On both my model T's the firewall is steel.
Both are not original in different ways, but I'm not certain that matters.
The 1921 Pick-up was build in 1963 by what I gues is a 1921 chassis, that have given idendity to the car (it's title says 1921) but the body is the front of a 1919 touring without starter (the ignition switch sits on the coilbox and the windscreen frame have brackets for oil sidelamps).
The firewall is steel.
The 1922 Fordor is a touring that at some point around 1925-6 was rebuild by a local bodyshop to current design - a for door closed car. The rear panels are most likely from the touring.
The titel says 1922 but I have looked after it in the old tax registrations and there I found a 1921 Touring sold to the first owner - not a 1922. But since there is no VIN in the frame, it may have got registered with incorrect papers at some point.
Again - firewall is steel on both - not wood.
Anyway - I do NOT think any of the rebuilds have involved a swap of cowl or firewall to get steel firewalls.
Am I reading the encyclpedia incorrect?
Given European history, and the original variations from USA production, it becomes difficult to know. In USA production, the steel firewall began about 1922. Exactly when, is still debated, and varied from one assembly plant to another assembly plant. Basically, it is generally believed that all '21s had a wooden firewall, and all '23s had a steel firewall. 1922 could have been either.
However. The wooden firewall was a weak point in the car. Plenty strong when new, but weakened by age, dampness, and the stresses of being driven and twisted. By the early '20s, the smaller wooden firewalls from 1915/'16/'17 were becoming weak, and beginning to fail. So the move to a steel firewall that was initially more flimsy, but lasted much longer was made. It was soon stiffened by adding a dash to steering column bracket, something that Ford believed was not necessary with the wooden firewalls.
So, also, another thing happened. Ford dealers carried replacement steel firewalls, lots of them. New-old-stock ones are still fairly common (even I have one). It was recommended that the wooden one be replaced by a steel firewall at the early signs of weakness. A large number of late '10s and early '20s Ts have steel firewalls for that reason.
There is no simple way to tell for certain if your firewalls had been changed or not. However, a lot of the ones that were changed, used the original wooden firewall-to-frame (steel) brackets. Because the steel firewall is very thin, and the wooden one was 5/8 inch thick (about 16mm), there was a problem with things fitting well. It was recommended to use a spacer (either wood or steel) (about 5/8 inch or 16mm) between the new steel firewall and the original bracket.
So, look for those spacers. It won't be conclusive, but if there are spacers there, it would be a minor indication that the firewall was at some time changed. Of course, it could mean something else also. Like the brackets have been changed? Or who knows who did what when?
And, sometimes, when the firewall was replaced, even many decades ago? The firewall brackets were change to the ones with the offset to match the new steel firewall.
For the most part. I wouldn't worry much about why the firewall is steel. The four door sedan has a special and unique history. Chances are good, the firewall was changed when the custom body was built. That is part of the car. And part of that car's special history. I like that car a lot! I also like the pickup. And its chassis may have had the firewall changed way back when also.
Drive safe my friend.
Metal firewalls began in late 22 which is really early 23...all early 22's had wood firewalls, same as the 21's, and the open cars had straight windshields and two man tops. When the 23 came out in late 22, it was a slant windshield, metal firewall and low cowl, later in 23 (early 24) the high cowl came out. But all cars 23 and after had metal firewalls.
Not true Martin. Many '23s had wood firewalls. Just last week I saw an original '23 with a metal firewall. I didn't bother to get the engine number though, but that car has never been restored.
Thanks Wayne. I'm happy with the cars as they are - not factory original but both with some history.
I'll do some detail photos of the things you mentioned.
Oh by the way - on the picture they are on display on a steam fair in my 'hood with the Danish Model T club. You can see our logo on the banner to the left :-)