Ford Model T Blog

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Ford Model T Design Changes & Colors

 

Design changes

Early Ts had a brass radiator and headlights. The horn and numerous small parts were also brass. Many of the early cars were open-bodied touring cars and runabouts, these being cheaper to make than closed cars. Prior to the 1911 model year (when front doors were added to the touring model), US – made open cars did not have an opening door for the driver. Later models included closed cars (introduced in 1915), sedans, coupes and trucks. The chassis was available so trucks could be built to suit. Ford also developed some truck bodies for this chassis, designated the Model TT. The headlights were originally acetylene lamps made of brass (commonly using Prest-O-Lite tanks), but eventually the car gained electric lights after 1910, initially powered from the magneto until the electrical system was upgraded to a battery, generator and starter motor, when lighting power was switched to the battery source.

The Model T production system, the epitome of Fordism, is famous for representing the rigidity of early mass production systems that were wildly successful at achieving efficiency but that could accommodate changes in product design only with great difficulty and resistance. The story is more complicated; there were few major, publicly visible changes throughout the life of the model, but there were many smaller changes. Most were driven by design for manufacturability considerations, but styling and new features also played more of a role than commonly realized. In fact, one of the problems for the company regarding design changes was the T’s reputation for not changing and being “already correct”, which Henry Ford enjoyed and which was a selling point for many customers, which made it risky to admit any changes actually were happening. (The idea of simply refining a design without making radical visible changes would resurface, and score even greater production success, with the VW Type 1.)

Colors

By 1918, half of all the cars in the US were Model T’s. However it was a monolithic bloc; Ford wrote in his autobiography that he told his management team in 1909 that in the future…

“Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black”.

However, in the first years of production from 1908 to 1914, the Model T was not available in black but rather only grey, green, blue, and red. Green was available for the touring cars, town cars, coupes, and Landaulets. Grey was only available for the town cars, and red only for the touring cars. By 1912, all cars were being painted midnight blue with black fenders. It was only in 1914 that the “any color as long as it is black” policy was finally implemented. It is often stated that Ford suggested the use of black from 1914 to 1926 due to the cheap cost and durability of black paint. During the lifetime production of the Model T, over 30 different types of black paint were used on various parts of the car. These were formulated to satisfy the different means of applying the paint to the various parts, and had distinct drying times, depending on the part, paint, and method of drying.

 

Mitch Taylor

New South Wales, Australia

www.FordModelT.net

Ford Model T Suspension and Wheels

 

Model T suspension employed a transversely mounted semi-elliptical spring for each of the front and rear axles, which was a solid beam axle, not an independent suspension, which still allowed a great deal of wheel movement to cope with the dirt roads of the time.

The front axle was drop forged as a single piece of vanadium steel. Ford twisted many axles eight times and sent them to dealers to be put on display to demonstrate its superiority. The Model T did not have a modern service brake. The right foot pedal applied a band around a drum in the transmission, thus stopping the rear wheels from turning. The previously mentioned parking brake lever operated band brakes on the outside of the rear brake drums.

Wheels were wooden artillery wheels, with steel welded-spoke wheels available in 1926 and 1927.

Tires were pneumatic clincher type, 30 in (76 cm) in diameter, 3.5 in (8.9 cm) wide in the rear, 3 in (7.5 cm) wide in the front. Clinchers needed much higher pressure than today’s tires, typically 60 psi (410 kPa), to prevent them from leaving the rim at speed. Horseshoe nails on the roads, together with the high pressure, made flat tires a common problem.

Balloon tires became available in 1925. They were 21 × 4.5 in (53 × 11 cm) all around. Balloon tires were closer in design to today’s tires, with steel wires reinforcing the tire bead, making lower pressure possible – typically 35 psi (240 kPa) – giving a softer ride. The old nomenclature for tire size changed from measuring the outer diameter to measuring the rim diameter so 21 in (530 mm) (rim diameter) × 4.5 in (110 mm) (tire width) wheels has about the same outer diameter as 30 in (76 cm) clincher tires. All tires in this time period used an inner tube to hold the pressurized air; “tubeless” tires were not generally in use until much later.

Wheelbase was 99 inches (250 cm); while standard tread width was 56 in (142 cm), 60 in (152 cm) tread could be obtained on special order, “for Southern roads”.

 

Mitch Taylor

New South Wales, Australia

www.FordModelT.net

Ford Model T Transmission and Drive Train

The Model T was a rear-wheel drive vehicle. Its transmission was a planetary gear type billed as “three speed”. In today’s terms it would be considered a two-speed, because one of the three speeds was reverse.

Cotton transmission band liningsThe Model T’s transmission was controlled with three foot pedals and a lever that was mounted to the road side of the driver’s seat. The throttle was controlled with a lever on the steering wheel. The left pedal was used to engage the gear. With the handbrake in either the mid position or fully forward and the pedal pressed and held forward the car entered low gear. When held in an intermediate position the car was in neutral, a state that could also be achieved by pulling the floor-mounted lever to an upright position. If the lever was pushed forward and the driver took his foot off the left pedal, the Model T entered high gear, but only when the handbrake lever was fully forward. The car could thus cruise without the driver having to press any of the pedals. There was no separate clutch pedal.

The middle pedal was used to engage reverse gear, and the right pedal operated the transmission brake. The floor lever also controlled the parking brake, which was activated by pulling the lever all the way back. This doubled as an emergency brake.

Although it was uncommon, the drive bands could fall out of adjustment, allowing the car to creep, particularly when cold, adding another hazard to attempting to start the car: a person cranking the engine could be forced backward while still holding the crank as the car crept forward, although it was nominally in neutral. As the car utilized a wet clutch, this condition could also occur in cold weather, where the thickened oil prevents the clutch discs from slipping freely. Power reached the differential through a single universal joint attached to a torque tube which drove the rear axle; some models (typically trucks, but available for cars as well) could be equipped with an optional two-speed Ruckstell rear axle shifted by a floor-mounted lever which provided an underdrive gear for easier hill climbing. All gears were vanadium steel running in an oil bath.

Mitch Taylor

New South Wales, Australia

www.FordModelT.net

The Ford Model T Engine & Starting

The Model T had a 177-cubic-inch (2.9 L) front-mounted inline four-cylinder en bloc engine (that is, all four cylinders in one block, as common now, rather than in individual castings, as common then) producing 20 hp (15 kW) for a top speed of 40–45 mph (64–72 km/h). The Model T four-cylinder side valve engine was first in the world with a detachable head, making service like valve jobs easier. According to Ford Motor Company, the Model T had fuel economy on the order of 13–21 mpg-US (16–25 mpg-imp; 18–11 L/100 km). The engine was capable of running on petrol, kerosene, or ethanol, although the decreasing cost of petrol and the later introduction of Prohibition made ethanol an impractical fuel.

A flywheel magneto was an electrical generator that produced the high voltage necessary to produce a spark to initiate combustion. This voltage was distributed by the timer (analogous to a distributor in a modern vehicle) to one of the four trembler coils, one for each cylinder. The coil created a high voltage current, directly connected to the spark plug in the cylinder. Ignition timing was adjusted manually by using the spark advance lever mounted on the steering column which rotated the timer. A battery could be used for starting current: at hand-cranking speed, the magneto did not always produce sufficient current (a starting battery was not standard equipment until sometime in 1926, though all T’s had a bat position on the coil box switch). A certain amount of skill and experience was required to find the optimal timing for any speed and load. When electric headlights were introduced in 1915, the magneto was upgraded to supply power for the lights and horn. In keeping with the goal of ultimate reliability and simplicity, the trembler coil and magneto ignition system was retained even after the car became equipped with a generator and battery for electric starting and lighting. Most cars sold after 1919 were equipped with electric starting, which was engaged by a small round button on the floor.

Before starting a Model T with the hand crank, the spark had to be manually retarded or the engine might “kick back”. The crank handle was cupped in the palm, rather than grabbed with the thumb under the top of the handle, so that if the engine did kick back, the rapid reverse motion of the crank would throw the hand away from the handle, rather than violently twisting the wrist or breaking the thumb. Most Model T Fords had the choke operated by a wire emerging from the bottom of the radiator where it could be operated with the left hand. This was used to prime the engine while cranking the engine slowly then starting the engine with the left hand with a rapid pull of the crank handle. The car only had to be cranked half a turn for it to successfully start. This “quick start” is because of the engine’s small displacement and low compression.

The car’s 10 US gal (38 l; 8 imp gal) fuel tank was mounted to the frame beneath the front seat; one variant had the carburetor (a Holley Model G) modified to run on ethyl alcohol, to be made at home by the self-reliant farmer. Because Ford relied on gravity to feed fuel to the carburetor rather than a fuel pump, a Model T could not climb a steep hill when the fuel level was low. The immediate solution was to climb steep hills in reverse. In 1926, the fuel tank was moved forward to under the cowl on most models.

Early on, the engine blocks were to be produced by the Lakeside Foundry on St. Jean in Detroit. Ford cancelled the deal before many were produced.

The first few hundred Model Ts had a water pump, but it was eliminated early in production. Ford opted for a cheaper and more reliable thermo-syphon system. Hot water, being less dense, would rise to the top of the engine and up into the top of the radiator, descending to the bottom as it cooled, and back into the engine. This was the direction of water flow in most cars which did have water pumps, until the introduction of crossflow radiator designs. Many types of water pumps were available as aftermarket accessories.

Mitch Taylor

New South Wales, Australia

www.FordModelT.net

Ford Model T in Australia

On March 31, 1925, Ford announced that Geelong, was to be the Australian headquarters. The first Australian-built Ford was a Model T that came off an improvised production line in a disused Geelong woolstore in June 1925, while work started on a factory in the nearby suburb of Norlane. In 1928 the factory switched to the Model A and was followed by the Ford V8 in 1932.

In 1934 the company released the world’s first coupe utility. The inventor was Ford engineer Lewis Bandt. During the Depression, banks would not extend credit to farmers to purchase passenger cars- in the belief they were unnecessary luxuries. However, they would lend money for the purchase of “working” vehicles. The coupe utility fulfilled the need of farmers to have a workhorse which could also be used “to take the wife to church on Sunday and to the market on Monday”.

In 1956 the company bought a large tract of land in the northern Melbourne suburb of Broadmeadows, and in July 1961 announced that the new Melbourne factory would become the company headquarters.

Mitch Taylor

New South Wales, Australia

www.FordModelT.net

The Ford Model T – Part 2

The Model T set 1908 as the historic year that the automobile became popular. The first production Model T was produced on August 12, 1908 and left the factory on September 27, 1908, at the Piquette Plant in Detroit, Michigan. On May 26, 1927, Henry Ford watched the 15 millionth Model T Ford roll off the assembly line at his factory in Highland Park, Michigan.

There were several cars produced or prototyped by Henry Ford from the founding of the company in 1903 until the Model T came along. Although he started with the Model A, there were not 19 production models (A through T); some were only prototypes. The production model immediately before the Model T was the Model S, an upgraded version of the company’s largest success to that point, the Model N. The follow-up was the Ford Model A and not the Model U. Company publicity said this was because the new car was such a departure from the old that Henry wanted to start all over again with the letter A. The Model T was the first automobile mass produced on moving assembly lines with completely interchangeable parts, marketed to the middle class.

Henry Ford said of the vehicle:

“I will build a car for the great multitude. It will be large enough for the family, but small enough for the individual to run and care for. It will be constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one – and enjoy with his family the blessing of hours of pleasure in God’s great open spaces.”

Mitch Taylor

New South Wales, Australia

www.FordModelT.net

The Ford Model T – Part 1

A major innovation brought about by Henry Ford was the assembly line. He realized that it would be much simpler, more practical, and quicker if , when assembling the vehicle, the workers could draw the various components from suitable containers placed beside the production line, rather than going to the various storerooms for them, which meant they had constantly to by moving from place to place. In this way he managed to reduce the assembly time from 12 hours to a car coming off the line every 40 seconds.

The Ford Model T (colloquially known as the Tin Lizzie, Flivver, T‑Model Ford, or T) is an automobile that was produced by Henry Ford’s Ford Motor Company from September 1908 to May 1927. It is generally regarded as the first affordable automobile, the car that opened travel to the common middle-class American; some of this was because of Ford’s innovations, including assembly line production instead of individual hand crafting. The Ford Model T was named the world’s most influential car of the 20th century in an international poll.

Mitch Taylor

New South Wales, Australia

www.FordModelT.net

How I Came to Own a Ford Model T – My Story…

My car is a 1925 Ford Model T Open Tourer, built at Henry Ford’s Highland Park Plant, in Detroit, Michigan, USA. It never strayed far from the factory, its previous home, Ann Arbor, Michigan, just 60km away. From new, it’s had just three owners, myself being the third.

 

I’ve had a passion for vintage and veteran cars ever since I was a little tacker, and I always had a dream that, some day, I might have one of my own.

 

It all started in 1994, at age 7, while living in Albany, WA, where the former Extravaganza motor museum; once home to one of the most famous veteran cars in history, a 1904 Darracq called “Genevieve” famous for its appearance in the 1953 movie Genevieve. From that point, I was hooked on old cars, and as a boy, built countless models from Lego.

 

Later in 2009, I was living in Burnie, Tasmania, and even though the “Wonders of Wynyard” motor museum was only a few kilometres away, ironically, I never went there! The museum is home to the equal oldest Ford vehicle in the world – a 1903 Ford Model A.

 

So I wanted to own a vintage car, and I thought what better car to own than one of the most significant cars in history; the Ford Model T. It was the world’s first car to be mass produced on an assembly line. The Model T has the second highest production number of any car in history, with just over 15 million of them built in its 19 year production run, between 1908 and 1927. It’s only been surpassed by the Volkswagen Beetle, with 21 million produced.

 

My family and I moved to NSW in 2010. In January of 2011, I decided I wanted to buy a Model T. I scoured the Internet, hoping I might be able to buy one in Australia, but none were within my budget, the lowest priced car I found, was $45,000 – that was never going to happen! So I resorted to looking in America, and finally found the car, that would ultimately become my own.

 

I imported the car, with the help of my father. He imports all kinds of products from overseas, so I have to thank him for his assistance in importing my car. It took 8 months, almost $6,000 in freight charges and import fees, and much anticipation, from when I expressed an interest in the car, to when it actually arrived on Australian soil.

 

Almost every part on the car is original, with the exception of the seat upholstery, and of course, the tyres. Even the 88 year-old, 20 horsepower engine is original and still running as smoothly as ever.

The car underwent a partial restoration in 1966, and was garaged ever since. I had the roof restored in Taree by a very skilled upholsterer, Graham from Taree Upholsterers. A local tyre fitter, whom to my surprise had antique equipment in the workshop, was able to replace the perished inner-tube on the spare wheel. I’ve replaced the 4 coil boxes, so now the engine runs as it should.

 

There’s obviously no formal training available these days to teach anyone how to drive such a historic museum piece, so I learned via videos on YouTube, uploaded by fellow Model T enthusiasts.

 

The controls of the Model T are nothing like a modern car. There are three pedals on the floor – none of which are the accelerator! There’s the clutch, the reverse pedal, and the brake. The handbrake lever not only operates the parking brake, it doubles up as the gear lever – which is very amusing to modern mechanics when you try and explain it to them! The Model T has just 2 forward gears, plus reverse; and has a top speed of about 70km/h (45mph). I’ve been clocked at 60km/h, but mostly only drive around 40-50km/h.

 

By the time the car arrived, I felt confident I would be able to drive her, after I got the car started for the first time, my Tin Lizzie performed almost perfectly, although the fuel was running extremely rich at first, which caused her to blow lots of smoke! With some assistance from a fellow Model T owner and friend from Sydney, I soon had the engine running to original spec.

 

Since the car arrived in August last year, I’ve had to do little maintenance. The Model T was heralded as one of the most reliable cars in history. However, for safety reasons, I’ve added a set of auxiliary brakes. The reason for this, the original brakes are not attached to the wheels, as with a modern car – they are attached to the transmission, and have cotton linings. While I had every faith in the T’s ability to stop, it wouldn’t hurt to have an extra insurance policy!

 

 

 

Mitch Taylor

New South Wales, Australia

www.FordModelT.net

Henry Ford – The Father of Ford Motor Company and the Model T

Henry Ford (July 30, 1863 — April 7, 1947) was an American industrialist, the founder of the Ford Motor Company, and sponsor of the development of the assembly line technique of mass production. His introduction of the Model T automobile revolutionized transportation and American industry. As owner of the Ford Motor Company, he became one of the richest and best-known people in the world. He is credited with “Fordism”: mass production of inexpensive goods coupled with high wages for workers. Ford had a global vision, with consumerism as the key to peace. His intense commitment to systematically lowering costs resulted in many technical and business innovations, including a franchise system that put dealerships throughout most of North America and in major cities on six continents. Ford left most of his vast wealth to the Ford Foundation but arranged for his family to control the company permanently.

Mitch Taylor

New South Wales, Australia

www.FordModelT.net

My 1925 Ford Model T at Old Bar Beach Festival (2012)

I imported my 1925 Ford Model T from the USA, not far from Detroit, Michigan where it was built.

The Model T was manufactured between 1908 and 1927, and was know by various names including Tin Lizzie, Flivver, T‑Model Ford, or just ‘T’.

The Model T set 1908 as the historic year that the automobile became popular. It is generally regarded as the first affordable automobile, the car that opened travel to the common middle-class American; some of this was because of Ford’s innovations, including assembly line production instead of individual hand crafting.

On May 26, 1927, Henry Ford watched the 15 millionth Model T Ford roll off the assembly line at his factory in Highland Park, Michigan.

This video is of one of the events I have attended, the Old Bar Beach Festival, at Old Bar, NSW. September 29th, 2012.

Mitch Taylor

New South Wales, Australia

www.FordModelT.net