Model T Key ?

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ChuckLebeda
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Model T Key ?

Post by ChuckLebeda » Mon Jan 28, 2019 2:18 pm

I have a project car that am working on; 1921 coupe from an estate. Previous owner (deceased) had put in a new ignition switch, probably 12 years ago. I can not find the key for this switch amongst his part boxes. Called Langs and they said all new switches were keyed #55 since about 1960. So I ordered a #55 key on Friday and got it today; great service. But the key does not turn the tumbler. I have read about the 'universal' T keys. CAN I GRIND THIS KEY TO MAKE IT INTO A UNIVERSAL KEY?? If so, what does a universal key look like? I have two original keys #52 and #61 and the new #55.

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paulmikeska
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Re: Model T Key ?

Post by paulmikeska » Mon Jan 28, 2019 2:27 pm

There should be a number stamped on the face of the tumbler. That number is the number of the key you need. Or you could try this. https://www.modeltford.com/item/5013-MSTR.aspx

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John.Zibell
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Re: Model T Key ?

Post by John.Zibell » Mon Jan 28, 2019 2:27 pm

Is there a number stamped on the switch? It will be small and hard to see if there.
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perry kete
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Re: Model T Key ?

Post by perry kete » Mon Jan 28, 2019 2:29 pm

Chuck,
In very small type above the key slot there is a number stamped on the tumbler and that will be your key number for that switch.
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DanTreace
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Re: Model T Key ?

Post by DanTreace » Mon Jan 28, 2019 2:36 pm

Key number stamped on face of tumbler, sometimes hard to see if the pot metal tumbler is worn on the face.
IMG_1018.JPG
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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ChuckLebeda
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Re: Model T Key ?

Post by ChuckLebeda » Mon Jan 28, 2019 2:45 pm

Okay, so you fellows made me look again. The tumbler had been painted and I could not see the numbers. Even this time I couldn't see the numbers unless I held a flashlight at about a 23 degree angle they were faintly visible. Scraped the paint off and there it was!! Just like in Dan's picture and mine is #53. Feel kind of stupid but with the paint and poor lighting in my garage, I didn't see it. I also now think this is an original switch.

THANKS FOR MAKING ME LOOK AGAIN !!! Chuck

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Re: Model T Key ?

Post by DanTreace » Mon Jan 28, 2019 3:07 pm

Chuck

Really isn't a single 'universal key' Model T ignition key, (except for the early coil box mounted switch ;) ), but a set of 4 keys that are masters for the 24 different Model T key numbers.

Each master covers 6 of the 4 series of tumblers.

And these master keys are very thin, without a 'key way groove' as each of the number keys must have. Ford was able to make these many different keys for the ignition tumblers by alternating the location of that groove.



master key 50.jpg
IMG_1146 (383x540) (369x520).jpg
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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ChuckLebeda
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Re: Model T Key ?

Post by ChuckLebeda » Mon Jan 28, 2019 3:18 pm

Dan, thanks for the info on the universal keys. I knew they existed but didn't know much about them. They show them on eBay, but like you stated one key for a series of numbers.
Chuck

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Re: Model T Key ?

Post by DanTreace » Mon Jan 28, 2019 3:26 pm

Chuck

Glad you found the key number on the tumbler! And yes, that should be an original switch.

One hint gleaned from talking to Ben Martin, the guru of Model T switch rebuilding, is to take care of that tumbler.

They are made of pot metal and subject to age and deterioration over the years.

His hint for best protection is to always insert the switch key gently and knowingly. ;) If you note the design of the key it has sharp shoulders at the top of the blade. Those two shoulders are made to fit into the recess matching shoulders on the pot metal body.

The reason is to give a full surface of the outer edge of the tumbler for the key to take the pressure off the insides while turning the switch body. So take care on insertion of the key each time prior to twisting to BAT or MAG :shock:

Additionally, Ben further warns to resist from hanging a key chain loaded with other keys on the Model T ignition key, as all that swaying weight will take its toll on the poor old pot metal tumbler :roll:



IMG_1018 (2).jpg
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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ChuckLebeda
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Re: Model T Key ?

Post by ChuckLebeda » Mon Jan 28, 2019 5:17 pm

Thanks Dan. Very Interesting

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