The REAL Fordson, Part III (MYSTERIOUS MOM MYTH)

MYSTERIOUS MOM MYTH


| September/October 1987



Fordsons tractors #33

#33

W. F. Tuohey

National Director, Fordson Tractor Club, 250 Robinson Road, Cave Junction, Oregon 97523 and Thomas G. Brent, Canadian Fordson Branch Director, Box 150, Dewdney, B.C., Canada V0M 1H0

The following is the second part of a story which began in the August 1987 issue.

In last month's story, the 1917 and early 1918 history was traced during which Henry Ford had set up a complete new corporation and remodeled an older brick plant to manufacture a mass-produced tractor for the farmers of the world. After drastically improving an earlier Farkus-designed 'uniframe', a three-piece tractor with the worm gear now on the bottom went into production, as England desperately needed a small tractor in great numbers. This was a completely different tractor than the earlier tested (1916) model, but still not yet the 'Henry Ford & Son' tractor, nor the REAL Fordson which did not appear until April 23, 1918. Instead, this tractor has become known as the 'MOM', as it was originally ordered by the Ministry Of Munitions, deriving its nickname from the initials of this branch of the British government set up during WW I to procure workable farm tractors and equipment.

Originally destined to be produced in England, bombing raids on London dictated manufacture in the United States where Ford promised quick mass-production. Amazingly, Ford and his brilliant engineers shortly came up with a new design and overcame the tremendous obstacles confronting the production of an entirely new tractor design.

As per Ford's intent, a production line was built that would insure speedy assembly once it was underway, the bugs worked out, and parts available from various companies who supplied these parts. Naturally, production started out slowly with just one produced the first week in October, but by December of 1917, 48 were assembled in one week, or 8-a-day, 1-an-hour. Engine numbers verified the progress of the production increase as obtained through official Ford records. January, February and March of the new year 1918 saw still greatly increased production rates with January's production doubled and tripled by February and March. After a year of making tractors, the 'Henry Ford & Son' plant at Dearborn was producing over 150 a day or about 20 an hour.

But returning to April, a large discrepancy is found in all production figures, official or otherwise. This was the point in time in which half of the original tractors (or 3,000) of Britain's order for 6,000 units had been manufactured. What caused this variance in numbers? And why has it been incorrectly stated that the 'first 6000 went to England?' As we continue with the original research and probe deeper into the 'Mysterious MOM Myth', a number of new facts emerge. Also, to conclude this section of the MOM story, the special characteristics which define the MOM tractor are pictured as shown by actual photographs and drawings from the earliest known manuals and parts books as well as some recently discovered publications.