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      Tractor: Tractor: The Inventor - HENRY FORD
    Posted on Tuesday, October 19 @ 12:03:31 UTC by Cars
      Tractor HENRY FORD (1863-1947) Henry Ford was born on his father's farm near Dearborn, Michigan in 1863. He grew up with the drudgery of farm work and horse-drawn implements and it was this experience that fuelled his interest in things mechanical. By 1893 Ford was an engineer and an employee of the Edison Illuminating Company in Detroit, Michigan. In his spare time he experimented with internal combustion engines and their potential for vehicles. Henry Ford completed his first four-wheeled vehicle, a twin-cylinder, four-stroke engined, gasoline-fuelled quadricycle, on 4 June 1896. It had two forward gears and was capable of 16kph/10mph in low and 32kph/20mph in high. The ex-farmer and skilled mechanic went on to build another car while still in Thomas Edison's employ - this was the "autobuggy", a tiller-steered two-cylinder car with planetary gear transmission and chain drive.

    In 1899 he left the Edison Illuminating Company and founded the Detroit Auto Company, that was initially heavily involved in car racing. It metamorphosed into the Henry Ford Company, which Ford later left after a disagreement about the direction that the company should take: he wanted to build low-cost, affordable machines while his colleagues wanted to build luxury motorcars. After his departure, the company was re-formed as the Cadillac Company. In 1902, Ford built an experimental people's car and in June 1903 he and 12 other men raised capital of $100,000 and set up the Ford Motor Company. Ford's Model A was staked as the equivalent of $25,000 and in the next few months 1708 of them were sold at $850 each. In 1905 the Society of Automobile (later Automotive) Engineers was formed and Henry Ford was elected as one of the vice-presidents. This was at a time when the proponents of steam and electric cars were falling by the wayside and the internal combustion engine was becoming dominant. In the 19067 sales year Ford became the world's largest car maker with the manufacture of 8423 four-cylinder 15hp Model N cars, retailing at $550 each. Ford owned 51 per cent of the company's stock and the company made a profit of $1 million. Henry Ford's reputation was assured. In the same year Ford turned his attention to the possibility of making tractors and assembled a prototype with a view to building the world's first mass-produced agricultural tractor. It was based around the engine and transmission from a 1903 Model B car. Experimentation continued until 1915, when Henry Ford announced that his first tractor would be a light two-plough tractor that would sell for $200. His aim was to do for farmers with an affordable tractor what his affordable cars had done for motoring in general. While development of the tractors was under way Henry Ford did not neglect car production or his workforce. In January 1914 he guaranteed that wages of not less than $5 per day would be paid to non-salaried employees and that there would be a profit-sharing scheme. In August he announced to the motoring public that if the company sold more than 300,000 Model T Fords in the next twelve months he would rebate up to $60 on the price paid. As a result, production soared to three times that of his competitors. The company had a dividend of $12.2 million in the next year and the employees divided up a $10 million bonus. In 1915, as he had promised, he refunded $50 to the purchasers of Model T Fords, having exceeded the 300,000 figure. The company made its millionth car in this year, with the Model T retailing at $440. The Model T was by this time so ubiquitous that a number of companies, such as the Pulford Company of Quincy, Illinois, offered axle conversions to enable the car to be used as a tractor to pull ploughs and harrows. Another similar conversion was offered by Eros. In 1917 Ford was preparing to assemble his new tractors in Britain, but the pressures of the war meant that production had to be transferred to the United States instead. Within four months the Fordson Model F was being produced. The design appeared unconventional in an era of large tractors and three-wheeled machines. It was powered by an in-line, four-cylinder, gasoline engine and used the magneto ignition system of the Model T Ford car. However, the reputation of Ford's automobiles ensured that the new tractor would be taken seriously. Sales achieved a total in excess of 34,000 in 1918 and increased exponentially. Ford produced tractors that were reliable and incorporated refinements gradually as technology advanced. As early as 1918 the Fordson had a high tension magneto, a water pump and an electric starter. Ford continued to make the Fordson Model F during the 1920s and sold the model in numbers commensurate with the recession. This period saw Fordson engaged in a sales war with the International Harvester Corporation. Cutting'prices was one tactic and moving production was another. Production of tractors by Fordson in the United States ended in 1928 but it continued elsewhere, including Ireland and England. The next step was to introduce even more innovative but affordable tractor technology. Henry Ford made a deal with Harry Ferguson, which was sealed with only a handshake. Ferguson had invented the three-point hitch and Ford agreed to put it on his new Ford 9N tractor. This innovative technology endeared Ford's tractors, and in particular the Model 9N, to his farming customers. This was one of Ford's last major achievements in agricultural technology. He died on 7 April 1947 and his grandson, Henry Ford II, assumed charge of the company. It is impossible to quantify the impact Henry Ford had, not just on the tractor industry with the 1.5 million tractors made by his company in his lifetime, but on industry as a whole with his pioneering of mass production and assembly line techniques.
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