Barney Oldfield in Henry Ford's 999
Construction of Sweepstakes started in May, 1901, in a shop at Cass Avenue and Amsterdam Street in Detroit. Working with Henry Ford were Oliver "Otto" Barthel, the overall project engineer, and Ed "Spider" Huff, who was responsible for the electrical and ignition systems, and also was Ford’s riding mechanic. They were assisted by Ed Verlinden, a lathe operator, Charlie Mitchell, a blacksmith, and George Wettrick, a lathe hand and engine assembler.
Henry Ford & Ed Spider Huff, his Riding Mechanic, on his 1st racecar Sweepstakes
1902 Ford #999 Barney Oldfield's First and
Henry Ford's 2nd Race Car
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Henry Ford on his way to Victory in the first and only race he ever drove - the race against Alexander Winton on October 10, 1901, in Grosse Pointe, MI
From our Sept 2005 issue of The Running Board y
From Aug 2013 TFRB
In 1927 Henry Ford, wanting his own supply of rubber, embarked on building a
plantation and factory town in the Amazon jungle of Brazil. Cultural clashes, resulting in violence over things as mundane as the diet Ford tied to impose on the local population, were frequent. In addition, the mass production methods that worked well in America were hardly suited to the eco-system of the Amazon. Worst of all, rubber can not be grown plantation style in the Amazon; a fact Ford failed to uncover through research before beginning the project. More a social experiment on which Ford refused to give up until the residents themselves abandoned the project, the modern factory town in the jungle he envisioned never produced latex for a single car. Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City, a fascinating booking detailing this failed utopia, is available online in hardback, paperback, and Kindle for e-readers.
Henry Ford (1863-1947) The Assembly Line
Most people credit Henry Ford with inventing the automobile. The fact is he didn't -- such a complex machine is the result of a combination of technologies developed by many people over time. He did, however, invent the moving assembly line, which revolutionized the way we make cars, and how much they cost.
In 1908, Ford's company began selling his famous Model T for $850 each. The Model T was inexpensive for its day, and proved to be sturdy, reliable and easy to operate. It quickly became very popular; and soon Ford found he was unable to meet the enormous demand for his cars.
Ford's solution was to invent a moving industrial production line. By installing a moving belt in his factory, employees would be able to build cars one piece at a time, instead of one car at a time. This principle, called "division of labor," allowed workers to focus on doing one thing very well, rather than being responsible for a number of tasks.
Ford found his new system produced cars quickly and efficiently; so efficiently that it considerably lowered the cost of assembling the cars. He decided to pass this savings along to his customers, and in 1915 dropped the price of the Model T to $290. That year, he sold 1 million cars.
From March 2005 TFRB
Henry Ford & Harry Ferguson
The story of the deal between Henry Ford and Harry Ferguson, which was sealed with only a handshake, has been told so many times by so many authors that I'm not sure exactly what happened.
Basically, Harry Ferguson invented the three-point hitch and
Ford agreed to put it on his new Ford 9N tractor. Called the
"Ferguson Systemn, this three-point hitch was put together
using a combination of linkage (three different linkage points,
two on bottom and one on top) and hydraulics. It use to be
that hooking up an implement to a tractor was a major affair.
Farmers had hoists and helpers and all kinds of innovative
ways to get that heavy thing hooked up. With the Ferguson
System they need only back up to the implement, hook it up,
raise it with the hydraulics and off they went.
The Ford 9N - 1939 to 1941
So the Ford 9N, the first of the "N Series" tractors was born
complete with the first three-point hitch in 1939. It was developed
as a versatile all-purpose tractor for the small farm and
was exceedingly popular. It went through subtle changes
almost every year of production. For example, in 1939 the
grille had nearly horizontal bars and the steering box, grille,
battery box, hood, instrument panel and tranny cover were
made of cast-aluminum. It had snap-on radiator and fuel
caps. In 1940 these caps were changed to the hinged type.
In 1941 they changed the grill to steel with vertical bars.
Many other changes were made and if you are interested you
may want to purchase a Ford history book that focuses on
the N Series. By the end of 1941 they had made so many
changes, and had so many more ideas for changes, that they
changed the name of the tractor to the "Ford 2N".
The Ford 2N - 1942 to 1947
Some of the newest features on the Ford 2N were an
enlarged cooling fan (with shroud), a pressurized radiator,
and eventually sealed-beam headlights. Other changes were
made here and there due to the war. For awhile only steel
wheels were available, and a magneto system was used
rather than a battery. When the war ended it went back to
what it had been before.
The Ford 8N - 1947 to 1952
The Ford 2N eventually evolved into the Ford 8N, which officially
started it's production in 1947. This was also the year
the handshake agreement between Henry Ford and Harry
Ferguson was ended regarding the three-point hitch. Ford
would continue using the hitch, but would no longer give
Harry any money nor would he call it the "Ferguson System"
any longer. This resulted in a lawsuit which eventually
awarded Harry Ferguson $10 million or so. Harry went on to
produce the 8N look-alike TO-20 and TO-30 but that is another
story in itself ... so back to the 8N. A completely new
line of implements (Dearborn) was introduced. Some of the
noticeable differences between the 9N12N was the change in
lugs from six to eight in the rear wheels, scripted "Ford" logo
on the fenders and sides of the hood (reportedly this scripting
did not actually start until late 1950) and finally, the absence
of the "Ferguson System"patch which was no longer displayed
under the Ford oval (even though the tractor still used
Ferguson's three-point hitch).
August 2005 TFRB
March 2004 TFRB
August 2004 TFRB
Sept 2003 FORD HISTORY AS GLEENED FROM THE FORD BARN WEBSTE
When Ford Motor Co. introduced 'their 1932 model, it was considered a major facelift from the Model A (1928-1931).
The new model had a newly desiqed frame (partly exposed on the side), softer lines, and a painted grill shell over the
radiator (non-nickel plated). The fuel tank was moved to the rear of the car (previously gravity feed from under the
cowl) that called for changes to the four-cylinder engine (a fuel pump). Ford moved the model up one letter to "EY' from
Chevrolet was beating Ford in the sales race with their sx-cylinder engine and Henry Ford was not happy. The answer ,
was the introduction of the V8 to boost sales and performance. The development of the V8 took longer than expected
causing a delay in the introduction of the 1932 Fords until late March of 1932. Now Ford had two models to offer to
the public, a four-cylinder and a V8. The two models had separate desiqations for the purpose of ordering parts. The
four-cylinder was called a Model B and the V8 was desigated as a Model 18.
It appears that the V8 was identified as a Model 18 due to the engineers seeing the 1932 V8 as the first (1) year of the
eight (8) cylinder engine resulting in the Model 18. All of the Ford 221 cubic engne cars followed the serial number
scheme from the first V8 in 1932. The Ford V8 serial numbers started with 18-1 in 1932 and ended with 18-6925898 in
The first Model Bs came out with a non-counterbalanced crankshaft just like the Model A. Once the 1932 models were
introduced, not until March of 1932, due to development of the V8, the Model B engnes were built and stockpiled and none
were sold until the V8 was ready for introduction. In November 1932 Ford came out with a cast counter balanced
crankshaft. This is the crankshaft the builders of Model B engnes look for because it can be regound. In 1935 Ford
opened its rebuilding plant. They sold rebuilt Model B engnes through the local Ford dealers. The factory took the old
core Model B engnes with the unbalanced crankshaft and rebuilt them. They turned down the crankshaft and pressed
on removable counter weights using a steel rod to affix it to the crank. This crankshaft is better balanced than the cast
counterweighted crank but it cannot be regound with the counterweights installed. Removing these installed counter
weights to regind the crank is quite an involved process even today.
This brings us to one of the stories heard over the years about a Model C engine. To clarify this in the beginning, Ford
never made a Model C engine in 1933-1934 years. Ford did sell four-cylinder engnes in the 1933-1934 model years, but
they were updated Model Bs with the cast counter balanced crankshaft. In addition, some four cylinder heads had a "C"
cast into it, but this results from the use of the cast counter balanced crankshaft and is not a model desiqation. The
only Model "C" Ford produced was the 1904 two-cylinder automobile.
Sources: Various individuals from the Ford Barn Website
These pages appeared in the last few months of 1997
From Burns Cox's scrapbook 1999
From Burns Cox's scrapbook (V2-00049-50 & 51)
From July 1996
From July 1996