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Australian 6 Manufacturing plant


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#51 pugfan

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Posted 02 September 2010 - 04:11

Family friend used to go assemble CKD Chrysler products in white shirt and tie,,,, in about 1960. It kept his wife busy cleaning his shirts.


My father in law worked on the Australian Motors line for a bit, Triumphs and Rambers I understand. To this day he'll only wear a tie if it has an elastic strap, she buys nice silk ties, gets me to tie them and then cuts off the loop and sews in elastic. Her theory is he saw the evidence of what can happen.


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#52 Ray Bell

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Posted 02 September 2010 - 11:25

That would be Australian Motor Industries...

Triumph, Rambler and Toyota.

#53 McGuire

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Posted 03 September 2010 - 09:58

Some toffs from the office more like it, just doing a bit of grandstanding. Notice how they are always in the front of the picture and everyone else is in factory apparel.



I'm one of the toffs. In my line of work, you want to dress like you just happened to stop by on your way from somewhere far more important and interesting. This gets easier all the time as standards continue to decline.

Willys-Overland. I'm guessing it must be mid-August and at least 90 degrees as most all have removed their jackets. Note one man wearing a printed sport shirt -- probably a communist or hippie or something. I think the man standing up in photo center is Clyde Paton, the chief engineer of the Willys Aero.

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#54 McGuire

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Posted 03 September 2010 - 10:21

It is a challeng! View cameras are so simple that it is not difficult to incorporate shift and tilt, and there are still specialist, professional cameras that have those features, but not many - I only know of Nikon and Canon off the top of my head - make lenses with tilt and/or shift for SLR bodies. I have a 35mm shift Nikkor, they make or made a 28mm and an 85mm, which seems an odd focal length for a shift lens... and Canon make a couple of tilt and shift lenses. I don't like converging verticals, but when you are trying to reproduce the same view as an old photograph it takes on more importance.

Great photos, thanks.


I have an old 35mm Nikkor shift as well but never use it. Also a pair of 4x5 Speed Graphics but the film is just too expensive... last time I looked Velvia 50 was around 8 bucks a sheet. I would love to get a digital back but it's the price of a Mercedes-Benz. Speaking of gigantic images, here is one of my favorites, a WWII Life magazine photo now in the Library of Congress. Scanned, nearly 200 MB. One spark plug fills half the monitor sharp as a razor. Note the notches at top left for loading in the dark. Kodachrome's speed was ASA 8 at this time.

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#55 Tony Matthews

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Posted 03 September 2010 - 11:58

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Lovely photo!

Quite honestly I cannot remember using my shift lens, I bought it cheap (but in very good condition) as a collector's item - along with my 45mmGN lens! - and I'm not sure that it will interface with a D700, but I will check. I have a 5x7 mahogany and brass job, but that is never going to be used...

When I have cutaways digitally imaged the TIFF files are 290MB, on a 6x4.5 body. Before that it was 5x4 and 10x8 Fujifilm - a 10x8 trannie is quite impressive! With Canon announcing a 120MB sensor smaller than 35mm full-frame, it won't be long before we can have more pixels than any of us can shake a stick at. However, I am considering the purchase of some 120 film for my Pentax 67, all this talk of film is getting my juices flowing.

#56 Ivan Saxton

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Posted 10 September 2010 - 14:06

This is sort of exciting to an auto history geek like myself... like discovering you have a cousin down under. Grand Lees doesn't ring any bells at the moment but Ansted, Rutenber, and Muncie were all automotive companies based in central and eastern Indiana. This Muncie is the not same outfit that made the well-known Muncie four-speed transmissions for '60s GM cars but is related to it, as are Warner and Borg-Warner -- H.L. Warner was originally the president of Muncie Gear Works. The Waterwitch outboard motor was also manufactured by this company. Ansted once manufactured a car under its own brand, as well as the Lexington automobile for a time, but also supplied engines to a number of carmakers, including Auburn and Durant... as did Rutenber, which is a mildly interesting convergence.

Ansted was actually a cluster of various companies in Connersville, Indiana, controlled by A.W. Ansted, most of which supplied the automotive industry. The Ansted interests were absorbed by E.L. Cord and the Auburn Auto Co, and his umbrella firm, AVCO. The main Auburn assembly plant was then relocated in Connersville, while a former Ansted company became the Central Manufacturing Co, which made bodies and pressings for Auburn, Willys-Overland (incl. the WWII Jeep) and others. The confusing tangle of companies also held a good portion of the appliance manufacturing business (washers, driers, ranges, refrigerators) for many years after the war, selling under a number of brands and manufacturing for others. Additionally, the grandson is the Bill Ansted who sponsored or owned a number of Indy car teams in the '50s and '60s, including the A.J. Foyt Sheraton-Thompson operation.

The car right front of photo # 9 is a very early type, recognisable by the rounded radiator shape. One of my friends here has car # 30 which is like this.
Grant Lees gearboxes were also used by Roamer for the 6 cylinder side valve Continental engined cars. Probably many other small production cars also used them in the early 1920's.
I sometimes rib A 6 owners that I know that "Rutenber" is actually "Rottenber"mis-spelled. This was certainly a costly mistake that contributed to the company's demise. (They may have been a small car manufacturer, but I understand they were a very large business for Sydney at the time). There was costly work to repair a lot of these engines for customers. One grievous error was the use of die-cast white metal bigend and main crankshaft bearings. These might have had a long life for a car that Auntie only used for local shopping, but many cars went to patriotic graziers, and had to survive long trips. Bearings with thick white metal on bronze shells had service life problems. Diecast whitemetal shells would be a problem to maintain conductivity for heat dissipation if the nip-fit loosened. The three crankshaft main bearings had pump-oiling. I do not say pressure because I do not admire the pump they used. Big ends were splash feed with dippers and troughs.
Another doubtful quality was the egine block casting. The early engine for car #30 came from Cunnamulla in SE Queensland, where motorists had to be resourceful. A leak occured between the water jacket and the valve chamber. They removed the piston and conrod, drilled a 1/2"hole through the leak into the bore, and sealed it with a Whitworth nut and bolt with lead washers. They used it thereafter as an Australian Five. It probably didn't matter much if they didn't drive too fast. Lancia Kappa also used diecast babbit crankshaft bearings. Geoff Fullard's father had one as a family car. Geoff told me that they had bearing trouble until he and his brother Alf made new ones with bronze-backed shells. Roamer used the same Rutenber in some of their ealy six cylinder cars. I have some remains of a 1917 one, whose chassis frame has engine mounts for this engine. The storey was the car was abandonned west of Dimboola near the South Australian border when the engine died.
The OHV Anstead Six was a good egine. In 1923 its BHP /litre was better than almost any contemporary American car except Duesenberg, the Chrysler, and the Essex four. I saw one of these in a Lexington some years ago, but I did not have a camera. There was something very funny about the rockers, which from memory hung from ball joints! I apologise that I have never been able to raise great enthusiasm for the assembled Australian cars of the 1920's. They were a "Geewhizz", but not very distinguished mechanically. Stuart Middlehurst and I had a Summit with a 4 cylinder Lycoming engine which cost twelve pounds Ten as a ute. We used to buy oddities that seemed to interest no-one, and contribute half the cash each. Eventually I told Stuart that his interest in the Summit was much greater than mine, and that he should consider it his. Summit had a Heath Robinson springing design.

#57 McGuire

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Posted 10 September 2010 - 16:27

The car right front of photo # 9 is a very early type, recognisable by the rounded radiator shape. One of my friends here has car # 30 which is like this.
Grant Lees gearboxes were also used by Roamer for the 6 cylinder side valve Continental engined cars. Probably many other small production cars also used them in the early 1920's.
I sometimes rib A 6 owners that I know that "Rutenber" is actually "Rottenber"mis-spelled. This was certainly a costly mistake that contributed to the company's demise. (They may have been a small car manufacturer, but I understand they were a very large business for Sydney at the time). There was costly work to repair a lot of these engines for customers. One grievous error was the use of die-cast white metal bigend and main crankshaft bearings. These might have had a long life for a car that Auntie only used for local shopping, but many cars went to patriotic graziers, and had to survive long trips. Bearings with thick white metal on bronze shells had service life problems. Diecast whitemetal shells would be a problem to maintain conductivity for heat dissipation if the nip-fit loosened. The three crankshaft main bearings had pump-oiling. I do not say pressure because I do not admire the pump they used. Big ends were splash feed with dippers and troughs.
Another doubtful quality was the egine block casting. The early engine for car #30 came from Cunnamulla in SE Queensland, where motorists had to be resourceful. A leak occured between the water jacket and the valve chamber. They removed the piston and conrod, drilled a 1/2"hole through the leak into the bore, and sealed it with a Whitworth nut and bolt with lead washers. They used it thereafter as an Australian Five. It probably didn't matter much if they didn't drive too fast. Lancia Kappa also used diecast babbit crankshaft bearings. Geoff Fullard's father had one as a family car. Geoff told me that they had bearing trouble until he and his brother Alf made new ones with bronze-backed shells. Roamer used the same Rutenber in some of their ealy six cylinder cars. I have some remains of a 1917 one, whose chassis frame has engine mounts for this engine. The storey was the car was abandonned west of Dimboola near the South Australian border when the engine died.
The OHV Anstead Six was a good egine. In 1923 its BHP /litre was better than almost any contemporary American car except Duesenberg, the Chrysler, and the Essex four. I saw one of these in a Lexington some years ago, but I did not have a camera. There was something very funny about the rockers, which from memory hung from ball joints! I apologise that I have never been able to raise great enthusiasm for the assembled Australian cars of the 1920's. They were a "Geewhizz", but not very distinguished mechanically. Stuart Middlehurst and I had a Summit with a 4 cylinder Lycoming engine which cost twelve pounds Ten as a ute. We used to buy oddities that seemed to interest no-one, and contribute half the cash each. Eventually I told Stuart that his interest in the Summit was much greater than mine, and that he should consider it his. Summit had a Heath Robinson springing design.


Thanks for the excellent post. I love this stuff. Thanks also for clarifying Grant-Lees rather than Grand Lees, which I was too dull to recognize. Grant-Lees was a Cleveland, Ohio company, an outgrowth of Grant Ball Bearing. Specialized in gearing and gearsets but also manufactured complete transmissions. Another allied company, Lees-Bradner, made really excellent gear-hobbing and worm gear machines. This company is still in existence, or was a few years ago.

Great point about the smaller engine manufacturers that supplied the assembled car makers -- their resources were often limited and their production numbers so small that they usually couldn't compete with the high volume producers, except at times in the high-priced categories.


#58 NTSOS

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 18:10

Whilst looking for classic Chevy pieces and parts I once again stumbled upon a very lucky guy who scored a brand new 1956 Chevy short
block complete with a can of GM breakin oil in the crate.

Apparently, a guy purchased 3 short block assemblies from a chevy dealer in 1971, sold two right off the bat,
and kept this one in his garage until now.

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John

#59 McGuire

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Posted 23 September 2010 - 22:36

Excellent article, so sad to see those old buildings collapsing. It is a pity about the Ford Plant having that other building against it as it was [and still is] a very attractive building.


Actually, the adjoining building has an interesting history in itself. Ford's production manager at Piquette Ave. was Walter E. Flanders, who was said to be the sharpest man alive at the time in machine tools and mass production. He started as an apprentice at the Singer Sewing Machine Co, eventually becoming de facto chief engineer and sales manager for three machine tool companies, where he not only sold the tools but the expertise to make they pay. He revolutionized production methods at Leland & Faulconer, Oldsmobile, everywhere he went. Ford then hired him to manage the Piquette plant, but only on Flanders' condition that he be given complete authority over manufacturing at Ford, while also continuing to run his other businesses. Flanders was with Ford for less than two years, but increased production in this cramped building from 20 to 150 cars per day. And while he left before Ford started the moving assembly line, he is credited, as much as anyone, for directing Ford toward advanced manufacturing. A large, assertive, supremely confident man, he is said to be one of the few people whose physical presence and abilities ever intimidated Henry Ford.

Anyway, one block west of this Ford plant was the Wayne Automobile Co, which was built before or around the same time as the Ford plant. Flanders resigned from Ford in 1908 and took over Wayne with partners Barney Everitt and Charles Metzger. They merged the company with Northern and created EMF, which eventually expanded until it adjoined the Ford building. Meanwhile, EMF was bought out by Studebaker in a bizarre string of events, including multiple lawsuits and injunctions. Studebaker/EMF eventually took over the Ford building as well -- but by that time, Ford had already moved up to Woodward and Manchester in Highland Park, about four miles north.

While EMF didn't totally work out, Flanders still became one of the wealthiest men in America, the owner of gigantic farm estates in Michigan and Virginia and the developer of Magnolia Park in Miami -- only to die tragically at age 52 when the car he was riding in overturned. Together and separately, Flanders, Metzger, and Everitt had a hand in scores of automotive and aviation companies. The building in post 29 is one of countless Everitt facilities. These men and some other Detroit auto pioneers were tremendously powerful and influential, the equivalent of our Silicon Valley venture capitalists today. It's nearly impossible to sort out all the businesses these men launched, many of them intertwined in various ways.


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#60 Tony Matthews

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Posted 23 September 2010 - 23:59

Fascinating, thanks.

#61 McGuire

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Posted 24 September 2010 - 22:26

...probably the last automobile brand launched by the partners Everitt, Metzger, and Flanders was Rickenbacker, the namesake company of Col. Eddie Rickenbacker. The WWI flying ace and former race driver was the celebrity front for the company and vice president of sales. A new plant was designed by Albert Kahn and built in downriver Detroit on Cabot Street, just off Michigan Ave. This was actually Rickenbacker's second effort at heading a car company. Just before this he was the figurehead and sales manager of the Sheridan division of General Motors, then controlled by William C. Durant. When Durant was ousted from GM the second time, he purchased Sheridan, which GM was glad to be rid of.

Billy Durant was interested in Eddie Rickenbacker for two reasons: as sales manager for Sheridan, and to serve as a driving coach and positive influence for his son Cliff, who fancied himself a race driver, among other things. By all accounts, Cliff was a drunk, a rake, and a world-class jerk. For a time Rickenbacker stayed at Cliff's huge estate in the California Bay area, where he became acquainted with Cliff's second wide, Adelaide. She was an incredible young beauty Cliff had found in a timber town in western Michigan, but he treated her horribly, heaping her with physical and mental abuse. Adelaide left Cliff and after a discreet interval married Rickenbacker, a development in which her former father-in-law entirely approved, though at that point Rickenbacker extracted himself from all Durant's business affairs. However, Adelaide and Billy Durant remained close friends until he passed away. The Rickenbackers adopted two sons, one of whom, Bill Rickenbacker, became a well-known right-wing political commentator. The apples hadn't fallen too far from the tree, as Eddie was somewhere to the right of Gen. Franco in his political views, with a hand in the founding of the John Birch Society.

Just as the Rickenbacker plant was spooling up, Walter Flanders was killed in an auto accident and for a number of reasons, the car was not a commercial success. Rickenbacker departed in around '26, soon purchasing (with backers) the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Allison Engine Company. The former Rickenbacker plant on Cabot in Detroit was sold to Walter Briggs, an associate and former employee of Barney Everitt who had made his own fortune with Briggs Body. Partnered with Everitt and Metzger, Briggs started the Verville Aircraft Co in the former Rickenbacker plant, with aeronautical engineer Alfred Verville as chief designer and general manager. Verville had designed the Verville-Sperry R1, among other aircraft. The company went into recievership in '31 when the great depression hit, but the plant is still standing:


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#62 Powersteer

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Posted 25 September 2010 - 00:38

omg, shocking stuff..pictures, history and before and now pictures..

:cool:

#63 NTSOS

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Posted 25 September 2010 - 02:10

Terrific stuff Bill.......thanks man! :up:

John

#64 McGuire

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Posted 25 September 2010 - 03:41

Adelaide Frost Durant Rickenbacker in 1922:
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Adelaide Durant Rickenbacker in October of 1942. At the moment this photo was taken, her husband Eddie was lost at sea and presumed dead. On a morale tour in the Pacific theater, the B17 on which he was flying went off course between Hawaii and Canton Island and the pilot ditched in the ocean. After more than a week the search was called off, but Adelaide went directly to General Hap Arnold, told him she knew Eddie was still alive and pleaded, demanded, and bullied him to continue the search. After 24 days on the ocean, Rickenbacker and the crew were found barely alive 500 miles east of Canton Island. Adelaide and Eddie Rickenbacker were married for 51 years.
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#65 Grumbles

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Posted 25 September 2010 - 03:55

Wonderful stuff Bill, hope you can find the time to post some more of these stories.

#66 McGuire

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Posted 25 September 2010 - 12:46

Once he got into some money, Walter Flanders started buying land. He had two large working farm estates, the first one in Michigan and the second in Virginia. He also developed residential subdivisions including Magnolia Park in Miami. His Oakland County, Michigan farm just northwest of Detroit had over 1200 acres under tillage and encircled all of Green Lake, where he raised every kind of livestock and was said to employ 300 farm hands in season. The farm has long since been broken up, but the house still exists. It became the main hall of the Aviation Country Club and today is a senior citizen's home.

Maybe 40 yards west of the house Flanders had a garage built where he and his pals could hang out, as in, "Dear, I'm going over to Walt's garage for a while." Walter's man cave had tools and equipment; also, a billiard room, bowling alley, etc. There was a turntable in the ground floor to to get cars in and out, a common feature in those days (among the really rich, anyway). The garage, done in Craftsman style and resembling a carriage house, still exists as well and now belongs to the Green Lake homeowner's association. Maybe two years ago the state of Michigan put up a historical marker. For anyone who cares to google-map the location and have a look, it's at 6470 Alden Ave, West Bloomfield Twp, MI.



#67 indigoid

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 00:17

I used to wear a bow tie and tweed jacket occasionally when I worked in the engine lab. How standards have fallen, these days at work I look, coincidentally, as if I have just finished sailing and drinking all weekend.


This made both my flatmate and I laugh heartily. Thanks :-)

I don't suppose your tweed jacket had elbow patches... ?

#68 McGuire

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 03:29

Wonderful stuff Bill, hope you can find the time to post some more of these stories.


This is my world and I have spent my whole life collecting these stories. Time permitting, I could give you one a day for the next 50 years.

This is an interesting photo of a Detroit auto facility. The car is the Packard Predictor, a concept car (they called them "dream cars" then) Packard built for, if I recall properly, the 1956 Chicago Auto Show. At this time the company was in very bad shape and desperate for new product. The Predictor's construction was officially credited to Ghia. However, the building in the background is not Ghia in Turin but a shop called Creative Industries on East Outer Drive in Detroit. Creative built countless prototypes and show cars for all the Detroit automakers. They did everything, from stuff like this to the Plymouth Superbird and Dodge Charger Daytona. Later the company became part of Masco Industries, then MSX.

Anyway, I find it interesting to see a purported Ghia car parked in front of Creative in what was obviously a posed shoot. (There is another otherwise identical photo of the same scene but including a fashion model, which is not done on a lark as it basically triples the cost.) Could be a number of reasons. Maybe Ghia did a rough body in white, which Creative then finished, wired, painted, and made into a "real" car. Or maybe the job ran over on time or money and Creative took it over from Ghia. But whatever the reason, Creative and/or Packard had the car photographed here even though Ghia was billed as the constructor.

Companies like Creative did (and still do) wonders in making hand-built show cars look like real production stuff. However, this car is still around, at the Studebaker National Museum in South Bend, in original, unrestored condition. And while the car is in very good shape, some of the handcrafting is starting to show in the interior and trim -- you can see where they faked it, so to speak. For one thing, the elaborate windscreen is a plexiglas blow. As you can see, the Predictor represents everything that was good and bad about '50s design. Personally, I find the car quite awful in a totally delightful way.

The former Creative facility on Outer Drive is still standing, but in rough shape and with a nasty facade that has destroyed the great machine age/modernist architecture shown here. I drove past yesterday and decided not to bother taking a photo.

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#69 Tony Matthews

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 07:54

This is my world and I have spent my whole life collecting these stories. Time permitting, I could give you one a day for the next 50 years.

This is an interesting photo of a Detroit auto facility. The car is the Packard Predictor, a concept car (they called them "dream cars" then) Packard built for, if I recall properly, the 1956 Chicago Auto Show. At this time the company was in very bad shape and desperate for new product. The Predictor's construction was officially credited to Ghia. However, the building in the background is not Ghia in Turin but a shop called Creative Industries on East Outer Drive in Detroit.

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Great story, great photo! I can't quite make out if the glazing bars on the majestic curved section of the facility are also curved, or they used flat glass. Whatever, it looks fine. The Predictor, which I initially miss-read as Preditor, has some very interesting styling features. The cruciform front end must look a bit daunting head-on, possibly sufficiently so that on-coming drivers might decide to pull over and suck a Lucy Strike until the Packard had passed by. However, the rear end, at least in this shot, looks slightly as though it was designed by a different team - I realize that it may have been an attempt to introduce a range of styling cues in one hit, rather that go to the expense of making more than one vehicle. Actually, having had another look, I don't think that criticism is valid, I think I was fooled by the way the trim strip stops at the door trailing edge...

#70 mariner

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 09:50

McGuire , as you have this wonderful font of knowledge on Detroit I am going to ask about the Packard self levelling torsion suspension if I may , on the flimsy grounds that it is suspension and therefore "technical".

Having seen it mentioned several times in articles on suspension did it actually self level and was it interconnected fore and aft?

Only one image ever seems to be shown which is not clear enough to see if the torsion bars were interlinked.

I gather it was a flop but not sure why, electic motors seem to have been a well developed technology in Detroit by the time of the Packard.

BTW is there any truth in the story that the 1950's Ford retracting metal roof ( pre dating the MB one by many years) worked reliably because they used ex WWII gun turret eleitrical desiners on it?

#71 kikiturbo2

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 10:34

It is a challeng! View cameras are so simple that it is not difficult to incorporate shift and tilt, and there are still specialist, professional cameras that have those features, but not many - I only know of Nikon and Canon off the top of my head - make lenses with tilt and/or shift for SLR bodies. I have a 35mm shift Nikkor, they make or made a 28mm and an 85mm, which seems an odd focal length for a shift lens... and Canon make a couple of tilt and shift lenses. I don't like converging verticals, but when you are trying to reproduce the same view as an old photograph it takes on more importance.

Great photos, thanks.



I still use modern Sinar 4x5 and 5x8 view cameras,... as tilt/shift SLR lenses do not approach the movements really nedeed... that can only be done with a propper view camera where you can do vertical al lateral shifts simultaneously.. + all the tilts you need.

85 mm is not a odd lens, as it is more to be used for studio product photograpy then arhitecture.

#72 Tony Matthews

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 10:58

I still use modern Sinar 4x5 and 5x8 view cameras,... as tilt/shift SLR lenses do not approach the movements really nedeed... that can only be done with a propper view camera where you can do vertical al lateral shifts simultaneously.. + all the tilts you need.

85 mm is not a odd lens, as it is more to be used for studio product photograpy then arhitecture.

Well, that is what I meant, not that 85mm is odd in itself, but it (the Nikkor) was introduced before the digital revolution had really taken off, and it seems slightly odd that pack shots which needed perspective control/differential focus would be chosen to be done on 35mm film, rather than medium- or large format, especially, as you point out, the available compound movement is so much greater. Mind you, this is not an area I have much experience of, as you probably guessed! With full-frame DSLRs getting ever-more pixels it makes much more sense - to me.

I imagine that digital post-production is so good now that shift/tilt lenses may even start to disappear, although quite what happens in areas that have been 'stretched', I'm not sure - extrapolation, perhaps.

#73 kikiturbo2

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 11:18

Well, that is what I meant, not that 85mm is odd in itself, but it (the Nikkor) was introduced before the digital revolution had really taken off, and it seems slightly odd that pack shots which needed perspective control/differential focus would be chosen to be done on 35mm film, rather than medium- or large format, especially, as you point out, the available compound movement is so much greater. Mind you, this is not an area I have much experience of, as you probably guessed! With full-frame DSLRs getting ever-more pixels it makes much more sense - to me.

I imagine that digital post-production is so good now that shift/tilt lenses may even start to disappear, although quite what happens in areas that have been 'stretched', I'm not sure - extrapolation, perhaps.


I agree with you on the first point, but being first and foremost a view camera photographer, I was never in a position to consider a 35mm tilt shift lens.. :) ... hell.. I did not get into "35mm" untill I bought a full frame DSLR... large digital backs being out of my range.. for SLR work I used to use Pentax 6x7, just like you.. :)


on the second point.. tilt shift is gaining popularity.. not because of arhitectural work, but rather because of the unique ability to tilt the focal plane.. resulting in interesting effects with shallow focus... now becoming popular in video.. :) However, for such effects, I'd use a cheap tilt/shift adapter for a medium format lens such as mirex or similar..

#74 McGuire

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 11:22

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EDIT: Suppose I could include the SAE paper:
http://packardinfo.c...article.php?203

Edited by McGuire, 27 September 2010 - 11:32.


#75 McGuire

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 12:07

After posting the photo of the Predictor in front of Creative Industries I received an email from a friend & lurker explaining this curiosity. He explains that the car was indeed built by Ghia but suffered an electrical problem/rather nasty fire. Creative then rebuilt the car. Fill in punchline here.

One interesting feature the previous photo doesn't show: the car has what we now call T-Tops, but not with lift-out panels. Instead, the hatches are made of articulated aluminum segments and disappear into the roof like roll-up doors. Here is a photo of the Predictor I took at the Studebaker National Museum in South Bend, Indiana last year:

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#76 McGuire

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 17:03

McGuire , as you have this wonderful font of knowledge on Detroit I am going to ask about the Packard self levelling torsion suspension if I may , on the flimsy grounds that it is suspension and therefore "technical".

Having seen it mentioned several times in articles on suspension did it actually self level and was it interconnected fore and aft?

Only one image ever seems to be shown which is not clear enough to see if the torsion bars were interlinked.

I gather it was a flop but not sure why, electic motors seem to have been a well developed technology in Detroit by the time of the Packard.

BTW is there any truth in the story that the 1950's Ford retracting metal roof ( pre dating the MB one by many years) worked reliably because they used ex WWII gun turret eleitrical desiners on it?


On the Packard Torsion-Level system, yes on both. I very much hope our resident suspension experts will study the above illustrations and SAE paper and weigh in. I think their reactions would be fascinating.

On the Ford retractable hardtop, that's a new one on me. Sounds like a great story, though. What little I know about it... It was kicked around for years at Ford, then originally prototyped on the Continental Mk II but the car was already too expensive (as in more than it could ever retail) so it was moved back to the Ford line in the hope of amortizing it over a greater number of units. Even so the unit cost was over double that of a conventional convertible and Ford lost a ton on it. Of course, it wasn't really new; it was just new in volume production. Peugeot built such a thing in the '30s and in America, the Chrysler Thunderbolt show car had a stowing hardtop. I'm not sure the Ford Skyliners can be considered entirely successful. Mechanically they were sort of a nightmare -- laughably complex. I've made them work but I wouldn't want to do it again unless the owner was extremely de$perate.

#77 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 22:54

On the Packard Torsion-Level system, yes on both. I very much hope our resident suspension experts will study the above illustrations and SAE paper and weigh in. I think their reactions would be fascinating.

On the Ford retractable hardtop, that's a new one on me. Sounds like a great story, though. What little I know about it... It was kicked around for years at Ford, then originally prototyped on the Continental Mk II but the car was already too expensive (as in more than it could ever retail) so it was moved back to the Ford line in the hope of amortizing it over a greater number of units. Even so the unit cost was over double that of a conventional convertible and Ford lost a ton on it. Of course, it wasn't really new; it was just new in volume production. Peugeot built such a thing in the '30s and in America, the Chrysler Thunderbolt show car had a stowing hardtop. I'm not sure the Ford Skyliners can be considered entirely successful. Mechanically they were sort of a nightmare -- laughably complex. I've made them work but I wouldn't want to do it again unless the owner was extremely de$perate.

Those Starliner roofs opening and closing are quite fascinating to watch work. Though all that mechanism must be heavy!! And very little boot space is left. And you are quite welcome to continue working on them, it does not look fun at all!!

Edited by Lee Nicolle, 27 September 2010 - 22:55.


#78 McGuire

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Posted 28 September 2010 - 11:43

Those Starliner roofs opening and closing are quite fascinating to watch work. Though all that mechanism must be heavy!! And very little boot space is left. And you are quite welcome to continue working on them, it does not look fun at all!!


There was a clay sculptor at GM styling, Francis "Scotty" Scott, who wanted a new '58 Corvette but couldn't afford one, so he bought a $900 wreck from an insurance company and set about rebuilding it. To repair the body, he removed it from the chassis, tipped it on its side, and passed it through the front door of his house. While working on the body in his living room, he discovered that the lift-off hardtop stored nicely in the trunk, which gave him the idea of creating a retractable convertible. Some of the hardware -- cables, screw jacks, etc -- was '57-'58 Skyliner he purchased a the local Ford dealer, but it was largely his own design. With his art skills and clay modeling experience he proved to be very good with fiberglass and the car turned out very nicely -- though it had a sort of funny hump in the deck to accommodate the retractable hardtop.

Scotty drove the Corvette everywhere -- it was his only car -- and every day people could see this slightly odd-looking Corvette driving in and out of the Tech Center in Warren, feeding rumors that Chevrolet was working on a retractable. However, management didn't even know the car existed. One day at an employee car show, Bill Mitchell walked around it a few times, said "I'll be damned," and walked away. That was as far as it ever got. The retracting mechanism was quite clever and elegant, with a sort of hinged guide also molded in fiberglass. Scotty was awarded a design patent for it, which, like all good GM employees, he assigned to the company for the sum of one dollar. Scotty eventually traded in the Corvette on a Chevy station wagon, as he played standup bass in a jazz combo and needed room for his ax. After some years he had grown tired of traveling to gigs with the top down in winter. From there the car wandered around Michigan and Florida and was eventually painted several different colors, generating more rumors of multiple Corvette retractable prototypes in circulation. Eventually a collector got hold of the car and traced it back to its origins. The car is now restored to exactly as it was when Scotty built it -- in his living room.





#79 mariner

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Posted 28 September 2010 - 16:20

McGuire,thank you for the Packard suspension picture and, especially, the link to the SAE article - very interesting, perhaps the cost of all those torsion bars etc. was beyond what Packard could afford at the end of it's life as an independent mfr.

One of the questions the SAE article raises is where along the main interconnected torsion bar you put the ride hieght sensors as pre-loading the rear suspension rate with the helper bars is going to affect the front rate too.

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#80 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 04:25

There was a clay sculptor at GM styling, Francis "Scotty" Scott, who wanted a new '58 Corvette but couldn't afford one, so he bought a $900 wreck from an insurance company and set about rebuilding it. To repair the body, he removed it from the chassis, tipped it on its side, and passed it through the front door of his house. While working on the body in his living room, he discovered that the lift-off hardtop stored nicely in the trunk, which gave him the idea of creating a retractable convertible. Some of the hardware -- cables, screw jacks, etc -- was '57-'58 Skyliner he purchased a the local Ford dealer, but it was largely his own design. With his art skills and clay modeling experience he proved to be very good with fiberglass and the car turned out very nicely -- though it had a sort of funny hump in the deck to accommodate the retractable hardtop.

Scotty drove the Corvette everywhere -- it was his only car -- and every day people could see this slightly odd-looking Corvette driving in and out of the Tech Center in Warren, feeding rumors that Chevrolet was working on a retractable. However, management didn't even know the car existed. One day at an employee car show, Bill Mitchell walked around it a few times, said "I'll be damned," and walked away. That was as far as it ever got. The retracting mechanism was quite clever and elegant, with a sort of hinged guide also molded in fiberglass. Scotty was awarded a design patent for it, which, like all good GM employees, he assigned to the company for the sum of one dollar. Scotty eventually traded in the Corvette on a Chevy station wagon, as he played standup bass in a jazz combo and needed room for his ax. After some years he had grown tired of traveling to gigs with the top down in winter. From there the car wandered around Michigan and Florida and was eventually painted several different colors, generating more rumors of multiple Corvette retractable prototypes in circulation. Eventually a collector got hold of the car and traced it back to its origins. The car is now restored to exactly as it was when Scotty built it -- in his living room.

I have actually heard that rumor about prototype retractable early Vette,s here in Oz so now I know. Thanks.

Edited by Lee Nicolle, 30 September 2010 - 09:24.


#81 McGuire

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 16:01

One of the questions the SAE article raises is where along the main interconnected torsion bar you put the ride hieght sensors as pre-loading the rear suspension rate with the helper bars is going to affect the front rate too.


All apologies but I am not following you there. They must have slipped me the decaf today and I am just not getting it. Maybe if you rephrased...? Thanks.

#82 mariner

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Posted 30 September 2010 - 09:54

McGuire, now I have had my morning caffeine shot I will try again!

When the helper torsion bars are wound up by the electric motor they push down on the rear axle links so raising the rear of the car to re-level it and restore the rear ride height/spring rate back to nominal. However as the front and rear are interconnected any change in load on main interconnected bar will also affect front ride height ( and spring load). Also as the ride height sensors (levelizer control switch) are part way along the interconnected bar in the drawing , as opposed to at the rear axle line, so the actual movement at the sensor will only be part of the full load depression at the rear axle line.

So ( I think) the designers had to juggle two input variables - only sensing part of the rear axle movement because the sensor is not at the rear axle and the feedback loop effect of any auxiliary bar loading on the rear axle changing the load along the main bar to which the ride height sensor was connected.

This is different to most ride levelling which senses directly at the rear axle and applies the corrective pre-load only on the rear axle ( e.g Cadillac air assist, MB Boge and Opel/Delco).

I just wondered after reading the SAE paper whether the Packard set up of a sensor part way along the interconnected bar was a very clever detial or just a random choice which did not give perfect results.

#83 gruntguru

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Posted 30 September 2010 - 11:09

Raising the rear will simultaneously lower the front.



#84 McGuire

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Posted 30 September 2010 - 14:34

There was but one sensor, mounted on the left (driver side) main torsion bar, and it actually measures pitch angle, if you will, as opposed to rear ride height. See pages 7 through 9 in the SAE paper, page 8 in particular. (See below.) Also note that the compensator circuitry employs a 5 to 7 second delay, and is thus not intended to adjust the rear ride height on the fly but only to respond to variations in load -- rear seat passengers, trunk cargo, etc.

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Just last Sunday at a car show I saw something I have seen many times before: A Packard driving up through the pass in review with the rear bumper hiked way up in the air. Amusing and or embarrassing for the owner, depending on his state of mind, I suppose.The car had been parked on a hill and when the driver started off again the compensator control switch acted up and wouldn't let the rear end down again. The two bimetal strips inside get warped and twisted or take a set over the years and don't want to work properly.









#85 mariner

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Posted 30 September 2010 - 15:11

Thanks, McGuire.

My suspicion is that Packard did realize about the interconnection problem which is why they choose to put the sensor where it was and not at the back but the article doesn't sayt that anywhere. The only clue is the use of the words "at the node of the left bar". I think that implies they did realise what the problem could be so sought to fix it but I am not sure.

BTW the famous Citreon hydro suspension of the 1950's had one big problem in that its delay time was not very long so if the car went over a humpback bridge the rear leveling pulled the rear wheels up just as the back of the car returned to earth so BIG bump. I think they tweaked the delay later.

#86 gruntguru

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Posted 30 September 2010 - 22:56

My suspicion is that Packard did realize about the interconnection problem which is why they choose to put the sensor where it was and not at the back but the article doesn't sayt that anywhere. The only clue is the use of the words "at the node of the left bar". I think that implies they did realise what the problem could be so sought to fix it but I am not sure.

There is no problem, the location selected is quite deliberate. "At the node" tells us everything. The interconnecting bar simply rotates in pitch but twists in heave. The "node" would be the point along the bar that remains stationary in pure heave, thus any rotation at this point indicates the degree of pitch requiring compensation.

Edited by gruntguru, 30 September 2010 - 22:57.


#87 mariner

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Posted 01 October 2010 - 08:38

Thank you , McGuire and Gruntguru, I had seen the pictures in the past but had never been able to see all the detail.

Now for the question I wanted to ask in the first place but was shy to do so.

If I copied the Packard layout of the interconnected torsion bars but left off the ride height adjustment and replaced the sensor with a modern damper can I control pitch and thus aero sensitivity in a better way than trying to use the front or rear dampers to control pitch as well as doing their front or rear end specific mechanical grip damping. I.E you move the "third spring/damper" from the front where it affects mechanical grip over bumps to the midle where it only tunes out pure pitch?

Tha is trying to get around some of the mechanical grip probelms that Dave W has so elegantly explained in the past.

Probably not a good idea the experts will tell me but that was partly why I was so obsessed with the Packard layout

#88 gruntguru

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Posted 01 October 2010 - 10:55

If I copied the Packard layout of the interconnected torsion bars but left off the ride height adjustment and replaced the sensor with a modern damper can I control pitch and thus aero sensitivity in a better way than trying to use the front or rear dampers to control pitch as well as doing their front or rear end specific mechanical grip damping. I.E you move the "third spring/damper" from the front where it affects mechanical grip over bumps to the midle where it only tunes out pure pitch?

Dave will have a more accurate answer but the way I see it is your proposal is to add an anti-pitch mechanism (effectively an ARB running fore and aft instead of laterally) connecting front and rear. The existing long torsion bar is effectively a "third" - running fore and aft instead of laterally.

So your proposal is effectively two thirds plus two ARB's - running fore-aft instead of laterally - with no corner springs.

#89 mariner

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Posted 02 October 2010 - 11:34

Gruntguru, in a sense yes to your question. I would describe it as a normal ARB at each end plus two Z bars connecting front and rear, because the longtitudinal bars need to have the ends facing opposite ways as opposed to the same way on an ARB ( see the Packard picture).

The normal corner dampers still exist but pitch is controlled by fitting a spring and damper at the Z bar pitch node point so it only works on pitch.

The theorectical benefit is that pitch control can be 100% isolated from roll and heave control by a purely passive means within the rules banning active in most racing formulae. In addition you could get even "cleverer" and interconnect the pitch springs together between the bars rather than anchor them to the chassis.That way you give the car more freedom to do cross pitching i.e make it soft for single wheel hits on kerbs which would reduce the tendency for an inner front wheel kerb hit to totally upset the rear outer wheel load balance. This layout would still control pure pitch as the spring would be compressed between the rotating bars on pure end to end pitch.

I think the fatal flaw in this arrangement is that you are trying to control pitch through two springs in series ( the fore/aft Z bar and the spring at the pitch node) so control by the pitch node spring/damper would be degraded by the frequency fluctuations in the half of the Z bar to each corner. Also there is the minor detail that the pitch point may not be exactly fixed at the same point at all times with all the car dynamics.

Nonetheles I was wondering if there was some merit in the idea of using the layout to handle pitch seperateley within the passive rules.

#90 McGuire

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Posted 02 October 2010 - 14:13

While unusual, interconnected front/rear suspension is not unique -- it was employed on the original Citroen 2CV, among others. One advantage is in limiting pitch while employing very low wheel rates, which is what caught Packard's eye. To this day, the Packard Torsion-Level cars have the softest ride I have ever experienced.

This is the Hawley patent, held to be the first (or close to it) formal statement of the idea:

http://www.google.co...E...p;q&f=false

Here is a recent paper surveying the current state of developments:

http://www.springerl...0k/fulltext.pdf

In the case of Packard, it is a mistake to presume they were technically naive or didn't have a full grasp of what they were doing. However, they did have a rather different set of objectives. Mainly, they favored ride over handling. The Packard system was actually designed by a Hudson engineer named Bill Allison. However, Hudson had no application for it so the company loaned Allison to Packard, continuing to pay his salary until a consultancy arrangement could be established -- thus indicating the high regard Hudson had for both Allison and Packard's Advanced Engineering dept. Needless to say, there were no sims or other analytics in those days; Allison built a series of brass models to explore his ideas. Among other things, Allison worked up an improved version of the system featuring a DeDion axle for 1957, but by then Packard was out of business.

#91 mariner

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Posted 02 October 2010 - 17:00

I wan't implying in any way that Packard didn't know what hey were doing, rather I wondered exactly what they were doing. Probably because of my age and weakness at maths I think that the old age engineers were pretty smart in many ways. It would be hard for example to find a brighter or more open mind than that of Dr Fred Lanchester who was also a very capable mathemician. He had engine balance, monocoque chassis and ride frequencies largely figured out by 1910!

I imagine that Packard's financial struggles put paid to a lot of good engineering as they ran short of money.

#92 McGuire

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Posted 03 October 2010 - 10:17

Packard senior management made a series of fatal blunders toward the end, but things came to a head when Walter Briggs died in 1952. (The same Briggs involved in the Rickenbacker plant above; also owned the Detroit Tigers.) Briggs Manufacturing made Packard's bodies, but when Briggs died his successors -- son and son-in-law -- sought to divest. They sold the company to Chrysler, which cancelled the Packard business, leaving Packard with no source of bodies. Packard then attempted to purchase the Briggs plant on Connor Avenue from Chrysler, but by then could only afford to lease the facility. All production, not just bodies, was then shifted from the massive old Packard Grand Avenue plant to Connor, which proved to be a disastrous move, the facility being totally inadequate. The Connor plant was closed and production moved to the Studebaker plant in South Bend, Indiana, and thus the final Packards of '57-'58 were Studebaker badge jobs.

Leading up to this, Packard and then Studebaker-Packard, the two companies having merged, had been in negotiations to merge with Nash-Hudson, aka American Motors, starting with a co-supply deal. This would give Packard a source of bodies (via Hudson) and American Motors the Packard V-8. Packard had invested $20M in the V-8 engine and was looking for partners to share the cost. However, Packard reneged on the proposed co-supply deal, leasing the Briggs plant instead of purchasing bodies from American Motors. The engine deal was then cancelled by American Motors, which then developed its own V-8 from a former Kaiser-Frazer design.

The merger between Nash and Hudson, and potential mega-merger between Nash-Hudson and Studebaker-Packard, were engineered by George Mason of Nash-Kelvinator. However, he died and his successor, George Romney* (father of recent presidential candidate Mitt Romney) was less enthusiastic about the combination. The Studebaker-Packard merger proved to be a disaster. Both companies had been cooking the books for years and neither did due diligence on the other.

Packard product developments toward the end -- the V-8, the Ultramatic transmission, the Torsion-Level suspension -- were all more expensive than it could afford, but the company was desperately trying to compete in the post-war market. Though lacking in detail development and follow-through, all this Packard stuff was high-quality and over-engineered. Packard's advanced engineering dept was very highly regarded in the industry -- superior to Ford's, the equal of Chrysler's, and though not able to match it in resources, capable of looking GM's straight in the eye. GM sued Packard for patent infringement on the Ultramatic and was humiliated in court. But at the same time, the company was unable to execute. The '55 Packards were scheduled for production in October of '54, but didn't make it off the line until February, full of bugs. When Packard production ended in Detroit, 400 engineers were let go. Packard's chief of advanced engineering was Forest McFarland, whose assistant was John Delorean.


*Those who follow American politics are aware of the manufactured controversy regarding the location of Barack Obama's birth. In that light, folks might be amused to learn that George Romney, Republican presidential candidate in 1968, was born in Mexico. His family, a sect of devout Mormons, had moved from the USA to Mexico to escape religious persecution, including prosecution for polygamy.

Edited by McGuire, 03 October 2010 - 10:19.


#93 McGuire

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Posted 03 October 2010 - 11:59

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This rather unusual structure on the west side in Detroit, which looks more like an American university building than an auto plant, is known as PROC -- Plymouth Road Office Complex, or in some parts as TJE, the Truck and Jeep Engineering facility. It was originally built in around 1926 (I think) as the home office and manufacturing facility for Kelvinator -- attached to the rear of this building is a large plant that extends north a half-dozen city blocks. With the Nash-Kelvinator merger came about, this facility became its headquarters. In WWII helicopters were built here, and a staging area and helicopter pad (now gone) were added to the north end of the plant, billed as "the world's smallest airport." When American Motors built a contemporary steel and glass administration building in Southfield, this building became the engineering HQ for the company, and when AMC took over Kaiser Jeep in Toledo (covered further up the thread) its technical and design staff was also moved here. When Chrysler absorbed AMC in 1987, engineering for both Jeeps and Dodge trucks was located here, where it remained until just last year and the industry crash, when the operation was finally moved to the Chrysler Technical Center in Auburn Hills. This building was part of the property inventory of the old-bad Chrysler Corporation created in the bankruptcy and was recently sold off, though it was still vacant when I drove past last week and snapped a photo. The building is sort of a local landmark for its unusual, dignified architecture and for the tall false bell tower that dominates the neighborhood's skyline.

#94 Tony Matthews

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Posted 03 October 2010 - 12:28

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A fine building - I hope it returns to full use, and is maintained in good order.

#95 McGuire

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Posted 03 October 2010 - 17:02

A fine building - I hope it returns to full use, and is maintained in good order.


Too much to hope for, I suppose. Detroit has tremendous surplus of commercial and industrial properties, with plenty of newer and far more suitable buildings already standing vacant. The PROC is a distinctive building, but the cost to rehab and update for long-term use would surely be prohibitive. My guess is the next use will be multi-tenant office and warehousing/light manufacturing, which usually means a long, slow, and very ugly death via little to no maintenance. If the pattern holds, the property will most likely be bled for rent until it is totally unusable for any purpose. Then it will revert to the city due to unpaid property taxes and the taxpayers will be stuck with it. This is not the best neighborhood, either. The side street that lines up with the front door is populated with auto salvage yards and third-rate body shops and garages.

I hate to say this, but the best thing for Detroit at this point would be to bulldoze several hundred of these buildings to preserve the value of those that still have commercial value. The city is in crisis and can barely afford to keep its schools open and maintain essential services, let alone maintain old buildings that no longer have any real use. They become a tremendous blight on their communities, serving only as monuments to a world that no longer exists.

To give you an idea, below is the old Packard main plant on East Grand Avenue. This standing ruin is about three-quarters of a mile long and two city blocks wide, sitting right in the middle of a struggling residential neighborhood. The facility was abandoned by Packard in 1955 as hopelessly obsolete, but well-meaning preservationists and fast-talking developers with rehab schemes have kept it barely standing for another fifty-plus years while it slowly crumbles in on itself. I love old buildings and automotive history as much if not more than the next person, but I say tear them all down. Life is for the living.

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#96 Tony Matthews

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Posted 03 October 2010 - 17:32

I love old buildings and automotive history as much if not more than the next person, but I say tear them all down. Life is for the living.

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Don't get me wrong, I'm not a setamentalist, and I was taking that one building out of context. It just looks particularly imposing. This last photograph makes the point, that there are many, large and practically ruined buildings, and you are right, they should go. Life goes on. The people responsible for the construction of these massive industrial plants can't have thought twice about any buildings that had to be demolished to make way for them, or any stand of trees!

#97 McGuire

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Posted 04 October 2010 - 00:25

I'm sure we don't disagree at all. I would love to see the facility in the hands of sensitive, responsible owner, but there is little hope of that.

#98 McGuire

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Posted 04 October 2010 - 01:45

More photos of the Packard plant on East Grand Avenue. It's quite an adventure visiting this place. When you walk though the ruins you can hear the bricks shifting around. There are giant holes in the floor that pass through into the basement, maybe a 20-foot fall -- better watch your step. Maybe once a month a section burns (arson, usually) or simply falls down.
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#99 McGuire

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Posted 04 October 2010 - 02:31

The Packard plant in better days:

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#100 Grumbles

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Posted 04 October 2010 - 09:37

The PROC building reminds me of some buildings I worked in many years ago, though they were on a smaller scale. When I left school I did my apprenticeship with the district water supply authority and they had quite a number of pump stations and water treatment plants. Quite a few of these dated back to the 20s and 30s and were styled more like a Court House than a pump house. The pumps were inside these impressive buildings, on concrete plinths and maintained fastidiously with shining paint and polished brasswork. It was obvious that at one time this machinery was deemed to be Very Important stuff, to be grandly housed and proudly displayed.
All this changed over time of course, and now all this infrastructure seems to be regarded as just another expense, to be kept out of sight and built and maintained as cheaply as possible.