Thursday, November 29, 2012

Buick Unified Assembly Line 1926.

This north facing view is showing the steam cleaning of the chassis before it receives it's body.

This is the description of the photo shown above. Many publications lump Detroit and Flint together,which can sometimes be confusing for historians. The following link shows this area at the end of film. Click here for a short film.  

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Chevy In The Hole Before Chevrolet.

A postcard of the photo below that is actually labeled correctly.

Here is the Fox and Begole mill with the photographer facing south across the Flint river. This location is just west of the Wilcox Street bridge (Chevrolet Avenue now). At the time of this photo I believe it had already become the F. R. Lewis straw board factory (shown Below). The location of this mill is shown two photos below. This is most often said to be the future location of the Flint Wagon Works, but that factory was actually built a city block east of this dam, where the Busenbark and Stones saw mill was located. 'I probably need to do a bit more research'. I'm thinking that Begole probably bought the Busenbark property. I have found that the Crapo mills purchased the Busenbark mill in 1860. The Crapo mills were owned by William Durant's grandfather. Besides the buildings shown here, there were also more buildings directly east, which were also part of the Fox and Begole mill. This is in fact the future location of Chevrolet factory #5.

You can super enlarge just about any photo on this blog for viewing small details. The way this is done is a little different depending on which browser is used.

This is the Lewis straw board mill viewed from the south. Here you can see the dam (at left) with the Wilcox Street bridge (Paper Mill Bridge) at right. This is part of the old Fox and Begole mill. This will be the future site of Chevrolet factory #5. 1890 map of Flint link

The red arrow shows the location of what is left of the original Buick plant shortly after 1922. The yellow outline shows the location of the Fox and Begole sawmill. The two yellow X's show where the main buildings were once located. The yellow X in the foreground is where the F. R. Lewis straw board factory was located. At the time of this photo I believe the street had already been changed to Chevrolet Avenue. The area outlined in green shows the remnants of the old dam. The blue X shows where the photographer (in the photo showing the dam) would have been standing when that photo was taken. The area at left, outlined in purple is where the Bernhard Hassellbring greenhouse and gardens were located. This is now the south campus of Kettering University. The 1907 map spells it Hassellbrink, the 1907 maps contain many of these errors. The pink X towards the top is where the Busenbark and Stone's mill was located. The area outlined in black is the Flint Wagon Works. At this time in the '20s it is part of Chevrolet.

About 1900.

Here is an 1870 view of Flint. You can see the location of the dams and mills at that time. The Stone's Woolen Mill is shown below after it became Flint Woolen. This is 1894 from the book, Tours Through Michigan, Rail & Water. This is the building where Billy Durant made his start building carts in Flint. This is looking north up what is now Grand Traverse Street.

This is the 1907 view of the Chevy In The Hole site. You can see that the dam is still in place just west of the First Wilcox Street bridge. As of 2012 three different bridges have been constructed here. This street would also be re-named Chevrolet Avenue in the '20s. I think since Third Avenue (to the north) has now been changed to University Drive, that Chevrolet Avenue will soon become Kettering Avenue.

Original map.

This is the 4th ward of Flint's west side (also called the "Pinery") in 1880. The yellow arrow shows the Busenbark and Stones mill. The Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory shows this mill still in operation on west Kearsley in 1877. The red arrow shows the future site of The Flint Wagon Works. The purple arrow shows the future site of the first Buick factory in Flint. The blue arrow shows The Fox and Begole sawmill which is listed in the Flint City directory of 1882 as being at the foot of Kearsley Street. The foot of Kearsley would have ended at Garden Street at that time. Today there is only a small portion of Garden Street left. The orange arrow shows the location of the future F. R. Lewis straw board mill, which before the large trees were all gone and shipping costs ate into the profit margin, was part of The Fox and Begole mill. The black arrow shows the location of the last (or lower) dam located on the river in Flint. The green arrow shows the location of the Bernhard Hasselbring greenhouse and gardens. This is also the location of the Riverside Evaporator and Jelly Works which was run by the Wilcox family. The gardens are where Garden Street got it's name. The Wilcox family supplied their name for that street. This is now the location of the Kettering Archives. The Hassellbring florist shops were still listed in two locations on Saginaw Street in the 1919-1920 Flint City Directory (shown in my links), you could also buy directly from this location. Originally no bridge existed here early on and only the dam was in place at that time.

This view is facing south and shows the greenhouses mentioned above at the left. The Flint river is in the distance with west 3rd ave. running parallel with it in the foreground. Garden Street is going south here with a horse drawn wagon.

This is from the 1882 flint City Directory and shows Joshua L. Wilcox in the 1st ward and on the west side of Garden between 3rd and the Flint river. This ward would later be joined with the 4th ward.

September 1909.

Flint Wagon Works from a 1910 publication. George L. Walker

Flint Wagon Works in 1885 facing north-west towards the Flint river. Link here for a view when Buick was first built. Links:
Happy 100th Birthday Chevrolet.
The 1904 Model B & Flint Wagon Works.
1920 Chevy in the hole
Flint Photos Supplied From The Weaver Family Buick Aerial Views Over 100 Years.

Click this page for further reading about the Flint lumber industry in the 1800's

Another interesting blog.

Buick, Little, Mason and Chevrolet

Mason from 1915 . The address is 820 East Kearsley St. Flint, Michigan. Click on this photo for original article this appeared in. 
William (Big Bill) Little.

From the Automobile Trade Journal January 1, 1912. You can super enlarge just about any photo on this blog for viewing small details. The way this is done is a little different depending on which browser is used.

Arthur C. Mason

This article is from the trade magazine "Michigan Manufacturer and Financial Record" March 15, 1913.  
This photo showing the original Buick factory, is I believe at least before May 1916 as per the story at the start of this post .You can see the factory in the background which was built to increase production of the Mason engine used in the "Little" automobile being built across the street, in the old Wagon Works factory. This new factory would become factory #4 after the creation of Chevrolet in Flint during 1913. I myself would work in factory #4 for nine months in 1973 to 1974 and it was the worst place I ever worked. This postcard is showing what the original Buick factory had become at this time. The red arrows show that the old windows with  muntins have already been changed out to a single pane of glass. The yellow arrow shows the second floor has not had them changed out yet. "I do not know the reason for this". This factory had been first leased by the Flint Wagon Works (Buick production moved to the new engine plant at the Buick factory on the north-end of Flint)  for engine production of the Whiting automobile from 1911 to 1913. Then it was sold to the Sterling Motor Works out of Detroit. Sterling was going to build engines for a cycle car that was planned. The plant was to be run by William C. (Big Bill) Little. This project never seen the light of day. This project was reported in a small foot-note in the Iron Age Magazine on August 21, 1913. After that the plant was leased by the Randolph Motor Company for truck production. The Randolph is sometimes placed before Sterling but according to different trade journals of the time I find this not to be correct. There have been many story's written on the early Chevrolet history but it kind of went like this, Whiting cars becoming Little cars and Little cars becoming Chevrolet's. This was refereed to as "The Home Of The Little Four".  
Here we see the managers office in the old Buick factory. You can see the Flint Wagon Works through the office windows and the name on the building is now Chevrolet. I believe this is the second floor at the north-east corner of the building. There are no mun-tins on the windows but on the photo above we see the second floor is still using them. Maybe this is the third floor or the rest of the windows were changed out by the time of this 1918 photo. I spent many hours trying to identify the photo of a building on the wall with no success. You can see Barth in the team photo below from 1920.  

This July 10, 1919 article Shows that Charles Barth was promoted shortly after the photo above.
In this west facing view of the second Flint Wagon Works office (built after the 1900 fire) and factory the blue arrow shows what is visible from Charles Barth's office .The red arrow shows the remnants of the Little factory name on the main office. The yellow arrow shows the direction the photo below was taken.
These new 490 Chevrolet's are waiting for shipping or a possible drive away. This photo has been mis-identified in some publications as being Buick's. They were obviously  low resolution photos because you can clearly see the Chevrolet name placed on the windscreen. Story on early Chevrolet history.
Here we are looking at the new engine for the Chevrolet 490.  From left to right is Thomas Moyer, Tom Haightar, Charles Barth and William Ballenger. This location at the Chevrolet assembly plant #2 is shown below.
The green arrow shows the location of the photo above. The yellow arrow shows the direction and location of the new Chevrolet 490's ready for delivery. The red arrow shows the location and direction seen out of Charles Barth's office windows, shown farther above. The Flint river is in flood stage and was certainly the reason for this flyover.
This view of the Mason plant (future Chevrolet #4) being built to the west of the old Buick plant July 1915, (at this time Mason). In this west facing view you can see the old original Fox and Begole mill which was now a straw board factory, (called chip board today)  barely visible in the mist or smoke along Wilcox Street (Chevrolet now). 
Here we are facing east from across Wilcox Street (future Chevrolet Avenue) about 1917. The yellow arrow shows the 100 foot extension added to the original Buick factory about 1905, which was still in place but removed after 1917 for a further addition to this plant, (built for needed space making Chevrolet Motors). The red arrow shows the Buick name is still visible on the original part of the Buick plant.  This building became part of Chevrolet #4 when the main engine assembly facility was built for Chevrolet,  just to the left in this photo. This photo was taken from the still existing Fox and Begole buildings that were still in use making Straw Board. 

Here is a view showing the 4th ward of Flint in 1907. The area of the Buick and Chevrolet site is at the left. You can super enlarge just about any photo on this blog for viewing small details. The way this is done is a little different depending on which browser is used.   Links:

The First Buick Workers

Buick Poem

Original factory on west Kearsley st.

The Early Years.   Chevrolet Bow Tie Emblem 1916

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Postcard Find

Here we are looking directly east down Hamilton Avenue. As you can see in the distance there is a factory (Flint Motor Axle) where Hamilton now crosses the Flint River. At this time there was still just a suspension bridge for foot traffic. The first factory on the right is the W.F. Stewart body plant #4 on the south-east corner of Industrial and Hamilton Avenues. Farther east beyond Stewart is the new factory #08 which was coincidentally built in 1908. On the left side we first see the Weston-Mott factory and attached office. Beyond that to the east is Buick factory #01 and the Buick office which is also attached. Imperial Wheel company owned by the Durant Dort group of factories at that time and numbered #7 is barely visible in the distance. These cards which I acquired in a       large group of Flint postcards were all sent between 1909 and 1910 by one Elsie Nelley to Lula Craig in Millington,MichiganLinks: 

Industrial Avenue Revisited. 

The W.F. Stewart Factories In Flint.

Buick Factories 1911 

Suspension bridge at Hamilton Avenue

Here is a group of employees probably waiting for the streetcar. That is Division Street where the new Buick's are lined up maybe waiting to be test run or maybe it's a drive away for some dealer. It could even be they are just waiting to be loaded for shipment. That is the Imperial Wheel plant partially visible on the right, on the east side of the rail line. I believe this is 1908 judging by the truck dock not yet being enclosed. The dock area at the left with the awning was where workers could park their bikes (under the dock)  that they rode to work, this was a basement area.  Links: 

Division Street Revisited.

This is Hamilton Avenue before April 1909 with a horse and wagon traveling east towards the Pere Marquette main line coming in from the north. The first Buick office at the Oak Park site is shown on the left. Factory #01 was located directly behind and connected to the office. Trailing off in the distance is factory #06 which was built in 1907. Division Street which was solely a Buick street is shown running parallel with the rail line. This is before April 29, 1909 when the wooden water tank (behind powerhouse smokestack) at the left fell in a storm. The steel tank being erected (between the two stacks) was obviously built in an area needed for future expansion because you do not see this here for long.  Links:

Buick Factory #01.

    The Durant Dort factory on Water street. Factory #1 is in the foreground with #4 being  the farthest. This view is facing west and appears to have been taken from the Crystal  Hotel which was another card I received in this group.  Links:  

Carriage Town Factories. 

This is the Weston and Mott factory just after being built in 1906. The power plant which was numbered 26 is visible at the right with the water tower behind it. A small portion of  Buick's second factory built in Flint was numbered 1 and the original plant on west Kearsley was re-numbered 2. Visible between the power house and #01 can be seen #06 assembly plant under construction in  the spring of 1907. The reason that Buick skipped #3, #4 and #5 was because those were the factory numbers in use at the Jackson, Michigan assembly facility. The photographer was probably on the roof of the Stewart Body factory #4 across Hamilton Avenue. Industrial Avenue is at the left with some of the homes that would shortly be a whole community. The subdivision was known as the Oak Park. The actual park is visible in the distance and is still there to this day. All the open pasture of the old Hamilton farm in the distance will shortly be filled with factories. We now know it is once again an open pasture only it is now covered with concrete and black top. It is slowly growing trees and shrubs now.  Links:  

The Weston-Mott Factories At Buick

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Division Street 1957 To 1997.

This photo I personally took in 1997 just before I left for work at Bay City Powertrain. Notice the new bridge (#43) that is blocking the view of factory #40 building #16. I watched this bridge being built. This factory also has it's addition on it's west side now. This addition was where I first worked at Buick. I spent the majority of my time with Buick right there. Notice the truck dock called 16 north. The trailers are parked directly under bridge #43. In the photo below this one you can see the entrance for the train into the rail dock called 16 rail, where I was a clerk in 1977. The north end of factory #40 was drastically altered in 1985 for the creation of Buick City, with the rail dock being filled in. I personally seen that work going on with a lot of sand used for the backfill. The original tracks are still in place here under concrete. The demolition at Buick City did not cut through the floor here. Just inside the rail door (shown below) was the location where I entered the underground tunnels in the early seventies. Notice the changes to factory #02/#08 on the left. The ramp now terminates half way down and another floor has been added. This was the original train shed and Buick shipping

The same exact spot as shown above facing south on Division Street. Factory #02/#08 is on the left. Factory #40 building #16 is the tall building barley visible in the photo above this one. The factory #03 forge is just barley visible on the right. Factory #12 cis on the right in 1997. The ramp on the left led to the second floor pilot area in 1972. This is during an open house in 1957. The original export shipping factory #09 was located on the exact footprint of factory #40/#16 until after World War II and the construction of building #16, or as it was commonly called "new #40". Link:
Division street Buick 50's / 90'sM-4 Sherman Tank Drive.Another view inside factory #02/08
Inside train shed 1942 + early '20s
Northend factory #02/#08Factory #02 Train Shed Vehicle EntranceFactory #02 train shed 1923Train Shed At Buick Rail EntranceDivision Street 1947Factory #40 Building #16 1947 & 1997Factory #40/bldg 16 1978Factory #40/bldg 16
Division Street Revisited.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Terry B. Dunham

Terry with his longtime friend and co-author Larry Gustin. This photo is from the dust jacket of their sixth edition Buick history book. I have all of the editions of their fine books and would be lost without them. Terry has now made his last personal correction on this Blog Terry's helping hand . "I better strive to be more accurate Terry", Rest In Peace.

Mr. Terry B. Dunham
 June 22, 1940 - November 2, 2012  
Terry B. Dunham, 72, who died Nov 2, 2012, was considered one of the world's leading experts on the heritage of the Buick automobile, creating a book, a national enthusiasts' organization, and a website for vintage car owners and major magazine articles.
Terry, of Apopka FL, had been active until recent days despite an illness of several years. He is survived by his wife, Jeanne (Golden), who was his high school sweetheart in their home town of Howell, MI; their daughters Terrilyn Hundeby (David) of Orlando and Traci Garde (Glenn) of Atlanta; grandchildren Paul & Shauna Hundeby, and Shelby & Sydney Garde. Also surviving is his beloved mother-in-law, Helen Golden of Brighton, MI., sister Janet Kerr of Cedarville and brother Roger Dunham of Howell. He was preceded in death by his parents Lawrence and Ellen Dunham. Funeral services pending at McDonald Funeral Home in Howell, MI., 517-546-2800
Terry was born June 22, 1940 in Howell. He was a 1963 graduate of Western Michigan University, where he majored in automotive engineering technology. He was employed in sales and service operations of General Motors' Pontiac Motor Division from 1963 – 1992. After retirement from GM, he worked for Engineering Analysis in Detroit, handling product liability investigations for GM, Ford, and Chrysler, his specialty being a fire expert on cars. Those assignments often took him to the Caribbean, Mexico, and even Casablanca.
 He was particularly well known for his book, "The Buick: A Complete History" , an award winning and critically acclaimed book that came to be accepted by Buick Motor Co. and auto historians as the automaker's definitive history. It was first published in 1980 and then in five more updated editions up to Buick's centennial in 2003. In 1975 he suggested the idea for a major Buick history book to Automotive Quarterly (AQ). After conducting research across the United States and England the book was published in 1980 and co-authored with his good friend Lawrence R. Gustin.
 His family interests included coaching soccer and being a foster parent along with his wife rescuing kittens and helping them getting adopted through a rescue group.
 Links: TERRY DUNHAM OBITUARY   That first Buick — a 1937 model with a straight-8 engine — ignited a passion for the brand that eventually led Dunham to co-write "The Buick: A Complete History."

"He was certainly one of the world's leading experts on Buicks," said Lawrence R. Gustin, Dunham's co-author and former public-relations spokesman for Buick.
Dunham of Apopka died Nov. 2 of complications from colon cancer. He was 72.
Gifted in mechanics from a young age, Dunham spent much of his teen years fixing cars. He also waited tables at the Midget, a restaurant owned by his father. The student hangout was best known for its olive burgers, his wife said.
After earning a degree in automotive-engineering technology from Western Michigan University, Dunham spent the next 40 years in the car industry. He worked at General Motors, finishing his career in Central Florida as head of the southern region of Pontiac's service and warranty departments.
"He could find anything wrong with a car," his wife said.
When he retired from GM, Dunham joined the Detroit firm Engineering Analysis, where he handled product-liability investigations. Dunham inspected cars after accidents to determine whether the carmaker was at fault.
But it was his love for Buicks that made him a well-known figure in car-hobbyist circles. He wrote articles on Buick's racing history, and in 2005 he created the Buick Heritage Alliance, an enthusiast group dedicated to preserving Buick's history.
His wife said Dunham thought the Buick brand — more than any other car make — was special because of its high-performance engines and its connection to racing.
Dunham amassed one of the largest collections of literature produced by Buick, his wife said. Their home was filled with Buick pamphlets dating to the make's early days. The collection will likely go to a museum.
While researching "The Buick: A Complete History" — first published in 1980 — Dunham traveled across the U.S. and to England, interviewing former Buick designers and engineers.
"The book would not have been created without Terry," Gustin said.
The 600-page book — dubbed "the bible on Buick" at — has had six editions, including one in 2003 that celebrated the brand's centennial. Gustin said "The Buick" presented a history "that was not well-known." Gerry Godin says: I personally corresponded with Terry only over the past 13 years by email which is where we met each other during research. Hemming's Motor News

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Mystery Speedster.

I spent many hours, to no avail,  trying to identify the model of this Buick automobile. It is definitely built using mostly Marquette parts. Judging by the style, I would place the model year between either 1909-1910 or possibly even a 1911 model. Judging by the length of the hood and the number of cooling fins my best guess is 1910. It appears to be some kind of special built automobile and is assembled with an eye towards making a combination "Speedster-Roadster". The closest I can find in any books showing all models built is a model 16 or 17. The seat has a rakish slant to it like a racing model and also has a fuel tank behind the seat like a racer, but there is no oil tank behind the fuel tank, so that should rule out a racer. Also a racer would not have the fenders, trunk and tool box. This auto even has headlights and an unknown bracket hanging off of the radiator filler neck.  The strangely shaped cowl is reminiscent of the cowl on the famous Buick model (Special "60")  "BUGS" built in 1910, only it is even more streamlined. The location for this photo is facing north with Industrial Avenue at the left. The map below shows where it was taken,  the photo below that shows the factory which would become Buick #38 in 1916. It was Michigan Motor Castings at the time of this photo. This automobile was definitely important enough to merit getting it's picture taken. If anyone can enlighten me on this I would really appreciate it.

This map shows the location of  the Michigan Motor Castings plant built in 1908  which quickly became obsolete and saw a total renovation in 1909. Before Michigan Motor Castings was organized Buick engine castings came from Barker & Hamel on west Water Street located in downtown Flint. As stated previously Buick did not own this plant until 1916 and then numbered it #38. The green X shows where the automobile was sitting at the time the photo above was taken. Also notice on the map that the first suspension bridge has now been erected crossing the Flint River.

This 1920 view of factory #38 shows the area where the speedster photo was taken.  The auto would be sitting where the guard shack is located behind the wall, of which neither existed in 1910.

Michigan Motor Casting Company

A.C. On Industrial Avenue and the Buick Bug. 

Marquette - Buick