Model 'A' Ford Chassis - Paint and Assembly

Ford Archives Photo.
This mid-1930 photograph shows a chassis subsequent to the addition of brake housings, drums, and engine pans. The chassis is being prepared for rotation upright, and moving onto the final conveyer. Note the unfinished items on the chassis. These items include running board bracket rivets, spring hangers (shackles), shock arms, etc. Click on the photo to study a larger view.


Assembly Procedures and Finishes
Questions often arise regarding the finishes of various chassis components of the Model A. A short explanation of Ford's procedures may help.

The assembly procedures and component finishes were surprisingly consistent. Ford carefully outlined procedures that were expected to be carried out similarly among all the various assembly plants. Although many items were provided by outside suppliers, their specifications were well defined by Ford's engineering department. Exceptions existed, but were few and far between.

Nearly all chassis components were painted prior to assembly. Some sub assemblies were painted as a unit such as the rear axle assembly (less radius rods and brakes), and some steering column assemblies. Items were dipped when possible, and sprayed when paint fill would create a problem. The most unique item was the frame. The frame was painted prior to installation of the running board brackets. It was sprayed with an asphalt based "chassis black". This finish provided no more than a moderate gloss. It was generally resistant to moisture, but could be easily removed with most solvents.

The Process
The Painted frame was assembled with running board brackets, front fender brackets, rear motor mounts, brake cross shafts, front end assembly including drag link, rear end assembly, shock absorbers, and shock arms. Note that no brake housings or rods have been included yet. The chassis at this stage was then sprayed with black pyroxylin. This operation varied from complete spraying top and bottom, to spot spraying bare steel and scratched areas, or even being omitted altogether.

The assembly of the chassis then continued with the front brake assemblies, rear brake assemblies, and engine pans. The engine and transmission assembly was then lowered into the chassis. More paint touch up was now done, but was concentrated on damage created during engine installation. All the chassis shown in these two photos are passed the assembly stage of being sprayed with pyroxylin. No spray was applied in this case.

The chassis next received the following sub-assemblies: wheel and tire, radiator, front bumper, rear bumper, shock links, steering gear, and final brake connections. The muffler, battery carrier, battery, chassis lubricant, and water were now added.


Ford Archives Photo.
The next stage includes final preparation for the installation of the engine and transmission assembly.


The Photos
These photos clearly show the contrast of both unpainted and cadmium plated items. An interesting item is the unpainted shock arms. It is reasonable to assume that timing of delivery prohibited proper painting of the arms without slowing production. Unfortunately the photos don't clearly show the contrast of the glossy, dipped, brake housings (backing plates), against the duller, sprayed, rear axle assembly.

Other Observations
Study of original cars sometimes reveals black paint coating items specified as being unfinished, cadmium, or other finish. This is due to the occasional pyroxylin spray coating or subsequent touch up. This was generally intended for unfinished areas only. It was occasionally over done and often omitted altogether as described above.


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©1999 Marco Tahtaras