How I plan to make my 1921 Ford Model T more capable, starting with chassis and brake upgrades – David Conwill @Hemmings

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It’s weird to think I own a car that is 99 years old. Of course, if we do things correctly, it will be like owning a car that’s only 86. That’s right: I’m updating my 1921 Ford Model T touring car with the best of 1934 technology, or at least “the best” insofar as updating a Model T is concerned.

One of the wheels just before I shipped it out to Clayton. It’s 19 inches, as used on a 1930 or ’31 Chevrolet. The 1932 Ford Model B hubcap fits like it was made for it.

I could get into an extended explanation of why people modified Model Ts extensively once their ubiquity was established, and I could tell you all about my belief that performing period-correct modifications makes the Model T far more usable on 21st-century roads without sacrificing its historical character.

Let’s save that for another time, though. Let’s discuss the how.I sat down on Saturday, November 28, for what ended up being a three-hour conversation with Clayton Paddison about the modifications planned for my T. Clayton has been a good friend of mine for probably 10 years now.

This is a kit to install external-contracting Rocky Mountain brakes on a 1926-’27 Ford rear axle. The bands (which will be re-lined with an improved friction material) grab the outside of the 11-inch parking-brake drums. The kit was manufactured in the 1990s and never installed.

His jaw-dropping 1927 roadster is, for many, the quintessential modern gow job (defined briefly as an early-1930s style hot rod). Clayton has a full-time job and as also runs Paddison Pre-War and Model T.

He’s also dad to three. When he offered to devote some of his precious time to shepherding the heavy lifting on my Model T build, I gratefully took him up. I’m a lot better with a pen or a camera than I am with fabricating.Earlier this year, Clayton spotted a great deal on a touring car locally and suggested I jump on it as a shortcut to having a T sooner than my original plan to build from parts.

 I was able to make it happen, but almost to our dismay, what appeared initially to be an older restoration seems to mostly be an original. We amended our initial, rather aggressive plans for modification in favor of something more suited to preserving the surviving originality of my car. The new plan, I feel, makes for a car that will be capable of any driving I may want from it and still has the early ’30s gow-job feeling I want to experience

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Categories: 1921, David Conwill, Ford Model T, Hemmings

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