Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Authorized Service

1920 Chevy in the hole

This is the announcement for construction of Chevrolet’s new engine plant which was called #4. This plant has an interesting history during the 1937 Sit-Down strike in Flint. “Man I hated working there”.

This postcard from my own collection is dated 1910. 

Looking west up Kearsley street at the former Flint Wagon Works.

Taken at the Sloan Museum in Flint, Michigan showing the old Flint Wagon Works and original Buick factory on west Kearsley Street. This view is facing east towards downtown Flint. Taken from the opposite bank of the Flint River.

From the Sloan Museum in Flint. This is showing construction of the Mason motor plant addition in July 1915 which would become Chevrolet factory #4  engine plant February 1918. This was the worst place I ever worked. This view is facing west towards Wilcox Street (now Chevrolet Avenue).

I took this photo at the Sloan Museum in Flint,Michigan. Chevy factory #4 engine plant after completion. That is the old Buick #2 on Kearsley in the left background. You are facing east from Wilcox Street (now Chevrolet Avenue).

This is the postcard made from the photo shown below. That is the original Buick plant in the background. The factory in the foreground was built for Mason Motors and would later become part of Chevrolet factory #4 engine plant where I would work for 9 months.

West Kearsley street showing the old Flint Wagon Works is now Chevrolet. This is 1920. On the left behind the tree is the original Buick Engine Works.

Mason engine factory during construction. This would become the south annex of the 1916 factory addition that would become #4 Chevrolet engine factory  where I would work between 1973-74'. This view is facing west.

The first section of the new Mason Motor plant ( future factory #4 at Chevy) showing the original Buick plant in the distance at the left. This view is facing east.

This view facing southeast across the Flint river is from 1908.

This view is facing south east over the Chevy complex in 1920. The arrow points to the original Buick factory on Kearsley street, factory #4 is to the west of this factory. The Flint river is running through the middle of the photo. The street in the foreground was then known as Wilcox street later changed to Chevrolet Ave. Links: 

Chevrolet In Flint Michigan. Buick, Little, Mason and Chevrolet Original factory on west Kearsley st. The First Buick Workers The Early Years. 

Original factory on west Kearsley st.

The first Buick factory on west Kearsley street in Flint.

From Don Bent's book "A Place Called Buick" is this quote: An old Flint fireman told about this building being burned down - and then rebuilt - only to burn down again. By his recollection, this happened 30 times or more.

This photo from the Buick Research Gallery shows this as the first 4 cylinder engine in 1907. This surely must be in the test building.  Link for 4 cylinder Buick.

This is 1908 inside the main building on Kearsley Street.

Description of the photo above.

Assembly inside the main building. "I see they have changed out the old overhead light fixtures". These new light fixtures look identical to the ones at the new engine plant #11 at the Hamilton farm factory at the north-end of Flint". This is very interesting. I need a date for this photo.

Article announcing the 100 foot extension to the west end of the Buick Motor Works.

Inside the test building.   

Factory designation. The Flint Wagon Works was where the first Flint built Buick body work was done.
Inside the Kearsley plant.

Kearsley street Buick workers.

The top photo is inside the main building showing assembly. The middle and above are two views inside the test building at the Kearsley plant.

This photo is looking west after Mason Motors has taken over.   Short Mason Buick history.
Interior of  the factory shown above.

In this view from the riverbank facing southeast you can still see the original Buick Motor Company sign where the later addition was added.

Here we see the Buick plant has now been taken over by Mason Motors which was incorporated on August 2, 1911. You can just see the old wagon works in the background at left. It now shows Chevrolet painted on the west wall.

Enlarge this article printed in the Flint Daily Journal September 11, 1903 to read about the new Buick plant coming to Flint. I made this reproduction with the exact layout style of the original. 

This photo is a view looking at the site of the future Buick factory. You are facing northeast from the Chicago and Grand Trunk main line. Buick will block this view of the Flint Wagon Works.

Originally built as a one story factory in the fall of 1903 but shortly expanded to three with an additional 100 feet added at the rear in 1906. This spot would eventually become the site of Chevrolet factory #4. This view is facing west. I worked in factory #4 in 1973 during a layoff from Buick. This view is facing west from the Pere Marquette main line.

Final Assembly Factory #40/16 1972

That is me in the background. This was actually my first "Line" job tightening the fuel and brake line clips. The first day I hired in with a group, they had us cleaning guard rails.

This photo is the chassis line, the department I first worked in at Buick. The first employee at left is Rich Allen. He went on to become a supervisor, "one of the good guys" a very nice person. This is facing south in factory #40 building #16. Go here to see the factory.  Go here to see a film I made in this factory.
The photo above is the final or "slat line" in factory #40 during the 1973 model build. The photo at the top is the chassis line, the department I first worked in at Buick. The way the assembly line looped through the factory at this time (start of build to finish build) actually put these two photos only about 100 ft. apart. At the end of the slat line was the location of my February 12th, 1980 accident,when I crushed a new Buick. The employee shown is Cass Campbell. (click the link to view my accident) 

Gerry Godin 1980 Accident

Inside Factory #11 1909

Here is a postcard of factory #11 from around 1909.

This partial page from Don Bent's book (second edition) "A Place called Buick" Shows the exact same location as the photo below. The photo below I have seen on numerous web sites and they all have a little bit different explanation as to what is going on and the location.

Publicity shot inside of factory #11.They did not assemble the car here. There are some parts lying around, so maybe there is some repair work going on.

Depiction Of Buick Factories In 1923

This picture from a tour book back in the '20s shows they were proud of their smoke stacks.

This view is looking north east.Factory #11 is located in center.

Factory #11 around 1922

The year 1918.

Inside factory #11 shown above.

This was the Buick Motor Plant which took over production of the engine work previously done at the original Buick factory on west Kearsley st.

Factory #11 1924

Shown above (in a post card) is the original south face of factory #11.
This article is the announcement for the construction of the engine plant #11.

This is how the south end looked on September 9, 1924 after the remodel. The building at the left was where the meals were prepared before being distributed to the factories at lunch time. This was designated building #43. When I hired into factory #40 in 1972 there was still no cafeteria, they just heated small cans of soup and such on tiny bun-son burners on the second floor near the north elevator. The big car assembly line in factory #04 did have a cafeteria located on the second floor just next to where bridge #40 entered the second floor of factory #04, coming from factory #40. They had one even when I toured there in 1960. What you need to know is we only had a thirty minute lunch, so if you did not work within 100 feet of the lunch room “forget it” because the line at the counter was just too long. Your morning breaks were staggered day to day according to your relief man’s discretion. The ideal time for this break was mid shift, just so you could get a bathroom break. But if you had the last relief near lunchtime you could beat the crowd at the cafeteria. “Which was best”? It depended on how your body felt on any given day. An 8 hour shift went like this, (1/2 hour before lunch (paid) 1/2 hour lunch (unpaid) and 16 minute after lunch (paid). This may sound like a lot of breaks but believe me, if you have ever worked on an assembly line your body needs all the rest it can get. At Chevy you had (20 minutes mid shift (paid) twenty minute lunch (paid) and 10 minute after lunch (paid) break. Where I worked on the straight six line at Chevy it took ten minutes to reach the cafeteria. Round trip twenty minutes. So there was not even time to place an order even if you were first in line. The best food I ever seen was at Chevy #4 in the hole but the rest of what went on there wasn’t very good. If you were lucky in a G.M. factory and happened to work near some machine or heat source you could enjoy a hot lunch, “as I did” on the third floor of Buick’s factory #04 paint shop factory #11. The numbering of factories/departments/zones & divisions can be quite confusing at times but I do my best to get the right designations throughout this blog. General Motors did not help either by always changing these numbers. Any help would be greatly appreciated. (click on the link for my hot ham & cheese oven) Photo from the Buick Research Gallery.

Factory #11 before remodel

This factory is still standing as of this posting. It is considered the oldest  factory still in existence that was built after the creation of General Motors. This was the first factory built after incorporation. This view is looking north across Leith street. This photo was taken during 1920 as evidenced by the construction of the Buick powerhouse at lower right.