This gets long (and wordy) so if your not a fan of the Model K, or my work, please click out now. Thanks, Rob)
There is more information "out there" about the Model K than I ever suspected. Several of the stories about the model have been dispelled in my opinion, such as the financial and performance aspects of the car. However, the single most persistent question remains, did Henry Ford wish to build the Model K? Was he forced by investors, A. Y. Malcomson, James Couzens, or others, to make the car?
I've often been puzzled, how and when did Ford historians come to the conclusion Henry Ford disliked or hated the Model K. How did traditional historians determine Henry Ford was forced to build the Model K? I have not found any writings or direct quotes by Henry Ford saying he was forced into building the model. In his autobiography Mr. Ford does say he "diverged from the plan" when building the Model K, but he doesn't blame anyone or say he was forced to build the car. He does say the Model K "burned up the roads" in the autobiography.
Over the last few years I've read Ford oral histories (Ford Reminiscences) to find information concerning Henry Ford and the Model K. One consistent theme I noticed was, most interviews with persons connected with Ford during the Model K years seemed to have an opinion about the "K" and Henry Ford's involvement with the car. This seemed odd to me. In some cases, persons with minimal involvement at Ford during Model K development and production years seemed to offer an opinion about the car, and if Mr. Ford chose to build it, or was forced by others to do so.
This seemed odd to me. Many of the interviewees had years and years of experiences to relate about FMC and Henry Ford, and yet consistently, they had an opinion about production of the Model K. It seems strange to me that employees and associates with forty to fifty years of experiences to relate about their contact with FMC chose to discuss a model that sold about 1,000 units, and was produced for less than three years.
THE SMOKING GUN:
Over the last two years, while reading the oral history transcripts, I noticed another commonality. At the beginning of each transcript, a cover page says the interviewees were given a list of questions to answer during their taped interview. Unfortunately, the questions (as stated on the cover page below) are left off:
This was my first "AH HA" moment. What were the omitted questions? Were the questions the same for every employee during a specific time period (I suspect yes, for the most part)? Were the questions "leading?" What I mean is, did the questions say "do you still beat your wife?" in other words, if I ask someone "was Henry Ford forced to build the Model K", it plants a seed for the interview that otherwise may never have surfaced. Specific questions also force specific answers, possibly when there was no intention or even recollection about a particular event (but I'm getting ahead of myself).
Unfortunately, the questions are not included with the interviews. My plan is to search at Benson Library next time I'm there to attempt to find the original questions. Meanwhile, I continued to search the oral histories for information about Mr. Ford, the Model K, and other early Ford stories and information.
Below is an example of what I've found. E. J. Farkas was employed (with breaks) between 1907 and 1946. He was involved in the early development of the Model T, along with many other events throughout Ford history. As mentioned above, Mr Farkas had an opinion about the Model K:
So, there we have it. It wasn't Henry Ford, nor Malcomson that "forced" Henry Ford to build the Model K. It was James Couzens, the business manager. And, irrefutable testimony from an eye witness says so.
Except............If one looks at Mr. Farkas tenure with Ford Motor Company, he wasn't with Ford at the time the Model K was developed. He also was only with FMC during a portion of 1907, leaving and returning in 1908. Furthermore, he hedges his statement with the sentence "I don't know if sure whether the Model K was Mr. Ford's idea or not."
Back in my old law enforcement days we may have called this a clue. Mr. Farkas, for some reason, feels compelled to comment on the Model K, and why it was marketed. Even though he wasn't with FMC at the time of development, he speculates that James Couzens was responsible for the model. I also find it interesting that Mr. Couzens appears to never drive a Ford (I have read this elsewhere too). One would think, following Mr. Farkas reasoning, that Mr. Couzens would drive a Model K (and maybe he did, although I've found nothing to support this).
Now, if I only knew what the questions were, I might have a better idea if the witness, er,... ah,.... I mean Mr. Farkas, was "led" to speculate who caused the development and marketing of the Model K.
Of course, more to follow
Good work Rob. I like the way you're looking into this.
Eric, thank you..... see you in August
Now I think we've found the perpetrator. According to Charles Bennett, one of the original Ford Motor Company investors, it was those rascally Dodge brothers. According to Mr. Bennett's recollection, the Dodge brothers were making the engines, and the more large engines they made, the more money they would make. In fact, he directly contradicts Mr. Frakas, and says "Couzens didn't have too much say at that time about cars".
So now we know, it was the Dodges (although I still suspect that future "career politician", James Couzens):
However, Mr. Bennett also hedges, saying "I've heard a good many arguments about it" and "There's the answer, I think."
I sure would like to see those questions............
A little more.....
Joe Galamb Reminiscences.
Mr. Galamb lays the blame directly at the foot (feet) of, the stockholders. In fact, he also says the Model B was also forced upon Mr. Ford by the stockholders.
We now have a room full of suspects, James Couzens, the Dodges, and the stockholders, lock, stock (bad pun) and barrel. Lot's of choices. The common thread seems to be, everyone interviewed seems to have an opinion about who forced building of the Model K.
A few inconsistencies exist with Mr. Galamb's interview. He goes on to say: "I don't know whose idea the big six-cylinder car was." "I think Mr. Ford's idea was a whole lot in that, but I think Mr. Wills helped him design it."
At the bottom of this excerpt, Mr. Galamb says "They (stockholders) wanted a big car, a big show. So they weren't satisfied when the got the Model N."
The only problem is, the Model K was designed and produced before the Model N. Again, it would be nice to know what questions the interviewees are answering (I know, I'm beating a dead horse).
I forgot to mention, Mr. Galamb also said "That was designed (Model K) before I came to Ford." While offering his opinion that the stockholders forced Henry Ford to build the Model K, Mr. Galamb mentions these events occurred before he began work at FMC.
Rob, what made you say that James Couzins would never drive a Ford? I can tell you that is bad information where ever it came from.
Here is a picture of James Couzins with his new 1928 Model A:
There is a consistency in their inconsistency. That being, none of them said Ford wanted it. On that they seem to agree, but apparently could only speculate on just who the instigator was. I suspect, all of the above. How else would Ford have been overruled?
"Rob, what made you say that James Couzins would never drive a Ford? I can tell you that is bad information where ever it came from. "
Reread the thread. Mr. Farkas says "I never saw Couzens drive a Ford car." He was obviously speaking of the this early Ford period. If you disagree, take it up with him.
Jerry, don't get ahead of me...
I agree there is consistency in inconsistency, however, not much else. One degree of consistency between these men:
E. J. Frakas - "I don't know for sure whether the Model K was Mr. Ford's IDEA or not"
C. H. Bennett - "I've heard a good many arguments about it." (regarding whose idea the Model K was)
Joe Galamb - "I don't know whose idea the big six-cylinder car was. I think Mr. Ford's IDEA was a whole lot in that".
All three men seem to assign some responsibility or leave wiggle room that Mr. Ford was involved in some way, in my opinion.
OK, back to it.....
While Couzens, Dodge brothers and all the shareholders have been mentioned being responsible for forcing Henry Ford to build the Model K, the name most historians drop hasn't been mentioned. A.Y. Malcomson is often cited as the man most responsible for production of the Model K. However, more excerpts from Charles Bennett's oral history suggests otherwise. Mr. Bennett was a personal friend of Malcomson before becoming an investor with FMC.
Below, Mr. Bennett said "I don't think that Mr. Malcomson went up to the factory on Piquette avenue twice a year. he had his coal business, and he was working on it day and night."
This is quite a different picture of Alexander Malcomson's involvement than is painted by most Ford Motor Company historians, who predominately suggest he was responsible for both models B and K:
Mr. Bennett went on to say:
Mr. Bennett, in addition to being the only remaining FMC investor still alive and interviewed for the Ford Oral History project, was also an original investor with Ford Manufacturing Company. As a result, he was in a unique position, being a personal friend of both Henry Ford and Alex Malcomson.
The Plot Thickens........
Jerry, this ones for you. We're about to add another "suspect" to the list of who wanted to produce the Model K. Frank Bennett, unlike the first three employees listed above, did work at Ford Motor Company during the design and production phase of the Model K. Mr. Bennett said "I believe it was Mr. Ford's idea to get out this Model K":
Mr. Bennett, as do several other oral history interviewees, said whose IDEA he believes the Model K was (Henry Ford).
We seem to have a common theme. Almost all the interviewees tell whose IDEA the Model K was in their opinion.
I sense a trend
This is what Henry Ford said about designing the Model K in his autobiography, "My Life and Work", published in 1922:
This is at the height of Model T production. In my opinion, if Henry Ford wished to "blame" Model K production on Malcomson, Couzens (now gone from FMC), Dodge brothers (also gone) or anyone else, this was the time to do so. This also was an opportunity to dis the six cylinder engine, as many competitors were switching to sixes while Ford stayed with the tried and true four cylinder Model T. Instead, he simply mentions the car as a footnote (as it probably should be) among Ford models preceding the Model T.
I like to think the old fellow (Henry Ford) was still demonstrating a little pride in the "K", mentioning that it would "burn up the roads."
The CORPUS DELICTI:
My suspicion is, Ford researchers have taken bits and pieces, such as these Ford Oral History collections, and fashioned their views over the years. Of course, it's always easier to "vote against" something than to "vote for" it. We always like a villain or foil in any good story, and in my opinion, the Model K became the villain, along with the "investors" or "Malcomson" for forcing Henry Ford to build a big car, instead of the car for the masses.
Maybe the truth is, Ford Motor Company, like most major automobile companies, built both. Maybe the built the Model N (and R and S) as an inexpensive, well built and engineered car for a new market. Maybe, at the same time, Ford built a big, well engineered car, for less money than competitors. The idea is no different than Chebby building an inexpensive car, while building the Corvette.
Earlier, I mentioned that it would be good to have the questions that the "Reminiscences" used. Fortunately, a very few of the Reminiscences have the questions included in the post log. I don't know if that was a mistake by the people putting the oral histories together, but I did find two lists of questions. Even more fortunate, one of the oral histories with questions included were of a longtime Ford employee who was with Henry Ford from day one through his passing.
And, as I suspected, very pointed questions were asked about the Model K. The employee was John Wandersee. Mr. Wandersee joined Henry Ford in 1902, before the formation of Ford Motor Company. Some might recognize his name because Mr. Wandersee became the vanadium steel expert for FMC. Mr. Wandersee stayed with Ford until his retirement prior to this interview:
A few of the questions asked Mr. Wandersee, with his handwritten answers:
As I suspected (one of the few times I may be correct) the questions posed included "Model K" questions. And, the questions, in my opinion, are leading:
WHOSE IDEA WAS IT TO PRODUCE THE BIG, HEAVY MODEL K? WAS IT HENRY FORD'S IDEA?
For anyone reading along, this is just plain wrong. This is no way to conduct an interview. These are leading questions, and ask for an opinion the interviewee may or may not have. Furthermore, it suggests the Model K was a "big, heavy" cumbersome car. Then, the second part of the question suggests, "whose idea would this big heavy car have been."
"Are you still beating your spouse?"
I greatly appreciate the information from these interviews. However, the questions asked, while not published, do a great disservice to the employees and subject matter of these interviews.
I'll post the Mr. Wandersee's response after I take my meds....
If Henry Ford did not want to build the Model K, it probably never would have been built. As I understand it, Henry was the designer and the others were the builders. Henry could have killed the 6-40 by refusing to design an engine that would work. Oh sure, he would design an engine, but find ways to make it inefficient enough that the other members of the board would kill the project rather, than using his expertise to come up with the best engine possible. Does that make sense?
Hey Rob, this is getting pretty interesting. I'm sitting at the edge of my chair waiting for the next chapter.....
You're keeping us all in suspense...such a mystery.....who dun it?
Dave, several of the Ford oral history interviews say it was indeed Henry Ford who designed and desired the model be built. Others, such as the first three interviews, offer opinions that other investors wished/forced HF to build it, but they also suggest HF may have played a part.
Read John Wandersee's response below. Even though he answered the Interview question (Whose idea was it to build the big, heavy Model K?) "I haven't the least idea", he also said "THE MODEL K WAS A VERY, VERY UP-TO-DATE CAR. IT WAS THE BEST CAR IN THE COUNTRY."
Keith, that's about it. A few remnants from the Reminiscences regarding other employees thoughts on the Model K:
I'll post a few more tomorrow,
Good sleuthing Rob.
Rob, your investigative work is fascinating reading. I think I should nominate you for 'Historian of the Year' prize.
Please, please continue.
Good luck with where this is going...and I don't know if I'm premature for something you have already begun to draw conclusion on...
any idea as to who authorized these oral remembrances, and who put the question list together as is with the question that more or less guides a response?
1952 as to the writings/responses...Henry gone 5 years shy a few weeks...coincidence? 50th anniversary less than a year away? Or, has there ALWAYS been a who-dunnit-denial on K and 'someone' hoped to answer it on the 5th anniversary of Henry death or the 50th for the company? Clara had already passed..Maybe even HF II came up with the leading question? ?
Dane and Bob, thank you.
George, my point has been through this series, the respondents all seemed to be answering the same question (whose idea was the K?). When I finally found one set of questions, my suspicion was pretty much confirmed, the interview questions were very much "leading" in my opinion.
The interviewing staff was giving big fat down the middle pitches to solicit the response they expected. In the case of the Model K, I think they (interviewer) expected the respondents to say Malcomson, Couzens, Dodge or shareholders. Certainly not HF. However, that isn't how it went. Many respondents said one or all of the shareholders were responsible, but even then they included HF to some degree. Others, like Frank Bennett, flat out said, Henry Ford.
And, toward the end, longtime Ford employee John Wandersee goes so far as to say "best car in the country" of the car the interviewer question called "big, heavy Model K."
I think even though the interview process was flawed, there are many "nuggets" to be gleaned. There are many personal and anecdotal stories in the Reminiscences that provide a look at Henry Ford in everyday and workday life.
I also suspect these interviews have been used extensively to shape Ford histories authored since they (Reminiscences) were published in the 1950s.
It's all quite interesting to me as I learn more about early Fords,
Rob are you intentionally ignoring Charles Sorensen again? Everything you have posted here supports Charles Sorensen's statements in their entirety with regard to the Model K. Without a doubt Charles Sorensen knew Henry and worked more closely with Henry over the course of Henry's life than any other individual. It is absurd to consider this other material without including Charles Sorensen's testimony.
Left - Right Edsel Ford, Charles Sorensen, Undersecreary of War Robert Patterson
Sorensen (seated) in 1914 at Highland Park
Sorensen (third from left, next to Henry) in 1933
"Rob are you intentionally ignoring Charles Sorensen again?"
No, that's not who I'm attempting to ignore.
Charles Sorensen's interview does not appear in the Reminiscences. I have posted his reflections on the Model K before, verbatim, from his book, "My Forty Years with Ford." If you are able to produce his "Oral History" then please, post the portions applicable to this thread. If not,.........
One should remember that Charles Sorensen was a young pattern maker who came to Ford after the initial planning for the Model K was completed.
There doesn't appear to be a Charles Sorensen Reminiscence available (I don't know why. Maybe Mr. Sorensen didn't sign off on it due to his plans to write a book?).
Royce, since you brought it up, and felt it important to this thread (in fact, you said it was "absurd" that it was not included) maybe you could research and find the transcript or reason it is not listed with THF?
However, to include his opinions, I searched his book electronically for Model K references, and list them below:
From "My Forty Years With Ford" by Charles Sorensen, 2006, Wayne State Press:
The first Sorensen reference is only a mention when John Dodge "climbed into his six cylinder Model K Ford." This confirms other stories about John Dodge owning and driving a Model K:
Probably the most relevant reference (to this discussion), Mr. Sorensen writes "his directors still demanded production of heavier, high priced cars."
Mr. Sorensen goes on to say "the Dodge Brothers were really the ones behind production of this car", either the board and/or Dodges forced HF to build the K in his (Sorensen) opinion.
Mr. Sorensen does also say "Model K enjoyed a good reputation among people of means."
Another Model K reference in the book mentions that Mr. Sorensen did pattern work on the Model K when he began at FMC:
He (Sorensen) also seems to give design credit to Henry Ford for Models B and K in this excerpt, and says he (Ford) applied ideas he developed for the B and K to the new Model N:
So, there we have it, Mr. Sorensen's "vote" for "whose idea was the Model K" goes to the Dodge brothers (I may need to make a scorecard). A few points, Charles Sorensen went to work at Ford Motor Company in the spring of 1905 as a pattern maker in his mid twenties. He (Sorensen) was not in management, and of course, did not attend FMC Board of Director meetings. Ford had already made the decision to build the Model K by this time and development of the Model K had already begun. In fact, (above) Mr. Sorensen's first work at FMC was pattern making for the Model K.
Design of the Model K actually began in early 1904, so approval (or "forcing") by the board of directors must have occurred in late 1903 or early 1904 (which is remarkable when one considers FMC was still in it's infancy at that point).
All interesting stuff as Ford moves toward design and production of the Model T. One book I recommend is "Independent Man" The Life of Senator James Couzens. Unlike Mr. Sorensen, and most of the "Reminiscences" respondents, Mr. Couzens was with Ford Motor Company from the beginning and is recognized along with Henry Ford as the most important factors for the early meteoritic rise and success of Ford Motor Company. I'll post a few excerpts from that book later,
Rob I have never known about the oral history section of the Benson Ford before now. I really appreciate you pointing me in that direction.
I clicked on Fred W Seeman's section and I believe it tells more about Model K development than any other. It covers Mack Avenue, 999, and the six cylinder racer too. I think you need to look at it.
Fred - at age 26 - was Sorensen's boss when Sorensen hired on in 1905. Sorensen replaced him as head of the pattern shop later that same year. They were approximately the same age.
Here's an interesting page for example, with first person testimony of what Henry Ford said about why he did not want to build the Model K:
Thank you for your posts on the K. The more I learn about it the more I wish I had one. I really like the lines on it and I wish Ford would have kept it as a line and manufactured it alongside the T for as long as they manufactured the T. I think that offering a high end luxury choice to the consumer who could afford it would have made Ford much more successful and I see no reason that Ford would not have been able to produce the K using the same revolutionary assembly line methods that were used to manufacture the model T, to bring the cost of the K down so that anyone who really wanted one would be able to afford it.
Since the company carried the Ford name, I don't see how the K could have been built and marketed without his input, approval and say so, since he was a brilliant mechanical engineer and car designer on the cutting edge, in his own right as well as a control freak that had to have his hand in every aspect of the FMC. Every car of the many models that were built up until 1908 and marketed by Ford, were important to the eventual evolution to the Model T and just brought Ford closer to the Model T which probably incorporated all the successful features and eliminated the unsuccessful features of each Model that came before, resulting in the "Universal Car" we all love so much. Jim Patrick
Whose idea was the 6 cyl racer?
If you want to read James Couzens papers you need to go to the National Archives in Washington D.C. Trent and I went through some of them years ago. ( I found several checks for one million dollars and some of higher amounts. ) This would give you his point of view.
I am aware of Fred Seeman's "testimony." In fact, the portion of the page that I assume you are referencing bears out the premise of this thread, that respondents were asked leading questions, sometimes giving answers they were unsure of, or unqualified to know and answer. What Mr. Seeman said reference the Model K. I suspect many of these solicited responses helped modern Ford historians form their opinions of Henry Ford and the Model K (then again, this is my opinion):
If you recall, the questions about the Model K were, Whose idea was it to produce the big, heavy Model K, and "Was that Mr. Ford's idea?" As one can see above, it looks as thought Mr. Seeman attempted to answer these exact same two questions. Let's put the questions with Mr. Seemans "testimony" and see how they look"
Question: whose idea was it to produce the big, heavy Model K?
Answer (Seeman transcript) I don't exactly know who thought up the idea of bringing out the big Model K,..."
Question: was that Mr. Ford's idea?
Answer: (transcript) "but I have an idea that Mr. Ford was persuaded to build the "Grosse Pointe" car."
I didn't include this one because, while Mr. Seeman speculates Henry Ford did not choose to build the K, he (Seeman) admits he doesn't really know.
Fred Seeman's transcript does provide an incredible amount of information about the early days of Ford Motor Company, and he does provide a lot of information about the development of several of the cars, including he Model N and K.
One of my favorite portions of his transcript:
There's something about a group of wedding crashers, with their German oompa band, loaded in Model K, following a carriage with newlyweds around Detroit that struck me funny (I sense a theme for this years Old Car Festival )
Interestingly, car prices were coming down during this period, as quality and horsepower were increasing. By 1909 one could buy a 40 hp six cylinder Thomas Flyer for $3,000. I think Ford had fallen behind because it appears no modification/design work was continued with the K after 1907. This isn't surprising, as Henry Ford had found a chassis that supported all body styles (Model T) and I think he knew he didn't need different models, just different body variations, allowing one set of tooling, machinery,etc.
As things worked out, I think he made the right choice, considering the limited space at the time. It's unfortunate, in my opinion, that the Model K seems to have been "thrown under the bus" in order to "prove" HF wished to create the car for everyman. Personally, I think the Model K was simply one of the several successful models that helped Ford move to the Model T.
Ralph, I believe there is no doubt Henry Ford wanted, designed, and raced the six cylinder racer. This is one of the earliest mentions of the six cylinder development:
According to Oliver Barthel, Ford was designing the Model K (and six cylinder racer engine) by early 1904, with testing in the spring of 1904. This is corroborated by other transcripts saying the racer and Model K were developed in early to mid 1904.
Bruce, I have James Couzens book and there are some interesting observations concerning Malcomson, Ford and Couzens in the early years (1903-1906). I'll try to post a few excerpts later. Have a good day,
HELP you guys--It's 1 AM in AUSTRALIA . Let me have some sleep as all this good stuff is really making me think i should be putting my car in a museum instead of driving the hell out of it on ever tour i can use it on.
Just drive it
The next owner can put it in a museum.
Just giving ours a quick bath, then in to Lincoln Nebraska for a spring AACA meet. I haven't had much time to spiff it up, so it looks like a "driver."
OK Rob, so Seeman's testimony disagrees with the premise you are trying to prove, so you did not choose to display it. Understood!
Interestingly, Seeman also talks about a selective gear transmission that was being prototyped for the Model K. If production was ever going to go beyond the Model K's 1906 initial 1000 unit order there would have to be an upgrade to a transmission suitable for the massive torque of the engine.
Instead, Henry canceled development work in order to be more productive on the Model NRS platform.
Do you know how long l spent trying to find that question " do you still beat your spouse ", jeeez thanks Rob, Great work, it seems nobody wants to commit to an answer here.
Leading by all means, loaded certainly, why were the qustions asked in the first place , historical fact or appointing blame, or head hunting !!!
Rob, does your K have a top? How hard are parts to get for it? I was just thinking that the radiator with the hole for the crank and the shell is probably virtually impossible to find. If you can't find a part, what do you do? Have the part made? Jim Patrick
David, it seems the interviewer certainly had an opinion or agenda. Big and heavy? The Model K horsepower ratio is almost the same as NRS and the Model T. The Model K was also lighter than most of the cars it competed with in the market place. Oh well, makes for an interesting thread.
Jim, yes, we have a top and side curtains. Unfortunately our trailer was re positioned by a tornado this spring, so I'm using a trailer short term that is barely tall enough to drive in with out a top on (and down). Currently I'm in Lincoln at the AACA meet, and it looks like rain. Without a top I'll be on the trailer if it starts to rain.
Parts are non existent. Fortunately, we have an extra engine, so I'm able to rob from it for short term needs. Dean Yoder is quite a craftsman and has made several parts when we need them.
Last year at Hershey, with the top and side curtains up;
Royce--I had a manual transmission for a ''K'' . It was removed from a ''K'' in Canada.
Why? Why would Ford have had to move to a three speed transmission for the Model K, when they continued with essentially the same transmission for 15 million Model T?
Following are a few period articles on the subject. In the last, there is a news bit about a local shop putting a three speed in a Model K (just as some put three speeds, or added auxiliary transmission to Model T.
However, if one has not driven, or rode, in a Model K, how would one have a clue if the two speed were adequate? I can tell you as an experienced driver, I am able to shift at two to four miles an hour, so why would I wish to have a sliding gear transmission (I wouldn't). I understand in some hilly environments that may change. But, remember, the six cylinder engine is much better adapted to a two speed transmission than a two or four cylinder engine (more impulses per revolution:
Which Ford Six would win a drag race: planetary, or 3-speed crash box?
Out of my Grandfather's Oral Reminiscences I found this about the development of the T. It gives you a sample of the thoughts at that time.
"That accident, incidentally, spelled the end of the sliding gear transmission application on the Model T. At Mr. Ford’s instruction, we set to work at once on the development of a planetary transmission with three forward speeds to replace the standard two-speed. We worked on this for several months only to establish that a three-speed transmission would involve the use of too many gears. In that connection, I remember a comment of Mr. Ford’s which has become something of a legend in engineering circles. It was that “the gear that gives you no trouble is the one you never use”. It was an expression that typified Mr. Ford’s thinking. Another expression of his that kept coming back to me through the years was: “Keep it simple and trouble-free”. "
Rob, the planetary set in a Model K is simply not equivalent to the sliding gear sets used by every other manufacturer during the short time it was made and since.
Ford made a sturdy and reliable car in the Model T, having learned a lot of lessons from the earlier cars. Its planetary transmission was indeed cheap and inferior to a sliding gear transmission. But it was appropriate for the cheapest and most reliable car on the road.
Ford could have offered a sliding gear transmission in the T if he raised the price a dozen or so dollars, but that would have likely cost him millions in profits. Literally saving a few pennies per Model T per (any part of the car you can name) made a difference of millions of dollars in profits to Ford Motor Company.
Royce, you have no idea because you have no experience with a Model K.
Bob Trevan is my source, perhaps you disagree with what Bob is saying in his video?
The HCCA site is down for maintenance but this link will work when it comes back:
Sure works for me:
And it worked for these fellows driving stock two speed Ford sixes:
The Transmission you got from Canada was that the one Bill Yunt had?
Don, I'll answer for Bob. Yes. Bob sent it back to the states and we are putting it in our k racer project.
Did you ever ride in Bill's car with that transmission?
Rob, in the "endurance race" they were driving stripped down Model K chassis in high (direct drive) only, resting each car for half the time while the other one went out. So each car only drove for 12 hours, and each driver drove only 12 hours. Proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that a Model K transmission will last 12 hours. That is without the heavy bodywork and with only one passenger on level ground.
No doubt the crowd was tired after the race, they had to be involved the entire time!
I thought I posted this the other day. I will try again. This is a direct link to Fred Seeman's testimony:
Click on the "Download" button to see his entire unadulterated testimony. Particularly page 54 (45 printed on the photocopied page) which shows Charles Sorensen being the Pattern Shop foreman in 1906:
No, they didn't "rest" each car 12 hours. Usually, one car drove the bulk of miles, and when a tire needed changing or other mechanical difficulty occurred, the second car was used. One car had to come to a stop, in the pit, before the relay car could be started. As a result, times were not too much different between relay and non relay 24 hour races.
In 1907 ten sanctioned 24 hour races were held in the U.S. All that I'm aware of (based on photographs) used stripped down stock cars. Ford set the world record in late June 1907, and a Locomobile broke the record three months later, in late September, 1907. The Locomobile broke the record by eleven miles, a few tenths of a second faster per mile than the Ford.
24 hour races began toward evening, and crowds would peak at the beginning of races, then build again for the finish the following day. The race Ford won began on the longest day of the year (daylight) which I thought was good timing by the event planners.
Obviously, cars had to start, and stop as they entered the "pit" area, and probably on congested turns, so transmissions had to be used. The same with hill climbs, that usually had at least on switchback to require cars to shift down or otherwise negotiate severe turns. Tracks were one mile dirt tracks, with quarter mile straightaways, and quarter mile turns.
Details of the race appeared in newspapers as the race progressed:
At the conclusion of the Detroit race, Ford was recognized as the world record holder. I'm unaware of another stock production Ford holding a world record until the 1950s. A remarkable achievement against quality cars and drivers. The third place 60 hp Thomas Flyer was the same model that would with the New York to Paris race the following year (1908):
Concerning transmissions, and driving "on the high gear", an interesting feature of some hill climb contests was the "slow time" event. Competing cars were required to stay in high gear, making as slow of time as possible without stalling or shifting down. Ford (six cylinder) won several of these contests too, due to light weight and high torque.
Below, while the caption reads "Kulick and Ford Six were a disappointed pair", the Model K came in second in it's class. However, in the slow hill climb contest, the Ford easily defeated all competitors, due to high horsepower, low weight and six cylinder torque: