The 1911 Model T Ford Part 2 – Details, Improvements and Changes

1911 Model Year begins October 1, 1910.

1911 Model Year ends September 31, 1911.

Earliest serial number recorded is 31,500.

Highest serial number 1911 model year 70,750

Available body styles were the Touring, Open Runabout, Torpedo Runabout, Roadster with Rumble Seat, Town Car and Coupe. Ford also sold the bare chassis less body but it was not a catalogued version.

The 1911 model year is an interesting one for the Model T restorer because changes happened virtually every week. We are blessed to be able to track many of the major changes both by date and by serial number because Ford kept very meticulous engineering records, many of which are still in existence at the Benson Ford Archive in Dearborn Michigan on microfiche. Also the Benson Ford has production records for many individual 1911 Model T’s in the form of “build sheets”. Finally we have letters to dealers and the Accounts Receivable records, all of which make the 1911 Model T both easy to document yet a nightmare to restore properly.

At the beginning of the 1911 model year cars were still being built just as they had been for the end of the 1910 model year. Bodies were still all wood construction with wooden paneling. The exterior color of all cars was “Brewster Green” a very dark green, with green fenders and splash aprons and running boards. The 1911 model year would bring nearly a total redesign of the car, spread out over the months ahead.

In mid October 1910 the first of the new metal skinned bodies, serial number 32,200 came down the line. Apparently an experiment, it was surrounded by the earlier all wood bodies. All cars were still being painted Brewster Green. By November 1910 all bodies were the new steel skinned style. In mid December 1910 starting about serial number  34,000 all cars would be painted dark blue with French Grey pin striping.

Above is a typical 1911 touring with its metal skinned body finished in the new blue color. The blue was very dark, nearly black. Pin striping was in French Grey and quite extensive on the body, hood, fenders, wheels and running gear.

Mechanically the 1911 Model T’s were still very much as they had been from the summer of 1910. Wheel hubs (above) continued to be six inch diameter with no provisions for mounting a speedometer gear, although every 1911 Model T was equipped with a Stewart #26 speedometer as standard equipment.

Above the typical Stewart Model 26 speedometer used in 1911 model year. These are different from the Model 26 used in 1910 model year, most significantly because Stewart changed to a 2 1/2 to 1 ratio for the speedometer swivel. This slowed the cable speed down quite a bit, making the speedometer virtually silent in operation compared to earlier Model T’s. Also note that the 1911 Stewart Model 26 has round holes for the odometer digits.

Above, Ford continued to use the one piece spindles in 1911. The new Stewart 2 1/2 to 1 speedometer drive was made from sturdy cast iron, unique for 1911 model year only. The speedometer cable housing is a steel core wrapped in brass. Nuts on both ends of the cable are round, solid brass, with serrations all around. The front spindles and hubs have no provision for mounting the speedometer gear or drive. Wheels were always painted and extensively pin striped, natural varnished wood wheels were not an option from Ford.

Above, at the beginning of the 1911 model year the intake was the familiar aluminum “dog leg” type used since the beginning of Model T production. The engine block continued in the same style used since the summer of 1909. Valves were not enclosed. The throttle rod seen above is not correct, there should be an adjuster at the carburetor connection point.

Above, the back side of an original intake manifold showing the factory number cast into the part.

Ford script is found on the crankcase LH side. Ford did not use the “Made in USA” casting mark until the beginning of 1913 model year.

Casting date on this open valve engine is above the water inlet as was the case since the summer of 1909. In this case the date is 2 9 11 which means the block was cast on February 9, 1911.

Above the water inlet used in 1911 continues in the style used from mid summer of 1909.

Above, the 1911 Model T’s used the same timing cover as had been used since the end of the water pump cars in early 1909. The so called “two piece” timer was also continued and used on every 1911 Model T.

Above we see the automatic “spring loaded” fan belt tension system, again the same used since early 1909. This method of fan adjustment would change during the year. You can also see the oil filler which is very simple, having an exposed screen showing on top.

The transmission hogshead used at the beginning of 1911 model year. This is the “wide” square door transmission cover, introduced about the beginning of calendar year 1911. The exhaust manifold is the same type used since the beginning of production. The pipe fits into the manifold, there is an asbestos wrapping that is crushed by the exhaust nut to form a seal.

The engine pan used for the beginning of 1911 model year continued to not have any access door for adjusting the connecting rods. This is the “wide, no door” engine pan which was used from about the beginning of calendar year 1911 until the major changes scheduled for the spring of 1911.

The six rivet rear axle assembly was used for the majority of 1911 production. This is the same rear axle used since about the beginning of calendar year 1910. The axle shafts were straight. Wheels were retained by a pin and square axle key, same as all previous Model T’s from the beginning of production.

Ford used several carburetors during the 1911 model year. Above we see the 1910 – 1911 style Kingston 5 ball which was the most common at the beginning of the 1911 model year.

Above, top view of the 1911 Kingston 5 ball carburetor.

Rarely seen, the Holley Model 4500 carburetor was also used in early 1911 model year again with the “dog leg” style intake manifold. These carburetors were made entirely of brass for Ford. A similar carburetor was supplied by Holley in cast zinc for a period marine engine. These “pot metal” Holley 4500 carburetors are not for Model T, although they can be made to fit and work.

Above is the Kingston “Six Ball” carburetor used in early 1911 model year, again with the “Dog Leg” intake manifold.

Back side of the Kingston 6 Ball carburetor. These carburetors, like the earlier Kingston 5 ball and the Holley 4500 were equipped with both a choke operated from a wire that ran through the radiator, and a “tickler” button that when depressed pushes down on the float, causing the carburetor to flood the intake with fuel.

Let’s talk about timelines for 1911 changes.

December 1910 New steel skinned 1911 bodies for all models except town car and coupe. All cars painted dark blue with French grey pin striping. All of these cars continued to use the same engine and chassis parts as 1910 model year. Open valve engines, brass plated parking brake handle, brass plated starting crank handle, open valve engine, dog leg intake manifold, straight rear axle shafts (not tapered) and Kingston 5 Ball or Holley model 4500 carburetors.

Above, the redesigned spindle and front axle introduced in February 1911.

February 1911 brought a major change to the front axle assembly. The “one piece spindle” used in 1909 was completely redesigned. Now the steering arms were bolted to the spindles. This required a redesigned axle. Manufacturing of these parts was now easier and the parts were stronger as well.

Other changes made in February 1911 included changing the finish of the hand crank and the parking brake lever. These parts had been brass plated on all previous Model T’s. From now until the end of production they would be painted black. Assembly of the parking brake lever was also simplified, now a rivet was used to secure the parking brake release handle to the brake lever instead of the pin and cotter key used previously.

March 1911 brought the most significant mechanical improvements to the production line.  Above we see the all new rear wheel hub which would accept the new tapered rear axle shaft. The rear wheel hub would remain virtually unchanged from March 1911 through 1927 for all Model T’s with wood wheels.

Also introduced in March 1911 was the new engine pan with an added door in the bottom. The door allowed engine bearings to be adjusted without having to remove the engine from the car. This is one of the few times that Ford spent more money on a part to improve serviceability. Nearly all other changes in Model T production were made to streamline assembly or to make the car less expensive to manufacture. Here was a real improvement! This design oil pan, used from March 1911 through about the summer of 1916 also evolved as details were fiddled with. The 1911 version continued to have the “teacup” oil drain, and the door itself was made from a heavier gauge steel in 1911 – 12 with a machined step along the area where it was drilled for attachment bolts.

In April 1911, beginning with cars serialized about 44,400 Ford introduced the greatly improved engine assembly. The cylinder head was revised to have lower compression than before, in response to the lessening octane of available gasoline. The big news was the new enclosed valve spring chambers which greatly reduced the  engine’s oil consumption. In the drawing above we see the new engine block with one of the valve chamber covers removed. If you look carefully you can see the other cover being held in place by a wing nut, a feature which was replaced by a simple hex nut in 1912. The drawing also shows only three rivets securing the engine mounting arm to the engine pan, a change which did not happen until 1913. Perhaps the artist knew that change was coming? The engine crank handle is painted black and has the black hard rubber handle used until January of 1912.

Above, the engine blocks used from April 1911 until the end of 1911 model year were quite unique and easy to distinguish from later Model T blocks by several features. Most obvious is the shape of the cam gear chamber, which is still the same as earlier engines. Also the engine serial number which is located on the right side of the block just to the rear of the oil filler.

Above the new closed valve engine design also received a revised intake manifold with smaller plenum area and revised carburetor location. This required less aluminum to manufacture than the earlier “dog leg” manifold. Notice the Ford factory number is cast into the manifold, a feature that lasted until late 1912.

Along with the new intake manifold came the (above) new Holley H1 carburetor. This carburetor was much simpler to manufacture than the previous Holley and Kingston designs. Note the screw atop the inlet choke area which clamped the hot air pipe to the carburetor. This screw was eliminated in the fall of 1911. Holley also made this same carburetor in cast zinc for other brands of cars and marine engines.

June 1911 brought more changes including the new “tapered door” transmission hogshead. Made from aluminum this design would be used, with minor changes, until the fall of 1915. All Model T’s made prior to June 1911 had various versions of the “square door” hogsheads.

The final major change of 1911 came in July with the introduction of the new “12 rivet” rear axle. This was a major improvement over the earlier 6 rivet design that had been in use since January 1910. The new 12 rivet axle had cast iron “clamshell” center sections which were riveted to the drawn steel axle housings. While this was far stronger than the older design it also provided many more places for grease to leak as we can see above. The axle above has an incorrect hex filler plug from a later Model T.

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