keeping it original:
Have fun with whatever you decide to obtain. And again -- the local chapter will give you some first hand experience with seeing and touching the Ts. And that should help you with your decisions. Also the size of your family. A Runabout or Coupe or speedster is great for 2 folks. Not a easy to take 4 folks for a ride of any distance.
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I own a 1958 DeSoto Fireflite convertible. One of six known to survive.
It was my dream car for many years and an unbelievable PITA to find and
restore. Few were built, rust issues and public disdain for finned cars led
most to the scrapper. But I found one and enough on that ....
While I was pulling my hair out, running all over the country on goose chases
for non-existent cars, my friend John musingly watched and told me I was
nuts. He was happy with his four door sedans and could see no logic to my
obsession. He was out driving and enjoying his cars, and I was obsessed
and unhappy. This went on for YEARS. Him out having fun and not being
fussy, my being fussy and not out enjoying my car.
When I came home from AFG, I went to visit an old friend who happened to
also be a T guy. He invited me in, and asked if I would like to see his wheel
painting project. The basement stunk of paint fumes, and there sat 4 wheels,
resplendent in black paint, and a cluster of empty rattle cans.
After all my years of the over-fussy perfectionistic 1950's car restorations,
this incredibly simple and carefree approach to making a car "good enough"
to just to out and enjoy struck me as incredibly wonderful. No over-analysis
paralysis, just bang it out, scuff it up, and hit it with some paint ! Whatever.
The key point is, you can enjoy a junk heap T with mismatched parts just as
well as any over-polished museum paperweight. You can buy a car and make
it right as you enjoy it. Most T's are some form of cobbled together after 90+
years. It's part of the character. The choice is yours.
What's in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.
So what do we mean by original? If that means an unrestored car that has never had any of its parts replaced, at this point that's pretty rare. But if it means the car has some replacement parts but they're correct for the year, that's quite common.
Heck, a Model T with a few incorrect parts would be just as much fun
to drive ! Mine has a fan AND a water pump, but don't tell anyone !
Yes, a few "incorrect" parts don't reduce the fun. My 1915 runabout has several incorrect parts, and as time goes by I'm "downgrading" to all the proper 1915 stuff. Do I love driving it as it is now? You bet. Nothing beats an after-dinner cruise on a summer evening.
It is my intention to downgrade my truck to have all visible fasteners made
to the correct vintage fastener. I plan to downgrade my softwood lumber
side boards with proper white oak in the process. Visually, I want the truck
to present as if it is a well maintained used truck, circa 1939. I have yet to
swap out the original plate glass with safety glass. Is that considered non-
original, and therefore "bad". Are my aluminum pistons and SCAT crank also
bad and icky non-original stuff ?
Rick, Figure out what kind of T will really float your boat, and then go have
fun with it. Fix things along the way. But don't be consumed with everything
being "just so". Life is too short and there will always be time to fuss as you
go along. Even if the next owner has to put it on his "itch list".
Steve, I love your videos.
I've actually seen a couple of original cars as they emerged from a shed where they had been sitting since I would guess the 1930's. In both cases the cars didn't appear to be tampered with. But, they were in such bad condition they were clearly not drive-able without major work that would probably ruin their chances to be called "original".
When I got my TT it only had a 'headache rack' which was not old. I built the side boards that are on it, but like yours, they are soft wood. I have to admit I'd like to have them made of oak, but I doubt I ever get around to it. I did use square nuts when I built them. I ordered the hardware for joining the corners and the break on the sides between the two side 'side boards' from McMaster Carr. I don't know how old that design is, but they look good enough for me.