Author Topic: 67 Camaro Pilot Line Assembly Process and Procedures  (Read 18852 times)

Mark

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67 Camaro Pilot Line Assembly Process and Procedures
« on: December 13, 2014, 12:58:19 AM »
I started this thread over at Camaros.net, but though I would get a more even keeled discussion here.  I'm not interested in any one particular car, I'm only interested in the process.  How did pilot cars go from a pile of sheetmetal to a finished vehicle.  Any discussion even about how and where other lines of the same time period were built is helpfull to the discussion.

GM says that there were 49 "F" Cars built at or for the Norwood Plant, and 3 at or for the LOS plant in late May early June of 66 by Fisher for GM. GM documetation says that there were, 27 cars for sales, 17 for engineering, and 12 for manufacturing, and 3 misc (?)cars scheduled. (note that this adds up to 57 pilot cars - more than is accounted for in their build totals (the sheets with tag numbers and option lists).

33 of them had show paint applied, one (no. 6) was shipped in primer to engineering. Drivetrains varied from 6 cylinders, 283's, 327's and 350s and a mixture of power glides and manual transmissions, and there was a mixture of convertibles and coupes.

The following dates relate to the cars and their introduction to the public.

Fisher builds car bodies from 5/21/66 (earliest promised delivery) to 6/6/66 (latest promised delivery) at which time they were delivered to GM.

Pete Estes announces the Camaro name in a 14 city closed circuit televised conference on June 29 1966, cars had no name up to that point and thus no emblems or name plates.

Chevrolet holds a sales conference in Detroit 8/22-8/23/66. Where at least one Camaro and possibly others were presented to the Chevrolet Sales people.

Major advertising campaign occurs at the Proving grounds 9/28-9/29/66 with 25 Camaros present and 100 members of the press invited to drive the Camaros. Probably can assume that these are mostly the 27 cars noted in the assembly documents that say they were destined for the sales organization, probably most of them with show paint.

Camaro released to the public 9/29/66.

We know of at least 3 and possibly 4 Pilot cars that still exist, VIN N100001, with NOR body number 860. Body numbers NOR 10 NOR 13, and NOR 31. NOR 10 and 13 have 05B Norwood Build Dates, NOR 1 and 31 have 09B dated tags.

OK lets start with the where.

Where were these cars actually assembled for "delivery to GM", and what does delivery to GM mean. If the cars were practially hand built at the small pilot assembly line at the Norwood (and/or LOS) plants, wouldn't they already be in GMs hands? Norwood (and LOS) was in full spring production mode on the plant internal assembly lines, so its not even conceivable (at least to me) that they would assemble pilot bodies on the main interior line, with no tooling, parts or anything else needed to built these cars.

What was the capabilities of the pilot assembly line at Norwood? Could they weld a complete body tub together from loose stamped panels? I would assume they could paint the bodies, and assemble them onto chassis' and install drive trains.

Lets leave it at getting a Camaro body assembled painted, etc and delivered to GM, then we can move on to where the cars went from there. Comments, other questions, answers?
Mark C.
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firstgenaddict

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Re: 67 Camaro Pilot Line Assembly Process and Procedures
« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2014, 04:22:36 AM »
The June issue of Cars Magazine with Marty Shore as editor ran a story about the introduction and they were still referring to it as the Panther.
I am assuming the name had been chosen just not revealed at that point.

Since Marty is still active in the hobby it may be worth a shot to see if would remember any of the early press or manufacturing info, or even second hand info from press days? Sometimes trials and tribulations of design & manufacturing come out in informal settings especially when things are successful.

There is a film on youtube which shows a buildup from clays to pilot lines illustrating Fisher and their coach building, I can't remember if they were doing the pilots in the assembly plants or on a pilot line at design.  It was quite detailed showing how they made the steel dies from the full size models with plotters and milling machines.
James
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MyRed67

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Re: 67 Camaro Pilot Line Assembly Process and Procedures
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2014, 05:14:27 AM »

There is a film on youtube which shows a buildup from clays to pilot lines illustrating Fisher and their coach building, I can't remember if they were doing the pilots in the assembly plants or on a pilot line at design.  It was quite detailed showing how they made the steel dies from the full size models with plotters and milling machines.

Is this the youtube film?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSFcvOqoMb8
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Mike C.    NW - Illinois

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Re: 67 Camaro Pilot Line Assembly Process and Procedures
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2014, 05:35:15 AM »
That's a very interesting video.. :) .. especially for me as an old (now retired) engineer, depicting technologies that I haven't used in *decades*, and had totally forgotten about...    manual drawings using drawing boards, etc!  slide rules!  IBM tapes; paper tapes; analog computers; digital disk platters! etc... :)  ..  ps.  I still love analog computers!!  :)

It should also make it very clear the countless engineers in many fields who are involved in 'designing/building/testing' any new automobile for a major company. 

How many engineers do you think are involved in the design and fabrication of the typical reproduction part made for our cars?   one?  two? maybe?    and testing?   what testing?
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Re: 67 Camaro Pilot Line Assembly Process and Procedures
« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2014, 12:33:47 PM »
This is the film they are digitizing the 2nd gen F body and milling dies at the tail end of this video.... these are worth watching.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_wLx3hF6oY


at 2.34 in the following video they say that pilot lines are at Fisher Body Design.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kw9mB9Lf2X4
James
Collectin' Camaro's since "Only Rednecks drove them"
 
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Re: 67 Camaro Pilot Line Assembly Process and Procedures
« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2014, 02:44:55 PM »
This is an EXTREMELY informative and quite detailed regarding the transferring by follower arms of design to dies then about the jigs and fixtures which are designed and built for the assembly of cars.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ACWMbeXd31s


I can understand why the Fisher Body plants and assembly plants were divided, it was very much an art to build and finish bodies.
James
Collectin' Camaro's since "Only Rednecks drove them"
 
Check out the Black 69 RS/Z28 45k mile Survivor and the Lemans Blue 69 Z 10D frame off...
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Mark

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Re: 67 Camaro Pilot Line Assembly Process and Procedures
« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2014, 03:20:44 PM »
So what was the product out of the Flint Pilot line?  I'm guessing this is where the clay and wood mockups and models became one or more hand assembled steel "cars".

Where did the parts that the assembly plants got to run down the line come from, or did they get some kind of partial assembly from the flint pilot plant?
Mark C.
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Re: 67 Camaro Pilot Line Assembly Process and Procedures
« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2014, 04:00:21 PM »
Definition of 'Pilot Production': 
Production line set up usually during engineering or manufacturing development, to test new methods, processes, and systems.   

Read more: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/pilot-production.html#ixzz3LnHa3bAy

I would guess the 'parts used in the pilot process' came from the factories typically used for the respective parts.
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Re: 67 Camaro Pilot Line Assembly Process and Procedures
« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2014, 04:45:34 PM »
Did anyone notice in Mike C's video that the test track 67 had a raised hood on it ... could this be a super sport hood without the inserts?
" He who knows naught, knows not that he knows naught"  It's not you...  It's just the way my brain is wired.

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Re: 67 Camaro Pilot Line Assembly Process and Procedures
« Reply #9 on: December 13, 2014, 05:05:26 PM »
So what was the product out of the Flint Pilot line?  I'm guessing this is where the clay and wood mockups and models became one or more hand assembled steel "cars".

Where did the parts that the assembly plants got to run down the line come from, or did they get some kind of partial assembly from the flint pilot plant?

I believe your assumption of the hand assembled steel "cars" is probably correct.
It's interesting to note that between 1959 and the Firebird clays approx 10 years the number of processes aided by computers jumped significantly.

Does GM still have all those tapes?
They stated any drawing could be produced from the tapes for any part in side top obliques etc.
James
Collectin' Camaro's since "Only Rednecks drove them"
 
Check out the Black 69 RS/Z28 45k mile Survivor and the Lemans Blue 69 Z 10D frame off...
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Mark

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Re: 67 Camaro Pilot Line Assembly Process and Procedures
« Reply #10 on: December 13, 2014, 05:07:32 PM »
The individual panels had to be stamped in one of the sheetmetal plants, GM wasn't ferrari, beating fenders into shape on tree trunks (Seen the pictures).

Did the Flint pilot line actually build production level vehicles, or were they one off hand built assemblies that were used to create the stampings that were then used to build the later pilots that were run down the assembly line at NOR and LOS in May of 66?

I guess the question should be did the 49 pilots we are trying to discuss here ever go to the Flint pilot line and get partly assembled, then to NOR and/or LOS to be finished, essentially jumping into the line somewhere.  Or did they arrive in individual parts (floor pans, seat supports, fenders, inner fendwells etc) and get welded up just like they did during normal production when that started in late August/Early September.

Norwood was building Chevy IIs and passenger cars (I'm guessing Impalas, Chevrolets) in 66, so could they support a full build of 49 Camaro bodies from the floor pan up (mostly in body welding processes, I'm sure they could paint and install the trim), or did they get a head start in the assembly from somewhere else?
Mark C.
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Re: 67 Camaro Pilot Line Assembly Process and Procedures
« Reply #11 on: December 13, 2014, 05:32:07 PM »
Good questions because if they were built up in a Fisher operated plant such as Norwood all the fixtures would need to be in place, and as you stated and I neglected to consider the massive presses used to stamp sheetmetal parts, there were GM stamping plants in Detroit they wouldn't have had to unnecessarily go outside of town.  
I would assume that Fisher Design did not have a pilot Sheet metal stamping line (although with the number of different models produced it may have been justified). So if they were not checked within a Fisher design facility where would the original dies be tested for stamping of production parts?


If you checked production records for Nor in May of 66 does the number of cars produced slack off by any significant amount?
If there was a 10% production drop would that indicate additional work or projects injected into "normal" production?
What about 5%   or    20%?
James
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68 Ragtop

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Re: 67 Camaro Pilot Line Assembly Process and Procedures
« Reply #12 on: December 13, 2014, 06:46:13 PM »
I assume you guys (Mark and Kurt) have the Chevrolet 1967 pre production build schedule booklet that kind of kicked this whole thing off. Do you know where I can see it on the web? Is CRG going to make it available?



Quote
BEFORE Chevrolets went into production, there was a pilot car; a car built by hand for fitment, ease of use for production line tools and many other reasons. In separate areas, these cars would be built, taken apart, re-fitted and more. Please read the first few pages as to the contents. It covers 49 NORWOOD-BUILT  “F-Body” Camaros and 10 LOS ANGELES built cars; 3 Camaros and 7 full size Chevrolets’ including the 427 SS Impala. In this  37-page, 5.5 x 8.5 booklet, you’ll find the specific cars, the options they were built with, production dates, delivery date, where they went and who at the dealer was to receive them! There are even personal, hand-written notes from 47 years ago.

Is this the only booklet of it's type that is known? It would seem there would be one produced every new model year, or at least every time a major model change was introduced.

JohnZ

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Re: 67 Camaro Pilot Line Assembly Process and Procedures
« Reply #13 on: December 13, 2014, 07:13:32 PM »
I spent about half of my 21-year GM career in the pre-productiion and pilot end of the business, including almost four years as the Senior Passenger Car Process Engineer at the Chevrolet Pilot Line in Flint, which was the location for Chevrolet Final Assembly of major new model Pilot vehicles (carryover and minor change Pilot programs were handled in the Assembly Plants).

First, let's get the terminology correct - the Fisher Body assembly plants that built Chevrolet bodies delivered them to their adjacent Chevrolet assembly plant, not to "GM" (Fisher Body and Chevrolet were both Divisions of GM, although you'd never know it by watching them try to communicate). Fisher delivered to Chevrolet.

Fisher Body new major model Pilot programs were run in downtown Detroit, at Fisher Body Plant #21; this 8-story plant (the rotting ruins of which are shown in a video on YouTube) is where all of the Pilot bodies were welded, painted, and trimmed, to be delivered to their Chevrolet customers (and to Fisher Body Engineering). All of the new welding and body-in-white assembly tooling was set up at Plant #21, and later shipped to the primary assembly plant (Fisher-Norwood in this case) for installation and final tuning. The Chevrolet pre-production paperwork (handled by Frank Beaulieu's Pilot Specs Group at the Pilot Line) indicates Fisher Body Plant #21 as the source for all of the Camaro Pilot bodies. During the off-season, Plant #21 was also Fisher's production plant for Cadillac Fleetwood custom limousine bodies, supplied to the Cadillac Clark Street assembly plant.

Fisher-Norwood had no BODY Pilot facility to weld and build new bodies - they took the bodies from Plant #21, did whatever they needed to do with them, and sent them "through the wall" to Chevrolet-Norwood (based on Chevrolet's schedule) for final assembly and shipping to the ultimate Chevrolet customer (Engineering, Sales, Manufacturing, etc.).

The Chevrolet-Flint Pilot Line wasn't directly involved with Final Assembly of the Camaro Pilot cars - they were final-assembled at Chevrolet-Norwood in a secure off-line area dedicated to the Pilot program. Normally, in a large multi-plant Pilot program (like the "B"-body Impala/Caprice, which was built in eleven plants at 6,000 per day), nearly all of the Pilot cars were final-assembled at the Chevrolet Pilot Line (from bodies supplied by Fisher Body Plant #21) and shipped to their customers - see photo below of finished '68 "B"-bodies leaving the Pilot Line.

Without getting into a lot of gory detail, that's how the Fisher Body-Chevrolet Pilot programs worked in the 60's.

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68 Ragtop

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Re: 67 Camaro Pilot Line Assembly Process and Procedures
« Reply #14 on: December 13, 2014, 09:15:35 PM »
The booklet shows Fisher #DD01D with Fisher Pilot Plant #21 - Detroit as the starting location.

Would that be a complete body delivered to Chev with front fenders and rolling chassis, or just the firewall back as they would be delivered during actual production?

« Last Edit: December 13, 2014, 10:12:53 PM by 68 Ragtop »