Henry Ford


    Directions: Learn about the early days of automobile production. You will need to:

    • READ the page below
    • WATCH the video
    • FOLLOW and READ the information in the links.

    There is a quiz at the end. You will NOT get perfect score unless you do all of the above. When you finish the quiz, you MUST email me the results. I will ONLY accept the FIRST results you e-mail, so make sure you are READY for the quiz before you take it!

    The Early Days of Ford Motor Company and the Model T

    When Henry Ford incorporated the Ford Motor Company in 1903, automobiles were expensive, custom-made machines purchased as a luxury item by the wealthy. Workers at the Ford factory in Detroit produced just a few cars a day.

    modeltHenry Ford's ambition was to make “a motor car for the great multitude.” He wanted to build a high-quality automobile that would be affordable to everyday people. He believed the way to do this was to manufacture one model in huge quantities.

    Ford and his company's engineers designed a car named the Model T. First offered for sale in 1908, the Model T was produced like other cars—one vehicle at a time. But the Model T was more sturdy and powerful than other cars. Considered relatively simple to operate and maintain, the auto offered no factory options, not even a choice of color. The Model T was also less expensive than most other cars. At an initial price of $950, 10,000 autos were sold the first year—more than any other model.

    Vanadium Steel. Henry Ford searched the world for the best materials he could find at the cheapest cost. During a car race in Florida , he examined the wreckage of a French car and noticed that many of its parts were made of a metal that was lighter but stronger than what was being used in American cars. No one in the U.S. knew how to make this French steel—a vanadium alloy. As part of the preproduction process for the Model T, Ford imported an expert who helped him build a steel mill. As a result, the only cars in the world to utilize vanadium steel in the next five years would be French luxury cars and the Model T.

    The Moving Assembly Line

    Now we watch a video clip about the Assembly Line. It is slient because movies did not have sound in 1920.

    Click HERE to watch the clip.

    Henry Ford realized that a more efficient production process was needed to lower the price and meet increasing consumer demand for his popular new car. He needed to improve productivity—the amount of cars he could make.  Ford looked at other industries and found strategies that he could use to make more Model Ts. Take a look at Interchangeable Parts and the Assembly Line to learn more about two of the first strategies he adapted.

    Using interchangeable parts required making the individual pieces of the car the same every time. All pieces would fit with all others. Any valve would fit any engine and any engine would fit any frame. The standardization of parts made it possible to break down assembly of the Model T into distinct steps. Each worker was trained to do just one step or a very few steps.  Using interchangeable parts kept the cost of production low.

    Ransom Olds is the first manufacturer to have used interchangeable parts and the assembly line in the U.S. auto industry. He used these ideas in the production of the 1901 Curved Dash Oldsmobile, also referred to as the runabout.

    In 1913, the Ford Motor Company established the first moving assembly line ever used for large-scale manufacturing. On a trip to Chicago, Henry Ford observed meat packers removing cuts of beef from a carcass as it was passed along by a trolley until nothing was left. He was inspired to reverse the process for the production of his automobile.

    Assembly Line Parts were attached to a moving Model T chassis in order, from axles at the beginning to bodies at the end of the line. As vehicles moved past the workers on the line, each worker would do one task. Some components took longer to put together and attach than others. Subassemblies were established for these. For example, each radiator with all its hose fittings was put together on a separate line feeding into the main assembly line. The interval between delivery of the car and its components was carefully timed to maintain a continuous flow.

    The home for this new production system was the Highland Park Plant near Detroit, Michigan which Ford opened in 1910. Assembly wound downward in the factory starting on the fourth floor where body panels were hammered out. On the third floor workers placed tires on wheels and painted auto bodies. After the assembly was completed on the second floor, the autos moved down a ramp past the first-floor offices.

    Now, once you have read and understand everything there is an online quiz with six questions.  When you finish the 6th question, you have to E-mail me the results by entering your name and my e-mail address.  My address is: mborgioli@buffaloschools.org

    Before clicking the quiz, make sure you know the material. Remember, you cannot take the quiz more than once. Don't do the quiz until you have FULLY READ all the material here.

    Click HERE to begin your quiz