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Model-T

Ford Model T
Overview
Manufacturer Ford Motor Company
Production 1908–1927
Assembly Detroit, US;
Highland Park, US;
Minneapolis, US;
St. Paul, US;
Dothan, US;
Buenos Aires, Argentina;
Geelong, Australia;
São Bernardo do Campo, Brazil;
Toronto, Ontario, Canada;
Walkerville, Ontario;
Copenhagen, Denmark;
Manchester, England;
Berlin, Germany;
Cork, Ireland;
Cádiz, Spain
Designer Henry Ford, Childe Harold Wills, Joseph A. Galamb and Eugene Farkas
Body and chassis
Class Full-size Ford, economy car
Body style 2-door touring (1909–11)
3-door touring (1912–1925)
4-door touring (1926–1927)
no door roadster (1909–11)
1-door roadster(1912–1925)
2-door roadster (1926–1927)
roadster pickup (1925–1927)
2-door coupé (1909–1912, 1917–1927)
2-door Coupelet (1915–17)
Town car (1909–1918)
C-cab wagon (1912)
2-(Center) door sedan (1915–1923)
2-door sedan (1924–1927)
4-door sedan (1923–1927)
Separate chassis were available all years for independent coachbuilders
Layout FR layout
Powertrain
Engine 177 C.I.D. (2.9 L) 20 hp I4
Transmission 2-speed planetary gear
Dimensions
Wheelbase 100.0 in (2,540 mm)
Length 134 in (3,404 mm)
Curb weight 1,200 pounds (540 kg)
Chronology
Predecessor Ford Model S
Successor Ford Model A

The Ford Model T (colloquially known as the Tin Lizzie, T‑Model Ford, 'Model T Ford', or T) is an automobile that was produced by Henry Ford's Ford Motor Company from October 1, 1908 to May 27, 1927.[1][2] It is generally regarded as the first affordable automobile, the car that opened travel to the common middle-class American; some of this was because of Ford's efficient fabrication, including assembly line production instead of individual hand crafting.[3] The Ford Model T was named the world's most influential car of the 20th century in an international poll.[4]

The Model T set 1908 as the historic year that the automobile became popular. The first production Model T was produced on August 12, 1908[5] and left the factory on September 27, 1908, at the Piquette Plant in Detroit, Michigan. On May 26, 1927, Henry Ford watched the 15 millionth Model T Ford roll off the assembly line at his factory in Highland Park, Michigan.[6]

There were several cars produced or prototyped by Henry Ford from the founding of the company in 1903 until the Model T was introduced. Although he started with the Model A, there were not 19 production models (A through T); some were only prototypes. The production model immediately before the Model T was the Model S,[7] an upgraded version of the company's largest success to that point, the Model N. The follow-up was the Ford Model A (rather than any Model U). The company publicity said this was because the new car was such a departure from the old that Henry wanted to start all over again with the letter A.

The Model T was the first automobile mass-produced on moving assembly lines with completely interchangeable parts, marketed to the middle class. Henry Ford said of the vehicle:

"I will build a car for the great multitude. It will be large enough for the family, but small enough for the individual to run and care for. It will be constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one – and enjoy with his family the blessing of hours of pleasure in God's great open spaces."[8]

Characteristics


The Model T was designed by Childe Harold Wills and Hungarian immigrants Joseph A. Galamb[9] and Eugene Farkas.[10] Henry Love, C. J. Smith, Gus Degner and Peter E. Martin were also part of the team.[11] Production of the Model T began in the third quarter of 1908.[12] Collectors today sometimes classify Model Ts by build years and refer to these as "model years", thus labeling the first Model Ts as 1909 models. This is a retroactive classification scheme; the concept of model years as we conceive it today did not exist at the time. The nominal model designation was "Model T", although design revisions did occur during the car's two decades of production.

Engine


Main article: Ford Model T engine

The Model T had a front-mounted 177-cubic-inch (2.9 L) inline four-cylinder engine, producing 20 hp (15 kW), for a top speed of 40–45 mph (64–72 km/h). According to Ford Motor Company, the Model T had fuel economy on the order of 13–21 mpg-US (16–25 mpg-imp; 18–11 L/100 km).[13] The engine was capable of running on gasoline, kerosene, or ethanol,[14][15] although the decreasing cost of gasoline and the later introduction of Prohibition made ethanol an impractical fuel for most users.

The ignition system used an unusual trembler coil system to drive the spark plugs, as used for stationary gas engines, rather than the expensive magnetos that were used on other cars. This ignition also made the Model T more flexible as to the quality or type of fuel it used. The need for a starting battery and also Ford's use of an unusual AC alternator located inside of the flywheel housing encouraged the adoption of electric lighting, rather than oil or acetylene lamps, but it also delayed the adoption of electric starting.

Transmission and drive train


The Model T was a rear-wheel drive vehicle. Its transmission was a planetary gear type billed as "three speed". In today's terms it would be considered a two-speed, because one of the three speeds was reverse.

The Model T's transmission was controlled with three foot pedals and a lever that was mounted to the road side of the driver's seat. The throttle was controlled with a lever on the steering wheel. The left pedal was used to engage the gear. With the floor lever in either the mid position or fully forward and the pedal pressed and held forward the car entered low gear. When held in an intermediate position the car was in neutral. If the driver took his foot off the left pedal, the Model T entered high gear, but only when the lever was fully forward- in any other position the pedal would only move up as far as the central neutral position. This allowed the car to be held in neutral while the driver cranked the engine by hand. The car could thus cruise without the driver having to press any of the pedals. There was no separate clutch pedal.

When the car was in neutral, the middle pedal was used to engage reverse gear, and the right pedal operated the transmission brake - there were no separate brakes on the wheels. The floor lever also controlled the parking brake, which was activated by pulling the lever all the way back. This doubled as an emergency brake.

Although it was uncommon, the drive bands could fall out of adjustment, allowing the car to creep, particularly when cold, adding another hazard to attempting to start the car: a person cranking the engine could be forced backward while still holding the crank as the car crept forward, although it was nominally in neutral. As the car utilized a wet clutch, this condition could also occur in cold weather, where the thickened oil prevents the clutch discs from slipping freely. Power reached the differential through a single universal joint attached to a torque tube which drove the rear axle; some models (typically trucks, but available for cars as well) could be equipped with an optional two-speed Ruckstell rear axle shifted by a floor-mounted lever which provided an underdrive gear for easier hill climbing. All gears were vanadium steel running in an oil bath.

Transmission bands and linings

There are four main types of band lining material commonly used today:[16]

  • Cotton - Cotton woven linings were the original type fitted and specified by Ford. Like all band materials, if "abused" they will not last their normal lifespan. The same is true of all other band lining materials, but the others described below are less affected by improper use. Generally, the cotton lining is "kinder" to the drum surface, with damage to the drum caused only by the retaining rivets scoring the drum surface. Although this in itself does not pose a problem, a dragging band resulting from improper adjustment causes overheating transmission and engine, diminished power, and—in the case of cotton linings—rapid destruction of the band lining. 
  • Wooden - Wooden linings were originally offered as a "longer life" accessory part during the life of the Model T. They are a single piece of steam bent hickory fitted to the normal Model T Transmission band and experience has shown them to have a long life, often more than the original style Cotton linings. These bands give a very different feel to the pedals, with much more of a "bite" feel. The sensation is of a definite "grip" of the drum and seems to noticeably increase the feel, in particular of the brake drum.
  • Kevlar - Kevlar linings often create a fair amount of discussion. They are a modern alternative lining with Kevlar fibers woven into a polyester band lining. Kevlar bands have been reported to have an extremely long life span, even under adverse usage conditions. It seems that they generally need to be more carefully bedded in and require frequent small adjustments in the initial run in stage, but after this, require little to no adjustment for very high mileages. Because of the nature of the fibers, they have a very high melting point and can therefore stand a lot of slipping and heat, however, the heat tolerance of Kevlar is much higher than that of the actual drum that it is clamping. Model T Ford drums are prone to cracking and high levels of heat exacerbate this considerably, so the heat resistance benefit of the Kevlar is counteracted by the adverse affect it has on the drum.
  • "Hard" bands - Hard bands are standard Model T Ford transmission steel bands that have a composite material bonded then riveted to them. The material is similar to modern brake linings.

Suspension and wheels


Model T suspension employed a transversely mounted semi-elliptical spring for each of the front and rear beam axles which allowed a great deal of wheel movement to cope with the dirt roads of the time.

The front axle was drop forged as a single piece of vanadium steel. Ford twisted many axles eight times and sent them to dealers to be put on display to demonstrate its superiority. The Model T did not have a modern service brake. The right foot pedal applied a band around a drum in the transmission, thus stopping the rear wheels from turning. The previously mentioned parking brake lever operated band brakes acting on the inside of the rear brake drums, which were an integral part of the rear wheel hubs. Optional brakes that acted on the outside of the brake drums were available from aftermarket suppliers.

Wheels were wooden artillery wheels, with steel welded-spoke wheels available in 1926 and 1927.

Tires were pneumatic clincher type, 30 in (76 cm) in diameter, 3.5 in (8.9 cm) wide in the rear, 3 in (7.5 cm) wide in the front. Clinchers needed much higher pressure than today's tires, typically 60 psi (410 kPa), to prevent them from leaving the rim at speed. Horseshoe nails on the roads, together with the high pressure, made flat tires a common problem.

Balloon tires became available in 1925. They were 21 in × 4.5 in (53 cm × 11 cm) all around. Balloon tires were closer in design to today's tires, with steel wires reinforcing the tire bead, making lower pressure possible – typically 35 psi (240 kPa) – giving a softer ride. The old nomenclature for tire size changed from measuring the outer diameter to measuring the rim diameter so 21 in (530 mm) (rim diameter) × 4.5 in (110 mm) (tire width) wheels has about the same outer diameter as 30 in (76 cm) clincher tires. All tires in this time period used an inner tube to hold the pressurized air; "tubeless" tires were not generally in use until much later.

Wheelbase was 100 inches (254 cm); while standard tread width was 56 in (142 cm), 60 in (152 cm) tread could be obtained on special order, "for Southern roads".

Design changes

Early Ts had a brass radiator and headlights. The horn and numerous small parts were also brass. Many of the early cars were open-bodied touring cars and runabouts, these being cheaper to make than closed cars. Prior to the 1912 model year (when front doors were added to the touring model), US - made open cars did not have an opening door for the driver. Later models included closed cars (introduced in 1915),[17] sedans, coupes, and trucks. The chassis was available so trucks could be built to suit. Ford also developed some truck bodies for this chassis, designated the Model TT. The headlights were originally acetylene lamps made of brass (commonly using Prest-O-Lite tanks),[12] but eventually the car gained electric lights in 1915 initially powered from the magneto until the electrical system was upgraded to a battery, generator, and starter motor, when lighting power was switched to the battery source.

The Model T production system, the epitome of Fordism, is famous for representing the rigidity of early mass production systems that were wildly successful at achieving efficiency but that could accommodate changes in product design only with great difficulty and resistance. The story is more complicated;[18] there were few major, publicly visible changes throughout the life of the model, but there were many smaller changes. Most were driven by design for manufacturability considerations, but styling and new features also played more of a role than commonly realized. In fact, one of the problems for the company regarding design changes was the T's reputation for not changing and being "already correct", which Henry Ford enjoyed and which was a selling point for many customers, which made it risky to admit any changes actually were happening.[19] (The idea of simply refining a design without making radical visible changes would resurface, and score even greater production success, with the VW Type 1.)[20]

Colors

By 1918, half of all the cars in the US were Model T’s. However, it was a monolithic bloc; Ford wrote in his autobiography that in 1909 he told his management team that in the future “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black”.[21]

However, in the first years of production from 1908 to 1913, the Model T was not available in black[22] but rather only grey, green, blue, and red. Green was available for the touring cars, town cars, coupes, and Landaulets. Grey was only available for the town cars, and red only for the touring cars. By 1912, all cars were being painted midnight blue with black fenders. It was only in 1914 that the "any color so long as it is black" policy was finally implemented. It is often stated that Ford suggested the use of black from 1914 to 1926 due to the cheap cost and durability of black paint. During the lifetime production of the Model T, over 30 different types of black paint were used on various parts of the car.[22] These were formulated to satisfy the different means of applying the paint to the various parts, and had distinct drying times, depending on the part, paint, and method of drying.

Diverse applications

When the Model T was designed and introduced, the infrastructure of the world was quite different from today's. Pavement was a rarity except for sidewalks and a few big-city streets. (The sense of the term "pavement" as equivalent with "sidewalk" comes from that era, when streets and roads were generally dirt and sidewalks were a paved way to walk along them.) Agriculture was the occupation of many people. Power tools were scarce outside factories, as were power sources for them; electrification, like pavement, was found usually only in larger towns. Rural electrification and motorized mechanization were embryonic in North America and Europe, and nonexistent elsewhere.

Henry Ford oversaw the requirements and design of the Model T based on the realities of that world. Consequently, the Model T was (intentionally) almost as much a tractor and portable engine as it was an automobile. It has always been well regarded for its all-terrain abilities and ruggedness. It could travel a rocky, muddy farm lane, ford a shallow stream, climb a steep hill, and be parked on the other side to have one of its wheels removed and a pulley fastened to the hub for a flat belt to drive a bucksaw, thresher, silo blower, conveyor for filling corn cribs or haylofts, baler, water pump (for wells, mines, or swampy farm fields), electrical generator, and countless other applications. One unique application of the Model T was shown in the October 1922 issue of Fordson Farmer magazine. It showed a minister who had transformed his Model T into a mobile church, complete with small organ.[23]


During this era, entire automobiles (including thousands of Model Ts) were even hacked apart by their industrious owners and reconfigured into custom machinery permanently dedicated to a purpose, such as homemade tractors, ice saws,[24] or many others. Dozens of aftermarket companies sold prefab kits to facilitate the T's conversion from car to tractor.[25] In a world mostly without mechanized cultivators, Model Ts filled a vacuum. Row-crop tractors such as the Farmall did not become widespread until the 1930s. Like many popular car engines of the era, the Model T engine was also used on home-built aircraft (such as the Pietenpol Sky Scout) and motorboats.

Many Model Ts were converted into vehicles which could travel across heavy snows with kits on the rear wheels (sometimes with an extra pair of rear-mounted wheels and two sets of continuous track to mount on the now-tandemed rear wheels, essentially making it a half-track) and skis replacing the front wheels. They were popular for rural mail delivery for a time. The common name for these conversions of cars and small trucks was Snowflyers. These vehicles were extremely popular in the northern reaches of Canada where factories were set up to produce them.[26]

Production

Mass production

The knowledge and skills needed by a factory worker were reduced to 84 areas. When introduced, the T used the building methods typical at the time, assembly by hand, and production was small. Ford's Piquette plant could not keep up with demand for the Model T, and only 11 cars were built there during the first full month of production. More and more machines were used to reduce the complexity within the 84 defined areas. In 1910, after assembling nearly 12,000 Model Ts, Henry Ford moved the company to the new Highland Park complex.


As a result, Ford's cars came off the line in three-minute intervals, much faster than previous methods, reducing production time by a factor of eight (requiring 12.5 hours before, 93 minutes afterwards), while using less manpower.[27] By 1914, the assembly process for the Model T had been so streamlined it took only 93 minutes to assemble a car. That year Ford produced more cars than all other automakers combined. The Model T was a great commercial success, and by the time Henry made his 10 millionth car, 50 percent of all cars in the world were Fords. It was so successful that Ford did not purchase any advertising between 1917 and 1923; more than 15 million Model Ts were manufactured, reaching a rate of 9,000 to 10,000 cars a day in 1925, or 2 million annually,[28][29][30] more than any other model of its day, at a price of just $240. Model T production was finally surpassed by the Volkswagen Beetle on February 17, 1972.

Henry Ford's ideological approach to Model T design was one of getting it right and then keeping it the same; he believed the Model T was all the car a person would, or could, ever need. As other companies offered comfort and styling advantages, at competitive prices, the Model T lost market share. Design changes were not as few as the public perceived, but the idea of an unchanging model was kept intact. Eventually, on May 26, 1927, Ford Motor Company ceased production and began the changeovers required to produce the Model A.[31]

Model T engines continued to be produced until August 4, 1941. Almost 170,000 were built after car production stopped, as replacement engines were required to service already produced vehicles. Racers and enthusiasts, forerunners of modern hot rodders, used the Model T's block to build popular and cheap racing engines, including Cragar, Navarro, and famously the Frontenacs ("Fronty Fords") of the Chevrolet brothers, among many others.

The Model T employed some advanced technology, for example, its use of vanadium steel alloy. Its durability was phenomenal, and many Model Ts and their parts remain in running order nearly a century later. Although Henry Ford resisted some kinds of change, he always championed the advancement of materials engineering, and often mechanical engineering and industrial engineering.

In 2002, Ford built a final batch of six Model Ts as part of their 2003 centenary celebrations. These cars were assembled from remaining new components and other parts produced from the original drawings. The last of the six was used for publicity purposes in the UK.

Although Ford no longer manufactures parts for the Model T, many parts are still manufactured through private companies as replicas to service the thousands of Model T's still in operation today.

Price

The standard 4-seat open tourer of 1909 cost $850;[32] in 1913, the price dropped to $550 and $440 in 1915. Sales were 69,762 in 1911; 170,211 in 1912; 202,667 in 1913; 308,162 in 1914; and 501,462 in 1915.[27] In 1914, an assembly line worker could buy a Model T with four months' pay.[27]

By the 1920s, the price had fallen to $260[13] because of increasing efficiencies of assembly line technique and volume.

Recycling

Henry Ford used wood scraps from the production of Model T's to create charcoal. Originally named Ford Charcoal, the name was changed to Kingsford Charcoal after Ford's relative E. G. Kingsford brokered the selection of the new charcoal plant site.[33]

First global car

The Ford Model T was the first automobile built by various countries simultaneously since they were being produced in Walkerville, Canada and in Trafford Park, Greater Manchester, England starting in 1911 and were later assembled in Germany, Argentina,[34] France, Spain, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Brazil, Mexico, and Japan, as well as several locations throughout the US.[35] Ford made use of the knock-down kit concept almost from the beginning of the company.

The Aeroford was an English automobile manufactured in Bayswater, London, from 1920 to 1925. It was a Model T with distinct hood and grille to make it appear to be a totally different design, what later would have been called badge engineering. The Aeroford sold from £288 in 1920, dropping to £168-214 by 1925. It was available as a two-seater, four-seater, or coupé.[36][page needed]

Advertising, marketing, and packaging

Ford created a massive publicity machine in Detroit to ensure every newspaper carried stories and advertisements about the new product. Ford's network of local dealers made the car ubiquitous in virtually every city in North America. As independent dealers, the franchises grew rich and publicized not just the Ford but the very concept of automobiling; local motor clubs sprang up to help new drivers and to explore the countryside. Ford was always eager to sell to farmers, who looked on the vehicle as a commercial device to help their business. Sales skyrocketed – several years posted 100% gains on the previous year.

Sales passed 250,000 in 1914. By 1916, as the price dropped to $360 for the basic touring car, sales reached 472,000.[37]

Car clubs


Cars built before 1919 are classed as veteran cars and later models as vintage cars. Today, four main clubs exist to support the preservation and restoration of these cars: The Model T Ford Club International,[38] the Model T Ford Club of America[39] and the combined clubs of Australia. With many chapters of clubs around the world, the Model T Ford Club of Victoria[40] has a membership with a considerable number of uniquely Australian cars. (Australia produced its own car bodies and therefore many differences occurred between the Australian bodied tourers[41] and the US/Canadian cars). In the UK, the Model T Ford Register of Great Britain celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2010. Many steel Model T parts are still manufactured today, and even fiberglass replicas of their distinctive bodies are produced, which are popular for T-bucket style hot rods (as immortalized in the Jan and Dean surf music song "Bucket T," which was later recorded by The Who).

In popular media

"Someone should write an erudite essay on the moral, physical, and aesthetic effect of the Model T Ford on the American nation. Two generations of Americans knew more about the Ford coil than about the clitoris, about the planetary system of gears than the solar system of stars. With the Model T, part of the concept of private property disappeared. Pliers ceased to be privately owned and a tire iron belonged to the last man who had picked it up. Most of the babies of the period were conceived in Model T Fords and not a few were born in them. The theory of the Anglo Saxon home became so warped that it never quite recovered."

  • In Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, where Henry Ford is regarded as a messianic figure, graveyard crosses have been truncated to T's. Additionally, the calendar is converted to an "A.F." system, wherein the first calendar year leads from the introduction of the Model T.

See also

Notes

Bibliography

External links

  • FordModelT.net - Resource for Model T Owners and Enthusiasts
  • Model T Ford Club of America (USA)
  • Model T Ford Club International
  • Ford Model T at the Internet Movie Cars Database

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