Thursday, May 4, 2017

Master of Precision: Henry M. Leland (1966)

I 1st read the Master of Precision in the early 80's, and wanted to revisit it as I am getting back into manufacturing in the great city of Detroit.

Forgotten because he didn't put his name on the companies he started most notably the Cadillac Motor Co. and the Lincoln Motor Co.

So in fact old Henry started two of the most popular lux brands in the industry.

One of the sides lines that the book reminds us of is just how much of an A-Hole Henry ford was; a small man who lied and cheated others just because he could.

Henry came from the Horse Age and lived into the Air Age. He was without a doubt one of the fathers of the Automobile Age. Lelands father was farmer and drove an eight-horse wagon between Boston and Montreal.

The Father of Precision may be a better name:  
I had trouble at first, in the early 1900s, in selling Mr. Leland our roller bearings. He then taught me the need for greater accuracy in our products to meet the exacting standards of interchangeable parts. Mr. Leland came to the industry with a mature experience in general engineering and in gasoline engines, which he had long made for boats. One of his specialties was precision metalwork, which went back to his experience in tool making for a federal arsenal during the Civil War, and which he afterward developed in the Brown and Sharpe Company, machine-tool makers of Providence, Rhode Island. It has been called to my attention It has been called to my attention that Eli Whitney, long before, had started the development of interchangeable parts, a fact which suggests a line of descent from Whitney to Leland to the automobile industry.

And who do you think created the electric started for the industry?
After getting to know the young Daytonians  Henry Leland told them about a friend of his who had stopped to help a woman whose car had stalled. As he cranked the starter, it kicked back and broke his jaw. The man later died from an infection as a result of that accident. This led Leland to ask Kettering and Deeds if they could use electricity to start a car. Of course, they accepted the challenge. A self-starter would not only prevent such accidents but would also open up the car market to women who were unable to crank a car. They returned to the Barn to try and make the first self-starter for automobiles... It was an intense period of hard work, trials and errors, but they ultimately had the system functioning well enough to submit the patent in November of 1910 and had it running on a Cadillac in January 1911. Following extensive testing in Detroit, Deeds and Kettering received an order for 12,000 systems from Henry Leland. The size of this order caught them by surprise and they were unable to find anyone to make such a quantity. So now they had to become manufacturers and moved into a new building downtown, effectively ending the need for the barn. But from 1908 to 1911, it was the birthplace of automotive electrical equipment.

I was born and raised in Detroit and will most likely die here, my father and his father worked in the car industry. I watched the decline of Detroit my whole life and never thought I would live to see the return.
But with pride I am happy to say that it is truly on its way back and the energy here is amazing.
I am joining in with the others to bring small scale manufacturing back in the areas of leather working.

No comments:

Post a Comment