[FoRK] A comment on Avatar

Jim Whitehead ejw at cs.ucsc.edu
Tue Dec 22 06:58:12 PST 2009

A little web surfing finds:

> I'm reminded of a Henry Ford story I was told as a youngster. His
> engineers all told him, a v-8 block could not be cast in one piece.
> So he fired them and hired a new crop, fresh out of college, and
> charged them with designing a one-piece v-8 engine block. Not knowing
> that it was impossible, they designed it and made it work. Of course
> we think there's nothing to making a one-piece v-8 engine block
> today, but back then?
> I wonder how true that apocryphal story is.

 From the link above:

Billed as a five-passenger coupe, the 1932 Ford Model 18 Victoria could 
as easily been dubbed a close-coupled two-door sedan. The U.S. only 
received 8,586 units of the 1932 Ford Victoria's. In secret, Henry Ford 
organized his engineers Ray Laird and Carl Shultz to begin working on 
his own ideas in Thomas Edison's old Fort Myers lab. This laboratory had 
been moved from Florida to Henry's newly established Greenfield Village 
lab in Dearborn, Michigan.

Next, Henry Ford asked Ed Huff, head of the electrical laboratory, to 
develop the ignition system. Huff didn't think that the ignition system 
could be done the way Ford envisioned, and told Ford this. Henry Ford 
wasn't happy with this response and instead when to Emil Zoerlein to 
develop the ignition system, and to keep his work on the down low. The 
design that he came up with was very similar to those found today, 
mounted on the front of the engine and driven directly from the camshaft.

Since business at the Ford industry was going quite well in 1930, Laird 
and Shultz saw little reasoning behind turning Ford's ideas into 
reality. After all, Ford was selling nearly double Chevy's total, more 
than one-million vehicles. In November of 1930, Shultz and Laird finally 
reached success, when two different 90-degree V8 designs were completed. 
One of the designs had the same square dimensions as the doomed 299-inch 
Soth engine, while the other engine had a bore of 3.375 inches and a 
stroke of 3.25 inches, which gave a displacement of 232.5 cubic inches.

Herman Reinhold aided in secretly casting blocks at the Rouge and by 
February of 1931 the first engine was up and running. Four engines that 
were dubbed Model 24 were installed in updated Model A models by June. 
Thinking that this wasn't the time to follow through with this 
experiment, Ford decided that the Depression was looming and that 
business was bad, so he instead decided to release an improved Model A. 
Work on that model began in late summer of 1931.

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