October 3, 2013 The Ford Complex in Dearborn

We made our way to the Ford Museum this morning and were amazed (actually overwhelmed) at all there is to do here.  There are a couple main areas: Ford Museum, Imax Theater, Greenfield Village, Ford Rouge Factory Tour and other areas to do research and tour.  They were running a special - buy a ticket for one attraction and get the second 1/2 off.  So that is what we did - tickets for the museum and the factory tour.

We decided to spend the day doing the Ford Rouge Factory Tour and hopped the bus to the plant.  The ride took about 20 minutes and we saw a short video staring Bill Ford (Henry’s great great grandson) on the plant tour overview.

This is what greeted us as we departed the bus:

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As we entered the visitor center, this F-150 was on our left - which is what they manufacture at this plant:

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There was a guide that explained the visitor center and tour to us - there were six sections to the tour that could be done in any order.  There were also guides available all thru those areas to answer any questions.  She recommended that we do the plant tour first since it was 10:30 and they would be down for an hour at 12 for lunch.

So that was our first stop (no pictures allowed - sorry).  The visitor walkway is above the manufacturing area and we could look down at the assembly line for most parts of the vehicles.  They do a vehicle from start to finish in 90 minutes and about 60 vehicles an hour.

In one of my previous jobs, I was involved in the Total Quality Initiative.  So all those slogans of “Just In Time”; “Bring the Work to the Worker”, “Teamwork”, etc. .... well, it was fascinating to see it in real life and it all working for them.  Henry Ford was way before his time and really the father of making the assembly line efficient while making quality products. 

We spent quite a bit of time watching sections of the truck being put together and talking with the guide about quality testing at the final product assembly area.  Some of those trucks are beautiful!

We left there when they shut down for lunch and made our way to the movies.  The first one was on the history of Henry Ford and the Rouge Plant.  The second was on the building of an F-150 from start to finish.  That one was interactive where we sat in a round room with screens all around us.  When they showed us the paint room, water was sprayed on us - Smile.  When they showed us stamping the steel for different parts, the floor vibrated LOUDLY - it was great!

Our next stop was the observation room where we looked over the whole complex.  Here is a partial panorama view from the windows:

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In the distance is the steel and glass plants - yes, they do make all of that for these vehicles.  To give you an idea of the size, over 50 football fields would fit in the stamping plant which has 1000 presses.

This is the roof of the assembly plant:

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Here is a great link to the history of this plant:


Our last stop was the legacy gallery where they had 6 cool cars displayed and more history.

This is a 1931 Model A that sold for $600.  This Model A hit the market in 1927 and was a tremendous success.  More than 10 million people flocked to dealerships across America to get their first look at this new car:

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In 1932, Henry Ford introduced the V-8 engine and named this car the “V-8”.

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The demand for cars during this time was so great that by 1934, there were over 100,000 workers employed here.   When WWII started, many of the men went off to war and many of their wives, girlfriends and daughters became employees and manufactured aircraft engines, Jeeps, amphibious Jeeps, tank engines and parts for tanks to support our troops overseas.

After the war, the Rouge Plant went back to making autos again and in 1949, a new Ford was introduced that featured a roomy trunk that was nearly two times bigger than before.  This extra luggage space made the 1949 Ford a great choice for cross country trips and family vacations.

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And lastly, the Thunderbird:

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And Mustang:

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What a great tour and great place.

We took the bus back, had lunch at the café, and found out more information on the complex.  Tomorrow we are going to do the Museum and Saturday, the Village.  So stay tuned.

Enjoy today.


Or maybe even, once a week - Smile.

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