Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Ford Piquette Plant: Henry Ford sat here

Henry Ford sat in this rocking chair and revolutionized the world.

He was a man with no education to speak of, but he had a genius for machines and each day he would place himself in his rocker that he left in the corner of his "experimental room" in his Piquette Avenue plant in Detroit and think up improvements for his cars which he would then sketch out on a chalk board for his draughtsmen to draw up the following day.

Ford Piquette Plant

Here's one such improvement, the very first internal combustion engine for the Ford Model T, the engine of the car that literally changed the world.

The first(!) internal combustion engine every made for the Model T

His workers at Piquette would get a delivery of car parts each morning, and in their work bay, they would hand-build each automobile. Parts that didn't fit were hammered or hewn into shape at the side bench until they did fit. There was no complaining to Mr. Ford about the parts you received. You either made them work, or you were fired.
The worker's bay with his work bench underneath the window

At Piquette, Ford was able to produce a car every 12 hours, and his workers were producing over 100 cars a day, unheard of numbers in 1908.  It wasn't until three years later that the assembly line came into being at the new Highland Park plant, the first real behemoth of the industrial age.

Here are some of the gems Mr. Ford and his men produced ...

Here is an early snow mobile, used to deliver mail on the East Coast

This is Model T #220 out of 15 million produced

Another view of this special machine

The Piquette Avenue plant was saved from the wrecking ball fifteen years ago and now operates as a museum focused on the early Ford Motor Company and the world-changing Model T. It is a five star must see for car enthusiasts or anyone interested in the industrial history of America. It's a remarkable place and a beautiful building.