We've mentioned the Ford Piquette plant on a few other threads, and I came across this photo in a 1909 Ford Times of the factory and grounds.
I think for those of us who have visited Piquette, or read about it, it's easy to imagine a factory that seemed too small for the needs of Ford Motor Company. However, this photo (below) shows how the plant looked sometime before May 1909 (Ford Times date), still in the Model T era. As the article mentions, look at the piles of parts and raw materials waiting to be transformed into Model Ts.
Part one of the description:
Close up pics:
I know Jerry V., Thomas M. And others on the forum have worked at and/or visited Piquette frequently. For anyone visiting Detroit the Piquette plant is a great place to spend some time.
Please tell me that's not a pile of discarded no-rivet rear axle housings in the first close up photo....
Thank You Rob, for all the wonderful information you contribute to this forum. History is fun, I've learned many new things from this forum. Wes
Andrew -- Looks like a bunch of discarded rear end housings, engine blocks, and drive shaft housings. Prob'ly gonna' melt them down and make new ones.
I'll be cute...
I'm not totally sure those piles are discarded goods. This just might be incoming receiving goods staging.
We presently joke about the Chinese and their material handling 'ways' that we see, where they just make piles of stuff, stuff that gets dinged and dented and then simply pounded out and painted sometimes with a red fuzz surface finish that gets covered by the paint.
We may not realize it but 100 years ago America was no different! Be curious to know the real answer.
If they were rejects I bet old Henry some how billed the Dodge brothers for them.
Many Years ago the drill press made in Japan that I bought had a base made of something red. Just looking at it from the user perspective it looked like cast iron,grey in color, but underneath it was this red color. Do any of you know what the material was?
Just a guess but it was sandable primer...haha. Well, not really, but that is how it was used.
Take cast iron that gets acne due to wet sand or too cold of a pour...lather on red lead from a barrel thick as pudding...lay it off with a rag or a flat edge...then turn around and hit it with a spray coat of red lead liquid...good as any Bondo job today...and it usually stays put!
There are company in China now that still finish that way today. The China domestic market has no restrictions on lead or hex chrome ...their medical community still believes both to be benign once dried. (I don't judge but maybe why guys like me over 60 who used to chew on yellow pencils because of the cedar taste never got lead poisoning?) There are of course the bottom trawlers who make things, but the first class company put their people into moon-suits with 3 meter spray wands, and put them thru triple serial clean rooms before they go home. The finish does come out near glass if they want....
Is this one of your baloney threads?
Wes, thank you.
George and Andrew, according to the account above that appeared with the photo, they are new axle housings, engine blocks and frames waiting to be assembled:
It's hard for me to imagine moving a hundreds or more cars a day through a plant. The logistics required must have been a nightmare. But Ford accomplished it.
I wonder what the Car is in the middle of the 2nd enlarged Scan?
I have seen these photos before with better resolution, but never copied them and can't remember where I saw them.
Maybe(?)it was Kim Dobbins who had them
I think there are two cars there, along with more on the left hand side of the pic:
Barrels upon barrels of forgeings! It makes sense back in the days before lift trucks you could tip the heavy barrel on it's side and easily roll it to where needed! Bud in Wheeler.
I've got copies of that issue of Ford times around somewhere. Wish someone could find the original glass plate negatives.
Rob, I would like to point out that axle housings, barrels of forgings, etc are not "raw materials". Piquette did have some light fabrication operations but was never a place with a forge or a foundry that could utilize actual raw materials like iron ore and coke.
Dodge Brothers and other manufacturers like Keim Mills supplied forgings and castings to be assembled and in some cases machined by Ford. This process started with the Model N. The Model K was the last car Ford assembled that came to them as a finished chassis. Ford first had the ability to cast and forge items at the Highland Park plant which would have been in the construction phase when the Piquette plant was building 1909 Model T's.
Most of these images are property of the Henry Ford:
This image is of the Piquette when it was the Studebaker assembly plant around 1921:
One more picture outside the Piquette plant in September 1908 showing Model T prototype, sometimes called "T zero" because it predates Model T serial numbers 1 and 2:
Thanks for the pics. Did you find the Sorensen reference yet? Where you said he had a car and driver provided by Ford while still in his twenties (actually you said during the 1906-1908 Model K,N,R,S period).
I went ahead and bought the book and have yet to find it.
Sorensen says in his book that he got a promotion and was assigned a car, along with getting a "tidy increase" in salary. I assume if he was assigned a car it meant a car with a driver.
Either way, driver or not Sorensen was in a managerial position during Model K production.
From the oral reminisce of Charles Balough about the development of the Model T during 1906.
1. The small drafting room where Joe and I worked, as previously stated, served as Mr. Fordís office. To this room Mr. Ford brought his suggestions and ideas and it was our job to sketch and develop these ideas, first by chalk sketches established the practicability of his ideas, the details were worked out in drawings. This procedure never varied and was followed as long as I served as his personal draftsman.
Few persons outside those assigned to work there ever came into this room. Besides Mr. Ford, his assistant, Mr. Wills, later identified with the Wills-St. Claire Motor Car Company, had access to the room, and Charley Sorenson, then a pattern maker with Ford organization, came there frequently to discuss pattern problems and developments with Mr. Ford. Other visitors came there only on the invitation of Mr. Ford.
2. During those early days in Mr. Fordís personal laboratory, We often worked nights, remaining on duty until 8 or 9 oíclock. Mr. Ford worked right with us. Joe and I roomed together; our walk to and from work took us past the apartment building at the corner of Brush street and Harper avenue, where Mr. And Mrs. Ford lived. I recall that on quite a few occasions after leaving work on summer evenings, we walked with Mr. Ford to his apartment and there sat on the steps to discuss problems on which we were working. Often Mrs. Ford joined us and served us sandwiches, which we considered quite a treat. At that time our weekly stipend was $15.00.
Just to the left of the cars i think i see the powerhouse? One thing that shock's me is the absence of railroad tracks in the [yard].Bud in Wheeler.
The tracks parallel the north side of the property.
There was. One of the first actions of the board of directors was to contract with the railroad for a rail point to the new plant (Piquette):
Are you saying Ford had no foundry through the Piquette era?
Also, I understand what your assertion is by saying Ford was an "assembler" of automobiles through the Model K, N, R,S period. However, trying to perpetuate this "theory" is a disservice to early Ford history. Ford Motor Company conducted their own tests, developed and designed most components, and operated one of the largest auto manufacturing plants in the world while at Piquette. Ford also put forth revolutionary products including the first two cylinder car costing less than $1000 (Model A), first four cylinder car for less $1000(Model N) and first six cylinder car costing less than $4000 (Model K). A mere assembler would not and could not have achieved these benchmarks in a very competitive industry (over 250 automakers sold cars in the U.S. in 1907).
These are my opinions based on the historical facts I've found.
In your last photo of the 7 you posted, I see no signs whatsoever of Piquette in that image. It doesn't look like the Studebaker plant either. Could you have clicked on the wrong photo?
I am saying that to my knowledge there never was a foundry or forge at the Piquette Plant, thus no need for actual raw materials such as coke or coal to be at the plant. Ford made no castings or forgings for the Model K, nor did Ford build major sub assemblies for the Model K.
Ford did assemble major sub assemblies beginning with the Model N, however the fabrication of castings and forgings was a subcontracted function until the Highland Park plant became fully operational around mid to late 1913.
This is not meant to insinuate that Ford did not build lots of Model T's prior to that time at Highland Park. Operations were moved to HP in late 1910, but subassemblies and forgings continued to come principally from Dodge Brothers until the phase out of DB began in the summer of 1913.
It is my understanding that in the 1907/1908 time period, Ford added a foundry to the Piquette site.
Jerry, you are correct, photo 7 is not of Piquette. Piquette is only a three story building, and the third floor windows are arched at the top. The building in the photo is 4 stories tall, and the top floor windows are straight across the top.
Ford purchased an existing foundry in Romeo, MI in the fall of 1907. The name Romeo is sometimes found embossed into Model NRS cylinder castings. When present, the name Romeo is found on the underside of the valve chambers, near the intake port.
Oops! You are correct.The Studebaker plant is the one that burned to the ground in 2005. It was on the north side of Piquette between Brush and John R.
Trent I notice that you don't mention any evidence of a foundry or forge at Piquette. No doubt Ford's Piquette plant was the most productive assembly plant in the United States while it was being used by Ford.
I don't know about "number 0". This car was featured in the October 15 1908 Ford Times. The article says Henry Ford has just returned from a ten day hunting trip with the car.
Meanwhile, Piquette has been actively building Model T cars since the summer of 1908. Also, several Model T were sold (Trent Boggess research, FMC ledgers) and two Model T are reported sold on the Gain/Loss report for Fiscal Year 1908 (Oct 1 1907-Sep 31 1908). I think it's more likely this is one of several Model T that have been, and will be shipped over the next two and half months, as one of the first 309 (Bruce McCalley, MTFCA Encyclopedia) Model T sold during calendar year 1908:
Thank's to Bruce Balough for your informative post! Was Charles related? Bud in Wheeler.
I accidentally posted this on another thread:
Ford Motor Company must have felt the "sting" of being called an "assembler", and included this article in the same October 15 1908 Ford Times issue:. It is a neat drawing of a two lever Town Car:
I agree, Bruce has many interesting insights to early Ford history.
Please enlighten us about your wonderful legacy,
Joe Galamb and my Grandfather Charles went to school together in Budapest. They worked at Adler in Germany before they came over to America in 1903 to see the St. Louis Worlds Fair in 1904. Both Ended up at Ford and worked on the N and then designed the T with Jules Haltenberger, another Hungarian. Very soon I will publish the entire story in great detail. I will tell you Joe's daughter Gloria and I were in communication before her passing last year and she gave me a great deal of information that has never been published. I am also in contact with Jules's great nephew an will meet with him this summer. Jules was the third man in the experimental room designing the T.
Thank you Bruce
Just a sample of what I have, From Joe's brother Sandor
Your the man!
As I understand the story of the Model T taken on a trip in September 1908, the reason for the high oil consumption was an internal oil line back t the "fourth main." On the trip north they discovered the excessive oil consumption and finally figured out where it came from. At a stop somewhere in Michigan's Upper Peninsula they opened up the transmission and put the tube to the rear out of commission. After that, oil consumption was much more reasonable.
I like the second point in the piece from the Ford Times.
"2nd. As long as there is a Ford Model T car in use the owner will be able to buy any repair part and secure immediate delivery from Detroit."
Wouldn't that be nice?
That page with the two lever town car is hilarious! I bet the Dodge Brothers didn't think it was very funny though. Again you've provided a perfect example of how the words used to publicize Ford products are not just deceptive but outright lies. Something like that would be subject of a 60 Minutes expose if it happened today.
Ford was the largest auto maker in the world by the end of 1907. Not "auto assembler" but "auto maker". If you are suggesting Ford was "only" an auto assembler, then every other auto maker in the U.S. would probably fit the same category.
No concern I'm aware of made every component for their car. Even Pierce Arrow (a brand you like to bring up) bought engines from another auto maker initially. I doubt any maker manufactured their own radiators, wheels, bodies, ball and roller bearings, etc etc in their entirety.
Finally, Ford did rely on the Dodge brothers extensively. Ford and Dodge Brothers also had a unique partnership, hardly a relationship of supplier and buyer. Both Dodge brothers were shareholders of all three Ford companies during this period, Ford Motor Company, Ford Manufacturing and Ford of Canada. Furthermore, John Dodge sat on the board of directors of both Ford Motor and Ford Manufacturing.
One example of this unique business relationship, John Dodge agreed during a Ford board meeting to take a reduction in contracted price for Model F and C chassis when the board agreed to reduce the cost of these cars to dealers. Ford did not ask any other "supplier" to take a reduction in contracted price for components, and probably would not have had favorable results if they had.
Again, I believe it's a disservice to label Ford Motor Company an "automobile assembler" when in fact they designed and conducted extensive testing of most major components for their cars, providing specifications to suppliers (as did every other auto maker). Ford even designed components other makers bought "off the shelf" from suppliers, such as the Model K and Model T magneto systems.
Henry Ford and the Dodge brothers were more partners in the concern manufacturing automobiles to sell than they were anything else. Regardless of the method they used to separate costs and profits.
Most (by far) "assemblers" bought engines from any of several engine manufacturing companies. They bought axles (both front and rear) from Mott or again any of several others. Wheels, transmissions, springs, even frames were supplied to them by the same company that supplied those parts to dozens of other automobile "manufacturers". Bodies were usually built by a local former carriage builder. Even my 1927 Paige is such a car. (Interesting to note, that the engine was designed by and manufactured exclusively for Paige, but still it was manufactured by Continental. Many other parts are "off the shelf" and interchangeable with numerous other cars (I replaced the broken transmission gear from a Jorden). The 1910 Fuller I used to have used a Mott axle almost identical to a few models of Buick (I replaced the smashed hubcap with a new Buick repro). It had a Davis engine exactly like several other cars used (in fact, it is known that of the several hundred Fuller cars built, at least three different bore and stroke Davis engines and at least one other engine were used, for the same year and model Fuller)
Ford was unique. In the very correct use of the word. Ford designed almost every part for their car. Ford's exclusive "manufacturing company" made those parts, exclusively for Ford. Henry Ford, and the Dodge brothers, were partners in the very real sense of the word. They manufactured cars. Even though only Ford's name was on the radiator.
Really not much different than a company and their employees, or their banker. Nobody did it all alone.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
T 0 or the test mules, do any of them still exist ??
Good points (I couldn't have said it better, although I wish I had). I'm impressed with the way Ford, Gray, Malcomson and Couzens went about business, trading shares for production with the Dodge brothers. This way the fledgling Ford Motor Company wasn't straddled with debt from day one. Ford did not have to reinvent the wheel (pun intended), Dodge had an existing staff, machinery and facility ready to go.
In hindsight it all worked out pretty well......
As for what the Dodge brothers thought (two posts up), I doubt their egos were too bruised, as they became multi-millioinaires as the dividends grew and grew. Just Ford Manufacturing alone netted the investors (including the Dodge brothers) almost $500,000 when they sold to Ford Motor Company. Not bad for a company with $150,000 of start up capital (and I'm not sure any money was even put up to fund the capitalization, possibly just promissory notes), and only in existence from January 1906 through July 1907.
Actually Rob it was common for Ford to ask for a reduction in prices from any and all suppliers. Read the account in Charles Sorensen's book "My Forty Years With Ford" where Henry and Charles Sorensen negotiated with Wilson to lower the price of Model N bodies that Ford subcontracted - because Ford did not build any bodies until the late teens. Manufacturers such as Pierce Arrow and Studebaker, for example, built their bodies in house.
It is fair to say Ford was the leading auto manufacturer by 1907. The Model N was built with some components actually made by Ford Manufacturing Company such as frames and fenders. I would suspect the Romeo casting plant made things like step plates and fender brackets as well as the Model N cylinder assemblies Trent mentioned.
I bet there are some great pictures of Model K chassis being assembled by Dodge Brothers somewhere in the world. Maybe the Walter P Chrysler Club website would have those?
"Actually Rob it was common for Ford to ask for a reduction in prices from any and all suppliers. Read the account in Charles Sorensen's book"
Actually, Royce, this reference isn't about negotiating a lower price from a supplier (and I am not sure why we would expect that Ford would not have negotiated a good price, with or without Sorensen, but that's another matter) that you've quoted on numerous occasions.
Dodge acted as a business partner, reducing the cost of their chassis to Ford (Models F and C) due to complaints of poor sales by agents, sharing the "economic pain." I find it interesting the 2 cylinder cars were singled out by dealers, and FMC, while the Model B was not, apparently it was meeting sales expectations (a matter for another time):
I am a bit surprised you say:
"I would suspect the Romeo casting plant made things like step plates and fender brackets."
Yesterday (Sunday) you said:
"Ford first had the ability to cast and forge items at the Highland Park plant."
Last (for now ), the photo below shows Ford employees at Piquette "assembling" chassis delivered, presumably by Dodge Brothers. In my humble opinion, it appears the bulk of the work is yet to be done. I believe these are Model B chassis, and I also believe Model K production would have looked the same. And who knows, we may find photos of that process too:
First, collect and complete chassis:
Next, finished, or almost finished product:
And then, the fun part. Open the gates, and try them out (I love this pic ):
Rob the account of Sorensen (at Henry Ford's request) calculating the cost to build Model N bodies was only done in order to reduce the price paid to Wilson. What on earth are you smoking?
Ford manufactured virtually no parts for the Model K. All components were finished or semi finished as delivered by subcontractors. Ford did not build any part of the engines, chassis, wheels, body or ignition system, to name a few specific items. There are no specific items that can be named which were manufactured by Ford for the Model K.
Beginning with the Model N, Ford began to make parts of the car under the banner of the new wholly owned subsidiary company Ford Manufacturing. I am guessing the name was chosen intentionally by Henry to demonstrate that Ford was now actually manufacturing parts of the new Model N.
Ford was still an assembler for the most part until Dodge Brothers cancelled their contract in August 1913, giving the required 12 months notice, allowing Ford to phase in new suppliers and also to bear more of the effort in fabricating parts in house.
Rob, this isn't even debatable and should just be part of the story. Why does it bother you to learn the truth? Is it so new that it surprises you? Ford was the largest assembler of cars, the largest marketer of cars, and the most successful designer of cars built primarily from parts supplied by contractors until some time in 1914.
Found the reference to Sorensen being given a driver by Ford yet? Maybe you were the one "smoking."
I've been thinking about this a few minutes. The "smoking" reference took me by surprise. I don't think I've heard that since the seventies, of course, I left any interest in "smoking" behind early on.
As Wayne said several posts back, semantics may play a part in interpretations. However, if you are saying Ford Motor Company simply ordered parts and assembled them in to automobiles for sale, I disagree whole heartedly. As I've said before, Ford designed, tested, specified, fitted, altered and finally sold their automobiles.
If your personal standard for a "auto manufacturer" is that they must make all the components on the cars they sell, would you please enlighten us as to the car builders of the day who fit your definition?
But Rob, wasn't that the reason Ford Motor Company was turned down when they applied for an ALAM license that they were not Manufacturers but Assemblers?
If a "manufacturer" had to make all of the components themselves, I don't think any company ever met that criterium.
Ford may have been initially denied entry to the A.L.A.M., however by 1904 they were offered a contract (and decided not to join). They were then promptly sued for patent infringement by the A.L.A.M..
How could FMC be sued for not paying royalties if they did not qualify as a manufacturer? This is another "myth" put forward by a forum participant, that Ford was not admitted due to being an assembler. The portion conveniently left out is that this occurred very early in FMC's history. I'll post some evidence in a few minutes (darn work).
An excerpt from the Ford Motor Company board of directors minutes, June 1, 1904:
The board, with Henry Ford, John Gray, John Dodge and John Anderson present, agree to decline to make application to the A.L.A.L.M. "UPON THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS STATED IN THEIR CONTRACT AND BY MR. SMITH."
In other words, Ford Motor Company has been offered, and is declining, the contract to join the A.L.A.M., as a participating auto manufacturer.
Ford will be sued in short order, and "the rest is history."
One correction, I think Ford had already been sued by this point (June 1904) but I need to check. Maybe someone else has the initial date the first lawsuit was filed by the association against Ford?
I'll repeat my question posted above:
"If your personal standard for an "auto manufacturer" is that they must make all the components on the cars they sell, would you please enlighten us as to the car builders of the day who fit your definition?"
As you have stated repeatedly that Ford was an automobile "assembler", not a "manufacturer", I would like to hear who you credit as being "manufacturers" from the period so I may research those concerns.
Thank you for your reply.
I don't have any particular standard for what is and isn't an an auto manufacturer. Ford was wildly successful no matter how you look at it. The fact is Ford was assembling parts made by other concerns at a near 100% level prior to the Model N.
Ford recognized that he was missing half the profit in each car by doing this. That is why he and Ford Motor Company systematically became the owner of each major part's manufacture down to the raw material level by the time the Rouge Plant opened, using minerals and coal to make iron and steel, and in the case of the St. Paul Minnesota plant even making his own electricity from Ford's own hydroelectric dam on the Mississippi River.
Ford never reached 100% manufacture of each part, things like tires and carburetors and lamps continued to be outsourced.
Again I don't see any of this as being the slightest bit controversial or new information.
Yes, when one represents opinion as fact, there is controversy.
A statement such as "Ford recognized that he was missing half the profit in each car by doing this" is "controversial." Ford was wildly successful, and I doubt a better business model could have been used. Instead of taking on huge debt by owning (through borrowing) the facilities and machinery (and hiring personnel) Ford was able to "pivot" quickly in the new auto industry. Ford would have been tied to a model or style of vehicle, and changing to new models would have required tremendous expense and down time (Ford Model T to Model A changeover).
As it worked out, Ford could design, negotiate with suppliers, and make quick and decisive model changes with virtually no capital or time restrictions. for these reasons (along with a great team of designers) Ford was almost always a leader in the industry, offering two cylinder, four cylinder and finally six cylinder cars well in advance of most concerns.
As for "assembler" versus "manufacturer", I don't believe any automaker would make it to the "manufacturer" level in a strict sense of the term. If you don't agree, by all means, name the true "manufacturers" out there.
When using the Selden group as "proof' that Ford was an assembler, then one should also add that Ford was sued by the Selden group (A.L.A.M.) early in their (Ford) existence. Apparently, by A.L.A.M. definition Ford had become a "manufacturer" by the time A.L.A.M. (which stand for Association of Licensed Automobile MANUFACTURERS) brought suit in early 1904.
Again, semantics. However, if you insist on labeling Ford merely an "assembler", then by all means give examples of automakers who are "manufacturers."
I was looking at the had written note above and thinking that in just a few years hand written notes will be just a thing of the past.
Hand writing is no longer being taught in schools (for the most part). Another art lost to modern technology.
I think your right. However, if you saw my handwriting, that may not be such a bad thing.
I like the fact the above handwriting is by
continuing the above thread:
James Couzens, Ford Motor Company's "CFO" through the early years.
My post was cut off. That's the first time I've had this happen. The post was typed out, but did not post completely.
Time for a Commercial!!!!!!
Take 5 guys!
You interpret anything I say as being negative. It is not negative or positive that Ford did things the way he did. He conducted business in the way that suited him. Of course the Model N was entirely controlled by Henry, and it represented a new direction for the company, in order to maximize the profit potential of each car.
The Model K was the final model made by Ford that contained 100% outsourced parts. This is indeed similar to any number of other car assembly operations. Oldsmobile is another example where Dodge Brothers were supplying the mechanical parts and local body makers were supplying the curved dash bodies.
A great example of a car company that manufactured most of the car is of course the George N. Pierce Company. Pierce was a major manufacturing concern before entering the car business, making all sorts of household items like bird cages, washboards, cast iron door stops, and bicycles to name but a few examples. Pierce cast their engine blocks in house, machined their own crank shafts, and in 1906 began making their own car bodies from a revolutionary thin cast aluminum process.
Of course Pierce didn't ever make 100% of their cars either, but they did maximize their profits by capturing as many labor processes under one roof as they could, thereby eliminating middle men mark ups and transportation costs.