I've begun work on putting together a proper steering column for my June 1915 runabout. I know most of what I need, but there seems to be some doubt about the quadrant. The MTFCI restoration guidelines say flat out, black. Bruce says black, possibly beginning in 1914. But Rodda shows brass for 14, 15, & 16. Any comments?
I have a gear case, but I need a 14-16 cover like C in the picture. I have an earlier cover (see below) to swap for it.
Anybody have a recommendation for brass plating the levers? There seems to be general agreement that they should be brass plated, although Bruce says, "...some black-painted rods seem original". I'm still debating whether to have them plated, buy a kit and do it myself, or paint them black.
The "early" cover you're showing for swapping is available new and yours appear pretty "used".
I had several control rods powder coated black - seems to be holding up well.
I believe the last cast brass quadrant was somewhere late '14 into early '15 - I've also seen original '15 columns with the "early" style control rod ends - not the "Mickey Mouse" ear style.
Also buried in the various reference books are the notes that both the spark/throttle levers and the quadrant are brass plated. I have two '15 columns for my '15, one without the electric horn wire and one with the horn wire tube and button.
Both have brass plating on the levers and the quadrant.
There are also 3 versions of the quadrant. Early '15 used the '14 style riveted case and brass quadrant, then for a short time a stamped steel quadrant with the edge turned up like the '14 (likely brass plated) then the standard stamped steel version, brass plated.
Here is picture of the gear case and quadrant of one of my '15 columns.
"Spring '15"! You answered the big question. There are at least five different variations for steering columns in 1915, with considerable crossover when two or more different ones were being used. And, just for clarity's sake, closed cars (center-door sedans and couplets) are different than open cars in the timeline since they began being built around September of 1914, whereas the open cars for any practical sense did not begin production until January of 1915.
The earliest open cars, manufactured January and probably February of '15, are still open to debate. There is evidence that many of them actually used the 1914 style column, complete with two piece gear case and cast brass quadrant. That in spite of judging guidelines and even some of what Bruce McC wrote. In that same time-frame, there was a stamped steel quadrant used that resembled the earlier brass quadrant with the steel notches folded over and a saw-tooth look to it. These were apparently used on some of the earliest '15 style open cars, as well as many of the last 1914 style open cars built in the first few months of calendar year 1915. That style of column appears to be quite rare (relatively speaking), and has been discussed at length on this form in years past.
Somewhere early in calendar 1915, the basic column we are most familiar with began to show up. Early versions apparently had brass plated quadrants (design otherwise looks like the ones clear through the end of production), and brass plated spark and throttle levers. Just how long that brass plating continued? And whether some or all were brass plated? Is also still open to debate. A friend of mine used to have a fairly original June 1915 touring car. It had a brass plated quadrant when it was new (painted over in black when restored in the '50s). I have read that the brass plated quadrant was discontinued around June or July of '15, but don't know how accurate that is. To help confuse that issue, I used to have a late'15/ early '16 center-door sedan. Although the car had been the victim of a typical BAD '50s restoration (which made everything on the car suspect?)? the steering column in the car actually had a brass plated quadrant originally. It also had been painted over, but while I was re-restoring the car, I discovered the remains of that brass plating. That steering column also had an electric horn button, and the small "button" ends on the spark and throttle levers. Which segues nicely into more upcoming changes.
Your spring '15 should have the longer, broader, paddle-like ends on the spark and throttle levers (not the small "button" ends like fourteen million later Ts had), without the hash marks that late '12s and early '13s have. I don't know just when that change was made to the later button style lever, but it was in the latter half of calendar '15, with some carryover maybe even into early '16s.
Although the bulb horn was most common on 1915 model open cars, the electric horn's use on closed cars (mostly the couplet) had production punching holes into the steering column tube fairly early. A spring of '15 open car could possibly have a column either with or without the holes for the horn button. I have seen at least a dozen (owned at least three!) columns with holes punched, but never threaded for installation of the horn button.
By the autumn of '15, most columns were looking like what was used through 1917, except for that lovely cast brass gear case cover. It went somewhat into 1916 (I don't really know just how late it went?). Through 1917, both the cover and the gear case went through significant materials and finish changes. I never have sorted those out in my mind.
I don't know if anyone is making new brass gear case covers in the 1915 style or not? I know they were being made quite a few years ago. Finding a decent original is pretty tough. I have a couple project piles I want them for, and haven't found one in many years (at least not at a price I was willing to pay!).The one original one I do have is slated for my runabout (if I can ever get back to working on it ! ). It was in terrible condition. I suspect that part of the problem is that the non-dissimilar metals (brass cover threaded onto a brass case) caused them to stick over the many years they sat outside. Mine had been removed from a steering column by using a hammer and chisel to force it to turn. Repair involved forming the cover in plaster to prevent it form collapsing from the heat required to weld in brass to replace what the chisel had removed.
There are two styles of '15 columns, early and late. The only way you are going to get stuff right is to disassemble the whole thing and get the levers brass plated. I used a Caswell kit on my '13, only because I didn't wish to disassemble the whole column. I don't know how long it will last, but I sure put a lot of coats on. C is correct for your car, and Please take note of the size of the rivets that hold the quadrant to the column. The one Royce Petersen did is horrible plus, he used solid brass rods! Doesn't sound like the Royce Petersen I thought I knew!!!
There are four versions of the quadrant. One is a real odd-ball used for a very short time prior to the final design.
FWIW this is the one on the '15 in the West Yellowstone Museum.
I have a NOS brass plated '15 quadrant that has serrations on both sides.
After they standardized the quadrant, sometime in the twenties they increased the width of the serrated part.
Hmm, all the earlier ('17 and back)style steel quadrants I've seen show signs of brass plating. I think that continued until the nickeled spark & throttle rods appeared. However, I can see where carry-over likely occurred considering the large quantities of parts in production, so you could have black quadrant with brass levers, and possibly even a plated quadrant with nickeled levers??
I have two small-tube steering columns, and I'm using parts from the two to make up one good one.
Although the columns are both the small tube type, I think one is 1915 and the other is later. What leads me to that is the levers. I gather that the spark lever on the left is 1915 and the other is later. Is that right?
Neither of those spark and throttle rods are correct for a '15. Look at the photo Royce posted.
The 1915 spark and throttle rods have a long taper unlike the two you have pictured above.