The chassis parts of the early 1909 Model T Ford were the beginning of 15 million other Model T’s. Yet in nearly every component there is a difference from what came later. Let’s take a closer look at them to see what happened and maybe understand why it happened too.
This early postcard shows a pre – 2500 Model T Ford with brass plated hand crank, flat “no bill” front fenders, and early front axle assembly. Note that this is a runabout that has an additional runabout rear seat added, making it a “tourabout” which was not officially offered in 1909 model year but was obviously possible. Also note the linoleum covered brass trimmed running board.
The front axle used in 1909 – 1911 Model T’s is heavier than those made for later Model T’s. The shape of the axle ends is noticeably different than later axles. Compare the early axle (top two photos) to the later one (bottom photo).
The front spindles also were entirely different. Ford used a so called “One Piece” front spindle in 1909 through early 1911 model year. The spindle and the steering arm were forged as a single piece of steel, which was plenty strng but required some rather complex machining operations.
Typical 1909 to 1911 one piece spindle, tie rod, and speedometer drive installation
The front steering tie rod had the adjustment on the driver side, with a non – replaceable ball on the passenger side. There is no oiler on the pivots at either end of the tie rod, it is a simple slotted head screw that must be periodically disassembled for lubrication. The steering arm is not drilled for a speedometer drive, that feature was never used on the one piece spindle assembly.
The front spring is the taper leaf design that would be used through mid – 1916, however the leaves are much thinner and more delicate on the ends than later front springs. The spring perches are heavier than the later versions, and have no machining fixture on top to center in a lathe as found on later spring perches. Note that the second leaf is not tapered and is square cut on the ends.
The front spring perch / motor mount assembly differs from later Model T’s in that it is quite dainty and exceptionally well finished. The nuts used to secure it on the first 2500 cars are crude and not castellated like those on later cars.
The frames on the first 2499 Model T Fords were made of a thinner gage steel than serial number 2500 and subsequent cars. Ford realized this after the frames of prototype cars started to crack during testing. To make use of the frames that had been received from the vendor, Ford designed a reinforcement plate that could be riveted inside the frames to make them strong enough to survive normal use. Collectors call this the “fish plate” today.
Rivets on the outside of the “fish plate” frame of a pre – 2500 Model T.
The “fish plate” doubler can be seen inside the frame of this “two lever / two pedal” Model T from early 1909 model year.
The steering column of the early Model T Fords is much shorter than later cars. It is also mounted at a more extreme angle to the firewall. This makes the steering bracket a different angle than later cars, and the steering bracket holes in the frame are in a different location than later cars. The steering bracket itself is noticeably different in that it has no provision for a grease fitting. It must be periodically disassembled for lubrication if the car is driven.