Odd hubcap, white brass??

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wayne sheldon
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Odd hubcap, white brass??

Post by wayne sheldon » Tue Aug 20, 2019 1:25 am

Progress continues slowly on the '15 runabout. Sometimes, when stress gets to me a bit, I try to change the pace with odd projects that need doing, but are not in my wheel house so to speak. I can pretty much bang out almost any iron based metal, weld, fabricate. Engines, rear ends, even planetary transmissions I can work on nearly blindfolded (okay, I may be exaggerating a bit there?). Some of the pretty-up stuff? Not so much. The family b-c stuff (bull c***) was getting to me, so a couple weeks ago I decided some "basket weaving" was in order. To that end, I began working on my brass headlamp rims. Being on a tight budget, several years ago I had bought a few '26/'27 plated rims that were beyond reasonable repair, therefore good candidates for being modified for '15 use. Many cracks welded, dents worked out, a lot of grinding, filing, sanding, YUCK! And they look more or less okay. I got three of them done except for a final (first final) polishing they will likely get on the car when I finish putting the headlamps together and on the car.
That was fun (????). So, why not follow up with my hubcaps. (Must be a masochist?). I had acquired several brass and nickel plated brass hubcaps (including two nice reproduction brass ones) some years earlier, and had a couple that were left over from when I restored the center-door sedan about twenty five years ago. Between the runabout, and another project set aside a few years back, I wanted to finish up eight to ten decent hubcaps. Most were a bit beat, three had significant cracks in them. The only ones that needed only a clean and paint the black background were the two repros. So I welded, and tinked, made a special punch to work out a couple dents. Heated and shrank the threaded area where a couple somehow got stretched. Did a bunch of fine pecking at the details of the script. Filed and sanded, cleaned and painted the script backgrounds. Then again sanding the script. A few will never be show car worthy. But all of them were looking pretty good. But one, ended up needing something special done with it (I won't go into that). So, I thought about a box I remembered having a couple more brass hubcaps (one real '15/'16 brass one), and a couple plated ones in really poor condition, badly dented. Wanting one or two more ready to go, I started working the dents out of the two nasty looking caps. Surprisingly, they were shaping up better than I expected.
But on one of them, something began to bug me. Whenever I have worked on plated brass hubcaps before, I always notice the many worn areas, and scratches where the brass shows through. I usually choose caps that do not have decent plating to turn into brass hubcaps because if the plating is even marginally presentable, I prefer to leave them for a car that wants the nickel plating. After welding, and annealing a few times, most of the plating is usually ruined anyway. One really bad little dent took too much working to push out around the sharp corners of the octagon. A small crack formed. Just another little spot to be welded, right? But something still looked wrong. No sign of the color of brass. I had checked the hubcap before with a magnet, knew it wasn't steel. But I checked it again.
It looks like a typical Ford hubcap, excellent detail around the script, "MADE IN USA", very small maker's mark. Can't really tell if it was nickel plated or not? It appears to be white brass. And it is fairly soft.
I guess I will solder the small hole from the inside. It should look okay that way. But then what? I suppose it could be brass plated. It could look good that way. Or, it could be nickel plated. That may be what it was originally? Or, it is beginning to look like it just might polish up nice, and work on a nickel era T as it is. I wonder if anybody would notice?

Anybody else ever see a white brass T hubcap?
Anyone know what year it would have originally been used?


46woodduck
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Re: Odd hubcap, white brass??

Post by 46woodduck » Tue Aug 20, 2019 1:51 am

Perhaps it's zinc?
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Allan
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Re: Odd hubcap, white brass??

Post by Allan » Tue Aug 20, 2019 3:13 am

Wayne, on our Canadian sourced cars, nickel plated aluminium hubcaps turned up. If that is what you have, bang goes the soldering!
Without cleaning the grease off the outside of Henrietta's front hubcaps, once removed, I found that both were CAST aluminium, and each was different from the other! These are definitely not standard Ford issue.

Allan from down under.


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Re: Odd hubcap, white brass??

Post by wayne sheldon » Tue Aug 20, 2019 3:20 am

Thomas P,
I wondered about that. And I suppose it is possible. But I never have heard of solid zinc hubcaps either. Before I started trying to work the big dent out of it, I got it pretty hot with the acetylene torch in an effort to anneal what I thought was brass. That was the first moment I began to think there was something unusual. I did see some tiny metallic beads form on the surface of the cap. I dismissed it as an effect of apparent corrosion on the surface. I also suspect that I got it hot enough that zinc would have turned into a puddle. Still, that may be a possibility.

Allan,
I suppose some aluminum alloy could be possible? It looks like a standard stamped/spun thin metal hubcap like fifty million others, just not the same metal as those fifty million others of yellow brass or steel (nickel plated or not). I haven't finished cleaning it up yet, nor even quite finished working out the dents. I may chose to set it aside now until I can decide what to do with the durn thing.

It works a little softer than most yellow brass T hubcaps. I was surprised how easily the dents worked out. It was really bad, and now looks pretty good from ten feet (three meters) away. I don't claim to be a metals expert, and may need to find someone in the clubs that is to confirm what it is made of.


Humblej
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Re: Odd hubcap, white brass??

Post by Humblej » Tue Aug 20, 2019 6:30 am

Wayne, white brass is an alloy for casting and machining, not stamping or spinning. Do not think you have a white brass hub cap. I had a TT rear hub cap that was zinc.


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Re: Odd hubcap, white brass??

Post by BHarper » Tue Aug 20, 2019 8:04 am

Ford DID use zinc hubcaps for a period of time during 1925.


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Re: Odd hubcap, white brass??

Post by d stroud » Tue Aug 20, 2019 9:00 am

Somewhere in my junk, I have one of those. Never knew for sure, but assumed it was zinc. Dave
1925 mostly original coupe.


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wayne sheldon
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Re: Odd hubcap, white brass??

Post by wayne sheldon » Tue Aug 20, 2019 4:33 pm

Interesting. I knew Ford used zinc plating on steering gear cases and covers around 1917, but did not know about zinc hubcaps in '25. Must be what it is. Thanks Bill H!
David S, I wonder how many more may be hiding in boxes out there? I have had this one for a few decades now at least. Don't remember where or when I got it. Probably was with a bunch of other junk because even I wouldn't have bought one that badly dented by itself. Now that it looks fairly nice I guess I will have to put it in my small display case.
Jeff H, Thank you. That also helps. And a TT zinc cap also? Maybe these were mostly used on trucks?

I still wonder about why and when these were used? If only a short time in '25, they must not have been very satisfactory, otherwise why would Ford return to brass or steel for '26?

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Re: Odd hubcap, white brass??

Post by DanTreace » Tue Aug 20, 2019 5:30 pm

From club encyclopedia:


October 11, 1921 The circular area on the top is smaller; just large enough to clear the Ford script, giving a wider rim around the top. Again made of brass, they are nickel plated. The height of the octagon area is increased to 3/8-inch (from 5/16 inch) but apparently returns to the 5/16-inch height in production since all later drawings show the 5/16-inch dimension.

July 31, 1924 Similar to 1921 but now made of polished zinc.

December 20, 1926 Similar to 1921 but again made of brass and nickel plated. While the overall dimensions remained the same, the thickness of the cap material varied over the years.
The best way is always the simplest. The attics of the world are cluttered up with complicated failures. Henry Ford
Don’t find fault, find a remedy; anybody can complain. Henry Ford


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wayne sheldon
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Re: Odd hubcap, white brass??

Post by wayne sheldon » Tue Aug 20, 2019 5:43 pm

Thank you Dan T !


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Re: Odd hubcap, white brass??

Post by Original Smith » Thu Aug 22, 2019 8:58 am

I've seen those. As far as I'm concerned, they are not much good for anything except display. Might make a good article for the Vintage Ford.


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wayne sheldon
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Re: Odd hubcap, white brass??

Post by wayne sheldon » Thu Aug 22, 2019 4:55 pm

I have one small display case for special interesting bits (wish I had more, and the space to display a bunch of stuff!). Mine is already sitting nicely on a shelf. Maybe the museum needs a few? I could donate one? (Still not in the best of condition, but looks decent now.)


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Re: Odd hubcap, white brass??

Post by Allan » Thu Aug 22, 2019 8:10 pm

I checked the one I assumed was aluminium. If it is zinc, as some have suggested from documentation, it is not simply polished. It is nickel plated. That plating is pitted like plating on diecast door handles etc. Otherwise it is just like all the other Canadian hubcaps, including the random letter embossed under the Ford script.

Allan from down under.

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