Monday, December 21, 2009

1976 Explorer Skyhawk

Information for Andy on this one of a kind Buick, would surely be appreciated.
 Here is some further info from Andy: We were responsible for the turbo V-6 which was our project concept idea. The first one was a twin turbo put in an Apollo. When Ken Baker pulled out onto JP Cole and hit the gas it snapped the axle shaft at the flange. They promptly had a custom axle built for it. In house of course. The other project car of fame was the Show-and Go Skyhawk. It had flared body panels to look like a IMSA race car. This car featured a normally aspirated 231 V-6 with the help of Kenny Bell Engineering. It was show cased at several events. It also was used as a pace car at several tracks. I was fortunate to have been a part of that and drive those cars. My uncle Dale Klee was one of the photographer's for Buick Engineering and got my cousin and I in the program. I went on to do my apprenticeship at Buick while going to school in Engineering. I got my Electrical card and shortly after got my Electrical Engineering degree. I left hourly on good terms and went to Delco. I did 8 years Engineering supervision over advanced development and reliability engineering test facilities. I later went to NAO and project over-site ending with the Malibu transfer to Lansing from Oklahoma City. I was offered a early out as they were eliminating unclassified level employee's. I took it with no benefits and ran.
I have roots to Buick, my grandfather was plant superintendent of axle plant before the big war. He was promoted to head up Turnsteadt on Coldwater rd. He had a third heart attack and had to retire before it opened. My dad worked at Buick 36 in the late 50's. He took heads off the line and stacked them, by hand without assistance.

Andy says: I am trying to track down some info from the mid 70's about the Explorer Scout Post 504 that I was a part of. We developed the first Turbo V-6 as our concept project. That is my mission to find info on. We also had the Show and Go Skyhawk in the attached photo.
Any help with people to contact or documentation and photo's would be appreciated. 
For further history on this project I refer you to the sixth edition of "THE BUICK A COMPLETE HISTORY" by: Dunham and Gustin, page 315 specifically.

Thank You, Link:

Andy Popovich II
3075 Beechtree Lane
Flushing, MI 48433

Andy says: This is what started the turbo 231 V6 that eventually ended up in production;... as I recall.
This is the first year of the program, The second year was the Skyhawk;... that I sent you a few years ago. This was the first turbo V6 car at Buick which eventually found its way into an Indy pace car, then production
I hope you can post this so all can see and remember..

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Friday, December 18, 2009

Buick Factories

Here's another version of the card farther below.

Buick was such a big part of Flint in 1915 that this postcard showing the river-front near downtown, is titled as a Bird's-eye view of the factories. I zoomed in farter below so you could actually see the factories.

There is the Buick factories. You can also click on the photo above for the full enlargement.                                                                                                                                                                           
Just a bonus facing south from the same building 1910. Flint's first skyscraper,The Sill bldg.

Buick City Business Report

This is a typical daily report on where we stood concerning quality, yard float and absenteeism. This was my last day at Buick before my transfer to Bay City Powertrain

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Thomas Siegel Buick

Tom sent this photo of his 75 pace car. He says he bought it in 1992 from the original owners son. Plans are in the works for having the graphics painted on in the future. "Looking forward to seeing the finished project". Relating to the previous post on Fisher Body plant #1 in Flint, this cars body (from the cowl back) would have been assembled there at the south unit. From the windshield forward these body panels were stamped at the Buick body shop, factory #12. Full size Buick body's were built at the north unit of Fisher #1. I myself was working in the old paint shop located in factory #04 at Buick in 1975. the paint shop at that time was located on the third floor and known as factory #11. follow the links:

Factory #04/11-14

Factory #04 Dept. 11-14

I seem to recall that the graphics were added (off line) but I'm not sure. Pin-stripping on standard models was done on line with a purpose built jig for alignment. In 75 we were using adhesive pin-stripping, but in later years we were using paint pens. follow the link for more information on this unique Buick:

1975 Buick Pace Car   The 1975 pace car search.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Fisher Body #1


This was a very nice display and fitting that they had one of Billy Durant's Flint automobiles on display. When I was called to the old General Motors headquarters in Detroit back in 2004 as a witness in a legal action, they had a Durant auto on display in the lobby there.

This is the same as shown below, only the left side of the model. The photo above that is the part still surviving on south Saginaw Street in Flint, Michigan. I did enter this building a few times in my life. The first was in 1972 while looking for work. They called me up, but I was already working at Buick. I believe I also went here and signed up for T.R.A. or (Trade Readjustment Allowance).

A very nice model of the office complex at Fisher #1. The actual part that is still surviving is at the left. The part shown at the right is a small representation of the assembly plant.

Plaque that was removed from Fisher #1 and now saved in the Sloan Museum in Flint, Michigan. I took this and the above photos in 2011.

This is a photo of my aunt Lois Bernard. This view is facing south from Atherton rd. near the old rail crossing just west of Saginaw street. She is standing in the Pure Oil depot,that was located adjacent to the Fisher Body factory #1. The Fisher factory is visible in the distance. "Not sure of the date". My mother and her sister Lois and my grandmother all worked at this facility. My grandmother retired from here. My grandfather worked at Fisher #2-a at Chevy in the hole, where the sit-down strikers seen most of the violence in Flint. The Fisher #1 property is being auctioned off December 15, 2009, and includes the original main office. The postcard below shows the original purpose for the factory being built but Billy Durant's financial woes ended this.

follow link for my family
My Family at General Motors

Monday, December 7, 2009

Tim Lee

This photo shows Tim Lee at the end of his Buick City assignment in building #41, the old heat treat facility attached at the north-end of old factory #40. This building was referred to as the annex. We held many presentations in this building after the creation of Buick City. This particular day was also a celebration for the 2 millionth Buick City car having been assembled. Richard G. Conrad became the new plant manager on February 1, 1996, after Lee took on his new international assignment with Isuzu Motors Ltd.

On December 4, 2009 former Buick City Plant Manager Tim Lee was promoted to president of international operations from his post as vice president of manufacturing and labor relations. He will oversee operations in Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Plastic Fenders

Plastic fenders from ’87 Buick claim Hall of Fame prize

By PlasticsToday Staff

Published: November 3rd, 2009

The front fenders on the 1987 model-year Buick LeSabre T-Type1 sports coupe, which represent the first use of an engineering thermoplastic on a vertical body panel, will be recognized with the Hall of Fame award at the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) Automotive Division’s 39th-annual Automotive Innovation Awards Competition.

Produced by General Motors from then GE Plastics’ (now SABIC Innovative Plastics) Noryl GTX 910 resin, the part’s use of an MPPE/PA copolymer eventually was adopted by 45 platforms and 20 million vehicles globally.

After the initial success, GM utilized the same material for the fenders on its 1987 model year Buick Reatta sports coupe, among other vehicles. From 1989-2005, GM’s Saturn passenger vehicles utilized thermoplastics for exterior vertical body panels. Such panels have since been carried beyond automotive to tractors and lawnmowers for home and agricultural use.

A team at GE worked for more than five years to develop a polymer that would fulfill GM’s requirements for a material that was high quality, lightweight, damage and corrosion resistant, and compatible with then current body-build practices and paint systems. GM’s own engineering group reviewed, tested, and rejected 160 different materials from 17 resin suppliers before settling on the MPPE/PA grade. Offering thermal stability that could endure online priming and painting, the material allowed the panels to be assembled to the body-in-white (BIW). In addition, the polymer alloy offered low-temperature impact strength, good thermal stability, broad chemical resistance, low mold shrinkage, low moisture absorption (vs. nylon alone), and good dimensional stability.

Making the switch from steel to thermoplastic enabled GM to reduce part weight 40% (4 lb (1.8 kg) compared to 7.3 lb (3.3 kg) in steel). GM’s Buick Factory 8 in Flint, MI molded the first fenders for the Buick LeSabre T-Type sports coupe utilizing molds from Delta Tooling (Auburn Hills, MI). Dave Malik, director-Front & Rear Closures, and Henry Brockman, lead engineer, both from GM, will accept the award on Nov. 12 at SPE’s annual Automotive Innovation Awards Gala at Burton Manor in Livonia, MI.

I remember when we started using these plastic fenders in 1987 on a few test vehicles. They had a horrible time getting them to look right, because they had a bad tendancy to bow in the middle. The fenders on my 87 LeSabre were metal. I know this because my wife hit a flag pole in front of our house once. The model 1987 Buick was also the last year that the Fisher Body tag would be placed on the door sill. We collected these as keepsakes. I have mine in a box in the garage.

Link: Fisher Body 1987.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Factory #36 Engine Plant

FLINT -- Thieves have been picking away at the skeleton of one of the last buildings left standing at the mostly abandoned Buick City complex, making off with more than $100,000 in scrap metal and wire from just one decommissioned building.
A General Motors spokesman and Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell confirmed that an investigation is underway, and Pickell said he has seven suspects in what appears to have been a carefully planned and executed criminal operation.
Not only did burglars have to go onto the site, which is patrolled by security officers, and into a locked building that's known as Plant 36, they had to carry the scrap metal off the site without being noticed as well.
"It appears to (have been) an ongoing criminal activity costing General Motors hundreds of thousands of dollars if not more," said Pickell, who declined further comment because the investigation — being done in conjunction with Flint police — is ongoing.
The thefts are just an asterisk in the long history of the sprawling Buick City complex on Flint's North Side, where only a few hundred workers still produce parts for GM vehicles at what's called Powertrain Flint North.
Much of the Buick City site has been decommissioned or demolished since vehicle production ended here a decade ago.
The thefts apparently came from Plant 36, which had produced Buick engines until August of 2008.
Built in 1951, Plant 36 is 1.13 million square feet and has produced both V8 and V6 powertrains — more than 30 million of them since opening. The Harbour Report recognized the plant as a leader in its segment for productivity on numerous occasions.
Gerry Godin, a former Buick worker who writes about the history of Buick factories in Flint on his blog, "All Things Buick," said the fate of Plant 36 is just one of the sad images left behind at the 250-acre complex.
"It's sad to see it all gone. All you see there now are (things like) 10-foot trees growing up through the parking lots," Godin said. "It's hard to look at."
"I wish the place was still there" like it was, he said. "Everybody knew it was going to go down eventually because of the way it was run ... but everybody had it somewhere in their heads that some miracle would happen and it would keep going too."
Godin said he's been stopped from taking pictures around the site by private security officers but said securing as many acres as there are on the site would be a daunting task.
UAW Local 599 President Bill Jordan, who represents remaining workers at Flint North, said Plant 36, located on the northern-most part of the site, is massive and hard to watch all at once.
"You're talking about a building that's a mile around and not really occupied," Jordan said.
GM spokesman Tom Wickham said the company is aware of the thefts and officials are cooperating with Pickell ad Flint police in the criminal investigation.
"We are cooperating with the local authorities as it relates to theft on the property," Wickham said, "We're doing whatever we can to address the situation."
GM won't confirm the dollar value of the scrap metals taken from the site or discuss past reports of unauthorized people on the site or thefts from unoccupied buildings.
Theft from abandoned plants in Flint isn't unheard of, however, and copper and scrap-metal-seeking thieves have stripped many unoccupied Flint homes of copper wiring.
Earlier this year, security guards watching the old Delphi complex at Davison Road and Dort Highway caught a man suspected of having stolen $15,000 worth of grade-A copper from the property over an eight-month period.
In that case, thieves apparently timed their entry around security checks, entering a building through a hole in the wall.
Production at three buildings that remain in use on the Buick site is expected to be completed by the end of 2010.
Economic development officials have spent the past several years promoting the Buick City location as the site of a potential new inter-modal transportation hub for the distribution of goods from truck and rail.
Here's the link to original story with comments.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Factory Whistle

Here is Bill Lamb conducting an in house interview with Manley Wilson, the employee that did the art work for the Factory Whistle radio program. Bill Lamb was well known around the Buick factories due to his daily broadcasts on WKMF in Flint. His book titled "Buick, The Factory Whistle & Me" is an interesting read. This photo shows the special vehicle I saw go through my department in 1973. In the background I can see a mid sixties Riviera just receiving it's body. That would make this the second floor. I personally never met the man, but I do have a story to tell. In 1981 I was the clerk on the truck dock located at the south end of factory #04 on the day shift. As you can imagine there was a lot of activity at this location. There was a constant stream of trucks moving in and out of this dock. I had a problem with people parking cars in front of the loading dock, and had many occasions when the switcher would just dump the trailer and leave because of a vehicle in the way. I mentioned to my fork lift driver, Bill Tull, that the next car left unattended would get a surprise. Our plan was to place "CHECK BRAKES" stickers on all the windows of the offending vehicle. Well sure enough a couple hours later I get a call from #17 dispatch that Smitty could not back in a load of engines because my dock was blocked AGAIN! Bill and I sprung into action with a vengeance. We kind of over did the sticker bit. There was not one piece of glass left untouched. Since we now had no work to do we just sat and waited with gleeful anticipation. Well if you haven't guessed by now the offender was non other than Bill Lamb and our surprise awaited him. Being the coward that I was that day, I immediately jumped on a scooter and headed for the north end, every man for himself! I called down when I got to the office at 4 north and my partner in crime said that Bill Lamb was pretty upset. He told me that he and the boss, Jerry Rouleau, were getting some hot water and soap and that I should hurry back to help. It took me about 45 minutes to get back. Sorry that I never got to meet you Bill, but you know how it is. "If You Can't Stand The Heat, Get Out Of The Kitchen".
Link for news on the last radio show.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

First mass produced Automobile In Flint.

This photo from the Buick Research Gallery (I believe) shows the Sloan Museums Flint Roadster being retrieved. I wish I had more information on this.

The articles from "The Wolverine Citizen" pertaining to the Hardy "Flint Roadster"

The Randall carriage works advertising in the Flint City Directory in 1881-1882.

This 1873 map shows the location of the Randall & Randall factory (highlighted in red) which is shown below. In 1873 the roads north of the river were streets instead of avenues (changed in October 1901). A.B.C. Hardy rented a portion of this facility for his auto production, but shortly moved south of the Flint river, next door to the Cornwall Whip Socket factory.

This north east view of the Frank & Abner Randall carriage factory is the location where production of the first auto manufacturing began in Flint. It was located at Saginaw street and Third street. History also tells us that this was the location of the first carriage (mostly farm wagons) manufacturing done in Flint. William Patterson was actually the first true carriage maker in Flint, with the Randall brothers building farm wagons in the beginning. Maybe the Randall's should be credited with building the first wheeled vehicles in Flint.  Link for Patterson bid as number 1 in Flint.

This is the Flint Hardy Roadster, owned by the Sloan Museum in Flint, Michigan. The color is green with red accents and black leather upholstery. Hardy's company operated from 1902-1903.

This is Flint’s first auto manufacturer in 1939, A.B.C. (Alexander Brownell Cullen) Hardy. Even though he only produced about 52 Flint roadsters, he had the original vision. His history is well documented by others.

Hardy Flint Roadster