Stories from a car plant - bertj
My Sister in Law's husband used to be a foreman in a well-known Merseyside car factory in the 1970's. He died some years ago and my sister in law and I were reminiscing the other evening. She told me the following stories. I thought that they might amuse forum members.
It was quite usual for a car to be specially made for a manager or supervisor. In other words extra metal, more paint, extra accessories would be built in as the car went down the line. If a boss was disliked the car was often given a built in rattle. One way was to drop a Coca Cola bottle (made of glass in those days) into the rocker panel on the driver?s side before it was welded shut. Every time the car went round a bend, or over a bump there would be this terrible rattle ? completely un-fixable of course without tearing the car apart (Think French Connection)
A new paint dipping process had been installed just before Christmas. A group of visiting managers from Germany were inspecting it. No one commented when a body shell went through the dip closely followed by a bicycle frame, sledge, child?s desk and chair.
Apart from the usual pilfering of small parts there was an outbreak of major losses; engines and gearboxes were going missing on the night shifts. These losses coincided with a series of accidents where an ambulance had to be sent for. One night an alert security guard saw a stretcher being placed in the ambulance. When he pulled the blanket back he found a life-size model head attached to a gearbox.
There was also the case of the three-door car; two doors on one side, one on the other. Two body shell halves had met at the wrong place on the line and the men working on the line were so disinterested that no one noticed until the car was finished
Stories from a car plant - Dan J
Prime examples of why so many manufacturers either have significant difficulties such as quality control in this country or have given up completely!
Stories from a car plant - Kuang
One of my favourites concerns the Rover SD1. A colleague used to work for a company who made rubber seals for just about anything. They were asked by Rover to redesign the existing seals for the doors, as the current suppliers product tended to let in water and fumes.

After a few months umm-ing and ahh-ing, testing and headscratching, the company went to Rover and had a look around. The next day they pronounced the car unsealable and handed the contract back. It seems that the engineering tolerances were so slack that the difference around any given door could range from a few millimetres to a fingertip width :)
Stories from a car plant - ajit
Reminds me of what they say about restaraunts. Enjoy the food but don't ever see how it is prepared
Stories from a car plant - shuggie
I won't make comments about cars themselves, even though I could as I have worked in many plants around the world and seen things that put me off certain brands for life ! However I can recount stories of a plant itself. I was installing some measuring equipment at a very large new plant in Korea in the late 1980's, which was still being built at the same time as they were trying to start limited component production.

Upon walking through the factory one day I noticed a fairly noxious smell in the area and saw some guys out painting the floor with long handled brooms. A few seconds after I had got out the building there was an almighty bang and clouds of smoke everywhere. It turns out that one of the painters decided that the best place to throw the fag he had nearly finiished was on the floor and obviously straight into a layer of inflammible vapour that was hugging ground level. The fire spread through a small opening into a brand new toolroom just kitted out with all the latest kit. The guys in there decided that the best course of action was to smash the windows and feed even more oxygen to the flames. Luckily there wasn't much serious damage anywhere but the painters were quickly put on smoke damagae clean up duty.

In the same plant I used to regulalrly see guys hanging from beams in the roof by both legs and one arm, upside down obviously and welding away quite the thing with the arc less than a foot from their face. Masks were also optional it appeared. This was also utilising that large electric weld plant that was wheeled around the place and the large earthing strap was regularly stuck into the steel channel that ran around the factory to transport away machine tool coolant, which must be say 75% water and flowing past in a torrent.

Not surprisingly there were two deaths, from different causes and there was one guy who fell from the welding position and broke his back.

I am pleased to say the companys vehicles would appear to be a lot safer than there working practices were in the late 1980's.
Stories from a car plant - Mondaywoe
I have a video of a TV programme from some years ago about the development of the Citroen 2CV. Apparently it was made in a Paris factory which was so old and the assembly techniques were so outdated that no outsiders were allowed into the plant. One worker claimed that they had discovered many years ago that the only way to fit the bonnet correctly was to kick it at a certain point. I think a special boot had even been made to make the kicking more effective!
Stories from a car plant - Victorbox
Buy or borrow "Rivethead - Tales from the Assembly Line" by Ben Hamper. Amazon.co.uk stock it. Fantastic book about life on a General Motors production line in the US. You wouldn't believe what he got up to building vehicles. Couldn't put the book down.
Stories from a car plant - THe Growler
Which was the factory (German I think) where workers drank beer on the production line as part of their job package? Or maybe I'm thinking of Ladas and vodka (might be more appropriate!)
Stories from a car plant - Colin M
Slightly OT, but whilst you're on Amazon, pick up a copy of "Turning Back The Clock" by Geoff Owen. Recommended in one of HJ's columns and a great read.

Stories from a car plant - pdc {P}
Beer on offer in the restaurants at Siemens sites in Munich, Fuerth, Erlangen and probably most of the rest of their German sites. Just soft drinks in Congleton and Manchester :-(
Stories from a car plant - Aprilia
Beer vending machines on the line at BMW. Doesn't seem to cause a problem though, although personally I don't think it a good idea.
Stories from a car plant - ShereKhan
I can confirm what pdc says about Siemens. Manchester just has naff vending machines :(
306 2.0 SE Cabriolet
Stories from a car plant - pdc {P}
Drop me a line ShereKhan and let me know of your siemens experiences. email is on my profile.
Stories from a car plant - matt35 {P}
Berti,
Ive waited for days for someone to post this old one...
New German MD visiting the Ford Halewood line finds a card school going on at the assembly line;
'What are you people doing?'
'.... Off!
'Do you know who I am?'
'Hey guys - weve got a big stupid German here - doesn't know who he is'
Matt35.
Stories from a car plant - Hugo {P}
I worked for a low tech components supplier for 6 months whilst studying for my Engineering degree. I was amazed at some of the stories that I heard and went on.

This supplier was in the UK BTW.

Supplying auto gear shift assemblies for the first Rover 800. We got a complaint from Cowley that the cars cold not be kept still and were shunting each other when the engines were on and it had transpired that the gear shift assemlies were at fault.

Reason, there was a mix up at our factory whena new kit of parts had been delivered to the assembler, old parts were left for another version and he thought he'd finish those up first!

That cost us £750K!

I heard numerous examples of hybrid bodyshell cars (1 door on one side and 2 on the other).

A manager was in charge of producing some prototype pedal boxes for customer approval. Despite having a full set of drawings etc complete with the slack tolerances that often come with fabrications of this sort, the underfunded production department was not capable of sticking to them.

The answer? The manager in question decided to 'fettle' them with a 2lb hammer before inspection. I believed they passed! Great I thought, but will he do that through out the contract!

Whilst I was there a press operator was hit on the shoulder by the press cam when it split in two (the 200kg lump of metal that converts rotary motion provided into the linear motion needed for stamping and pressing). He survived with a broken shoulder and was taken to hospital. He was off work for several months and I gather was financially compensated. The bit which made me laugh the most was that the other two presses of that type, with the same maintenance were kept running straight after the accident- far better to risk those lives than stop production I'd say! (not).

The plating plant amused me the most. The supervisor asked one of the operators to clean out an acid tank, so sent him in there with no PPE whatsoever. He was very quickly off work with burns etc. He never worked again as he was close to retirement anyway. Straight after this happened, another intellectually challenged lad was sent in in his place. He was overcme by the fumes and collapsed. The supervisor then thought "maybe this is not a good idea".

In addition, the same plant supervisor was at a loss to do with his waste acid. No problem he thought straight down the drain. Despite several visets by the local water board, they could not find any trace of this - until a disgruntled employee suggested looking down the CORRECT manhole cover. Oops, a prosecution!

In addition, the Personnel Manager (well self appointed really) who'se contract was not renewed, hit the tabloids for conning women out of their savings.

Also, a rather vindictive colleague, who tried to land a mate of mine and his girlfriend in trouble over abuse of the clocking in system, actually got 3 different blokes sacked on the spot. This abuse was widespread and known about by managers etc, but nobody could be bothered to do anything about it. The sneak could not do his job after that because the shop floor became a no go area for him - he feared his safety. I think he was reassigned to purely desk placed work, even then his life was made hell - serves him right really.

Theft etc was widespread in the automotive industry as a whole. I remember a story froma car plant where a chap decide on a new car, so he drove in to work in his own car and transferred his plates to a new one. He got away with it, until the security guard on the gate noticed that he was driving a different car with the same plates on it the following day. He was stopped and his house was searched, where they found a brand new car in his garage.

Another story, a chap decides to smuggle a new car out bit by bit. He had almost achieved his aim when his car was searched. Sure enough his garage contained all the other bits. How he got the bodyshell out heaven knows!

Well there's my contribution

H
Stories from a car plant - Welliesorter
Another story, a chap decides to smuggle a new car out
bit by bit.


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