Ford Engine Plant

In the late 1940s, the Ford Motor Company decided to expand its engine production facilities. Ford intended to build more manufacturing plants outside of the Detroit area, with this project calling for a new engine plant and foundry. Five states and hundreds of communities attempted to attract the project. In the end, Ford decided that a 204 acre site in the Village of Brook Park, Ohio would be the ideal place. The site lies along the main line of the New York Central Railroad which certainly made it attractive. The clinching argument, however, was that the nearby city of Cleveland was a port city on the Great Lakes, making it even more convenient to import raw materials into the plant and sending finished products out of it.

Therefore, In 1951, Ford built the Cleveland Engine plant, which was the first Ford engine plant in Ohio. The plant was the center of production for Ford's first overhead valve engine, the Lincoln V8. The engine foundry opened in 1952 to produce cast iron engine blocks. Also, in 1955, Ford built engine plant number two on the site. Plant 2 was opened to produce the Y-block V8 for the Ford Thunderbird. Indeed, the plants have produced a wide variety of V6 and V8 engines throughout the years. The engines were used in cars, including everything from the Edsel to the Mustang, and in trucks like the F-100 and the F-150. By 1955, the Brook Park facility was the second largest Ford complex in the world behind only the River Rouge Complex in Dearborn, Michigan. Over 34 million engines have been built in Brook Park since 1951.

The plant has gone through a variety of changes in the nearly 60 years it has been in operation. During the 1960s the plant employed over 15,000 workers. Of that number over 10,000 worked in the casting plant's foundry. Markets, economies, and techniques change with time though, and the foundry closed in late October 2010, leading to the loss of a number of jobs. The plant was no longer needed since most of Ford's engine blocks are now made of aluminum. The few iron engine blocks that Ford currently uses are produced by a company in Mexico.

Also, engine plant one was idled in 2007 and for a time employed only 72 workers. However, after a $350 million investment by Ford in 2009, the plant rebounded and currently employs 800 people building the new Eco Boost engine. In 2011, the plant was producing about 900 engines per day during its two shifts.

Images

Audio

"It's In Your Blood"
John Phillips, a supervisor at the Ford Engine Plant in Brook Park, reflects on why he began working for Ford over 30 years ago.
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Changes
John Phillips, a supervisor at the Ford Engine Plant in Brook Park, talks about the changes he's seen at the plant since the 1970s.
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Long Hours
John Phillips, a supervisor at the Ford Engine Plant in Brook Park, discusses the least favorite part of his job.
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Union Relations
John Phillips, a supervisor at the Ford Engine Plant in Brook Park, discusses how the company's relations with the auto unions has changed since the late 1970s.
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