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Board index » All Posts (Lee)

Re: Dietrich Inc. Detroit - badge
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Guscha wrote:
[quote]...If I hadn't found it in the Packard home I would be more intuned with the modifying it to fit something else though...

Just for entertaining:

"...Due to unforeseen problems with the UAW in regards to an untenable UAW craftsmen/apprentice ratio and a general lack of work, Dietrich closed the Grand Rapids shop in 1953 and returned to consulting for Checker. He also did some work for Ford Motor Co. and was involved in the design of Continental Mk II which debuted in October 1955. He was also involved with Preston Tucker's Carioca automobile, but Tucker's 1956 death ended the project. He retired from active automotive consultation in 1960, but soon embarked on another career, designing electric guitars for Kalamazoo's Gibson Guitars.

In the early 1960s, Ted McCarty - Gibson's president - asked Ray Dietrich to try his hand at designing a guitar. Dietrich reversed conventional design, putting the longest body horn on the treble side and all the tuners on the treble side, and he made the neck and body a single piece. His design was called the Firebird, and it debuted in 1963 but met with only moderate success before the body shape was revamped into a "non-reverse" style in 1965. Gibson periodically re-releases the Firebird, so I imagine that one of Dietrich's guitars can be purchased for substantially less money than one of his cars..."

source: www.coachbuilt.com

The info from Coachbuilt.com is not quite complete and is partially mistaken.

First, Ray Dietrich did not merely close down his Grand Rapids operation in 1953. And it was not directly as a result of issues related to unions. Instead, several years earlier Mr. Dietrich made a silent agreement with Creative Industries of Detroit (hopefully some of you know who this company was by now). For instance the Lincoln Cosmo Presidential Parade Limousine credited to Ray Dietrich was actually engineered and built at Creative Industries in Detroit. Photos are in the Creative Industries book. There was never enough work for an individual coachbuilder that did nothing else to stay alive by the early 1950s. Even Henney Motor Company proved that.

Dietrich did indeed close down his Grand Rapids operation but that business was largely merged into Creative Industries of Detroit. This is not publicized anywhere but I have the original evidence of what took place. This began in 1949.

Whatever involvement Ray Dietrich had with the Continental Mark II still (kinda-sorta) involved Creative Industries of Detroit. This was because Creative did body and chassis engineering for Mitchell-Bentley and Creative's employees worked for M-B on a contract per diem basis. Who did the bodies for Continental Mark II? Mitchell-Bentley... and thus Creative Industries... thus Ray Dietrich. Hush-hush.

Creative continued doing special projects and automobiles for Packard right up until the end of Packard. Creative Industries did the special cars for Ed Macauley, Packard Panthers, the Packard Request, some Caribbean hardtops and special work and new fittings on the Packard Predictor.

As for the statement about Ray Dietrich designing guitars. Yes, he did and I immediately bought one when they first came out. Mine was personalized for me and I still have it today. People made fun of the Gibson Firebird back then, but they sure love them now! A lot of famous musicians also used Gibson Firebirds. Some of the "chank-chank!" guitar riffs you hear on old Motown recordings were done on a Gibson Firebird. Very exotic construction (neck and raised section of body were all one piece of wood –unlike most guitars that have separate necks). Of course sound is unique as well as design.

By the way, it was not merely guitars that Mr. Dietrich designed but it was also electric basses. I also have an early prototype of his Gibson Thunderbird (reverse body) electric bass as well. My Thunderbird bass has no serial number and may have been the first one made.

Someone I know is presently working on a history of Ray Dietrich.

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Posted on: 1/21 13:48

Re: Packard Bikes
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Now... for Colson fans... I've given a little attention to Arnold, Schwinn & Company. But I thought Colson fans might enjoy seeing this photograph from NBHAA.

There are suddenly a lot of folks who like Colson bicycles. And several claiming to be Colson experts. We've been collecting Colson items and artifacts from the factory ever since they were still in business.

The Colson Corporation bicycle factory was located in Elyria, Ohio up until it sold off the bicycle business to Evans Products, Inc. of Plymouth, Michigan. Colson's plant was not far from famous bicycle seat maker, Troxel which (during Colson's life span) was also located in Elyria..

Shown here is a part of the Colson Corporation bicycle factory in the 1930s. What you see are all components of Packard bicycles. As loyal followers of this thread already know, a huge number of the Packard-branded bicycles were indeed made by Colson...

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Posted on: 1/20 13:33

Re: In Memoriam - MaryEllen (Green) Dohrs
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Hello, I was certainly there at the Packard Proving Grounds when Mary Ellen Dohrs gave her wonderful talk for the Packard Club. A soft-spoken, very intelligent and graceful person of great achievement and immense talent. I was lucky enough hear her speak and to get her autograph.

Ms. Dohrs' "Posture-Perfect" seats– especially in the 1955 Caribbean– were indeed Posture-Perfect and so incredibly comfortable. I remember when I first drove the Howard Hughes/Jean Peters Caribbean (which was virtually NOS at the time) how very form-fitting and comfortable the seat was. Design of the bolsters and pleated leather inserts with indents for shoulder blades was pure brilliance. Support and give in all the right places. A pleasurable experience merely to sit behind the wheel. And they were beautiful just to view!

As a side note here, the "Eyes On Design" write-up has its facts confused. Mary Ellen's 1955 Caribbean and Four Hundred seats were not reversible. Those were 1956 Caribbean only.

Again, I feel very lucky to have met Mary Ellen Dohrs. Her loss both to the automotive world as well as to Packard fans is a great one. She won't be forgotten. Peaceful journey, Mary Ellen.

Posted on: 1/20 11:08

Re: 1956 Packard 400 antenna fender angle black base replacement
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Ernie Baily wrote:
Thanks for the info! I'll order one, I hope the angel will work as my antenna is located on the right front fender.

Okay. Let's see photos of this antenna mounted on the right-hand front fender. The factory didn't do such stuff. So let's see what it is.

By the way... back when we could not find good rubber grommets for factory antenna decades ago, I developed a quick fix.

Most grommets in places like Southern California deteriorated and even turned hard, globby gray. I simply loosened and removed the antenna mast retaining nut... then the Bakelite base, then removed the rubber grommet. Usually no matter how bad the exposed part of the grommet was outside of the fender, the underside was usually nice and even pliable. Reason? It had always been hidden from the sun. So? I flipped the grommet over and re-installed. presto! Usually looked like new.

Posted on: 1/19 19:26

Re: Packard Bikes
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Since no one in all these many, many posts has actually come up with a Packard bicycle really and truly connected to Packard automobiles, here is a gem submitted for your New Year approval...

Here is a magazine advertisement in color that Packard ran in 1947. Take a look at "Red Letter Days" item #1 in the upper left-hand corner. Huh? Know what it is?

Take a look back at earlier postings in this thread and see if you recognize this red camelback frame bicycle. And note that the red ribbon bow is strategically placed to cover the headbadge on the bicycle. Clever.

Of course If you're a loyal reader of this thread, you should recognize the Packard bicycle being depicted here! And you should also know who made it...

Attach file:

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Posted on: 12/31 13:15

Re: Trying to fix my 56
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Marvin wrote:
In researching clogged fuel line, I came across the project blog section. I do not wish to post incorrectly and since this posting will be ongoing, is there a way to transfer this thread to the project blog?
plus, I am truly having a delightful time with the fuel system. Today I connected an electric fuel pump to the fuel line in front of the engine and discovered there wasn't any no fuel being expelled. My belief, is that I will have to drop the tank and starting with the pickup screen work my way back to the front, possibly replacing everything as I go.

As I pointed out in the two major reasons why fuel isn't pumping in cars that have been sitting. You dealt with reason #1 and I was right on that one. Reason #2 (as I listed) is that the intake tube IN the tank (the thing I call the "index finger") is usually clogged with rust. You MAY get lucky and be able to unplug the rust in this tube. But be forewarned... this is not easy at all to do.

And as I said, all the new fuel pumps (including electric ones) in the world will never repair or bypass this problem. It just won't work. And I don't know of a "screen" in the tank... just the bent index finger intake tube that likes to clog up (usually beginning at the bend of the tube).

And again as I said... boiling out the tank and the usual fixes/cleanings do nothing to cure this line if it is blocked with rust. And the intake tubes often are.

Cleaning the intake tube is possible, but usually nowhere easy. Since the tube was usually welded into the tank, it really is a big deal to try and clean it or service it. My cure was simply to find a good tank with a clear and clean intake tube... and replace the clogged tank.

Posted on: 12/29 13:58

Re: 1956 Carribean Dash
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Herbybug wrote:
How much could one expect to pay for a 1956 Carribean dash, good condition, without gauges.

No such thing really as a "1956 Caribbean dash" since it was the same thing as any senior 1956 Packard with the exception of the Executive. Caribbeans normally had certain colors (unless custom ordered) but even those instrument panel colors were shared with other senior 1956 Packards.

Ask any of the folks who have 1956 Parts cars and they ought to be happy to make you a deal.

Posted on: 12/29 13:29

Re: 1956 Carribean Dash
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Owen_Dyneto wrote:
Leeedy, I think you'll agree with me that, based on the document below, it was the dealer and not the owner who was to do the mailing. Of course it was all dependent on the owner being offered the plate and then as you say his deciding that he wanted it.

And... surely you know I have that form, Owen. One Caribbean owner I interviewed in the 1970s still had the form... and the dealer gave it to him to decide to mail in. I still have notes. I'm betting he wasn't the only one. Otherwise all of these forms would have remained in the hands of dealers.

But as I said... it was the customer, not the dealer who had to want the plate in the first place. The dealer could only order the plate if:
1.) The customer was aware of the plate...
2.) The customer wanted the plate and directed the dealer to order it.

And as I said... it was the dealer who did the installing, not the customer.

Posted on: 12/29 13:16

Re: Packard Mortality Statistic
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Wat_Tyler wrote:
I have one word to say about the whole disc versus drum fussing: puddles. I hate cars that change lanes by themselves because half the brakes flooded out.

And at the end of the day, it's 'Murrika and people get to do what they want with their stuff, including their old cars, classic or otherwise. I'm not a fan of the tuner kids or the hoopdie guys, but they're Car Guys and they're doing Car Stuff, and I can support that. That includes Chebbie engines, disc brakes and chopped tops. Not a fan, but it is what it is.

Besdies, there are better things to fight about, like religion and politix . . . .

I am certified at 147 MPH test driving on a banked oval. I have driven thousands of different cars over many decades and many terrains and conditions in my professional career. I am a member of Society of Automobile Engineers (SAE). I have designed vehicle systems and worked at the OEM level in the automotive industry all my life. I was lead engineer for a major car corporation. I was a street racer on Woodward Avenue back in the heyday of that place. And I can assure everyone: drum brakes on all of my cars stopped them just fine– as long as the vehicles were driven sanely and the brakes were kept in proper adjustment and condition.

18-wheel trucks DO NOT have disc brakes. They have DRUM brakes. And yes, I have even driven a Peterbuilt 18-wheeler across the USA on a haul. And yes, I know how to use a "Jake-Brake" in an 18-wheeler and have used one on both California's Cahon Pass and Tehon Pass. But trucks don't STOP with Jake-Brakes... they slow down with Jake-Brakes. And 18-wheel trucks hauling up to 80,000 pounds also can't magically suddenly stop when a Honda Civic decides to suspend the laws of physics, whip over and cut the truck off without adequate braking room (this is why so many are squished on the interstates). Check out a few YouTube videos if you refuse to believe someone who merely tells you these things. And yes, trucks ARE indeed advised to go slow and use lower gears on steep hills. A very sane, safe, logical, skillful thing to do. And –surprise!– cars (including Packards) CAN also downshift to use engine braking too (whether automatic or manual!!!.. that's why they put the markings on the gear selector!). Such things are usually advised in a good car owner's manual. But, hey... who bothers to read those things– right?

Drum Brakes do NOT cause an automobile to "change lanes" because of a "puddle." And Disc Brakes do NOT make an automobile steer straight through a "puddle." Driving into puddled water–especially too fast –is the same no matter what kind of brakes you have. Avoid doing it.

It is belief in myths like these that get people injured and even killed on the highways... every day. People ought to know better by now, but they don't.

I remember vividly when I was living in Washington state (I had a house in Gig Harbor area and we got tons of rain) I witnessed a pile-up of several cars on the highway. When the blinding rain came, I slowed down while other crazies plowed right on through and even sped up! I eventually pulled off at an exit and went to a gas station.

A driver came rolling in a few minutes later with a battered, smashed-up new SUV. The driver got out and began a speech: "I just don't understand it! I've got disc brakes, 4-wheel drive, ABS and I still spun out when I hit that water!!!"

THIS kind of thinking is the essence of people somehow believing that disc brakes will magically cure everything on an old car and somehow make it "perform"... but it's all jive.

People have to drive safe and think safe rather than believe in fairy tales and think the vehicle can magically make up for bad driving and bad weather. Disc brakes–no matter what anyone may believe or argue into the ground– will not save anyone from bad driving or bad weather.

Installing disc brakes on an old car like a Packard IS a "choice"... but it is NOT "restoration" or an "upgrade." This is just wording that hides what is actually being done: customizing and modification. Call it what it is. Forums are great places to argue on forever. I'm presuming none of you is channeling Sterling Moss or driving in an endurance race. I am also presuming none of you has a time machine or that you imagine this is a discussion merely of which technology is superior to which... since there obviously is a reason why disc brakes AND airbags and ABS and electronic engine controls and other things were invented. This is despite the discussion of old cars and ignoring that the ultimate extreme thing here is to YANK your entire engine, brakes and chassis and go ALL self-driving electric!!! Why stop at just disc brakes? I am also presuming that all of you actually KNOW how to drive without your foot constantly on your brake and that you KNOW how to use your emergency (or hand) brakes. I am also presuming that no one reading this will know that I was working on developing a system called "electrorheological braking" (know what that is?) nearly 30 years ago. Skills behind the wheel obviously vary as do levels of intellect. But this is not an argument. I won't comment any further on this matter so have at it...

Posted on: 12/29 12:20

Re: 1956 Carribean Dash
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Kevin wrote:
Just a random musing -- it seems like there are more Caribbeans nowadays don't have the "Custom Made" plaque than those that do. I'm assuming that either the original owners did not install them, or else subsequent owners removed them?

Owners did not install these plates... dealers did. But the owner had to send in and order the plate. Most owners never bothered. So most Caribbeans never got these "custom made" plates for the glovebox door to begin with. They just were not there in the first place. While a couple may have been removed over the years, it is more work to remove the plate than to just leave it or replace the entire glovebox door. But I highly doubt any significant number went away this way. They were just never there.

Posted on: 12/29 11:26

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