Other wonders in the Henry Ford Masewn

| November/December 1992

1421 Dill Road De Witt, Michigan 48820

GEM readers who enjoy anything to do with old machinery and who travel through southeastern Michigan should enjoy a visit to the Henry Ford Museum at Dearborn, about fifteen minutes east of Metro Airport and just north of 1-94. This museum was the result of Henry Ford's desire to preserve examples of American technology. It is said that he sent men all over the country with carte blanche to buy whatever they thought appropriate. Their efforts created a collection of extremely diverse objects, from airplanes to light bulbs, and many things in between- old radios, primitive household machines, like vacuum cleaners and handoperated washers, machine tools, engines, locomotives, farm implements, steam tractors, gas tractors, and a wonderful assemblage of stationary steam engines (including an enormous English Newcomen atmospheric engine- as big as a house-going back to about 1770).

There are a few interesting airplanes. Cars, of course, are a major focus of the exhibits. Most of these are American, although the museum owns one of the six existing Bugatti Royales (it is hard to believe, but the Royale dwarfs the Duesenberg parked near it!) A number of exhibits, such as the roadside diner, and early kitchen, the household items, some furniture and dishes and the shops which sell 'old' items manufactured in the Greenfield Village workshops, make the museum interesting enough even for people who don't want to spend the day staring at locomotives or lathes.

The farm implements are quite interesting in themselves. They consist of many hand tools, such as cradles and pitchforks, and a number of early machines, including reapers. The collection of tractors is neither comprehensive nor impressive, but is nevertheless interesting. I suspect Henry Ford just told his searchers to pick up a few old tractors. There are several huge steam traction engines, and a few gas tractors, the most interesting of which, I think, are the Ferguson-Brown and the prototype 9N.

Not long ago, I wrote to the museum to get a complete list of their gas tractors, thinking that GEM readers might be interested. Here is the list which the Curator of the Collections Division, Mr. Peter H. Cousins, kindly sent to me:

Allis-Chalmers 10-18, 1914Allis-Chalmers 6-12, 1919Caterpillar 10, 1929John Deere 6,1941Farmall, about 1925Ferguson-Brown, 1938Ford Experimental tractor, 1907-1908Ford 9N prototype, 1939Ford 8N, 1952Fordson, 1917Fordson, 1926Fordson F, 1935Hart-Parr 12-24,1929Massey-Harris General Purpose, about 1933 (four-wheel drive)Minneapolis-Moline Universal MTRaymond, about 1922 Samson, 1920-22


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