Monday, January 28, 2008

Factory #40 Description + Display

This and the two photos below show a Liberator engine display at the Sloan museum in Flint. Many parts for this and other war material were machined in this plant.

This view of factory #40 facing north east across Division Street must be just after being built because the support for one of the water towers to the north is just getting finished. This factory always fascinated me because it had all the elements of Buick from the 1920's. First of all it was built of reinforced concrete like all factories across the country at that time. You now see these as warehouses and even converted into condos. The entrance you see at the lower right was removed as I recall in 1982 when they were reopening this plant after being condemned for many years and a new truck dock was built. About 95 percent of the original windows and frames were removed then bricked over. The north truck dock was still a huge wooden affair before it burnt in the early '90s. The old open air rail dock on the east side platform had a large air suspended building installed with two air locks for entering and exiting. "One side note to the air building": during it's construction some people I know placed a scooter, (belonging to a well known supervisor) in an open pit ready to be filled with concrete. I'll bet the demolition crew got a kick out of it when they found it. The elevators were kind of small compared to what we had in the newer buildings and had wooden slat doors that you pulled down, plus the old style handle for controlling which floor you went to, "nothing automatic there". At the north end was a long ramp made out of springy steel that was quite a ride up or down to the second floor. The old heat treat annex #41 at the north east corner was cleaned up and always used for presentations of one sort or another like the 1,000,000th Buick City Le Sabre. "As I stated in previous posts", the basements were almost always flooded and I know first hand that there were at least 3 and rumored to have been 4 levels. The tunnel that ran under Division street was there in 1985 but the old elevator shafts that raised transmissions up into factory #06 were filled with rubble. The rumor about the old Liberator engine tooling and parts still being on benches down there I personally did not see but my time was limited and it was pretty nasty down there. All the stairwells had handrails made out of large diameter pipe just like all the railings around the factories in the '20s. One weekend a fork truck driver was knocked in the head when he was alone and found later (still unconscious) and he was never right in the head again. You had to be careful at Buick and the surrounding area because the criminal element knows where the money is. If you ever noticed the fences around the complex they were meant to keep people in, not out. I had a few altercations with knives involved but that's for my memoirs. During 1982 the first A.G.V. (automated guided vehicle) line was a pilot program in this building on the first floor used for the engine and transmission dress, complete with a tour by the G.M. president himself plus entourage; another story for my memoirs. The northern section of the first floor was were the exhaust system was assembled and sent over the bridge to final assembly during Buick City's time. This factory also became the new Riviera assembly plant in 1962.

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