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Inspectorjoe

Master Hands: Chevrolet Assembly Line Workers ....

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I ran across this cool video on Youtube. It's a 1936 promotional video with the soundtrack music performed by the Detroit Philharmonic Orchestra. It's so engrossing that when it ends, you don't realize that 27 minutes have passed.

[utube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SzJ_Tfic2FA" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" width="425" height="344">

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Now, that is amazing.

How 'bout when they're manhandling the white hot crank into the press?

Yes, that was impressive. I wonder if it's still the way a crank is made?

But right at the beginning it stated that there were 5 million workers for 25 million drivers. That is an impressive ratio. Now those workers have been replaced by two dudes working a computer controlling a gazillion robots.

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Talk about repetitive motion injuries, woof.

Worse than construction?

I think so. In construction, most workers do a variety of tasks and change their position constantly. In the film, it looked like those guys just stood in one spot and did exactly the same thing over & over.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Now, that is amazing.

How 'bout when they're manhandling the white hot crank into the press?

I had always assumed that they were milled from a single block of steel. It never occured to me that they'd be forged.

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My stepbrother worked 30 years as a shop dog grinding bearing cups. He sat, at the machine, putting a cup into the machine and pulling it out for 8-12 hours a day. Only lost the tip of one finger and one thumb, plus the carpel tunnel damage wasn't to bad, but the loss of his mind was more costly.

The drugs and alcohol he used to keep going back day after day, to do the same task over and over to make the big bucks has cost him his health in retirement. I'll take carpentry any day over that.

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I remember the lunch whistle and breaks. There was always a bar right across from the main gate of most line factories.

The whistle would blow, and guys would sprint across the street and pound down shots and beers. The bartender would have a few hundred lined up, waiting for the rush.

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The video tone and music mood was very Ayn Rand-ish in the first 6-7 minutes; truly gripping. I could almost recall word for word her descriptions of Reardon Steel during those first few minutes.

After that, the music got perky and I lost my interest.

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I had always assumed that they were milled from a single block of steel. It never occured to me that they'd be forged.

There are cast cranks, forged cranks and cranks turned from billets. In that order, they're good, better, best.

Watching the video, I could smell the steel. It must have been deafening.

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One of the winter jobs I did a few years ago, while starting my business, was at Louisville Forge running a midnight shift press forging crank shafts & ring gears, tossing white hot steel billets around with a pair of tongs. Same thing, over and over and over and over again.

Nasty, dirty, hot work.

I'd rather work with my brain than my back, but I'm glad there are people out there to do that for us, aka Dirty Jobs.

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At least there were jobs where the average Joe could make enough to have a home, feed the babies, cover medical emergencies and put away the plow hitch when the time came. Basically what most of us are looking for.

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Yea, that's mind-boggling. Absolutely amazing.

I kept thinking, "What if Joey or Bobby called in sick one day. That would screw up the entire line!"

Even more impressive are the folks who designed and built all the machinery.

Another thought: at about 19:55, I was dying to know, with all the machines doing the work on the car frames, what required a single blow with a hammer from the worker on the line.

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Yea, that's mind-boggling. Absolutely amazing.

I kept thinking, "What if Joey or Bobby called in sick one day. That would screw up the entire line!"

Even more impressive are the folks who designed and built all the machinery.

Another thought: at about 19:55, I was dying to know, with all the machines doing the work on the car frames, what required a single blow with a hammer from the worker on the line.

Sometimes 2 blows, sometimes none. I think maybe one of the riveting machines was screwing up on the job.

Those Chev 6 engines were 216 cubic inch displacement and had cast iron pistons and overhead lifters, when Chrysler and Ford were stuck on the flathead, valve in the block design.

I had the same Chev engine in my '49. The crankshafts were solid, no oil galleries in them, so oil was delivered to the connecting rod ends by way of 6 little pipes in the pan which sprayed oil so 6 little dippers on the rod caps could catch a shot of oil on every revolution. If you tried to go over 80 mph, the crank would start to dry out and you would blow a rod. The cast iron pistons did not like to go fast either.

The rod bearings where not replaceable, simply a coating of something oldtimers called 'babbit'. When that babbit wore away, she'd start to knock. You could pull the pan and remove rod caps and there were shims that could be taken out to tighten the rods up!!! I had the pan off three times in about 6 months, trying to catch my brother in his '47 Dodge. He had the flathead six, but he'd had the head planed and added a 3/4 race cam. My poor old Chev 6 was slow but with plenty of torque.

Later reincarnations of the Chevy stovebolt 6 -The '52 Chev had a 235 cid 6 with the pressurized crankshaft, oil pumped to the rod bearings. That engine powered the '53 and '54 Corvette, and you could get some speed out of it. The '55 Canadian Pontiac finally dropped their line of flatheads and adopted the 235, bored out to 261 cid. The 235 became the 250 in the 60's, and that engine was copied by Toyota for their Land Cruiser. The GMC 292 was the same mill with a longer stroke. I used my '64 GMC 1 ton to pull trees out of the ground, clearing property.

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