This silent film -- probably made by Eastman Kodak as part of the company's educational film library --shows a Ford Model A assembly plant, probably the famed Rouge Ford Plant, and the manufacturing of these vehicles of the late 1920’s. According to a Ford expert, the closed bodies cars are Model As with all steel doors, and the crankshafts depicted are also Model A.Introduced in 1927, the Model A was Ford's second market success after the Model T which had been in production for 18 years. By late 1929, two million Model A's were sold. The range of body styles ran from the Tudor at US$500 to the town car with a dual cowl at US$1,200 ($20,862 in 2021 dollars ). Model A production ceased in 1932, after 4,858,644 had been made. Its successor was the Model B.
The film opens with a map pointing to Michigan. Henry Ford’s first Model T was crafted in 1908 at Ford’s Piquette Avenue plant in Detroit, Michigan (:38). The 1928 Model A was the first automobile completely built at the Rouge, Ford Motor Company's massive factory complex in Dearborn, Michigan, and this is likely what is shown in the film. The plant's first products were WWI anti-submarine boats produced in Building B, part of the Dearborn Assembly Plant, which started producing Model A's in the late 1920s and continued production through 2004.In the 1920’s, half of the world’s automobiles were coming from Ford in Michigan (:45). Description of the materials which go into the manufacturing of these vehicles flow on screen such as tin, glass, zinc, cloth, rubber, gasoline and others (1:01). The use of steel in the automobile industry is pointed to first (1:45) as the film turns to a steel mill (1:50). Inside of the mill, workers funnel coke and iron ore into an open furnace (1:55) and sheets of the white-hot metals are seen afterwards (2:12). The production of a crankshaft is then shown (2:46) as large machinery pummels the metal into shape. A span of the completed crankshafts follows (2:39) and an engine is slowly lowered into place (3:53). Fenders, also made from steel, are bent forcefully into shape by machinery (4:10). Once painted with a fresh coat of black; as black was for a long time the only color available for vehicles, they are set to hang dry (4:28). Rubber is examined next (4:47) beginning with the extraction of latex; a milky liquid from the cells of specific plants in the tropics (5:16). This liquid is collected, poured into containers and stretched out (6:23). The natural rubber must then be smoked for ten days (6:37). Once the rubber is sent to the automobile plant, men work to fit it around wheels (7:16). Fresh tires move down the assembly line (7:40) and tire fittings are installed (8:04). Glass is seen in production for the Model T as a hot liquid which is being pressed and rolled flat into thin sheets (8:47). The glass is then sanded down and polished (9:22) and lines are drawn to cut it into specific shapes which will fit the vehicles (9:31). Automobile bodies are sprayed black (10:04). Workers fit glass into the passenger side window (10:13). Completed models sit outside the Detroit plant (11:19). The film turns to the fueling of the vehicles (11:29). Oil rigs (11:44) and large oil drums (12:17) follow. A truck is filled with fuel through the top of the vehicle (12:38). As vehicles required satisfactory roads, construction of roadways follows (13:31). A truck dumps out a vast quantity of dolomite to be used as a road-based material (13:35). Completed modern roadways smooth and black are seen with 1920’s style automobiles and a double decker bus riding over it (14:15).
The Highland Park Ford Plant was designed by Albert Kahn Associates in 1908 and was opened in 1910. Ford automotive production had previously taken place at the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant, where the first Model Ts were built. The complex included offices, factories, a power plant and a foundry as part of Ford's strategy of integrating the supply chain. About 102 acres in size the Highland Park Plant was the largest manufacturing facility in the world at the time of its opening. It set the precedent for many factories and production plants built thereafter.
This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the USA. Entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p HD and 2k. For more information visit http://www.PeriscopeFilm.com