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The end of the Willow Run.

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Jive-Bomber, Jan 24, 2011.

  1. Jive-Bomber
    Joined: Aug 21, 2001
    Posts: 2,952


  2. sinticket
    Joined: May 6, 2006
    Posts: 577


    What a shame. I had not heard of the closing.
  3. i275
    Joined: Nov 20, 2006
    Posts: 25


    Worked there for 7yr there were 3000 people working there at that time. worked on the 425 trans line in the 70s.
  4. Deuces
    Joined: Nov 3, 2009
    Posts: 12,303

    from Michigan

    No comment! :mad:
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  5. Jkustom
    Joined: Oct 8, 2002
    Posts: 1,671


    Bummer.. But at least it's still standing, and hopefully when America starts acting like we used to it'll see some action again..
  6. CutawayAl
    Joined: Aug 3, 2009
    Posts: 2,145

    from MI

    For a short time in the late '60s I worked at that plant making TH 400 parts. Years later, and after several major additions to the original building had been done, I got to see part of the place again when my business did several jobs for them. While working there in 1969 I met a guy who had been a janitor in the building from the start. First when bombers were made there during WWII. When Kaiser took over the building he went to work for them. When I met him in 1969 he was working toward retirement with GM/Hydra-Matic.

    The article doesn't mention that the original Livonia Hydra-Matic plant burned in 1953, leaving GM with no supply of Hydra-Matic transmissions. The operation was rebuilt at the then vacant Willow Run plant. I'm not sure how long the operation was down. Although it was a big fire not all the equipment was destroyed which no doubt helped a lot. As a result of the cut-off in Hydra-Matic supply, there was a time when inferior Dyna-Flow transmissions were installed in Cadillacs. Several other manufacturers used Hydra-Matic transmissions in their cars too. Not sure what they did about transmissions during that time. The older mechanics at the Cadillac dealer where I once worked said that many of the Dyna-Flow Cadillac owners eventually had their cars converted to Hydra-Matic by the dealer. If I remember correctly, Cadillac put together a conversion kit.

    Also not mentioned in the article is the adjacent auto assembly plant. It was closed a number of years ago. Over time several cars were built there, including the Corvair and the Nova.

    Unfortunately these are just two of many once thriving industrial operations that are now vacant in the Detroit area.
  7. Thanks for posting the photos. My Grandfather worked there during the war, the Army wouldn't take him because of his poor health. It was really neat to picture him there. Does anyone know if the Willow Run Museum is gonna stay open. That's a great place to visit.
  8. Rolleiflex
    Joined: Oct 25, 2007
    Posts: 703


    "If you own any GM car from the mid 50s to the 70s with an automatic, you can thank your lucky shifts for this plant"

    and also for the freedom of our country!

    All of the pictures are great, but I really love the one of all the Cincinnati horizontal mills.
  9. Cut55
    Joined: Dec 1, 2007
    Posts: 1,981

    from WA

    So where will they make transmissions now? Canada, China or Mexico?
  10. Von Rigg Fink
    Joined: Jun 11, 2007
    Posts: 13,431

    Von Rigg Fink
    from Garage

    Another hit this area didnt need..

    Michigans Population and Buisnesses are dropping like flies

    I know there werent many working there, but its more job losses we dont need..I think in the end it was providing at least 1300 jobs..
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2011
  11. need louvers ?
    Joined: Nov 20, 2008
    Posts: 12,917

    need louvers ?

    It's always a shame to see these giants closed down. Not only for the significant job loss, but also because it starts this building's downward spiral into neglect and eventually, demolition... A sad post script for way too much of American manufacturing.
  12. RPW
    Joined: Mar 3, 2001
    Posts: 948


    Sad to hear that. Willow Run is American history, and that should be preserved much better.
  13. HotRodToomer
    Joined: Jun 25, 2006
    Posts: 828


    A sad story indeed.

    I just hope, and i mean HOPE, one day this cycle stops.
  14. Triggerman
    Joined: Nov 18, 2006
    Posts: 578

    from NorCal

    I would guess Mexico.
  15. donnymopar
    Joined: Jan 4, 2008
    Posts: 127

    from MI

    I SECOND! :mad:
  16. chrisntx
    Joined: Jan 20, 2006
    Posts: 1,788

    from Texas .

    All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to say nothing
  17. Ranunculous
    Joined: Nov 30, 2007
    Posts: 2,444


    Interesting article about Willow Run.The B-24 a friend of our family crewed on was probably built there.

    I saw an article where GM was to invest $540 in Mexico to build fuel-efficient engines there.They've spent $5 BILLION since 2006.
    One doubts whether it's only engines they build there?
  18. Von Rigg Fink
    Joined: Jun 11, 2007
    Posts: 13,431

    Von Rigg Fink
    from Garage

    I did read in a news story that said it will be "preserved" what degree im not sure..
    But it is Historical and has significance, so one can hope
  19. What made this country great is being dismantled one blue collar at a time.
    It's really a tragedy.
  20. thunderkiss65
    Joined: Jan 6, 2008
    Posts: 122

    from Detroit

    Production of the 6 speed rwd trans was merged with the powertrain plant in Toledo OH.
  21. HotRodMetal
    Joined: Apr 13, 2007
    Posts: 167

    from USA

    I have a family member that has a small part in the metal recycling contract, as a lot of the machinery is being sent to scrap, and eventually overseas. It will take about 3years, so I am told.

    It's a bitch being a line item on a balance sheet.

    I know it falls on mostly deaf ears outside of this forum, but the United States ability to produce on a world scale, and for its defense, is being diminished by the accountants and politicians.

    This example is case & point
  22. Dynaflash_8
    Joined: Sep 24, 2008
    Posts: 3,009

    from Auburn WA

    The one in my pickup is from korea :mad:

    Its like shifting through warm butter. And not in the good way:eek:
  23. autobilly
    Joined: May 23, 2007
    Posts: 3,087


    A sad reflection of the times.
  24. Triggerman
    Joined: Nov 18, 2006
    Posts: 578

    from NorCal

    No deaf ears here dude, I am seriously getting scared about our ability to protect ourselves if we keep moving manufacturing outside the US. I watched Wall Street/Money Never Sleeps last night and there was some disturbing things said about the path our country is taking.
  25. owen thomas
    Joined: Jun 15, 2008
    Posts: 185

    owen thomas

    GM makes transmissions at Toledo, Baltimore, and Warren. Most of these plants are adding new product and adding workers. The Willow Run plant was a dinosaur.

    I spent almost 40 years as a machinery supplier to all of the GM engine and transmission plants, and spent time in all of them.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2011
  26. kiwiandy
    Joined: Apr 19, 2005
    Posts: 345


    Thanks for sharing those pics. Love the pic of the old Cincinatti mills. Hard to imagine lines of guys toiling away on those these days. Thats assuming they were for production and not tool making. Would all be replaced with one cnc machine now at the cost of 20 jobs!

  27. Alot of the guys I worked with when I was at GM last year worked out of Willow Run. They all said the plant was outdated, etc. Ironic, since the Detroit Diesel plant I worked in before that was built about 4 years before (1939 is when it was first opened, I believe) and is now a modern marvel since Daimler pumped MILLIONS into it. I guess GM doesn't believe like Daimler does, huh?
    Very sad for me, my grandfather worked for Hydra-Matic for over 30 years, retired from Willow Run as a metallurgist in 1978. He still keeps in touch with his union, and is active at alumi events too. I remember going to an open house in 83/84 ish, and how 'scary' the plant was to me (I was about 8), but the high point was going across the airport to see the planes of the Yankee Air Force. :)

    Speaking of that, I heard a long time ago at an Air Show at Willow Run, that the reason the building is built in an "L" shape is that Henry Ford had an issue with the Wayne County government for some reason, so he built the plant like that so the planes would exit in Washtenaw County, therefore avoiding paying the taxes to Wayne County!
    And, there is a picture of Mr. Ford in front of a Liberator with "Liberator V8" painted on it at the Applebee's in Belleville. Anyone know the story on that?

  28. BStoltz
    Joined: Mar 30, 2009
    Posts: 121


    Is the building still standing? If so what does it look like nowadays????
  29. CutawayAl
    Joined: Aug 3, 2009
    Posts: 2,145

    from MI

    When I worked for Hydra-Matic in the late '60s there was no manual machining of production parts. I know that in WWII it was still common to have rows of manual mills, lathes, drills, etc. My favorite part of working there was meeting my production quota early and walking around the plant to see how things were done. I just had to act like belonged in the area and not stand around.
  30. chopped
    Joined: Dec 9, 2004
    Posts: 1,743


    Worked the line in the mid 60's, if I remember right they payed $3.75 hr.

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