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Pre War Henney Production Numbers

Posted: Fri Apr 11, 2014 6:06 am
by PACKARDAPL
There has always been some speculation as to how many units Henney had building at one time. We
have totals for most years, but it never seemed clear to me what constituted a typical late 30s production
schedule. A posting (elsewhere) by a man who lived in Freeport and toured the plant around 1939,
when visiting his father that worked there, seems to verify some figures that I had thought likely.
As a 6 year old child he remembered that he was a bit afraid when he saw the three or four big Packard
hearses being finished in the shop. We have a good figure for 1939; overall production of 1200 units. so----
Minor math then suggests the they averaged 100 vehicles a month or about 25 a week. I previously had
noted that Packard shipped frames to Henney in bulk, 24 in a gondola car at a time, which seemed to be
a weeks supply. With a 6 day week 24 frame shipment divides nicely into 4 new constructions going a day,
which is confirmed by the man from Freeport. Just think of the labor intensive assembly required to keep
4 new units in process each and everyday. Most of these were--by today's standards--mostly hand built too.
Of course there were more than just 4 in the building, each part of the construction; the chassis; the body;
the paint & the final trim out would have had cars moving thru their department on a timely basis. Production
would require 4 daily "starts" and 4 daily finished units. I'm thinking that the whole process took about 2 weeks
as order times--for catalog models-took seems to have been 4 to 6 weeks--the difference for scheduling, testing,
and delivery to the Henney dealer. It is valuable to have some confirmation as to the typical "batch" that were
being produced. Henney must have had a really hard working and dedicated employee force to maintain this
year after year.

Re: Pre War Henney Production Numbers-A Story

Posted: Wed Jul 30, 2014 3:01 pm
by PACKARDAPL
A recent conversation about WW2 and Packards prompts me to add this story on HENNEY ambulances. Based on the best information I have;
the US Navy (medical dept) contracted for 100 ambulances in Dec 1941. This was for a largely standard 1942 ambulance except that it did not have the
rear windows on the side--substituting a solid panel. This was a hecktic period for Henney, many orders, but material shortages were increasing
& Packard had notified them that the government would likely embargo domestic auto production( & parts) soon. Henney received their Packard
chassis in individual parts and did the assembly--adding whichever custom body was ordered. Henney ordered as much as they could to complete this
and some other government orders. To the exclusion of some commercial orders, Henney worked on the Navy order--one hitch; they would only
accept them after ALL were completed and inspected. The problem was Henney only had storage room for a few dozen units & not nearly a 100
ambulances, which would take several months to complete. Packard cars--etc--production ceased in Feb 1942; but by this time Henney had received
enough car sets (kits) to finish the Navy order. For awhile they were parked everywhere they could arrange. Finally, the order was done. The naval
inspectors looked the cars over--OK but one omission had to be fixed before the Navy would accept the vehicles. The door had US NAVY & the
traditional medical symbol that featured a couple snakes. Well, it seems that the emblem did not have Eyes on the snakes like the symbol required. So
one employee, took a paint brush & some paint and proceeded to "dot" or add the eyes to each of the hundred. The Navy liked this and took the order--
to Henney's relief. The employee afterwords could not avoid the nick-name "snake eyes". Occasionally one of these Navy units still turn up and several
are known to exist. One observed vehicle ID plate off one of these lists the delivery date--presumably of all of them--as late June 1942; much after Packard production ceased.