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1919 Fordson Tractor assembly line

Life On The Shop Floor – Vintage Factory And Workshop Photos

Studying old factory, automotive machine shop and garage photos can be just as interesting as the cars that were made possible by them. Today we have a number of interesting shop floor scenes without any background information, which are being described only by what can be observed in each setting.

The top photo dated April 5, 1919 shows the end of the Fordson Tractor assembly line, where a worker is operating a swing in place engine cranking machine to start up a tractor. The Fordson was built by the Ford Motor Company in Detroit, Michigan between 1917 and 1928, and later in Cork, Ireland. The photo above is courtesy of the Henry Ford. The photos below are from Vintage Workshops.



  •  The repair shop above is believed to be in the General Motors Service Station building below in France. 


  •    Below is a combination garage, forge, and machine shop run by overhead line shafting and belting.


  •    At the Harley-Davidson factory a young man below is posing with a sidecar body and a  spray booth.


  •                    A woman below is operating a jig-boring machine in a factory during World War I.


  •                       Famous record setter Sir Malcom Campbell with a Bugatti in a garage setting. 


  •                        Edmond Hee’s Early French bicycle, automobile repair and blacksmith shop.



14 responses to “Life On The Shop Floor – Vintage Factory And Workshop Photos

  1. This is a great old photo. My pedigree includes Buick and Flint, Mi. In my personal archive, I have a picture of my grandpa propping up a Liberty crankshaft. Another picture is a shop scene of the 4 cylinder (car) crankshafts being machined. It is a line shaft shop. What I always found interesting, is my dad would go in there to deliver his lunch or bum some money to get a soda (pop). I asked if anybody ever said anything. Dad said no, grampa was the boss.

  2. Great photos, a contemporary inspector would have a coronary seeing what the woman running the jig borer is wearing.

  3. First pic looks like an elementary school where all the kids would hang up their coats in the cloakroom…note the hanging coats on the upper left.

    The guy behind the first tractor looks kind of like a young Hitler….

    Wonder if the HD guy had any lung or skin problems. Safety sure has come a long way.

    • Yes he does look like der Furher. Actually toothbrush mustaches were popularized in the US and then made their way to Europe.

    • Mad Dog,

      My father-in-law builds horse trailers and has a spraybooth inside his shed for spraying frames and body panels. The booth has its own ventilation system to remove fumes, while my father-in-law has to wear a full face mask and protective clothing.

    • “Wonder if the HD guy had any lung or skin problems.”

      Why ? There’s two exhaust fans on that booth…

      He might have just as easily died consuming bathtub gin, given the era of the photo… :/

  4. for some reason,assembly photos of Harley-Davidsons are rare.I keep seeing the same old ones time after time.
    That spray booth one is a new one for me.
    When AMF took over Harley in 1969 they decided to clean house and made them throw out a bunch of their old records that AMF felt were just superfluous and
    gathering dust.I dont know about photos,but a lot of blueprints and other stuff hit
    the dumpster.

  5. The fellow manning that large electric starter on the Fordson tractors has an even larger electric motor immediately to his left that operates the chain for the moving assembly line. It’s visible under the first tractor. Interesting that all of the other tractors have their front ends suspended somehow off the ground. Either related to some sort of front end assembly, or to marginally reduce the amount of space that portion of the assembly line required.

    All of the coats suspended near the ceiling like that were to keep the employees from going back to their coats during the shift. Security for the coats themselves as well as small pocketable parts in the plant.

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