CLOSE
From the Collections of The Henry Ford. Gift of Glenn D. Miller.
From the Collections of The Henry Ford. Gift of Glenn D. Miller.

Show & Tell: Ford Model T Ignition Key

From the Collections of The Henry Ford. Gift of Glenn D. Miller.
From the Collections of The Henry Ford. Gift of Glenn D. Miller.

This ignition key, produced for the Ford Model T between 1914 and 1919, is a relic of a time when the operation of an automobile required much more from the driver than it does today. The metal key, slightly rusted, is now preserved in the collections of The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan.

The pre-1919 Model T, Car and Driver advises, is especially difficult to get going because it doesn’t have a manual starter. Here is the procedure, as described by Car & Driver for those interested in driving a restored specimen: The driver starts at the front of the car, by the right fender, and pulls the choke, while cranking a lever under the radiator to prime the carburetor. Then, she climbs into the car. This is where the ignition key comes into play: she inserts it, then adjusts the timing stalk, the throttle stalk, and the hand brake. Then, she hops back out of the car to crank the lever, using (Car and Driver advises) the left arm: “If the engine backfires and the lever swings counterclockwise, the left arm is less likely to be broken.” At that point, the engine should start.

A group of friends in their Model T Ford car circa 1915. Getty Images.

The elaborate nature of this procedure meant that the driver had to be ready to remember a lot of technical details, and to have a modicum of physical strength. While some contemporary critics argued that women couldn’t handle a Model T, drivers like Britain’s Dorothy Levitt, who wrote a 1909 handbook for women interested in buying and operating an automobile, insisted that the level of technical expertise necessary was easy to acquire: “An engine is easily mastered. A few hours of proper diligence, provided you are determined to learn, and you know all that you have to know.”

Ford’s Model T was unusual in sticking to the crank starter method throughout the 1910s. The electric starter motor, patented in 1903, could be found in most non-Ford cars as the second decade of the 20th century progressed, and their manufacturers boasted of the relative ease of their cars’ starting procedures (the tagline of a Cadillac ad: “The Car That Has No Crank”). While the whole procedure was rendered somewhat simpler with the advent of Ford’s Model A—the driver no longer had to get out of the car and crank—it still wasn’t easy, when compared with our super-quick present-day process.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
technology
Wisconsin Considers Building a Highway Lane for Self-Driving Cars
iStock
iStock

Self-driving cars are already a reality, as companies like Google and Tesla have demonstrated. But the logistics of getting them on the roads with human-operated cars have slowed down their long-anticipated takeover. In Wisconsin, highway planners are looking into one way to accommodate autonomous vehicles when they arrive. Dedicated lanes for driverless cars are being considered for I-94, USA Today’s Journal Sentinel reports.

The project is supported by Foxconn, the Taiwanese tech supplier building a new facility 20 miles outside of downtown Milwaukee. Once the site is complete, it will cover 20 million square feet and employ up to 13,000 people. According to the company, setting aside space for self-driving vehicles could ease traffic congestion, both from new workers and cargo trucks, after the factory opens.

Officials were already planning to expand I-94 from six lanes to eight to accommodate the eventual increase in traffic, but Foxconn says that may not be enough. “We’re thinking about two years down the road; they’re thinking 20 years down the road,” Tim Sheehy, president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, said at a meeting of the Greater Milwaukee Committee.

While Sheehy said the autonomous car lane proposal is “on the table,” he didn’t make any promises regarding the plan’s future. Wisconsin isn’t the only state looking ahead to new developments in road travel: In October, tech investors pitched an idea to Washington state officials to convert Interstate 5 into a corridor for autonomous vehicles between Seattle and Vancouver.

[h/t Journal Sentinel]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Ford
arrow
technology
Ford Tests Exoskeletons That Make Overhead Tasks Easier for Workers
Ford
Ford

Engineers have already developed exoskeletons capable of supporting elderly people and helping paralyzed people walk. But the technology offers benefits to able-bodied wearers as well. That's what employees are learning at Ford's U.S. factories. As Road Show reports, workers there are suiting up in upper body exoskeletons designed to alleviate fatigue and decrease their chance of injury.

Assembling car parts requires workers to reach their arms above their heads thousands of times a day. While most healthy individuals would have no problem doing this type of work for a few minutes at a time, the rate at which these employees are completing the tasks puts an enormous strain on their bodies. This can lead to back and shoulder fatigue, soreness, and even injury.

In an effort to make their workforce more comfortable and productive, Ford has been testing the EksoVest from Ekso Bionics in two of its American auto plants. The non-powered suits fit people between 5 feet and 6 feet 4 inches tall. The lightweight design provides up to 15 pounds of support to each arm without weighing wearers down or restricting their movements. According to Ford, the pilot program has contributed to an 83 percent drop in the number of incidents that led to time off between 2005 and 2016. And on top of staying healthy enough to go to work, employees have reported feeling more energized during their off hours.

The EksoVest has already helped workers launch several new vehicles, including the 2018 Ford Mustang and the 2018 Lincoln Navigator. Following the trial program's success, the automobile company next plans to test the technology in factories in Europe and South America.

[h/t Road Show]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios