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NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

Henry Ford Did Not Invent The Assembly Line

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Like saying night is day or Pink Floyd isn't the greatest rock band of all time, saying Henry Ford didn't invent the assembly line goes contrary to conventional auto wisdom. But he didn't. It was actually Ransom E. Olds.

You read that correctly, Pink Floyd is the greatest rock band of all time. However, it's also notable that Henry Ford, genius of mass production and ardent anti-Semitic founder of Ford Motor Company, didn't actually invent the assembly line, despite often being credited as such. The honor for this innovation instead rests on one of the giants of the era, Ransom Eli Olds. Ransom is one of the forgotten masters of the early century, the man most credited with bringing mass-production to Detroit and largely establishing the auto industry. The Oldsmobile Curved Dash was, for a time during the nineteen-ought's, the best-selling car in America and is considered the first mass-produced vehicles in history, selling 5,000 units in 1904. Those kinds of numbers would imply there was some kind of mass production system behind it.

Olds grew up the son of a blacksmith and learned his fathers ways — diligence and exacting work — at an early age. At the closing of the 1800s, Ransom got to tinkering with steam-powered cars but soon moved to gasoline. In 1895 Ransom and his father opened Olds Gasoline Engine Works where the two experimented and worked and by 1896 had built their first gasoline-powered automobile. He even went so far as to go racing with the terrifying creation above dubbed the "Olds Pirate." In 1897 he opened the Olds Motor Vehicle Company and that year sold a grand total of four cars.

The initial cars didn't sell very well on account of expense and what we'd consider an aversion to being and early-adopter. By 1899 an investor by the name of Sam Smith stepped in and bought the company, putting Ransom in charge of operations. 1901 was a harrowing year for Olds, having moved his operations from Lansing to Detroit and set up shop at the Olds Motor Works, he faced setbacks when the factory burnt to the ground in March. The Curved Dash Oldsmobile prototype was one of the few cars saved from the fire. He began producing later in the year and not only radically reduced the price of the car but made interchangeable parts the order of the day. When supply was outstripped by demand Olds developed and patented the very first assembly line. Ransom put in place much of what we recognize as the assembly line today, defined repetitive operations, fixed stations and parts delivered to the worker. In 1902 the factory's output quadrupled from 425 cars in 1901 to 2,500. By 1905 Olds had moved back to Lansing and was building 5,000 cars a year.

Eventually Smith wanted to go upmarket to serve the burgeoning luxury market and Ransom Olds left to form REO Motor Company and organized many of its suppliers. The credit for the invention of the assembly line often goes to Henry Ford because of one very critical addition, Ford put the cars on a conveyor of sorts, creating the all-important moving assembly line.

link:

http://jalopnik.com/5412420/henry-ford-did-not-invent-the-assembly-line

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This has been a sore spot with me for a long time, Olds fans need to band together and make sure that R.E gets his due for inventing the assembly line.

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I should have read the whole article before making my comment. But still, Ford gets so much credit because he made cars affordable to the average person with the moving assembly line.

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None of the early independant GM Division pioneers get nearly the credit they deserve/earned. Leland, Buick, Olds, Chevrolet, Durant, Sloan, etc.

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^ I can't think of any Olds' glass 'firsts', whether the first 1-piece windshield, the first curved glass or the first wrap windshield - any of these would have been either shared with or preceeded by Cadillac.

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Even FoMoCo's first assembly line wasn't purely Henry's idea - it was largely developed by a college professor he worked on the project with IIRC.

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I should have read the whole article before making my comment. But still, Ford gets so much credit because he made cars affordable to the average person with the moving assembly line.

The Curved Dash was built and sold with a price for the "common man" at that time.

When comparing the assembly line of Ford and Olds, one should note that Ransom did it the same way it is done today and Ford used a system that has since become a way of the past due to quality issues. In the original Olds plant, a person did not send the vehicle on to the next section until they had finished their part of production correctly, making sure quality was of utmost importance. Ford just wanted to crank out the cars as fast as possible ignoring quality for profits.

SO, one can say Ford invented poor quality construction methods, while Olds invented the modern way of producing quality automobiles.

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^ I can't think of any Olds' glass 'firsts', whether the first 1-piece windshield, the first curved glass or the first wrap windshield - any of these would have been either shared with or preceeded by Cadillac.

even back when buick and olds were the test beds of new technology, so when cadi got it they knew what the flaws were and hopefully corrected them?

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Ford just wanted to crank out the cars as fast as possible ignoring quality for profits.

SO, one can say Ford invented poor quality construction methods, while Olds invented the modern way of producing quality automobiles.

was the hose of paint a ford invention? not mocking, but i heard that the black was just sprayed out of a "modded" garden hose? heard this from someone that was a collector of old car memorabilia. ..aka were other brands using paint application tech closer to ...60's?

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>>"even back when buick and olds were the test beds of new technology, so when cadi got it they knew what the flaws were and hopefully corrected them?"<<

Tho all Divisions had proprietory innovations over the years due to their autonomous operation, it was Cadillac that was the wellspring of innovation for the first 50 years or so, not Buick or Olds. In fact, RE Olds & innovation, what come to mind for me is the 1960s (turbocharging & the Toronado) - other than that- not much.

>>"i heard that the black was just sprayed out of a "modded" garden hose? heard this from someone that was a collector of old car memorabilia. ..aka were other brands using paint application tech closer to ...60's?"<<

Have not heard this. Early paint was the bottleneck of mass production due to the long periods of drying time required, and black dried the quickest. I cannot see any sort of open hose working well at all...

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False. Black didn't dry the quickest. It was the cheapest color they could buy.

And The Rolling Stones beat Pink Floyd hands down.

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>>"even back when buick and olds were the test beds of new technology, so when cadi got it they knew what the flaws were and hopefully corrected them?"<<

Tho all Divisions had proprietory innovations over the years due to their autonomous operation, it was Cadillac that was the wellspring of innovation for the first 50 years or so, not Buick or Olds. In fact, RE Olds & innovation, what come to mind for me is the 1960s (turbocharging & the Toronado) - other than that- not much.

High compression OHV V8? The Hydromatic?

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The truth is Old did the first automotive assembly line.

The Assembly line had been around in one form or another and evolved over the previous 100 years under different names. THese ideas were advasnced and perfected in the industrial revolution.

I would assume REO drew on his experiance as a black smith on a lot of this as black smiths were some of the first in the 19th century to employ many of the ideas that evolved into the assmebly line bu name.

The key to it all was standardized parts. I had a great uncle who was an engineer that was involved with the auto industy from the very start. He claimed to his dying day the standard sized fasteners were the key to the real growth of the auto induystry. He alway said the industry would have never advances as it did without it. THe ASE standards played a lot with the industry as a whole.

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Oldsmoboi ~ >>"High compression OHV V8? The Hydromatic?"<<

Cadillac & Olds both debuted their own Hi-Comp V8s for '49.

Cadillac did all the engineering work on the H-M ('32-36), Olds only did the field testing.

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hyperv6 ~ >>"The key to it all was standardized parts. I had a great uncle who was an engineer that was involved with the auto industy from the very start. He claimed to his dying day the standard sized fasteners were the key to the real growth of the auto induystry. He alway said the industry would have never advances as it did without it. THe ASE standards played a lot with the industry as a whole."<<

Here again- Cadillac. Leland came from a firearm & machinist's background, and Cadillac was the first to mandate interchangable parts (for which they won the DeWar Trophy for in '08). The tolerances Cadillac adhered to then were amazing even today.

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