The Bethlehem Spark plug was originally manufactured by Silvex corporation based in South Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. About 1918 they received a contract from Ford Motor Company to supply a quantity of spark plugs for Model T Ford and Fordson production, supplanting the contract given to Champion Spark Plug which was the prime supplier. At the time the chairman of Silvex / Bethlehem was Edward H Schwab. You may have heard of his brother, Charles Schwab who was president of Bethlehem Steel Company. The advertisement above is for one of the company’s “gimmick plugs” which had multiple ground electrodes instead of the normal single ground electrode.
The Model T is an example of the object being constructed of many parts in which the sum of the parts exceeds the cost of the whole. Like almost every part on the car, the hubcap design was revised many times. The reasons for changing the design were many, often to change or improve the style and appearance. Other times the reason for change was financial. Let’s take a look at them and see what we can learn.
The image above shows the illustration of the earliest Model T hubcap. These were stamped from sheet brass with an elegant block letter “Ford” logo. The inner surface was threaded 2 1/8″ X 24 threads per inch. This is an older “USS” or United States Standard specification which utilized a 60 degree pitch on the cut threads.
From the first time a Model T Ford was driven until now there is one thing we learn about these cars very quickly. You have to tinker with them on a regular basis if you expect them to putter along properly. Sometimes you had to change a tire on the side of the road. Other times you might just need to air up the tires before driving.
When the Model T was new there were not mechanics in every town, nor perhaps in every other town. The Ford owner was expected to be able to maintain his or her own car to some degree. Ford was aware of this and so every new Ford came equipped with a basic tool kit.
Tom Helf has generously shared photos of the tool kit from his 1911 touring which was featured as a car of the month recently here at Model T Ford Fix. Let’s take a look at the 1911 tools and see what we can learn about them.
The old top on our 1915 touring had seen better days. Installed around 1970, it was made using Colonial Grain material, which is correct for a Model A Ford, but not a Model T. Whoever installed it was none too careful setting the bows up properly. The #2 bows leaned to the rear, yet didn’t match each other. Because the #2 bows were leaning to the rear the forward bow barely came forward of the windshield, giving an awkward appearance. The top leaned to one side in the front for some reason. Many of the tacks would not stay in place.
When Classtique had a replacement 1915 – 1916 top kit on special for 1/2 price we pounced on it. That was in 2012. We got the new top out of the box when it came, checked that it was all there, and packed it away carefully for the day when we had time to install it.
The new top was made from proper Model T material, and it had a really important although non – original feature. The rear curtain rolls up, which is a blessing well appreciated on 100 + degree days here in Texas. With cold fall and winter weather we are not driving the T’s as much so we have time to do a big project or two. This month is the time for the new top on the ’15.