Ford’s Highland Park Manufacturing Plant

Henry Ford knew before he started building the Model T Ford that his manufacturing ability was the limiting factor to his success. Ford had followed typical early automotive principles when building the earlier Ford cars. Wheels were purchased from several companies, bodies from two companies, lamps from several other companies.

The Dodge brothers, Horace and John, built Ford’s chassis and delivered the chassis parts to Ford. The Dodge brothers had been the manufacturer of the curved dash Oldsmobile, and were well known for their ability to supply a high quality automobile chassis and engine. This arrangement allowed Ford to build a fairly large quantity of the Model N – R – S car, which was the most profitable and prolific automobile manufactured  anywhere in the world from 1906 – 1908. Not only were the Dodge brothers the manufacturer of the Ford chassis, they were also shareholders in Ford Motor Company. No doubt they were not happy when Ford announced plans to build his masterpiece of automotive manufacturing, the Highland Park Plant, in 1908.

The new Ford plant would be able to manufacture everything from bodies to engines, and every part of the Model T chassis when it was fully operational. The Dodge brothers knew that when it was finished it would spell the end of their ability to sell parts to Ford. On top of that source of displeasure, Henry also lowered stockholder dividends in order to pay for the new plant with cash on hand.

Summer 1910 photograph of the Highland Park Plant nearing completion.

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Fixing a 1915 Model T Round Fellow Wheel

The Model T Ford continued to evolve from the day the first Model T was built in the fall of 1908 until the last Model T rolled off the assembly line in 1927. Very few parts were unchanged for the entire production run of the Model T. Not to be classified as a part that went unchanged were the wheels. The first Model T Fords had very frail looking and fairly complex wheels. The wheels used in 1909 model year had a “teardrop” shape for the spokes, with the pointy end of the teardrop facing the hubcap side of the wheel. They were built with non – demountable rims in 30 X 3 size on the front and 30 X 3 1/2 on the rear.

While the size of the wheels was the same in 1915, the wheels had become much more burly in construction, as well as being easier to manufacture. 1915 wheels had  a round profile to the spokes, with neither a front nor a rear side. This simplified manufacture, and made the wheels stronger, albeit somewhat heavier.

Even though 1915 wheels are sturdier than 1909 wheels, they still fail occasionally, especially after 100 + years of use and abuse.  We will take a look at how to fix a common problem with Model T wheels, a broken or loose rivet.

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Repairing a New Day Timer

One of the most common aftermarket timers for the Model T Ford was – and is – the New Day. Made from a very hard Bakelite type material with copper contacts and a bronze wiper style brush, the New Day was popular because it needed virtually no maintenance. The original old New Day timers are one of the best aftermarket timers that you can find. Often they are found for sale at swap meets for less than $10. My advice is to buy any good ones that you see. On eBay they tend to command $40 – $50 in good shape with a usable brush.

In more recent times there have been attempts to manufacture the New Day timer for sale by the Model T parts trade. Results have been mixed as we shall see. In any case, occasionally there are defects related to wear and age that can be corrected to salvage a defective New Day timer and make it into a usable one. This installment of Model T Ford Fix will show you just how to do that.

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The 1913 Model T Ford

Must have been a cold day when this man brought home his brand new 1913 Model T Touring. Ford completely redesigned the body and fenders for the 1913 model year, and changed nearly every other part of the car as well. Let’s look at the very interesting 1913 model year in this edition of Model T Ford Fix.

The 1913 model year began September 1, 1912. The models and prices announced were as follows:

Touring car, $600

Runabout, $525

Town Car, $800

Delivery, $625

Chassis (unknown price)

Ford records also claim that one coupe was built in 1913, probably for a Ford executive since it was not a cataloged offering. The delivery bodies were left over from 1912, the result of ordering more bodies than the market could bear.

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