Model T Fords Built in Canada Part 1

Ford initially contracted with a company known as the Walkerville Wagon Works in 1904 to accomplish assembly of 1904 Ford AC vehicles in Canada, necessary to avoid taxes on imported vehicles. Ford ultimately purchased Walkerville Wagon Works and built a huge manufacturing complex on the site in order to carry out full scale manufacturing of the entire vehicles.

Ford was the world’s leading manufacturer of automobiles by the time the Model T began production near the end of 1908. Early in the history of Ford Motor Company a Canadian businessman, Gordon McGregor, wanted to invest in the Ford Motor Company. McGregor was the owner of the Walkerville Wagon Works located on a large parcel of land on the south shore of the Detroit River. Most of us think of Canada as being North of the USA. In fact Walkerville (known as Windsor today) was entirely south of Detroit, with the Detroit river separating downtown Detroit from what was then a tiny Canadian town.

Ford of Canada was set up as a sister company to Ford Motor Company in the USA. Initially Henry Ford owned a little more than 10 percent of Ford of Canada. Other investors, including McGregor, owned the rest. Ford of Canada was given the task of supplying Ford vehicles to the world excluding the USA, Britain, and Ireland. This started with Walkerville producing around 100 Model AC cars in 1904 built from parts manufactured at Ford vendors in the USA as Ford did not manufacture anything in those days, Ford designed and assembled cars.

An aerial view of the Ford Walkerville complex in the 1930’s.

By the time Model T production began at Walkerville most parts of the car, excluding the engine and transmission parts were being made in Canada, either by vendors or at the Walkerville Ford plant. A town grew up around the plant known as Ford City.

Residents of Walkerville voted to change the name of the city to Windsor in 1934. Not everyone agreed.
A 1909 Model T Ford in the Canadian Automotive Museum. The windshield was an accessory available either from Ford of Canada or from various sources in the era. Canadian Model T’s would standardize on 30 X 3 1/2″ tires on all four wheels by 1910. This car is equipped with an accessory spare tire bracket which blocks the driver from entering or exiting on that side.
Canada had some provinces with cars driving on the LH side of the road while others were like the United States. Confusing! As a result some Canadian built Model T’s have RH drive like this 1911 runabout that was for sale on eBay a few years ago.
Things get crowded with RH drive but it all fits.
Fenders on early (pre – 1913) Canadian Model T’s have what is called a double bead. Very distinctive and not reproduced.
Street scene in Vancouver showing a nearly new Canadian built right hand drive 1912 touring parked behind another early teens car – Huppmobile maybe?
Beginning with 1913 model year the Canadian built Model T Fords had serial numbers beginning with C. Prior to this serial numbers were assigned in batches to Canadian production by Ford in Highland Park Michigan .
Patterns for engine castings were made at Highland Park. The “Made in USA” logo was deleted from patterns sent to Canada so that the castings (made in Canada) had a faint rectangle showing where the word plate had been removed. This is a 1914 Canadian engine that someone decided to paint in a lovely earth tone. Originally Canadian engines were painted black just like the ones sold in the rest of the world.
Canadian Model T bodies have doors on both sides to accommodate the steering column position confusion. This is a 1913 runabout.
Not many Canadian town cars were built. 1917 was the final year for town car production in both Canada and the USA.
Canadian prices were higher than the same car in the USA. These prices are in Canadian dollars.
Ford was still the most popular car in the world when this advertisement was made in 1919.
Canadian Model T Ford bodies evolved differently than the cars built in the USA. Here is a group of new 1921 tourings shown in a Vancouver Island warehouse. Notice the different slanted windshields and different rear windows compared to USA built Fords of the same year.
Another 1921 – 23 Canadian Model T Ford touring.
Then as now it’s hard to get the kids to look the right way for pictures. This young family has two Model T’s in the driveway, an early 1920’s Canadian touring and a closed car.
Model T Fords built in Canada were exported to many countries around the world both as complete cars and as parts to be assembled in Ford of Canada owned assembly plants. This early 1920’s Canadian touring was sold new in Sweden. Notice the nickel plated radiator shell and headlight rims – these options were not available on USA built Fords at that time.

The Competition 1920 – Model T Ford in the Marketplace

The year 1920 was extraordinary in many ways, yet we don’t seem to remember many things about it today. Ford production increased significantly from the prior year, but most automakers had results exactly the opposite of Ford. Many auto manufacturers went out of business. The depression of 1920 – 21 is hardly; if ever; mentioned today; but it was severe and profound for those who lived through the time. Much of the economic trouble was caused by the end of World War I (simply known as The Great War at that time). Returning soldiers came back to find there were no jobs available, exports to Europe fell due to strife and hardship in that part of the world. Meanwhile the Volstead Act went into effect on January 16, 1920 ushering in a shadow economy of smuggling, speakeasies, and liquor trade that was not taxed yet cost the government lots of money while trying to enforce the unpopular new law. President Wilson had been incapacitated since a major stroke October of 1919, never to recover. A flu epidemic had been sweeping the world since 1918. By December 1920 it had killed about four to five percent of the world’s population, as many as 100 million people. It was the worst epidemic in recorded human history.

A 1920 Model T Ford Coupe sold for $850. Ford sold more than 60,000 of them that year. This one is fitted with a custom salesman’s trunk and a spotlight, bumper and running board rack photographed in downtown Dallas TX.

Ford built about 941,000 cars and trucks in 1920 model year, easily holding first place in the industry. Model T body styles continued from the previous year, with the touring being easily the most popular body style, available either in the basic hand cranked version with magneto powered headlamps and kerosene tail and cowl lamps, or in the fancier and more expensive version with starter, battery, 6 volt headlamps and tail lamp, and demountable wheels including a spare rim (a spare tire was optional at extra cost). Prices for the Model T touring started at $575 for the basic crank started version, or $675 for the fancy Model T equipped with electrical starter. Ford continued to supply its cars with the two speed planetary transmission controlled by foot pedals. The rest of the industry sold cars with 3 or more speed manual transmissions. The Model T engine continued as before, with 20 advertised horsepower from four cylinders and 176 cubic inches.

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Adjusting the Model T Generator Brushplate Null Point with the Generator Installed by Ron Patterson

In many cases the Model T generator brushplate lead (Null Point) has been changed by people who do not fully understand what they are doing. The usually results in a generator that is charging excessively, not charging at all or will not “build up” to starting charging on its own (a detailed description of the term “Building up” may be found at ). Brushplate lead should not be used to set the generator charging rate. The brushplate lead should only be adjusted when the generator is rebuilt or repaired and would not normally be changed when doing normal maintenance by the vehicle operator. Here is a procedure that will allow you to correctly reset the brush plate lead with the generator mounted on the engine as opposed to removing the generator and setting the brushplate lead on a test bench. (This is not the procedure for setting the brushplate lead on a dynamic generator test stand) To help familiarize yourself with brushplate lead adjustment procedure Figure 1, shows the location of the four brushplate clamp ring 6-32 X 5/16 machine screws (This 5/16 length is critical to prevent the end of the screws interference with the Commutator) and Figure 2 shows a brush plate installed in a brush cap, a clamp ring and the brushplate mortise which the brushplate moves within.

Figure 1. Generator Brush Cap Clamp Ring Screws
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Repairing a Common Model T Starter Problem by Ron Patterson

By far, the most common Model T Ford starting motor failure is the internal connection between the 3/8-16 terminal bolt and internal buss bar that connects to the ends of the two adjacent field windings as shown in Figure 1. When I disassemble starter cores for rebuilding, I usually find 90% of them have this problem.

Figure 1 Failed Starter Terminal Bolt to Buss Bar Connection
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Hand Crank Starting the Model T Ford Car on Magneto by Ron Patterson

Once again we are privileged to have another fine article written by Ron Patterson.



When the Model T Car was originally developed Henry Ford insisted that it have a self-contained power source for the Ignition System so owners would not have to rely upon battery power. All inexpensive cars at that time used dry cell batteries to power Trembler coils for ignition. A dead battery would disable the vehicle until it had been replaced. Many people carried extra batteries, but commonly forgot to keep a supply of charged batteries on hand. These batteries were not rechargeable and were a common nuisance to maintain.

While Ford’s idea sounds anachronistic today, it was a major selling point of the new Model T Ford in 1908.Henry Ford’s idea was implemented by Joseph Galamb and Edward Huff in the form of the internal flywheel driven alternating current generator (the Model T Magneto); sixteen permanent magnets mounted on the flywheel rotating (rotor) near a ring of sixteen fixed field windings (stator) to produce ignition current.

In this magneto system spark timing was controlled by a combination of Magneto current pulses that occurred every 22.5 degrees of flywheel rotation and the Timer which was connected to the driver manipulated spark control lever (advance and retard) on the steering column.

For those interested in more complete details of the entire system read our article entitled “The Model T Ford Ignition and Spark Timing” and may be found at the following link:

The Model T Ford Ignition Spark and Timing

Figure 1 Ford Recommended Starting on Magneto Procedure

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