Ford design department circa 1912 – archive, 17 September 1912

Before Ford launched the Model T in 1908, Americans received their fuel from trains, which took goods between the interior and the interior. Accordingly, trains were covered in dust. The railroads accommodated the need for cleaner-burning engines. When Model A production began in 1910, Ford found itself with a second class of railroad passenger car it no longer wanted. So the company went out and bought a little car, for $100, in the same type of trim and body treatment as the Model T, Engine No. A96-B2-2. Ford called it a Hot Rod Before its Time.

Ford poured a black cardboard wrap containing drying powder over the top of the engine and wrapped a bucket with lime-colored sawdust around the bottom.

Reed Hundley, Ford’s welding supervisor, set up a pair of sawhorses behind the engine. He attached two three-feet wide pieces of aluminum oxide fasteners that snap in place in hard-surfaced machinery, like a special-shaped packing carton.

Hundley lifted the sawhorses with a pliers; he carefully pricked eight studs with a steel toothed shears.

“In a few minutes, the paint on the body will harden,” Hundley said. He then turned to the engine. “Take this and place in front of it like a closet,” he said, pushing the hot casing under pressure.

“The wheel rotates on its own because of the friction of the powder,” he said. “Now slide the cap at each hub shut. It won’t open and leave a hole. Then go ahead and close the steel plate snugly over the cowling.”

Then he proceeded to rattle the cover of the hood, tapping on it for rapid, rhythmic motion that slowly and crisply rose and sank.

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