View Full Version : Machinery at Greenfield Village

10-17-2009, 10:23 PM
Well guys, here's my report on more steam at Greenfield Village, in Dearborn, MI.

After seeing all the inside stuff, we spent the second day outside in the village. Being a weekday, and with temperatures in the 40s, we were among only a few dozen visitors, and the only passengers on the train for part of the trip. Fortunately for me, we stopped enroute so my wife could buy some thermal underwear; otherwise the day would not have been as enjoyable.

The village includes the steam powered (but now converted to electric), line-shaft driven machine shop set up by Ford for his apprentice training program years ago, with all the original machines. Included therein is the cutest little bench planer I have ever seen. If you find one, please buy it and send it to me. Thanks.

I shot pix of almost all those machines as well as the ones in the Edison workshop, and the roundhouse stuff, too.

Some of the photos are blurry because I was shooting hand-held, available light, but I put up all the pix in case there is something in them that is of use to you.
I shot a few pix of the underside of the Atlantic in the roundhouse (there are more than I'd normally post, but again, they might contain something you want to see), and a shot of the backhead with the double fire doors and unusual siamese injector. It's not original to the engine; you'll note that the overflow dumps onto the fireman's foot!

All this is way too much for the two days we scheduled. If you go, set aside 4 days and take it a little slower. I'm starting to slip into a coma from brain overload.

All of it generates a feeling of melancholy thinking of the great manufacturing industries we once had, and how our base has shifted to electronic devices that are no where as interesting to watch or to play with.

What would it have been like to have been a machinist in those days? (Yes, I know, 12 - 14-hour days, no benefits, etc. But it's still a romantic dream anyway.)

The new pix are up at:


10-17-2009, 10:40 PM
I've never been in the roundhouse. Maybe I'll have to make a trip sometime soon.

Did you go through the museum? Last time I was there they had some really nice machines set up inside. I love all the planers in the machine shop in the village though.

Mike of the North
10-18-2009, 12:04 AM
When I was there last year one of the workers said that thy where in the process of running air lines to all the stationary steam in the museum so they would be able to run them at any time. A few years ago a worker had a heart attack and fell into one of the steam engines and was decapitated, not pretty.

10-18-2009, 12:11 AM
What a shame the requirement for the safety cages around those beauties. Small price to pay to see them in use, though.

10-18-2009, 11:37 AM
I've been in the Henry but didn't have enough time to make it into Greenfield. Only had like 3 hours in the Henry anyway. Really need to go back - thank you for sharing those pictures!

10-18-2009, 12:27 PM
They had a very large auction of steam and extra equipment and machinery. A number of years ago, to clear out the same things and duplicates.
I found out to late but I under stand that they cleaned out a lot of room in the museum and storage.

One of the comments by a curator was they no longer are relevant to the visitors life experience. And they needed more room for the items from the last 60 years.

That's why last years big traveling display was on the history of chocolate. After Thomas the Tank engine.

What was also said is that they don't need to have one of each steam engine,or steam tractor brand on display. a general representative of the subject will do.

Plus they were being buried under donations of stuff families didn't want or couldn't sell for big bucks. Take tax donation for it.

This is a problem with most museums, large or small. A friend of mine that is associated with and in charge of a local historical museum. They no longer take stuff that has any conditions with it. Meaning if the people say "we will give it to you,but you can't sell it". They tell don't even take it out of the car or truck.

They will keep the items that are really historical, but the other stuff may be traded or sold at their sales!

Such is life in the new times we live in!

It is nice to sell that they will be having the steam equipment, running on air.

The biggest reason against steaming most things is that the city of Dearborn requires all steam equipment operated in the city limits. To be operated by licensed personnel, to costly to have paid people there. And they can't find enough volunteers with a Dearborn license. And As far as I know there is no reciprocal agreement with Detroit . As they have differing standards and the feud goes back to when Henry was alive.

And in 35 years and 1,500 people in the old union for stationary engineers I found only 4 others beside my self that had an interest out side of work in steam of any type.

I have no interest in taking a test for another license.

So go see it, before they have to make room for more video games.

And as a closing note the prices that were realized for the sale. Were not what they had hoped and some went for a couple hundred or thousands of dollars.

Only if I had know :D