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vernz
04-25-2009, 06:40 AM
I decided not to hijack the thread on the last car to delve into build dates further.

The data plate versus production date information in that string and in the new sticky above is really interesting. I took a look at my ROT sheet versus data plate. There are two dates on the ROT sheet, a block entitled "date" and a block entitled "Sched date". To me, the date block was the actual build date and if "11 10" means November 10th not 11th of October, this matches the data plate date of 10L (a 59 built in November 1958). The discussion on build dates versus data plate dates has me wondering now if the sched date block that shows 13L (November 13th) is the actual build date. Did I celebrated her 50th birthday on the correct day last year or was I three days early? There is another reason that this is critically important ;) - November 10th is a Tuesday, while 13L is Friday the 13th!!

While we're talking ROT sheets, does anyone know what the codes are in the Misc. #1 through 7 blocks? My car has entries in the Misc #1,3,4,5 and 6 blocks.

BTW, my ROT sheet was threaded in the springs on the rear seat back.

Vern

JohnG
04-25-2009, 05:21 PM
Vern, thanks for the photos and posting them!! That's really interesting! (I am glad for you that you got the version that had a battery... :) )

I wonder what a "3" radio meant... to the best of my knowledge, Squarebirds only had one type (except for white or black trim). Air suspension was apparently in the works for other cars at that point.

thanks again
John

vernz
04-25-2009, 07:35 PM
John G - If you assume that the same sheet was used for all cars at the Wixom MEL plant, there may have been other radios for other cars. I have the standard AM push button radio (and it works). I've never seen a decoder for tho misc. codes, although I can guess what some of them are by the options that are installed.

Vern

KULTULZ
04-25-2009, 09:25 PM
10L (10 NOV) is the actual asm. date. 13L was the scheduled asm. date.

Serial No. 106527 may not be the correct assembly sequence of all cars. Some may have been built before and after with near nos. depending on how the line was setup regarding access. or paint color for example.

BIRD did not also use a SIGNAL SEEK or TOWN and COUNTRY radio chassis like FORD (option)?

YellowRose
04-26-2009, 03:15 AM
Hi Gary,

Something is not right on those dates. The date 11 10 on the ROT sheet you said represents the date the unit was actually built, with L 13 (which we see reversed on our Data Plates as 13L, for example) is the Scheduled Build Date.

Verns Data Plate shows a date of 10L, which according to what you have said, is the actual assembly date, NOT the Scheduled Build Date. That would be all well and good to know that the 10L represents the actual date the Bird was built.

But here is what confuses me.. We know that Greg Prince's Data Plate has 13W on it. Supposedly, the last day of production for the 1960 Tbird. In the email I received from Phil Skinner yesterday the records he recovered shows that the last day of production was the 9th of September. After which the plant closed for Labor Day weekend into Monday, for converting the plant to the 1961 Bulletbird run. IF the date on the Data Plate represents the actual assembly date, then it should say 09W or 08W or some other previous date it was actually built on and NOT 13W because Fords records show NO Tbird was built after the 9th of September. However... According to Automotive Mile Posts, the production of the 1961 Tbird did not start until October 3rd!

The first 1961 Tbird that I can find in the Tbird Registry with a Scheduled Build Date on it is this with a 31K date on it or October 31st. This was 13,855 numbers into the series:
2-door Hardtop
1Y71Z113855

I am thoroughly confused about this now, just when I thought I had it figured out! :eek: We really need to find someone who has a 13W ROT sheet in their possession to see what it actually says!

YellowRose
04-27-2009, 03:28 AM
Here are some comments made to Phil by me. We were talking about at what point the Data Plate was installed on the car. He said he thought it was in the Trim and Sealer section of the line.

I am still trying to nail down which of the two dates on a ROT sheet is the ACTUAL date a car was built. The date on the top left in the form, or the Scheduled Date. Here is what I have learned so far from reading the 1959 Shop Manual and the William Wonder Thunderbird Restoration Guide. The shop manual says "The production date code (speaking of the date on the data plate) designates the day, month and year the Thunderbird was COMPLETED". Not SCHEDULED, but completed. The Restoration Guide says "Date codes are represented by letter designations indicating the month in which the car was produced, followed by a number or group of numbers that represent the particular day of the month when the Thunderbird
was ASSEMBLED and COMPLETED on-line". Again, not SCHEDULED, but assembled and completed.

Now that is all well and good, and would indicate to me that if your data plate has a 13W on it then it was assembled and completed on the line on September, 13th. Until you find out that the last day of production was not the 13th, but the 9th! From this I assume that it was SCHEDULED to be completed on the 13th but due to the speed up of the line after the Lincolns were done, they ran some of the 12th and 13th scheduled cars through the line and stopped on orders from management. We know they did because there are cars out there with those dates on their data plate! But they did not change the data plates that might have already been manufactured and stamped... Phil says the plates were printed out at or before the start of the production run for that day. He also says he has seen many cases where cars scheduled for a certain date build out, say 13W were completed well before that date, for one reason or another...

fomoco59
04-27-2009, 10:12 AM
I'm told my build was planned for June 19, but was actually built June 23.
Many of the options were obviously for Lincolns and not available on TBirds. I'll ask John Rotella what he knows about the MISC boxes.
I only have an entry in MISC #1

JohnG
04-27-2009, 11:26 AM
Mike, your data plate also says 06 19 (19 F), as in the block toward the upper left hand corner of your ROT sheet. Do we assume that these two items always match, or did they just happen to in your case?

Vern: this helps in your case as your 11 10 must mean Nov 10 (not Oct 11). Your data plate has 10L and with L being November ( I may have forgotten why November is L but I think it is relative to whatever the first month of production was)

So in both cases, is this evidence that the date on the data plate and the date on the upper left box on the ROT always agree? or did we just get lucky twice?

In other words if I had access to other ROT sheets and other people's data plates, would I always find those two dates in agreement?

john

fomoco59
04-27-2009, 12:01 PM
Yes, the date in the upper left is the same as what's on the data plate.

Hawkrod
04-27-2009, 12:07 PM
Mike, your data plate also says 06 19 (19 F), as in the block toward the upper left hand corner of your ROT sheet. Do we assume that these two items always match, or did they just happen to in your case?

Vern: this helps in your case as your 11 10 must mean Nov 10 (not Oct 11). Your data plate has 10L and with L being November ( I may have forgotten why November is L but I think it is relative to whatever the first month of production was)

So in both cases, is this evidence that the date on the data plate and the date on the upper left box on the ROT always agree? or did we just get lucky twice?

In other words if I had access to other ROT sheets and other people's data plates, would I always find those two dates in agreement?

john

It is definitely possible that the build sheets were printed on the day the car was to be built and that they knew how many days it would take to complete (under normal cuircumstances) but we know for sure that build sheets are printed before a car was built so that date may vary from the final actual build date. Any delay at all would cause the date to be wrong and unfortunately stuff does go wrong. Upholstery tears, paint runs, engines actually fail etc... The data plates are supposedly also stamped when a car is started (I only know this from hearsay from line workers, I have never seen any documentation of this) so the dates would also match the paperwork but again, the paperwork can't always match the reality. Hawkrod

JohnG
04-27-2009, 12:21 PM
So you're saying that the scheduled date might differ from what actually happened ?? That seems most reasonable and possible (I am aware of the saga of Greg's car and information)

But you're agreeing with me that the date on the data plate and the date on the upper left hand corner of the ROT sheet will always agree, regardless of when the car eventually got built?

John

Hawkrod
04-27-2009, 12:26 PM
So you're saying that the scheduled date might differ from what actually happened ?? That seems most reasonable and possible (I am aware of the saga of Greg's car and information)

But you're agreeing with me that the date on the data plate and the date on the upper left hand corner of the ROT sheet will always agree, regardless of when the car eventually got built?

John
It has always been my understanding that the build sheets and data plates are generated at the same time so the date should match on the data plate and the build sheet but the actual build date will often be different. I will also add that the scheduled date versus actual date thing is something new to me as later build sheets are not listed that way so it may be that the earlier cars door tags may be closer to the actual build date than they tend to be on the mid 60's cars where we have already verified that they can be off by months. Hawkrod

JohnG
04-27-2009, 12:43 PM
thanks...that helps.

Do you have a sense of when a data plate got created in the process and when it got attached?? I have never seen a TBird with original paint but I assume it got rivetted on over the paint (as opposed to being masked off).

I would be guessing that the "Scheduled Date" was someone (Plant Manager or assistant's) estimate of when he hoped things would happen. We know reality sets in and can change that. Mistakes in assembly, parts shortages, and so on. In the 60s and 70s, when quality was on the decline, I have read that a car would be found defective and hauled off the assembly line to some area and left until a later shift could deal with whatever its problem was and eventually get it out the door. The area was said to get to the size of a football field and the silent costs high. Reasons might be anything from paint runs to body parts not fitting. (source: David Halberstam's book The Reckoning, which developed the histories of Ford and Nissan in parallel).

Conversely, if one line were slow due to problems, people and equipment might become available for another line to speed up (thinking of how Greg's car might have been days ahead of its scheduled date of Sept 13). If I am a plant manager, the last thing I want is idle time.

John

Hawkrod
04-27-2009, 02:14 PM
thanks...that helps.

Do you have a sense of when a data plate got created in the process and when it got attached?? I have never seen a TBird with original paint but I assume it got rivetted on over the paint (as opposed to being masked off).

I would be guessing that the "Scheduled Date" was someone (Plant Manager or assistant's) estimate of when he hoped things would happen. We know reality sets in and can change that. Mistakes in assembly, parts shortages, and so on. In the 60s and 70s, when quality was on the decline, I have read that a car would be found defective and hauled off the assembly line to some area and left until a later shift could deal with whatever its problem was and eventually get it out the door. The area was said to get to the size of a football field and the silent costs high. Reasons might be anything from paint runs to body parts not fitting. (source: David Halberstam's book The Reckoning, which developed the histories of Ford and Nissan in parallel).

Conversely, if one line were slow due to problems, people and equipment might become available for another line to speed up (thinking of how Greg's car might have been days ahead of its scheduled date of Sept 13). If I am a plant manager, the last thing I want is idle time.

John

The scheduled assembly date is generated when order is processed and accepted. This has nothing to do with the assembly plant and is done at the order department at Ford headquarters not at the assembly plant. The scheduled date is based on a lot of factors such as anticipated line volume, when parts are expected to be available for delivery to the assembly plant, and also batch building volume. The data plate is attached at serial number stamping which is down the line after paint but before very much assembly has really begun. What you are describing about cars pulled from the line is called sidelining and is a normal part of the process even today. As the cars are assembled there are inspections done at quite a few points on the line. Any vehicle that does not pass an inspection gets pulled and sidelined. The side line is basically a repair shop within the assembly plant where specially trained personel work to fix mistakes. After the car is repaired it is reinserted in the assembly line. Depending on how long the sideline took a new set of build sheets may be generated as the cars ROT number may have to be changed (anything more than a few days can cause this). There are documented cases of cars with multiple build sheets reflecting different ROT numbers. Also, because paint is done at a seperate line, the bodies have a different ROT number for paint than the one used on the assembly line (paint ROT numbers are often found during restoration as a three digit grease pencil number written on the sub structure). Hawkrod

fomoco59
04-27-2009, 03:07 PM
Hawkrod, That's interesting.. I happened to find this section of another ROT sheet in my car. Same date, same AC and Radio options, but a different ROT number. I wish I had the rest of it... Could've even been from a nearby car...

vernz
04-27-2009, 07:46 PM
An original shop manual came with my new 60 T-bird. It is dated "First Printing 1959". In describing data plate codes this manual states that "the date code shows the day and month when the Thunderbird was completed". It would seem to me that the date on the upper left of the ROT sheet and the data plate should be the date our cars were completed most of the time. I'm sure things went awry, such as sidelined cars, that occasionally threw that off. The data plates could have been made real time, as cars neared the end of the assembly line. I remember in the service watching my dog tags being made. A Yoeman sat at a typewriter keyboard typing my information and just as fast as he typed the letters and numbers were punched into the metal dog tags. I can easily see this process being used on the assembly line.

Vern

Hawkrod
04-27-2009, 08:12 PM
An original shop manual came with my new 60 T-bird. It is dated "First Printing 1959". In describing data plate codes this manual states that "the date code shows the day and month when the Thunderbird was completed". It would seem to me that the date on the upper left of the ROT sheet and the data plate should be the date our cars were completed most of the time. I'm sure things went awry, such as sidelined cars, that occasionally threw that off. The data plates could have been made real time, as cars neared the end of the assembly line. I remember in the service watching my dog tags being made. A Yoeman sat at a typewriter keyboard typing my information and just as fast as he typed the letters and numbers were punched into the metal dog tags. I can easily see this process being used on the assembly line.

VernUnfortunately the date on the tag can't be the the date the car was actually completed unless everything went smoothly and as expected. The build or ROT sheets were actually printed prior to the car ever being assembled. The purpose of the sheet is to pull parts from inventory to actually assemble the vehicle. These sheets are what the parts people got so that they made sure the right parts were at the right point on the line for assembly. For example, at a vehicle assembly plant you have various storage areas. These are actually quite large due to the number of vehicles being assembled. The guy at the upholstery warehouse gets one of these build sheets noting which interior the car will have so he pulls those components and puts them in a basket which gets transported to the line for use (with one of the many copies of the build sheet taped to teh basket). The problem is the interiors are not all the same so he uses the sheet to determine exactly which parts to pull. Does the car have power windows or not? That means two different sets of door panels. Power or manual seat assemblies, how about one power and one manual? The thing is these sheets are generated BEFORE assembly begins which is why they have to be changed if there is a problem. Hawkrod

YellowRose
04-28-2009, 03:56 AM
Here are some comments received from Alan Tast regarding this subject.

2. I think you're wrong about the date in the upper left corner. My understanding is that this date is when the ROT was created, i.e. when information from the invoice was passed on to the people in charge of production and the teletype machines that spat out the ROTs.

3. My understanding is that the data plates were stamped out at the same time that the ROTs were proudced, and held for installation toward the end of the final assembly line - when they were installed I have not narrowed this down yet. The VINs were stamped into the body prior to painting of the shell.

4. What I have found on ROT codes can be found in VTCI's 1958-1960 Original Factory Specificatons Manual in part 8 - there are pages dedicated to code breakdowns for each of the three years of Squarebird production. I've been researching this topic since the '80s and still do not have closure as to what all the codes mean.

The best that can be done in figuring out what the Misc boxes referenced is to compare cars against the ROTs assigned to them to determine what options were installed: however, the problem still exists in determining some of the miscellaneous items such as may be related to preparation, financing/leasing codes, or other production scheduling information. Without invoices to comapre against, it's virtually impossible to know what these codes are unless there is something that can be uncovered in Ford's archives.

I have been seeking production information for '58-'60 in order to update breakdowns that were used in my first book as well as in VTCI's '58-'60 OFS, as production by month for '58, '59, '60 and early '61 was not published in trade publications.

Alan H. Tast, AIA
Past President, Vintage Thunderbird Club Int'l.
Author, "Thunderbird 1955-1966" & "Thunderbird 50 Years"

I have been reading the VTCI OFS. (Official Factory Specifications). If you have the OFS you might want to read 07-7-2-4-id.pdf It has the breakdown of the data plate and the ROT sheet on it and many of the explanations we wonder about regarding those blocks. They dont know what all of them are used for but have identified many of them. We know it was used for both Lincoln and Tbird production. One thing it says off the bat for the '58-'60 Tbirds is that the date next to the ROT # at the top left hand on the form is this. DATE: Month and date on which production order was made/invoiced-NOT production date......

vernz
04-28-2009, 11:04 AM
So, applying Alan's description of data plate and ROT sheet codes to my 59 leads me to the following:

The data plate and ROT sheet were created November 10th
The car was scheduled to be built on November 13th (Friday the 13th)
There is nothing anywhere to tell me if it was actually built on the 13th. I can assume that most cars were built as scheduled and call the birthday for mine 11/13/58.

In the case of the "last 60 T-bird" the grease pencil marking inside the panel is better than the ROT sheet or data plate to identify the actual production date...........except for those darned Ford production records.

Vern

Hawkrod
04-28-2009, 12:09 PM
Everything in Alan's comments confirm what I have said except for when the serial number was stamped. He may be correct as I am not an expert in regards to Wixom by any means but other Ford lines such as Dearborn, Metuchen, San Jose, Atlanta etc... all stamped the serial numbers in the bodies later, after paint, based on firsthand commentary. I would question Alan's note that the date on the sheet that it is when the ROT was created, I rather believe it was the anticipated completion date when the ROT was created not the date the ROT itself was was created. If you could get clarification on that from him it would be great. I say this only because I know it was done differently at other plants and I would be surprised to find out that one plant did it differently than the others. Hawkrod

Alan H. Tast, AIA
04-28-2009, 11:32 PM
Everything in Alan's comments confirm what I have said except for when the serial number was stamped. He may be correct as I am not an expert in regards to Wixom by any means but other Ford lines such as Dearborn, Metuchen, San Jose, Atlanta etc... all stamped the serial numbers in the bodies later, after paint, based on firsthand commentary.

When was the number stamped into the sheet metal? In the case of the 'Bird versus body-on-frame cars there may be some differences. On a body-on-frame car like a full-size Ford, VINs were stamped into a frame rail in the engine compartment area and a few other hidden places for use by law enforcement people to verify if a car was stolen. By the early '60s a place on the body was also provided for the VIN to be stamped, for instance a tab on the cowl for a '63 Galaxie. More than likely these were stamped prior to the mating of the body to the frame, when both the body and frame could be hit with the same stamping tool that was set up with the VIN. I'm not sure how large or bulky these were but i suspect they needed some room to be maneuvered into position.

Now, let's consider how the 'Bird was assembled, specifically the '58-'60. Unlike later 'Birds, the '58-'60 body shell was assembled off-site by The Budd Co., then trucked to Wixom for insertion into the assembly line for sealer, priming and paint before components could be installed. The various places where the VIN has been found - on the support structure/rail near the heater assembly location, on top of the engine cross-member, the passenger side inner fender apron - would be inaccessible by the time it reached the end of the assembly line, but would be very accessible before anything is installed, meaning either before or after the body went through the paint line.

Now, let's look at the painting process and how cars were identified for the color they were to receive. For '61 and later, bodies-in-white were marked with the color code using a purple machinists' dye on the bare body's sheet metal in an inconspicuous place (look at a firewall of a light-colored '61-early '62 and you may see the color code bleeding through the paint) - I'm not sure this was done for '58-'60. In order to know what color a body was to be instructions had to be provided via the ROT sheet prior to reaching the station where the code was marked on the body for painters to see as it came into the paint booth.

I'm not sure if the ROT number was applied to the body as soon as the car arrived at Wixom, but it would make sense if it did as this would tie the body to a VIN and, in turn, an ROT sheet with codes on how it was to be outfitted. The ROT number was applied in grease pencil after the body emerged from the paint oven to the front lower crossmember and the rear taillight panel or behind the rear bumper. It would make sense to stamp the VIN before paint in that this way a positive ID could be made of the body before it hit the station after the paint-baking tunnel, thus allowing a new set of ROTs to be taped to the body in order for the assembly process to resume.

If the VIN was stamped after the body was painted this would present a wonderful opportunity for paint damage and, in turn, taking the car off the line and running it through a paint repair station for touch-up before continuing through assembly. However, the definition of the stamping on unrestored cars typically isn't fouled with paint to the point of the VIN being illegible.

I would question Alan's note that the date on the sheet that it is when the ROT was created, I rather believe it was the anticipated completion date when the ROT was created not the date the ROT itself was was created. If you could get clarification on that from him it would be great. I say this only because I know it was done differently at other plants and I would be surprised to find out that one plant did it differently than the others. Hawkrod.

Something apparently was lost in translation. There are two dates on the '58-'60 ROTs - one by the ROT number on the first line and another which which is called the Schedule Date. The date next to the ROT looks to me to be the date when the ROT was generated/printed out, in essence giving a "time stamp" establishing when assembly began and giving inspectors and management a way to track how long it took to complete the assembly process. Why would there be two differing completion dates on a ROT? First off, the ROT was printed BEFORE the car was assembled, so putting an actual completion date on the ROT would be next to impossible, hence "Schedule" date. The other variable we have to deal with here is pulling the car off the line for repair, or holding it out for a group to receive the same accessories, say a group of 50 that got the same combination of A/C, power windows and power steering but no power brakes. Those actions could delay the car's completion date by a few hours to a few days.

If I understand how the assembly sequence/process worked, from start to finish at Wixom it probably took a car about 36 hours to go from body insertion to driving the car off the conveyor line to final inspection and holding. Now, if the assembly line was running more than one shift, say two or three, and if lines otherwise dedicated to Lincoln assembly were turned over to 'Birds, more 'Birds could have been cranked out and beaten the schedule date as the production day ended. If that is the case, I'm looking forward to studying whatever's been dug up for production records and comparing against the research I've done to date.

Hawkrod
04-29-2009, 12:31 AM
Alan, thank you for taking the time to respond. The ROT date question was based on how it was done at other plants in the mid 60's where records do exist such as Marti reports. We know the scheduled date is the date created when the order was accepted. We also know that the data tag date is not the actual date in the vast majority of cases. The later cars build sheets do not have two dates like the earlier sheet shown but I believe that the date on the data plate (and in this case, on the ROT sheet) is the actual date that the car is expected to be completed. I say this because on later cars we know the scheduled date, the date on the data plate, the actual start date and the actual assembled date and very often none of them match up at all. This was due to the fact that the scheduled date rarely was the start date and the finish date almost never matches the data plate, it is usually a day or two early or really late! This led me to believe that the date generated was the anticipated date based on knowledge of the line. You mentioned 36 hours to assemble a car and that is not unreasonable so it would not be a challenge to know that if you are printing forms today that the car will be finished in two days. On later cars when this cycle was interupted for more than a few days then a new set of build sheets was issued for wherever they were needed when the car was reinsterted and they then have different dates. As far as serializing the components, on later cars like the 63 example you used, they were serialized at the body drop (which is after paint), cars like Mustangs were serialized before final assembly but after paint etc.... so I would not be surprised if birds were stamped after paint but before assembly began as I had noted. Thanks again, Hawkrod

vernz
04-29-2009, 11:21 AM
Alan,

Thanks for all the information. My knowledge of the production process has improved by leaps and bounds in the past few weeks. In your last answer you indicated the T-birds spent about 36 hours on the line from start to drive off. I'm guessing then that the date the ROT is printed preceded the actual build start date. The two ROT's shown in this string show ROT dates of 11/10 and 6/19 and schedule dates of 11/13 and 6/23 respectively. The June dates include a weekend. This is a 3 working day duration in each case. I wonder if that is the standard duration?

Vern