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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Mass Production: 1903

Mass Production: 1903

November 1903. "Assembling room, Leland & Faulconer Manufacturing Co., Detroit. Men working in foundry and machine shop that produced automobile engines and merged with Cadillac Motor Co. in 1905." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

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'03 Cadillac engine

The basic casting, which you can see pretty well in the picture on Shorpy, and what the Cadillac single looked like when complete.

Coat hooks

The coat hooks seem pretty high but I notice that they appear to be attached to a long board with a handle at the bottom, so my guess is that you put your coat and hat on the hook then hung the board up on the post.

Mass production sans Henry Ford

The name of Henry Leland is very important in the early history of American automobiles. The Cadillac Motor Co. started life as the Henry Ford Manufacturing Company in 1899, with a very young Henry Ford as the main inventor and engineer. At that stage of life, Ford was more interested in racing and testing concepts that would later be used in his cars, so he left the company and moved on to form the Ford Motor Company in 1903. Leland was left in charge of the company, and it was he who renamed it as the Cadillac Motor Co. Then he too left the company to form the Leland and Faulconer Manufacturing Co.

Leland's enduring contribution to the early development of automobiles can be seen clearly in this photo: the concept of standardized, uniform parts. Before Leland perfected the concept of standardized precision machining, all manufactured goods were made of parts that were literally hand-fitted in place, and they were not interchangeable with the same part on a different automobile. Leland took the concept of precision manufacturing from the gun factories and perfected it until all Cadillac engines, transmissions and chassis were built with standardized parts. In a very highly publicized demonstration, a pair of Cadillacs were taken apart completely, their parts were mixed, and then cars were reassembled and made to work without any failure and without having to hand-fit a single part. This feat earned the company the right to be called "The Standard of the World", a motto that it displayed proudly on its ads for years.

Another point of interest here is that the engines are being built on stationary work benches. A team of workers would put together all the parts that made a single engine, and would not intervene in the work of the other teams. This limited the flexibility of the assembly area, used up a lot of manufacturing floor space, and made for very disparate building times and manufacturing costs per unit.

A decade or so after this photo was taken, Henry Ford, forced by the increasing demand for his popular Model T car, began experimenting with the moving assembly line, and that would mark the beginning of the so-called second industrial revolution, where the division of labor and the studies of times and motions would change forever the way manufactured goods were made.

Of note:

Chains go up to the windows in the ceiling to let out the hot air. Coat hooks seem awfully high, but they had to be clear of spining machines. Not a fat guy in the bunch. I can smell the old wood and the grease smell.

"Okay, we shut down after lunch and walk,

until they agree to a ladder for our coats and hats".

Not Yet

It appears they're making hit n' miss engines with pulleys to accommodate leather belts. It just doesn't look like automotive machinery to me.

So much for the old school way

The shop isn't much tidier than the office (previously pictured on Shorpy), though with better justification for the dust and clutter.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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