View Full Version : Build/Rot Sheet Question

10-09-2015, 09:40 AM
When the '55-'57 Tbirds were built did the line personnel use the Build/Rot Sheet to build them? If so, did they put them inside the car as they did with Squarebirds and other years of Tbird? Just wondering so I can tell a friend.

Joe Johnston
10-09-2015, 09:51 AM
All I ever heard of was the availability of build sheets that were saved and made available by Lois Emminger. This was many years ago when I bought mine. Most of the 55 records were lost but many 56 and 57's were made available. I have no idea if they are currently available for purchase or from whom.

10-09-2015, 10:02 AM
Thanks, Joe. So you were able to buy a copy of your Build/Rot sheet back then? I was told that they may not have been using that sheet for Babybird production back then, but I do not know that to be a fact. I have looked at the Marti Auto website where you can get a lot of the old records from. Nothing, that I saw, mentioned the availability of Build/Rot Sheets, just those window invoices and other forms. They said to contact CTCI to see if one is available for a particular Babybird or not. I figured that those who own the '55-57's would be able to tell me if they ever found one of these sheets in their car, as those of us who own Squarebirds and other Tbirds have. Does anyone know who to contact in the CTCI about this? I tried to contact them last week and never got a response from them.

Joe Johnston
10-09-2015, 12:01 PM
The build sheet was called a Gate Release and Accounting form back then. Very similar to today's "window sticker" in appearance with listings of the individual options and prices in line by line format. It was not what we think of as the vintage ROT sheet with number codes and I am not aware of them being hidden in the car. I think CTCI still has some available to members as provided by Lois Emminger.

I will post some pictures this weekend.

CTCI info:
email: ctci2@msn.com

10-09-2015, 04:09 PM
You guys are getting away from the real purpose of this thing. It's in the days before computers but we had teletype (since before WWII). That made it easy for the Scheduling Dept., in each plant to print a list to each department, showing the 4-digit in-plant rotation number and the necessary options pertinent to that car in that department. You could look down the line and clearly see the four-digit number hand written on each car, so everyone knows what's coming.

But some parts need time to be assembled off-line in a sub-assembly operation. When that part comes to the main assembly line, it better be for the right car because this line doesn't stop.

For instance, why would Paint care what axle or engine is going in the body? They need to know what color the car is. The Instrument Panel sub-assembly needs to know if the car has a radio and which one (Town & Country or basic), etc.

Trim wants to know what electrical accessories so they can install the correct cable assembly, steering column color, carpeting color, door and cowl panels, headliner and windlace color, convertible or not (because they build the backlite with a weatherstrip), etc. Chassis needs to know which engine/trans, which exhaust system, axle ratio, etc. Final needs to know if the car has A/C, which tires, battery, seats in what color, vinyl or leather, etc.

Each little 'thing' and all this has to come together on the assembly line and THAT is why you see build schedules. Rather than throwing each one away, the Final Seat Sub-assembly worker might stuff his in a seat bottom. It may only show a select few items about that car for his dept. As I said, each department came to work with a fresh set of printed sheets, usually in a book form for the Foreman and his Utility Assemblers.

So, what happens when the Quality Control Dept., randomly picks a car out of the line to destroy it in a salt test or spot weld teardown? That's when Scheduling goes to work again, constantly updating the broadcast sheets, trying to avoid a mad scramble involving many hundreds of workers.

I chuckle when I hear that someone wants to duplicate a build sheet. The truth is none of them showed all the options. You would have to go around to each dept., and get the one for one particular car. The window sticker didn't tell everything either. It might show the color, engine, option packages, etc. It did not show axle ratios or the fine details that are in that car.

I guess one needs to be employed in an assembly line operation in order to understand the big picture. It is complicated. - Dave

Joe Johnston
10-09-2015, 06:21 PM
To compare what I have:

The first picture is of the 2 ROT sheets found in my 63SR (which may look different than those found in a Squarebird). The top one is for a Lincoln and the bottom is for a Thunderbird other than mine! :eek: As stated, number codes in appropriate boxes. From my limited research it is fairly common to find 2 sheets in one car and often the wrong sheet in a car as well. Perhaps done on the assembly line, or perhaps some one changed the back seat over the years. Who knows? Anything is possible over the years.

The second picture is the build sheet for my 56 (the one for my 57 looks similar). I had to purchase these, they were not in the car. Little Birds had the options and costs spelled out and is a bit similar to today's window stickers. To the best of my knowledge, this info was not available to the customer and often 55 - 57's sold for much more than the actual cost on the bottom line. This was not used like a window sticker or displayed.

IF someone does enough online research, reproductions of these forms are available. HOWEVER, there are subtle differences in the fonts of the reproductions that are obvious to someone who knows what to look for and where. To make it more interesting, the forms and the fonts used changed several times over the years. This is due to the fonts used on the teletype machines being replaced after thousands of cars built, and forms being updated or printed by different vendors.

These new sheets can be forged and printed to show whatever options you want. Going to car shows, some people are very proud of their reproductions and tell you many facts about their car that are simply amazing!!! Maybe they intentionally intend to BS a potential customer, or they truly believe what was told to them, but it certainly can be interesting at times!

Buyers must be skeptical of any documentation for high dollar cars, like supercharged 57's, or early 62 Sport Roadsters that are convertibles with the factory roadster option showing on a freshly printed ROT sheet as the authenticating documentation. If the ROT sheet doesn't show signs of wear and tear, or rust from seat cushion springs, it should be send a red flag.

The genuine ROT or build sheet is the only available documentation that I know of to guide a restorer to a concourse restoration. Hope this helps someone.



10-09-2015, 06:21 PM
Dave, thank you for the breakdown on how the cars came down the line and were built. It is very interesting stuff to read. As for Build/Rot Sheets, from what I am being told, back in the '55-'57 production runs, they did not have these sheets or leave these sheets in the cars. At least not by those names.

My new club member is interesting in obtaining as much of the documentation that is available for his '57 Tbird. A Gate Release and Accounting form, the window invoice, etc.. Just to have a record to display with his car. I now know who to contact, and that is The American Road Thunderbird Club (TARCT) TARCT invoices PO Box 363 Clarkston, MI 48347. They have all the available invoices for the '56-'57's and some for the '55's. You have to be a CTCI member to purchase them I understand. I will put him in contact with them. Here is their website.


10-09-2015, 10:17 PM
I would like to see more of this order form:
I worked at Dearborn Assembly. This car was sold to the Engineering Staff of Ford, it says it was shipped via E&L Trucking (which is correct, not 'RAIL') but it doesn't say which dealership it went to. One of Dearborn's largest dealerships was owned by Henry Ford's cousin. ALL Ford cars go to and through a dealership.

All Ford documents have a Form Number. Your first one starts off with, "AAD..", which is Automotive Assembly Div. That is correct. ALL assembly plants used the same forms because Ford printed them in Ford Reprographics. Ford did not buy forms from vendors. Some forms had many carbon sheets between the pages so the second sheet might be more clear than the first IF the ribbon wasn't changed frequently.

Dearborn Assembly had 1,000 cars in-process, from the Body Shop through all the departments to the Driveaway Garage, where the Security Guard checked off the window sticker. He had one minute to check each car, weigh it and slap the wetted sticker on the driver's window. That is why each car had a FOUR digit rotation number (that still rolled over in ten days). Once the car got past the Security Guard, it was 'handed off' to the transportation company and Ford was no longer responsible for that car.

Again, I'd like to see this entire form even if it was reproduced.

Joe Johnston
10-10-2015, 09:34 AM
The single sheet of this form is complete except for a bit below the red print at the bottom which did not make the picture. Below the 2 holes in the bottom red line: on the left side the form number which is FORM FD-419-C-8R(8-55). Centered in this bottom margin is "ACCOUNTING WORK COPY" in all caps. My 57 form is very similar with the form # being FD-419-CR6 (9-56) and "GATE RELEASE AND ACCOUNTING" at the bottom. The 57 sheet shows: Bill Froelich Motor CO as a Los Angeles CA dealer the 57 was shipped to by "RAIL" in the "HOW SHIPPED" box. No other shipping info than 11 days transit time allowed.

In the 70's I tried to find out more about the car and could learn nothing more than the information printed on the sheet. I never located anyone who was familiar with the process during the mid 50's. Everyone I showed it to thought it "interesting" the car was built in Dec 55, shipped to the Engineering dept, and a penciled in order for a soft top added on 5/23/56. Only speculation would lead to what it was used for as there was nothing unusual or out of the ordinary about the car in any way, but the car was there for several months due to the 5/23/56 date on the company papers. Perhaps fitting the soft top was the purpose??

I have never seen the complete printed or un-printed stack of these 419 forms with the carbons intact, only single sheets like this. I will re-post the complete 56 form.

Joe Johnston
10-10-2015, 09:53 AM


10-10-2015, 05:59 PM
Joe, Ford has many thousands of cars produced for in-company use. If the car will ever be sold as used (or new) it must go through a dealership. Exceptions are units that are used for destructive testing.

You can imagine, just about every facility has pool cars and trucks. They are used and abused. I've never seen one just sitting around for months on end. On the contrary, each building never has enough cars. The basement of WHQ has gas pumps and a car wash. No money ever changes hands. The attendant either looks at the license plate prefix or the key tag to identify it as a company car. This saves Ford millions in transportation costs otherwise incurred in the absence of pool cars. The maintenance departments use thousands of F-150s and they keep them for two or three years. Some never see a public road until they are sold but they are all registered with the Michigan Secretary of State.

Your form number is good. As said, "How Shipped" would either be, E & L Transport trucks or by Rail. EL (E & L) is consistent with a local delivery to a dealership. Even executive's cars must go through a dealership.

The 'hash marks' would lead you to believe the Ford Security man at the back door had checked all the options against what is really in the car without getting in. Truth is, they have ONE MINUTE to weigh, check and wet-mount the 'sticker' on the driver's door window. One minute is ok until one car is 'wrong' and they have to cycle it back into the plant.

So, who gets all these carbon copies? Ford has one, the transportation company has one, the dealership has one, the window has one, etc... - Dave

10-10-2015, 09:07 PM
What Joe shows above in #10 looks just like the factory invoice to the dealer. This is what Lois Emminger had and is still available for some 55's, most 56 and 57's. I never heard that she had the "build or ROT sheets". I guess if the car went to be tested and not sold it was billed to engineering which would make sense since the car then went out of the system just as it would if it had been sold. And engineering would have the cost for internal cost control.

I say most because some are missing. When I inquired about mine, it was missing.

Note that gas was 41.4 cents a gallon.