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By Lee Mccain:
Cars are built by a combination of humans and robots (programmed by humans) on an assembly line. Some cars are totally built by hand, basically limited production cars, classic cars, or something special. Some others are totally built by machines. Quality checks are normally made by humans. All cars are built through an assembly line process, some on the assembly line; some with the parts going to the car instead of the car going to the parts.
There are two distinct assembly processes involved, one for unibody design cars (the most popular type today) and another for body on frame vehicles (most all trucks, and most rear wheel drive cars).
In the unibody design, the body weld shop is the first stage, in which the major body panels--the floor, the roof and the side panels--are first tack welded within a fixture. Later, after the body is released from the framing fixture, "respot" welds are applied, likely 1500 or more, and most by robot. Reinforcement brackets and supports for components are then welded and the body becomes very stiff. Unibody cars have a lot of heavy supporting parts which require arc welding as well, usually wire fed MIG welders are used, either by robot or by manual means.
Then the various 'bolt on' components, including the doors, the trunk lid and the hood are assembled, using special fixtures to maintain proper clearances for a good fit.
The next major stage is that the body is selectively metal finished by disc wheel abrasives to eliminate any defects caused by dirt within dies. It takes a special skill to do this job, even to notice the potential defects which will become glaringly obvious after painting.
The next stage is phosphate coating, which cleans all the die oils and any dirt and applies a texture to the metal for painting.
Next is prime painting, which is almost always done by dipping in a long, deep bath unit and use of an electric current to "plate" the primer to the metal. The primer paint is baked in ovens running about 200 degrees Celsius.
The next stage is topcoat paint and again, most of this has been automated with either reciprocating beam sprayers or robotics. As there are usually multiple color possibilities, multiple paint pipes run to the spray booths, and back to keep the paint circulating. Multiple layers of topcoat are applied, each one having to be set up to allow a "flash off" time to elapse between coats. Thereafter the topcoat is baked. A similar process is done using "clear coat" paint, and baked again. Thus, three baking stages for the body--primer, topcoat and clearcoat.
Body framing, welding and painting consume about two-thirds of the cars total time in assembly. But, the last third of the time in system, the "general assembly" stage, the "bolts and nuts" assembly, occupies most of the human labor.
The interior is first assembled in a logical order: floor carpets, windshields and door glass, heating and air conditioning, pedals, headliners, lighting, instrument panels, steering columns. The last stage for the body interior is generally the seat installation.
The final stage is the power train installation. Before the body is finished, in parallel time, the engine has been "dressed" with wiring, fuel injection system, and accessory drives--generator, air conditioner, power steering pump. It is then mated to a supporting structure, called a "cradle," mated to a transmission and further work is done to install the exhaust pipes, drive shafts, front and rear hubs (or solid rear axle, in some cases), brakes, springs and shock absorbers. These are set up in a special fixture to support these components. The fixture will later raise these up under the body, and workers install the "engine cradle" and the attached components to the body, working below the body which is now supported from overhead on a moving conveyor.
This final assembly stage concludes when the wiring is connected, fuel tank installed, radiator is installed with connecting hoses, all the fluids added, the wheels are installed and the bumpers, grille and external lights assembled.
Now the car can be started and is tested using a dynanometer to check acceleration, transmission function and brakes. The steering alignment is later done on rollers with the engine spinning the wheels. Any assembly error corrections are done usually in stalls, similar to an auto garage, and then the car is shipped.
The body on frame vehicles are built in a similar fashion, with these differences: The body is simpler, less parts to weld, as the attaching surfaces for the engine and suspension are part of the frame, not the body. The frame acts as the assembly fixture, and the engine/transmission unit is directly assembled to the frame, along with the front hubs, rear axle, suspension components, chassis wiring, steering and brake parts and the fuel tank. This comprises the "chassis." This work can be accomplished more easily, standing above the frame instead of under the body as with unibody cars. Thereafter the body is lowered to the finished chassis, and a similar process is employed as with unibody cars.
BAGNELL DAM – THE ELECTRIC DREAM©
In 1912, Kansas City attorney Ralph W. Street conceived a plan for building a hydro-electric dam on the Osage River near the village of Bagnell in Miller County, Missouri, but it wasn’t until 1924 that the project began. Street teamed up with Walter Cravens, president of the Kansas City Joint Stock Land Bank, to form the Missouri Hydro-Electric Power Company (MHEPC). Their goal was to generate cheap electricity for Kansas City and create a recreational playground where hunting, fishing and boating opportunities would attract tourists.
After nearly five years of work and millions of dollars in expenditures, which produced the infrastructure needed to build the dam but did not produce the actual dam itself, the MHEPC was deeply in debt and the project came to a halt. Debt and the inability to raise more funds forced MHEPC to sell the project. Union Electric Light & Power Company of St. Louis bought the project and with the help of Stone & Webster Engineering began dam construction in August of 1929. Bagnell Dam’s superstructure was complete by the spring of 1931. By October of 1931 its hydro-electric generators were on line producing electricity.
Completion of the Dam created Lake of the Ozarks. At the time of its creation, the reservoir was the largest artificial lake in North America and was ready to fulfill its purposes – to provide additional electrical power for Union Electric’s vast distribution system, power the mining industry in southeast Missouri, and create a recreational playground in the northern Ozarks. Union Electric Light and Power Company, like its Kansas City predecessor, wanted to stimulate tourism for the northern Ozarks as well as generate power.
To accomplish its tourism goals, it created a subsidiary known as the Union Electric Land and Development Company. This entity proceeded to convert a building on top of the bluff overlooking the dam into a luxury hotel called Holiday House. They next created a nice eating establishment at the west end of the Dam known as the Lakeside Casino Restaurant. Adjacent to the restaurant and Dam they installed the Union Electric Bathing Pavilion and Excursion Boat Dock where fast, powerful, mahogany-trimmed boats gave early visitors a thrilling way to see the Lake. All of this was accomplished within about three years.
The first people to enjoy the electricity produced by Bagnell Dam were the people of St. Louis and southeast Missouri, not the little town of Lake Ozark that sprang up adjacent to the incorporated area around the Dam known as Lakeside and owned by Union Electric. While the Lakeside Casino Restaurant had electricity to light its facility and run its appliances, the cafes, gift shops, service stations, hotels and lodges less than half-a-mile away from the Dam were still using small private generators to produce electricity for their individual businesses a year later. It would be several more years before Union Electric would have lines delivering electricity beyond the west end of the Grand Glaize Bridge in Osage Beach.
In 1936 while touting its success at building the Dam and creating Lake of the Ozarks, the Union Electric Magazine said: “Small wonder that this land developed so rapidly into a popular vacation country. A multitude of resorts have sprung into being – hotels, cabins and cottages, to provide pleasant accommodations for the increasing throngs who have found here in Missouri a vacation land of sport and beauty second to none. But that is not all. Having sprung almost fully grown into existence, the Lake of the Ozarks resorts have been able to take advantage of all new and modern developments in providing guests with the last word in convenience and comfort. . .it is natural that these resorts should have utilized electrical conveniences . . . hot and cold running water, modern electric ranges and hot plates . . . In the hotels and lodges, electric cookery provides appetizing food . . . Go to Lake of the Ozarks where electricity has created an electrical wonderland.”
Well, not quite. It depended on how far you were from the Dam and if you happened to be close to U. S. Highway 54. In the article the company printed six photos depicting resorts that had electricity. One of those was Holiday House in Lakeside. The others -- Pla-Port Resort, Jack Frost’s Cabin Camp, Malibu Beach Resort, Osage Beach Tavern and Golden’s Resort were along or near the highway and not far away. Most were in Osage Beach near the Grand Glaize Bridge. Many other resorts, especially those a greater distance away from Highways 54 and 5 down lengthy winding lake roads would wait several decades before electricity from the Dam reached them. In fact, many of them had to finance the building of their own lake roads from the main highway. It wasn’t until the 1950s following the Great Depression and then World War II rationing that the sprawling tourist industry of Lake of the Ozarks began to truly mature, modernize itself, and attract vacationers and tourists in vast numbers.
The electric dreams of Ralph Street and Walter Cravens finally came true but unfortunately they did not live to see it become the recreational playground that it is today.
For more information about the history of Lake of the Ozarks, see the author’s books on Lake history available at: lakeoftheozarksbooks.com
(Illustrations: Bagnell Dam nearing completion, photographer unknown, circa summer 1931. Note dredging equipment in water below powerhouse and lack of development along distant Lake shoreline; Union Electric Bathing Pavilion and Excursion Boat Dock, photographer unknown, circa 1932; Early street scene along the Bagnell Dam Strip, photography by L. L. Cook, Milwaukee, circa 1930s. )
Ferries, Bridges, the Osage and the Lake
by H. Dwight Weaver
Since the beginning of settlement along the Osage River in the 1830s, travelers have often found the river difficult to get across, not because of deep water or flooding but because of the scarcity of ferries and bridges.
After the 1850s ferries began to make their appearance at strategic points along roads that were the most heavily traveled.
Suspension bridges (swinging bridges) made their appearance in the late 1800s, the first one being built at Warsaw in 1895. Joe Dice, a native of Warsaw, who helped in the construction of that bridge, later achieved local fame by building more than 30 other suspension bridges. Many of them spanned the Osage River. In Miller County, however, Dice built half a dozen bridges across Tavern Creek. Most of those bridges are now gone, replaced in recent years by modern structures.
The coming of Lake of the Ozarks only complicated matters for the natives and tourists in Benton, Camden, Miller and Morgan counties. Several suspension bridges that spanned the Osage were demolished with the coming of the Lake. Linn Creek’s swinging bridge, a toll bridge that carried State Highway 5, fell victim to the Lake. With its demise, the Gov. McClurg Ferry was established because the Lake severed Highway 5 where it crossed the Niangua River and the Osage River. Bridges at those points were not operational until 1937. After their construction the Gov. McClurg Ferry was out of business. The image that accompanies this article shows the Gov. McClurg Ferry, photographer unknown.
Several other ferries continued to operate for a few years at different locations after the Lake was created but eventually closed. Various communities bordering the Lake and its major arms have, at one time or another, agitated for either ferries or bridges at their locations but have not been able to get county or state support for such projects. For the past 60 years it has been possible to boat Lake of the Ozarks from the Hurricane Deck Bridge to Warsaw without encountering a single car ferry or passing beneath a single bridge. It seems rather remarkable to think that a bridge needed so badly for so long to connect the east and west sides of the Lake via Shawnee Bend did not get built until the 1990s. Today, the Community Bridge is that link. One can only wonder if any bridge will ever be built anywhere across the Lake between Hurricane Deck and Warsaw.