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dieseldog1970

Life on the line...

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Glad you like the stories Danno and Jim...I am going back and dusting off the cobwebs, thinking of anything that might be of interest to anyone!

Jim B...yes....I will admit that I had way too much fun when i got to destroy things! Kinda like when you goto a demolition derby...just to watch the carnage!!!

Working in that hot Okanagan weather while running a forklift was brutal...all the heat rising up, most time I just wore shorts and workboots under my coveralls. Most of us in the warehouse had large squirt bottles full of water, we would spray ourselves and drive like mad just to get a breeze going...anything to try and cool off!! Dumb things we would do while "working"...playing tag with spray bottles and forklifts...kinda cool till ya put the machine up on TWO wheels!!! :blink: Puckered up and ate some seat covers more than once...you would think that we would be smarter and more mature? NAH...going to blame it on the heat, yeah..thats it!!! ^_^

I remember working at rad build, just plugging away, build them up and listening to the radio....kept finding little black O-rings on my bench...I don't use them?? Where the H E double hockey sticks are they coming from??? It seems one of my co-workers on engine line would shoot these over at me with an elastic band!! We had boxes of them...used to secure the air lines on the shifter tower. He stopped playing when I richocheted one off of his left temple.... :lol: guess i was a better shot!!!

Speaking of radios...most guys had them at their station...tuned into the local radio stations...small ghetto blaster and clock radio's. Everyone EXCEPT for engine line...always had to do one better....full home stereo, 200 watts and two big speakers mounted on the pillars!!! Nothing like annoying the foreman's and front office with some AC/DC thumping out Hell's Bells or Who Made Who....I always chuckled when I seen the foreman racing over to the start of engine line to get that music turned down!! He never was a fan of the classics!!! ;)

more cobweb cleaning.....

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very intersting read . i apreciate it very much. Thank you for sharing your stories with all of us.

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House sold....have lots of packing to do!! Will add some more when I can...family life comes first, glad that everyone is enjoying my stories, I hope you all stick around!

Thanks again!

Curt

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In between packing boxes.....heard a interesting rumour regarding WST....a trucker from Kamloops was talking to the local dealer about buying a new Star. Made the comment that he wishes they were still built in Canada...salesman responded that he heard a certain Australian businessman (Peabody??? ;) ) was not very happy with the direction Freightliner had taken Western Star. He was thinking of buying the company back!!!!!! Things that make you go HMMMMM!!!!!!! :D

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We can only hope. Look forward to more stories. Good luck with new place.

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Pack, tape, lift and move....and repeat!! Somebody PLEASE put me outta my misery!!

So....we received all of are parts from vendors, most of the bigger stuff like engines, tranny's and axles were done on a "just in time" delivery system. Everyday would have the warehouse getting parts for the next days build schedule, the warehouse carried all of the smaller stuff, since we also shipped parts to dealers on a regular basis. Suspension, j-brackets, crossmembers and such were kitted outside, lots of stock in various areas around the outside of the plant. Now when I was working at engine prep, part of the job was to put oil pan heaters into the pan, just unscrew one plug, insert heater, hook up harness and your done. Each of the motors that were built were run on their own dyno to make sure that the customer was getting the right horsepower and torque. This was all done at the manufacturers facility, we just bolted them in...part of their job was to drain the break-in oil from each motor...sometimes that DID not happen!!! I had the pleasure of having more than one oil bath, these motors were resting on a two piece rack for safety while being suspended by the overhead bridge crane...oil pan was roughly 5 feet of the ground. And let me tell you...that stuff comes out freakin fast when ya pop open the pan!!! The OEM's must have added a type of dye to it, I remember that it always had a pinkish hue to it...more so in the Cat motors.

Since we had no control of what the vendor sent us, we had to rely on that vendor building it right...which means their employees had to do the job properly, and if you have ever seen a big manufacturing operation like this, then you know that is not always possible. I was working in Final one weekend, I believe I was doing a leak test on the rear suspension, had my ear plugs in due to the impacts guns all around me. A couple bays over was the dyno, this was a chassis dyno that every truck went on, inspectors would run it through the gears, while checking mirrors mounted all over the place to see that all the lights would be working. So this truck is on the rollers, I can hear it even though I have the ear plugs in, then I hear a loud bang!! I look around the area...don't see anything unusual...till I see the dyno operator come around the corner...as he is walking by me I stop him and ask if something had happened. He asks if I heard anything, to which I reply the loud bang...seems a rear end locked up on him...ON THE DYNO!!!! A tow job off the rollers, and a call to the vendor for a replacement diff...not the first time it happened...human error? bad parts? Who knows for certain...but luckily all that got damaged was the rearend. One heck of a way to wake yourself up while working in the dyno...don't know if the operator needed a drink or a change of underwear!!!

I know....boxes won't pack themselves!!!

later...

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Western Star had a contract to build light military trucks for the Canadian Military, these were a 2 1/2 ton truck with parts supplied from various countries. They set up a section of the plant just for the 2200(?) trucks we needed to build, same chassis and cab, but the rear of the truck had multiple configurations (troop transport/medical/communications etc.). We did build some for UN forces, one of two colour choices...olive drab and white! Either one could be upfitted with armour throughout the cab, but the truck did lose 800 lbs. of carrying capacity. Management thought we could market this truck to civilians once we completed the contract, Mr. Peabody had one painted up in a really sharp burgundy, and the guys re-did the interior so that it was not so spartan, he used this when ever he was in town during the winter for trips to the ski hill. The idea never really took of, but they were still looking at getting into the market, so much that a section of the warehouse was set up and the crew went to work...there were only about 5 guys involved. These guys had the pleasure of a non-rushed build, trying out different combinations to see if they could make a running prototype. What they did end up was basically a "rat rod"...but DIESEL baby!!!! The cab was one of the left over Military cabs, not sure if they used that frame or built a new one? I believe that it had a small Cat...3126? 3306?, they used a transmission from a front end loader, single rear wheels, shorty exhaust right off the engine, no hood-just a radiator, and nothing on the rear deck. They had a WHOLE LOTTA fun running it around the yard...this thing would light up the tires with no problem what so ever!!! Not sure what happened to it when the plant shut down, they might have pulled it apart or just scrapped it. The section of the warehouse that they used had 12 foot walls and zero admittance except for authorized employees, although if you were in the warehouse, we could always just use the order-pickers or swing-reaches to raise ourselves up to see what was going on!

more soon....

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So I am going to step out of the plant...a couple of stories involving co-workers and "life outside the line".

My co-worker Mike decided to have a invite only party at his cabin above Peachland, about an hours drive, this way no one would think of driving back while under the influence. First year was around 25 people, small little ghetto blaster on the deck for tunes, simple and easy, Mike supplied the meat and potatoes for dinner, everyone else brought salads and such. After 7 years of parties, the cabin was sold, but it went from that simple radio...to TWO generators, christmas lights strung thru the trees, a 5 disc 400 watt stereo with speakers up high, a record high of 75 people for dinner, and many co-workers booking holidays around this date to help set up and prepare. The empty "wobbly-pop" haul was usually good for 175-200 dollars!!!!

I arranged a day of paintball for a group of guys, nothing like getting to shoot your co-workers in the backside to strengthen friendships!!! I did this on a Sunday, though at least if the guys wanted to go out on Friday, they could still make it for paintball. A great time, would recommend it to anyone looking for a day with your buds, unfortunately, some of my buds ended up getting hurt! I had more than one foreman come up to me the following monday and chew me out cause they had guys missing on their line due to injurys...I just had to say that I was there too, and I made it to work!!! LOL

The company put a Christmas party on every year, bring the signifigant other, dance, eat, and drink...prizes donated by the many vendors. One of the line foreman had a wee bit too much to drink, decided to have a little nap...layed his head on the table and lights out. One of the ladies who worked in the warehouse and a close friend of his, decided to draw a "smiley face" on TOP of his shiny bald head with a nice big, black permanent marker!!!! She would have got away with it too, except in her slightly drunken state...SIGNED her artwork!!!! He came to work on Monday with his head bright shiny red...don't know what he used to get the ink off...turpentine? Palm sander?? I know that he was ticked right off, but had no one to blame but himself for ending up in that situation!! Some of the ladies that worked in the office were very easy on the eyes...these parties were great for them showing up looking STUNNING.....a good topic for the following Monday at work!!!!

more packing.....more to come!

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Pass the Popcorn, Please!

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With all the people you worked with on a daily basis, became good friends with many of them, and when one of your buds had a birthday...there had to be some sort of practical jokes!!

When my buddy Mike (cabin party dude) had his one b-day, the lead hand from frame station took all of his lunch out of his lunch box and proceeded to fill it with about 40 pounds of screw, nuts, bolts, washers and brackets!!! But Mike did get him back, took his lunch box, emptied it, and took it over to lube station. He filled the box half full of water, layed a sheet of paper towel on the bench, "created" a 12 inch long log of axle grease, and rolled it OFF the paper towel and INTO the lunch kit. Lead hand came in, seen all his lunch on top of his box, thought about a bunch of nuts and bolts inside...was not expecting a floating log of grease!!! LOL, He told me he ran it through the dishwaher 4 times and ended up throwing the box out!!! :lol:

Had a young guy in my area who liked to play games, pulling different stuff on my co-workers, who grew VERY tired of his immature games. He would bring his lunch in an old school aluminium box and place it on top of the kitting trailer (metal frame with plywood shelves). This joker had his box screwed down a few times, then really ticked off one of my buddies...who ran roughly 40 screws through the box into the shelf, and took a die grinder and ground off all the phillips heads so it was pretty well impossible to remove without destroying it!!! Joker still did not clue in....another buddy took his margarine tub full of white rice outside during the winter, and packed it full of snow that had been kicked up by passing forklifts...looked like soya sauce...but it wasn't!!!! IIRC, I believe that this joker also got an EXLAX birthday cake made for him on his 21 birthday...heard his evening plans were kinda limited....!!!! ;)

Management was forever trying to make things better...sometimes it failed quite miserably! They thought that engine line and west line should stagger the lunch breaks, first time they did this, we are still working while they are trying to eat with all of OUR impacts and radios going. So we sit down to eat our lunch, one of the guys from engineline decides to make sure that the yoke is secure on the transmission...he grabs the 1 INCH impact and proceeds to rattle it for about 25 minutes...I don't think it ever moved, but man was that loud without earplugs!!! :blink: Our leadhand had a good chat with the foreman and managment and that changed everything back the way it originally was!!! For some reason, engine line could get away with stuff like that...they definately stuck together as a group.

We had one guy who would install batteries, strange guy, threw them up on his shoulder and carried them instead of wheeling battery cart over...we sprayed his shoulder with soapy water when he wasn't looking and pointed it out to him while he was holding the battery...this guy RAN full tilt into the washroom, and jumped into the shower...clothes, workboots, EVERYTHING!!! Yup, got a real good chat from our foreman for that one.....luckily no one was hurt OR fired!!!

Zap straps were good for tying your co-workerss carts, lunch boxes or anything you could think of to chassis's pinned to the line...those carts made for one heckuva a noise when they toppled over and spilt everything out...I was on both the giving and receiving end of that one a few times!!

still more....

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There was another thread on here with pics of a cab over Star, including brochure photos, back in the late 90's,I went on a road trip down to California with a buddy hauling glass. I remember seeing one these trucks and taking pictures of it (ex has ALL my old photos... :angry: ) somewhere in Oregon. I was all over this like "white on rice" and Monday morning I was asking questions at work about this with my leadhand who had been working there for about 16 years. These cabovers were NEVER built in the Canadian factory in Kelowna, even before my leadhands time. I do not know how many were actually built, maybe someone else has that info? White must have taken their cabover, changed a few things and added the Western Star nameplates...at the time did WST already have that reputation that made them so famous...did White feel they could take more of the sales market if they had a premium cabover to sell??? I have no answers...that was waaayyyy before my time in the plant!!!

Over the years, we had some employees come through the plant that did not last...mostly due to their own fault! Dwayne started in West line North installing batteries, his old little league coach got him a job there. Nice enough guy, just young and dumb (like most of us at that age!), he eventually took over doing propshaft install. They built up this custom creeper that was about 8 inches off the ground and had tool compartments on each side, the foam padding on it was just as thick...a very comfy creeper to work off of. So Dwayne is young, likes to have fun, party and what not....lives at home with his parents still...goes out and has some fun. He is underneath the chassis, finishes the install, just decides to wait for the chassis to get moved......ZZZZZZZZZ......nods off for a few minutes, another co-worker wakes him up. He was told to do something to wake himself up, cold water...whatever....this does not help! He nods off AGAIN.....this time he gets busted by the foreman....kinda hard to not notice he is sleeping when the chassis gets moved and he is off in la-la land without a clue! :lol: His days at the plant were finished...not the type of place to take naps...I ran into him a couple years after that day...he always regretted screwing up a good job like that one.

Had some young lady who started in our area, nice....easy on the eyes....hard worker.....good sense of humour. She always wanted to work at the plant, from a young age, that was her goal. Even had her own coveralls with WST patches sewn on....I think she only lasted a year??? Got hurt working, was off on compensation....and ended up losing her job because she was photographed washing Class 8 trucks with a "upper shoulder" injury that prevented her from lifting her arms above shoulder height!!! I guess some people are lazy and don't want to work....assembly line work can be pretty boring...but to screw up a good paying job???? I don't get it....... :huh:

A material handler was let go for sleeping on the job during nighthift....seems his job was to load the kitting cart with the matteresses for the sleepers in the next days build....he made himself a little nest up high where no one could see him, using the matteresses and empty cardboard boxes....but he too got caught....and was sent packing!

more still.....

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Info the WS coe is scarce it's like it never existed. Anyway pass the popcorn.

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There is a well built model on Tim's site of a Pete hauling racks of rims/tires, this is the same system they used at WST to deliver them to the line. They would bring them to tire station double stacked with a forklift, each rack had 5 tires, if the truck was a tri-drive or something custom...more trips and more tires. Dennis was working in the warehouse, and this was his area of the plant to maintain, he comes up at lunch to tell us his story of the day. While bringing in a set of tires, a newbie engineer decides to dart across from west line to cabco for whatever reason...Dennis had to hit the brakes, which caused the top set of tires....to decide to jump ship...they come outta the rack and go bouncing down the access lane before crashing into immovable objects on both sides!!! There were carts tipped over, employees scrambling to get out of the way, garbage from cans spread all over the floor!!! A few choice words and one engineer in trouble with his boss....this was a constant problem at the plant. The warehouse even had to paint designated walkways for people out in the yard so they would not become pavement pizza with all the forklift traffic! There was one lady who worked at tire staion, she might have been around 98 pounds....okay....100 with work boots on, she figured that if they added another 10 feet to the station, she would be able to do BOTH side of the truck by herself!! The station had a air powered hoist with rollers on the bottom, lift the tire, rotate to the bolt pattern and install. The impact gun was a dual unit, tightening and setting torque at the same time.

I was kitting front axle at the time, and they gave me an extra job of bringing rear axles from the welding shop (they would install the various brackets for the different suspensions configurations) to heavy build (this was a separate area from frame station - they would build up all the severe duty/RHD/twin steer and off road frames). I would bring them a rear end on a dolley and take the empty one back to be reloaded, to cut down on time, the company decided to build a platform for me to load two axles/dolleys at a time. This worked out well when we actually found a forklift that could carry all that weight, the first two were "kinda" light on the rear end...ever try to steer a forklift when your rear steer tires were 6 inches of the ground??? :blink: The company ended up renting a BIG diesel forklift to do the job...dual drive axle on the front, 30,000 lbs. of lift and a 20 foot reach with the forks...kinda overkill....but that enclosed and heated cab was really nice in the winter!! Maintenance had to adjust the doors so I could get this rig into the shop...but they did not do a very good job....I took out the bottom panel of the door with the top of the mast trying to slowly creep inside with a load. Management decided the extra cost of renting this thing was not worth all the extra effort and we ended up going back to the old system with making multiple trips with single dolleys. At least the company was always ready to listen to the employees and try out different things to make our jobs easier...even if they did not work out in the end!!! At one point, they had a program that if an employee came up with an idea that actually worked on the line (the hoist for the tires at tire station is one of these), they paid that employee for the idea!!!! B)

more packing for me....

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We found a house...still packing boxes, moving day is the end of next month...I see the light!!!

Since WST was known for being a custom truck builder, through the years, we did build some oddball trucks that stick out in my memory. Two single axle trucks were built for two different customers who I believe were retired long haul drivers. Both had small sleepers (36 inch?), one had a 3126 Cat with a 10 speed trans, the other IIRC, had a L10 Cummins and a 10 speed. Nice paint jobs with all the chrome goodies you could purchase, these little guys stuck out like a sore thumb in between all the other trucks with 72 inch bunks, twin steers and tri-drives!

One customer ordered a truck with a tri-drive and a combination of tag and pusher axles that when completed...this thing had 10 AXLES just for the tractor!!! I don't recall it having fifth wheel...so I am guessing that it had some sort of tank or body going on there.

The Kuwait government was interested in a 4X4 and had all interested bidders send over a demo...rumour at the time had them buying military equipment for a little "payback"!!! WST built two 6900 trucks that were equipped with a single axle (can't recall if it was a planetary?), t-case and front axle. I think we installed a C16 Cat and Allison, but for some reason I can picture a KT Cummins in there too??? Maybe we did one of each.....hmmmm????? Central Tire Inflation System operated from the cab, just like the Hummer!!! Military style cargo box on the back...with a canvas top. Big knobby Michelins or Goodyear tires (singles on the back). We painted up this beast in a nice flat tan to blend into the desert with, might have had a little bit of black powder coat (door handles, mirror??). Word came back from testing that OUR truck ended up being a tow vehicle for ALL the other OEM's that got stuck in the sand...which I believe were 3/4-1 ton 4X4's, I don't even know if we got paid for these things or it was a write-off for the company?? Never seen them again and nothing else came down the line bound for that country.

Being a MOPAR fanatic, the company that bought the 5-6 trucks painted in 1970 PLUM CRAZY PURPLE definately got my attention! I always checked the build sheet to see what colours we were painting the trucks, they had paint choices that were similiar to the factory High Impact hues...but that was the only time I had seen PCP listed.

One female logger here in B.C. ordered a new truck every 3 years(?), silver frame with a metallic pink cab/hood...I wish I had kept the paint listing for that one, I might have to find a candy paint a build a close replica one of these days!

post some more in between boxes....

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Cool stuff! My 04 4900 fa was a purple very close to Mopar plum crazy. Those special builds would make great projects. Moving is such a joy.

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I have been really busy packing....don't worry....I'll be back!!! Once all the dust settles!!!

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very interesting to read . Thank YOU!

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Well...we are in the house after the big move...if I squint really, really hard I can see concrete in the garage!!! Still lots of unpacking and organizing to do in between work and the rest of life in general.

I am going to talk about "Angie"...this was the VERY last truck built by myself and fellow Canadian workers...next month is coming on 10 years since I walked out of the plant for the last time. I have nothing but good memories of my time there building the BEST ###### TRUCK on the road....(sorry Tim...you are Red Oval Obsessed...but I myself....STAR STRUCK!!!!). Since the company did not want to be connected to any after hours party off the property, it was up to the employees to get something together. There was a local watering hole called "Angies Pub and Sports Bar" that was the destination after "D-Day"...I seem to recall MANY wobbly pops, female co-workers crying, and lots of laughs....and a pounding headache the next day!!!

Pe Ben Industries ended up with the last truck, they are based out of Edmonton, Alberta and use the trucks for oil field and bulk fuel hauls. What they ended up with was a truck that everyone put 150% into...nothing but pride and the commitment to provide the customer with a truck they would be proud to own!

As the cab was being welded together in Cabco, the framerails were being bolted together at frame station...before the cab was sent to E-coat to go through the 20 plus dip tanks for rust protection, the workers signed the cab. This carried on throughout the plant, at each station, workers were doing what they could to leave their mark among the bits and pieces that would become a truck. Framerails were signed by different workers from various areas...front axle build, rear axle, frame station...and then the two flags were strapped to the chassis. Except for the paint booth and bake oven...that truck had two Canadian flags on it at all times...and Angie carried them on her tour from station to station with pride.

Cab and sleeper were pinned onto Cabline fresh from paint...and you could see people walking over in small groups and by them selves...finding a spot to sign...whether it was on the floor, door frame, side of the sleeper...it did not matter! Assemblers, Material handlers, office staff...they came from all areas...to sign her. If 20 years from now....someone were to gut the interior...they would see all the signatures on the inside of both cab and sleeper, and comments made by different people. So we now have a cab that was signed and then E-coated, framerails signed then painted, and a cab and sleeper full of names that would soon be covered by door panels and trim...but that was not the end of it..............no, no, no!!!

Carsten Reindhart was the man in charge...seen him many times at announcments and different functions, very approachable...not some stuck up manager type! He came out and walked past my station...looking down engine line....the last Cat motor sat there, the pin was pulled up, guys would just push it to the next station, no reason to rush....behind them....there was just the empty chain....nothing else....I think that looking back....as each station finished their job....that small piece of the puzzle moving forward....that is when it probably sunk in for most there. The line moved forward, but some workers were packing up tools, cleaning out bins of nuts and bolts, forklifts were in and out of these areas....moving benches and racks....cleaning the place out....for good.

He was standing there....looking down the line towards that last Cat....I could not tell if the look on his face was anger or frustration...as I finished up my job, I grabbed a rag to wipe my oily hands and walked up to his side.......

to be continued............

Edited by dieseldog1970

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When I walked up to Carsten, what I thought might have been anger or frustration on his face, was actually more of a concerned look. I looked down the line at the motor sitting there...you could already see from the distance the signatures appearing on it. The guys from engine line were leaving there mark....

I asked him what he thought of this...his response..."I have no problem with people wanting to sign the truck, but when it is inside the cab and sleeper, it will all be covered. I am not sure if it is a good thing to have signatures all over the motor...every time the hood gets opened up, they will see this...?"

I responded..." Well Carsten, if I was the one to buy the LAST Western Star being built and it was going to a Canadian company...and the employees wanted to sign the truck...it shows the pride they have in their job, despite the fact that this is it...the last one. Owning this truck would be a privilege...and I would not have any problem with anybody associated with this truck who wanted to sign it. I would be the guy who who pop the hood and proudly show off those names to whomever wanted to see them...this pride, commitment...the desire to build the best. This did not happen overnite, this was 35 years in the making, this is a reputation that is known worldwide...it is not about the truck...it is about the people who built it!"

He smiled and said..."Your right, who would not be proud to own this!" and with that, he walked away, heading to the oversee the rest of the build.

I returned to my station, gathered the last parts for "Angie" and set them on my workbench, I looked over as the leadhand from frame station and our union rep walked up to the end of the cooldown booth. They were carrying the two Canadian flags rolled up on wooden poles, John, Terry and myself took this and entered the booth, part of our job was to strip all the tape and masking paper off the frame, getting it ready for engine drop. Normally we would open up the overhead door, but we kept it down this time until we were ready. We stripped the frame, removed all the excess garbage, and mounted the two flags to the back of the frame, making sure they were secure for the trip down the line.

As we were doing this, more people seemed to gather outside, from all areas of the plant and office, some people in street clothes (their jobs and work areas already done and cleaned out), others still in coveralls waiting to finish up their job. Some could not hold back tears...a number of employees have been here from the start..35 years...all they ever knew. Cameras clutched in hand..they waited.....it was time...I reached over to the switch to open the door.....

to be continued...

Edited by dieseldog1970

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Okay....going to try and find my photos I took while working the last two days at the plant....I think they are in box #52...or was that box #152???? God I HATE moving......if I can find them, and some how post these...everyone will see "Angie" while she was being built. Give me a few days....dealing with a BAD renter as well....eviction notice to be served....all this while trying to organize/unpack!

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Moving stinks, but unpacking is like finding something new in everybox!

Keep going with the stories! Good stuff.

Tim

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