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The Men Who Saved The Willys Factory Records

Discussion in 'Early Jeep Restoration and Research' started by maurywhurt, Mar 11, 2017.

  1. Mar 11, 2017
    maurywhurt

    maurywhurt Member Sponsor 2019 Sponsor

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    After reading a post in the Tech forum just now under Is There A Serial Number Chart Covering The Tuxedo Park ( Cj5a ) Jeeps?, having no idea who Norton Young was, I googled him and found the following reference excerpted from the book Jeep CJ 1945-1986, by Robert Ackerson:

    "Most Jeep enthusiasts regard the production figures recorded by Norton Young, an engineer who worked at the Toledo plant, as the most accurate. Jeep historian Charlie Weaver worked with Norton Young's handwritten records and transformed them into electronic form, making them available to jeep hobbyists worldwide."

    I immediately recognized the name of Charlie Weaver because ironically, I actually visited Charlie at his home in Winston-Salem, NC back in 2008. I didn't own a CJ at that time and was not a member of this site then, but here's a copy of a post I wrote back then on the G503 site about what I learned from Charlie that day. I've copied and pasted that post below, since some here will probably find the story he told interesting.

    Maury

    [​IMG]by maurywhurt » Fri Feb 15, 2008


    I had a fascinating conversation with an old-timer named Charlie Weaver yesterday. I tracked him down because I understood that he might have some information about WWII jeep reconditioning programs. It turned out that he didn't have much on that subject, but he did tell me a great story.

    In the early 1970's, Charlie was the president of a national Willys enthusiast club. They were mostly into early Willys cars, and to a lesser extent the early Willys jeeps. He and the other members of the club had tried for years to get their hands on the old obsolete Willys drawings and records. They had heard rumors that there was a lot of stuff stored in the factory in Toledo, but had never been able to confirm it.

    Then, in 1972, American Motors Corporation bought Willys. Right around that time, Charlie somehow met and befriended a high-level executive at AMC. This exec told him that there was indeed quite a stash of records in the basement of the Toledo factory, but that it was too much for Charlie to handle. He estimated the volume as amounting to a couple of tractor-trailer loads. Charlie replied "Let me worry about the logistics - Just get me permission to get the stuff!". The exec told Charlie to send him a letter putting his request in writing. He did, and that letter went all the way up to the President of American Motors.

    Charlie said that he got a phone call on a Wednesday from someone at AMC, telling him that he could go and get the old Willys records....on the condition that he could get all of them out of the factory by close of business that Friday - two days later! After making a series of frantic phone calls to other club members, Charlie flew to Ohio and rented the biggest van he could find. On Friday morning, a hastily assembled caravan of all sorts of big and small trucks, vans, and pickups descended on the Willys factory. Working like men possessed, they were able to get everything out of the factory's basement by 4 p.m. that Friday afternoon.

    After rounding everything up from the other club members over the following few months, Charlie spent a large portion of the next 4 years in his own basement, sorting and cataloging all the stuff they found in Toledo. Between the drawings and the written records, he estimated the haul as being over a million pieces of paper in total. Charlie said that there were all kinds of drawings, some as small as 4" x 5" for special bolts and small parts, and others as large as 6' x 30' , showing full-scale body and frame components.

    The sad part of this story is that by 1972, there was very little information left in the Willys factory on the MAs, MBs, or early CJs. The reason for this was that most of those records and drawings had long before been shipped to France, Brazil, India, and Japan - where the older model jeeps were manufactured under license by various other companies, long after their U.S. production runs had ended. Charlie did say that they found some information, dated 1943 and 1944, related to the prototype CJ-1 - a vehicle which several people denied ever existed until Charlie showed them the drawings for it.

    I had a great time talking with Charlie and listening to his story, which needs to be recorded in the annals of Willys history.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2017
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  2. Mar 11, 2017
    colojeepguy

    colojeepguy Colorado Springs Sponsor 2019 Sponsor

    At the foot of...
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    Interesting stuff, thanks for sharing!
     
  3. Mar 11, 2017
    Willys Motors

    Willys Motors New Member

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    I recall your original post on G503 and may have responded to it.
    The Nort Young list I referred to was one and the same.
    When Charlie shared Nort's list, the G503 did not exist yet.
    It was about 1994 and the correspondence was via a list server called the Jeep-L, by letter, and by phone.
    Nort was still alive, and working for a Jeep parts place in Toledo since he was terminated from Jeep in August 1976.

    Charlie was the representative of the Willys Overland Knight Registry.
    It was the head of PR for AMC, John Conde, that had their Chairman, Roy Chapin, donate the documents.

    These drawings were orginals, not copies. A great deal of work has been done by the WOKR to preserve these materials.

    I once read that Charlie said Nort stopped making his list because Kaiser did not care.

    That was not true. in 1952 Willys changed their method of tracking daily production, and by Oct 1954 the Kaiser organization (Willys Motors) was tracking daily production is a 4 page daily report.
    There were also production reports that went to the Tax department of Lucas county.

    Charlie and Nort were great men. Three more that worked with Nort have passed in the last 3 years.

    The original MA, MB, and CJ records were not shipped out. COPIES were sent to other locations by Steven Girard, the Kaiser head of Willys Export.
    The drawing archive was intact until February 1986 when Renault allowed the originals to be destroyed. Copies on paper, 70mm microfilm, 35mm aperture cards, and photostat masters are sometimes found. (and the copies in the TACOM archive with the MVPA).
     
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  4. Mar 11, 2017
    maurywhurt

    maurywhurt Member Sponsor 2019 Sponsor

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    This is evidently a link to some of Nort's data that Charlie transcribed. It's dated 1998, but could certainly have been written sometime earlier:

    JeepTech/original.html at master · TerryHowe/JeepTech · GitHub

    If you scroll down, there's a note from Charlie at the end where he wrote,

    "In a talk with Norton Young a week or 2 ago, he told me that by 1961, the folks in the corner offices at K-F had no more interest in these statistics so he quit keeping them. He also said that he had difficulty getting "timely" reports from the production people, and often had to go thru the unit sheets himself and try to piece the info together."

    I'd guessed that Charlie had probably passed away by now, as he was in poor health and on oxygen when I went to see him 9 years ago. Very nice guy, and he loved talking about Willys.

    How sad that Renault allowed the original jeep records to be destroyed, when there are so many of us who wanted them preserved.

    Thank you for sharing all that information. It sounds like you've been directly involved with all this for a very long time!
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2017
  5. Mar 12, 2017
    Willys Motors

    Willys Motors New Member

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    CWGEN was Charlie's email, and Terry Howe ran the Jeep List, so you've obviously pinned down the March 1998 date the data was made public.
    I tend to mark events by their proximity to my fathers death, so I know the list was prepared for posting earlier than that.
    Nort's younger son Doug from his 2nd marriage worked with him at the Jeep Parts House, and his older son Rick is an executive at an Energy Company in Akron.
    Neither fully recognized Nort's importance in the Jeep world and don't have any additional data to share.

    The very end of the ClassicJeep entry you posted included a comment from Charlie to Todd. That is Todd Paisley. He continues to be a leader in preserving these materials.
    The CPC and AVA that stumped Charlie were likely the Cargo Personnel Carrier and the Audio Visual Aid truck. (or the airline sewage vacuum?)
     
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  6. Mar 12, 2017
    mickeykelley

    mickeykelley Active Member

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    It's such a shame when you read these stories, but this is exactly how stuff gets lost to history. Someone tries to compile as they have a personal interest and understand the value for the future, but someone else says just get it out by Friday and someone else says yes just destroy them because it's expedient and someone dies and heirs have no idea what stuff is and/or don't care and more stuff is destroyed. Went thru this recently with family history where second marriage side got stuff from first marriage history, then that side kids don't care as not theirs so throws away and boom, in a single moment, Ellis island documents, old world documents, letters, old tape recordings of son heading to D-day last words to his mother before he is shot down and dies, lost to those of us interested. Just a shame.

    But thanks to those who try.
     
  7. Mar 12, 2017
    Glenn

    Glenn Kinda grumpy old man Staff Member Sponsor

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    Wow! :shock:

    That is definitely a shame for that to be lost. Personally I am fascinated by stuff like that, just imagining what life was like, and who the people were.:)
     
  8. Mar 12, 2017
    Steve's 70-5

    Steve's 70-5 Member

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    In Charlerstown Indiana, at the Charlestown Ammunition Plant. During WW2, all the gunpowder used in the war was made there, and they are tearing the plant down. Lets just say, I was in places, I should have not been one Sunday. The old builds used for production where cool. All that history is being lost, there is not much on the Internet about the place. They are turning the place into a state park
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2017
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  9. Mar 12, 2017
    Willys Motors

    Willys Motors New Member

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    I had the same discussion this week with some of Barney Roos's relatives.
    I'm sending them bits and pieces of his history they were unaware of.

    Back in the day if you didn't enter thru Ellis Island, you had to have a sponsor. It usually took a letter from a Postmaster, Police Chief, or political figure to emigrate from Canada.
    I have the originals of those documents going back 5 generations for my family, and I suspect it will be tossed when I die.
     
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  10. Mar 12, 2017
    mickeykelley

    mickeykelley Active Member

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    Me too. I've always been fascinated with 'old' everything. History, architecture, vehicles, etc. Hense the jeep thing.

    I just found out a year ago that my uncle Joe (who was in the 506 of 101st Airborne) had made a record and sent it home to my grandmother days before his jump as part of Operation Market Garden. He was one of those shot like a pigeon as he came down in Belgium and died an agonizing death a few days later in a German hospital. I've tracked down all the reports I could find including the German doctors to the Red Cross, and including a Nuremberg reference about him. Step family got all the family stuff in a horrible will fight, crap, etc. and now it's gone. My grandmother or mom never talked about a recording while they were alive so I had no idea. Found out when I reached out to long lost cousins from NY. Totally sad. An 18 year old kid and his final audible words lost. But I did find new family and we talk all the time so I got a the real blessing.
     
  11. Mar 15, 2017
    Willys Motors

    Willys Motors New Member

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    I went back and read the original post on G503.
    Not much has changed, except the 'secretive' group Bob N referred to has completed their quest. Bob was off-base with his allegations that the documents were purloined. The fact of the matter was it was costing big bucks to get it copied and scanned. Also the owners didn't want to sell copies outright, they wanted to trade for documents they didn't have. In all, 161,403 pages of BOM's were found.

    I have heavily cropped this photo, but this was the Renault document disposal process. S means Save, D means Destroy.
    bldg 49.jpg
     
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