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  #11  
Old 04-30-2016, 12:01 AM
Joe Johnston Joe Johnston is offline
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All so similar - no matter who's name was on the building. Our GM plant was quite the same and those who had lifetime jobs certainly gave a lot and often those very same men would never miss a bit of work. The iron pourers were like a special fraternity and worked dam hard in impossible conditions usually 7 days a week. Dedicated, watching each others back to make sure the workplace was as safe as possible, praying they would return home in one piece. These men had a very dangerous job, knew it, but respected molten iron while maintaining a bit of humor at times also.

One of the most impressive and humbling things I've ever experienced was looking into the sight glass standing under a cupulo full of molten iron. Watching the iron run out was fascinating until you started thinking what was above your head!

The foundry smell? Its something you will never forget!!
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  #12  
Old 04-30-2016, 03:58 AM
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At the time, we worked with temps in Fahrenheit... steel melted at 2,600 and we poured iron at 3,000 degrees F. I'm sure all that has changed to C.

The foundry introduced me to pyrometers and thermocouples but it also taught me to respect others. Strange? Not really. Dearborn Iron Foundry was OLD and well established. The work environment was so bad that most people wouldn't do it. 90% of our workers were Black with a few Italian and Germans thrown in. Each group was tight because they all had business concerns on the side. Some loaned money, some ran numbers, card games, etc. New employees were avoided like the plague unless someone knew and properly introduced them. The fear was, new people could be cops and nobody wanted to get busted.

Many wives called the plant asking, "Is my husband still there?"
"Well, his time card is, so maybe he's working overtime."

Truth be told, many feuds were settled quietly when one ended up as an engine block and gone with no trace. So a lot of respect was shown to each other because, 'you never know who you're talking to'.

On Saturdays, when the big bosses were home, line foremen made their rounds selling tall cans of beer to their guys on the line. The gate guards always checked cars going out but except for a car pass, none were checked coming in The Rouge. The other plants didn't operate quite like the foundry. - Dave
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  #13  
Old 04-30-2016, 04:26 AM
chris58 chris58 is offline
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Haha, sounds like foundries didn't change a lot over the years. I think when I started I was the only one without a criminal record of some sort, basically a fresh faced baby straight out of high school.
Saw some things that would never happen these days.
Never saw anything to the point of someone ending up as a casting though, little harsh.
They've come a long way now though, I look at the place I work now and everything has to be done to the procedure, very personal select but at the end of the day we all go home to our family.
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  #14  
Old 04-30-2016, 11:06 AM
Joe Johnston Joe Johnston is offline
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I never heard of anyone disappearing at our plant, however a few vending machines that wouldn't stay working in the dirty environment did get tossed into the cupulo - candy and money included! Several tons of molten iron will consume anything.

The "new hires" were always treated with a bit of suspicion because you never knew at our plant too. I never was involved with the drinking or drug groups, but thought I knew who they were. Many guys carried big rolls of cash on payday and would cash checks and lend money "for a small fee of course" as well. With a facility as big as the Rouge was, it must have been like a city itself with its own hierarchy of rule makers and rule breakers.

Fortunately my foundry time was limited, but it was quite a memorable experience.
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  #15  
Old 04-30-2016, 04:32 PM
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Ford Motor Co., had agreements with Michigan where they committed to hire a quota of veterans AND newly released prisoners. This helped the new hires assimilate back into society whilst keeping them off the dole. Remember, you never know who you're talking with, so show respect.

I have two vending machine stories...
In Dearborn Stamping Plant during break time, one of the guys put his money in the cigarette machine, pulled the handle...
He heard the money drop but no product came out so he did it again. And again, money dropped but no product.

Back then we all smoked so we understand this guy's frustrations. He's dying for a smoke, workers don't carry an abundance of change (if any) in their coveralls and he doesn't have much time before break is over. Now he's ripped off by a machine that took all his change and it shows a stack of his brand of smokes.

He quietly walked away and after a minute he returned with a pinch bar. He beat the stomp out of that machine, until it coughed up every brand of cigarettes.

He took one pack of 'his brand' and left it that way. Within five minutes all the vultures descended and they cleaned that baby OUT. Cool's were the first to go.

Nothing was said, nobody saw anything but the next day a brand new machine was in its place.

The Rouge contracted two main catering (vending machine) companies. One was ARA (American Restaurant Assc.). Turns out one of the ARA guys was selling numbers. That isn't very unusual except this guy was selling them 'on credit' meaning, you simply tell him, "Play 321 and I'll pay you tomorrow." Now if the number did come in it usually paid a hundred bucks for the small investment of a quarter. Since it was bought on credit, the payout was half.

A quarter isn't going to break the bank but every day these guys played dozens of numbers, 'boxed'. So, 321 turns into 312, 213, 231,123 and 132 (six bets).

One of the 'money lenders' took issue and told the numbers guy that he was encroaching on his territory. They had a very visible heated discussion, witnessed my many. The next day they found the ARA guy laying on the road after being thrown off the Frame Plant roof. Nobody saw anything.
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  #16  
Old 04-30-2016, 06:22 PM
Joe Johnston Joe Johnston is offline
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One thing about our vending service companies, they always had several people in the plant servicing the machines 24/7. If you had an issue your money was quickly refunded, just tell the guy what machine in which break area - no problem. They knew if refunds wouldn't be hassle free, the machines would disappear - and of course no one ever saw anything!

My dad always smoked Camels but Cools when he had a cold. Said the menthol cleared his head and lungs! Probably the foundry men felt the same way.

I hired in the foundry in 1973 and at times you couldn't see 100'. Especially bad was the area where camshafts were hardened with the smoke from the oil quench tanks. That process was eliminated from our plant and things started to clean up by the mid 70's. All in all, our core rooms were the worst with some of the gasses used to cure the resin in the sand burning your eyes when just walking through. "You will get used to it" was all that was said, but my eyes still burned and watered whenever I had to go into those areas.
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  #17  
Old 04-30-2016, 07:09 PM
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Joe, we had food service guys in our plants too, but far fewer on the off-shifts. Remote machines were totally neglected until the next day.

At the 'end' of our Block marry-go-round, the mold box tops were already removed and a guy connected an overhead hook from a monorail that matched the speed of the line. As the monorail ascended, it brought the block with it, all the way above the second floor to the roof.

My buddy was up there, basically open to the outside but in a covered shelter. He had his own personal drinking fountain. In front of him was a waist-high chain, the moving monorail with cooling engine blocks, a steel hopper and chute that led down to railroad tracks on the ground.

His job was to swing a sledge hammer with a short handle, and beat the runners off each block. They showed him the technique... 'Before the block rolls passed, you lean over the chain and smack the runners twice on one side and once on the other.' Then, the 'tree' bumbled down the hopper to the ground where a huge electromagnet picked them up for recycling twice each shift. I don't know how many hammers he lost down that hole but he finally taped the handle end to form a knob like a baseball bat (hockey guys do the same).

He developed arms as big as my legs. - Dave
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