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Data Plate versus actual build dates

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  • #16
    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

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    • #17
      Originally posted by vernz View Post
      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
      Unfortunately 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

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      • #18
        Data Plate versus actual build dates

        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......
        Last edited by YellowRose; April 28th, 2009, 02:39 AM. Reason: Addtional comments

        Ray Clark - Squarebirds Administrator
        '59 Tbird "The Yellow Rose Of Texas" aka "Tweety Bird"
        "It's Hip To Be Square"
        Thunderbird Registry #33025 VTCI #11178

        Contact me via Private Message for my email address, or (Cell) 210-875-1411 (Home) 210-674-5781

        http://www.squarebirds.org/picture_gallery/TechnicalResourceLibrary/trl.htm

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        • #19
          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

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          • #20
            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

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            • #21
              VIN/ROT/Dating and Stamping

              Originally posted by Hawkrod View Post
              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.

              Originally posted by Hawkrod View Post
              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.
              Alan H. Tast AIA, LEED AP BD+C
              Technical Director/Past President, Vintage Thunderbird Club Int'l.
              Author, "Thunderbird 1955-1966" & "Thunderbird 50 Years"

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              • #22
                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

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                • #23
                  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

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