Ford history questions

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Ford history questions

Post by Fordwright » Thu Oct 31, 2019 4:05 pm

Henry Ford was already entering middle age when he began to experience his astounding success with the automobile, but I'm unclear if some things were myth or reality. Did he forbid a driver's door on the Model T because he believed it was unsafe for the driver to stand on the left side of the car in traffic? I know some export cars had driver's doors, including those in Canada, but I don't know if it was due to different regulations, or just consumer demand. Maybe Ford cared less about the safety of drivers in other countries. He refused to adopt the modern high-tension coil ignition and distributor until 1928, which had appeared on other cars since 1910. He was content with the old "buzzbox" ignition, used since around the turn of the century driven by first dry cells and later a low-tension magneto. He retained this old type of ignition even after he upgraded to an electric starter, a generator and rechargeable storage battery in 1919.

One story has it that Henry constantly tormented and denigrated his son, Edsel. When Edsel developed a new prototype car to impress his father, Henry took a sledge hammer to it, smashing it to bits. He obviously felt threatened in some way.

It's been said that Ford might have continued with the Model T long after it had gone out of favor, had it not been for intense pressure from his family and associates to upgrade to a newer model. He is supposed to have said, "There's nothing wrong with the Model T except that people aren't buying it."

Also, when the new Model A was introduced in 1928, the story is that he forbid the use of hydraulic brakes, because he claimed "they always leak." He insisted on using only one spring per axle, as with the Model T, and when he experience a very rough test drive, he decided to install shock absorbers on the Model A. A six-cylinder engine might have been a reasonable upgrade for the Model A, but Henry's competitiveness caused him to spend a fortune developing the V-8, which was a success, but not as well-received as it could have been, owing to the fact that it was more engine than the average consumer needed at that time.

He was approaching his 70s by this time, and some were saying he should step aside. That didn't happen until years later, and under pressure from his family. I won't go into the way he treated his labor force, or his anti-Semitism, because those are broader subjects for other discussions.


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Re: Ford history questions

Post by bud delong » Thu Oct 31, 2019 4:31 pm

I do not think Edsel had anything to do with the replacement for the model T in 1911 or 1912. :D Bud. :D

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Re: Ford history questions

Post by Will_Vanderburg » Thu Oct 31, 2019 4:54 pm

Edsel Ford was only 19 in 1912, so highly doubtful he had a plan for replacing the Model T then. He didn't become president of Ford until 1919.

The story about the sledgehammer is fictionalized for the movie "Henry Ford: The Man and The Machine". Cliff Robertson beat a prototype with a sledgehammer. The story goes that Henry tore the car apart with his bare hands and kicked it into submission. The sledgehammer story is perpetuated in a 2012 book called "American Icon".

Henry Ford only acquiesced to making a new Model A because of dwindling market share.

And I highly suspect Henry was loosing his faculties earlier than people think.
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Re: Ford history questions

Post by Will_Vanderburg » Thu Oct 31, 2019 4:58 pm

When Henry Ford finally stepped aside, it was inevitable that President Roosevelt was either going to take it over and force Henry to resign or install his grandson as president, because by that time I seem to recall the company was loosing 10 million a month. So the call was made to remove the grandson from the US Navy and run the factory. Probably a wise decision.
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Re: Ford history questions

Post by BobD » Thu Oct 31, 2019 5:03 pm

Fordwright wrote:
Thu Oct 31, 2019 4:05 pm
He refused to adopt the modern high-tension coil ignition and distributor until 1928, which had appeared on other cars since 1910. He was content with the old "buzzbox" ignition, used since around the turn of the century driven by first dry cells and later a low-tension magneto. He retained this old type of ignition even after he upgraded to an electric starter, a generator and rechargeable storage battery in 1919.
Same here, I have a hard time wrapping my head around this. Why didn’t Henry go with the “single spark system” when the starter cars came out in 1919? Think of the savings in cost of materials and labor. Only one coil, one set of points, ease of serviceability, not to mention the magnets and ancillary parts in the flywheel magneto assembly. Would have been minimal casting changes or could have been a bolt on type distributor not unlike the aftermarket offered at the time. What am I (or we) missing? :?:


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Re: Ford history questions

Post by Kevin Pharis » Thu Oct 31, 2019 5:55 pm

One should keep in mind the cost and reliability of early batteries, as well as the remote non-electrified majority of the nation. These cars when new, needed to be self reliant... as possible. As for maintenance, simple mechanics are capable of fixing simple mechanics, so keep em simple! And don’t forget that ol’ Henry would have had to pay royalties to Bosch/Prestolite/or god forbid Delco to change the ignition

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Re: Ford history questions

Post by DanTreace » Thu Oct 31, 2019 6:02 pm

Bob

Likely Henry stayed with the flywheel and trembler coils after the starter and battery lights era for the fact of his T being a ‘non-pre- obsolescence’ vehicle. i.e. he strived to keep changes to the T minimal, for factory benefit, customer, and dealer parts supply repair chain, if a major part had to change, most every time it could retrofit with ease. No upsetting the sales or service.

When an ALL new Ford arrived it did have the latest of design to the ignition, but the hand crank was still in place albeit removeable :P
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Re: Ford history questions

Post by Fordwright » Thu Oct 31, 2019 6:41 pm

DanTreace wrote:
Thu Oct 31, 2019 6:02 pm
Bob

Likely Henry stayed with the flywheel and trembler coils after the starter and battery lights era for the fact of his T being a ‘non-pre- obsolescence’ vehicle. i.e. he strived to keep changes to the T minimal, for factory benefit, customer, and dealer parts supply repair chain, if a part had to change, most every time it could retrofit with ease. No upsetting the sales or service.

When an ALL new Ford arrived it did have the latest of design to the ignition, but the hand crank was still in place albeit removeable :P
I don't think ignition systems were in Henry Ford's skill set. The story goes that he won his first race against the reigning champion, Alexander Winton in 1901 using dry cells and breaker points inside the combustion cylinder. One of his star mechanics, Ed "Spider" Huff made up a sparking coil and timer using spark plugs of the type that had already been in use since before the turn of the century on things like donkey engines. Henry Ford was said to have been so impressed that he had no desire to improve on that system until the Model A in 1928. It's said that Henry Ford asked Spider Huff to design the new ignition system for the Model A, but he gave a rather jaded response, saying that Henry "would never be happy with it no matter how he designed it." But much or such history is probably based on hearsay and imperfect memories to be sure.


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Re: Ford history questions

Post by bud delong » Thu Oct 31, 2019 7:15 pm

I think most of the true story is for us to see at the Benson Ford and the actual facts will come to light! :D Bud. :D


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Re: Ford history questions

Post by wayne sheldon » Thu Oct 31, 2019 7:21 pm

Crank starting? Not just Ford. In fact, I think Chevrolet outdid Ford by a lot! I don't know when they stopped including the hand crank with new cars, but they were available at any auto supply store, and nearly every garage mechanic had one. Chevrolet cars were equipped with the ability to be hand cranked at least until 1939 (I think the '41 my dad had when I was really little still had the ability?). Trucks, pickups up to two ton continued to be equipped for hand cranking at least until 1952! They came from the factory with the directional engagement on the crankshaft pulley, and a pathway under the radiator and through the grill for the hand-crank.
I think Ford dropped the hand-crank along with dropping the four cylinder in trucks. The V8 was a bit much to try to crank by hand. I am not really sure about that, I never have had much to do with Ford's early V8s. Too modern to really interest me. I do know that some European Fords with their smaller engines continued to have hand crank capabilities even after WWII. And some European and English sports cars continued to be hand cranking equipped even through the 1960s.
I seem to recall a few Chrysler products having hand cranking capabilities in the late '30s. But I am no expert on Chrysler products of those years.


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Re: Ford history questions

Post by John kuehn » Thu Oct 31, 2019 8:43 pm

As far as tractors go Ford tractors had hand cranking ability along with electric start thru 1954. I have a 54 Ford NAA tractor and it can be hand cranked if need be. Not sure when hand crank capability was dropped but pretty sure it lasted longer than 54. I would imagine other tractor makes did also.


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Re: Ford history questions

Post by bud delong » Thu Oct 31, 2019 9:00 pm

The book Tin Lizzie by Stern will tell you who was involved in trying to put the car into production that Henry wrecked with his bare hands and feet in 1911 or 1912.It will also tell of cancelling orders for bodies and other large parts.I cant recall ever reading anything about Edsel being involved.The story has a special interest for me because our 14 has a Cleveland Hardware front axle. :D Bud. :D

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Re: Ford history questions

Post by Mark Gregush » Thu Oct 31, 2019 9:06 pm

Canada was building cars for domestic (both right and left)and export to countries that were right hand drive. I was easier to just build one body with doors on both sides. Canada, depending on the area, was ether left or right hand drive.
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Re: Ford history questions

Post by DanTreace » Thu Oct 31, 2019 9:16 pm

I don't think ignition systems were in Henry Ford's skill set


IMO, just the opposite. Henry first gas engine, the kitchen sink one, began his knowledge of igniting gas engines, he made lots of contributions, the most famous in directing Huff to perfect his idea of a low tension magneto that would need no owner maintenance. High tension magnetos of the day used outside power to drive, needed points cleaned and regular care and oiling, could succumb to moisture and dirt.

So his direction made the Model T ignition superior of the day, no service issues, 4 individual coils too, if one went south you came home on three cylinders, not onboard old Dobbin ;)

Huff worked for Henry, used Henry’s direction, added his own efforts, and Ford secured a patent, with Ed Huff as novel inventor, for a magneto to be contained within Ford’s engine, with the patent gained by Henry and then assigned to Henry.
CBAEA57C-BCD2-4C48-9E2E-1FEE930CF92F.png
This contribution by them put the simple reliable ignition system in the Model T, 15 million of them, and unknown thousands of these Fords are still on Ford/Huff system! Like today’s Coil -on -Plug technology, 1908 style.
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Re: Ford history questions

Post by Fordwright » Thu Oct 31, 2019 9:43 pm

I've seen plenty of larger trucks and tractors that had provision to attach a hand crank, but I can't imagine some of those engines being hand started. I assumed it was for turning the engine for some types of engine maintenance work like setting the timing.
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Re: Ford history questions

Post by Mark Gregush » Fri Nov 01, 2019 12:40 am

My 48 F3 with 6 cylinder has the crank provision. I have tried it, no way could I crank to start, but works great for setting timing etc.
I know the voices aren't real but damn they have some good ideas! :roll:

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Re: Ford history questions

Post by rickd » Fri Nov 01, 2019 8:24 am

Greg, regarding your question on the lack of a drivers door on the Model T; IMO it was mainly related to the infrastructure situation of the day. Almost all roads were either gravel or dirt and the sidewalks in business and residential areas were developed first, and started as wood platforms and then eventually concrete. It was easier to stay out of the mud stepping out of your car on the passenger side. Probably also safer as I imagine the rules of the road were a little sketchy at the time.

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Re: Ford history questions

Post by Oldav8tor » Fri Nov 01, 2019 10:42 am

I'm not so sure about the driver's door(or lack of same) explanation. I have a 1917 touring and there are doors on both sides of the passenger compartment. I always assumed it had more to do with the difficulty of climbing in an out with the lever, wheel and pedals in the way. Canadian cars had doors on both sides as explained above. Don't forget, Henry was cheap - probably saved money by not putting in a real door :D
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Re: Ford history questions

Post by Fordwright » Fri Nov 01, 2019 12:06 pm

DanTreace wrote:
Thu Oct 31, 2019 9:16 pm
I don't think ignition systems were in Henry Ford's skill set


IMO, just the opposite. Henry first gas engine, the kitchen sink one, began his knowledge of igniting gas engines, he made lots of contributions, the most famous in directing Huff to perfect his idea of a low tension magneto that would need no owner maintenance. High tension magnetos of the day used outside power to drive, needed points cleaned and regular care and oiling, could succumb to moisture and dirt.

So his direction made the Model T ignition superior of the day, no service issues, 4 individual coils too, if one went south you came home on three cylinders, not onboard old Dobbin ;)

Huff worked for Henry, used Henry’s direction, added his own efforts, and Ford secured a patent, with Ed Huff as novel inventor, for a magneto to be contained within Ford’s engine, with the patent gained by Henry and then assigned to Henry.
Although most replicas use spark plug ignition, Henry Ford's original 1893 "Kitchen sink engine" got it's ignition from the light bulb socket hanging over the sink. It most likely consisted of breaker points inside the cylinder, using the light bulb as a current ballast. Henry Ford worked for the Edison Illuminating Company of Detroit at the time, but not as an electrical engineer. His talents were almost exclusively mechanical.

But he did recognize a rugged and reliable design, the trembler coil being one, which he had little interest in modifying over the production span of the Model T. But in all fairness, the high-tension magneto had been used in production cars since 1899, and by 1919, nearly every car on the market was driven by magneto ignition. By the time the Model T went into mass production in 1913, a magneto still cost around $140, which was completely out of range for the Model T.

If Ford had wanted, he could have modernized the ignition system to the high-tension magneto type when he added an electric starter, a generator and a storage battery in 1919, as he could have lowered his costs by manufacturing his own magnetos and simplified the electrical system by elimination of the low-tension flywheel magneto and the four trembler coils. This again, suggests Henry Ford's unwillingness to get involved with ignition systems.


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Re: Ford history questions

Post by rosenkranswa » Fri Nov 01, 2019 1:42 pm

My 1942 Ford Sedan has provision for cranking. You had to order an extension bar and handle from the dealer to use it, and I have tried turning the engine over with the crank with quite a bit of resistance. I can't imagine cranking a V8 to start it, but it might be possible.

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Re: Ford history questions

Post by Fordwright » Fri Nov 01, 2019 1:58 pm

Our 1950 LA Case tractor had a crank on the front and magneto ignition, but it also had electric start. It had quite a large engine for the times which was over 400 cubic inch. I can't remember anyone starting it with the crank, but it must have been possible. Booster cables were always the best option if the battery were dead.

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Re: Ford history questions

Post by DanTreace » Fri Nov 01, 2019 2:43 pm

But in all fairness, the high-tension magneto had been used in production cars since 1899, and by 1919, nearly every car on the market was driven by magneto ignition.
Remember we are discussing the Low price Ford ;) A car made for the masses, easy to repair at low cost, there wasn’t desire for Henry to complicate the Ford T success. He even continued to offer non-starter car to near the end of the T’s production. High-tension magnetos require care and service, the Ford flywheel magneto was simple with no owner upkeep.

Besides, a bit of primary research easily shows only high price cars in 1919 had high-tension magneto ignition, the majority of autos and trucks in the USA used battery spark ignition. Autos such as Case, Chandler, Locomobile, Marmon, and National used Bosch or Eiseman units, by far over 60%* of the 538 listed cars and trucks from 1913 to 1920, in a publication of period wiring diagrams used Delco, Remy, or Westinghouse battery ignition units.

* Wells, Automobile Wiring Manuals, [/i]1920.
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Re: Ford history questions

Post by Fordwright » Fri Nov 01, 2019 3:41 pm

DanTreace wrote:
Fri Nov 01, 2019 2:43 pm
But in all fairness, the high-tension magneto had been used in production cars since 1899, and by 1919, nearly every car on the market was driven by magneto ignition.
Remember we are discussing the Low price Ford ;) A car made for the masses, easy to repair at low cost, there wasn’t desire for Henry to complicate the Ford T success. He even continued to offer non-starter car to near the end of the T’s production. High-tension magnetos require care and service, the Ford flywheel magneto was simple with no owner upkeep.

Besides, a bit of primary research easily shows only high price cars in 1919 had high-tension magneto ignition, the majority of autos and trucks in the USA used battery spark ignition. Autos such as Case, Chandler, Locomobile, Marmon, and National used Bosch or Eiseman units, by far over 60%* of the 538 listed cars and trucks from 1913 to 1920, in a publication of period wiring diagrams used Delco, Remy, or Westinghouse battery ignition units.

* Wells, Automobile Wiring Manuals, [/i]1920.
You may be right, but there was plenty of time between 1919 and 1927 for Ford to come up with something more efficient and cost effective than a system comprised of: a flywheel generator, four trembler coils, a starter, a generator and a storage battery.

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Re: Ford history questions

Post by Fordwright » Fri Nov 01, 2019 6:29 pm

Another example of Henry Ford's stubbornness in his later years was his insistence that engines not have oil pumps, only splash lubrication. When the V8s were being developed, they all burned out on the test stands until oil pumps were added.

As mentioned, he opposed hydraulic brakes, forbidding them until Edsel added them in 1939. He also believed four-wheel brakes were dangerous and had them installed only on the rear wheels.


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Re: Ford history questions

Post by bud delong » Fri Nov 01, 2019 7:50 pm

So after 4 years of the model A with a oil pump Ford did not start with them in the V-8?? Bud. :D Many engines had combination of splash and pumps into the 50's.

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Re: Ford history questions

Post by Fordwright » Sat Nov 02, 2019 12:04 am

bud delong wrote:
Fri Nov 01, 2019 7:50 pm
So after 4 years of the model A with a oil pump Ford did not start with them in the V-8?? Bud. :D Many engines had combination of splash and pumps into the 50's.
That's what the sources say. At least we know that the V8 was tried with splash-only lubrication, but failed to make it past the dynamometer test without piling up.

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Re: Ford history questions

Post by BuddyTheRoadster » Sat Nov 02, 2019 5:48 am

You bring up a lot of good questions, and I'll try to address them in the order posted.

Henry Ford was a complicated man (as was his buddy Thomas Edison) and he had some contradictions that seem odd to us now. Now there are three things to remember: 1) the Model T was almost always the cheapest car on the market, it was consistently cheaper, smaller, and more spartan than Overland, Chevrolet, Star, or Gray. 2) Henry Ford had a confidence that bordered on arrogance, and if you weren't in his closest circle, you didn't criticize anything about the Model T or the factory if you valued your job. 3) Ford died of a cerebral hemorrhage and had suffered several "cardiac events" previously. If these were strokes, it's likely his personality changed dramatically.

No driver's door
I think it was a combination of economy and social behavior. A driver's door means one more door and components per car, and you've got the hand brake lever in the way. This would save a little money per car, and bodies would be a little better braced without it. Socially, I think it was normal to enter a car from the passenger's side. I've heard in some cities it was illegal to enter from the driver's side, and look at how late it took for enclosed cars to get an outside door lock on the driver's side.

Vibrator coil and magneto
Vibrator/trembler/buzz coils were typical when the T was designed in 1908, but mating them with Ed Huff's flywheel magneto was genius. It's a self-contained ignition system that doesn't rely on telephone batteries like most cars of the era. And it works darn well if everything's healthy. I bet Henry stuck with it because 1) the T was his baby and it was "perfect" and 2) using a conventional distributor would mean a concession that Charles Kettering and Delco had a good idea, and Henry was too proud or cheap to admit it. As it was, Ford was almost the last to get electric lights or a starter.

Henry and Edsel
All fathers and sons have some drama. Henry and Edsel, although close, were temperamentally opposite. Henry was a Michigan farmer, I think he liked being scrappy. Edsel by all accounts was kind and peaceful. He lived well and had great taste. Although Edsel was the president of Ford Motor Company from 1919 on, Henry called all the shots.

Producing the Model T forever?
The Model T was Henry's baby, he thought it was the perfect car and had everything you needed. Why would one need more? If it didn't sell, then it was dealers' fault for not doing their job. When you look at production figures and see the dramatic decline from 1923-1926 and the rise of Chevrolet, you can see what was happening. But no, Henry thought that a new body, color paint, and factory authorized accessories was all you needed.

No hydraulic brakes
I've heard a story that Edsel had 10 Model As equipped with hydraulic brakes, lined them up, and then said, "Dad, drive any one of these and see," and the car Henry chose had a leak and the test driver wrapped it around a pole. I bet the reality was that: 1) Henry and the engineers who agreed with him were conservative and didn't trust hydraulic brakes, and 2) they weren't going to pay any patent royalties. (Maxwell-Chalmers used Lockheed patent brakes in 1923 but didn't like the design. They reworked them, showed Lockheed the improvements, and Lockheed adopted them in exchange for waiving royalties. When Maxwell-Chalmers introduced the new Chrysler car in 1924, guess who got free Lockheed brakes? Incidentally, the initial Lockheed patent would have expired in 1937, right about the time that everyone finally converted to hydraulic brakes.)

Why not a six?
The conventional wisdom is that the "failure" of the 1906 Model K put Ford off of six cylinder cars for the rest of his life. I think the real answer is that practically every four cylinder car in the 1920s moved up to a six, and Henry refused to be a trend follower. Look at his experimental X-8 program. That was just weird, but no one could upstage that if it had worked.

Now, I love automotive history, and I love wondering about the "what ifs." What I wonder is what would have happened if Ford hadn't fired Bill Knutsen in 1922, and if Chevrolet had foundered instead? Also, what if Henry had listened to Ernest Kanzler instead of firing him in 1926?

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Re: Ford history questions

Post by dykker5502 » Sat Nov 02, 2019 5:52 am

After the troubles with the Selden patent, Henry Ford saw (others) patents as a way to put roadblocks for his enterprise.

Hydrailic brakes was patended in 1922 +/- and lasts 17 year so that is why hydrailic brakes first arrived in 1939.

And regarding the trembler coils - why change something that worked? And there may be patent issues as well.
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Re: Ford history questions

Post by Banjoe » Sat Nov 02, 2019 8:12 am

The collective wisdom here is pretty impressive and is generating a fascinating discussion. Thank you to all contributors.
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Re: Ford history questions

Post by BobD » Sat Nov 02, 2019 12:04 pm

BuddyTheRoadster wrote:
Sat Nov 02, 2019 5:48 am
I bet Henry stuck with it because 1) the T was his baby and it was "perfect" and 2) using a conventional distributor would mean a concession that Charles Kettering and Delco had a good idea, and Henry was too proud or cheap to admit it. As it was, Ford was almost the last to get electric lights or a starter.
Is is possible that when the Model A was being developed in 1927, the unique distributor design and certain patents expiring led to the adoption of the “single spark system” in the Model A?

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Re: Ford history questions

Post by Mark Gregush » Sat Nov 02, 2019 12:31 pm

Some Model A's have Bosch made distributor bodies. While somethings about it are Ford, there are things like the point setup that had been used on other brands. The cable that runs from the switch to distributor, was like what other car makers were using at the time. GM's ran off the back of the coil but as I recall were the same brand name.
I know the voices aren't real but damn they have some good ideas! :roll:

1921 Huckster
1925 Cut down pickup

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Re: Ford history questions

Post by BobD » Sat Nov 02, 2019 12:59 pm

Mark Gregush wrote:
Sat Nov 02, 2019 12:31 pm
Some Model A's have Bosch made distributor bodies. While somethings about it are Ford, there are things like the point setup that had been used on other brands. The cable that runs from the switch to distributor, was like what other car makers were using at the time. GM's ran off the back of the coil but as I recall were the same brand name.
Interesting regarding the Bosch made distributors. As a former “A” owner, I did not know that detail.

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Re: Ford history questions

Post by Fordwright » Sat Nov 02, 2019 1:24 pm

dykker5502 wrote:
Sat Nov 02, 2019 5:52 am
And regarding the trembler coils - why change something that worked? And there may be patent issues as well.
The flywheel magneto which was actually an alternator, was originally a brilliant solution for driving the trembler coils, but by 1919, after a generator, a battery and starter were added, it was a bit of a kluge, which could have been simplified, even if just by losing the flywheel magneto. Ford could easily have upgraded the ignition to something simpler and less expensive, but as mentioned, it was a very autocratic organization and Henry never showed much interest in electrical systems.


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Re: Ford history questions

Post by otrcman » Sat Nov 02, 2019 2:15 pm

I'm certainly no magneto expert, but it has always seemed to me that Ford's flywheel mounted magneto embodied sublime synergy (take that for allitteration, Bob Coiro).

Consider these factors:

1. To produce adequate electrical output from a magneto, the magnet must be moved rapidly past the armature. The more rapid, the higher the output. If the magnet(s) are arranged in a small circle, they have to be spun really fast. But hand cranking produces only low RPM. So what's the alternative ? Simple. Make the circle larger and put the magnets at the outer edge of the circle. And where do we find the largest rotating circle in an engine ? On the flywheel ! Since he had to have a flywheel to smooth out engine operation, why not get. a free ride for his magneto parts at the same time ?

2. To be sufficient on a four-banger, the flywheel needs to be pretty heavy, with its mass concentrated as far from the center as possible. Rather than buying more iron for a heavier flywheel, is there any metal that already had to be on the car that could be used for weight ? How about that big pile of iron magnets ?

3. As engine RPM increases, it takes more and more voltage to fire the spark plugs. Well, coincidentally, the magneto produces more and more voltage as the RPM builds up. Battery ignition systems run a constant voltage, so ignition performance suffers at higher RPMs. Not so with a magneto; higher voltage appears at the very time the spark plugs need it the most.

4. In the age of dry batteries only, you ran out of sparks when the battery went dead. So you were range limited not only by your supply of gasoline, but also by your supply of batteries. With magneto ignition, your electricity supply was derived from gasoline. So your consumables were reduced by one item.

Ford seemed to be a man fascinated by simplicity, economy, and effective use of materials. I think he just loved the flywheel mounted magneto ignition. Of course later developments such as rechargeable batteries, engine driven generators, advanced materials for breaker points and distributor contacts, etc, made the magneto virtually obsolete. And Mr. Ford was slow to embrace innovation that wasn't his own.

I bet he spent a lot of time thinking about perpetual motion !


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Re: Ford history questions

Post by bud delong » Sat Nov 02, 2019 2:24 pm

As someone stated above the rural country was not ready for a non self sufficent auto in 1919. Ford sold millions of Model T's after the advent of what some would call modern ignition and self starters.Some early autos had built in air compressors and air starters but they faded fast with better roads,tires,and the advent of the battery starter,and generator. Don't fret as why not,Ford sold 15,000 000 plus! Bud. :D


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Re: Ford history questions

Post by Jeff Hood » Sat Nov 02, 2019 2:55 pm

As far as the car not having a drivers door, it was probably considered unnecessary due to the brake lever, pedals, and steering wheel interference. There was drivers side access on earlier cars without doors, and there was a left rear door on later touring bodies too. Also as mentioned, if driving in the city where there were sidewalks or boardwalks and dirt (or mud) streets drivers were more likely to exit the passenger side and many places had ordinances against exiting on the traffic side. Many of these ordinances are probably still on the books but largely ignored. If you watch old movies or TV shows, you will often see drivers slide across the seat and enter and exit the passenger side, even into the 1960's. My 1956 Ford F100 pickup only has a key lock on the passenger side. Lock the drivers door from the inside, slide across and exit the passenger side and lock with the key.


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Re: Ford history questions

Post by Jeff Hood » Sat Nov 02, 2019 3:14 pm

Ford felt that his car provided everything that anyone would ever need. It was simple, reliable, economic transportation that anyone could afford. He said that he would "build a car for the masses" and he did, and he sold 15 million of them. He also said that as long as a Ford car was on the road, an owner could secure replacement parts. He wasn't thinking about replacing the cars he had already sold with new ones, he was still selling new customers the car that he felt was all that they would ever need. It was Billy Durant who realized he could generate more sales by making changes that would make people want to buy the latest style or color or move up to a nicer or more luxurious or prestigious car. That's likely one of the reasons that the Model A was a big success. It was a HUGE improvement over the Model T, as was the 1932 car an improvement over the A. After that and with Edsel's influence, Ford began almost yearly styling changes to attract new customers.

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Re: Ford history questions

Post by Fordwright » Sat Nov 02, 2019 3:41 pm

When it was introduced, the flywheel magneto in combination with the trembler coils was a brilliant solution. The magneto produced unregulated AC current that varied considerably from 4 volts to over 30 volts at higher engine RPM. The trembler coils acted somewhat as a ballast against too much current, and had to be built robustly in order to handle the fluctuating power, and there had to be four of them.

Certainly, Ford could have simplified the ignition system after 1919, shaving even more off the cost of the car. A single coil has proved itself reliable for over 50 years, and a high-tension distributor with a single set of points is a design at least equally robust to the what the Model T stuck with throughout. As far as patents, they were never a problem for Henry Ford when he set himself to working around them. He simply wasn't much of an electrical engineer.

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Re: Ford history questions

Post by Fordwright » Sat Nov 02, 2019 3:48 pm

Jeff Hood wrote:
Sat Nov 02, 2019 2:55 pm
As far as the car not having a drivers door, it was probably considered unnecessary due to the brake lever, pedals, and steering wheel interference. There was drivers side access on earlier cars without doors, and there was a left rear door on later touring bodies too. Also as mentioned, if driving in the city where there were sidewalks or boardwalks and dirt (or mud) streets drivers were more likely to exit the passenger side and many places had ordinances against exiting on the traffic side. Many of these ordinances are probably still on the books but largely ignored. If you watch old movies or TV shows, you will often see drivers slide across the seat and enter and exit the passenger side, even into the 1960's. My 1956 Ford F100 pickup only has a key lock on the passenger side. Lock the drivers door from the inside, slide across and exit the passenger side and lock with the key.
Funny how things have changed. My car has only one keylock and it's in the driver's door.


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Re: Ford history questions

Post by DHort » Sat Nov 02, 2019 7:07 pm

What year was the first year without a driver door?


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Re: Ford history questions

Post by Trentb » Sat Nov 02, 2019 8:21 pm

1908 was the first year Model Ts were produced without a driver side door.

A more useful question is what was the first year in which Model Ts came with driver side doors. The answer to that is the 1911 enclosed runabout, aka torpedo.

Respectfully submitted,

Trent Boggess

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Re: Ford history questions

Post by Fordwright » Sun Nov 03, 2019 2:53 am

The style of some coaches prior to those days didn't have doors, because the sideboards were often low enough for the driver to step over. Doors were sometimes installed for passengers who were generally of a higher class than the driver and/or ladies who might find it undignified to step over the side. The Ford Model T coach builders may have carried some of that tradition forward.

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