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History Why was wood used in car bodies?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by sgtlethargic, Jan 4, 2022.

  1. Truckedup
    Joined: Jul 25, 2006
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    Truckedup
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    By the mid 1920's GM was the largest car manufacturer in the US They must have used wood out of tradition as mentioned and not because of a lack of technology...I believe by the mid 1930's GM was the first to have metal presses to stamp out a complete roof panel.
     
  2. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
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    I think DB was before Chevy in that regards. My ‘32(same as a ‘31) series F-10 PU has a fully stamped roof.

    Edit: I should add the roof is a single piece, which is bolted on.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2022
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  3. Big Dad
    Joined: Dec 20, 2005
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    Henry Ford spec'd a certain wood, size , etc on parts being shipped in crates so he could re-use the wood for parts of his cars .. the left over he used to make charcoal briquets to make camp fires to cook and sold that to the public
     
  4. 210superair
    Joined: Jun 23, 2020
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    210superair
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    from Michigan

    There's usually only one reason a company does anything in my experience: money.

    On a side note, I graduated in 1994, with a few years of wood shop class, and a pretty solid woodworking ability. They don't even have that option anymore. Kinda sad. Shop class as well. And they wonder why later generations are mostly lazy and useless.... They didn't teach them anything cool and fun!
     
  5. stubbsrodandcustom
    Joined: Dec 28, 2010
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    from Spring tx

    Nail on head, more ways than one...
     
  6. finn
    Joined: Jan 25, 2006
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    Ford was much more vertically integrated than GM all the way through the fifties. Ford owned vast forest lands, sawmills, factories in Upper Michigan to make wood bodies and lumber for shipping crates, body supports and floorboards, iron ore mines in Minnesota and Upper Michigan, ore boats, steel mills, coal mines, and rubber plantations in South America.

    Ford bought bodies from Briggs, Murray, and Budd. GM used Fischer, which was eventually their in house brand., and was slower to convert to full steel bodies. The answer as to why probably has to do with workforce skills and what the factories were set up to produce, with Fischer being a legacy coach builder.
     
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  7. alanp561
    Joined: Oct 1, 2017
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    What's the matter, your local welding shop didn't have low-oak welding rod? ;)
     
  8. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
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    uh...it's Fisher. Not Fischer.


    FisherBodyLogo.jpg
     
  9. lippy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2006
    Posts: 6,114

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    from Ks

    I'm not so sure I understand all I know about this. And I know I'm not sure I want to.
     
  10. 31Apickup
    Joined: Nov 8, 2005
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    It is all related to the evolution of the industry, early cars the sheet metal was stamped in multiple panels due to the size of the presses. They could build the wood framework, then attach the panels as they came in. As they developed larger presses and they stated added more steel reinforcement. I’m sure it also had to do with the skilled trades doing the work, you had skilled woodworkers who were slowly being replaced or becoming obsolete. Fisher body was one of the longest holdouts.
     
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  11. Tman
    Joined: Mar 2, 2001
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    Yup, hence the term COACHBUILDERS which we still use today for this specialized trade.
     
  12. goldmountain
    Joined: Jun 12, 2016
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    goldmountain

    As to later wood usage, my '64 Barracuda had a plywood panel between the cabin and the trunk.
     
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  13. lippy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2006
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    lippy
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    from Ks

    Does a matchbook cover folded under an 8-track qualify as wood?:)
     
  14. finn
    Joined: Jan 25, 2006
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    finn
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    Apple spelling, I guess.

    Were Apple products ever framed with Apple wood?
     
  15. sunbeam
    Joined: Oct 22, 2010
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    My guess like most car companies COST. Like Ford in the 60s when they but plugs in front end parts instead of grease jerks.
     
  16. gimpyshotrods
    Joined: May 20, 2009
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    One of their first prototypes was built in a wood case.
     
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  17. Yup ^^^^^

    Interesting thought. Last I checked Morgan (an English sports car) was still building bodies with a wooden frame work.
     
  18. Tman
    Joined: Mar 2, 2001
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    I think the 3 wheelers are?
     
  19. Do they still build a 3 wheeler? Dad always said that they are just a motorcycle with a body. LOL

    They have not really changed the body in about 60 years. The wood makes them really easy to build, other than the fenders and snout they are basically just flat steel. A cabinet makers car.
     
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  20. 31 B'ville
    Joined: Feb 7, 2009
    Posts: 326

    31 B'ville
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    from SE Pa
    1. All Things Pontiac

    One story I had read somewhere about GM’s use of structural wood in their car bodies was that they got over 30,000 acres of woodland when they acquired Fisher Body and were determined not to let it go to waste. Being that they had the craftsmen and the the wood, it probably was more of an economic decision than a technological one.
     
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  21. gene-koning
    Joined: Oct 28, 2016
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    They used to say that pound for pound, wood was 4 times stronger then metal. Thin flat sheet metal needs to have bends to have strength. In the early days they had the ability to make bends on small pieces of metal, but not pieces large enough for body structure, so for structural strength, the metal had to be welded together.
    They could build a stronger large structure out of wood, then add the extra strength of sheet metal with a few bends in it, and nail that steel to the wood. It took a few years before the metal technology caught up with the wood technology of the early automotive days. I'm sure money also had an effect on the final outcome, plus the fact that metal can be produced a lot faster the wood can be produced. Gene
     
  22. Truckedup
    Joined: Jul 25, 2006
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    Truckedup
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    In 1935 GM was the first with a steel turret top on cars....
     
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  23. Ford did not give up on using wood until 1951. ;)

    Last Of The Wood-Bodied Wagons
    Ford woody wagons up to 1948 were all wood from the cowl back, with the exception of the rear fenders. On 1949 to 1951 models, real wood attached to the steel body on the doors, sides and tailgate.

    1951.PNG
     
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  24. I've always wondered if it's practical to take an old wood frame bodied ford and replace the wood with metal. Doesn't seem like it'd be all that hard to do. My grandpa has one at his shop with all the wood rotting away, was thinking it'd make a great rod as long as I didn't have to replace wood with wood.
     
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  25. gimpyshotrods
    Joined: May 20, 2009
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    Maybe.

    I did one '29 Chevy years ago.

    If I had to do it over, I would buy a wood kit, and 3D scan it.

    That way I could water jet cut out interlock pieces to duplicate the shape and strength of the wood.
     
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  26. Stogy
    Joined: Feb 10, 2007
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    Well now there's a Chevy forest and a Ford forest whoda' thunk?...But hey it had to come from somewhere...I'll bet there's Historic Plaques at both of them...
     
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  27. PotvinV8
    Joined: Mar 30, 2009
    Posts: 209

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    I always thought it curious that they could stamp these intricate sheetmetal shapes and then the floorboards/toe kick was wood. Always seemed odd. Any reason as to why?
     
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  28. The floorboard was called the floorboard for a reason, ...... boards are made of made of wood. It wood not sound correct to say , Let's put the pedal to the metal".

    HEY, that did not come out how I wanted it to. :eek: :mad:
     
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  29. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
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    The Chevy trees grow faster, make better wood. All in all, a much better performing forest;)
     
  30. Automobile manufacturing grew and advanced faster than machines and tooling, plus, in the beginning and up to the mid '30s, labor was non-union and cheap! Ford hated labor, so he moved to automation before most (except for things that fell under his "it has worked for years, no need to change it" mantra). The Dodge Brothers were always looking toward the future and building better/safer products. DB was much more engineering oriented than the others.
     
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