An ambitious project begun in 2013 by students in New England Tech’s Mechanical Engineering program to build a full-scale working replica of Henry Ford’s first motored vehicle is nearing completion. Ford’s Quadricycle was completed in 1896, a full 15 years before he started mass production of Model T and Model A vehicles.
The Quadricycle used a 2-cylinder; 4-cycle ethanol engine, that is essentially the same engine used in modern vehicles. Ford made only two models of the Quadricycle, and only a handful of replicas have ever been built.
Under the supervision of Assistant Professor Christopher Vasconcelos, students handcrafted most of the parts for the vehicle on campus with the exception of only a few purchased parts. They used blueprints created decades later by long-time Ford Motor company employee George DeAngelis, who had gathered every written description and photograph he could find. The historic car sat in an enclosed display case, so DeAngelis estimated his initial measurements through the glass.
Armed with these materials, the New England Tech team got to work – and the project soon went global. Vasconcelos posted the project on the international web forum Home Model Engine Machinist, and it started receiving interest, support, and collaboration from forum members worldwide. Soon after, regional suppliers also got involved, offering select parts and components.
The project included some modern modifications for safety. Ford’s original model had no braking system – the driver needed to use his or her foot against the front wheel to slow or stop the vehicle. The New England Tech model is incorporating a modern mechanical braking system. Other modifications include store-bought spark plugs, original Model-T ignition coils, and a standard carburetor.
As of May 2018 the vehicle is fully operational
The engine has been tested numerous times on blocks. Further testing of the engine and safety precautions are in place, and the goal is to have New England Tech President Richard Gouse take the Quadricycle for a spin sometime over the summer.
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