More than 40 years ago the idea of restoring a Model T Ford crossed Bill Brommer’s mind. Two or three times, as the decades passed, he almost got a restoration project initiated.
Brommer discovered that life kept interfering with his plans. But Brommer is persistent. His Model T dream never died and in his mind he continued to imagine the car he wanted. It was to be a distinct model; not a roadster, nor a touring car or a coupe. Much brass had been eliminated from later Model T Ford cars, so those would not suit him.
In 2002, Brommer saw an advertisement offering for sale a 1912 Model T delivery car. It was described as being “mostly there” but completely disassembled. The majority of the smaller pieces were in boxes. Since the 1912 Ford was located only 100 miles from his home, he went to investigate. Later he hauled the 1912 Model T home — mostly in boxes — on his trailer.
Research shows Brommer that his Model T was built in July 1912. Ford manufactured about 15 million Model T vehicles from October 1908 to June 1927.
In the summer of 2002 Brommer began what became a three-year restoration project, completing most of the task himself. He did send out the 2.9-liter, four-cylinder engine to be professionally rebuilt to deliver an upgraded 22 horsepower. The wooden, 12-spoke, wheels also received a professional rebuild. “I didn’t trust 95-year-old spokes,” Brommer admits.
From detailed drawings, Brommer reproduced a body of sheet metal over a wood skeleton. Each rear door has an oval window. He explains the top is canvas.
Henry Ford designed the Model T to be cheap and tough. The Model T has two forward gears, one reverse gear and neutral. On the steering column is the hand throttle. Three-foot pedals control everything else. The reverse pedal in the center is flanked by the clutch pedal on the left and the brake pedal on the right. Braking is achieved by an enclosed band clamping the transmission. A hand brake sprouting from the floor operates internal expanding brakes on the rear wheels.
The 1,750-pound Ford rolls on white rubber 30×3-inch front tires and 30×3.5-inch rear tires, none of which have any tread pattern. On a 100-inch wheelbase the Model T can be turned in a 28-foot circle.
When new the 1912 Ford cost $750. It came equipped with a speedometer, as Brommer explains, “The speedometer does 60 miles per hour, but not the car.”
A 10-gallon gasoline tank is located under the leather-covered bench seat. Brommer says fuel economy as high as 20 mpg is possible.
The cowl lights and taillight are kerosene operated while the big brass headlights are powered by acetylene gas. On the left running board is mounted a gas generator. Water in the top of the generator drips onto lumps of carbide forming gas that flows through tubing to the headlights.
Glass in the two-piece windshield has been replaced by safety glass, but no wiper has ever been on this Ford’s windshield. In a nod to safety, Brommer has installed seat belts.
“It’s a pretty straight forward machine,” Brommer says. The car is supported on inverted transverse leaf springs and isn’t cluttered with extras like an electric starter or even an oil dipstick. Instead, a pair of crankcase drain cocks in the lower half of the flywheel housing indicate the oil level. If oil flows out of the opened top one, then the crankcase is full. If no oil flows from the bottom one, then oil should be added.
When the time came to paint the car it was an easy choice: black fenders and a dark red body. A century ago, Brommer’s grandfather had a bakery in Detroit. Although he never had a Model T delivery car, Brommer thought it appropriate to advertise his grandfather’s bakery in gold lettering, King’s Bakery, on the sides of his 1912 Model T Ford. — Vern Parker, Motor Matters