Model “T” Ford Touring. #C320459
Manufactured by the Ford Motor Company in Walkerville, Ontario, Canada.
On 30th October 1921.
Body #3142 built by; Steenbohm’s, Sydney. Circa March 1922.
for distributors; Davies & Fehon Motors Ltd. 112-114 Hunter St. Sydney.
Sold by; Great Southern Motors, Wagga Wagga. (Not verified).
Owned by Sandy and Rob Patterson.
Our model “T” came to us when my father, Ron, passed away in 1990.
He had been slowly restoring it “on and off” for many years and even though he worked on it without any budget, it was certainly a labour of love. You see, the “T” wasn’t his; it belonged to his wife and my mother, Helen.
In about 1962 she and her father had been out searching for buggy lamps to suit the 1903 curved dash Oldsmobile that they were keen to finish restoring. They came across a shed on a property at Currawarna on the northern side of the Murrumbidgee River between Wagga Wagga and Narrandera. The shed contained two old cars and Mum reported the find to my father. Soon afterwards we all, Mum, Dad, my sister Beth and I, aged 11, travelled in the family Wolseley 6/80 to the property, “Elsley”, to have a good look.
Beth and I were ordered to stay in the car while they disappeared from sight between the farm buildings. Apparently finding nobody home they decided to have a look at these cars. They found a shed containing two very used Fords. The oldest being a model “T” touring and the other a fabric-bodied model “A” sedan. While they were looking, a little old lady, who was somewhat agitated to find people on her property, surprised them. While she was giving them a good dressing down for trespassing, she collapsed from the strain of it all. Dad scooped her up and took her inside. They made her comfortable and as she recovered, Mum made her a cuppa.
Soon, a good friendship developed and despite the distance between Currawarna and Wagga, gifts were being exchanged between Mum and Miss May Edis. I remember on more than one occasion, taking a homemade Cake, packaged in a box, to the Wagga Taxi-Truck depot to be delivered to her.
After a few months had passed, Miss Edis, who was something of a hermit and lived in virtual isolation, was thankful for this unintrusive friendship and phoned Mum. She said that because Mum and Dad had been out there looking at old cars, would they like to make a choice of one of the two. Dad chose the model “T” and apart from regular correspondence, nothing much more happened over the next few years. Then, one day, Miss Edis phoned and said that she would like Mum and Dad to collect the “T” because local vintage car club members were annoying her by asking to purchase the cars and she was worried that someone might steal it now that they knew where it was.
So, Dad arranged with my “uncle” to borrow his tow truck and move the “T” to my other uncle’s farm at Galore, on the other side of the river. I remember the day well. It was in 1965 and it was the 1st time I had seen the cars. The “T” looked an absolute mess and I urged Dad to accidentally take the “A” model sedan. My urging was to no avail…. thank heavens. The “T” was covered in chook doings and the V between the left front guard and the bonnet was completely full of the stuff. On closer examination we found the front spark plug had been removed and the bonnet left open to give the chooks a good perch to deposit into the V and into the cupped dip in the head that the sparkplug screws into. Later we found that #1 was at bottom dead centre and the cylinder was filled solidly with the stuff. We loaded it onto the truck and I travelled with my uncle in the tow truck while Mum, Dad and little sister followed.
I know it was 1965 because as we travelled along, a brand new HD Holden overtook us and I was amazed at, and commented on, the curved side window glass in it.
We unloaded the “T” in an old post and pise shed and in the following weeks
we disassembled it, removing the body, which was in pretty poor shape with the bottom 6 to 12 inches badly decayed and in some parts absent. The timbers in the front, right hand side of the tub were missing completely. Other than that it was mostly complete and we stripped it down to its chassis. I remember that even after all this time, there was still water in the radiator, because the clamps were so corroded that we had to cut through the red rubber hoses that had gone all sticky with age. After years of storage on the farm at Galore we moved the chassis into Wagga and Dad started getting it all together again.
As the years slipped past Dad became less and less able to do things to his old cars so, with my urging, we collected the body from the farm and re-united it with the chassis. Even though it was unrestored it was still together. In 1990 Dad passed away and Mum was desperate to get rid of the old cars he had collected. I was successful in finding new homes for the Goggomobile Dart, Wolseley 6/80, a new owner for the ’03 Olds and a buyer for the “T”.
My mother was, however, reluctant to sell the “T” to him. When asked why she was not keen on the sale, she told us that she had been given the car on a condition. That condition was that she never sold it to a man. This explains a lot about MISS May Edis. Why she lived alone, never married, and died a spinster. The condition, initially a problem, soon became an opportunity as my wife, Sandy, bought it from the estate. We moved it from Wagga to Canberra and started a whole new chapter in Anastasia’s life. Funny thing though, even though she has had 3 lady owners, Anastasia has always been maintained by men, firstly by Miss Edis’s father, then by my father and now, by me.
The new owner of the Olds and I moved both the curved dash Olds and the model ‘T’ to Canberra over the course of two weekends. He talked me into joining the Veteran Car Club of Australia (ACT) and organised a group of esteemed gents, who were both club-members and model “T” buffs, to survey my pile of corroded and decaying model “T” remains. These men put me on the right path initially and with the help of many new found friends and club-members with many talents, Sandy and I started down the long path of re-birthing a vintage car. This was in 1990.
Over the next few years, and with a very limited budget, we managed to get the body re-wooded and re-skinned, wheels re-spoked, hood bows made, radiator re-built and its shell repaired. Whilst holidaying in the USA we made a visit to Glen Chaffins premises in Corona, California and purchased a small fortune in parts, including new guards, bonnet and running boards, after a panel beating mate advised it was cheaper than repairing the originals. This advice proved to be spot on.
After a few years had passed and because of lack of funds, the project slowed and I became involved with the vintage engine & machinery movement. We restored many engines and had a terrific time travelling all over the country displaying them.
However, as time goes by, things change. Babies grow into young men and women and suddenly, our little girl announced her engagement to be married. She soon after, announced the date when she would become some other mans girl. Many years ago when she was still young, I told her that she could have “Anastasia” as her wedding car. She immediately reminded me of this and held me to that promise.
So the restoration process started again, but this time, with the added pressure of a time limit.
The engine and transmission was put into the vastly experienced hands of a reliable “T” engine expert in Kiama. This was necessary for two reasons, one, because of the lack of time before the wedding and two, because all the chook manure in # 1 cylinder had eaten out the bore making it necessary for a rebore and oversize pistons. There were other modifications to the engine, but too many to list now.
The body panels have been painted in “Glasurit” products supplied by “Auto Paint Supplies” in Fyshwick and applied by a volunteer fireman in Queanbeyan.
The front axle, steering and rear axle have been completely re-built using a combination of modern, reproduction and original parts.
I trailered the car out to a farm between Bungendore and Braidwood, in order to draw on the skills of a highly respected motor trimmer. We ordered nothing flash, just vertical pleats with no buttons, just as it had in the 1st place, but with vinyl replacing the original leather/ette.
Because I hadn’t driven a model “T” for more than 12 years (and that was for less than 10 minutes), I asked another “T” owner mate to drive Anastasia on her maiden voyage to the inspection station for her rego check.
On the same day that George W. went to the poles for a second term, Anastasia’s driver arrived and we agreed that a short run around the block would be a good idea before venturing onto the main roads. I still remember the feeling that went through me when, for the 1st time in 75 years, she moved under her own power out onto the road. Just plain marvellous.
This short trip showed that some minor adjustments were needed so we tightened the bands a little and drilled a small vent hole in the fuel cap and we were set for another test. This time she did everything pretty well and we felt confident that she was now ready for her trip.
The 12 km trip took about 25minutes but seemed to be over in a flash.
She performed well and was up to 45kph at one stage. The inspectors asked lots of questions but couldn’t fault her. She passed, first go. I was expecting a list of problems that needed rectifying.
To top off a truly great morning she made the home trip, also without incident. This time she managed 50kph.
The next day Sandy and I took all of our paperwork into the motor registry and paid for her new plates. The computer there wasn’t able to absorb the fact that she had only 4 digits in her body number so they called it a VIN# instead. How many VIN#’s do you see stamped into wood? She is now registered, insured and on the road.
My daughters wedding came and went.
“Anastasia” performed her tasks well. Very well indeed. She doesn’t have a speedometer, but I’m told that she was motoring along at 65kph at one stage with a nervous father of the bride at the wheel, totally unaware of anything other than getting his girl to the church on time. Two “T” owning friends helped out by supplying their red 1912 “T” tourers as wedding party vehicles.
What’s next in our old car future?
Well, firstly, I must learn how to drive her properly and start enjoying a vintage car ‘on the road’ instead of ‘in the shed’ and if we can find the money and the time,
a pre-1917, brass, model “T” speedster would be nice, but we feel that a 1905-08 model “N”, “R” or “S” Ford runabout would be the perfect stablemate for “Anastasia”.