More than 30 years have passed since Stuart Tomlinson’s father gave him what has turned out to be his first Model T Ford. Tomlinson says that he had been indoctrinated by his father into the world of Model T Fords when he was nine years old in El Paso, Texas. Stuart now owns four Model T Fords.
In 2005, Tomlinson’s job had placed him in Wyoming. One day he was driving a Model T on the streets of Laramie when an elderly resident approached him and asked if he would be interested in another Model T. What a silly question. Of course he would be interested.
Tomlinson was led to an airplane hangar where he found a well-worn 1927 Model T two-door sedan. The car had been put up on blocks in 1965 where it languished for 40 years.
“The Channel Green finish was completely shot,” Tomlinson recalls, “and the car still had the original upholstery.”
Tomlinson says the owner of the old Ford did not want his car to fall into the hands of a “hot rodder” and given Tomlinson’s history he was comfortable with the future of the 1927 Model T in Tomlinson’s hands.
Tomlinson became the fourth owner of the Model T in November 2005 and spent a week changing all the fluids and giving the old Ford a thorough examination before actually driving it home on the 4-inch-wire tires mounted on wheels that had a dozen wooden spokes.
Records indicate the 1,972-pound sedan, when new, came equipped with a 10-gallon capacity gasoline tank, a coolant capacity of 4 gallons and a limit of 3.75 quarts of oil. Model T Fords had no oil dipstick on the 177-cubic-inch, L-head, four-cylinder engine. Instead, the level of the oil was checked with two petcocks, one above the other. If no oil flowed out when the lower valve was opened then the car needed oil. When oil flowed out of the opened upper petcock the crankcase was full.
That simple system must have been successful because more than 15 million Model T Fords were manufactured between October 1908 and May 1927. Records show that Tomlinson’s car was built in September 1926.
Like most other Model T Fords, it left the factory with a 22-horsepower engine and two-wheel mechanical brakes to bring it to a stop.
Tomlinson explains that cars produced in the first half of the 1927-model-year were equipped with wheels with wooden spokes. Thereafter the cars had wire wheels.
Soon after getting the car Tomlinson began a total restoration of his acquisition that eventually would consume 4.5 years. He was grateful that his car had no rust. In 2008 Tomlinson — and his Ford — moved to California.
Before the restoration project was complete in February 2010, Tomlinson had replaced the spare tire on the back of the sedan, made certain the electric starter was in working order and replaced all six windows in the car.
The single taillight on the left fender is just that, it does not include a brake light. At the other end of the car are the electric headlights. In between are the side windows that can be raised or lowered with the use of hand cranks.
When new the Ford had a base price of $495. This 1927 Model T had no extra-cost accessories. The Model T has a pair of foot pedals to operate the planetary transmission and a hand throttle to control the speed.
Eighty-three years ago the average top speed in the car was about 40 to 45 mph while delivering fuel economy of between 25 and 30 miles per gallon. Tomlinson has discovered the trick of starting a Model T in cold weather is accomplished by jacking up one of the rear wheels.
“I’ve been stuck on Model T Fords, and I haven’t gone to anything else,” Tomlinson says.
He is now prepared to enjoy the fruits of his labor by driving his restored Model T on the streets of San Ramon. “It has been a lot of fun,” he concludes. — Vern Parker, Motor Matters