American Battle for Abundance

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American Battle for Abundance: A Story of Mass Production
by Charles Franklin Kettering and Allen Orth. 1947.
100 pages with illustrations, bibliography and index

At the time this page booklet was published (1947), throughout the world the United States had been regarded as the land of plenty-a Nation where people drove to work in automobiles, and nearly every family had a radio and a phone. Working hours were short and wages were high.

In this publication, Charles Kettering (GM Research Consultant) and Allen Orth (GM Director of Educational Service) referred to the United States as being known as the “The Arsenal of Democracy” throughout the world. This is not the first time this reference was exercised. During a December 29, 1940 radio broadcasted fireside chat, Roosevelt referred to Detroit, Michigan as "the great arsenal of democracy" because of the rapid conversion of much of the Detroit-area automotive industry to produce armaments during World War II. Kettering and Orth concluded that the world looked at the U.S. as “experts in Mechanical Duplication-sometimes called Mass Production.”

Because they were not certain that everyone understood the “American way” of large quantity production, Kettering and Orth decided to collect a few of the basic facts (see below). They believed that a mass production system was vital to progress and prosperity. This booklet was written and illustrated (by Ernest W. Scanes) in a style that young readers, “who will one day inherit America”, could clearly understand.

This publication focuses on the historical aspects and the fundamentals of duplicating things in quantity. The chapters are as follows:

    1. The Stage is Set: Some early examples of man's efforts to provide more things for more people-from ancient times up the Middle Ages.


    2. Gutenberg Opens the Door: Which deals with the reproduction of books and Gutenberg’s first use of movable type. An example of duplication that changed the thinking of the World.


    3. Machines Improve Accuracy: Some 18th century attempts to improve machining accuracy including developments to connection with James Watt’s steam engine.


    4. Accuracy-Mother of Interchangeability: The story of Eli Whitney’s basic developments in establishing the foundations of our modern system of mass production.


    5. Mass Production is Versatile: Dealing with the adaptations of Whitney’s system to the production of other things-clocks, firearms, watches, harvesting machinery, wagons, etc.


    6. A Machine for Each Job: A short resume of the developments in machine tools that accompanied the diversified applications of the new mass production technique.


    7. A Shilling or a Hair?: Developments in measurement and gauging. The importance of establishing standards of measurement.


    8. Lessons of the 19th Century: A Recapitulation of Whitney’s fundamentals and the tremendous developments made in the 19th century toward supplying the world’s needs.


    9. Spoons by the Millions: A case example showing an application of mass production methods to one of the oldest trades-the silversmith.


    10. Secret Weapon: America’s productive “know how” is called upon to arm the Allies in World War II and proves to be the decisive factor.


    11. Horseless Carriage: The birth of the automobile in America and a few of the problems of the pioneers.


    12. Here Comes a Factory: The story of Ransom Olds, the father of automotive quantity production and a creator of a new market.


    13. The Essential-Interchangeability: The story of Henry Leland and how he applied Whitney’s interchangeability idea to the manufacturing of automobiles.


    14. Evolution of an Idea: The early history of Henry Ford’s experiences in producing automobiles and how these led to the Model-T.


    15. The Mountain Comes to Mohammed: The evolution of the assembly line in progressive manufacture and how Henry Ford applied the principle to the production of the Model-T.


    16. Production-Key to Abundance: The spreading influence of the experiences of the production pioneers and the next twenty-five years’ contributions to the art of mass production.


    17. What Comes Before? : The highlights of the thousands of preliminary steps that must be taken before a new idea takes physical form and can be reproduced in large quantities.


    18. Printing in Metal: In conclusion, attention is called to the analogy between printing and the duplication of other things and the strengths and weaknesses of the system.





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