9781594621987 / 1594621985

My Life and Work (1922)


4.12 avg rating827 ratings by GoodReads

Publisher:Book Jungle, 2006



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About the book:

On May 31, 1921, the Ford Motor Company turned out Car No. 5,000,000. It is out in my museum along with the gasoline buggy that I began work on thirty years before and which first ran satisfactorily along in the spring of 1893. I was running it when the bobolinks came to Dearborn and they always come on April 2nd. There is all the difference in the world in the appearance of the two vehicles and almost as much difference in construction and materials, but in fundamentals the two are curiously alikeexcept that the old buggy has on it a few wrinkles that we have not yet quite adopted in our modern car. For that first car or buggy, even though it had but two cylinders, would make twenty miles an hour and run sixty miles on the three gallons of gas the little tank held and is as good to-day as the day it was built. The development in methods of manufacture and in materials has been greater than the development in basic design. The whole design has been refined; the present Ford car, which is the "Model T," has four cylinders and a self starterit is in every way a more convenient and an easier riding car. It is simpler than the first car. But almost every point in it may be found also in the first car. The changes have been brought about through experience in the making and not through any change in the basic principlewhich I take to be an important fact demonstrating that, given a good idea to start with, it is better to concentrate on perfecting it than to hunt around for a new idea. One idea at a time is about as much as any one can handle. It was life on the farm that drove me into devising ways and means to better transportation. I was born on July 30, 1863, on a farm at Dearborn, Michigan, and my earliest recollection is that, considering the results, there was too much work on the place. That is the way I still feel about farming. There is a legend that my parents were very poor and that the early days were hard ones. Certainly they were not rich, but neither were they poor. As Michigan farmers went, we were prosperous. The house in which I was born is still standing, and it and the farm are part of my present holding. There was too much hard hand labour on our own and all other farms of the time. Even when very young I suspected that much might somehow be done in a better way. That is what took me into mechanicsalthough my mother always said that I was born a mechanic. I had a kind of workshop with odds and ends of metal for tools before I had anything else. In those days we did not have the toys of to-day; what we had were home made. My toys were all toolsthey still are! And every fragment of machinery was a treasure. The biggest event of those early years was meeting with a road engine about eight miles out of Detroit one day when we were driving to town. I was then twelve years old. The second biggest event was getting a watchwhich happened in the same year. I remember that engine as though I had seen it only yesterday, for it was the first vehicle other than horse-drawn that I had ever seen. It was intended primarily for driving threshing machines and sawmills and was simply a portable engine and boiler mounted on wheels with a water tank and coal cart trailing behind. I had seen plenty of these engines hauled around by horses, but this one had a chain that made a connection between the engine and the rear wheels of the wagon-like frame on which the boiler was mounted. The engine was placed over the boiler and one man standing on the platform behind the boiler shoveled coal, managed the throttle, and did the steering. It had been made by Nichols, Shepard & Company of Battle Creek. I found that out at once. The engine had stopped to let us pass with our horses and I was off the wagon and talking to the engineer before my father, who was driving, knew what I was up to. The engineer was very glad to explain the whole affair. He was proud of it.

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