Body and Serial Number Data Collection Input Wanted

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Wayne Sheldon
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Body and Serial Number Data Collection Input Wanted

Post by Wayne Sheldon » Wed Feb 13, 2019 5:52 am

We have had numerous discussions over the years about the possible correlations between body serial numbers and and car/engine serial numbers. With our new format, we may have an opportunity to collect data from current and past owners of surviving cars in a practical way.
I have traded a few notes with Admin Jeff about this, and he says it is probably doable. So, we need to come up with some parameters for the information we think we would want/need to accomplish this.
A few of my thoughts. What we need is an ongoing effort to correlate body serial numbers and engine serial numbers in order to develop a probable timeline between them. Early brass era should also try to correlate the serial number used on the firewall data plate. Early brass era cars (up to about 1911) may be better served by researching the shipping/invoice information in the archives. This all would mostly be for brass era cars, however it could even go well into the black era cars, especially coupes and sedans which for many years were provided by outside suppliers.
Primary information wanted will be original engine number if known, body maker if known (there were several during the brass era), body serial number and date code if applicable, and the firewall "car" serial number on either the data plate on the firewall or small tag on either the firewall or front seat riser (again, if applicable).
A problem is that some misinformation will undoubtedly be gathered. To that end, I am thinking of some rating assessments of the car's general originality. Maybe a "one to four" scale of "believed mostly original and mostly correct down to a car with many changed or incorrect pieces.

If we do this? I think it will basically have to be an honor system to gather individual data points. Ask for a short, simple, known history? Rate the car's overall correctness. It could be done in any of many ways. I was toying with a four level rating. 1: Car assembled from multiple sources, maybe quite a few incorrect parts. 2: Maybe assembled from multiple sources, most parts close to right, or maybe somewhat an original car with many pieces changed over the years. 3: Whether basically an original car or restored, is believed to be a survivor and mostly original pieces, but some changes. 4: All original, or believed to be restored from an intact original car, and retaining most of its original major parts.
Maybe also an overall "confidence level" that all key serial numbered parts are original to the car?

What are your opinions? Good idea? Bad idea? Do you think it could work?
Certainly, this isn't an Earth-shaking super important something that could lead to world peace, or anything of the kind. But it could help model T owners date their cars if the engine had been changed in the past. It could help restorers better choose the right parts for their car. We have on the forum tried before to gather some of this information. However, on the old format, it quickly sank out of sight. Now, we may have an opportunity that could continue to work for a long time.

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Re: Body and Serial Number Data Collection Input Wanted

Post by Belliott3 » Wed Feb 13, 2019 7:01 am

Wayne, I for one am all for it; thank you for taking the lead! I don't see why other early (or later) T owners wouldn't want to divulge their car's known or guessed originality. After all, we don't really own these cars; we are merely caretakers for future T owners and as such, we owe it to them to keep as accurate information as we can. Thinks about it this way; if you were considering buying a fairly expensive, early brass car wouldn't you want to know the history of any repairs or restorations done to the car? Wouldn't you want to know if it has all original parts or had the body replaced? Would it make a difference to you (and the price) if it was a "built" car from bits and pieces of other cars? I think the answer is yes, so let's get on board with Wayne's suggestion. I'll be happy to submit my car's full known information and look forward to what other early cars have to say!

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Re: Body and Serial Number Data Collection Input Wanted

Post by Mark Nunn » Wed Feb 13, 2019 8:22 am

Wayne, are the archives you mentioned searchable online or would one need to visit the Benson Ford Library?

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Re: Body and Serial Number Data Collection Input Wanted

Post by Steve Jelf » Wed Feb 13, 2019 9:32 am

I strongly suspect my 1915 was assembled from parts in the seventies. The engine serial number is the only number I've found on it. Is there any reason to include cars like that?
The inevitable often happens.
1915 Runabout
1923 Touring


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Re: Body and Serial Number Data Collection Input Wanted

Post by John Codman » Wed Feb 13, 2019 9:40 am

14832783 is the number stamped on the engine of my '27 touring car. The same number is also stamped on the frame rail under the passenger side front floorboard. This corresponds to March of '27. Although the car has been repainted and reupholstered, it appears to be about as original as a 91-year-old car can be.


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Re: Body and Serial Number Data Collection Input Wanted

Post by Wayne Sheldon » Wed Feb 13, 2019 6:02 pm

Thank you Bill E! It may take a little while to get this going. Then we can see where it goes.

Mark N, The last I heard, MOST of the material at the archive is not searchable on the internet. There is a huge amount of material there, much of which has never even been cataloged. Some of it is in its original format, and would first have to be scanned, and some of it was photographed decades ago and is now on microfiche. I have never been there, and likely will never be able to. All I know about it is what I have read (mostly on this forum over the past twenty years), and much of what I have read may not even be true anymore. Some information is readily available. I understand that for a small fee, one can get the build information for a specific car provided it happens to be one of the many cars in those few early years for which the information has been found. My understanding is that some but not all 1909 and 1910 (and maybe into early '11?) build sheets or shipping invoices survive and were cataloged some years back. But you would need to contact them directly to find out current details.

Steve J, I love your runabout. And I think that you have done a lot of good for it making it more and more correct. That is part of the goal with this idea. To help sort out timeline details to aid other restorers and preservationists in making their cars more correct (I still say that I am not a true purist!). Your car, like mine, may not be a really good set of data points? However, even they can offer some information, and including them I think would be a good idea. Mine, I would rate as a number 2, an assembled car, mostly correct parts. I have almost twenty years in accumulating correct parts for it. (I am not a purist!)

John C, The '26/'27 cars are pretty well understood and sorted out. However, I am not against including them. Who knows where such a list could go? It could help with future provenance and benefit the car fifty years from now?

One of the main goals is to help outsourced bodies in being dated. What year is that center-door or coupe? As it stands, if the engine has been changed, or enough other details replaced? Knowing the difference between a 1919 and a 1921 can be tough. The same can be said for the '24/'25 coupes and sedans. But these cars often had body supplier serial numbers. With enough data points on those, we may be able to date a car to within a couple months by that body serial number. Of course as long as the serial number is still intact on that car.
Again, on the early brass era Ts, some of this information could maybe be correlated by searching through those early build sheets and invoices. However. I can only speculate there myself because I haven't actually seen much of them myself.

Lets see if we can make this work. (More input and opinions may be needed!)


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Re: Body and Serial Number Data Collection Input Wanted

Post by DHort » Wed Feb 13, 2019 11:22 pm

Wayne

I would contact Hap. I think he is doing this already. Might be a good place to start.


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Re: Body and Serial Number Data Collection Input Wanted

Post by Wayne Sheldon » Thu Feb 14, 2019 2:52 am

Hap T has done a lot of work on this. He has also been very busy lately with work and family. So I have been putting off contacting him myself. I have exchanged messages with him in the past, and I hope he will be interested in this now. I don't have a lot of time either, due to family issues. However I was forcibly retired a few years ago, and therefore have some time available (usually late at night).

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Re: Body and Serial Number Data Collection Input Wanted

Post by Hap_Tucker » Fri Feb 15, 2019 8:46 am

Wayne and others,

Yes, I am very interested in this topic. But currently I can relate to the Calvin and Hobbes cartoon that says: "God put me on this earth to accomplish a certain number of things. Right now I'm so far behind I will never die."

I will gladly work with you or anyone on this. But I am really slow right now. I can make my files available -- let me know if you want a copy. Yes, I have some information, mostly on the 1915ish cars, but also limited. I have a little more information on the Beaudett (also spelled Beaudette) body numbers. But even for them I have very little hard data.

I would recommend looking at pages 489 to 499 of Bruce McCalley's "Model T Ford." He has the body numbers and body maker (manufacturer) listed for many of the Model Ts manufactured during the Jul 1910 to Aug 1911 time frame. Note he only is trying to list every 100th engine/car number. So it is far from a complete listing.

As Trent mentioned in a different thread -- there is not a nice correlation between the body numbers, engine numbers, car numbers (ok car numbers were the same as engine serial numbers up until Oct 6, 1911 for USA cars ref http://www.mtfca.com/encyclo/doc11.htm -- note they used the term body number and they should have used the term "car number" i.e. the number on the ID patent plate. Note for Canadian cars the engine number and the ID patent plate/car number continued to match well into the 1920s). There are numerous reasons why that is the case. However, so far with the Beaudett body numbers the most I have seen them off from the engine number was about 6 months (I would have to look it up and I do not have time to do that). And in that case we know the body was about 6 months older than the car. But it was a very original car that still had the original upholstery and the upholstery was the 6 months or so later style upholstery. My guess and it is only a guess, is that for some reason that body was not run through the upholstery shop and installed on a car for about 6 months after the body was made. If you look at some of the photos of the upholstery area of the 1915-1917 factories, it appears they staked the bodies vertically on the cowl. And then took them down to add the upholstery. In the photo below note that bodies are stacked between the columns. But also look at the back right hand side. Those bodies appear to be stacked against the wall to me. If they are, then if someone was tasks to never let the crew run out of bodies, they would be motivated to keep putting new bodies in the front of the stack. And to never let the stack get empty. That may or may not have been what really happened. But it is one idea that helps me understand how it might have happened. As well as the body manufacture probably had a sample/bench mark model that folks were supposed to make their bodies look like. (Note as late a the 1929-31 Model A Station Wagons -- the body maker was given a sample body to produce off of and not blue prints ref: my poor memory as my "The Model A Ford as Henry Made It" book is in a box in the garage. But I'm 90% sure I read that in that book. If one of you has easy access to the book -- please check the station wagon section let us know if I remembered correctly or not.)
lr-bodies - stacked factory.JPG
Note the early bodies were delivered to the Ford Factory fully assembled, painted and upholstered -- so depending on when a car was produced the methods used could be different.

Respectfully submitted,

Hap l9l5 cut off
Respectfully submitted,

Hap l9l5 cut off


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Re: Body and Serial Number Data Collection Input Wanted

Post by Wayne Sheldon » Fri Feb 15, 2019 9:03 pm

Thank you Hap! Any suggestions as to questions that should be asked in an owner survey online?


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Re: Body and Serial Number Data Collection Input Wanted

Post by Colin Mavins » Sat Feb 16, 2019 11:13 am

116.jpg
1912 Canadian touring a complete car when purchased 1960. Serial number 146808 Built in Walkerville Ontario Canada Sept 1912. Engine and dash plate are the same, body number G7652 built by Gray and sons Chatham Ontario, Radiator number 7102 built in Walkerville . Four opening doors, all Edmond & Jones lamps and generator, Kingston Coil box,Came with dash drilled for right and left hand drive.

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Re: Body and Serial Number Data Collection Input Wanted

Post by KWTownsend » Sat Feb 16, 2019 12:52 pm

Wayne-
My database mostly focuses on cars after s/n 70720, although I have some earlier, too. Some of the information I have in my database includes:

Engine serial number
Engine cast date
Head cast date
Patent Plate (body ID tag) number
Body Manufacturer
Body number
On Beaudette bodies only, bead nailed on, or rolled?

I also have information about 1912 cars:

Step or slab-side body
Firewall one piece or two piece?
fore-doors?
fore-doors in place or removed?
back door hinges in front or back?
back door latches handle inside or outside?
(1912 cars get really complicated)

It is critical to know for a fact that the car body & engine were originally together!
My database has lots of holes in it where owners sometimes just don't know. Unfortunately my biggest gaps are in engine casting date and Patent Plate number.

Fortunately, thanks to previous caretakes, I have tons of documentation for my 1911.
1911 original photo 2.JPG
1911 Forest Grove.jpg
: ^ )

Keith


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Re: Body and Serial Number Data Collection Input Wanted

Post by Trentb » Sat Feb 16, 2019 5:44 pm

Hi Hap,

I seem to recall that all bodies delivered to Ford before 1914 arrived from the manufacturer painted and trimmed (with floorboards). Beginning in 1914 with the completion of the the four big (!) 6 story buildings (Designated W, X, Y and Z) Ford began receiving bodies in the “white”, that is unpainted and un-upholstered. The following year, 1915, Ford began to build some of their own bodies as well as painting and trimming.

The basic reason for why Ford had to wait for the big 6-storied buildings to be built was because they needed the space for the different layers of paint to dry. I have seen photos of some of the floors inside the 6-storied building filled with Model T touring car bodies stacked on their noses waiting for the paint to dry. Remember that at that time there were 4 different coats of paint on a finished body, and that each coat took 24 hours to dry before the next coat could be applied.

For anyone wanting to know more about how Model T bodies were painted, look for an article that was published in the Vintage Ford in the late 1990s.

Respectfully submitted,

Trent Boggess


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Re: Body and Serial Number Data Collection Input Wanted

Post by Wayne Sheldon » Sat Feb 16, 2019 5:48 pm

Keith T, Several very good suggestions. 1912 is a tough year, I have often suggested that it may have had more changes throughout the year than any other year did. The only other year that arguably comes close is 1909. This of course in terms of multiple on-going significant changes throughout the whole of the model year, not like the single significant change between '25 and '26 for instance.
Between you, Hap, and a few other long-time researchers here, there are already several lists of vehicles with a lot of useful information. My hope here is to get a broader base across more years. Hopefully, some few years down the road, all the lists can be combined to give a more complete picture of the serial numbers and their relationships. If we can incorporate the timelines of all those changes Ford is so famous for, future caretakers can (if they choose) make their cars much more correct to its timeline.
I like the idea of tracking some of the changes specific to 1912. I have known several people with 1912 Ts. They changed a lot and often. It sometimes seems Ford didn't make the same design for more than two months the entire year. I don't think it was really quite that bad. What with the overlap times, they probably made some variant for at least three months. :roll:


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Re: Body and Serial Number Data Collection Input Wanted

Post by Enos » Sat Feb 16, 2019 9:24 pm

I've had a couple T's and with US numbers. This 27 Roadster I have now has a Can number. Is there a data base to find info on the Canadian cars? Thanks

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