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Images from the River Rouge Part VI: The Largest Auto Factory in the World

We return to the “Images from the River Rouge” series today with a mixed set of photos of assembly lines and the Ford tire manufacturing plant at the Ford Plant located in Dearborn, MI.

The lead image is a view of the chassis assembly line at the River Rouge Plant taken late in 1935 of the front fender installation area. One worker is holding and positioning a fender while another man underneath it is installing the bolts that fasten it to the grille shell. At the same time, a third worker is installing a front fender bracket on the second chassis on the line.

Learn more about the River Rouge Complex at The Henry Ford, the source of the photos in this series. View earlier posts about the River Rouge here.

  • This photo dating to 1937 contains workers on the engine assembly line installing pistons and connecting rods, and the studs that hold on the cylinder heads.

  • And we finish up here with a November 1942 view of tire manufacturing equipment and Ford tires slated for use on military vehicles for the war effort. Previously Ford passenger car tires were built in this part of the plant.



16 responses to “Images from the River Rouge Part VI: The Largest Auto Factory in the World

  1. I think they are assembling a 35 in the first picture. The grill sure looks like my 35. I think the 36 had more rounded lines.

    • Correct it’s a 35. My Dad had one when he and my Mom were dating. I have pictures of them in it at a rest stop on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia.

  2. The last image, showing the Jeep tires, is well detailed, very sharp with deep depth of field (foreground and background are both in focus). My guess is that it was shot with a 4×5 camera on a tripod with a wide-angle lens, using the swings and tilts to adjust the perspective. Skilled photographer and photo printer.

  3. Jeez,and standing on a brick floor all day too.Gives me the creeps.Did they have Dr. Scholl’s inserts back then?
    Because when your feet hurt your whole body hurts.

    • That’s not a brick floor. It is cut wooden blocks standing on end. They are heavily treated and oiled and offer a better surface to work on than concrete. And also some protection from damage to dropped parts.

  4. The first picture is of a 35, the 36 had two piece front fenders and the grill was entirely different. The engines have block mounted water pumps so they are 37 or later.

    • They are 37 or early 38 since they are still 21 stud cylinder heads, 3 1/16 bore and 221 cubic inch.
      The change to the 24 stud moved the stud that been directly at the bottom of the cylinder so the bore could be increased to 3 3/16 and 239 cubic inch for the Mercury engines. Ford engines remained 221 cubic inch by use of steel cylinder sleeves. Ford engines also had floating bearings inserts. Two opposite connecting rods both rode on a single set of inserts so both the inside and outside of the insert were wearing surfaces.

  5. The Ford tyre plant I believe was parcelled up as a unit and shipped off to Russia as part of a Lend-Lease deal. The tyres had the FORD script marking on and are now reproduced. for GPW and GPA jeeps of the right period.

  6. Hey, could you put some anti-seize on those fender bolts? Those are exposed to road splash are gonna be hard to remove in about 60 years!

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