Sara and I just inherited her grandfather's 1915 Touring car. It has been in a barn for 100 years and still runs. The car was delivered today by Freighter Jim who brought the car from Deer Park, WA to Matthews, NC. We have the original bill of sale, payment receipts, registration, etc. The car has matching numbers. We want to keep the car as original as possible and maintain its vintage appearance. The car has a lot of character and a bullet hole in the back...an interesting story behind that. The car is missing a few things and is in need of a top and upholstery but we do not want to install "new" and would prefer old top and seats. It needs a taillight and complete switch assembly, commutator wire loop, spark plug wires and possibly two or three of the top irons. We have the original radiator, that Sara's uncle removed, and are not sure if it is good but will install it and see how it does. We ordered a new radiator from Brassworks but decided we want to keep the original if it is OK. We don't plan to tour in the car but are planning on showing it. I will be working on the car on Monday with my friend John Strickland, and determining what other parts we may need.
Welcome to the forum and the Model T world, we would love to see some pictures of your car!
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What a day !
John - that was fast .....
98 years ......
This was indeed a special haul - the oldest single family owned vehicle I have hauled to date - picked up in Spokane, WA on the Solar Eclipse from Tom at Antique Auto Ranch who got this Special T running again ......
I delivered " Lizzie " to her new family - got to hear about the history of this Special T - honored to meet John & Kathy Strickland - invited to view their impressive collection of Model T and Model A vehicles including a customer's rare original Model A Hearse .....
Here is Lizzie at drop off a few hours ago ....
I am in the process now of posting images & videos to the MTFCA Facebook page.
Welcome to the forum. You will get lots of opinions on everything. Great car!
That is a fine looking T. Honestly earned look from the past. (I won't use the tired old word patina) but it is tired, old and Wonderful.
I'd love to see more pictures if time permits.
John and Sara, what a great car. More photos please. What a family treasure.
great story! enjoy!
John, I am in Kannapolis. If I can help you, feel free to contact me. FreighTer Jim, Sorry I couldn't get away to meet up with you. Safe travels west!
Well, first of all, the '15 Touring is just a fabulous car. -It's late enough in the Model T run to have the important improvements, but is still very much a Brass-Era car; a genuine horseless carriage.
I've driven a number of different model-years of the Tin Lizzie and several have had unambiguously dreadful driver ergonomics—either no room for your feet or, unless it's in the full-forward position, the parking brake lever has nowhere to go but inside the crook of your left knee. -Not so the '15 Touring. -It's a comfortable car with good foot-space and, by comparison, very good ergonomics.
And you can do things to a '15 that you wouldn't dare do to an earlier car, like mount an ahoogah horn on the driver's "door," or hook up the electric headlights to a retro-fitted electrical system and add tail-lights and turn-signals. -You won't see that stuff on a '12 Touring. -Also, the '15's cowl lanterns are very easily converted over to turn-signals, so you don't have to clutter up your front end with wrong-looking amber lights.
The swoopy cowl adds just the right amount of nose-length to more correctly balance out the side-view of the car. -And the hood louvers look just great.
The other nice thing about the '15 is that it is the least expensive and most easy to maintain admission ticket to the Brass-Era.
Here is a rear shot taken on Tuesday along with Jerry & Kim's 1906 Cadillac Victoria Touring.
Hopefully John will post more images of Lizzie ....
Wow,I would like to check that 1 out myself. There is several T's in your part of the country so it is not alone.
I've been following your story since Jim started posting photos of it on Facebook. It is fabulous
I love what you're doing with it....and also what you're not doing to it. I think I'd remove and straighten out the rear fenders, then reinstall but not much else.
I'm doing something similar to a 24 Touring that came out of a 48 year storage in a west Texas barn, but my car doesn't have the provenance that your car has....not even close. I like all old cars and respect the time and effort that goes into perfectly restored cars but they just don't excite me and instill a sense of awe like old survivors do.
I'm installing a worn old top that came off of Dan Jensen's car and have just purchased a big lot of beautiful old weathered accessories to put on my car but I'd love to have some old lettering like yours do. I've seen it faked but it's always obvious. It's simply gorgeous when it's real and the opposite when it's not.
I'll be following your progress. Please do post more updates with plenty of photos.
Hey John and Sara. I am from Morganton, North Carolina and have a '20 runabout. I'll be following your progress on this wonderful car.
John is going to work on this T with the advice & assistance of John Strickland in Salisbury, NC.
It is so encouraging for me when a story like this can be shared here on the forum with family.
John and Sara....please discuss, when you get a minute, the artwork on the back of the car.....who painted it....what it means, etc.
It is soooo cool.
The " ? " is anyone's guess ...
The letters are perhaps the initials of her Grandfather.
There is " Exit " and " Stop " on the back as well.
I want to hear about the bullet hole .....
(Message edited by enclosed_ford_transport on September 03, 2017)
Sorry for the delay in responding....was having trouble resizing my images but think I have that resolved.
To Don in Conroe......regarding the artwork on the car....Sara's Grandfather came to this country, from Denmark, in 1915. His name was Christian Nielson Thompson (Pa Thompson)and he settled in Spokane, Washington. He had five children, including Sara's mother. One of the children, Howard, was born in 1918. According to Sara's mother, when Howard was about 12 years old, 1930, he loved his father's car. His father, Pa, told Howard, "Some day this car will be yours". According to our records, the last time the car was registered was in 1932. We have the 1932 registration and the 1932 license plate that was in the car. Around that time, Howard claimed the car, as his, and painted his initials on the car, H T, along with the faintly written EXIT, and very visible STOP and the Question marks...one on the back and one on the rear passenger door. The yellow paint was "Boxcar Yellow". Pa Thompson worked for the Northern Pacific Railroad and built refrigerator cars, which were painted, "Boxcar yellow". This also explains the yellow outline of the doors. Pa Thompson had special dispensation from the railroad and continued working until his death in 1967. It wasn't until 1961 that he gave the car to Harold....we have his letter, stating the gift of the car to Harold, dated November 11, 1961.
Pictured are John Strickland and Ed Kale who worked with me, on labor Day, to get the "T" running, with the original radiator. having heard from many, in the Model T community, we have decided to keep the "T" as original as possible. At the time we do not plan to tour in the car but rather preserve its historical significance. I am looking for original upholstery and top....Perhaps from someone who wanted to fully restore a 1915 Touring car and kept the old materials. Also looking for a taillight.
John and Sara
As an encouragement to keep your car as close as possible to original I've included a picture of Marvin, a 1925 Tudor that we found in February. I think the only non-original thing on Marvin is the running board tool box that I found at a swap meet. In the box are all the old Ford tools that were under the back seat. Marvin still has the original pistons but new rings and valves. We are the second registered owner of the T after it sat in a barn in Georgia for 71 years. Runs great on battery or mag. By the way, Don is a neighbor.
That is a treat to see John.
Love the car and love the story! They are only original once - hope you keep it just as it is. Not sure I would even wash it. Don's idea is so cool - replacing needed parts with older, weathered ones.
For the past 19 years, the "T" lived in Sara's cousin's boat house, in Deer Park, Washington. When I let it down off the blocks, it still had 46 year old air in the tires, Sara's Uncle bought four Wards Riverside tires, from Montgomery Ward, in 1971. My next surprise was when I cranked her. I didn't know what to expect, could the engine be seized or the block cracked? It turned over easily and had good compression.
I understand that the body number and the engine number do not necessarily match and that Ford placed little significance on the body number and discontinued its use in 1915. This plate is located in front of the gas tank. The number is 315215114 The engine number:724823
Is that correct???
Not really. The steel plate is one put on by the body builder, and was used primarily for billing and accounting purposes. Beaudette, and I think at least one other company used plates similar to that one. Other companies stamped or burned numbers directly into the wood or used some other form of a plate. The first three numbers, the "3" and the "15" are the date code. The exact significance of that code is not known, it may be when the order was placed, or when construction began. Either way, doesn't make much difference. It means that the body was built about March (third month) of 1915 ("15"). The rest of the number is probably the body company's serial number, the 215,114th body built by Beaudette. Since they were one of the larger suppliers for Ford, that number (at slightly less than one third of the engine number) would fit well.
Ford actually did not control the body numbers. There was no time when they really stopped using them. However, their only real value was as an accounting tool for dealing with the supplier. Ford did request car owners to include body numbers if available when ordering replacement or repair panels in order to try to match with the correct body supplier. Parts and panels differed slightly from one supplier to the next. More and more bodies did not have supplier serial numbers as Ford built more and more of the bodies in house (some time later than 1915). They did not need the numbers so much then. Some bodies, especially coupes and some sedans, but even some runabout and touring cars, continued to have body numbers at least as late as 1925'
What you may have heard or read about "body numbers being discontinued in 1915 may have been the "car number". That was a plate nailed onto the firewall (near the steering column) that had a serial number stamped on it also. That number was known as the "car number. But was not supposed to be used for licensing purposes, although that mistake was made often. Sometimes, some years (mostly 1909), that serial number would match the engine number. As time and production moved along, the engine serial number and the car number drifted farther apart, becoming more confusing and less useful. In mid 1915, they stopped stamping that brass plate with a serial number. That plate was also the official patent information plate, so Ford continued using the same plate for a couple more years, just without the number. Somewhere around 1917 or '18, the plate was changed to a smaller patent plate only.
Wonderful car! Especially with the family history.
I hope some of all that numbers stuff can help you.
John and Sara:
The metal body plate was used on Beaudette bodies. (Not sure if it was used on others. ) If you look at the top center of the front seat riser, you will see a hole which is surrounded by an embossed "B".
Take a harder look at your metal body plate. You should see two dots:
3 * 15 * 215114
3 = March
15 = 1915
215114 = the body number
(The engine serial number 724823 corresponds to March 18, 1915.)
For example, here is the tag from my 1917 roadster:
8 * 16 * 309474
8 = August
16 = 1916
309474 = body serial number
In the second photo, I have circled the dots in red for your convenience:
(Message edited by Erik_johnson on September 13, 2017)
(Message edited by Erik_johnson on September 13, 2017)
Thank you for that wonderful information.
That would also explain this plate that was with all the original documentation. It must have been removed from the firewall when Sara's uncle was restoring the firewall with one he made.
The number is 626656
Note the diagonal line on the upper left corner of the patent plate.
The patent plates were mounted on the firewalls according to the factory drawing, but once the firewall was fastened to the body, the cowl obscured the upper left hand corner of the plate. You would think that the fellows at Ford Motor Company would have revised the drawing to mount the plate in a slightly better spot so it wouldn't be obscured.
First photo is my unrestored 1917 roadster. Second photo is the unrestored 1917 "Rip Van Winkle" touring. Note the upper left hand corner of the patent plate is covered by the cowl.
Great historical observation. And I thought is was just bent. That certainly adds to this story. Thank you Erik.
More ? to come....
Why do suppose Sara's Grandfather wrapped the rear leaf springs???
Keep the dirt out & the oil in !
While I admire a beautifully restored car that's been brought forth from a basket case, nothing beats a well-preserved original. Sometimes on one of these cars the radiator is a problem because decades of vibration have separated the fins from the tubes so that it no longer radiates. If that turns out to be the case here, I would urge a recore rather than replacement with a new one. The new radiators look similar, of course, but they're not accurate reproductions. That's why I chose to keep my original 1915 radiator and have it recored. It also saved me a few Benjamins, but the main reason was to keep the original look. I consider the hundred years' worth of dings and patches part of the show. At the Old Car Festival last weekend I saw dozens of brass era Model T's. I found a grand total of three that had original radiators. I don't understand why so few people keep their originals. I understand that sometimes it's more than just the core that's shot, but I suspect that originals are often replaced unnecessarily.
What Steve Jelf says is very true.
Another concern I see. The shock absorbers on the car were quite popular way back in the day. They smoothed the ride over potholes and wagon ruts. At the very low speeds common at that time, they worked well and were basically safe. On the rear end, they are probably still fine for use. The geometry involved seems to work with the shock absorbers okay. However, on the front axle? The geometry coupled with a large circle of connections between the axle, perches, shocks, springs (multiple), and shackles, creates an instability that with the higher speeds we drive today (in this case, 30 mph is a high speed!) can cause the front axle to become unstable, oscillate, and/or fold over. A few years ago, there were a couple accidents including fatalities that were at least partially caused by that type of shock absorber. One of them was at low speed, pulling off the pavement to stop, and even at a very low speed, a rough edge between pavement and hard shoulder managed to flip the car. The other one was at about 35 mph, and likely was precipitated by a tire failure resulting in a front axle "death wobble", followed by a fold-over.
Generally, in the model T hobby, such accidents are very rare. Statistically, in part due to the speeds and areas usually driven, even without modern safety equipment, model T miles are safer than modern driving under most modern conditions. However, that type of after-market shock absorber has been found to be unsafe to a dangerous extent.
Grandfather's car or not. I would recommend replacing the front shocks with either the stock Ford setup (with added brace), or replace with a safer type shock absorber, like the Hasslers which were also available in 1915.
Just a further opinion on the subject from me. Some people will suggest replacing the early setup (over-axle wishbone) with the later (after 1919) setup (under-axle wishbone). The later setup is stronger, and more stable than the early setup. That makes the later setup somewhat safer, and how can one argue against safety? At the time the early setup was being manufactured and used on Ford cars, many after-market accessory wishbone braces were offered. One such of those can make the car basically as safe as the later axle arrangement, and maintain era correctness. And since I like cars to truly represent their era, I like to see them era correct.
But that is me.
However, do change out those front shocks. I am not sure that any amount of wishbone bracing can make those safe enough.
Hi John & Sara !
Keep this thread going ....
You know how I feel about your car & the importance of keeping the " Story Intact " in both Memory and in the Living Example of your family's history ....
Wayne, your advice is consistent with what I got from Tom Carnegie of Antique Auto Ranch in Spokane, Valley, Washington. Tom suggested that I make that modification for safety. We do not intend to tour in the car. The driving will be from the enclosed trailer to an event. However that does not mean that it wouldn't be driven, near our home, for a short distance. The wishbone was installed below the axle as you suggested. My question is this: How does this affect the historical correctness of the car?
The below the axle wishbone, and the spring perch to accommodate it, first showed up on model T Fords in 1919. Many hobbyists, for more than half a century, have been routinely changing the early design for the later one for safety reasons. The truth is, that the original early design is not really dangerous, but it very much is not as safe as the later style. (That early shock absorber after-market accessory however does make the early design truly dangerous.)
Only people into model Ts will ever notice the change. And most of them, like me, are somewhat used to seeing them with the later design. Since it has already been changed? I would just say keep the newer one there. It can always be changed back later if someone wants to.
The '14 T I just bought has those shocks front and rear. Can someone explain to me why they're a safety problem, or whether this is just an old wives' rumor like so much of the lore that springs up around Ts?
Be glad to GFtE, but it will have to be a bit later, probably tonight. I have to go out and get some work done on my car.
Rather than tie up Sara and John's thread, I started a new one for my long diatribe (answer).
For those that may want to read it:
If you ask Brassworks not to polish the new radiator it looks awesome and saves just a few $$. Mine came out perfect for my original 1915.
good luck- Marty
Thanks for the updates.....I love this car, and I'm glad that unrestored cars are becoming more appreciated.
John Mays' car (posted above) is a great example of how to return one to the road while keeping its history intact.
My 24 Touring will have that look, but doesn't have nearly the provenance that your car or John's does. Mine was thoroughly used and abused on a cotton farm. But that used look is part of its charm and history and it would be a shame to "sterilize" it by taking it all apart and restoring it to perfection.
Please do keep posting photos and a video of it driving.....or better yet, a video of you walking around it, pointing out some of the great features it has.
Unless an effort has been made to go back to "correct" features, most Model T's today contain some "wrong" parts. The front spring in that last picture appears to be 1916-1927.
To add to what Steve just said, I sometimes wonder how many Model T's came out of the factory with what today's "purists" would call,...."wrong parts"! As we all know, Henry didn't throw anything away! And we know of many changes that were made "in mid-stream" during a production year. I even wonder how often some of today's restored Model T's have been criticized for a "wrong part" that in fact, if the truth was known, that "wrong part" was actually installed by the factory! (???)
Sara's uncles, when they were very young, were not very good drivers, and did this little fender bender in the barn.
Any thoughts on whether we should attempt to straighten or replace or leave as is????
Straighten or replace.
(If you want to leave the fender as is, find a replacement and hang the banged up/torn one on the wall "as is."
I would find a replacement fender.That 1 will vibrate and crack far worse to the point of being more difficult to fix.
John & Sara,
Any luck finding a seat or other big parts you need ?
I am dropping off in Ventura, California today and then continuing to the Long Beach area.
From there I head to Reno Nevada.
From there I had to Flagstaff Arizona and then Louisville Kentucky.
All along that route I have room for a seat or other parts you may locate along the way.
Your parts can catch a free ride to Louisville if you buy something that I can pick up along my route.
John, if it is was my car, I'd weld up the crack in the fender and make it as straight as possible without painting it or otherwise touching it
This is what I did to the two cracked fenders on my 24 Touring and the repair fits in with the rest of the car. The repair will be your mark on the car and will contribute to the story of the car without taking away from it (because the story of the weld is related to the damaged fender and why it was damaged)
A new fender won't do that. And the old fender hanging on a wall will almost certainly, eventually get separated from the car.
I second Don's advice
There is a story of how this fender got bent - not sure if is just the wheel bent or if the axle is damaged as well - but ...
Sara & John are planning to travel this & display it - driving will be limited - as such it would be nice to let the T tell it's Tale with minimal editing ....
John....here's the weld on my 24 Touring that I mentioned above.
This fender was tweaked similar to how yours is. I lined up the fender and held it in place with clamps, the spot welded it up and down the crack, taking care to move around on the crack until the crack was filled up. This kept the heat down and minimized any distortion of the old paint.
The weld isn't perfect or pretty, but now it's mostly straight and the weld continues to tell the story about this car's past. And...I think it looks like a repair that might have been made back in the day.
Don, that's perfect. For a restoration it could be made to look new, but for your historic preservation it's exactly right.
Thank you Don for the photo......that is excellent advice. John Strickland has a body man that can do the repair and make it look like it was done 100 years ago. I will post the "after" photo.
We believe we have found original top irons in good condition....
Still need to find an original top, front and back seat and upholstery, in fair to good condition, from someone who did a complete restoration and kept the old stuff....
John and Sara
John & Sara welcome to the model T club. What a great story..
John & Sara,
My offer stands ...
Stopped for the day in Mojave, CA.
Been away a while...Maine and New Hampshire for L&L....Leaves and Lobster.
Decided to upholster the interior with a vintage leatherette that looks like 100 year old leather. Photo shows it next to a piece from the car's original upholstery. Classtique is doing the upholstery and installing on the diamond tufted seat.
Any thoughts on this???
I have an opportunity to get a set of original 1915 springs or I could get a new set from Snyder. Any thoughts on this????
John and Sara
1915 upholstery was not diamond tuffed. It was a sewn diamond pattern on the cushions and channels on the backrests. Artificial leather everywhere except the front rolls on the armrests. I think Mike knows that...
I would suggest new seat springs. The old are probably weak and may bottom out. If you can get new and compare them to the old, that would be ideal. Double check the attachment on the cushion. The backrest springs might be different from the originals, so take a careful eye to them.
Keep us up to date...
: ^ )
Good advice from Keith
I do believe you can send your old springs to Snyders and they will duplicate them exactly and return them to you if wanted.
As a 45 year long autobody repairman I applaud your decision to weld the fender. Straighten and weld it, just as a rural blacksmith would have done in the old days....
John, where were you able to purchase the vintage leatherette?
As to the radiator, Steve Jelf is correct, you find a lot of incorrect radiators in model Ts. There is a reason: The modern radiators (such as Berg's) cool better then the original round-tube units. I'm not referring to brass cars of which I know little. Berg's does make a correct round-tube radiator which I would use if my T was for shows only, but as I don't show it - I just like driving the thing - The last thing I want to think about is overheating. With my Berg'e flat-tube radiator, I don't give overheating a thought; during the hottest days here in Sunny SW Florida the temperature of the engine is fine. The only people who notice the radiator are other T people who are sticklers for authenticity.
Yes, Berg's radiators are great. That's what I would use on a black era car every time. My 1923 touring has one. But for a brass era car your only options are fix, recore, or Brassworks.
To: Dan Killecut....Got a call from Mike at Classtique today and he was so excited to install the vintage leatherette, he got it finished very quickly and posted it on his facebook page. The image is of the seats, which I had them do on new springs from Snyder. The photo color is not correct but the image in my earlier post is. I got the material from Big Z Fabric in California..
Call 844-BIG-Z-FAB (1 844-244-9322)
Email: Sales@bigzfabric.com VINYL FAUX FAKE LEATHER PLEATHER 2 TONE DISTRESSED GRANUM PVC FABRIC / SADDLE / SOLD BY THE YARD 54 " wide
$15.99 Ordered 12 yards for the T.
I should have upholstery installed next week and will post photos of the interior. Everyone who has seen the material says it looks like its 100 years old.
To: Gary Hammond and friends......
I will have the vintage welding done next week and will post the results.....I like your dump truck of thumbs up.....
Still undecided about the top....I can put together a set of original irons and get a set of bows...The material I used for the upholstery could be used for the top, however, I am planning to show her and not tour and may just leave her topless.....
I love how the seat turned out....nice work.