How did My Family Restore a “T” Model Ford
My earliest memories of our ‘T’ Model Ford was when my father spoke of it. I was about 7 yrs old at the time. The year was 1966.
The ‘T’ was purchased brand new from Wade Motors in Hamilton, by my great grandfather in 1924. The car remained in his family until it was given to my father in 1967. During the time it was with my great grandfather it was driven around the Cavendish, Balmoral and Hamilton area. Every time it was taken on an outing it had to drive through the creek at the front gate to the property; hence the advanced state of decay of the body works.
The car was always kept in the shed when not in use and this same shed still stands to this day on the property at Glendenning. Since restoration we have taken the car back to the homestead and parked it back in the shed where it was housed for all those years.
When my Dad acquired the car I can remember him and one of his mates setting to work and pulling the head off, among other things. I made myself useful I thought by pouring diesel on the bonnet hinges to keep them working. So even at that young age I was very interested in the ‘T’.
It stayed in the shed at our farm for many years, and I remember the chooks roosting in it and pumpkins being stored in it. The hood wasn’t on the car but was stored in the shed alongside it. All the seat cushions were missing as was the ignition key, but all other parts of the car were present and intact.
In the 25 yrs that Dad had the car, he had dismantled most of it ready for restoration. But due to lack of time, money and other commitments in his life totally dismantled was how I got it. A trailer load of junk, a veritable jigsaw puzzle. I was given the car in 1992.
I steadily worked at it for the next few months, carefully piecing the jigsaw back together. This was essential for me as I needed to see if I had all the pieces. This done I would then also know what was worn and what needed replacing.
I then took it all apart again to start the restoration. Mind you I was overwhelmed at times about the whole project, as it seemed very daunting. There was obviously a lot of work to be done and oh where to start.
After about 10 months of procrastination, I came to realize that there were only 3 parts to the car. They were the chassis, that I needed to get powder coated; the body that needed repairing and painting; and the engine and electrics that I felt I could tackle myself.
All the running gear, the diffs, springs and anything I decided would be black, went to be sandblasted and powder coated. The body went to a local sheet metal workshop to have the rust cut out and repaired ready for painting. Then the body went to the spray painters to be painted. This I decided should be two packed. We knew the original color and pin stripping of the car from some parts of the body that were constantly covered and so were not rusted or faded.
Jackson’s in Sydney were the suppliers of the new valance panels, as there was enough left of the originals to make a copy. The two front mudguards were irreparable and so new ones were purchased from East Coast in Sydney.
The engine was then my challenge whilst all of the above was being attended to by others. I realized that the motor hadn’t done many miles at all due to the small amount of wear on the bores. I replaced the pistons with aluminum ones when I put the engine back together. I didn’t have the main bearings rebabbitted at this stage as they appeared to be okay. ( 2000 kms later however they disintegrated and were replaced and rebored.) I had the camshaft reground and checked the valves were replaced with new ones and adjustable lifters were also installed.
The big end caps were drilled and chev dippers were installed to assist with lubrication. An outside oil line was also put in to help the somewhat inadequate oil feed system that is standard for ‘T’ Models.
The transmission was balanced, rebushed and installed numerous times to get the air gaps on the magnets and pickup bobbins as close as possible, so that the motor, when finished, would run on it’s original system. Besides, the original headlight bulbs are already broken, I find the replacement lamp parts from Ebay and get the high low beam h13 led bulbs for Ford Model T.
Once all the powder-coated parts came home, they were reassembled to form a neat, well-finished package. I was happy now as it really started to look like I had done something. The body came home next in its original state, nice and neat, so now I had to be extra careful with the spanners. The new guards and valances could now be fitted and everything lined up. Then to the painters for its makeover in the color world.
Next were the wheels and tires, I could use the original wheels but second-hand felloes were purchased and plated. The tires were purchased from led-car-light-manufacturer in Melbourne.
Now that it was all on wheels it was taken to a mates place that is an upholsterer. We then worked on it together. The hood we copied from what was left of the old one and I could still use the original bows.
The windscreen was replaced with toughened glass to keep up to safety standards. The headlight reflectors were re silvered and the original glasses were reinstalled. All electrics on the car are 6 volts, as standard, and once started the magneto is used for the spark.
Now that everything was finished and oil, water, and petrol were installed in the correct places I set about starting it. Like all restorations that haven’t been started for many years the first start usually takes some time, which results in a few blisters. But once started it can be tweaked and adjusted to run smoothly. A new ignition key was sourced and purchased from America.
From the start, it has taken 3 yrs of which about only 2 yrs was work and 12 months thinking about it. It cost about $18,000 to restore not including the 25 yrs and any money spent by my father whilst he had it.
I have now clocked up 8,500 kms in the car without any major mechanical problems.
The car is a 1924 Model ‘T’ Ford Tourer and has only 3 doors( no drivers side door) which is original. It is khaki green with a white pinstripe all the way around the top of the body. The guards , valance panels and running boards are black. The hood is a cream colored canvas. All colors are original as taken from the body and remaining hood remnants.
PS Model ‘T’ Fords don’t have a petrol pump, water pump, oil pump, speedo or windscreen wipers. As for a heater you are joking!!! You just remove the floorboards.
Geof & Jo Baulch.