Sheet-metal work

It is a characteristic feature of Ford practice that if there is anything to be done, it must be done in the quickest and easiest way consistent with good work. Even in the smallest details this most important underlying common-sense principle of true efficiency is found.

It was not until the beginning of 1914 that the Ford engineers became fully aware of the very great saving in labor cost which could be had by the avoidance of shop-floor transportation of parts in the process of finishing, but at the time of this writing, February 1, 1915, the importance' of short lines of work in progress and in travel, and of starting the travel at the best place, and delivering it at the best place, is fully comprehended.

No end of thought has been given to the placing of all tools or appliances in the best possible position. Instead of putting a battery of presses, or washing machines, or drying ovens by themselves, and carrying the work in progress to them, it has been found that the working time for the full process can be very materially reduced by grouping all the machines, tanks, drying ovens, tables, and trays into as small a space as possible consistent with the necessary "elbow room."

Even such a detail as "cleaning stock" has not been treated with the usual superficial "lick and promise" process found in other shops, but special machines have been devised which will perform this work well and quickly.

For instance, a very good example of the completeness and value of such grouping is to be found in the Ford running-board manufacturing process.

Placed just to the east of the main crane-way in the general machine shop, where the sheet-steel stock can be easily delivered, this department occupies a space of approximately 1,200 square feet.

How the Ford Metal Running Boards Are Made

The steel is delivered in rectangular blanks of the required size, and is first passed through the cleaning machine seen in the foreground below. An endless-chain conveyor in the table carries the stock under a wire brush which cleans the surface thoroughly and prepares it for rolling. As it comes out on the other side, it is transferred to a nipping press, where the two entering corners are clipped off, passing thereafter through six sets of rollers which emboss two parallel beads on the surface, turn up the edges, and flatten the metal against itself in such a way as to form a strong rectangular reinforcement along the edges.

During this process the metal and rollers are constantly flooded with soda water, which is pumped up and over the work by a centrifugal pump driven from the main motor shaft above.

The rolling machine just described stands at right angles to and about four feet to the west of a large drawing press, which performs with one stroke the next two operations, those of embossing the surface and perforating eight holes in the body of the running board. The trade mark name "Ford" is carried in the central part of this embossing die.

So close are the rollers to this press that the workman who handles the job needs only to turn slightly from one to the other. A metal table set in the space directly in front of the rollers receives the work waist high, so that there is no necessity for stooping or taking any unnecessary steps.

Immediately after the drawing operation, another man, standing on the opposite side of the press, withdraws the board and inserts it into the north end of a self-feed automatic washing machine, equipped with an endless-chain conveyor which carries it through boiling water and steam, thoroughly cleaning it and heating it so that it is practically dry when it reaches the other end of its 25-foot travel.

Approximately two minutes are required for the board to go through the rollers, press, and washer. It is then taken out, stacked up, and allowed to dry on a rack. It is now ready for enameling. Here again, Ford efficiency is evident.

Instead of carrying the metal to an enameling oven, the "mountain comes to Mahomet." The first drying oven is only the length of a running board away, so that by tilting the board up slightly it is within the reach of another man standing in front of the enameling tank.

This man stacks the boards on end in the tank, inserts a special handle in one of the perforated holes, and passes it over to another man who completely immerses the board in the enameling liquid, and immediately after hangs it to dry on a cross rod of a double traveling-chain traversing a draining room set parallel to the washing machine.

It takes approximately 45 minutes to complete its journey through this draining and drying enclosure. Twenty-four boards are hung on each cross bar. Placed at the north end of this drying box, and setting at right angles to it, is one of the new vertical Ford japanning ovens, equipped with a patented enclosed-flame burner. As will be seen in the illustration, the desired baking travel is secured, a great saving of floor space effected, by the introduction of this new style oven. So practical and so efficient have these ovens been found, that they are rapidly displacing the old types throughout the Ford factory.

Made by Oven Equipment & Mfg. Co. Parts of burner: 1, main air cock; 2, main gas cock; 3, gas-control cock; 4, air-control cock; 5, upper burner gas shut-off cock; 6, automatic cut-off valve for gas; 7, lighter cock; 8, main air union; 9, main gas union; 10, air-mixture union; 11, lower main air union; 12, automatic valve air union; 13, generator pipe; 14, side air pipe and back connection; 15, front head; 16, back head; 17, cap screws; 18, generator and air-pipe collar; 19, peep-hole cover; 20, main air reducing tee; 21, main air ell; 22, main air 45 degrees ell; 23, gas-burner ells; 24, gas-burner tee; 25, gas-burner pipes; 26, internal air pipe; 27, air cap and bolts; 28, air-cap lugs and screws; 29, lateral ells (short ells now being used); 30, lateral heat-distribution pipes; 31, generator support and heat-distributing tees; 32, mixture tee; 33, main gassupply ell; 34, gas-supply, lighter cock tee; 35, air-mixture 45 degrees ell; 36, air-mixture ell; 37, air-pressure gauge and connections to main air pipe

Only one man is required to transfer the running boards from the dripping and drying enclosure to an upward-moving endless-chain conveyor traversing the baking oven. Twenty-four minutes after, they are extracted by a man on the other side entirely finished, ready for transportation to the third floor, where the step bolts and under blocks are added.

Attention is called to the manner in which the hook handles, which arc used for hanging the running boards on the conveyor in the draining and baking ovens, are returned to their initial position ready for use again. The enameling tank is here shown covered. When this department is in operation, this cover is pulled up out of the way.

Thus it will be seen that what might be a long, tedious process has been condensed into a compact, continuous, efficient process, requiring the services of only a total of eleven men, including a foreman, a subforeman , and nine workmen to complete 2,500 pieces every eight hours. Such is Ford efficiency.

The Front-Fender Job. The Ford front fender is made up of seven parts—the peak, the body, the apron, the ribbon, two pieces of wire, and the fender bracket.

Making the Fender Peak. Starting with steel which is really scrap from the fender body operation, operator No. 1 blocks out the general form of the fender peak, "V"-ing one edge ready for the wiring operation performed later.

This work is done at one stroke in an ordinary punch press, and presents no unusual features. A waist-high pedestal tray at the workman's left hand receives these blanks, from which they are taken by a second man who performs the second operation, that of turning up one side and bending down the other. Operator No. 3 in turn removes them from a similar tray and by inserting them into another press bends the wiring edges still further around.

They are now ready for wiring. This is done in a special Ford wire-rolling machine. The peak is then delivered to another press where the wiring edge is bent over so as to form a shoulder, and another insertion in a similar press flattens this edge and finishes the peak, after which it, along with other stamped parts, is thrown upon the belt conveyor running in an easterly direction between the presses.

From this it is picked off by a sorter at the proper point, piled in rows, and conveyed to the fourth floor, where the final assembly of front fenders is effected.

This department employs seven men and has a capacity of 2,500 fenders every eight hours. Shifts work from 7 a. m. to 3.30 p. m., and from 3.40 p. m. to 12.10 a. m.

The Fender Ribbon

Starting as a ribbon of steel, from a coil at the end of a ribbon roller, the metal composing the fender ribbon passes through six sets of rollers, which in one continuous operation form it into its finished shape, as shown by the section illustrated.

By means of an automatic stop of special Ford design, co-acting with a punch press, this steel is cut off in required lengths and deposited in a metal box from which it is picked out and placed on hand trucks for transportation to the Ford ribbon-bending machine, which sets just to the west of the ribbon roller. This ribbon-rolling machine is made to take two ribbons at once, and by the use of two punch presses one set can be cut for the front fender and one for the rear. The manner in which the ribbon is rolled into shape is unique.

The upper one is taken looking toward the fender department from a position in front of the fender-ribbonbending machine. Note in the foreground the special rolls used for crimping and wiring the edges of the fender apron. Just beyond, with their backs toward the camera, are two workmen operating the welders for fastening the peak and apron and peak and ribbon together

The lower view shows the other side of the fender department. The large press at the left will be recognized as the same one shown on the right of the upper picture. In the foreground, on the floor, and leaning up against the bench, will be seen two views of the ribbon, peak and apron. On the bench at the left is a finished fender body, while on the one in the center, directly in front of the welder, is an unfinished job showing the apron partially tacked to the body ready for treading

Here again Ford ingenuity asserts itself. Not satisfied with the old tin-shop methods of hand-shaping, Ford engineers have devised a very clever and ingenious combination of rollers and levers, which accomplish the required result quickly and simply.

As will be seen from the photograph, the metal is fed into two sets of two pairs, right and left. The operator, by throwing up two camoperating levers, pulls down two through-bolts which grip the metal tightly. By moving the large lever, he brings the eccentric-mounted top rollers down into position against the metal. The power is then turned on and the top roller, which is carried on a U-shaped lever and compelled to follow a circle whose radius is the width of the ribbon greater than the foundation segment beneath, bends the metal in accordance with the required form. By limiting the travel under this roller-carrying arm, or altering the position of the guide stops, the machine can, of course, be made to put this bend in any portion of the ribbon desired.

A machine of like construction is therefore used for the rear-fender ribbon , which owing to its slightly different shape requires a different bend.

These two machines practically do all the work and but two men are needed in this department, one for tending the ribbon-rolling machine , the other for operating the bending machine.

The ribbon-rolling machine has a capacity of 36 feet per minute, and occupied a floor space of 1,405 square feet, including storage racks. The bending machine will handle two sets of right and left ribbon at each operation, and has a capacity of 2,800 pieces per 8-hour day.

Only a small amount of space in the so-called bridge between the new and old buildings is occupied by these two machines, and because they are only slightly removed from the fender assembly, the product can be quickly delivered where needed.

The Front Fender Body

The blanks for the front fender body are cut and notched on one of the large presses in the general machine shop, and afterwards carried to the fender department on the fourth floor, where they are placed in piles on the floor at the left of the workman who operates a press on which the next two operations are performed. The first forms a bead following the outline of the piece, turns up the edges, and perforates five holes. As soon as this operation has been completed the workman standing on the opposite side inserts the end of the fender body under an extension arm press shown in illustration, which noses up the fender at the next stroke of the press.

The manner in which the part is handled, and the effect produced, are clearly shown in the photograph.

The third workman now takes the fender off the table and trucks it to the fender assembly room. Here two pieces are spot-welded on the surface, one as a reinforcement for the running board, the other to strengthen the metal around the holes cut for the bracket rivets. These two spot welders are mounted on the same bench and are so close together that the work can be passed from one man to another without any stooping or moving from their working position.

A table at the right hand of the last welder holds the work until it is picked up by the operator of a press, which breaks the edges down and folds them against the main body of the metal. At this man's right hand is a table, knee-high, on which he, in turn, deposits the part. It is then picked up and put through rolls which crimp the edge ready to join with parts of the fender. This last operation, called edging, also forms the fender body to shape. It is now ready to take its part in the assembly operation.

The Fender Apron

Like the fender body, the metal for the fender apron is first blanked to shape on a regulation draw press in the main machine shop, put through a second press which turns up one edge and another down, and embosses a triangular reinforcement bead following the outline of the piece edge.

It is then carried to the first set of rollers in the fender-assembly room, where the edges are put through a special set of rollers which prepare them for wiring, which is done on two rolling machines.

The next operation breaks the edge for attachment to the body.

Progress through another set of rolls finishes this operation, putting on a shoulder by bending the metal until it is practically at right angles to the face. A reinforcement plate is next spot-welded to the lower end, after which the part is put on a high table at the left of a welder, who feeds it right into a press which "breaks down" the edge into proper shape for fitting to the body.

This part is then ready for assembly.

The Fender Bracket

The fender bracket is made in three operations. The first blanks it out and perforates it; the second, which is a forming operation over a special die, draws the central projecting section; the third perforates the rivet holes.

How the Front Fender is Assembled

The fender ribbon, the fender peak, and fender apron are now brought together. The ribbon is electrically welded to the peak and thrown on to a vertical frame, from which it is taken off by a workman who spot-welds the apron on the other side of the peak.

The next operation is characterized as "tacking the apron to the body," and is done on a bench by hand. With the aid of two plyers and a hammer, a small portion of the edges of the fender body and apron are united. The work is then seized by another workman who runs the work through a compressing roller which "treads down" the joints, firmly uniting the body, ribbon, peak, and apron. The fender is then dropped to the floor and shoved along to a man operating a hand breaking machine on a long bench nearby. Here the running-board end of the fender is "broken," that is bent at the necessary angle for attachment to the running board.

Working directly opposite on the same bench are a number of men, who with mallet, hammer, and templet tighten up the joints, and with a hammer bend the apron and body to shape and draw up the job to required templet form.

Upon being adjudged satisfactorily formed, it is next deposited on a belt conveyor, passing between two men who count the fenders as they go by, and is taken off at the end and piled on a table ready for the addition of the bracket which goes underneath.

This operation is performed by three men. The first man puts in the three rivets; the second fits the bracket and rivet-retainer clamping jig, shoving the work across the table to a man operating a riveter which finishes the job.

The work is delivered on the left to a knee-high table from which it is transferred by another man, after sanding and cleaning, to a truck.

It is now ready to be taken to the glass-enclosed enameling room, which is only a few feet away. Here it is dipped and hung on an endless moving chain which carries it through a baking oven, dipped again, hung on the same conveyor, and finally delivered in a finished condition at the other end, ready for crating or assembly.

An example has been made of the front fender because in its manufacture a number of ingenious machines have been used, which have very materially simplified the work and improved the character of this hardto -make, irregular product. Bent or formed sheet-metal work is difficult to do, and frequently required many makeshifts and hand operations to bring it to its final finished shape. The attention of the reader

is therefore called to the absence of hand operations and the manner in which power-driven machines have been substituted for clumsy hand methods. J The special ribbon-rolling machine, the bending machine, the manner in which the parts are wired, the joining in the final assembly, all show clearly the enormous amount of time and money that have been spent by the Ford Motor Company in solving these problems. I They have standardized the product so that they are able not only to control the accuracy of all the operations, thereby making fenders which are absolutely interchangeable, but they have made the process continuous and therefore easily controlled.

The placing of spot welders, rolling machines, power presses, and hand hammering benches at the proper places in the process line, have so cut down the time required that they are able to produce, under normal conditions, more than 2,500 front fenders per day, or 50 fenders to a man, a most unusual showing when the difficult character of the work is considered.

Three Interesting Drawn Jobs

Although there are innumerable interesting metal-forming jobs performed in the Ford factory, which would no doubt prove interesting to the readers of the literature of metal working space, limitations have

led me to confine myself to three rather unusual ones, namely, the forming of the steering-gear quadrant, the steering-gear column flange, and the fan-belt pulley.

The Steering-Gear Quadrant

The steering-gear quadrant is that piece of metal which will be found fastened to the steering post just under the steering wheel, the part upon which the throttle and spark levers rest.

As will be seen in the picture on page 268 it is of irregular outline, containing three holes. The manner in which this interesting part is formed is as follows: After shearing the stock to size, it is put into a D. A. G. press, which in one operation blanks and draws the metal into rough shape. It is then transferred to another press which draws the projection still deeper, pulling the sides in. On the third draw the general form is finished, and the bottom perforated. It is next trimmed outside on another press, after which the two slots are perforated.

The burrs are then ground off and the face polished on a rag wheel dressed with emery, after which the teeth are embossed by the stroke of another press.

This last operation also turns up the two projections on each side of the quadrant and gives the piece its final form, after which it is ready for conveyance to the steering-gear department, where it is plated and brazed onto the column.

As now manufactured in the Ford machine shop, this part requires two operations for blanking and drawing, but it is expected in the very near future these two operations will be combined so that one stroke of the press will do the work. The total time required to finish the product is five minutes.

Steering-Gear Column Flange

On account of the second operation, where the metal is really turned inside out, the steering-gear column flange presents an excellent example of unusual steel-drawing practice.

How This Piece Is Made

The first operation is a combination blanking and drawing operation. It leaves the piece in a shape shown on the next page. The second draw, which is known as the inside cut, is performed on the other side of the metal and draws the steel cup inside out. The next process gives

Note that between picture two and three the metal is turned inside out this projection an oval shape drawing it out still farther. The next forms it and punches out the bottom, after which the outside is drilled and the bolt holes are perforated on another large press.

A good understanding of the successive operations may be gained by careful examination of the accompanying photographs.

The Fan-Belt Pulley This job is perhaps one of the most interesting drawn pieces which has so far been made in the Ford factory, and for that reason its manufacture will be described in detail.

Starting on a large press, in the general machine shop, the stock is first put through a combination operation of blanking and drawing. It is then transferred to a tray at the right hand of another press operator, who submits it to a second draw. He, in turn, passes it on to another who draws it farther. At the fourth operation it is given its final draw and the center perforated.

It is now ready for annealing. This is not considered a separate operation, because the same man who operates the press which performs the fourth operation also does the annealing. A small annealing furnace placed just at his left hand makes this possible.

After passing through the annealing furnace, the part drops out into a metal barrel. As soon as it has cooled sufficiently, it is put through a press which turns up the metal around the edge, forming the face of the pulley.

The job is now flattened and half crowned, and turned over to a screw-machine operator, who trims it up. This screw machine is so near the presses that there is no trucking whatever required.

The hub is next seized and the crown finished on another press, after which the inside diameter is reamed to size and the holes drilled out on two spindle drills mounted on a special double-headed lathe of Ford design. After drilling, the holes are burred on a drill press near by, and the job is finished.

All this work takes place in an inconceivably small space. The presses, annealing furnace, screw machine, lathe and drill presses are so close together that one can hardly squeeze between, yet each workman seems to have sufficient room to do his part easily and well.

Furthermore, the job is delivered in its finished condition at a point where it can be tossed onto the endless-chain conveyor, so that no trucking is necessary and the men are never disturbed by the moving of trays, barrels, or trucking racks.

What at first glance seems to be a confused mass of machinery, placed without any underlying plan, really reveals itself, upon careful examination, as a wonderful instance of common-sense arrangement, finally arrived at after a painstaking study of operations, handling, and delivery.

It is such a thing as this that mirrors best the mechanical genius and co-operative organization that have made the Ford Motor Company what it is today—unquestionably the marvel of the metal-working world; an institution where brain and brawn have been successfully harmonized in the solution of one of the greatest problems of modern civilization; "individualized transportation" at low cost—the Ford automobile.