Saturday, September 16, 2006

"Ford Wixom Assembly Plant: Car in Process" -- (oil - 9x12") Two summers ago (back when things were still going fairly well at the Lincoln plant), we group leaders were called in during the final week of the summer shutdown. Our duty that week was to update all the Operator Instruction Sheets in our zones, update any backlog in paperwork, charts, etc. Some departments were lagging behind in this respect. But of course, I'm always on top of everything, so I had a few days of time on my hands. Rather than sit and read a book, I decided to bring my easel and paints and do a couple paintings of "my world".

This painting was done directly from life, not photographed, projected and traced. Yes, it's rather complex, but I had all day long to do it, so I took my time drawing it in. Drawing something in is usually what takes the longest, and sometimes there are many wipe-outs before the drawing is satisfactory. Patience is a virtue!

These cars are empty shells at this point. They have been assembled in Body Shop and traveled through Paint Shop, where they have been sealed and painted. There is nothing inside at this point, no seats, carpeting, no tires or chassis. Notice the yellow-edged groove in the floor. All the car bodies are resting on "saddles" at this point that move along the floor, being pulled by powerful chainwork systems. And all of it's controlled by computers. When I first came to this department, I had nightmares for months that I would step into one of these grooves in the floor! You kind of have to watch your step in any factory.

What you're seeing is a Lincoln Town Car that has been painted (a pewter-gray color), but something was found wrong with the metal. Perhaps a dent of some kind. Body Shop inspects all cars before they come to Paint Shop, but some imperfections are very difficult to see before the car is painted. The yellow repair ticket hanging from the front end was put on to let the Paint Shop people know that this car needed to be routed to the Metal Repair Line. Since the ticket is hanging from what we call the "GOP", it probably is a sign that the GOP was cracked and needed total replacement. The pink ticket on the car in back is hanging at the side of the windshield. That could mean either that other metal repair work is needed OR maybe some kind of spot paint repair is called for. In any event, we get everything fixed to perfection before sending our cars on to Trim Shop.

I've worked at the Ford Wixom Assembly Plant for nearly 29 years. I've appreciated the income and opportunities I've had there. It's been the most amazing place in the world to work. It's sad that the place is going to close, but I'll be happy to retire -- and paint full-time!