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A silhouetted bronze sculpture of Poseidon frames the illuminated main entrance to the Detroit Institute of Arts during Detroit's annual Delectricity festival of lights. Stretching along Woodward Avenue through the heart of Detroit's Cultural Center the celebration is a growing and popular two-night event.

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  1. #1
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    Dec 2010
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    31

    Default Packard Plant Assembly Line Question

    I was looking at the website " The Making of Modern Michigan ", which had a bunch of old Packard photos, which included the assembly line snapshots. The post-war photos showed a " body drop " in which the car body was lowered onto the chassis.It seems to me, that the assembly line was on the ground or 1st floor,running parallel with Concord Street. There is a Youtube video, of a young man riding a moped from the south end, over E.G.B., and out the parking garage. Anyways, after he crosses over E.G.B., there is a large square opening in the floor. Could this have been the body drop opening? Any Packard Plant explorers out there? What does it look like down below? Also, the large building on the south end; the one along Concord, that was torn down last year.......Is this where all the painting was done? Thank You!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    564

    Default

    Django,can you help out George?
    Django was the plant foreman at The Packard!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    1,483

    Default

    I still am the Packard Plant foreman thank you very much.

    LMAO

  4. #4
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    Dec 2010
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    71

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Django View Post
    I still am the Packard Plant foreman thank you very much.

    LMAO
    Awesome! Are you accepting applications/resumes???

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    541

    Default

    Some time ago there was a thread regarding a publication by the Packard Automobile Club entitled, “The Packard Cormorant” where the Winter 2009 edition was devoted to the rise and fall of 1580 East Grand Boulevard. Many authors contributed to the publication and one author in particular (AJB) wrote an article about the use of the various buildings in the Packard complex.

    In his article AJB describes that the buildings were dynamic, that is PMCC changed their use over time as need dictated. AJB and a friend acquired a large roll of drawings at a flea market about the use of the Packard Plant several decades ago. I consider AJB a friend and in a phone call tonight reminded me that his article is copyright protected, but that I could discuss some parts of it here.

    Attached is a scan of the PMCC Plant circa 1949. Please use this birdseye view as a reference.

    After re-reading the article I can tell you what was going on in 1949 and on what floor:

    Building 11: 2) Motor assembly, 3) Front fender and grille assembly and wheel paint, and 5) Hardware painting and ovens

    Building 12: 1) Dynamometer lab, 2) Body Handling (Body Drop?), 3) Paint Office, 4) Production control, 5) Misc, hardware/paint

    Building 15: 2) Motor parts machining, 3) Material storage, 4&5) Paint, bonnet and fender

    Building 16: 1) Final assembly line/paint repair, 2) Motor assembly 4) Painted front clip storage, 5) Hardware; paint and ovens

    Building 22: 1) car prep and final repair, 2) Personnel and restaurant, 3) Service Engineering, 4) Chassis and body engineering and Styling. Note: during WWII this was the building constructed for the Merlin/Packard aircraft engine where Georgem’s mother worked.

    Prior to WWII the car body plant was south of EGB and the bodies were rolled on dollies over the EGB bridge. The bodies arrived on the second floor of Building 12 and then to the drop point. The final assembly of the completed car was on the first floor of Builing 16.

    After WWII (from 1946 to 1954) Packard bodies were built by the Briggs Manufacturing Company at their Conner Avenue plant and transported to the PMCC on EGB for trimming and storage prior to final assembly.

    For 1955 and 1956 all assembly work for Packard was moved to the Conner Avenue plant. The major reason Packard turned over body building to Briggs was that they simply did not have the space at the boulevard plant.
    Name:  PMCC Birdseye (Large).jpg
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  6. #6
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    Dec 2010
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    Default

    Looking at that overview Where would the Packard hotel and supermarket be located ?

    62 51 55 Is that where the freeway is now ?

    Is the article available for sale or strictly for research ,historical value?

  7. #7
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    Jan 2010
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    Hello Richard:

    The Packard Plant was at 1580 EGB and the Packard Hotel is at 1500 EGB - one block east of the main office entrance. The hotel is at the northeast corner of EGB and Canton St. If you look at the photo it would be where the word "EAST" is. Sorry, not familiar with the supermarket.

    Back issues of The Packard Cormorant are $8.00 each (shipping unknown) and you need to contact:

    Barbara & Carl Schneider
    11800 Black Pike
    New Carlisle, OH 45334

    The Packard Plant issue is Winter 2009, Number 137

    It should also be available for viewing at the DPL - more specifically the National Automotive History Collection at the Skillman Branch on Library St. jsut north of the Compuware Bldg.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    31

    Default

    Wow! Thank You Packman, for all that info. I had figured that the paint shop had to have been on the south end, because one photo showed the painted bodies on the dollies, on a track, being pulled UP onto the 2nd floor. And the Youtube video shows the body drop opening, just north of EGB. Under where it says "Harper Ave", is that a building for rail shipment? Thanks Again.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    878

    Default

    Oh, man, that picture is worth a thousand words, not just crossing Harper, but Dodge Main in the foreground.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    6

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard View Post
    Looking at that overview Where would the Packard hotel and supermarket be located ?

    62 51 55 Is that where the freeway is now ?

    Is the article available for sale or strictly for research ,historical value?
    The former supermarket is on the land once occupied by the power plant (I think #26 on the photo above).

    The freeway right-of-way is where Harper used to be, and separates the main factory buildings from the property that used to contain the casting and forge buildings. I don't believe that any of the original Packard casting and forge buildings have survived. What's there now is all later construction from what I can tell.

  11. #11
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    Jan 2010
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    Quote Originally Posted by 55packardconv View Post
    The former supermarket is on the land once occupied by the power plant (I think #26 on the photo above).

    The freeway right-of-way is where Harper used to be, and separates the main factory buildings from the property that used to contain the casting and forge buildings. I don't believe that any of the original Packard casting and forge buildings have survived. What's there now is all later construction from what I can tell.
    Yes, Building 26 was the power house and you're right - it is now the dead supermarket.

    Yes, Buildings 51 to 55 were the Iron foundry and Buildings 60 to 65 held Forging, Hammer Shop, Die Shop, Blacksmith Shop and Die Shop. They would have been taken down when the freeway went through.

    I have attached three images. One is a birdseye view in color of the PMCC from the 1939 Junior (6 cylinder and small 8 cylinder) Car Catalog. Second is a color postcard from the teens. Third image is a floor plan drawing comparing the use of the PMCC Plant from before WWII and TODAY - with today meaning 1944Name:  1939 PMCC Birdseye.jpg
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Size:  81.5 KB4Name:  Postcard(Large).jpg
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Size:  44.5 KB.Name:  PreWar-War Floor Plan.jpg
Views: 3800
Size:  23.2 KB
    Last edited by Packman41; January-25-11 at 10:32 AM. Reason: typo

  12. #12
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    Dec 2010
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    Default

    Hi Packman! Ya Know, last nite looking at that 1st birdseye view, it looked like there was a building going over the R.R. tracks. Sorry, my bad! That building was the Merlin production building from WW2. It was way past my bedtime! I also looked at the DTE aerial photo, this morning and it showed just the two 4- story buildings. Thank You again for all the information.

  13. #13
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    Dec 2010
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    Thanks guys for bringing this up and the remarkable responses.

    http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/f/find...;byte=63049579
    Last edited by Richard; January-26-11 at 07:37 PM. Reason: inoperative link

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    Default

    Hey Packman41, I've got a question for you. In your last posting, you showed us a floor plan drawing of the Packard from 1944. Looking at it, it shows the car assembly line as having an exit, on the north by the parking garage, and another one behind the office building. Is this accurate?

  15. #15
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    Dec 2010
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    31

    Default

    I think that the exit closest to the main office building, is probably for cars being sent back to the paint shop. One of the photos in " Making of Modern Michigan " shows 5 or 6 cars in the paint shop, all getting paint touch ups.

  16. #16
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    Jan 2010
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    541

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by georgem View Post
    Hey Packman41, I've got a question for you. In your last posting, you showed us a floor plan drawing of the Packard from 1944. Looking at it, it shows the car assembly line as having an exit, on the north by the parking garage, and another one behind the office building. Is this accurate?
    Yes, it is accurate. I believe the author of the article (AJB) said the two floor plans (one pre-war and the other during the war) came from a report to the stockholders. So the floor plans do show that there were two directions to the line.

    In our second posting (1/31/2011) you thought that one line is probably for cars being sent back to the paint shop for touch ups. That could be the case, but I would suggest to you a more likely alternative. Packard had two lines of cars; the senior line - bigger engines and more custom options and the junior line - 6 cylinder or small 8 cylinder engines and less frills. Kind of like Chevrolet and Cadillac. It may be the 2 lines are for the 2 models - senior line and junior line. but I will look into this more.

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