sebastienbuick

writing on frame 1959 pontiac bonneville

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hello, i know someone in france who restores a 1959 pontiac bonneville sports coupe.
and by scraping the chassis to prepare it for sanding, he discovered it's white writing under the original black paint of the chassis.
do you know what it is writing ?
thank you
 
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Posted (edited)

As a machinist toolmaker in Detroit, I've worked in and around several auto plants. It's amazing how much improvisation goes in to the manufacturing process. These notes are probably from the plant, the word "fixture" is telling, the manufacturers use many fixtures in the process. What it means exactly? Who knows. My guess is this frame was used in some sort of proving out phase of some tooling and they were recording the results i.e. noting which chassis came off what fixture and how it fitted up with the rest of components on down the line.

 

Looks like it says "Deck on something" Deck is a common term for bringing the part to the line. The bars you see in videos with chains to lift various components, generally engines are called "Decking bars".

 

There are hand built prototype vehicles generally called "A-bodies" we toolmakers occasionally use for reference and have markings all over them, but those vehicles are never completed and are eventually scrapped.

 

It is amazing how much they throw away. Engines especially, once they've been pulled out of the system, they will never go back on the line for fear of contamination. I worked at one place where we designed and built shipping racks for all types of vehicle components, they used to send us 20 or 30 brand new engines that we used for reference and testing and then we were instructed to destroy them with torches and sledge hammers. Big V-8 diesels with turbo chargers, brand new, never ran, destroyed. It's their property to do with as they see fit. We did as instructed for fear of losing their contract, everyone knew that trying to take any of that was theft and immediate dismissal.

 

-Ron

 

 

Edited by Locomobile (see edit history)
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5 hours ago, Locomobile said:

As a machinist toolmaker in Detroit, I've worked in and around several auto plants. It's amazing how much improvisation goes in to the manufacturing process. These notes are probably from the plant, the word "fixture" is telling, the manufacturers use many fixtures in the process. What it means exactly? Who knows. My guess is this frame was used in some sort of proving out phase of some tooling and they were recording the results i.e. noting which chassis came off what fixture and how it fitted up with the rest of components on down the line.

 

Looks like it says "Deck on something" Deck is a common term for bringing the part to the line. The bars you see in videos with chains to lift various components, generally engines are called "Decking bars".

 

There are hand built prototype vehicles generally called "A-bodies" we toolmakers occasionally use for reference and have markings all over them, but those vehicles are never completed and are eventually scrapped.

 

It is amazing how much they throw away. Engines especially, once they've been pulled out of the system, they will never go back on the line for fear of contamination. I worked at one place where we designed and built shipping racks for all types of vehicle components, they used to send us 20 or 30 brand new engines that we used for reference and testing and then we were instructed to destroy them with torches and sledge hammers. Big V-8 diesels with turbo chargers, brand new, never ran, destroyed. It's their property to do with as they see fit. We did as instructed for fear of losing their contract, everyone knew that trying to take any of that was theft and immediate dismissal. 

 

-Ron

 

 

 

Hello, thank you very much for your reply and information.
We can see written "South", what could that be ?
It's a shame that you were forced to throw the pieces (engine, ...), we will need it now.
in which year did you work in the assembly lines ?
Thanks again :) 
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Not sure why they used the term "South", maybe it meant south building or south end of the building?? Maybe there were two frame fixtures and that was the 13th body off of the south fixture? Who knows. Tell your friend that is a nice looking car (In French of course :) )

 

I never worked on the assembly lines assembling cars, we couldn't because of the unions, not even one part :), I designed and built assembly tools and fixtures for the lines, I worked for outside shops/contractors. 1959 was before my time, I worked in the plants off and on from about 1978 to about 2010.

 

-Ron

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Used to find lotsa good stuff at the Swartz Creek junkyard, things that GM threw away and assumed destroyed (but often wasn't). Of course I'm talking about the early '70s.

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23 minutes ago, padgett said:

Used to find lotsa good stuff at the Swartz Creek junkyard, things that GM threw away and assumed destroyed (but often wasn't). Of course I'm talking about the early '70s.

 Yep, I know of more than one occasion where a part was re routed on it's way to the scrapyard. :) No further comment. 

 

There was one guy they caught, he was selling brand new pickup truck bodies and beds on Craigslist. One better, at one assembly plant, they drove off the line to a holding lot, some cars weren't making it to the lot. They caught those guys, they were being taken to a chop shop to part out.

 

-Ron

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It seems odd that some of the markings are over both painted and rusted surfaces,,, just odd

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5 hours ago, John348 said:

It seems odd that some of the markings are over both painted and rusted surfaces,,, just odd

 

It does look like that, but who knows how and why they were put on there. Those terms are definitely used in the assembly plants, not sure why a junkyard would be using the terms "fixture" and "deck", when both are used during assembly. It may have been painted, then written on, then painted over again?? If it's grease pencil, that holds up pretty well. And where there is more rust, the letters are gone.

 

-Ron

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8 hours ago, Locomobile said:

Not sure why they used the term "South", maybe it meant south building or south end of the building?? Maybe there were two frame fixtures and that was the 13th body off of the south fixture? Who knows. Tell your friend that is a nice looking car (In French of course :) )

 

I never worked on the assembly lines assembling cars, we couldn't because of the unions, not even one part :), I designed and built assembly tools and fixtures for the lines, I worked for outside shops/contractors. 1959 was before my time, I worked in the plants off and on from about 1978 to about 2010.

 

-Ron

 

thank you very much, i would say :) 
so the words "south" was probably for a building or place of manufacture :) 
My friend thanks you very much for your help :) 
it must be very interresting to work where you are, it was tools for American car brands? (Buick, Cadillac, Lincoln, Chevy, ...)

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11 hours ago, John348 said:

It seems odd that some of the markings are over both painted and rusted surfaces,,, just odd

 

 

not the frame was ever repainted, and the white writings were below the original black paint ;) 

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Is this car a very early production example?

 

What is the serial number?   Also the information from the body plate. All of this will determine which plant it came from.

 

Is the original frame number stamped on the frame somewhere?  It should match the car's serial number.

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 I would measure, take photos, and re apply after the frame is painted if it's going to be restored to the original configuration.  That's what I did on mine.

 

 

post-96233-143142718345_thumb.jpg

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GM outsourced the frames, I know that Budd and Baumadeir, were two of the contractors.(both of whom built rail road cars as well) I would safely guess that there had to more then the two contractors, but I don't know for sure. I had seen markings on Chevrolet frames of this era but nothing to this extent. I am curious if it is a low body number or low VIN number indicating that it was an early production car  

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Buick in '59 used Parrish Pressed Steel & A O Smith for frames.
Budd I know but 'Baumadier' is a new one to me.
I took the body off my B-59 - the frame number wasn't anywhere close to the VIN and I know the car was never rebodied.

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2 minutes ago, WQ59B said:

Buick in '59 used Parrish Pressed Steel & A O Smith for frames.
Budd I know but 'Baumadier' is a new one to me.
I took the body off my B-59 - the frame number wasn't anywhere close to the VIN and I know the car was never rebodied.

 

I have done or been involved in 8 frame off restoration on 59-62 Chevrolet/s and only found one frame with a VIN spray painted on it with a stencil, other then that just grease pencil marks that seemed to be more related to the manufacturing of the frame then the actual assembly of the car, and  nothing to the extent on the Pontiac shown in the thread, It is pretty cool to see  

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I don't if a VIN was on my frame - never saw anything readable. Parrish stamped their info tho, along with the month/day/year of manufacture.
I suspect the 6-digit number was 'theirs', not anything to do with Buick.

I've read plenty of '60s (mostly musclecar) folk talking about 2nd & 3rd / hidden VINs... doesn't at all seem to be the case circa 1960 @ GM. No stamped frame VIN, nothing under the heater box, etc.

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Posted (edited)
44 minutes ago, WQ59B said:

I don't if a VIN was on my frame - never saw anything readable. Parrish stamped their info tho, along with the month/day/year of manufacture.
I suspect the 6-digit number was 'theirs', not anything to do with Buick.

I've read plenty of '60s (mostly musclecar) folk talking about 2nd & 3rd / hidden VINs... doesn't at all seem to be the case circa 1960 @ GM. No stamped frame VIN, nothing under the heater box, etc.

 

Good points WQ59B

 

I do know Chevy did not start stamping the last 6 of the VIN on the engine on the full size cars until 1962, (Corvettes I am not sure but I think it was 1961) and that was only on the hi-perf 327 (300 HP) and all of the 409's I doubt that they were stamping VIN's on frames. The one that I had seen that was stenciled was painted upside down, indicating that the frame was not on the car yet, done pre-assembly. 

 

It is almost beyond comprehension the amount of frames and the logistics of getting them all over the country. I am guessing but GM had to have built well over 2 million cars in 1959, I always found it fascinating how these things all come together 

 

I love this stuff! My favorite cars are the GM car from 1959-1960  

Edited by John348 (see edit history)
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And Pontiac didn't start last-6 VIN stamping their blocks until '67.
Fascinating how autonomous things were in GM in pre-1970 times. The idea that -for example- Buick would SELL materials to Olds boggles today's mind.

I would assume the frame vendors were also placed around the country; it would have to be more cost effective -once a contract for a few 10s of millions of frames was signed- to build a number of plants and cut down on shipping, no?

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To my knowledge and memory, Ford started using secondary VIN's stamped in some of the sheet metal parts around 1993-4, I ground some of the punches for the dot matrix stamping fixture they used, I was under the impression it was a new thing. They had a very shallow included angle like 150°. They don't really go by numbers on parts anymore, it's all barcode tags and scanners.

 

1 hour ago, John348 said:

I always found it fascinating how these things all come together  

 

Quite often, it doesn't. They have approximately two years to prepare for new vehicle launch, and it is amazing how many tools they lack and how many things need to be improvised, done by hand etc in the interim to get the line moving. That is where myself and other would come in, their toolmakers had tried to resolve issues and gave up and then we had to design workable ergonomic solutions. it was fun work, but it was annoying dealing with management (not much), the contractors and especially the unions, our tools would typically eliminate people on the line and they fought us tooth and nail. The union people didn't want us there at all, but either we fixed the problem or it didn't get fixed. I don't miss it. One trick I used to use, I would intentionally mount handles on tooling in the wrong position and then ask the operators where they thought they would be better placed, once they had input in to the tool, effected change and it was better, they never had another complaint about it. They loved it. :)

 

1 hour ago, WQ59B said:

I would assume the frame vendors were also placed around the country

 

I was never involved much in supply chain process, but yes there are companies all over the US that build components. That is why I'm always aghast when someone makes the comment "oh GM could go under and our country wouldn't even notice it" That would literally crash our economy, I have no doubt about it, it would be the loss of possibly millions of jobs.

 

-Ron

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20 hours ago, WQ59B said:

And Pontiac didn't start last-6 VIN stamping their blocks until '67.
Fascinating how autonomous things were in GM in pre-1970 times. The idea that -for example- Buick would SELL materials to Olds boggles today's mind.

I would assume the frame vendors were also placed around the country; it would have to be more cost effective -once a contract for a few 10s of millions of frames was signed- to build a number of plants and cut down on shipping, no?

 

That while business of 'matching numbers' is a real can of worms, and means different things to different people. I think to many it simply means that it has the correct type of parts in it.

 

Regarding Pontiac I don't the real story but I do know my 1965 Bonneville is an early production car - built at Southgate, Ca - in the first week of production. It serial number is 824 but the engine is 821 - unless the 1 is a 4 that was not stamped properly. The body number is 143, which I presume is the 143rd  four door Vista body off the line.

 

An acquaintance has a 1957 Chevrolet 210 built in one of the Canadian plants. It is a six cylinder, three -on-the-tree manual and has right hand drive. The body number is 1 - which I presume is the first four door sedan body off the line. The serial number is 80, so I guess they ran off a few hardtops and convertibles first.  

a.jpg

b.jpg

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4 hours ago, nzcarnerd said:

Regarding Pontiac I don't the real story but I do know my 1965 Bonneville is an early production car - built at Southgate, Ca - in the first week of production. It serial number is 824 but the engine is 821 - unless the 1 is a 4 that was not stamped properly. The body number is 143, which I presume is the 143rd  four door Vista body off the line.

'143' is a Fisher Body number, not a Pontiac Assembly number. I am not sure if it was tallied by series/body style, or how exactly. I suspect it was according to model/style, because my '64 GP has a VIN numeric in the 36xxx range, but the body number is in the 10xxx range. Most collectors/ number-crunchers don't pay much heed to Fisher #s.

I was somewhat incorrect above; Pontiac had the exact VIN stamped in engine blocks in '63 & earlier, but in '64-66 there's no VIN linking. In '67, they got a different numbering system- with a '2' for Pontiac, the model year, the plant code, and then the 6-digit numerical portion of the VIN. It's the '64-66 Pontiacers that are out of luck.

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Hello, here are three pictures of the Pontiac.
532032 it is the GM reference of the frame
the car was built in LINDEN
 
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Thank you very much :) 

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532xxx is the Pontiac part number. Pontiac used 531xxx thru 534xxx in '59.

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