Ford T: a Bronze Age masterpiece

A lot has been written about Tin Lizzy. It is impossible to imagine any gangster film about Prohibition times without participating in the extras Model T. But we are not more interested in the "conveyor" era when Ford stamped Model T like black buttons, but in the authentic, good old Tin Lizzy of 1908, assembled by hard workers- Pickett factory immigrants - a masterpiece of the Bronze Age automotive industry, the period from the invention of the car to the First World War. It is called bronze because in those years bronze was the main material used for the manufacture of spare parts and decor elements.

Model 1009 Lightweight two-seat body with a convertible cloth top and a loading platform. Coloring options: green, black, black enamel, leafy ornament.

At the beginning of the winter of 1906, mysterious events took place at the Pickett factory of the Ford Motor Company in Dearborn. On the third floor, Henry Ford ordered a fence for the new workshop. Only a few people received the permit - Ford himself, the vice president of the company John Cousens, the best engineer of the plant Child Hard Wills, Hungarian immigrants Jozsef Galamb and Egen Farkas, engineers Love, Smith, Degner and Martin. Several engines and frames from the then Ford Model N were brought into the workshop, samples of steel sheets and bronze blanks, a melting furnace and metalworking machines. Until late in the evening, work continued beyond the walls of the workshop.

Model N, the company's fifth model, has become a true bestseller. She was cheap and reliable, strong and unpretentious. For 1906, Ford managed to sell 2194 copies - an incredible success by the standards of the early twentieth century.

In America at that time, cars were not collected only by the lazy. 485 American companies offered their products to consumers. The production technology was simple. Companies bought engines, transmissions, controls and wheels on the side. Then all this was put on a riveted steel frame. A semblance of cloth tops or, in rare cases, with a metal roof was erected from above. There were few more buyers than the companies themselves. The average car price in the 1900s was $ 1, 000 - fantastic money for the time. Henry Ford already understood that to win against competitors is possible only subject to lower prices. But the company's shareholders were of a different opinion: why give up profit, which itself goes into the hands? Fortunately, one of the main shareholders, timber merchant and race car driver Malcolmson, got burned and was forced to sell his share to Ford. Ford received a casting vote and, without delay, changed the company's pricing policy.

Model 1018 Closed panel wagon with hinged windshield. Only one color option: green enamel with decorative elements from black enamel.

Fatal accident

The main type of car advertising in those days was racing. At first, Ford himself did not disdain to speak personally in his cars. In 1901, Henry won the race at Gross Point on his "999" model from a car created by renowned racer Alexander Winton. It was then that he met people who later provided him with money to create the Ford Motor Company. During one of these races in Florida in 1906, Henry Ford witnessed a French car accident. The car turned over several times, but practically did not suffer. Astonished Ford carefully examined the car and realized that the steel from which it is made is lighter and tougher than usual. He managed to grab a piece of steel sheet with him. This fact can be considered a classic case of industrial espionage. In Dearborn, he showed steel to his specialists. It turned out that its stiffness, twice superior to the best American steels, is due to the addition of vanadium. No one in Pittsburgh, the steel capital of America, had a clue how to make it. Ford managed to invite a metal scientist from Europe to America, who revealed the technology of cooking to him. All this happened in conditions of increased secrecy: only two or three people from Ford's inner circle knew about what was happening.

Model 1019 Lightweight express with a cab from the wagon and a loading platform. Only one color option: green enamel with decorative elements from black enamel.

The idea was simple - Henry Ford was not at all a supporter of complex decisions. Unseen steel in America and the refinement of the successful Model N design can lead to the creation of a car that has no competitors. This is what the engineers of the company were doing in the secret workshop of the Pickett factory. A large number of cars sold allowed them to accumulate extensive information about the weaknesses of the Model N and purposefully engage in their refinement. Hungarian engineers Galamb and Farkas, together with a faithful friend Ford Wills for the year managed to thoroughly shake up the Model N design, simplify and lighten the main components of the car. In September 1907, two prototypes of the future T model were built. They turned out to be so successful that shortly after the start of testing, Ford ordered the re-equipment of the Pickett plant under the new model. By the fall of 1908, the production of Model N and its expensive modifications, Model R and S, was discontinued, and the assembly of the luxury Model K at the price of $ 2500 was moved to another place. And on September 27, the Pickett factory assembled the first ever model Ford Model T 1909 model year. Henry Ford introduced the concept of "model year" precisely with the advent of Tin Lizzy. All cars that were manufactured after August 31 of this year were officially considered models of the year following. This practice was soon adopted by all automakers. Nowadays, the automobile "chronology" happens in exactly this way.

Model 1020 Lightweight express with a cab from the wagon and a loading platform with a folding fabric awning. Green enamel with black enamel decorative elements.

What's in a name

Experts say that if this car were not created by Ford, but by someone else, then time would have already erased any memories of it. However, to make Model T, you need to be born Henry Ford. Why Tin Lizzy? In this regard, historians of the auto industry do not give a clear answer. But there are two main versions. Americans often prefer nicknames to real names. At the beginning of the last century, villagers usually called their workhorses a feminine name Lizzy. Well, the word "tin" does not need additional interpretation. Iron horse, in general. The second version explains everything a little differently. Lizzy - so the Irish called stubborn and wayward beauties. And although it is difficult to call Model T beauty, if you like her, then such an explanation will work. Very often, the Americans called Model T “Flivver, ” and in all this legendary car had about twenty different nicknames. But in the story she remained Tin Lizzy.

Henry Ford Years of Life: 1863−1947. Profession: Inventor (author of 161 US patents), businessman, industrialist, founder of Ford. “Who really works does not need titles. His work is an honor to him. ”

Practical Ford, in principle, did not create anything new. What for? After all, the main components of market success were well known to him - a solid reliable frame and transmission made of vanadium steel, a proven 2.9-liter engine and an affordable price. The rest is trifles. The more buyers can scrape up money for a car that doesn't break, the better. Cars, according to Ford, were supposed to be a bit of a hamburger. Cheap and satisfying, even if you later have gastritis. When automotive historians write about Model T, they praise its reliability in every way. You can’t argue with that. The car was simply unkillable. However, not a word is said about the complete lack of comfort, poor design and inconvenient control system. Tin Lizzy entered the famous list of the 50 worst cars of Time Magazine. Paradox? Let's figure it out.

The Ford Motor Company was not even one year old when Henry Ford decided to build his own plant in Dearborn, Michigan. The three-story building of the plant had an elongated shape, typical of industrial architecture, and a large glazing area. On April 1, 1904, the company's shareholders approved the purchase of a 3.11 acre land plot on Pickett Ave for $ 23, 500. Ford and John Dodge, who had a share in the company’s capital, were appointed project managers for the preparation of the terms of reference. The company of the brothers John and Horace Dodge was engaged in the construction of gasoline engines and for a long time supplied them to Ford. Subsequently, the brothers created their own car company. Interestingly, the first company founded by Ford, Detroit Automobile Co, which went bankrupt in 1900, was subsequently reorganized into the famous Cadillac Motor Car Company. It turns out that Henry Ford became the founder of several automobile long-lived brands at once. The architectural design of the three-story factory building was completed by the Detroit company Field, Hinchmann & Smith. Construction began in June 1904, and already at the end of that year, machines and furniture for office premises began to be imported into the workshop of the plant on Picket Ave. The company’s offices were located on the ground floor, but Henry Ford’s office was on the second floor, next to the famous experimental workshop where Tin Lizzy was created. In addition, on the ground floor from the back of the building there was a warehouse of raw materials and spare parts, as well as a finished goods delivery department.

Simple, even simpler

The tin Lizzy, like its predecessor Model N, was built on a powerful supporting steel frame with two longitudinal beams and transverse stiffeners made of 1/8 inch steel sheet. It was made for Ford at the Michigan Stamping Company factory. A 2.9-liter Henry Ford engine was attached to the frame along with a primitive but reliable two-speed transmission, spring suspension and bodywork. There were many varieties of the body in those years, and the automakers called them each in their own way. Six body styles were initially developed for Lizzy - Touring, Runabout, Landaulet, Town Car and Coupe, but in 1908 Model T was produced only in Touring and Landaulet variants. The bodies were ordered from third-party manufacturers in Detroit. Upholstery of open versions was made of thick genuine leather of black color with a special “diamond” finish. The fabric top, which was sewn from canvas, painted in gray, dark red or dark green, was an additional option. In the closed Lizzy, only leather seats were lined with black leather, and the inner door trim was made of leatherette.

Contrary to popular belief that Model T was painted only black, in fact, this practice only began in 1913 with the start of conveyor assembly. And until 1913 there were no black Tin Lizzies at all! Buyers could choose gray, dark green or dark red body color. The windshield was not standard, it had to be ordered separately. At the same time, a transverse steel beam for rigidity was installed in a wooden partition between the engine compartment and the passenger compartment, reinforced with bronze stripes. Otherwise, the glass simply burst on the potholes, because the Model T body began to creak a few days after the purchase. The interior equipment was, to put it mildly, Spartan. A large wooden steering wheel with a diameter of 36 cm with bronze spokes tightly screwed to the end of the steering shaft. Under it to the right were two short bronze arms with hard rubber knobs. One lever controlled the fuel supply, and the other - ignition.

The first two thousand copies of the car on the floor had two pedals and two large levers to the left of the driver's seat, then there were three pedals, and only one lever. The left pedal included first gear, the right pedal — rear wheel brake and reverse. The levers were responsible for reversing, engaging the transmission brake and neutral gear. The management process was quite complicated, and it took quite a while to learn how to drive the Tin Lizzy. In the instructions of those years, the driver for an emergency stop was recommended to press both pedals simultaneously and pull the transmission brake lever back to the stop. The car stopped dead. The speedometer was not included in the list of standard Model T equipment, the Ford Motor Company purchased these devices in Detroit from Stewart, National and Jones.

The first swallows Ford Model T cars, assembled from 1908 to 1909 at the Pickett plant, are now considered very rare and cost a lot of money. The first models of the Pickett plant were Model C, F and B. On the second floor, the chassis and bodies of Model B were assembled, and the third was given over to the manufacture of Model C and F. At the end of 1906, the production of these models was discontinued. And in April, after a slight re-equipment, the plant began to produce new Model K, R, S and S Roadster. Three months later, in July, the promising Model N appeared, which became the basis for the future Tin Lizzy. At the end of the winter of 1908, after the preparation of technological documentation for the latest Ford Model T was completed, an accelerated re-equipment of the enterprise began. Previous models were discontinued and only the assembly of Model K continued for some time. But soon she was discontinued. And on September 27, 1908, the first-ever specimen of Tin Lizzy was assembled, which on October 1 was sent to the first buyer, a wealthy doctor from Detroit. Even before the start of the assembly of the Ford Model T, it became clear to Henry Ford that the area of ​​the Picket plant was insufficient to implement his plans, and he began to look for a place to lay the foundation for a new large assembly plant. At the end of 1908, construction began on a piece of land in Highland Park. The building at Picket Avenue was owned by the Ford Motor Company until January 1911, until it was sold to another well-known Studebaker car company. Experts say that of the 12, 000 original Model T Piquettes to date, no more than 100 copies are left.

Gravitating backwards

The Tin Lizzy engine was developed by Henry Ford himself in the early 1900s and was subsequently revised several times. It was an in-line four-cylinder gasoline engine with a lateral camshaft and valve mechanism. The block was cast from cast iron in one piece together with a water jacket of the cooling system, which for those years was a technological breakthrough. The ignition of the air-fuel mixture coming from the Kingston system’s gravity carburetor was provided by a magneto generator connected by a belt directly to the engine shaft. The compression ratio was only 4.5: 1, which made the motor very reliable during long-term operation. With a volume of 2.9 liters, it gave out only 22.5 hp. power and 112 N • m of torque. But for a very light car weighing only 540 kg, this was quite enough. Gasoline from the carburetor came by gravity, and when moving uphill, the engine sometimes just stalled. Therefore, the technique of overcoming the climbs was unusual - in reverse! The process of starting the engine involved the use of a manual starter, the very long-forgotten “wind-up”. Scrolling the starter required dexterity. Dislocated fingers of the right hand were commonplace, which was reflected in American jokes of those years. The motor was very noisy, despite the presence of a muffler. It was direct-flow and was made of thin sheet steel with asbestos gaskets between the components.

The clutch assembly was a simple wet type - three thick steel discs in an oil bath transmitted a stream of torque to the shaft of a two-speed planetary transmission developed by Ford himself. All shafts and gears of the gearbox were cast from hardened vanadium steel. In surviving instances of Model T, they are usually in excellent condition. The lubrication system was common to the entire power plant, including the engine, clutch and gearbox, and contained approximately 4 liters of engine oil. Ford engineers did not guess to make a dipstick for measuring the level, and the drivers poured oil until it began to flow out of the hole on the top engine cover. In the early years of Tinplate production, Lizzy Ford purchased radiators for a water cooling system in France from Briscoe, and then began to make them on their own. On the front side was a large bronze emblem of the Ford Motor Company. The fuel tank was located under the seats and connected to the frame with steel clamps. Its capacity was 37.5 liters. Not very much, considering that the Model T fuel consumption was highly dependent on the nature of the road and speed, and ranged from 11 to 19 liters per 100 km. The maximum speed of the Tin Lizzy was about 70 km / h, although the specimens participating in the then fashionable auto racing developed up to 150 km / h. It is terrible to imagine the sensations of a rider flying on a projectile without normal brakes and on wooden wheels at such a speed.

Brakes are not for cowards

Lizzy's braking system is a special topic. One of the most difficult moments in driving was the braking process. Продавить педаль тормоза и рычаг до остановки было непросто. Дело в том, что тормозов у Model T было два — стальной трансмиссионный бандаж, который сжимал главный вал с управлением от напольного рычага, и задний тормозной механизм барабанного типа в ступице, реагировавший на нажатие правой педали. Тормозные накладки отливали из бронзы. Изнашивались они очень быстро, а их замена была весьма трудоемкой.

Подвеска Model T даже по меркам бронзового века автомобилестроения представляла из себя образец примитива. Передние и задние колеса устанавливались на простые подвижные шпиндели, приклепанные к поперечной стальной листовой рессоре. Поворот колес осуществлялся с помощью нерегулируемых тяг, одним концом крепившихся к шарниру рулевой колонки, а другим — к корпусу шпинделя. Интересно, что в этой незатейливой конструкции не было ни одного смазываемого узла. Форд справедливо рассудил, что ванадиевая сталь износится не скоро, а система смазки приведет к удорожанию автомобиля. And he was right. На многих первых экземплярах Лиззи, доживших до наших дней, оригинальные детали подвески выглядят как новые!

Шины автомобиля были резиновыми, с камерой внутри. Ступица и длинные спицы делались из специальной «артиллерийской» древесины, усиленной в нагруженных местах бронзовыми бандажами. Парадоксально, но фанатик упрощения и унификации Форд использовал в Model T разные размерности колес для передней и задней оси! Владельцам приходилось возить с собой не одну, а две запаски. Впрочем, на канадском заводе Форда, в Уокервилле, Жестяные Лиззи выпускались с одинаковыми колесами. Для южных штатов США, славившихся вопиющим бездорожьем, размер колеи автомобиля делали на пару дюймов шире.

Мировая автомобильная революция

О значении и роли Жестяной Лиззи в автомобилизации человечества написано немало. Но в 1908 году даже Генри Форд не знал, что ей суждено стать автомобилем-легендой. Форд постоянно стремился к увеличению производительности труда и сокращению времени на постройку одного автомобиля. Революционный прорыв произошел с появлением первого в мире сборочного конвейера на новом заводе Форда в Хайлэнд-Парк в 1913 году. Идея его создания пришла в голову фордовского инженера Уильяма Кланна, который однажды посетил скотобойню в Детройте. Ее работа была организована по типу линии с последовательным выполнением операций на стационарных технологических постах. В конце линии туша оказывалась полностью переработанной и поступала на склад готовой продукции. Фактически это была не линия сборки, а линия разборки. Но идея о применении этого принципа сборки в автоиндустрии оказалась революционной.

Конечно, сам по себе метод конвейерной сборки, в разы повысивший производительность на заводе Форда, был не единственным фактором, вызвавшим автомобильный бум в Америке. Форд первым из индустриальных магнатов принял решение о повышении оплаты труда своих рабочих до $5 в день. По тем временам это были огромные деньги. Они позволяли содержать в достатке и сытости семью и откладывать на покупку дома или автомобиля. Хитрый Форд платил своим рабочим деньги, которые вскоре возвращались к нему в виде оплаты за Жестяную Лиззи! После этого в Америке начался процесс роста заработной платы во всей промышленности. Население стало богатеть, и число потенциальных покупателей выросло с нескольких сотен тысяч до нескольких миллионов человек. Самым доступным предложением на рынке была именно Жестяная Лиззи, дешевевшая с каждым годом своего производства. Рост автопарка вывел Америку на новый уровень развития. Начался бурный рост индустрии сервиса и производства запасных частей, металлургии и химической промышленности. Так или иначе, появление доступного автомобиля и пять баксов в день стали главными причинами технологического прогресса цивилизации в ХХ веке.


Ford Model T. Модель 1908 года. Цена $850 при отгрузке с завода

Engine. Четырехцилиндровый рядный со съёмной головкой блока и боковым расположением клапанов. Рабочий объем 2896 куб.см. Степень сжатия 4, 5:1. Мощность 22 л.с.

Зажигание. Магнето-генератор конструкции Форда, с приводом непосредственно от вала двигателя. Свечи зажигания.

Трансмиссия. Планетарная коробка передач конструкции Форда из закаленной ванадиевой стали с масляным картером. Карданный вал с редуктором конструкции Форда. Простая коническая передача в масляной ванне и герметичном корпусе из ванадиевой стали.

Тормоза. Кольцевой тормоз на вале трансмиссии, барабанный тормоз в задних ступицах.

Sizes. Колесная база 2540 мм, ширина колеи 1422 мм (для южных штатов — 1524 мм).

Дело Селдена

В 1879 году некий Джордж Селден, адвокат из Рочестера, оформил патентную заявку на механическое четырехколесное транспортное средство с бензиновым двигателем. В Ведомстве царил беспорядок и заявку просто потеряли. Обнаружили её лишь случайно в 1894 году, и через год она была удовлетворена. Самое смешное, что автомобили к этому времени уже вовсю бороздили дороги Америки, а сам Селден давно забыл о своей заявке.

Ford Model T Ностальгический концепт-кар наших дней.

Обрадованный Селден смекнул, что на этом можно сделать солидные деньги и при поддержке некоторых нью-йоркских финансистов организовал Ассоциацию Лицензированных Автопроизводителей Америки. Независимые предприниматели, строившие автомобили, под угрозой судебных исков вынуждены были вступать в неё и выплачивать членские взносы в размере 1, 25% от валовых годовых продаж. В 1899 году в Америке ежегодно производилось более 2500 экземпляров автомобилей, а количество мелких компаний доходило до 400! Селден и его компаньоны стригли купоны с растущего рынка автомобилей.

Генри Форд в 1903 году, когда была основана компания Ford Motor Company, тоже было подал заявление на вступление в Ассоциацию. Но вскоре отозвал его из-за того, что руководство попыталось начать диктовать ему цены, по которым он должен будет продавать автомобили. Независимый и упрямый Форд, разумеется, отказался. Ассоциация решила показательно проучить Форда, и вчинила ему судебный иск о нарушении патентного права. На страницах центральных газет разыгралась нешуточная перепалка со взаимными обвинениями в незаконных действиях. До суда дело дошло только через шесть лет, когда первые несколько тысяч Тин Лиззи уже бороздили американское бездорожье. Федеральный суд признал патент Селдена действительным. Но Форд в любом деле всегда шел до конца. У Ассоциации не получилось сломать тёртого калача Форда. Юристы Ford Motor Company подали апелляцию в Верховный суд Соединенных Штатов.

В 1911 году суд высшей инстанции частично отменил прежнее решение. Окончательный вердикт подтвердил законность требований Селдена, но только по отношению к тем автомобилям, которые были сделаны по чертежам оригинального патента 1879 года. Таковых в природе не было вовсе! Ассоциация проиграла битву вчистую. Форд победил, освободившись от диктата Ассоциации, и, заодно, освободил от дани всю американскую автоиндустрию. Он потратил на судебные тяжбы кучу денег, но в итоге вернул всё с лихвой. Дело Селдена оказалось лучшей рекламой для Ford Motor Company, которую только можно было придумать. Форд и его автомобили получили мировую известность.

The article was published in the journal Popular Mechanics (No. 8, August 2008).

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