Yesterday, the TPLEX celebrated Lizzie's 109th birthday with the unveiling of the 'recreated' Secret Experimental Room on the 3rd floor of the Piquette Plant in Detroit.
Among the challenges faced were getting correctly sized white pine 2X4s, and getting double sided 'wide' beadboard to match what was originally installed. Both ended up being sourced via a somewhat 'local' sawmill. Also, lights from the 1890's era had to be recreated, and there was an industrial archaeologist hired to help determine how the original room may have been laid out.
All in all, the team did a fantastic job in this endeavor! Right down to Henry Ford's mothers rocking chair in the room.
Of course, there were plenty of Ts to ride in and cupcakes to celebrate.
In short- there could not have been a much better way to spend a late September afternoon in Detroit!
Wish I could have been there!
Thankfully, Dennis, they had portable AC units and fans- otherwise, it would have been brutal up there!
Perfect weather for rides though! Robert, a nice gentleman originally from the London, UK, area, gave my son and I our ride in his '27 sedan. I'd never been in a closed car before, and (gasp) I really liked it. ;)
Henry had better close in those open walls, or Billy Durant will steal his secrets.
I picture him in the windows of the GM building with binoculars and a helmet with twigs sticking out of it, Steve.
Not to worry, Durant built the GM Building in about 1915, well after Ford moved to Highland Park and sold the Piquette Plant to Studebaker. The top right corner of the red brick building was Harley Earle's office.
The volunteer drivers did terrific job driving people around the streets outside the plant. Some of the trips probably duplicated the test drives of the Model N from the Secret Room with the removable cylinder head engine.
Is the new experimental room bigger than the org 12' X 15'??
Thanks for the great write up and pics. Sorry I didn't get a chance to meet you. It sure was a great event.
It is larger than 12x15. I do not have the exact dimensions at hand, but the room was recreated based on the work of industrial architect Richard Anderson. Sadly he passed away earlier this year.
It's worth noting that the rocking chair, unfortunately, is not the original. There are no photos of the inside of the room from 1907 and it was recreated based on remembrances of those who worked there and physical evidence. Most notably the placement of the lines haft and the original unpainted beadboard.
Some more great photos can be found here. http://m.wardsauto.com/industry/henry-fords-secret-model-t-room-revealed#slide-1 4-field_images-1968981
Peter,Tin Lizzie by Stern has a good account of how the Model T was built and by who.If those who write the modern story like Edsel getting 40 hp out of the model A have not read Tin Lizzie by Stern it's only farts in the wind!
As Peter said, there were holes in the floor that were analyzed to determine what was there. Using that, the lathe, mill and drill press were located - and a guess made as to maker. All based on the arrangement of holes in the floor! Using that, it was determined the room was larger than first thought and that a stud wall was built on an angle enlarging the room a bit. The angle was determined by the need to keep access to the rear fire stairs for everyone in the plant.
Now to get a few more pieces of jack shafts and speed change levers for the individual tools, like the one running the lathe in the pictures.
Rob.. is that a very early 1906 Model K Chassis on display in the Experimental Room ???
I took the tour of the Piquette Plant when I went to Detroit last year for the OCF. A big thanks to everyone that has worked on preserving this piece of history.
Here's another great article- http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/detroit-city/2017/09/24/henry-fords- secret-workplace-birthed-model-t/698235001/
I can see why C.J. Smith would have said "...the room was abut 12x15." It is not dramatically larger than that and with the machine tools and benches around the perimeter that was probably the useable floor space in the "main" part of the room. I hope you get a chance to see it. The team did an outstanding job putting it together.
(Message edited by peter nikolajevs on September 26, 2017)
Peter and Thomas,Thank you for the now known facts and i always wondered how they got the described machines in there. I have seen the plant years ago when there was a tour from the O C F.The pictures were great and i thank everyone!!! PS,Peter thank you for your reading of in mho the best model T,Model A,And Ford book ever!
I visited the secret room a couple of weeks ago. It's very cool.
As for the frame in the secret room, no....it's not from or for a Model K.
Some more pics here:
What about the damaged roof?? Is it getting repaired??
Peter- I know a guy in picture 7 of 10. The guy with the backwards hat is me. ;)
Mark- the EFR post is mine too. Thanks for sharing it also.
Thomas and everyone who helped explain- thank you! My son and I were in the back row, right next to the fan, so everyone other than Mr. Shotwell and Ms. Darga were very hard to hear clearly. Thanks for clearing up some of the questions I had!
What is the history of the frame, the rear axle loop appears to be vertical, the NRS frames that I have seen are horizontal loops.......
That is a secret experimental frame. In the picture you will notice the normal horizontal differential loop is now vertical. After experimenting they discovered that making the differential loop into a vertical hump would be a good idea. This was just one of the many changes made in developing the Model T Ford.
Here is a closeup of the frame in the Experimental Room:
If anyone has a spare Model NRS frame or rolling chassis, to loan or donate, we would love to get it.
Those axle stubs would suggest chain drive??
Kenneth, that's part of a full elliptical spring perch, I think.
Wow , the frame and two experimental engines, that is over the top.............
Tim I think your right!! Thanks.
A local news segment just prior to the opening...
Funny,In the Piquette plant getting a tour the news needs to throw if footage of Highland Park??