Fair Lane Volunteer Profile: Mose Nowland

Mose Nowland is one of Fair Lane’s dedicated volunteers, a talented and resourceful craftsman who channels his years of experience working on Ford engines into (amongst other things) the fabrication of replica fixtures for the estate. Mose took his first Ford job in 1955 and quickly began assembling and repairing experimental engines, becoming very skilled at fabricating the parts the engines needed ton function.

Mose’s experience with the mechanics of Ford vehicles made him the perfect candidate to be the company’s man on the ground at the 1966 Le Mans race. He stayed on the track for the duration of the race to make adjustments, fix problems, and make sure that the Ford cars returned to the track as soon as possible. At this race, Ford’s racing prototype the GT-40 took first, second and third place in a shocking upset over European favorite Ferrari. This event was recently dramatized in the film “Ford Vs. Ferrari, and Mose has recently been in the public eye due to his involvement. Click here to read more.

Although he retired from Ford in 2012, Mose has kept busy as a volunteer at both the Henry Ford Museum and at Fair Lane. Nearly 6 decades of experience crafting engine parts have made him adept at creating mechanical and architectural elements from a variety of materials, including metal, rubber, and glass. In a restoration like Fair Lane, which relies on making new objects that look identical to their historic counterparts, this skill is invaluable.

Sometimes he’ll only need to re-create a single piece of a chandelier, sometimes an entire light fixture. Mose is adept at making a replica so detailed that a casual viewer will not notice the difference between the copy and the original. When the conservation team needed to make several duplicates of an original basswood wall torchiere, Mose took the piece and dismantled it into eleven parts. He then used the parts to create silicon molds that were filled with a liquid mixture consisting of 1/3 polyurethane, 1/3 micro wood fiber, and 1/3 curing agent. After 40 minutes, the mixture had hardened into a perfect replica of the original fixture, needing only to be finished, antiqued, wrapped with ribbon, and wired for installation.

We are fortunate to have such a gifted and enthusiastic volunteer on our team here at Fair Lane. The next time you see the brass sconces on the entry portico, or see the glow of the torchieres through the front door, be sure to thank Mose Nowland!