The 1915 Model T Ford model year is an extremely interesting one for the history buff. The manufacture of Ford cars at the Highland Park plant was in the process of being perfected, but was far from perfect. The plant was still under construction as it had been since 1910, but cars were being built in the plant as early as the fall of 1910. Hundreds of thousands of Model T Fords were built in 1910, 1911, 1912, 1913 and early 1914 model year the old way, with the cars sitting in place while parts were delivered to each car, then assembled. The moving assembly line first became operational early in the 1914 model year, on October 7, 1913 to be precise.
Ford by this time had been the most successful businessman on the planet for several years. The Model T Ford was the single most successful product on the planet. Sales of the Model T Ford accounted for nearly half of worldwide automobile sales. The car itself, while perfectly adequate mechanically for the era, was very outdated in appearance. Ford was one of the last automakers to use a wooden exposed dashboard. The carbide headlamps were also considered to be outdated in 1914. Unfortunately Ford did not have the new 1915 bodies ready at the beginning of the model year, so the 1914 style cars continued to be built for a while.
Our 1917 runabout had a problem. It just wasn’t puttering properly. We looked things over and eventually found out what the problem was. The wiring harness was the original one. It was badly frayed at the connections around the coil box. One of the wires from the timer to the coil, #4 cylinder to be precise, was broken at the terminal. The only reason that #4 fired intermittently was that the insulation was holding the wire close enough that it occasionally touched the terminal! We put in the order to get a new harness from Langs.
Our 1917 runabout has served us well on several tours in the past few years. It is smooth and reliable. Still, we wished that it had a bit more power on some of the steeper hills. This edition we find out the easiest way to get more horsepower and torque from any Model T Ford. We install an aluminum high compression cylinder head.
The Marvel Carburetor Company started as somewhat of an afterthought. Burt Pierce of Batesville, Indiana was a friend and mentor to another pioneer in early automotive carburetors, George Schebler. Batesville is a sleepy little town about halfway between Cincinnati, Ohio and Indianapolis, Indiana. Schebler was working on a carburetor design that incorporated a spring loaded air valve that opened automatically as engine demand increased. Meanwhile Burt Pierce was working on a carburetor design of his own that used a hanging air control valve. As things developed over time, both men received patents on their carburetor designs and both became successful. Schebler found a partner, Frank Wheeler, and formed the Wheeler Schebler carburetor company in Indianapolis, Indiana. These carburetors became common on Stutz, Overland, and countless other brass era cars and motorcycles. Meanwhile Marvel carburetors became common on cars produced by General Motors.
By 1912 the Marvel company bought out Wheeler and Schebler. The Marvel Schebler company moved to Flint Michigan in 1912 to be closer to production of the General Motors cars and trucks that used the majority of its products. Wheeler Schebler continued as a brand, while Marvel and Schebler also continued to be a separate carburetor brands of the combined companies. By the mid teens there were both Schebler and Marvel accessory carburetors for the Model T Ford being built, and in the 1920’s a Wheeler Schebler carburetor as well. In this article we will rebuilt a crusty old Marvel carburetor of this era and bring it back to life.
The other day I went out to the garage with plans to go for a drive in one of the Model T’s. I was immediately confronted by a heavy gasoline smell. The first thought was to open the garage door to vent the vapors. Next I looked under the 1914 to see a drip pan under the car holding a considerable amount of fuel. Fortunately there was no fire! I had tried a newly rebuilt carburetor the day prior, and the fuel line evidently had cracked some time during or after my drive around the neighborhood testing the carburetor. The copper fuel line, of undetermined age, had failed as they always do. Time to make a new one from steel that won’t fail unexpectedly.