[[Template core/front/global/utilitiesMenu does not exist. This theme may be out of date. Run the support tool in the AdminCP to restore the default theme.]]
dieseldog1970

Life on the line...

Recommended Posts

Wow talk about a tear jerker :'( great stories sad ending! Not many people get to of had a job that was as full filling as your. I know it was an honor for you. W.S. was your extended family and I'm guessing it felt like someone died in that family when that last truck rolled off the line.

You are correct Dave, it was like a family member dying...the tombstone was a very important piece that day, it was an end of an era for Kelowna, the Canadian workers and Western Star.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So to continue with the story.....

I reached up and hit the switch, the door slowly went up and the the line jerked forward, pulling Angie out into the station. People were clapping and taking pictures, some of the more emotional ones had tears running down their faces. The line came to a stop, John, Terry and myself did one final look to make sure the chassis was ready, I went back over to my station and made sure my impact and bolts were ready. I was waiting for the front engine mount, a shortage that was being received in the warehouse and would be delivered when cleared. There were lots of shortages, with so little parts coming into the plant, Angie was going to be like the previous ten trucks...missing a variety of items, but this was one that had to go on, so we wait. I walked over to our drop bin as the forklift rolled up, taking out the mount, double checking the part number and turned back towards my station. I flipped the bracket over and started to write my name and employee number on it in yellow paint pen, Terry asked why I was signing the back...no one would ever see it? I responded..."Exactly! The only way my name will be seen is if they have to pull the motor, all the others may wear off over time, but this one is going to be there for a very long time!"

I checked to make sure paint was dry, and fastened the mount to the front of the engine, only thing left to do was drain the oil and install the pan heater. I quickly raised the engine up to the rack, positioned the oil drum underneath and cracked open the plug, I spun the pan heater in, tightened it done and hooked up the electrical harness. Using the control box I raised the motor up off the rack and over to the right, I handed off the controls to Terry who nodded at John that he was ready. As they started dropping the motor, I grabbed my camera and continued to take pictures, stopping to chat with my fellow workers who came to watch, flashbulbs went off as other people took pics, tears rolled down the faces of some. The motor was tightened down, fuel tanks went on and lines hooked up, everything went on without any problems, everyone was giving 150% and making sure that this truck had no mistakes. Terry, John and myself shook hands on a job well done, our foreman gathered us up and took everyone outside to the back, the company was getting pictures of all the remaining employess at each area, we were to receive a copy when they got printed. Engine line and Engine drop, we stood together for the last time...our picture, frozen in time as the line continued to move forward...taking Angie to her next station.

to be continued...

Edited by dieseldog1970

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's great to see the faces and people behid the scenes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My computer hates my stories....this forum.....or ME.....OR this forum has ot out for me??? 3 times I have tried to continue the story...3 times it would not save???? Hmmmmmmm......where is that 5 pound sledge hammer.....I will try again later

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So the line carried Angie forward to the other stations, at each one, my co-workers would do their normal jobs, just like every other day...but this time...we all knew it was different. Management stood shoulder to shoulder with plant and warehouse staff, there was a common bond between all of us, we were family, we laughed and joked around, cried and hugged as the sound of impacts echoed through the plant. Angie stood proud...now that she was on her own wheels, the dolleys that carried her from Frame Station all the way to this point, had been removed. The talk going around was that we were towing Angie offline due to shortages...and this did not sit well with any of the plant staff...calls were made, bins were double checked, we searched all over...seeing if there were any spare pieces that had been hidden....it was not looking good.

Without authorization from management, a group of employees hatched a plan to make sure that the very last truck we built was going to be driven offline....not towed! This group went out to our Shipping Row, here the trucks that were already built and waiting for delivery to the dealers sat...these would be the cannabalized for mission. Tools were gathered and air lines stretched outside, the workers quickly gathered what parts were needed. Four or five trucks had various components removed and taken back into the plant, top brass were not to happy about it, but I think secretly....they wanted the same thing!!! This group of workers converged onto the line, orders were given, parts went on and final checks were made....she was ready!!

As a group, we thought that the only person who should drive this thing out would be Frank...35 years with the company...he had just celebrated this with top brass during a luncheon earlier that year. Frank was our number 1 guy in senority...he spent his time in Mock-Up...working side by side with the engineers on testmules, as they constantly looked at ways to make the truck more operator friendly. During his luncheon, the company presented him with some gifts, one of which was his ORIGINAL application form...from 1967...now mounted in a nice frame!!! We managed to track Frank down and brought him back to Angie....he was laughing and joking around, surprised that he was chosen to run her out the door. He reached up and opened the door...climbing in and settling into the seat, he could look out and see all of us....like proud parents....surrounding the truck....one big family.

He reached down and turned the key.....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The starter cranked and Angie rumbled to life...in the cab, Frank did a final check on air presssure and oil pressure...she was ready to move under her own power! He reached down, released the brakes and slid the transmission into gear, as she started to inch forward, the door was raised and daylight was a few feet in front of her and Frank. Now both local radio and television stations had contacted management about being in the plant for the last day...thankfully, they were told that this was a private day for employees only and did not have access. This did not stop the tv crew from setting up at the back of the lot, sitting on the railroad tracks (!!???), the crew was able to film Angie as she came out the door. The back of the building had people all over the place as she came out, everyone was jockeying for position, trying to get the best pictures possible. Frank brought her all the way out, and turned her around...he drove Angie back into the plant, taking her back to the start of the line. The company had organized a luncheon for everyone there, and she was the STAR of the show...tables had been set up, food was ready to be served. As Frank drove the truck down the line, some employees went ahead and pulled airlines out of the way, when she was clear of the Cool Down booth, he stopped, pulled the brakes and shut her down. A loud cheer went up and everyone was clapping....Frank jumped down, and waited for the noise to die down....he made the confession that after all these years, he had never had a proper license to operate the trucks....(now if this is true, I have NO idea? I think he was joking)...everyone burst out laughing and the luncheon was started. One of the gifts that were handed out to all remaining employees was a coffee table book, a local artist had been hired to photograph people and places in and around the plant, from frame station to the warehouse...black and white photos of the people who gave it their all, and the various sections where all the pieces came together. I still have this book, and go through it occasionally, remembering the faces of friends, and my time there....

to be continued....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As the afternnoon wore on, and the luncheon was finished, it was time to head down to the bar for a drink! I gathered up my stuff, and headed to the door...the crew was in to clean up after the meal, I stopped and took one last look...the area that I had spent 6 years of my life was bare and empty. There were no work benches, tool carts, kitting racks or trucks...just bare concrete and the long booth in the middle of the plant...saddness filled me...I knew that going out the door would be the last time I would ever step into this place. I choked back my emotions and turned...with one final swipe of my employee card...I went out the gate and towards my truck.

I made my way down to Angies Pub and Bistro, found a spot in the parking lot, and went up to the front door...when I entered, there was one of the managers there, handing out one red ticket (ddor prize) and two green ones (drinks). These plus all the appetizers were payed for by the Canadian Dealer Council...they had contacted the upper management about splitting the cost, but they did not want to be liable for anything outside the plant. So all the dealers chipped in to give thanks for 35 years of building the best truck out there...I did not end up winning any door prizes...but I sure used the drink tickets!!! I gathered with all the employees, we laughed and told stories, we hoisted our glasses...then we did it again, and once more times 3...and so the night progressed. Avter sum time, I kood harly wawk...I's thunk I did drunk waay tooo mush....I barley remumber dat my wif come to git me...she poored me unto da kar....and uh.....ummmm......yesh.....I's got home....I wuz tared....and woke up wit a baad, baaad headacke!!

And like everyone else...the hunt was on for work...I did manage to find something after I had used up my severence...and now ten years later....telling my story. Feel free to ask any questions...I will try and give you some answers...

to be continued...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

the John Deere diesel (YES...a JD!!!)that we installed for another truck show. I was in the warehouse at the time, and took this motor from there directly to Mock-up for inspection. I am not sure if they did the install or if it was done on line. Never seen that one after...so maybe some farmer wanted it really bad for his operation!!!

Cool...You wouldnt happen to have more info on the motor and or pics would ya?...be kinda neat to build one in scale for a pete project later? :lol:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cool...You wouldnt happen to have more info on the motor and or pics would ya?...be kinda neat to build one in scale for a pete project later? :lol:

Thanks for the interest Sean, unfortunately...I do not have any pics of that truck. :( If I would have known what the future was going to be, I sure would have taken alot more pics! I do recall that the motor was around the same size as a Cummins N14, I did try doing a search through Google to find anything at all...but no luck. I will continue to see if I could dig anything up, I still have a few co-workers on facebook...so let me see what I can come up with.

Edited by dieseldog1970

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now