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History Model A Factories - Where Are They?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Tommy R, Jun 10, 2011.

  1. Tommy R
    Joined: May 18, 2004
    Posts: 717

    Tommy R
    Member

    Hey folks,

    I read recently that all Model A's were built in a particular building in Detroit. Unfortunately, I can't recall where I read this...perhaps in a magazine, TRJ, or even here. Reportedly this building is still in existence and was recently used as a backdrop for a photo shoot. If true, it gave me an idea. Once my hot rod is done and proven reliable (ha!) I would love to drive it up from Austin to Detroit simply to get a picture of it in front of the factory that gave it life 80+ years earlier. Of course, it would be a fun roadtrip and who needs an excuse for that, right? :)

    Well, in reading the recent thread on the "Ruins of Detroit" there was mention of a Ford factory in New Orleans (my hometown). I thought this was interesting and it made me question if all A's were indeed built in Detroit....or in one particular building. So now I'm interested in finding out what I can regarding where A's were built/pre-assembled/assembled/etc. Is it true they were all built in one particular building? Perhaps all bodies built in one location? What kind of information do we have regarding where they were built?

    I've been searching, but it's tough due to the enormous number of topics that pop up using those keywords. So if anyone has any information or resources that have this information I would really appreciate it. Ultimately, I guess I'm interested in finding out which factory my early '30 coupe drove out of so many years ago.

    Thanks!
     
  2. gas pumper
    Joined: Aug 13, 2007
    Posts: 2,956

    gas pumper
    Member

    Model A parts were made at River Rouge plant. And then a lot of parts were shipped to assembly facilities all around the country.

    Ford's plan was that the vertical intergrated factory, raw material in-finished product out, was the most efficient way to produce automobiles. The shipping of box car loads and ship's full of car parts was cheaper than shipping assembled cars, tho. So that's where sending the parts to assembly plants came in. And finishing the cars close to the end market.

    A nice website of old Ford Factories and explainations of how this all worked. http://www.fordmotorhistory.com/factories/index.php
     
  3. Corn Fed
    Joined: May 16, 2002
    Posts: 2,992

    Corn Fed
    Member

    They were made in factories all over the States, Canada, and other countries. Go to the Model A restorers site (MARC?). I do believe that all the engines were made at the Rouge plant though.
     
  4. Bruce Lancaster
    Joined: Oct 9, 2001
    Posts: 21,682

    Bruce Lancaster
    Member Emeritus

    There were more than 30 assembly plants. Home factory was the Rouge, which made ALL USA Model A engines. Ford Canada made its own engines, Ford of England made engines after about 1930.
    So, all US A's were born at the rouge...other components came form all over, many Ford plants, many outside suppliers, and some of the bigger assembly plants manufactured components as well as screwing them together.
     

  5. Dale Fairfax
    Joined: Jan 10, 2006
    Posts: 2,585

    Dale Fairfax
    Member Emeritus

    By the time the "A" was introduced, Ford had assembly plants all over the country. Following is a partial list of plants which assembled "A"s. Atlanta, Buffalo, Charlotte NC, Chester PA, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Des Moines, Edgewater NJ,Houston, Indianapolis, K.C., Long Beach. This is taken from Lorin Sorensen's The Ford Factory. So it's not realistic to believe a legend about "all As being assembled in one factory". Now, the engines and transmissions for all domestic production came from the Rouge.
     
  6. Dale Fairfax
    Joined: Jan 10, 2006
    Posts: 2,585

    Dale Fairfax
    Member Emeritus

    Apologies to gas pumper, CornFed, and Bruce-I was still typing when you guys posted.
     
  7. xon
    Joined: Jun 29, 2008
    Posts: 254

    xon
    Member
    from detroit

    my company does maint at the rouge site and parts of b building are still there that was the model a assembly bldg i believe later on became the mustang assembley plant...
     
  8. subdajj
    Joined: Jul 18, 2009
    Posts: 174

    subdajj
    Member

    Do you have the original VIN#
     
  9. Steve Ray
    Joined: Mar 2, 2001
    Posts: 673

    Steve Ray
    Member

  10. OoltewahSpeedShop
    Joined: Oct 18, 2007
    Posts: 3,103

    OoltewahSpeedShop
    Member

    Is there any way to tell which plant your (our) cars were assembled? I know later cars had a letter designation in the serial # telling which plant they came from.
     
  11. derbydad276
    Joined: May 29, 2011
    Posts: 1,324

    derbydad276
    Member

    if you came up to dearborn you could take pics at greenfield village they hold a model A convention every year
    also there is the the model T plant on piquette its kinda cool
    http://tplex.org/
    there are also several sites arond detroit you can take pic Nankin Mills was a small job shop that built parts there is also the dearborn inn on oakwood
    it would make one hell of a trip from austin to detroit and back
     
  12. Von Rigg Fink
    Joined: Jun 11, 2007
    Posts: 13,426

    Von Rigg Fink
    Member
    from Garage


    yes , there is a number on the original sub rail where the front seats bolt to..

    on MAFCA site there is a way to find out what those numbers mean and where the final assembly was for your car

    mine was Twin Cities Minn. TC

    http://www.mafca.com/downloads/Technical/Assembly Plants Body Number.pdf
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2011
  13. Von Rigg Fink
    Joined: Jun 11, 2007
    Posts: 13,426

    Von Rigg Fink
    Member
    from Garage

    the "original numbers" were serial numbers or production numbers..they dont tell you much, other than where your car was in the total production..

    like *A 000 001* would have been the first one..etc....so they ..the numbers are really "production Numbers" technically
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2011
  14. Von Rigg Fink
    Joined: Jun 11, 2007
    Posts: 13,426

    Von Rigg Fink
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    from Garage

  15. Cymro
    Joined: Jul 1, 2008
    Posts: 726

    Cymro
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  16. BigBlockBuck
    Joined: Jun 19, 2010
    Posts: 64

    BigBlockBuck
    Member

    We have one on the river in downtown Jacksonville. It sat empty for god knows how long. A few years ago a shipping company took what was left of the glass out of the windows (there was a whole bunch of them), left them open and is now using the building to store trailers. I always thought it was a shame nobody has ever done anything with the building, it is a very nice building and obviously a part of local history.
     
  17. Harms Way
    Joined: Nov 27, 2005
    Posts: 6,869

    Harms Way
    Member

    This is the Long Beach Ca. plant
    [​IMG]

    This building might be Detroit,... But I'm not sure.
    [​IMG]
     
  18. AntiBling
    Joined: Jul 25, 2004
    Posts: 612

    AntiBling
    Member

  19. Tommy R
    Joined: May 18, 2004
    Posts: 717

    Tommy R
    Member

    First of all, thanks to all of you for the helpful information! I've bookmarked many of these sites and will spend some time looking through them. It's a lot to digest.....

    I've heard a lot of this Rouge facility, but I guess it's time to do some deeper research. You mention that Model A parts were made there. Do you mean all parts? I suspect that some parts were made in different buildings/locations or even other suppliers?

    Let's forget about "assembling" the cars for a moment and talk about where the individual parts were formed, stamped, machined, cast, painted, etc. Were most of these processes done in Ford's plant(s) in Detroit? That seems feasible from what y'all are saying. Obviously, these parts would then get shipped (crated) to regional assembly plants, such as the New Orleans location I mentioned initially.

    Sadly, no. All I have is the body, but judging by the dash it was an early '30 model. I bought it from Kansas, but it was last "together" somewhere in Wisconsin. So I really don't know that I have any distinguishing ID anywhere on the car. Although, Von Rigg Fink's post below intrigues me!

    Thanks for the info! Even if I can't locate THE location where my car got life, I'd still like to make the trip to Detroit in the coupe. Detroit is still it's birthplace, right? :) I think it would be an epic road trip.

    That's interesting! And this subrail is attached to the body, correct? I'll have to take a look for it. Any info. you may have with regard to where to look on the subrail would be appreciated! Well, assuming it's actually on the body. Otherwise, I'm SOL. ;) But I'll check that site again for the number location.
     
  20. Von Rigg Fink
    Joined: Jun 11, 2007
    Posts: 13,426

    Von Rigg Fink
    Member
    from Garage

    TOMMY R SAID>>__>That's interesting! And this subrail is attached to the body, correct? I'll have to take a look for it. Any info. you may have with regard to where to look on the subrail would be appreciated! Well, assuming it's actually on the body. Otherwise, I'm SOL. ;) But I'll check that site again for the number location.[/QUOTE]


    look right where the front seat mounts to the sub rail..right behind your feet when you sit in the seat..on that sub rail (if its original to the car and if it got stamped) should be numbers something like mine..TC 45_ _..

    this was on my Tudor sub rails..it could also be stamped on another sub rail or side sub rail for the body..Not the cars main frame..those numbers are the production numbers

    in the picture below, you will see the 2 S shaped seat mounts..that is the sub rail i found my numbers on..right between both mounts

    [​IMG]
     
  21. Tommy R
    Joined: May 18, 2004
    Posts: 717

    Tommy R
    Member

    Excellent! I'll have to look closer when I get home, but I'm not sure I have the same seat mounts. Here's a side view of mine:
    [​IMG]

    Here's a rear view, but I can't really see if there are any S shaped mounts up in there.
    [​IMG]
     
  22. Bruce Lancaster
    Joined: Oct 9, 2001
    Posts: 21,682

    Bruce Lancaster
    Member Emeritus

    The way it worked in the USA, I think...
    All engines were manufactured, tested, and run in at Rouge...they got the serial # there, then could be assembled right next door or sent off to an assembly plant on the other side of creation...so engine is datable but car could be somewhat later. Ford USA actually built numbered Model A engines up til WWII...engines that were complete with all accessories and run tested got serials.
    Rouge plant made most parts of all types, then many other Ford factories made other parts or were alternate suppliers, and outside companies built parts too. Ford normally had multiple sources for price competition and so production could not be shut down by labor trouble or a fire at any one place...look up GM and the Hydramatic fire!
    Bodies are a good exemplar: Common body styles like sedans and roadsters were manufactured at Ford, and I think some stampings were also made for these at some of the bigger outlying Ford plants. Body companies like Murray and Briggs also supplied parts for the common bodies...
    Some lower production bodies, like the Fordors, were made ONLY by an outside body company, like Budd building the pickup cabs...
    Some bodies were shipped fully assembled and trimmed, others (look closely at a tudor) were built up in big sections and assembled and trimmed when they arrived at a plant... some but not all bodies got a sequence and plant stamping when assembled. Everything was of course done continuously so parts arrived when needed and there were not huge stackups of parts clogging the system, and of course many commonly needed fixit parts for A's were manufactured by Ford into the fifties to keep the parts counter stocked.
     
  23. Louisville, Ky is also a possible source. We have 2 plants now, but back then it was on southwestern parkway. They left from there after the flood of '37 to build L.A.P. and later in 69, K.T.P. Try a book named " Barefoot boy on the Parkway" That may give you some insight also...
     
  24. BOTH model T plants are still standing, the original Piquette plant, AND Highland park plant. NOT NICE NEIGHBORHOODS. I went to look at an O/T fairlane last winter that a guy pretty high up in ford owned and stored, at the highland park plant. It has mucho security, and the D.E.A (yes, THAT D.E.A.) also operates out of there..... I took TWO guns with me, but the ford guy said that I was probably in the safest place in all of detroit...... I didnt get to travel very far in the place, but there was a huge plaque on a wall stating that they had built XX million Model T's there.... THere is so much FORD history here, Henry and Clara's House, Edsel's house, etc. Anyone who comes here MUST go to "THE HENRY FORD" which is the new name for Henry Ford Museum, and Greenfield village... It is like going back in time in the village, steam trains running, guys blowing glass, Model T rides and model T's driving everywhere, Thomas Edison's house/workshop, The wright brothers workshop, etc. In the museum, they have the camper Henry Ford and Thomas Edison and others used to go camping in... WOW, to be a fly on a tree at their campfire discussions huh?!? They give tours at the piquette plant, I have never been but plan to go very soon. Also there is tons of auto history and museums in Flint, (buick city) Lansing, (REO museum) Walter P chrysler museum (auburn hills, chrysler world headquarters) GM's heritage car collection downtown detroit, Renassance center, GM world headquarters..... I have lived here my whole life (a whole 30 years) and cant get enough of this kind of stuff, and I think it will probably take the rest of my life to see MOST of it! Oh, and I just found out, they are supposed to be building a national Model A museum at the gilmore car museum,Hickory corners, MI, which is 90 acres of old fashioned gas stations, dealerships, cars, etc..... That place is also on my list for this year...... If I am remembering correctly, I think they tore down the famous stacks you see in all the iconic pictures of the rouge not too long ago.... I still have my grandfather's rouge badge from 1940 before he went off to war...... THey also give tours of the rouge.....

    James
     
  25. Von Rigg Fink
    Joined: Jun 11, 2007
    Posts: 13,426

    Von Rigg Fink
    Member
    from Garage


    sedans used the s shaped seat mounts, coupes used a seat riser like you have, I dont know if the coupes had the numbers stamped on that first cross rail or not..sand blast it or clean it up real good, they could still be there
     

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