Radiator Caps

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Original Smith
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Radiator Caps

Post by Original Smith » Sun Mar 22, 2020 10:01 am

I decided to do some research in the latest edition of the guidelines. The radiator cap for 1913 correctly states it is the new low fin stamped design, possibly even late 1912. With the exception of nickel plating in 1917, it remains the same through 1927! I don't believe this to be true! Is it implying that all the stamped brass radiator caps are all aftermarket that have the high stamped fins? I doubt it. I have two designs of high fin caps in my collection. One is typical, and the other is rolled over on the bottom to provide a better seal for the gasket. We need input on this subject, especially from the chief judge!

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Re: Radiator Caps

Post by KWTownsend » Sun Mar 22, 2020 10:51 am

I have two high-fin radiator caps. One I believe to be original and one I believe to be reproduction. They are both cast brass. I have never seen a stamped high-fin radiator cap. Would you please post some detailed pictures of yours, Larry?

In regard to the stamped low-fin radiator caps of post-1912, according to the encyclopedia:

8/20/26 A flange was added at the bottom of the cap where it contacts the radiator cap gasket.

The flange, or rolled-over bottom, makes for a much better seal where it contacts the radiator cap gasket. I have one on my 1919.

: ^ )

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Re: Radiator Caps

Post by CudaMan » Sun Mar 22, 2020 12:10 pm

I have an original stamped radiator cap for my 1924, but I can't use it because it's too tight a fit in the neck of my replacement radiator. One of the vendor supplied cast and plated caps fits much better.

A perfect example of a deviation in a reproduction part driving deviations in other reproduction parts to stay compatible. :(
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Re: Radiator Caps

Post by Rich Bingham » Sun Mar 22, 2020 2:13 pm

Yup. Accumulated error. 😟

I thought perhaps some pictures might help. This is the pressed cap on my ‘13, presumed to be correct by two previous owners.
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Re: Radiator Caps

Post by Rich Bingham » Sun Mar 22, 2020 2:16 pm

This one was given to me as “authentic 1913” by a friend who lost his ‘13 in a tragic fire. Small differences may be due to wear ?
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Re: Radiator Caps

Post by Rich Bingham » Sun Mar 22, 2020 2:24 pm

Last, both are pressed brass, bottom edges look the same. I know very early caps had very high, sharp, thin fins; I don’t know if these qualify as “high fin” caps, or unequivocally “1913” correct, but I do recall the later nickeled ones had lower, more rounded “fins”, and the “dome” beneath was a different shape. ??

Cast reproductions look like none of the above to my eyes.
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Re: Radiator Caps

Post by Wayne Sheldon » Sun Mar 22, 2020 3:09 pm

Thank you Rich B for the photos! I wish I could figure out a good way to get pictures from my camera onto the computer. Once on the computer, I have no trouble posting them. But ever since my old (2005?) digital camera died about three or four years ago, both our new cameras have the most idiotically designed programs for downloading the photos onto my computer! NO options, NO choices where I want them. Once downloaded they are automatically ERASED from the camera whether I want them erased or not! The program puts them ANYWHERE! In specific folders they do NOT belong, in letter files, even in the word processing program!

(I think I have been stuck inside TOO-OO long!)

I have trouble thinking of the radiator caps as "high fin" and "low fin". There are simply too many variations on the stamped fin caps. Some dimple in from the threads to a sharp dome, others have a smoother transition into a gentler dome. The height of the fins vary considerably. I one time had four stamped radiator caps together that were all different. All of them were OLD!
Some of them may have been unauthorized replacements?
Certainly, the earlier cast brass and "high fin" caps were 1909 into 1912, but even in those, variations abound.

In the stamped brass caps. I would tend to think the two pictured by Rich B are earlier versions. While they are different, both have the smooth transition from the threads to a gentler dome than the much more common plated caps that came later. The second picture posted has the lower fins. The fins barely rise above the dome. Pure speculation on my part, I would think that one may be the earliest version of the stamped radiator caps. My reasoning is simply that this cap is more different than anything that came later. I am not sure but that one of the caps I have the fins don't rise quite even that much.
Rich B's first picture has somewhat higher fins. While the dome is different from the millions of later caps, the fins are getting close. Careful examination does show many later caps to have slightly even higher and sharper fin stampings.

So much minutia! Thank you Larry, Rich, and all!


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Re: Radiator Caps

Post by Original Smith » Sun Mar 22, 2020 9:03 pm

I will try to take some photos of original caps that I have for all to see. For the time being, refer to Royce Petersons website, and click on 1925 models. It shows a brand new 1925 coming down the line with a high fin stamped nickel plated radiator cap. As noted above, some of these caps have the bottom edge rolled over to help seal the gasket.


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Re: Radiator Caps

Post by Allan » Mon Mar 23, 2020 4:46 am

I have a few originals polished and set aside for re-plating, so the differences are easily noted.The cast high fin one on my 1912 van is easily recognised, being a casting. The major differences in the pressed examples are the heights of the fins. The 1913 to ??? caps have quite rounded, low fins which transition from fin to cap body in a smooth curve. The later high fin types differ in the shape of the fin as well as the height. The top edge of the fin is a convex arc into the centre of the cap on some while on others that same edge is perfectly straight. Those with the straight top edge are a little higher over all, and the transition from fin to cap is a definite line on some, perhaps reflecting the introduction of a new die to stamp them.
The fit of any of them on the new necks in Brassworks radiators is very much hit and miss.
Until very recently I have had one with the flange folded over to make a good seal on the gasket. The one I now have has the fins with the downward curve on the top of the fin.

Allan from down under.

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Re: Radiator Caps

Post by RustyFords » Mon Mar 23, 2020 11:29 am

I have an NOS cap, still in the box and packing paper if yall would like a photo of it.

Not sure what year it is though.
1924 Touring


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Re: Radiator Caps

Post by Original Smith » Mon Mar 23, 2020 11:40 am

Here are some pictures of some of my radiator caps. I'm not good at taking photos as many of our members are. Please forgive me. The point I'm trying to make here is all Model T radiator caps are not the same as the judging guideline say!
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3 early caps.JPG
Late cap.JPG
DSCN0599_1066.JPG
Late cap 1.JPG
DSCN0598_1065.JPG


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Re: Radiator Caps

Post by Dropacent » Mon Mar 23, 2020 11:45 am

I’d love that NOS cap back Don. Must have needed groceries that day. I’ll give you double what you paid,just holler.


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Re: Radiator Caps

Post by Dropacent » Mon Mar 23, 2020 11:51 am

Must have needed groceries that day, Don. If you ever want to get rid of it, I’ll give you double the $$ back. We will just give up eating for a week.


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Re: Radiator Caps

Post by Mark Osterman » Mon Mar 23, 2020 1:41 pm

Like the one that is rounded over on the inside bottom. Would work much better with the rubber doughnut gasket.

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Re: Radiator Caps

Post by dobro1956 » Mon Mar 23, 2020 3:33 pm

The "27 style" radiator cap with the flange at the bottom is an example of something I have noticed during my studies of 26-27 improved models. The more I dig into the Improved models the more I think the Improved models were a "test run" for the Model A. Most common belief is that the Improved models were a last effort by Henry to save his "baby". While I believe that may be a small part of the story, I think it was more of a test run to see if it was possible to "totally" re-tool the factory. And if the Improved model was too much of a hurdle to make, then they at least still had a Model T to easily fall back on. One of the things that keeps showing up seems to be , that every part of the Improved T was changed in some form or another. Even if there was no real need to change the part. It was almost like a "memo" was sent out to all departments of the factory to change their part in some way. Sometimes the change is subtle. Something like adding a flange to a radiator cap. With everything going on at the time, adding a flange to a radiator cap seems like something that should not be a concern at that time. So far every single part of the Improved model I have studied, there is a 26-27 version of the part. Sometimes the change happened during the 25 model year. Does anyone know of any part that was not changed on the Improved models. ?? Remember that the change may be subtle. It may just be how it is machined or manufactured. Ill use the cylinder head as an example. All they really did was "remove" the FORD script from the casting. I have not studied all the small things like nuts and bolts, but even those appear to be changed as to machining techniques. So I'm asking someone to find me a part that was not changed. Like I said, these are my personal opinions so far. But the more I dig, the more it seems to confirm my suspicions.


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Re: Radiator Caps

Post by Dropacent » Mon Mar 23, 2020 4:32 pm

Great info , Donnie. Don’s NOS cap has the rolled edge. It certainly added a step in the manufacturing process or complicated the tooling, and we all know Henry didn’t waste steps. It WAS an improvement for the improved car. ( wow, I’ll never get it back from Don now!)

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Re: Radiator Caps

Post by RajoRacer » Mon Mar 23, 2020 5:32 pm

Is that NOS cap in a Ford box ???

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Re: Radiator Caps

Post by RustyFords » Mon Mar 23, 2020 7:43 pm

Dropacent wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 4:32 pm
Great info , Donnie. Don’s NOS cap has the rolled edge. It certainly added a step in the manufacturing process or complicated the tooling, and we all know Henry didn’t waste steps. It WAS an improvement for the improved car. ( wow, I’ll never get it back from Don now!)
Tim....my weathered 24 Touring certainly doesn't warrant an NOS cap. I was mostly interested in it for it's pristine threads and overall condition. I haven't used it yet.
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Re: Radiator Caps

Post by ModelTWoods » Mon Mar 23, 2020 11:55 pm

I don't know where I got the information or idea, but at least a decade ago, I got the idea that the rolled edge caps were 26-27, or maybe, 27, only. At that point, I started buying every decent rolled edge cap that I saw at swap meets or on EBAY and discarding all my sharp edged caps.

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Re: Radiator Caps

Post by Bob McDaniel » Tue Mar 24, 2020 12:49 am

SANY1177.JPG
SANY1223.JPG
Posted before on old forum but now you get to see it full size. This is the cap on my 13 touring.
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Re: Radiator Caps

Post by Allan » Tue Mar 24, 2020 4:11 am

Bob, your cap on the 1913 looks much like the later high fin caps. Those with which I am familiar are cosiderably lower in the fin on the 1913-??? early style ones.
Larry's second photo of the cap with the rolled lip to engage the gasket is way different to the one I have. On mine the transition from the vertical side with the thread, to the flat face to mate on the gasket, is sharp and well defined. It does not look rolled like his.
It is the first one I have had in 55 years of T motoring, this perhaps reflecting the Canadian source of our cars.

Allan from down under.

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Re: Radiator Caps

Post by TWrenn » Tue Mar 24, 2020 9:11 am

Wayne, I'm gonna "slide away" from the actual topic here, and offer my unsolicited advice for easy picture posting...If you don't
already have a Smartphone, get one! It is so easy to post directly from a Smartphone it isn't funny! I have gotten to where that's the only way I post on here. It's just way too much trouble ( Or maybe I'm just too lazy) to take the tiny SD card from the phone (make SURE your Smartphone utilizes an SD card, some do not!), put it in the stupid computer, etc. By the time I do all that, I can easily
post a dozen pics and topics on the forum straight from my cellphone. Hope this helps!


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Re: Radiator Caps

Post by Original Smith » Tue Mar 24, 2020 11:19 am

Here is a part that wasn't changed in '26-7, the steering wheel and nut!
I'm surprised the chief judge for the MTFCI hasn't commented on my post! Maybe he doesn't have a computer?


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Re: Radiator Caps

Post by Arnie » Tue Mar 24, 2020 2:24 pm

Looking at the 7th edition of the judging guidelines it appears that the high fin design was used 1909 through 1912. The low fin design used after that. The guidelines do not mention polished surface for years 1910 and 1916. Is this an oversite in the judging guidelines or did Ford not polish the radiator caps for those two years? The guidelines state cast parts for 1909 through 1912, and stamped parts for 1913 through 1916 and then pressed parts for the remainder of Model T production.

Can someone tell me how one can tell the difference between stamped and pressed parts or are they the same?

I did not see any mention of a rolled over edge were the radiator cap meets the gasket. Does anyone know if that feature was for only 1926 or 1927 or also used in 1925 or earlier. Also was the rolled over edge cap an aftermarket one or used by Ford in production?


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Re: Radiator Caps

Post by Wayne Sheldon » Tue Mar 24, 2020 4:19 pm

Hey there Tim W! I always love to hear from you and read your posts. Computer technologies and I have a difficult relationship. I liked my old flip phone. It did everything a phone should do and more. But, then the companies that ran the systems decided to "expand" into "new" territories, and in the process they deleted the frequencies that my phone used. So, under great protest, I got a "new" and "better" and "oh so wonderful" new flip phone that cost five times what my old one cost (still paying for the stupid thing!). And it DOESN'T DO ANYTHING WELL!!!! On top of that, it keeps getting automatic updates for its programming so I have to keep playing hide and seek with how to use it. To further complicate things, my wife keeps trying to talk me into moving up to a smart phone. But she has quite the love-hate relationship with hers because it also keeps playing hide and seek with all her apps and wandering off into never-never lands, as well as getting automatic updates and changing everything her phone does.
Me, not getting warm and fuzzies here.
When I worked, a lot of the time as an technical engineer, we had certain goals that were considered VERY important. We worked hard to make things WORK and do the job they were supposed to do, be SAFE, RELIABLE, and usable by MOST ordinary people! Clearly, that is NOT the way things are designed today. When marketing took over for engineering, everything headed downhill fast.

I do know that many people accept the technologies as they are today, and love them, and don't mind the useless changes. But it is something I have trouble with.

Back to topic.
I also would like to know for sure when the rolled over edge was added. Not scientific in any way, and really not important for any of the Ts I am likely to be working on in any near future. But it just seems to me I have seen an awful lot of caps over the years with that rolled over to meet the gasket edge on them. It just seems like I have seen enough of them to believe they were used for longer than just the last two years of production? But maybe they simply made a few million of them as replacements?


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Re: Radiator Caps

Post by Original Smith » Sat Mar 28, 2020 11:12 am

I don't see the answer I'm looking for! Are we going to continue to see misinformation in the next guidelines? I think it is important to have the correct information out there for everyone to see.

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Re: Radiator Caps

Post by dobro1956 » Sat Mar 28, 2020 11:49 am

The date of change of 8-20-26 mentioned above shows that the rolled edge came out for the time period of the 27 models. All following replacement parts would be of the rolled edge style. That would account for plenty of examples of the rolled edge cap. The only way a new design to a part would require a new part number is if that part change made it unusable on earlier cars.
Larry, I will follow up on the steering wheel and nut. I believe the nut is machined differently on Improved models. I think the steering wheel also changed but I will have to do some more research to say for sure.
Since a lot of the changes did not require a new part number, confirming that a change happened takes a lot of research and enough remaining examples to confirm that a change happened.


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Re: Radiator Caps

Post by ModelT46 » Sat Mar 28, 2020 12:09 pm

In a way, the improved Model T Ford was a "get ready" for a new model. It was also a way to provide Ford dealers with an improved auto to compete with rivals such as Chevrolet and Plymouth. Without a viable dealer organization, the Ford Co, would have been in great trouble and the new Ford (the Model A) would have made it difficult for Ford to distribute the cars to a waiting public. It is also interesting that the 1928 Model A was over built.. It had features and construction methods that were changed for the 1929 Model. It has been rreported that Ford lost $$ on the 28 model, but made up for it on the 1929 model. Old Henry was stubborn, but had the best enginering staff in the industry.


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Re: Radiator Caps

Post by ModelT46 » Sat Mar 28, 2020 12:12 pm

In a way, the improved Model T Ford was a "get ready" for a new model. It was also a way to provide Ford dealers with an improved auto to compete with rivals such as Chevrolet and Plymouth. Without a viable dealer organization, the Ford Co, would have been in great trouble and the new Ford (the Model A) would have made it difficult for Ford to distribute the cars to a waiting public. It is also interesting that the 1928 Model A was over built.. It had features and construction methods that were changed for the 1929 Model. It has been rreported that Ford lost $$ on the 28 model, but made up for it on the 1929 model. Old Henry was stubborn, but had the best enginering staff in the industry.


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Re: Radiator Caps

Post by Original Smith » Sun Mar 29, 2020 10:25 am

Let's not forget, there are plenty of high fin nickel plated radiator caps out there with no rolled over edge.

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Re: Radiator Caps

Post by DanTreace » Sun Mar 29, 2020 12:59 pm

This is a fun thread, seems just the thing for research at Benson Ford records, but, no travels :o now.

Would think good idea to define 'high fin'. To me the high fin are the early radiator caps with fins high and wide. This photo from forum discussion years ago:
206431.jpg
To me, these are high. And now hard to know mfg. date or aftermarket, as Ford didn't scrip these caps in my knowledge, which is bit limited to just removing hot caps without having burned fingers :roll:

But for fun took this photo today of some of my caps, and lined them up to look it closely.

Click on all photos to enlarge them for details.
IMG_1667.jpg
These are regular caps to me, and are made similar, but #1 on the right is heavy brass, and #2 on the right is lightweight alum or zinc ?cast, likely made in the '18 period, as some hub caps then were made of the same material too. The ones on the far left have the 'rim' under, these exhibit a more machined rim. Seems the 'rounded or rolled over' under rim of the cap shown in posts above is likely the '26 Improved version. Think these on the right end in my picture are maybe from '25 period. Who knows, need to do more investigation, if what Bruce found is the only change order info, don't know.

Bruce's C-D Encylopedia
6/4/18 Redesigned and changed material from Die-casting alloy to “S” brass. Caps to be nickel plated and polished on the outside. “This change makes the design of the cap the same as T-1103-B (the pre-1917 brass radiator cap), we have therefore specified the same size of stock that is being used for T-1103-B, also that these caps be made because the aluminum in the die cast cap corrodes too easily and is to take effect at
once. Die cast caps to be used up.”
8/20/26 A flange was added at the bottom of the cap
where it contacts the radiator cap gasket.



Here is the inside of each:
IMG_1668.jpg
Finally, lined up with a straight edge to show the caps in center and on the end that lightweight one on the left from 1918 have 'taller' fins, but just a tad. Guess this is what the discussion is about ;)
IMG_1670.jpg
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Re: Radiator Caps

Post by Original Smith » Mon Mar 30, 2020 12:04 pm

Thanks Dan for the post. You are far better at taking photos than I! Your stick on top of all the caps proves there was a change, and that is the point I'm trying to make. Now, I wonder if we are going to have to wait for the next edition for the guidelines to see this happen. or are they going to fight me like that did on the 1916 Ford script oil breather caps?

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Re: Radiator Caps

Post by TWrenn » Mon Mar 30, 2020 2:49 pm

Wayne, I feel your frustration! And Larry, you too!! Who'da thought an innocent little radiator cap could cause so much frustration!! Like Dan said, though, it does make for a rather fun, interesting thread. Keep up the research! Me, my attention
span is waaaay to short for that!! I'm glad you're on it! Keep safe and healthy out there Larry, Wayne, and all!


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Re: Radiator Caps

Post by Rich Bingham » Mon Mar 30, 2020 5:31 pm

Back to my quest for the “authentic” 1913 cap, I see a difference between the pressed caps. Obviously a plated cap of needs dates from 1917 or later, and it would seem this discussion agrees that a rolled bottom edge indicates a cap from the latest production. My drawing is intended to point out the difference in pressed caps. The later ones all seem to have a shape like the drawing on the right with a return curve pointed to by the arrow.

The caps I have, indicated as being correct for 1913 have a dome that rises from the threaded portion as in the drawing on the left, which looks more like the early very high fin cast brass caps in the previous photos.
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Re: Radiator Caps

Post by dlmyers » Tue Mar 31, 2020 11:46 am

011 c.jpg
Even the two '1913' caps I have are different.
The old forums are a gold mine of information.


Rich Bingham
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Re: Radiator Caps

Post by Rich Bingham » Tue Mar 31, 2020 4:24 pm

Thanks very much for posting that picture Dale ! More variations in shape than I’ve been aware of before. This is starting to be fun, and the kind of thing that may well defy efforts to identify any “year correct” cap styles. It would be fun to know, if possible, if outside vendors provided them, who they were, and if eventually they were made “in house” and when. We really can’t have too much production minutiae - obsessive minds need to know ! :lol:
"Get a horse !"


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Original Smith
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Re: Radiator Caps

Post by Original Smith » Wed Apr 01, 2020 12:00 pm

Those caps where the threads start to climb up the ears are the real thing. I wonder when in 1912, Ford adopted this style of cap from the cast ones?


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Re: Radiator Caps

Post by Allan » Wed Apr 01, 2020 7:37 pm

Those two on the left in Dale's photo are the type I thought Bob McDaniel on his 1913. Larry, was the changeover from cast caps to this type made in 1912? Perhaps my September 12 van should have one instead of the cast one I have for it.

Allan from down under.

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