I have seen a discussion about this before but never really got a sense of what the trend was in the model T era. Given that many model T Fords have “dummy” doors on the drivers side, doesn’t it make sense that if step plates were purchased they would install them on both sides to keep the look symmetrical? Does anyone have any vintage pictures of model Ts with a step plate on the drivers side.
Please remember that I’m not trying to open a discussion that has to do with step plates or no step plates today. It’s about the aesthetics of one vs two step plates back in the model T era.
I was a banjo maker for many years by the way. In a similar concept the American five string banjo has the fifth peg half way of the neck with the other four up on the peghead. British banjos however often have a guitar style six peg assembly up on the peg head and tunnel the fifth string under the finger board to emerge on the fifth fret. And .. they leave one peg up top with no string .... just to keep the look symmetrical.
I have no photo Mark, but I have observed idiots who have done that!
Hmm, Larry ... your answer is predictable and I appreciate your passion of keeping the model T as close to the factory example as possible. But not sure you are responding in the spirit of my post unless you actually observed them back in the 1920s and 30s when non 100% stock Fords were probably the rule rather than the exception. Let’s try this ... why do you think those idiots at Ford bothered with making the dummy door stamping on the drivers side?
Running board accessory step plates became fashionable in the late teens through the 20s, as seen as the offerings in the catalogues of the time. I believe the common brass “ Ford” embossed ones appeared in the 50s and have remained since. There were aluminum “Ford “ embossed ones that appeared in dealer pamphlets in the late 20s. I don’t hate the brass ones, I figure they were sold in pairs for touring cars. One under a false door is fodder for conversation I guess.
To keep people from exiting the car into traffic, or maybe to save money?
I think Mark's question about the driver's side sheet metal centered around why stamp the outline of a false door there instead of just leaving it plain.
Why? There is no why.
No ... I understand why the functioning door isn’t there ... a pain to get in with the handbrake there or for safety reasons. But .. why bother with the stamping that implies there is a functioning door?
Maybe the false door was to provide more strength and rigidity to the body?
Here's a NOS accessory door from our collection that takes the place of the blind drivers side door.
This doesn't answer the question, but I see in the above catalogue page, the plates were priced each, not by the pair. Someone no doubt only bought one!
That's a great point ... available individually. Wonder if they were ever sold through the Ford dealerships as an "authorized" accessory.
Were there other car manufacturers who had cars with dummy drivers side doors? Wondering about the safety issue of stepping out into traffic.
Instead of step plates were such intended as mud scrapers? In the old films people are often pictured jumping/steaping over the fake door so? Bud.
They were sold 25-27 through Ford dealerships in Australia and Canada. Part number 25691X.
Sometimes I wonder whether step-plates came about as an invention by the Kat from AMT for adding some detail to an otherwise dull-looking plastic model kit (and it must have been with unbounded glee that the same manufacturer modified the kit with all manner of plated-plastic silliness and a red body to duplicate My Mother the Car).
Were step-plates actually popular back in the day? I don't see too many period photographs of them. -Do they really serve a practical purpose or is it more a pain in the pitoot to place your feet precisely upon them so as to protect the paint on the running-board? -When the paint on my running-board wears, I use a little sand paper followed by a few dabs of black Rustoleum. Done. -The diamond-plate of the running-board hides any touch-up imperfections.
If you want to dress up your car with doo-dads like spotlights, crystal vases and a pair of fuzzy dice, that's your business. -I myself have a stained and varnished steering wheel, spokes and hood shelves, and a pair of brass wings on my radiator cap (which, as it turned out, loosened the rivets on my radiator filler neck due to the combination of its own weight and vibration—but hey, the damage is already done, so the wings may as well stay there and look pretty).
I think that "Ed in California" has it right about the stamped door outline on the driver's side being there to strengthen the panel and reduce the possibility of "oil canning".
Along with Wayne, I have seen in the old catalogues the step plates offered as singles--buy only what you need.
Also, in looking through the period catalogues, I have NEVER seen brass step plates. I have long thought that they are a modern (50's and newer) fantasy part, just more shiney bling which did not exist back then.
I'll run this by the esteemed forum members.
WHAT IF: Since the step plates seem to have appeared somewhat later in T production times, could they have come about for a specific reason? Getting in and out, wears the running boards. No contest there. How many T owners did touch up painting on their running boards back then? As with today's car owners, I expect the number was limited, thus the running boards became worn and slippery when wet, muddy, or just dirty. THUS, the invention of step plates to restore traction to the worn, slippery running board. This reasoning would agree with Wayne's observation concerning the step plates being sold singly, AND, why they do not show up in many photos of the time.
This is going to KILL both the purists and non-purists. The step plates were NOT OEM but were period accessories. Making both groups correct, depending on the exact time the vehicle is representing - earlier or later.
I, very well, could be full of it, but the explanation fits many of the facts and has a 50/50 or better chance of being correct.
Still doesn't answer Mark's question about symmetry. Understanding some human behavior, you'll find, the human eye/mind loves symmetry and thus strives to find the symmetry of the lack thereof.
Not saying they're not out there, but I've never seen a worn-out runningboard. As for safety under foot, they're slick when wet, painted or not. A step plate of some kind could make it safer and easier to get in and out of the car, there would be no reason to put one under the "dummy" door, unless the owner were compulsive about symmetry - in which case the non-opening door probably gave him fits ! Best get a Canadian Ford !
I think it's more about having something on the running board that is less slippery underfoot. How many forum members drive their Ts in the snow? It is really slippery when you step on a running board with your shoe crusted with snow or ice.
As far as stiffening one side of the body .... well, they eventually went to a functioning door on the drivers side along with everyone else.
But back to my original question. Post your original vintage pics of Ts with step plates! :-)
Who's going to see both sides of the car at the same time?
Slightly OT but, I used to go to a lot of the indoor car shows. You know the kind where some vehicles are put on turntables and some have mirrors and lights underneath to show off the undersides. Often a chrome brake drum would be off to show the chrome wheel cylinder, chrome brake shoes, and chrome springs, all mounted to the chrome backing plate. I sometimes wondered if the other corners, with the wheels and tires still on, had all the internals chromed too.
Forgive me for hijacking this thread.
I have a couple of running boards on which the tops of the diamonds are worn through. If I can find them in the snow piles and through the below zero wind chill I might take pictures, but don't hold your breath.
I have slipped and almost fallen off wet running boards. They can be dangerous when wet.
In the period between my last post on this thread and now I have been looking through one of my computer files with over 3,000 saved images from the era; brass and later, Ford and not. Step plates were nowhere to be seen! I was really surprised. The false door was blocked by all manner of stuff: spare tires, P-O-L tanks, tool boxes, luggage, goats, you name it. Step plates? No. Not on either side of the cars.
I suppose that one of the takeaways from this could be that just because something is offered for sale does not guarantee that it will sell.
Furthermore, The frugal Model T buyer is going to spend his hard earned dollars on more practical items such as spare tire carriers, luggage racks, tool boxes, Ruckstell Axles, better carburettors, and so on before he throws his money after some of them fancy geegaws like step plates. "Pa, you gotta spend your money on fillin' them dinner plates. Forgit about them step plates."
No, a T owner would never put a step plate under the dummy door on the driver's side.....heck no.
That's you put the tool box
Now...by '26 these pretty flappers have one installed under the driver's door, along with a running board light....today we call these lights 'puddle lamps' found on high end SUV's and trucks!
I think step plates were added by the owners to make a cheap car look more expensive. Just one of the many after market sparkle items. I added them to both of my cars because I got tired of touching up the paint where everyone stepped.
Tommy, .... sure, no one can see both sides at the same time ... but we still make sure the wheels have matching hub caps. There are lots of compulsive people who would go crazy with the thought of the car not being symmetrical. I'm thinking that the benefit of textured step plates on the active door side was less important than the bling factor for buyers then and now. Kinda like windshield wings and wolf whistles.
I drove my 61 comet for a year with full size S22 wheel covers on one side and the standard nut caps on the other side and no one ever commented on it. Got lots of complements on the car
Unless I missed reading it in someone's post above no one has mentioned the cocomat or woven hemp step mats that have been reported on some Model T's pictured in the past. Certainly more practical for wet or slippery running boards.....
Would like to see period photographs of those ... they make a lot of sense for the purpose.
Everybody sign along: "We have cabin fever, we have cabin fever". Dan
When I bought my 1912 last summer it had two running board step plates on the R side and one on the L side.....these were the first items I removed after purchasing as I thought it looked awkward.
I have aluminum step plates on the running boards of my '40 Chevrolet two-door sedan. They're there ONLY because when I found the rock solid boards with new rubber covers on them, someone had already drilled 4 holes in each one to bolt the new plates on. Good quality, new rubber covers were about $200.00 at the time. I would never have drilled those holes! I am certainly not going to drill holes in my 96 year old T running boards. I have a tool box for the drivers side of the T and the two holes in it line up with the front running board mounting bolts. If I put it on it will only be mounted with those pre-existing holes. My T came with new fenders when I bought it. The mounting brackets are not included with $500.00 fenders and the fenders are not drilled for the brackets. It took me a while before I could bring myself to drill the holes for the brackets. I still have not drilled the top ones that go in the ribs stamped into the fenders and probably won't.
Those coco mats look great and do a good job.
The price has gone up: