The soybean car was a concept car built with agricultural plastic. The New York Times in 1941 states the car body and fenders were made from a strong material derived from soy beans, wheat and corn.One article claims that they were made from a chemical formula that, among many other ingredients, included soy beans, wheat, hemp, flax and ramie; while the man who was instrumental in creating the car, Lowell E. Overly, claims it was "…soybean fiber in a phenolic resin with formaldehyde used in the impregnation" (Davis, 51). The body was lighter and therefore more fuel efficient than a normal metal body. It was made in Dearborn, Michigan and was introduced to public view on August 13, 1941. It was made, in part, as a hedge against the rationing of steel during World War II. It was designed to run on hemp fuel.
Henry Ford first put Eugene Turenne Gregorie of his design department in charge of manufacturing. Ultimately he was not satisfied with the proposed project, and gave the project to the Soybean Laboratory in Greenfield Village. The person in charge there was Lowell Overly, who had a background in tool and die design. The finished prototype was exhibited in 1941 at the Dearborn Days festival in Dearborn, Michigan. It was also shown at the Michigan State Fair Grounds the same year.
Because of World War II all US automobile production was curtailed considerably, and the plastic car experiment basically came to a halt. By the end of the war the plastic car idea went into oblivion.According to Lowell Overly, the prototype car was destroyed by Bob Gregorie.
Others argue that Ford invested millions of dollars into research to develop the plastic car to no avail. — however it never happened, even though he had over 12,000 acres (4,900 ha) of soybeans for experimentation. Some sources even say the Soybean Car wasn't made from soybeans at all — but of phenolic plastic, an extract of coal tar. One newspaper even reports that all of Ford's research only provided whipped cream as a final product.He proclaimed he would "grow automobiles from the soil"
The Henry Ford Museumgives three reasons for Ford's decision to make a plastic automobile, the plastic car made from soybeans.
The frame of this automobile was made of tubular steel, to which were attached some fourteen plastic panels, 6 mm) thick." The windows were made of acrylic sheets. All of this led to a reduction in weight from 2,500 pounds (1,134 kg) for a typical car to 1,900 pounds (862 kg), a reduction in weight of about 25 percent.said to be "only a quarter of an inch (
The exact ingredients of the plastic are not known since there were no records kept of the plastic itself. Speculation is that it was a combination of soybeans, wheat, hemp, flax and ramie. Lowell Overly, the person who had the most influence in creating the car, says it was "...soybean fiber in a phenolic resin with formaldehyde used in the impregnation."
A report circulating on the Internet shows a film from 1941 about the plastic car in the opening credits as being the plastic soybean car but at the end part it shows images of Henry Ford striking a hammer or axe onto a trunk lid.It is not the Soybean Car he is hitting, but Ford's personal car with a plastic panel of the same material on the trunk, and the hammer had a rubber boot placed on the sharp end of the axe. When Jack Thompson, the narrator of the 1941 black and white film, stated in the introduction that this was the Soybean Car being shown he did not make it clear that the trunk Henry Ford was hitting with the tool at the end of the film was actually Ford's personal car made of the same plastic material—not the Soybean Car itself. Henry Ford was doing this demonstration to show the toughness of the plastic material. The demonstration was dramatic, since the tool rebounded with much force and a picture of this was shown worldwide.
Henry Ford was an American industrialist and business magnate, founder of the Ford Motor Company, and chief developer of the assembly line technique of mass production. By creating the first automobile that middle-class Americans could afford, he converted the automobile from an expensive curiosity into an accessible conveyance that profoundly impacted the landscape of the 20th century.
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Edsel Bryant Ford was an American business executive and philanthropist who was the son of pioneering industrialist Henry Ford and his wife, Clara Jane Bryant. He was the president of Ford Motor Company from 1919 until his death in 1943. His eldest son was Henry Ford II, who succeeded him as president of Ford.
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Chemurgy is a branch of applied chemistry concerned with preparing industrial products from agricultural raw materials. The concept developed by the early years of the 20th century. For example, products such as brushes and motion picture film were made from cellulose. Beginning in the 1920s, William J. Hale, agricultural journalist Wheeler McMillen, and other Americans began advocating a greater link between farmers and industry. The word "chemurgy" was coined by chemist William J. Hale and first publicized in his 1934 book The Farm Chemurgic.
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The Ford Motor Company is an American automaker and the world's fifth largest automaker based on worldwide vehicle sales. Based in Dearborn, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, the automaker was founded by Henry Ford, on June 16, 1903. Ford Motor Company would go on to become one of the largest and most profitable companies in the world, as well as being one of the few to survive the Great Depression. The largest family-controlled company in the world, the Ford Motor Company has been in continuous family control for over 110 years. Ford now encompasses two brands: Ford and Lincoln. Ford once owned 5 other luxury brands: Volvo, Land Rover, Jaguar, Aston Martin, and Mercury. Over time, those brands were sold to other companies and Mercury was discontinued.
The Detroit Industry Murals (1932-1933) are a series of frescoes by the Mexican artist Diego Rivera, consisting of twenty-seven panels depicting industry at the Ford Motor Company and in Detroit. Together they surround the interior Rivera Court in the Detroit Institute of Arts. Painted between 1932 and 1933, they were considered by Rivera to be his most successful work. On 23 April 2014, the Detroit Industry Murals were designated by the Department of Interior as a National Historic Landmark.
Robert Allen Boyer was a chemist employed by Henry Ford, he was extremely proficient at inventing ways to convert soybeans into paints and plastic parts used on Ford automobiles. Robert Allen Boyer, your average “B” chemistry student was given an extraordinary opportunity that changed his future and the future of automobile production in the U.S. (Plastic) Boyer, born on 30 September 1909 in Toledo, Ohio was given this chance when Ford hired his father to run the nation's oldest hotel, the Wayside Inn, in South Sudbury, Massachusetts. Ford frequented the inn and that is where Boyer was discovered. Ford claimed that Boyer had a “keen active mind”. He asked Boyer to enroll in the new Henry Ford Trade School and participate in its unique work-study program instead of following his plans to enter Andover prep school and then Dartmouth College (Shurtleff). Boyer excelled in the Ford Trade School and took to exploring concepts such as how to manufacture synthetic wool from soybeans. These were the types of problems that stumped the experts (Plastic). Boyer graduated the Ford Trade School at the age of 21 with a promising chemistry career in front of him. He started this career as the head of the soybean lab at the Edison Institute (Shurtleff). Here Boyer’s career took off. He started working to use soybeans in ways they had never been used before. Boyer has done things from extracting lubricating and paint oils from the soybean to creating a synthetic wool made from soybeans and pressing insulating varnish for starters and generators (Plastic). One of Boyer’s first projects began in 1932 and included building “a small solvent extractor to separate the bean into soy oil and protein-rich meal” (Shurtleff). The soybean oil became the most crucial commercial soy products on Ford cars. In 1934 the five to eight coats of lacquer that cars previously had been finished with was replaced with a synthetic baked enamel paint which contained about 35% soy oil. This new synthetic paint with soy oil saved considerable time and money. In 1937, Boyer developed a curved plastic sheet which he hoped would replace steel in the auto bodies of ford cars. He was so confident in his product that he took an axe to it in the middle of a crowd of reporters and critics. He also jumped up and down on the curved sheet. When there was no bending in the sheet and no shattering due to the axe and the weight of him jumping on the sheet, people were astounded (shurtleff). This soy protein plastic sheet consist of 70% cellulose and 30% resin binder pressed into cloth. “The new rust-free, dent-proof plastic was reportedly 50% lighter and 50% cheaper to produce than steel” (Shurtleff). This new plastic body cut the total weight of the car from 3,000 lb. to 2,000 (Dearborn). The sheets look like polished steel and can be bent but just snap back into place, therefore when caught in fender benders, the fender would bounce back like “rubber balls” (Shurtleff). Needless to say, this product was a breakthrough in the world of automobile production. Boyer also used the soy isolates to produce the world's first plant protein fiber in 1938. (Shurtleff.) This fiber resembled a soft wool, it was tan in color, had a medium luster and a soft warm feel. “it has 80% the strength of wool, took the same dyes, had good elongation, and did not wet as easily as wool.”(Shurtleff). Boyer figured this fiber could be used for upholstery in cars, filling in felt hats, or for clothing. Boyer changed the way the soybean was used and created innovative products we use daily.
Eugene Turenne Gregorie was an American yacht designer and automobile designer. Gregorie and Edsel Ford worked closely together to design many automobiles of the 1930s and 1940s. Although he was a high school dropout he became the head of Ford's automobile design department. He returned to yacht design after retirement.
The Ford Rotunda was a tourist attraction that was originally located on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois, and later was relocated to Dearborn, Michigan. At one point in the mid-20th century, it was the fifth most popular tourist destination in the United States. The futuristic structure received more visits in the 1950s than did the Statue of Liberty. The Rotunda was built for the 1933 World’s Fair—“A Century of Progress International Exposition”—in Chicago. After the World’s Fair, the Rotunda was dismantled and rebuilt in Dearborn, serving as the visitor center for what was then the equivalent of Ford Motor Company’s world headquarters. Albert Kahn, who designed the Rotunda for Ford’s exposition at the World’s Fair, was also called upon to update the design for its new purpose. Its ultramodern design, elaborate shows, and spectacular Christmas displays contributed to the Rotunda’s extreme popularity among tourists during its existence. The Rotunda was destroyed on Friday, November 9, 1962, by a fire.
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Haskelite is the brand name of a plywood, once made by the Michigan-based Haskelite Manufacturing Corporation. It was made from waterproof glue developed by Henry L. Haskell. The moldable plywood was originally called Ser-O-Ply. It was used in the construction of various vehicles including military tanks, boats, airplanes, buses, trucks, and automobiles. The plywood was manufactured with different characteristics depending on particular needs and then given a brand name.
Haskelite Manufacturing Corporation (1917–1956) was a conglomerate of Michigan–based companies. It was located on Broadway Avenue in Grand Rapids, Michigan. They manufactured haskelite plywood for a wide variety of applications and vehicles. Their office headquarters were located in Chicago, Illinois. The Grand Rapids corporation was a spin-off from the Haskell Manufacturing Company in Ludington, Michigan. It was a factory twice the capacity at over 100,000 square feet and designed to make up to ten times as much plywood per day as the Ludington facilities. The plywood at the beginning was needed for World War I military airplane body parts. The plywood later was used in houses, buildings, automobiles and ship construction. Different styles and types of plywood were made for particular niches. The corporation made the largest plywood ever produced, which was used in constructing a particular US Navy boat. A well known use for the Haskelite plywood produced at the Grand Rapids facilities was for the construction of the Spirit of St. Louis, Charles Lindberg's plane.
Briggs Manufacturing was an American, Detroit-based manufacturer of automobile bodies for Ford Motor Company, Chrysler Corporation and other U.S. and European automobile manufacturers.
Clara Jane Bryant Ford was the wife of Henry Ford. She was an active suffragist and was inducted into the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame.