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  1. #1

    Default Detroit Axle RIP

    Final Shift Held At Detroit Axle Plant
    Closing Chrysler Axle Plant Opened In 1917

    Time marches on. Stories? Memories?
    WDIV article



    Courtesy^ of MikeM from "Old Car Factories"

  2. #2
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    Feb 2011
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    Again Detroit/Michigan needs to move away from the auto industry and diversify it's economy. Hopefully a food plant opens up at the former plant. Kraft or any other food company, I hope your reading this.

  3. #3
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    Piece by piece the auto industry is leaving Detroit. Changing times and greed at the top in my opinion. Is no one using axles anymore or are they moving somewhere to where the work can be done cheaper?
    This won't be "what we do" for long....

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by One Shot View Post
    Piece by piece the auto industry is leaving Detroit. Changing times and greed at the top in my opinion. Is no one using axles anymore or are they moving somewhere to where the work can be done cheaper?
    This won't be "what we do" for long....
    The work is going to Marysville, which is up in St. Clair County near Port Huron. I would imagine the price of labor up there is about the same as it is here.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Augustiner View Post
    The work is going to Marysville, which is up in St. Clair County near Port Huron. I would imagine the price of labor up there is about the same as it is here.
    Labor rates should be the same. See this link for an earlier discussion 2 years ago:
    http://www.detroityes.com/mb/showthr...o-Mexico/page2

    In a Free Press article Dick Dausch claimed that employee absenteeism was the problem. A quote, "...on some days it can approach nearly one-third of the workforce in parts of the plant. Lines have been shut down because not enough employees show up."


  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Packman41 View Post
    Labor rates should be the same. See this link for an earlier discussion 2 years ago:
    http://www.detroityes.com/mb/showthr...o-Mexico/page2

    In a Free Press article Dick Dausch claimed that employee absenteeism was the problem. A quote, "...on some days it can approach nearly one-third of the workforce in parts of the plant. Lines have been shut down because not enough employees show up."

    You realize we're talking about two different axle plants, right? That thread was about the AAM axle plant on Holbrook and I-75, and this thread is about the Chrysler axle plant on Lynch Road west of Van Dyke. I don't know whether or not the Chrysler plant had problems with absenteeism, but as far as I know Chrysler hasn't cited them as a reason for closing the plant.

  7. #7
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    That plant was designed by Smith, Hinchman & Grylls and built by the Dodge Brothers to supply very delicate recoil mechanisms for French heavy artillery howitzers and field guns. It was designed and constructed in only 4 months and began production in March of 1918.

    The contracted price for the factory and machinery was $3,500,000 but wartime inflation raised the price to $10,000,000, paid for by the US Government. Dodge Brothers bought the plant in 1920 from the government for $1,400,000.

    Later, it was used by Graham Brothers Company to assemble trucks and after 1938 it was used by Chrysler to produce axles.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by DC48080 View Post
    That plant was designed by Smith, Hinchman & Grylls and built by the Dodge Brothers to supply very delicate recoil mechanisms for French heavy artillery howitzers and field guns. It was designed and constructed in only 4 months and began production in March of 1918.

    The contracted price for the factory and machinery was $3,500,000 but wartime inflation raised the price to $10,000,000, paid for by the US Government. Dodge Brothers bought the plant in 1920 from the government for $1,400,000.

    Later, it was used by Graham Brothers Company to assemble trucks and after 1938 it was used by Chrysler to produce axles.
    Thx DC for the history.

  9. #9
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    Default memories

    when i was laid off from my plant in 2001, i was called to work there. i started 6 august 2001 and it was 106o in my department...

    the cutting fluid used was rather oily and in the 15 months i was there, i had a MINIMUM of one nosebleed a week. i also went through about 4 pair of shoes because the fluids would dissolve the rubber in the soles...

    there were machining lines that were installed in the late 50s or early 60s made by the JC Lamb company of Detroit. there were cutting tools on spindles that would slide sideways to cut a part, slide back out of the way and the conveyor would then advance the parts to the next station. everytime these spindles would start up, the cutting fluid that was flooding the workstation would kick up a rooster tail about 12-15 feet in the air...

    from the back side of the plant to the front side of the plant (along Mt Elliott) you couldnt see the entire 1200' because of the mist of fluid in the air...

    we had a swaging machine that was used to swage one end of the axle tubes (that come off the pumpkin, that house the axle shafts) that was rebuilt 3 times (that i was told) the last time in 99. i was also told that they at one time used the line for necking down brass cases for the 75mm or 76mm high velocity shells for the 75mm field guns and the armament on the M5 Lee and M4 Sherman tanks...

    Huber Foundry behind them used to provide the axle shafts for machining and hardening but an outside concern convinced the plant that they could provided the same axles shafts for pennies on the dollar. along with other work leaving Huber caused it to close and within a month the axle shafts increased 4,000% to more than triple what was being paid to Huber...

    when i got some stuff taken care of at my home plant, i left the Axle and never looked back...

  10. #10
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    I worked at Detroit Axle from Sept. 1993 to Jan 2000. Dept 079 (differential build). My best description of my time there was like a soap opera in fast-forward. I have MANY stories from there. When I started at the plant, there was about 900 in the plant with an average seniority of 28 years. My first 90 days didn't contain the word "no" concerning overtime, if the new hires wanted to keep their job. We had started production on the new Dodge Ram and they were selling like crazy. I ranged from 60-74 hours per week during that period.

    The area I worked in was the older saw-tooth roof section with sealed up vertical glass roofing facing North and angled roofing facing South. Each of these sections was about 40 feet long. These were connected to larger bays that were taller and ran North-South with pull-chain banks of windows that could be opened for fresh air. They leaked badly when it rained and never closed tight in the winter so when I worked on the LH Differential Gearset build line near the front (North) side of the plant the snow would blow in and the cold air would go down your back.

    In the mornings, the sun would shine in with rays of light from the heavy mist from cutting fluids. There was also plenty of metallic dust from tube welding. Management would put up plasticized signs in the plant and use the 3M adhesive magnets we would put in the differentials. That metallic dust would sitck to the magnets so you could make a path through it with your finger after about a week.

    The heat treat area for gearsets was easily 120 degrees F in the summer. Everywhere else was 80 degrees to upper 90's F day or night during the summer.

    P.S. I hear ZF in Marysville is clean but way too many work rules.
    Last edited by Warrenite84; March-27-11 at 11:24 PM.

  11. #11
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    First it was the Lynch Road Assembly, then Huber Ave Foundry, now Detroit Axel. The end of an era of Chrysler dominance on the east side.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by DC48080 View Post
    That plant was designed by Smith, Hinchman & Grylls and built by the Dodge Brothers to supply very delicate recoil mechanisms for French heavy artillery howitzers and field guns. It was designed and constructed in only 4 months and began production in March of 1918.

    The contracted price for the factory and machinery was $3,500,000 but wartime inflation raised the price to $10,000,000, paid for by the US Government. Dodge Brothers bought the plant in 1920 from the government for $1,400,000.

    Later, it was used by Graham Brothers Company to assemble trucks and after 1938 it was used by Chrysler to produce axles.

    http://atdetroit.net/forum/messages/...tml?1173645200

  13. #13
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    Just to update this thread a bit...

    Last Summer, I had the opportunity to work a couple weeks at this plant for a guy who was contracted to remove some of the machines for shipment to India. I thought of this as an adventure of sorts, for me it was personal. My grandfather used to work next door at the former Lynch Road Assembly, and I saw it as an opportunity to get a feel for the conditions that my fore-fathers worked in.

    It was hard, back-breaking labor in the heat, temps were around 90-plus inside,(I could only imagine how hot it would have been with the ovens running) and the conditions weren't very safe. One day on the job, one of my co-workers was almost electrocuted while attempting to disconnect some electrical boxes that were supposed to be dead, but obviously were still hot. I was standing next to him and jumped when his wrench flew from his hand and grabbed his wrist when he was thrown back, as he would have feel about 12 feet onto solid concrete. He collected his pay, walked out and quit the next day.

    In the end, I'm glad I took the job. It was well worth it, I had experiences I'll never forget, the workout was great, and I made some money to boot. What was sad, was walking around the plant, seeing all the silent machines, strolling through the abandoned halls of the offices, and staring at the empty parking lots. I thought about my grandpa, and all the people like him who walked through the doors for almost 100 years, all hoping for a better life for themselves and their children. It was a moving experience, to say the least.

    Last week, late one evening, I drove passed the plant and it was lit up like daylight, and demolition was taking place. It brought a tear to my eye...
    Last edited by Detroitej72; April-05-12 at 11:15 PM.

  14. #14
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    Mar 2009
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    That was an interesting place to work at. With so many traintracks and railyards in the area, getting caught by a train was common on my drives to work until the Mt.Elliott overpass was rebuilt.

    Many of the workers who didn't transfer to the Marysville plant have been transfered to other facilities, with day-one seniority since they turned down going to Marysville.


    I just recently read, "Detroit I Don't Mind Dying," very interesting read.

    Maybe I'll go down and take a picture or two...

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