Friday, July 25, 2008

1913 Ford runabout speedster

No doors and no seatbelts; no front brakes, air bags, shoulder strap, safety glass windshield, roll over crush cage roof thingy to keep you from being squished under the car, no bumpers, no safety equipment of any kind.

And its one of the most fun cars you can drive legally on American roads. Because its all Ford, even though it's the best of the Model T and Model A parts, and built in a garage instead of the Ford factory.
Between the I beam and the radiator, above the leaf springs, are Hassler springs that reduce side to side sway and lean.

The above canister is a Carbonate powder gas generator that would have been supplying gas for the headlights, well before headlights evolved into electric illumination.
The silver canister above is the muffler
These two photos show the adapters for Model A rims, because they are wider and safer... the above is just an adapter, the below also has the gear set for the original speedometer. The above shows the Hassler shock absorber also, normally installed on the tall and heavy model Ts to prevent tipping when turning corners, but in a lightweight, it added stiffness to the suspension. Better for racing

The back area is also used for a pickup bed that bolts on.
The innovations that Henry Ford brought to making cars are historically and presently important, and were simple genius in action. Deciding to make cars for the vast majority of people in America was key to Ford's success, instead of the 1600 or so other car makers in America that didn't last past the great depression most of them weren't capable of producing enough, to profit heavily enough, to survive the loss of customers, however most that disappeared were catering to a small customer base that was looking for luxurious cars that stood out and were impressive everywhere the owner was chauffeured.
Henry Ford realized that the more you sell, the more you profit, and that means longevity in business. The key part of that for Ford was to make the cars so inexpensive, that in the time before a line of credit at the bank, before a second mortgage was common, before credit cards... when all you could buy was what you could pay cash for, and the most inexpensive cars would be the successful business model. So Henry learned as he went, and progressively made his cars cheaper. From 1908 to 1928 the Ford car didn't change very much for a 20 year time frame... not when you look at any car that has been made for the past 20 years and how it's evolved. Think 1988 Mustang compared to 2008 Mustang, 1988 F150 vs 2008 F150. Big changes in technology, design, and powertrain.
So Ford had huge amounts of raw material going into his factory, and cars coming out.... and very little change in the design, but lots of changes in production when some cheaper way to make the car was devised.
I just learned that the floorboards were one of the innovative money savers, the floorboards had started as hand formed and carefully made to fit due to the large differences in the early handmade cars that mastercraftsmen put together, but when the production shifted to assembly line unskilled laborers, and the tolerances of fitment became smaller, there was less time to get custom shaped pieces in place... so Ford had the transmission crates that were delivering transmissions to the assembly line made to specific dimensions that would be perfect to use as floorboards for the car! Brilliant! No longer disposing of the crates, or wasting them by reusing them to move more transmissions, they made a one way trip, just like the transmissions, and labor was saved from moving them back to repack more trans in.

When the early cars had wood for the frames, panels, doors, and most everything else, the craftsmen produced as a byproduct of their custom work, a lot of cast off trim pieces, odd bits that were cut off and not useful for any other car related item. Thomas Edison and Henry Ford noticed this waste, and realized that waste wasn't profit, so they invented charcoal, and used that to make profits too!

Henry Ford learned of a process for turning wood scraps from the production of Model T’s into charcoal briquets. So, he built a charcoal plant — and the rest is history.

The Kingsford Company was formed when E.G. Kingsford, a relative of Ford’s, brokered the site selection for Ford’s new charcoal manufacturing plant. The company, originally called Ford Charcoal, was renamed Kingsford® Charcoal in his honor.

How inventive and clever is that! Finding a use for the waste and the cast off byproducts of your factory to make more products, and more profit. Genius.