First Moving Assembly Line Model T

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Model T Ford Forum: Forum 2015: First Moving Assembly Line Model T
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Thomas Mullin on Monday, July 13, 2015 - 05:55 pm:

Does anyone know the engine number or casting date for the first Model T assembled on the moving assembly line? It should have been built on December 1, 1913.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mark Stewart -Calif. on Monday, July 13, 2015 - 06:34 pm:

My T Runabout was built on December 16, 1913 with a serial # 395707, so it would be several thousand numbers less than that.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Hap Tucker in Sumter SC on Monday, July 13, 2015 - 09:34 pm:

Tom,

I don't recall an engine serial number being listed in the articles I have read. But Trent mentioned the following at the thread located at: http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/411944/496878.html?1416944902
“From research done at the Benson Ford Research Center, we know that 1. There were many iterations of the moving assembly line, with at least one iteration ending in a spectacular crash of the chassis. 2. We also know that Mr. Ford played only a supportive, encouraging role. Most of the development was done by several of Mr. Ford's lieutenants.

There is a good description in the reminiscences of William Klann. There were also some key interviews made during the Additional Tax Case of 1925-27, which can be found in the "Dodge Estate Legal" accession at the BFRC.”
So you may find additional details in those accessions.
So you would want to make sure that any photos or information were of the actual production line and not one of the trial tests. And even then I believe they were using different techniques on different assembly lines. But "IF" photos were taken of that first run - and "IF" they show the serial number -- there is a chance you can zoom in and read the serial number.

Respectfully submitted,

Hap l9l5 cut off


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Trent Boggess on Monday, July 13, 2015 - 11:12 pm:

Tom,

To follow up on Hap's comments above, yes there was much experimentation and a number iterations of the moving assembly line. In fact, some of the experiments were not even true moving assembly lines in the sense that they did not involve continuous motion.

If Charles Sorenson is to be believed, one of the first experiments in assembling a chassis that was not stationary was to tie a rope to the front frame member of a bare chassis sitting on its wheels, then pulling on the rope to pull the chassis along a pathway along the sides of which were stacked piles of parts. As the chassis came to each pile more parts were assembled, and the the chassis was pulled to the next pile.

Keep in mind that Ford Photographic Department was not established until the end of 1913, and so much of the earlier experiments were not photographed.

One of the earliest photographs that has been widely published, shows two workers putting the engine into the chassis. The things to note are that the wheels are running between two angle irons bolted to the floor, that the rear wheels are riding on three-wheeled carriers, and that when the photograph was taken, there is a small sawhorse holding up the rear axle so one of the rear wheels can spin - this makes fitting the u-joint into the transmission tail shaft square much easier. There is no chain or rope present in the photo which suggests that the photo was taken when they were experimenting with a shove system. Once the workers finished their part of the job, they shoved the chassis on to the next station.

The true moving assembly line began when continuous motion was added by resting the chassis on two continuously moving endless chains. The chassis was moving and workers added parts as the chassis moved past them.

Even then Ford production engineers and foremen still were experimenting with different line speeds and line heights while trying to figure out what was the most efficient.

So, no, we do not know what the engine number of the first car off the moving assembly line was, nor do we know what was the exact date was. The Ford production engineers just didn't keep track of those sort of things. They may even have not known that what they were working on would result in what we now refer to as mass production, and that they were changing the world.

Respectfully Submitted,

Trent Boggess


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