Phord Part Numbering System

ssn696

Living in the Past
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Jul 19, 2009
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Mid-life crisis
I wondered about the wonky Phord part numbers. Intelligent numbers, actually. GM?

 
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Ribbedroof

Comic Book Super Hero
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Jan 4, 2009
3,776
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Wellston, OK
Unfortunately, they didn't keep the program going into the 2000s. The center (base part) number is still the same, but the prefixes are weird now, like 3L5Z for example.

Also, not unlike GM, the casting number isn't necessarily the part number, it's an "engineering number", but it gets you close. As an example, part numbers always had a Z for the 4th digit, which signified a service part, whereas the 4th digit in a cast or engineering number would tell you which group was responsible for it
 
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Streetbu

Know it all, that doesn't
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May 22, 2011
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Central NY
I was a Ford parts manager for a little while, and a counter man before that. It's a pretty easy system once you start remembering the base numbers.
 

69hurstolds

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Jan 2, 2006
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Oh, don't get me started on Ford's cumbersome and convoluted parts system numbering. While it has benefits, there are also pitfalls. Luckily, people don't restore many newer Fords as they use more than one numbering system.

Ford numbers are not necessarily intelligent numbers when it comes to the end user. In fact, by part number engineering standards, the consensus is the most effective numbering system lands about 6 or 7 characters max, and all numerical. This was concluded with the parts jockey at the counter in mind because studies found the longer the number, the more inaccurate the short-term memory would be (obviously). Because of the ripeness for errors, engineering numbering experts do not recommended a part numbering system with any significance. Longer part numbers usually means part numbers need to be written down. And longer p/n sequences needed entry into the computer systems. And when doing that, error rates rise.

Ford part numbers can give you lots of parts info if you dig for it, but if you're not a Ford parts manager, you need your book of numbering systems to decipher what they mean. If you find new or NOS parts still in the sealed package at a swap meet, have you memorized the "intelligent" part numbers to determine what you are looking at? Or do you need to carry your decoder ring? Recall that OEM's were not in any way worried about someone restoring their car 50 years later. They were intended for the mechanic at the dealership to get the right part for the car they were fixing as quickly as possible. Most of us wrench-turners use descriptions far more than part numbers.

According to Tex Criqui, a GM engineer that used to be GM's Manager of Standards, Records and Tech Documentation and prior to that Manager of Engineering Standards (part of the job was assigning part numbers), GM wanted him to design a "smart" system in the '90s. They could never land on one. He said the simplest and most effective was basically what they've always done- a numerical, sequential style with no real meaning, the string to be short as possible, and only used for tracking the part.

About the only thing decipherable on GM part numbering systems is which side of the car they're used when you have a RH and LH part, is that they generally use an ODD number for a LH part, and an EVEN number for a RH part. Ford uses this same designation style when assigning LH and RH numbers for their older basic number. Not sure if that holds on their newer system.

And GM even numbers crap weird so you can't even guess where or what the next part number is. Example: The A.I.R. U-bend hose on the diverter valve on a 307 is p/n 22506641. Then you find part 22506643. Well, you might THINK that's the p/n for another A.I.R. component. No. It's the bright hood push-on molding at the rear of the hood. WTF?

Now with that, GM does tend to change part numbers when supply vendors are changed, although that doesn't always happen. And notice, sometimes the same part number is used for YEARS AND YEARS. One notable example is the cotter pin for the front spindle nut (and probably other places) part number. It's been p/n 103387 for seemingly forever, and is still in use today. Ford doesn't do that. I think somewhere around the late 90s or early 2000's, Ford went to another numbering system which only gives you the first year it was used, not for any specific year. Yay!!! More sh*t to decipher! I'll never understand Ford numbers. It's bad enough dealing with GM part numbers.
 

81cutlass

Comic Book Super Hero
Feb 16, 2009
2,877
113
Western MN
The off-highway heavy equipment company I have been employed at used an interesting system that everyone kinda laughed at and stuck around because of institutional inertia.

In the 1920's-1950's each product line used the model number prefix, A for the model 'A' and 'R' for the model R followed by a number that was determined by whatever engineer stood in line at the part number desk. If Bob designed the front axle and knew he needed 7 parts, he got 7 sequential parts. If Joe designed the seat and needed 5 part numbers he got 5 sequential part numbers behind Joe when he gets in line right behind him. If Bob forgot one and had to go back 2 minutes later, he got the one after Joe, which means, like GM you can have unrelated part numbers adjacent to each other but similar part numbers are more often semi adjacent.

In the early 50's they stopped saying every model got it's own model letter prefix and everything (for some reason) kept the R prefix. Then, like part of the Ford system, each engineering center gets their own prefix, which is usually the first letter of the city the engineering office was in, except with the facility I was involved in, kept R because, well reasons.

I agree with smart numbers being smart in theory, but like almost all things, they eventually they loose their intelligence with age :eek:.
 
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Clone TIE Pilot

Royal Smart Person
Aug 14, 2011
2,449
113
Galaxy far far away
Oh, don't get me started on Ford's cumbersome and convoluted parts system numbering. While it has benefits, there are also pitfalls. Luckily, people don't restore many newer Fords as they use more than one numbering system.

Ford numbers are not necessarily intelligent numbers when it comes to the end user. In fact, by part number engineering standards, the consensus is the most effective numbering system lands about 6 or 7 characters max, and all numerical. This was concluded with the parts jockey at the counter in mind because studies found the longer the number, the more inaccurate the short-term memory would be (obviously). Because of the ripeness for errors, engineering numbering experts do not recommended a part numbering system with any significance. Longer part numbers usually means part numbers need to be written down. And longer p/n sequences needed entry into the computer systems. And when doing that, error rates rise.

Ford part numbers can give you lots of parts info if you dig for it, but if you're not a Ford parts manager, you need your book of numbering systems to decipher what they mean. If you find new or NOS parts still in the sealed package at a swap meet, have you memorized the "intelligent" part numbers to determine what you are looking at? Or do you need to carry your decoder ring? Recall that OEM's were not in any way worried about someone restoring their car 50 years later. They were intended for the mechanic at the dealership to get the right part for the car they were fixing as quickly as possible. Most of us wrench-turners use descriptions far more than part numbers.

According to Tex Criqui, a GM engineer that used to be GM's Manager of Standards, Records and Tech Documentation and prior to that Manager of Engineering Standards (part of the job was assigning part numbers), GM wanted him to design a "smart" system in the '90s. They could never land on one. He said the simplest and most effective was basically what they've always done- a numerical, sequential style with no real meaning, the string to be short as possible, and only used for tracking the part.

About the only thing decipherable on GM part numbering systems is which side of the car they're used when you have a RH and LH part, is that they generally use an ODD number for a LH part, and an EVEN number for a RH part. Ford uses this same designation style when assigning LH and RH numbers for their older basic number. Not sure if that holds on their newer system.

And GM even numbers crap weird so you can't even guess where or what the next part number is. Example: The A.I.R. U-bend hose on the diverter valve on a 307 is p/n 22506641. Then you find part 22506643. Well, you might THINK that's the p/n for another A.I.R. component. No. It's the bright hood push-on molding at the rear of the hood. WTF?

Now with that, GM does tend to change part numbers when supply vendors are changed, although that doesn't always happen. And notice, sometimes the same part number is used for YEARS AND YEARS. One notable example is the cotter pin for the front spindle nut (and probably other places) part number. It's been p/n 103387 for seemingly forever, and is still in use today. Ford doesn't do that. I think somewhere around the late 90s or early 2000's, Ford went to another numbering system which only gives you the first year it was used, not for any specific year. Yay!!! More sh*t to decipher! I'll never understand Ford numbers. It's bad enough dealing with GM part numbers.

In the marketing course I took it stated that most humans can only process up to 7 bits of information at any one time in the workbench memory.
 
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