Past Forward

Activating The Henry Ford Archive of Innovation

Thomas Edison Perfecting His Wax Cylnder Phonograph, 1888 (Object ID: P.B.34600).

What's new on The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation this weekend? Host Mo Rocca shows us the hardware store robot; the incredible patent models from Thomas Edison that show us the beginning of our electronic world; how the USG Corp. is leading the way with grooming the next generation of engineers and mathematicians; the Israeli inventors of a printer that fits in your pocket. Learn more here and see a sneak peek below.

Lish Dorset is Social Media Manager at The Henry Ford.

The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation

"Old Pacific II," a 1903 Packard Model F in the National Packard Museum. The car's name is an homage to the original "Old Pacific," in the collections of The Henry Ford.

It was time once again for four days of education and fellowship as the National Association of Automobile Museums (NAAM) convened for its annual conference from March 17-20. Our host this year was the wonderful National Packard Museum in Warren, Ohio, some 50 miles southeast of Cleveland. Approximately 65 volunteers, administrators, curators and board members, representing institutions from Maine to California, gathered to discuss the state of the automobile museum world.

Session topics covered most aspects of museum management. There were presentations on grant research and writing, exhibit planning, marketing and merchandising, and non-profit tax codes. Few talks could match the session on disaster planning for pure drama, though. Wendell Strode, Executive Director of the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, updated us on his institution's infamous sinkhole disaster of February 2014. Though five vintage Corvettes were damaged beyond repair, the museum was featured in more than 2,000 media outlets around the world, and visitation jumped astronomically due to the coverage. I continue to be impressed by the speed and style with which Wendell and his staff responded to the crisis. Continue Reading

Thomas Edison Perfecting His Wax Cylnder Phonograph, 1888 (Object ID: P.B.34600).

On this week's episode of The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation you'll learn about Thomas Edison and his patent models. Want to learn even more? Visit OnInnovation to read more about his work.

Lish Dorset is Social Media Manager at The Henry Ford.

The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation

"Allegheny" and "Sam Hill" Locomotives and Replica "DeWitt Clinton" Locomotive and Coaches, circa 1956-1958. P.B.12920

On this week's episode of "The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation" you'll learn more about our collection of trains found inside Henry Ford Museum. Want to learn more? Take a look.

Look

Locomotives of Greenfield Village

Expert set: Some of the locomotives of Greenfield Village—working artifacts

Lish Dorset is Social Media Manager at The Henry Ford.

The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation

canadian-pacific

Although they are seldom seen in action, snowplows are an important part of the railroad scene.

This snowplow, operated in rural New England and Canada, is one of 36 built by Canadian Pacific's Angus shops in Montreal between 1920 and 1929. It is a 20-ton, wedge-type plow made for use on a single track - it throws snow on both sides of the unit. Built without a self-contained power source, the snowplow was pushed by one or two locomotives. Its ten-foot overall width can be increased to 16 feet by the extension of the large hinged wings on its sides. Moveable blades at the front, designed to clear the area between the rails, can be raised at crossings to avoid damage to equipment.

The snowplow's cab contains compressed air tanks that control the wings and blades, as well as providing air for a whistle used by the plow operator to signal the locomotive engineer. The cab also contains a heating stove. This plow was in service from 1923 until 1990.

You can see more photos of the snowplow here.

The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation

turbine-engine

1963 Chrysler Turbine

Regenerative gas turbine engine, 130 horsepower.

turbine

Chrysler experimented with turbine engines for some 25 years. The Turbine could run on almost anything – gasoline, diesel, kerosene, even peanut oil (with exhaust that smelled like baking cookies)! While the fuel flexibility was terrific, the fuel economy was less than stellar. Chrysler ended the Turbine program in 1979. Note the huge air filter housing in front of the engine. The Turbine gulped about four times more air than a piston engine.

Matt Anderson is Curator of Transportation at The Henry Ford.

Engines Exposed

American type 4-4-0 locomotives, like the “Sam Hill,” are quintessential symbols of 19th century progress. THF.91567

Chances are that, when you hear the phrase “steam locomotive,” you picture an engine like the 4-4-0 “Sam Hill.” No technology symbolized 19th century America’s industrial and geographical growth better than the railroad, and no locomotive was more common than the 4-4-0.

In the 70 years from 1830 to 1900, rail lines grew from separate local routes connecting port cities with the interior to a dense and interconnected network that linked cities and towns across the continent. Likewise, locomotives grew from diminutive four-wheelers capable of five miles per hour to eight and ten-wheeled engines able to reach 100 miles per hour. But the 4-4-0 offered a special blend of performance and ability that made it particularly popular on American rails.

The 4-4-0 takes its name from the arrangement of its wheels. The four small leading wheels, located in front under the cylinders, help guide the locomotive through curves. The four large driving wheels, connected by rods to the cylinders, move the engine along the track. There are no (or zero) trailing wheels on a 4-4-0, but on larger locomotives trailing wheels help support the weight of the firebox. Continue Reading

The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation

“Fordillac” – it’s a 1940 Ford powered by a Cadillac V-8, and it represents everything that makes the Detroit Autorama so great.

The snow is melting and the weather is warming (after a particularly frigid February), but the surest sign of spring in the Motor City is the arrival of the Detroit Autorama, the annual gathering of the best in hot rods and custom cars. From March 6-8, more than a thousand vehicles filled Cobo Center. It was exciting, inspiring, and maybe even a little overwhelming.

Greeting visitors at the exhibit hall’s main door were the “Great 8” – the eight finalists for the show’s big Ridler Award. The Ridler honors the best first-time Autorama entry, and the judges’ task is never easy. This year, their choices included everything from a 1937 Ford woody wagon to a 1965 Dodge Dart. Their winner was “The Imposter,” a fantastic 1965 Chevrolet Impala designed by the legendary Chip Foose and owned by Don Voth of Abbotsford, British Columbia. Why the name? This Impala was an imposter – the ’65 body sat atop a 2008 Corvette chassis. Continue Reading

56-chevy-engine

1956 Chevrolet Bel Air

V-8 cylinder engine, overhead valves, 265 cubic inches displacement, 205 horsepower.

56-chevy

It’s the most enduring 8-cylinder American automobile engine. Chevrolet introduced its “small block” V-8 in 1955 – and kept on building it until 2003. Nearly every General Motors division used some variant, and total production is over 100 million, including later development generations. Not bad for an engine designed in 15 weeks. The compact unit is all but swallowed up by the Chevy’s engine bay. Note the relatively small-sized radiator, too. Efficient cooling was one of the small block’s many advantages.

Matt Anderson is Curator of Transportation at The Henry Ford.

Engines Exposed

omni2

1978 Dodge Omni

Inline 4-cylinder engine, overhead valves, 105 cubic inches displacement, 75 horsepower.

omni

Small cars pack a lot into tight spaces. The Omni makes the most of its engine bay by mounting the unit transversely, with the crankshaft parallel to the front bumper. It’s a layout not widely used in American cars since the early 1900s, but particularly well-suited to compact front-wheel drive vehicles. Power is sent to the Omni’s front wheels via the transaxle, a combination gearbox-differential, on the driver’s side.

Matt Anderson is Curator of Transportation at The Henry Ford.

Engines Exposed