Foundry #70 1926 – 2011

The following are some views of the new (in 1926) Buick grey iron foundry.

 

 

 

During construction.

The 1953 announced addition to the Buick foundry. This would be designated #71-a.

 

All the photos above are from Don Bent’s book “A Place Called Buick”

Post World War II proposed additions (in red) for the grey iron foundry. Building 70 and 71 were connected in the mid 30’s.  North is at the left. 

 

Factory #70 when new. The inset photo is from Don Bent’s book “A Place Called Buick”.

This diagram shows the location of the switch engine shown in the photos below.

 

Switch engine at work on July 11, 1989. The truck in the foreground is on Division Street heading south-west at the north end of factory #81. That is factory #10 in the far background.

That is the spring plant #03 filling the background. The location is diagrammed below.  

 

 

Days of old.

 

Factory #81 as it was designated from 1981 to 2011.

 

Days gone by. The next three photos are from the Buick facebook site.

Here are the foundry buildings identified. The main buildings #70 and #71 were built between 1926-1927. Building #71-a connected  #70 and #71 in 1939. The lighter colored west addition made to #71-a was done in 1953. The safety store where everyone bought their shoes was located just where Division st. starts turning to the east, just under the structure connecting with #31. This addition was shaped at the north-end to follow the curve in Division Street. I never personally went in here myself other than the safety store.  If any of these designations are wrong let me know. This view is from 2005 when the factory was known as #81  torque converter plant at Buick. The support structure at the lower right numbered 97 was originally #21 and was the tool  grinding shop. It was still  #21 in 1980.  I’m not sure when that changed. The uses of these different areas are: #71 Cleaning room. The cleaning room is shown below with the two photos of engine blocks going down the line, #71-a was the core ovens, #70 was called the pouring loop and had line 1 & 2 making brake drums with 3, 4 and 5 doing the engine blocks. Area #72 was for sand storage and mixing sand. Keep in mind this would be information from the 60′ and 70’s. Area #73 was maintenance. Area #74 may be a dock. Area #70-b is the cupola area. Area #70-a was for  crane maintenance.  The office area was #69-c.  Cooling towers were at #69-a. The pattern shop was #69 and 2nd floor was the wood patterns with the first floor being the steel patterns.   Factory #70 core room.  

 Links:

 

Factory #70 Raw Casting

Factory #70 Before 1953

Factory #70 Core Room

Block Grinding In Factory #70

Factory #70 Engine Block Pouring

Factory #70 POTS

Factory #70

 

 

The following story of the V-6 engine returning to Buick is from the book “The Good Old Days At The Buick by Lynn Ruester…..  A quote from George Elges, who retired in 1981 as GM Group Vice President:  “I had a number of challenges facing me when I went to Buick, but the first big one was to find my office.  They had put  up the new building since I had been there, and I had quite a time finding it.  I hadn’t been on the job long when the energy crunch hit and the emphasis suddenly switched to small cars and fuel economy; Buick was in deep trouble.  We had big cars and big engines, and fuel economy was something we didn’t say much about.  Buick had tried a small V-6 engine a dozen or so years previously, and it didn’t work out.  Buick customers wanted big Buick’s.  When the demand suddenly shifted, we were left high and dry.  I had brought in Bob Burger as general sales manager, and even Burger couldn’t come up with any ideas to sell Buick’s.  The whole industry was in trouble because the Japanese were bringing in their small, fuel efficient cars and none of us could match them……..Well, all of us were trying to figure a way out of this problem.  We were going around the country, having meetings with our dealers, trying to hold their hands through this crisis, but we didn’t really have much to offer them.  They couldn’t sell our cars; they were having financial troubles, and so were we……..About this time I somehow got to thinking about the old Buick V-6.  I knew the engine because some years back I had bought a boat with the Buick V-6 engine.  It was a beautiful engine, and I just hadn’t heard much about it for years……..I called Don Taylor who was our production manager, and I asked him to quietly delve into what American Motors was doing with that engine.  Don did that and reported back that AMC was not using the engine, that they had mothballed the engine line and it was just sitting in Toledo…….I immediately called Ed Cole, and asked for permission to get in touch with American Motors so we could try to get it back.  Well, in Ed’s inimitable style, he said he would take over himself.  ‘I’ll handle this, George, at a higher level.  you can forget about it.’ ………As the story later came back to me, Cole got in touch with Cliff Studaker, who was our engine expert, and they chased down to Toledo.  What Ed tried to negotiate was having American Motors build the engine and sell it to us.  That wasn’t what I had in mind at all…….Thank goodness, those negotiations fell through.  American Motors wanted too much money to sell us the engines, so Cole just forgot about it, and that dumped the ball back in my lap.  On our own we pursued it and finally we struck a deal with American Motors to buy the line and bring it back to Flint…….I took that proposal to the GM Administration committee, and got the approval to go ahead.  That was one miracle, getting it past the committee.  The second miracle was when we discovered that the old foundations were still in place in our Engine plant.  Finding those foundations meant all we had to do was clean up the floor……..To finish that V-6 story, thanks to Buick people like Cliff Studaker, Bob Breeden, Don Taylor, Bernie Caine, and a host of others, we had V-6 engines in our 1975 models, a miraculous turnaround, and a real crisis situation for Buick was averted.  We were again able to build the cars our dealers wanted, and sales responded accordingly.”

 

Inspecting a fresh engine block. These foundry photos were sent to me from Leonard Thygesen and he received them  from an old foundry worker.  They were probably taken in the mid 70’s. Leonard said he helped install the V-6 engine line in factory #36 when it was brought back to Buick. 

1958 factory #70.

 

The bottom mold is called the drag. The light colored sand is the core.   

 

Making up cores for the Buick V6 at the Buick foundry.

 

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