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7 comments

Not Much of an Engineer: Ford in Britain During WWII

Posted March 15, 2011 8:30 AM by dstrohl

To celebrate its centennial, Ford of Britain dug up this image of workers assembling Rolls-Royce Merlin engines. The aero engine assembly didn't take place at Dagenham, but at the factory in Trafford Park, Manchester, that Ford opened at the request of the British government to build the engines under license engines for the RAF. The Luftwaffe apparently bombed the factory a few days after it opened in May 1941, but it appears the plant was able to continue building engines because it was designed in two separate sections to minimize the effects of a bombing.

Reader Randy M adds the following: Trafford Park produced 34,000 Merlins for use in the Spitfire and Lancaster bomber. In his autobiography Not Much of an Engineer, the jet engine designer Sir Stanley Hooker states: "once the great Ford factory at Manchester started production, Merlins came out like shelling peas. The percentage of engines rejected by the Air Ministry was zero. Not one engine produced was rejected."

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Commentator

Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Rockhampton Queensland
Posts: 67
Good Answers: 1
#1

Re: Not Much of an Engineer: Ford in Britain During WWII

03/15/2011 11:20 PM

Sir Stanley Hooker's autobiography, should be compulsory reading for High School students, both sexes.

When I become President of the world, it will become so.

Cheers Mark N.

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Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Florida & Ireland
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#4
In reply to #1

Re: Not Much of an Engineer: Ford in Britain During WWII

03/19/2011 6:27 PM

Hey, hang on - I've been waiting for that job for about 60 years! At 69, the chances aren't looking too good right now, but it's my turn first.

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Commentator

Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Rockhampton Queensland
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#5
In reply to #4

Re: Not Much of an Engineer: Ford in Britain During WWII

03/19/2011 7:56 PM

I will need a motza of Ministers to carry out the different portfolios.

lets not compete, (Obama-Clinton), lets unite, and rule the world.

Cheers Mark N.

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#6
In reply to #5

Re: Not Much of an Engineer: Ford in Britain During WWII

03/19/2011 8:16 PM

Just give me 2 weeks in the job, then you can take over. On my agenda:

Get rid of Wall St., Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, most senators, most lobbyists, most overpaid CEO's - that's just Day 1. Day 2, we start on the food industry.

P.S. Believe it or not, I have actually been to Rockhampton. Lived in Sydney for 3 years (1969-1972) and drove all the way round Australia and down the middle in a Holden EH Station Wagon - a mere 17,391 miles in total - and with no air conditioning. God we were tough in those days.

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#2

Re: Not Much of an Engineer: Ford in Britain During WWII

03/16/2011 7:41 AM

The Merlin was also made in USA by Packard under lic. and from what my now deceased relatives that worked on them overseas during the war stated were superior to the Rolls Royce built units in reliability and power. Great engine that helped greatly in winning that conflict.

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Re: Not Much of an Engineer: Ford in Britain During WWII

03/16/2011 7:49 PM

I could believe that.

In Stanleys book there is a bit about the "Tolerance" that Rolls built stuff to.

To make it short, the local engines were nearly blueprinted., Henry built his cars to better tolerances.

The US, definitely got paid, ( 'n rightly so) for its support, with the pommy technology it was given, and it is an alliance that the Free World should hold dearly.

Cheers

Mark N.

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#7
In reply to #3

Re: Not Much of an Engineer: Ford in Britain During WWII

03/21/2011 10:59 AM

Hello to all from Detroit:

My understanding of the situation was that in the late 1930's-40's Rolls Royce was very good about having a large number of very skilled "fitters" and well trained apprentices on staff. Having the luxury of these many craftsmen on hand, they lavished careful hand fitting on their engines, thus they could leave their uninstalled components a bit "rough".

Ford of England and Packard did not maintain so many skilled craftsmen, so the production process was designed to "build in" and automate a lot of the closer toleranced work. To do this, you establish the best tolerance control you can further up stream from the actual assembly. This confers a number of advantages, both for assembly and for field replacements of parts to damaged or worn engines.

Had things turned out a bit different, Ford USA would have built Merlins, rather than Packard (another political tantrum from Henry!). The plant intended for US Merlins was then adopted for building B-24 Liberators bombers. The Willow Run plant eventually built a B-24 every 55 minutes around the clock.

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