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 basic tool kit in 1911 came with these items. The tool roll itself was made from scraps of top upholstery material.
Left to right:
Tire Pump Bridgeport Brass
Spark Plug Wrench Handle T2177
Spark Plug Wrench T2178
Adjustable Wrench T1387
Tire tools – These were typically marked with the tire manufacturer’s name typically Diamond, Firestone, Goodyear etc. Two tire tools and a patch kit were supplied with each Model T. Curiously Ford did not supply a jack with your new Ford until some years later.
Band Adjusting Wrench T1917
Combination Hub Cap, Front Wheel Bearing and Rear Axle Nut tool T1349 (Note that the one shown in this tool kit is probably a later 1911 – 1913 version)
Ford factory diagram from the February 1911 catalogue.
Stewart and Clark supplied this speedometer drive tool with each speedometer setup. The wrench would be standard equipment in 1911 as all cars were equipped with a Stewart #26 speedometer.
T1917 band adjusting wrench used from 1911 – 1914 has slender, delicate Ford script.
The spark plug wrench used in 1911 – 1913. One end is used to remove the spark plug from the cylinder head. The other end is used to remove the nut that secures the porcelain inside the spark plug. Spark plugs were very expensive. One spark plug cost the equivalent of a full day’s wages for the average man. No one would have considered replacing spark plugs as part of a tune up. Spark plugs were disassembled, carefully cleaned, and reassembled. Finally the gap was set. Each spark plug was expected to last the life of the car.
The Ford supplied T1902 screwdriver has a square shank that is shorter than the wooden handle.
Typically the Model T screwdriver has a square end showing at the top of the wooden handle. This one is round which is not typical.
Model T oil cans are a subject that has been explored in dozens of articles over the years and there are many variations. These were originally copper plated when new. Many locations are expected to receive oil on a regular basis which contributes to the Model T’s unique ability to collect sludge, grease, and grime and subsequently deposit it upon the T owner.
Noera is the maker of this particular oil can.
When purchasing one of these “three hole” hubcap wrenches one should be aware that forgeries exist. The real ones have a makers mark and name, for example Prudden. The forgeries are made by plug welding a later four hole wrench and then cutting a new shape on the outside of the wrench. Buyer beware!
Like the oil can the T1387 adjustable wrench has been the subject of intense study, thousands of written words, and opinions.
The Ford adjustable wrench has become so ubiquitous that this type of wrench is called a “Ford” wrench by mechanics across the globe whether the wrench was actually made by Ford or not.
The tire pump supplied on brass era Model T Fords was made by Bridgeport Brass company. The base of the tire pump was originally a brick red color. The wooden handle would have been painted black. Overhaul kits are available. It is quite a chore to fully inflate a Model T tire to 65 PSI using one of these. We are so lucky to have air compressors today!
Like the oil can, adjustable wrench and screwdriver thousands of words have been written over the years concerning the T1903 pliers supplied with the Model T Ford. Rumors suggest that earliest ones may have been supplied without having the ubiquitous screwdriver tip. We’ve never seen one like that, have you?