Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Factory #29 Tool Factory.

Factory #29 and #30 construction announcement.

A map showing the location of factory #29 and #23 with the surrounding facilities in 1953.

The employee (Ward Smith) who sent along this photo of factory #29 employees lists the people shown as: I will name them from left to right with their job.
Clyde Porter Time keeper
W. Richardson General Foreman
Fred Payne Lathe Supervisor
Ted Decourval Night Supt.
Ernie Martin Supt.
Darrell Diem Asst Supt.
Tom Bowers General Foreman days
Bill Pemberton Asst. Supt
Harvey Theodore Process Engineer
Ralph Hicks Process Engineer no necktie
Bill Lloyd Grinding Supervisor He also was founder and owner of Lloyd Tool Co on Saginaw St.
Chester Glowski Supervisor Heat treat nights
John Hrinevich Heat treat days
Bill McCormick supervisor Chrome Plating
Fred Wise Supervisor Night
Francis Rogers Supervisor assembly
Harry Selley Supervisor assembly night
Ronald Schoeppach Supervisor Boring mills days
Al Hilliker Supervisor Milling dept days
Ford Lavene Supervisor shaper dept days
Ronald Hutchinson Supervisor boring mills night
Bob England Time keeper no necktie
Vern Smith Assembly area
Duane Johnson Mill dept nights
Brahm Ward Buick"s Band director (no necktie) hourly mill dept
Auburn Lewis Supervisor surface grind supervisor nights.
The only one still living that I know for sure is Theodore. There could be more. Fred Wise died in late 08 as did Hutchinson.
These men ran the business with iron hands. Any one who ever worked in this plant will agree to that. 
Cleanliness was utmost. All the walls and machines were painted two shades of green. The idea of an earlier Supt who believed it was conducive to productivity.
Braham Ward was a very colorful, talented musician. He directed a large brass band performing at Buick functions and elsewhere. He had the freedom to roam all over Buick

The employee who sent along this photo and the one above says: My name is Ward Smith and I worked in Factory #29 for 32 years, starting on Feb. 1 1960. 25 of those years were on supervision. As you probably know, #29 was a tool manufacturing plant, started in the early 1920s. It was, like many “skilled trades” areas in Buick, sorta closed off from “Main Buick”. We operated as almost an independent tool shop and had to bid for our work with outside shops. I retired in 1992 and still have a great loyalty to the Buick name. My father was also a, “dyed in the wool” Buick employee, starting in the 1930s and retiring in 1973. He was an active participant in the battle to recognize the union in 1937 and has never tolerated any negative talk about the union. The following is Wards description of factory #23: Building #23 was right next door to #29 with a concrete storage pad running between the buildings. there was a railroad siding and loading dock on the east side that ran into the main line running north and south along division st. It was on the east side of 29 and built in the 1950s for a castings inspection for #03. Originally small castings were inspected there and loaded onto railroad cars and shipped. After we, (#29) took it over we built a covered ramp between the two buildings and eventually our inspection and shipping dept. were located there. Also our Heat treat and Machine Repair/Machine Rebuild was located there. We started using the building while I was still on my apprenticeship in the very early 60s. Building #23 was built in 1945.

As always just click on any photo for a larger view. This view showing the original height of #29 is from October 18, 1920. The heat treat facility building #55 is at the right. Photo taken from in front of factory #16 across Leith Street. Photo from Buick Research Gallery.

Factory #29 viewed from the intersection of Industrial Avenue and Leith Street. I'm not sure what the little white shed east of the guard shack is for. "Maybe a fueling station"? Photo from Buick Research Gallery.

This view is from the south showing #29 after it's 3rd floor addition. This photo is dated March 13, 1924. You can see a piece of the heat treat at the left and the engine factory #11 at the right in the distance. "If there is one thing I've learned since researching these original (untouched) photos is that Buick always was a messy and unorganized place to work". The photos meant for publication were always touched up and I just assumed that this was just "busy work" for the photographic department. I now know that management really did not want people seeing what really went on. The same was true in my years there. "I should have know that some things never change". The old building #80 was located at one time just south of #29 in this location and was used for die storage. Photo from Buick Research Gallery.

This east facing view shows some kind of construction work going on near #29 in later years. I believe this shows the construction of #12-a built in 1938? From the Buick Research Gallery.

Factory #29 getting it's third floor. From Don Bent's book, and as noted it is credited to another of our small factory history group: Kevin Kirbitz.

This is the heat treat building for #29 located between factory #12 and #29. This structure was built in 1920. This photo during construction is dated October 8, 1920. This view is from the north. Factory #29 partially seen at the left is still a two story building at this time. At the extreme south can be seen factory #05. Photo from the Buick Research Gallery.

Inside factory #29. According to Don Bent "this factory was originally built to do work for the 8 cylinder Liberty aircraft engine". But as with factory #27-- built exclusively for that purpose, the war ended before production could begin. Built in 1918 this factory's central location on the Buick property made it a good location for special tool work. This building was torn down with the rest of the factory's south of Leith Street by 2002. This photo is dated November 20, 1918. This is from Don Bent's book.
 Links: Leith Street Revisited. Buick City Building Designations Factory #12 2002 -2008 Factory #29 1922 Factory #29 WWI Ambulance Factory #27 The "Liberty Engine" Plant

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