Active Active   Unanswered Unanswered

Cadillac Plant

If it doesn't pertain to metal, wood, wire or fabric—but it is about vintage Chris-Crafts, ask your question or give your advice here.

Moderators: Don Ayers, Don Vogt, Al Benton

Russ Arrand
Posts: 56
Joined: Fri Nov 18, 2005 7:18 pm
Location: Cadillac, MI
Contact:

Cadillac Plant

Post by Russ Arrand » Wed Aug 27, 2008 7:52 am

Hi everyone:

I just got invited to a birthday party for Forrie Kanipe. He will be 90. He was the quality control manager at the CC plant here in Cadillac, MI. I have known him for almost 20 years. While he lives in Grand Rapids he has a cottage not far from here and his family is bringing him to the cottage on the weekend of Sept 6. Don Danenberg and I plan on interviewing him while he is in town.

I would like for you guys to get some questions together that you may like us to ask him. I am not talking about details like "what switch was in my 55 Sportsman" but rather general questions like "Could I order my boat with pink deck seams?" or "How many boats were in a production run". He was on the floor every day rather than behind a desk in the office. He also did water testing. This may be the last time to get this information.

For those of you that do not know what boats were built here I will list a few:

The last run of 1942 17 deluxe runabouts (barrelbacks)
The last run of 1941-42 22-U
Lots of landing craft
17 Deluxe (some)
20 Custom
22-U (some)
Rivieras
17 Sportsman
Capris
Continentals
Cobras
Racing Runabout
Holidays
Ski Boat
Super Sport
Grand Prix

This is just a few of them. But you can see they are probably a majority of what this group owns.

If Bill B. approves please post your questions here and when we get the answers maybe Bill can edit the answer back here in your original post.

Thanks
Russ Arrand

User avatar
Chad Durren
Posts: 666
Joined: Tue Aug 01, 2006 1:39 pm
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Contact:

Post by Chad Durren » Wed Aug 27, 2008 8:55 am

Sounds like fun.

I'm guessing he worked closely with Anthony Dugan. Ask him about their relationship and their specific roles. Ask him about a normal day at the shop; how many boats passed through?, what constituted a "pass/fail"?, what they did to pass the time. Conditions at the shop, their favorite CC model, what they had for lunch... that kinda stuff.

Oh yeah, and ask him if he remembers hull #U-18-1013. Kidding

And ask Don to update the photos on his website.

User avatar
Bill Basler
Posts: 1996
Joined: Thu Oct 20, 2005 4:48 pm
Location: Cedar Rapids, IA

Post by Bill Basler » Wed Aug 27, 2008 10:31 am

Russ, this is perfectly fine by me, and it's great use of the forum. I would love it if you would take a video camera along. The day will come when we start introducing more video into the Chris-Craft site. Videos can cover every thing from internet tutorials (ie: how to use Boat Buzz, the Hull Registry, etc.) to "how-tos" (ie: how to replace your shaft packing), to historic vignettes, such as your interview with Mr. Kannipe. we need to capture as much of this information as possible, and I do not see any reasons, with today's technology, that we can't have a 20-30 minute video online.

Let's add our questions here, in free form, then we'll compile a list at the end.
Bill Basler

Russ Arrand
Posts: 56
Joined: Fri Nov 18, 2005 7:18 pm
Location: Cadillac, MI
Contact:

Post by Russ Arrand » Wed Aug 27, 2008 10:59 am

Thanks Bill:

Don has a video camera. I will ask if he will bring it. At the very least we will audio tape it. Like I said before try to ask general questions. The last time I spoke with Forrie-he sounded sharp as a tack. But he is turning 90.

Russ Arrand

User avatar
campjer
Posts: 231
Joined: Tue Nov 27, 2007 11:52 am
Location: I'm from the sea.
Contact:

Post by campjer » Thu Aug 28, 2008 7:28 am

Unless someone else already has the answers, these are two recurring questions I have in my mind...


1. Why were many of the cruisers built with a left hand drive? Who's decision was this and what was their reasoning?


2. In his humble opinion - what are his thoughts on the excessive expansions of model lines (ie: 10+ lengths for the same craft in one production year) being a leading contributor to the original fall of Chris Craft? (I often refer back to Henry Ford's moto of "You can have it any colour you like - so long as it's black.")
Cheers,
Jeremy Campbell

Current Projects:
'61 32' Connie
'61 45' Connie (RIP)
'50 42' DCFB

Wet Dreams:
'61 57' Connie

Wilson Wright
Posts: 559
Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2005 9:44 pm
Location: Tallahassee, Florida
Contact:

Cadillac Questions

Post by Wilson Wright » Thu Aug 28, 2008 8:14 am

Was bilge paint a standard color or did it change daily as Chris Smith is reported to have said.

How did they achieve the blonde color for the blonde boats.
Wilson Wright
Executive Director Emeritus
Chris-Craft Antique Boat Club

User avatar
Brian Robinson
Posts: 777
Joined: Thu Oct 27, 2005 10:49 pm
Location: Southern California
Contact:

Post by Brian Robinson » Thu Aug 28, 2008 2:47 pm

I've always been curious to what degree of "touch-up" there was on the boats, if any, prior to leaving the factory. For example, what about gross paint chips on the exhaust nut from installation (or was this painted after install, in the boat) or on or around the engine lag bolts. One virgin racer comes to mind that has a couple blue paint drips around the engine from what appears to be "original" touch-up. I know the engines weren't pretty by today's standards, but how bad were they? Even the best virgin boats today don't tell us how fresh they looked when new.

Also, (and forgive me if these questions are too specific) were the galvanized parts such as the vent tubes, fuel tanks, and in some cases the shift/steering rods painted over? If so, why? Just for aesthetic reasons?

Thanks,

Brian

User avatar
Matt Smith
Posts: 867
Joined: Wed Oct 26, 2005 4:14 pm
Location: Reedville VA,
Contact:

Post by Matt Smith » Thu Aug 28, 2008 3:58 pm

Did he know Joe Martell? Sorry... Hey I'm still looking!
1948 25' Chris Craft Sportsman
1958 Chris-Craft 17' Cavalier
1937 16' Special Racer
1968 40' Rice Trawler
1968 11' Crab Skiff
2018 Hole in my head

http://www.WoodyBoater.com

User avatar
Bill Basler
Posts: 1996
Joined: Thu Oct 20, 2005 4:48 pm
Location: Cedar Rapids, IA

Post by Bill Basler » Thu Aug 28, 2008 9:15 pm

I am interested in knowing whether the "sign" painters, or lettering artists were on staff, or were the brought in from Cadillac area firms. Presumably, with the number of boats being produced, these guys were likely on staff...just gotta know.

And if a staffer (or staffers), how many persons were there in this role? During the pre-war period, with hull side scripts, the number of orders for "name on transom" and the occasional request for government numbers on hull sides, these guys could have been pretty busy.

Also, did these guys paint bilges when there were no boats to letter? I'm sure they would have looked at that job with disdain!
Bill Basler

User avatar
mattwells
Posts: 136
Joined: Fri Feb 09, 2007 2:33 pm
Location: Sacramento, CA
Contact:

Re: Cadillac Questions

Post by mattwells » Thu Aug 28, 2008 11:44 pm

Wilson Wright wrote:How did they achieve the blonde color for the blonde boats.
I second this one. I would love to know.

Russ Arrand
Posts: 56
Joined: Fri Nov 18, 2005 7:18 pm
Location: Cadillac, MI
Contact:

Post by Russ Arrand » Fri Aug 29, 2008 4:46 pm

Come on guys:

I have the interview arranged for Sunday Sept 7th at 10:00 AM. I need more questions. This will be video taped. Forrie is really excited about this. Please, Please get some more questions here. Don and I have alot but we need more.

Russ Arrand

User avatar
Bill Basler
Posts: 1996
Joined: Thu Oct 20, 2005 4:48 pm
Location: Cedar Rapids, IA

Post by Bill Basler » Fri Aug 29, 2008 5:04 pm

I guess I would like to know some basic information about how the new factory sprang to life. We know that at least some employees were brought up to Cadillac from Holland, and and Algonac. Did these employees make the move willingly? Were they excited about the new opportunities? When the plant was first getting on its feet, were most of these employees management, or foreman level transplants? How did they go about firing up a plant, when they were likely still busy filling roles? How was the efficiency at the start? How did they go about hiring from the Cadillac area? Presumably they started by having a competitive wage. What was the experience of the newcomers? In areas like Holland, the plant could draw on the furniture trade, skimming off a few craftsman. Is this true for Cadillac as well? If they brought in greenhorns, what was the training like? Did the managers "turn and look away" when a less than perfect boat came down the line, with an eye on getting it out the door? Or did they go the opposite route, scrutinizing every hull, as if their collective reputations depended on it? With Chris-Craft being such a profit focused company, I am just wondering what this place was like. Were they pressured to get things out and to start making money? Or was the company tolerant of a "burn-in" period, focusing on quality?

Were the same sub contractors used as for the other plants? As in:
» Chrome
» Casting shops
» Sheetmetal shops, rub rail, cutwaters, fuel tanks, bilge ducts, and tank straps?

Or did they source other suppliers who were closer to Cadillac?

I have read documentation about the pay rates for the various roles. What was the job climate like in Cadillac at the time? Were people desperate for jobs? Was the migration up the skill ladder similar to what is spelled out on the attached?

That's it for now. More to come I hope.

Image

Image
Last edited by Bill Basler on Sat Aug 30, 2008 10:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Bill Basler

User avatar
Don Ayers
Club Executive Team
Posts: 1681
Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2005 3:05 pm
Location: Oklahoma
Contact:

Post by Don Ayers » Sat Aug 30, 2008 4:56 pm

Question;

What was Mac Mackerer's influence at this plant and was he in charge or someone else? If so who? Seems Mac had a major hand in most operations. Did this guy know him well and what was his impression?

1960's boats?

Can you explore the move to vinyl decks such as the Holiday's and Super Sports. Was this purely a cost cutting measure or was there some design influence at the time?

******
Also, There is so little information on the CC engine division. Can you see if he can comment about anything that might tell us something on engine development???

Thanks

PS. Russ, would you and Don be willing to share this Video with the CCABC so we all can benefit? I'm sure Basler can figure out how to convert and stream it online. This would be a noble gesture IMHO.
Don Ayers
1959 Riva Ariston
www.RivaForum.org
www.barrelback.com

User avatar
Don Danenberg
Posts: 181
Joined: Fri Nov 18, 2005 9:30 pm
Location: Manistee, MI
Contact:

Post by Don Danenberg » Sun Aug 31, 2008 4:39 pm

Brian,

This should help answer your questions about "touch-up" and metal parts painting.

I think it was rust-preventative, only cosmetic for the life of the 6-month warrenty.

Check with Wilson Wright, this is one of some 240-pages of memos I donated to the club in 1999.

and..., what the heck is a "jack-shaft"?



Image

User avatar
Don Danenberg
Posts: 181
Joined: Fri Nov 18, 2005 9:30 pm
Location: Manistee, MI
Contact:

Post by Don Danenberg » Sun Aug 31, 2008 6:48 pm

Bill,
Perhaps these will help you understand the pool of dedicated craftsmen available from Algonac, just a couple years before tooling the Cadillac plant.

The Cadillac plant opened early in 1941, and by June, 1942, had apparently completed some 2,000, 36-FOOT, landing craft for the war effort.

I doubt they used the Algonac work force for that!


Image

Image

Image

Image
Last edited by Don Danenberg on Mon Sep 01, 2008 9:23 am, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
Don Danenberg
Posts: 181
Joined: Fri Nov 18, 2005 9:30 pm
Location: Manistee, MI
Contact:

Post by Don Danenberg » Sun Aug 31, 2008 7:54 pm

The following are from Russ's files, from the History Archives of the 'Cadillac Evening News', Cadillac, MI.

There are more, especially for the 60's boats, but these are about the beginning.

Hopefully, all of the last few posts will inspire you all to posit a question for this interview. I've been asked to submit written questions by Wednesday, 9-3-08.

We cannot possibly ask every question on one Sunday morning interview with Forrie, BUT, I can submit written questions for his later perusal.

Besides, maybe someone in Carruthersville, MO, or one of the home cities of the other, half-dozen, Chris-Craft plants, might spend some fun time at their local library getting similar information.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

mcisaac inc
Posts: 283
Joined: Sun Mar 23, 2008 8:34 am
Location: onekama, mi.
Contact:

Post by mcisaac inc » Mon Sep 01, 2008 8:27 pm

:D ask forest about a "nooner" and the perks of living only one block from the plant............mark

User avatar
Brian Robinson
Posts: 777
Joined: Thu Oct 27, 2005 10:49 pm
Location: Southern California
Contact:

Post by Brian Robinson » Tue Sep 02, 2008 11:08 am

Thanks Don, I already have that memo.

I was actually hoping Forrie could expound on the other “touch-up” work not explained there in the Algonac memorandum – mainly, any engine blue touch up’s - for example, is it possible that the engine lag bolts were painted blue after installation even though they were spec’d as cad plated steel?

Also, this memo was dated before most models were required to have galvanized vent tubes, which were arguably painted over bilge color, same with fuel tanks, straps, and even control rods in the postwar years. I have my suspicions on what was painted and what wasn’t, but have been searching for a concrete answer – or at least an educated answer for which I have talked to countless restorers, and looked at every unrestored boat I can get my hands on. I would sure appreciate Forrie’s thoughts on this.

If I may add another question for Forrie into the mix, what about the varnished Racing Runabouts’ (mid-’49 through ’54) covering boards? Why were some apparently stained walnut and others not? – and it never being noted on the hull cards? This does not seem to be a factory-specific item (they were built in four factories across the US), but by all indications this was a “both ways” item. I would love Forrie’s insight on this.

Thanks
Image

User avatar
tuobanur
Posts: 425
Joined: Wed Jul 30, 2008 1:21 pm
Location: Summerville, SC

Post by tuobanur » Tue Sep 02, 2008 2:54 pm

[quote="Don Danenberg"]Brian,



and..., what the heck is a "jack-shaft"?

That would be the shaft driving the propeller.
Terry
1941 Model 101 (16') Deluxe Runabout "Miss Dot"

User avatar
Don Danenberg
Posts: 181
Joined: Fri Nov 18, 2005 9:30 pm
Location: Manistee, MI
Contact:

Post by Don Danenberg » Tue Sep 02, 2008 8:30 pm

"Jack Shaft"..., heh? Chris-Craft did make up funny names for marine nomenclature (Monkey-Rail, keelsons not related to the keel, etc.).
I wonder why they wanted those painted to 'prevent rust'?


Bill,
I will certainly ask him about the "touch-up" items that, such as the Chris-Craft logo, come at the end of production.

I cannot help but reference the labor rates that give the third rate of trainee more that 100% of beginner pay.

Note the below page from the 1936 Chris-Craft Accessories catalog. At the top center, see that "Immitation Gold" logo Decals are thirty-cents, 1/6th of a quart of varnish.

How much do you think a "sign-painter-artist" would be paid for this, in 1946, ten years later?

I pay $17.99, plus nearly $5 in tax, haz-mat and shipping for quarts of Interlux Scooner varnish (last week).

$23 a quart, divided by 6 = almost $4.00

Can I get a "sign painter, artist" to leaf the logo today for $4.00 ???




Image

User avatar
Brian Robinson
Posts: 777
Joined: Thu Oct 27, 2005 10:49 pm
Location: Southern California
Contact:

Post by Brian Robinson » Tue Sep 02, 2008 9:12 pm

Don,

Those prewar decals were intended, marketed, and sold to the "self-refinisher" or dealer, along with many other do-it-yourself supplies found in the Accessory Parts Catalogs, this is well documented. It wasn't until 1946 that Chris-Craft wised up economically on the script and went to a decal on most of the production boats.

On the postwar Racers for example, most of the red & white ones specified a "painted" script on the hull cards, then when they went varnished they went to the regular silver outlined in white postwar "decal". There was even a large group of 20' Custom hull cards from Cadillac in 1948 that specified "silver leaf CC script".

The unit cost for the leafed script is spelled out in the 50 page O'Mara specs for the 1941 22'U (the only one that the museum has complete). I've seen it, but am still waiting for my copy.

If the dealer cost per letter was $0.25 for aluminum leaf transom names (you can bet the factory actually paid far less), I'll bet the pre made, ready to go stenciled side script was pretty cheap in the prewar production enviroment.
Image
Last edited by Brian Robinson on Wed Sep 03, 2008 10:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
maritimeclassics
Posts: 632
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2007 4:35 pm
Location: Traverse City, Mi
Contact:

Post by maritimeclassics » Tue Sep 02, 2008 10:19 pm

Don, can you ask him about stain color? Was there a standard, or a pass or fail on the darkness? It seems to me with so many different people applying in so many different factories that there was a variance in color. Some would rub harder then others and that it would be hard to keep ever one of the boats the same shade. What about the walnut stain how exactly did the factory do it? Also how was it to work for the Smith family? Thanks for the time Russ and you are committing to this. Mike
Family member of Chris Craft founder
Owner of Maritime Classics
http://www.maritimeclassics.com
Ph# 231-486-6148

Restoration Projects:
1936 25' Gar Wood Custom
1947 Ventnor Hydroplane
1957 17' Deluxe Runabout
1948 25' Chris Craft Sportsman Twin
1959 19' Sliver Arrow Hull #75
1929 26' Chris Craft Custom Runabout
1937 25' Chris Craft Custom Runabout

User avatar
Don Danenberg
Posts: 181
Joined: Fri Nov 18, 2005 9:30 pm
Location: Manistee, MI
Contact:

Post by Don Danenberg » Tue Sep 02, 2008 11:02 pm

As to 'pass or fail' by darkness, that so didn't matter in a production atmosphere...

The color and density of the wood in that particular hull effected color more intensly.

The stain suppliers, based on unit cost, could have been:
Boydell
Boycraft
Dolphin Paint and Chemical
SC Johnson
Interlux
Valspar
Many others

This effected color as well.

The 1932 Factory to dealer instruction book lists the covering board treatments as:



Image

User avatar
maritimeclassics
Posts: 632
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2007 4:35 pm
Location: Traverse City, Mi
Contact:

Post by maritimeclassics » Wed Sep 03, 2008 12:54 pm

With all due respect, what I am looking for is the answer from someone who worked there. It may come out that we could be missing some detail, some of us are aware of the factory memorandums and in the case of the stain from a Dealers Manual. It would be sad if we thought we all knew it all and missed this opportunity to find out some information that only the true source may have. I am aware of your knowledge and I thank you for your efforts, but please don’t dismiss questions that have been submitted because you may feel that it has been answered buy some old piece of paper.
Family member of Chris Craft founder
Owner of Maritime Classics
http://www.maritimeclassics.com
Ph# 231-486-6148

Restoration Projects:
1936 25' Gar Wood Custom
1947 Ventnor Hydroplane
1957 17' Deluxe Runabout
1948 25' Chris Craft Sportsman Twin
1959 19' Sliver Arrow Hull #75
1929 26' Chris Craft Custom Runabout
1937 25' Chris Craft Custom Runabout

User avatar
tom king
Posts: 402
Joined: Thu Oct 27, 2005 8:44 am
Location: San Antonio, Texas
Contact:

Re: Cadillac Questions

Post by tom king » Wed Sep 03, 2008 1:10 pm

mattwells wrote:
Wilson Wright wrote:How did they achieve the blonde color for the blonde boats.
I second this one. I would love to know.
Wilson, just to clarify, this is the blonde boats NOT the blondes they put in the boats. :lol:

User avatar
Don Danenberg
Posts: 181
Joined: Fri Nov 18, 2005 9:30 pm
Location: Manistee, MI
Contact:

Post by Don Danenberg » Wed Sep 03, 2008 6:07 pm

No questions will be dismissed because I can find a factory directive that applies.

I've had pages of questions for Forrie Kanipe for years now.
Tonight, Russ and his wife will be gleaning the questions from this forum for their list, so ask away, they will be e-mailed to Forrie in the morning.

We had a chapter meeting one year with some 20 ex-employees of the Cadillac plant, and Chris Smith.
We met in a local park and some 80-100 chapter members got their turns throwing out questions. (I really wish I had taped that one).

It went the same way all day, Chris Smith (Holland Plant) would step forward and give a learned answer.

Then, one of the ex-floor workers would sheepishly step forward and say something like:

"Well, that may be what management thought..., But I'll tell you how it was done in our section"

There is no better answer than that from the guy who was there!
Thats why we are asking him.

Get your questions in now.

mcisaac inc
Posts: 283
Joined: Sun Mar 23, 2008 8:34 am
Location: onekama, mi.
Contact:

Post by mcisaac inc » Wed Sep 03, 2008 8:28 pm

:D when i restored my 55 continental in 1997, i asked forrie how to do the blond areas. he said they bleached um, then, put a white pickling stain on the wood then as much varnish as they could lay down in 4 days.i took his advice and it turned out well................mark
Image
Image

User avatar
maritimeclassics
Posts: 632
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2007 4:35 pm
Location: Traverse City, Mi
Contact:

Post by maritimeclassics » Thu Sep 04, 2008 8:44 pm

Thanks so much, can't wait to see what is to come of it. Good luck!
Family member of Chris Craft founder
Owner of Maritime Classics
http://www.maritimeclassics.com
Ph# 231-486-6148

Restoration Projects:
1936 25' Gar Wood Custom
1947 Ventnor Hydroplane
1957 17' Deluxe Runabout
1948 25' Chris Craft Sportsman Twin
1959 19' Sliver Arrow Hull #75
1929 26' Chris Craft Custom Runabout
1937 25' Chris Craft Custom Runabout

User avatar
maritimeclassics
Posts: 632
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2007 4:35 pm
Location: Traverse City, Mi
Contact:

Post by maritimeclassics » Thu Nov 06, 2008 8:49 am

Don or Russ. can you give us an update on the project? Thanks
Family member of Chris Craft founder
Owner of Maritime Classics
http://www.maritimeclassics.com
Ph# 231-486-6148

Restoration Projects:
1936 25' Gar Wood Custom
1947 Ventnor Hydroplane
1957 17' Deluxe Runabout
1948 25' Chris Craft Sportsman Twin
1959 19' Sliver Arrow Hull #75
1929 26' Chris Craft Custom Runabout
1937 25' Chris Craft Custom Runabout

User avatar
Chad Durren
Posts: 666
Joined: Tue Aug 01, 2006 1:39 pm
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Contact:

Post by Chad Durren » Thu Nov 06, 2008 10:20 am

I can give you an update as I digitized the footage. I've compiled about 3 hours of interview footage onto 3 DVDs. The next step is to edit the footage into manageable segments. The footage will then go to the club (Bill) to compress for online viewing. There is little bit of editing involved, so I would say within next couple weeks we should have something for everybody to view. Thanks for your patience.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests