The 1911 Model T Ford Tool Kit

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.

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Installing A Replacement Top On Your Model T

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.

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The 1911 Model T Ford Part 4 Final Details

Above we see Dr. David O’Donnell and his family with their 1911 Model T touring. The car shows many features typical of 1911 including E&J model 666 headlamps and E&J Pat 1908 all brass side lamps. Perhaps the carbide generator has been moved to the passenger side of the car to make room for spare tires on the driver side running board. Also notice the double twist horn, again typical of 1911. The inlet tube for the horn now is raked downwards, almost matching the angle of the floor boards. This is an improvement over the 1909 – 10 double twist horns which have the inlet tube running parallel to the running board. Notice the bulge in the left front tire – and the low air pressure in the rear tire. He’s going to need those spares!

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The 1911 Model T Ford Part 3 – More Details

The 1911 Model T Fords were different from the previous 1910 model year cars in many significant ways. The restorer has all the information available, and many of the sheet metal parts, complete bodies, lamps, radiators, coil boxes, are available brand new. It seems like it should be easy to get the details right. Let’s try and show what a 1911 Model T should look like.

Above, wheels were dark blue, often with much more extensive pin striping than we see here. Hubcaps for 1911 have Ford script for the first time seen on any Ford. Notice that the Ford script is raised and there is no circle around the word Ford, and nowhere on the car does it say “Made in USA”.

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Car of the Month – Tom Helf’s unrestored 1911 Touring

Museums are places where we can go to see objects displayed as they were in years past. Often the museum cannot display the item as it was found, because that would not be very interesting or informative. Many of the things that we see in museums are reconstructed, restored, or even complete reproductions. At the American Museum of Natural History as an example, we see fantastic exhibitions of dinosaurs that once dominated the earth. If we read the fine print on the signs we can see that what is on display is largely if not completely a reproduction, the original parts having vanished over the years, lost forever.

It is quite unusual to find an object that is over 106 years of age that is largely intact, and indeed well preserved, still able to operate as it did when new. Such is the case with the 1911 Model T Ford touring owned by Tom Helf. While the story of how the car was preserved over the years is not known beyond 40 or so years ago, the fact is that it was kept out of the weather for the most part. Let’s examine the car closely and enjoy what has been kept for so long by each of it’s owners in amazing condition. Not in a museum, but in each owner’s careful possession over more than a century, we can learn a lot from this amazing specimen.

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