Made in America – data plates – obituaries to US manufacturing jobs

This post has no technical information in it, People who don’t like perspectives, other than their own, shouldn’t read it. If you like it, please consider forwarding this to your friends.

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Builders,

Today, I took one hour to walk through my hangar, and that of my neighbor Paul Salter, and photographed data plates on machines we own. Both Paul and I were taught by our fathers to take great pride in the craftsmanship,  engineering, and manufacturing of our fellow Americans, and this is reflected in the fact that almost everything in each of our hangars was made in the United States of America.

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The age of tools shown reflects that American products were machines built to work and last. This was long before people who knew the price of everything, but the value of nothing, convinced consumers that imported disposable appliances were somehow better products, better for our country, and better for the environment. These lies simultaneously allowed corporations with no loyalty to this country to get rich exporting jobs, and they also permanently crippled hundreds of cities and towns in our country with pervasive underemployment and a withered tax base. This doesn’t even touch on the damage done by astronomic trade deficits.

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Millions of good, stable manufacturing jobs that allowed a parent to  pay a mortgage and send their kids to a fair priced college where systematically disposed of with trade deals and tax polices, while elaborate propaganda blamed workers, unions and product liability, which were small factors compared with the greed. The income and benefits of a manufacturing job was hardly replaced with both mother and father working service sector jobs without benefits, while the children have little supervision.

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Twenty five years after most of these once great companies are gone, the cities that housed them face chronic problems from a labor force that who’s only understanding of the American dream is listening to now distant memories of their parents and grandparents. Into these cities we send police officers, now tasked with the impossible job being cop, domestic councilor, teacher, addiction therapist and role model, all at once, and we act outraged when this can not be accomplished without some tragic errors.

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In the early years, it was the blue collar workers who dreams were dashed, and largely the mobile white collar workers were insulated by moving to the suburbs and the gated communities, but eventually they learned that almost any job can be ‘outsourced.’  Eventually even the people who eluded any damage found out that their kids, graduating from college with a mountain of debt, had to move back home, because they couldn’t pay their expenses and debts, far less start their own lives in an economy that no longer had a manufacturing sector.

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For decades, Americans understood the phrase “Buy American, the job you save might be your own.” All the accomplishments of America, winning WWII, the great middle class, the space program, advancements in medicine, better race relations, all were made possible by a manufacturing based economy. While there are plenty of theories of who was to blame, it is a much better question to ask “Who could have stopped this?” The only answer I have is Americans could have stopped this by simply putting the good of their fellow countrymen ahead of their greed and their belief that “imported” was some kind of a coveted title. Our country wasn’t built by greedy people employing labor in other countries, but it could end that way.

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-ww.

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Data plate from 1954 Briggs and Stratton 1.6 HP engine, Made in Milwaukee. Engine still works perfectly. City was recently the location of riots. People who have good jobs rarely are involved in riots. Notice the tiny print on the very bottom that again says “Made In USA”

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Grace’s Champion propeller driven generator from the 1940s, made in Los Angeles, works perfectly. L.A., once a giant manufacturing town, with a large middle class, now known for it social stress.  Note:”Made in USA”

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My super heavy duty box and pan brake from the 1950s, made in Rockford IL, home of EAA fly-inn’s during the 1960s. Works perfectly. Note it says “Made in USA” on both sides.

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Data plate on Grace’s Goodyear outboard, probably made in the 1940s. At the time, Goodyear was the worlds largest tire company. They no longer are, and the latest Goodyear airships are made in Germany.  Unemployment in Akron was 11.9% in 2010, but it is much lower today: the trick? The people who have given up looking for work are no longer counted.

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My 1947 Sun distributor test machine, 69 years old, works perfectly, I use it every week in the shop. Perhaps you have heard of some of the recent  problems in the city where it was made. I have heard all kinds of things blamed for these issues, but so far, no one has suggested that too many good jobs could be blamed.

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My 1950s 2HP, 2 stroke, Panther lawn mower. Runs, but 16″ cut is a little small to mow an acre of Florida grass. Millions of Clinton small engines were made in Iowa. Their plant was the worlds largest, far bigger than Briggs and Stratton. Today, the average income in Maquoketa IA is the same number as the poverty line in the state.

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Data plate on my 1960s bead blasting cabinet. The company was a huge manufacturer, and it still exists, but reported to Forbes that it moved to UT specifically to find the lowest labor and benefits costs. They are in Chapter 11 since the start of this year.

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A 1960s Briggs 2HP with crank up starter that originally belonged to Grace’s grandfather, used on his Reel lawnmower. Still runs great. Most Briggs engines are only “assembled” in the US, not made here any longer. Flat head engines like this model, were outlawed for sale in California, due to emissions, at the same time the state legalized smoking pot, and countless media stories were run calling the selling of Marijuana a “Good employer”.

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My 1960s Lempco 40 ton press. In WWI and WWII, Lempco was a critical defense contractor. They invented the “Hypermatic” stamping press, which operated at 7,200 stampings per minute. (Yes, that is faster than a GE mini-gun fires, but the hypermatic press can work that way for eight hours at a time.) In 2012 Lempco was sold cheaply to a Japanese firm.

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This is the B&B motor that controls the rotating turntable I use for welding items like intake manifold flanges. The company still exists and is going strong after 75 years, and still located in NY. The motor illustrates that the five boroughs of NYC, particularly Brooklyn and Staten Island were huge manufacturing centers, supporting very large middle classes. Today, half the people in NYC struggle to stay above the poverty line in service jobs, often functioning as servants to the ultra wealthy there. Read: Thought for the Day: “My Dreams”

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My Clinton flat head engine from the early 1950s. The factory started in WWII making parts for M2 Brownings.  Clinton went from being the tenth largest employer in the state of Iowa in the 1950s, to non-existent with the ‘assistance’ of some very creative bankers and financiers from New York.

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The Data plate inside Grace’s 1965 Corvair Greenbriar van. In the 1960s, GM was the largest corporation in the world, and arguably the #1 American employer. Today it is Walmart. Ask yourself which job had better pay and benefits, and pride.

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Paul’s 1965 Bridgeport 8 x 48 vertical mill. The term “Bridgeport” was synonymous with the finest. 51 years after it was made, it still works smoothly and  accurately. The machines were made from 1938 until 2004 when Bridgeport was purchased by global took company Hardinge. They have brought the Bridgeport line back, but it is said they are no longer made from US castings.

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Paul’s Logan screw lathe. Looks dirty, but that is because it works. 90,000 of these machines were made in Chicago between 1940 and 1971, when the plant was closed and moved to lower labor cost by the new owner Houdaille. The new owners tried something new in 1979 called a “Leveraged Buy out”, offering to make themselves a 20 fold increase in their investments. It didn’t work, and the whole business went down, taking the remaining jobs.

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Data Plate on Paul’s Allis Chalmers fork lift transmission. The one on the fork lift itself is no longer legible. Muncie was once home to Dayton Corporation, Delco Remy, General Motors, New Venture Gear, Indiana Steel and Wire, and Westinghouse. Today it has a tiny fraction of its manufacturing jobs left, the cities webpage says they are being ‘replaced’ by service economy jobs in retail and health care.

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Paul’s Delta tool grinder. The Data plate is a work of art. Note how the whole sentence is written out: “Made in the United States of America.”

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The Data Plate on Alan’s 1964 Chevrolet Suburban. It is on the lift at Paul’s hangar. He is mostly through the restoration to daily driver. The truck was bought brand new by Alan’s grandparents, and used to tow their Airstream trailer. It has the original 283 V-8 and Powerglide transmission.

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Paul has a huge DeVilbiss air compressor, probably from the 1940’s It was made in Toledo OH. In 1999 the company as bought and moved, and resold 5 times in the next several years. Compressors sold today with the same name have nothing to do with the original quality units, they are just re-labeled models sourced from various suppliers.

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The Delta motor on Paul’s saw. The title says Rockwell, which means it is likely from the 1960s. The thing I like best bout this is the fact it has the wiring diagram to reverse it’s rotation or change the input voltage is right on the data plate. Today, Delta tools are just junk made in China.

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Data plate on the governor of my Detroit 3-53T diesel. It shows that it was from a single cylinder 71 series generator motor, but this just shows the great interchangeability of the Detroit Diesel series engines that it also works on a three cylinder engine. Designed in 1938 by the most brilliant automotive engineer who ever lived, Charles Kettering.  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_F._Kettering) sorry European fans, Robert Bosch is the wrong answer. Detroit Diesels were enormously popular, and saw service in trucks, ships, tanks, landing craft, trains, PBR’s and construction equipment. They were a separate division of GM, and a very large employer in Detroit. Because they are a 2 stroke, they were specifically outlawed in California, although they are still used in US military vehicles. GM sold Detroit to the German firm MTU.
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The Data plate on the Continental C-85 engine in Graces 1946 Taylorcraft. You can not see it well here, but between the wings is a picture of the United States Capitol , along with the motto of Continental Motors which was “As Powerful As the Nation.”  This makes me angry to type, because of course the government of mainland China, yes the commies, actually owns Continental. (Communist Chinese government at Oshkosh) This data plate above all others tells the ugliest story about greed and lack of any sense of allegiance to our country or its people. I am aware that very few people in aviation care about this, it is “Just Business” to them, but it matters to me.

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For further reading: Why “Made in America” matters to me.

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ww-

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Group 1100 cam kits on shelf.

Builders,

I just got in another round of our camshafts, and have assembled them with new made in the USA gears. We now have them on the shelf at SPA/Panther ready for delivery. They come as a complete kit, with lifters, lubricant and ZDDP oil additive, every component in Chapter 1100 of the conversion manual is included. If you are planning on assembling your bottom end in the next week or month, it would be a good idea to have one of these shipped to you. If you have been good this year, maybe someone will buy you one for Christmas, but if you are in what I call the “Bag of Coal Club” , maybe just order it for yourself:

http://shop.flycorvair.com/product/1100-cam-shaft-kit/

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Above, three cams with new gears sitting outside my shop. We now have 7 kits on the shelf. The entire assembly, including raw materials and processes, is made in the United States. To learn more about cams, read this:  1100-WW Camshaft Group .

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-ww.

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