Recently I had the good fortune to study TC4931, Jan 1948. Maybe just another TC? Not so. It only has a total of 9128 miles and is a time capsule for TC originality.
As I looked over the car in awe, my eyes locked on to the dash panel. This could not be right! According to multiple publications, this TC control panel does not have the correct finish for being installed on a Rexine dash. And then, another problem! Rexine panels were not introduced until mid-TC5XXX. Something is wrong.
To help solve the conflicting facts, I contacted with the Whitworth Shop, Novelty, Ohio. (The Whitworth Shop has been restoring world class T-Series dash panels for years). According to the review of historical records of original panels received by their shop, the “urban legend” of the control panel finish changing from black to gold at the same time the dash panel changed from wood to rexine is wrong. In order to clarify, let’s review the sequence of changes to the TC dash as it transitioned from early to late.
Dash Panel: The early dash was walnut veneer and transitioned to the rexine dash between TC 4868-4926 (Feb 48). The rexine color matches the interior color.
Control Panel: Early control panels were black with white lettering. They changed to a painted gold finish with black lettering between TC6889-6909 (Oct 48). This was 8 months after the dash panel change from wood to rexine. And then there was a 3rd control panel change for the EXU. The instruments themselves were relocated on the panel. It also had the gold finish but there was no lettering, just plain.
Control Panel Fasteners: There are 6 specialty bolts that hold the control panel to the dash. They were finished black to match the black panel. When the panel changed to gold, the fastener finish also changed to gold. But wait! This was only for a very few early gold panels. Abingdon chose to revert back to the black finish for the gold panels through the end of production.
Map/30 Lights: The base plate finish always matched the control panel finish, black then gold. Also, the screw heads were always finished the same as the control panel bolts.
Dash Panel Fasteners: (Item of interest) There were different fasteners used between the wood and rexine panels. The wood dash used a #8 slotted raised (oval) head wood screw to secure the dash panel to the sub-fascia, no finish washer. The rexine dash used a larger #10 slotted raised (oval) head screw with a finish washer. This later fastener set is often seen on wood dash restorations, which is in error and can cause damage to the wood when tightened.
So, TC4931 is exactly correct and truly original as stated. It was one of the very first rexine dashes and yet still sports the black finish control panel and map lights. If you find evidence that contradicts any of the above findings or helps to narrow the transition windows, I would like to hear from you.
Time to dash!
Doug Pelton contact: doug ‘at’ fromtheframeup ‘dot’ com
(Note: TC4931 was recently purchased by Steve Landry, Phoenix, AZ. Thanks Steve for sharing).
Ed’s Note: Thanks for another really good article Doug. As usual, Doug’s articles are meticulously researched. I’m planning to do a feature on his business for the February issue. Doug tells me that he is now very close to being able to supply every single part for the TC. This is a tremendous achievement when you realise that Doug only set up his business in late 2007!