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International Harvester Aust manufacturing history 17 Feb 2011 14:29 #45907

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The cut and paste of International history from the IHC Australia site by Relic61 is the poorest piece of history reporting I've seen.
It barely covers 1% of IHCA history, and is badly written.

It just goes to show that IHC is only interested in providing about 2 seconds lip-service to IHC history. I bet the journo got all of 5 minutes to write it up.

I'll write up on this post, the reasonably precise history of the manufacturing facilities of IHCA in Australia from the late 1930's.
I'll list any dates as accurately as I can .. and any cut-and-paste will be in quotation marks. If any serious mistakes are spotted, please advise me.


29th Sept, 1937. At a public auction held at Geelong on this day, International Harvester Co of Australia (IHCA) purchased 45 acres of land from the Geelong Harbour Trust.

The upset purchase price was

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Re: International Harvester Aust manufacturing history 17 Feb 2011 14:41 #45908

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19th July 1938 - From the Melbourne Argus ..

"In the presence of the directors and principal executive officials of the International Harvester Company of Australia Pty Ltd, Mr L P. Thayer, vice-president of the International Harvester Company, Chicago, turned the first sod yesterday on the 45 acre site purchased last year from the Harbour Trust on Corio Bay, Geelong.

A factory costing

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Re: International Harvester Aust manufacturing history 20 Feb 2011 21:28 #45909

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IHCA and the Geelong factory .. cont. ...

The Geelong factory was a huge investment for International Harvester, and put them up in the big league, along with Ford, GMH and Chrysler for the scale of manufacturing investment in Australia, prior to WW2.

The Geelong factory was not only a comprehensive manufacturing facility, it was also designed to be seriously expanded. The factory was complete as any major manufacturing facility needed to be.
The new and large foundry consisted of both a grey iron and malleable iron foundries; there was a forging shop, a wood shop, a pattern shop, a machine shop, and a sheet metalwork section.
A large and specialised building was located adjacent to the new wharf for the handling, storage and assembly of tractors and trucks that were imported in crates in knocked-down form.

The construction and equipping of the factory was done to utilise as much Australian content as possible.
IH senior executives were surprised to find that many items of machine shop equipment could be supplied by Australian manufacturers.
In only a few cases involving high-tech, latest-technology machines, was it deemed necessary to import them from the U.S., Canada or the U.K.

The major difference between IHCA and the other large manufacturers in Australia at the opening of the Geelong factory, was that IHCA was very largely, an agricultural-implement manufacturer .. and the construction and design of the Geelong factory represented that.
The large-scale production of agricultural implements was the factorys main aim .. with tractors, trucks, and other vehicles, being a secondary product line.
However, IH executives saw that the secondary products lines would increase substantially in coming years, and planned accordingly.

The Australian release of the "new" model "D" International trucks, in August 1937, which led to an upsurge in International truck and ute sales, was an indicator to the future.
Despite the promising increase in sales of the new International utes and trucks, International still ran a distant fourth in the vehicle sales stake in 1941.
At that date, GM/GMH occupied 1st place, at nearly 40% of vehicle sales, Ford, 2nd place at 20%, Chrysler about 15%, and International about 10%. The remaining 15% was spread amongst a large number of brands.

IHCA and WW2 ...

The factory was only in full production for a few short months, when an event that would affect the world, Australia, and IH, in ways never foreseen, was announced.
On Sept 3, 1939, PM Robert G. Menzies made a major, pre-advised announcement, to many hundreds of thousands of Australians, gathered around their "wireless" sets.

His lengthy announcement simply stated in its opening lines: "It is my melancholy duty to inform you officially, that in consequence of the persistence by Germany in her invasion of Poland, Great Britain has declared War upon her. Accordingly, Australia is now also at War".

This simple two-sentence statement, set in train events that were to reshape the world, reshape Australia, and affect the lives of every single Australian, no matter whether they were military or civilian.

The last few months of 1939 and the first 6 months of 1940 did not initially appear to alter things very much for manufacturing.
Orders for military equipment increased, and they were initially, mostly trucks and cars. These orders were soon given priority over civilian orders, by the institution of Govt regulations for military priority.
Shipping then started to tighten up. Shipping space was becoming tight, as the military orders increased.

Losses of equipment on the water started to become a feature of manufacturing, as merchant shipping that was carrying obvious military equipment, started to be sunk.
Shipping in the Atlantic, and in the oceans between Australia and Britain, were the first to be affected.
American shipping was initially largely unaffected .. but later on, in mid-1941, American shipping in the Atlantic did start to become targeted, provoking outrage from the Americans.

The factors that affected manufacturing in Australia the most, were two main things .. the decision of the Govt to manufacture armaments and munitions on a large scale .. and the introduction of petrol rationing.

In June 1940, the Managing Director of BHP, Essington Lewis, was appointed by the P.M., Mr. R.G. Menzies, as Director-General of Munitions.
Essington Lewis was given virtually unlimited power to commandeer, re-organise, and re-adjust anything he saw fit, to institute the large-scale manufacture of armaments, weapons and munitions in Australia.
This was unheard-of in Australia's history .. that one civilian could be given unlimited power to re-organise the nation, as he saw fit.
However, these were desperate times, and desperate decisions needed to be made, quickly.

Essington Lewis, fortunately, was no power-hungry incompetent. He was a superb administrator and organiser, and within days, had gathered all the leading industrialists in Australia to advise them of the Govts requirements, and his plans.
He received unparalleled support from the senior executives of every manufacturing facility in Australia.
Included in this group were Govt Railways workshops, who possessed a very substantial manufacturing capacity, and who were to play a big part in War production.

Essington Lewis' aims were simple. The Managing Director of every manufacturing facility in Australia had to report back to him, as to how much of their manufacturing facilities could be turned over to manufacturing armaments, weapons and munitions, without affecting other, priority military production.

IHC of Australia was one of the many Australian manufacturers who stepped up to the plate. Manufacturing of agricultural equipment virtually ceased.
Big areas of the Geelong plant were re-organised and turned over to the production of armaments, weapons, munitions, and 1000 other parts and components needed in war machines.
The workforce trebled to over 1200 employees by the end of 1941, and a large percentage of those new employees were women.

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Re: International Harvester Aust manufacturing history 20 Feb 2011 22:57 #45910

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IHCA in WW2 .. cont. ...

On Oct 1, 1940, petrol rationing was introduced to Southern Australia. In fact, all liquid fuels were rationed, including diesel and power kerosene.

This had four effects ..

1. A massive rush on fuel supplies just before rationing was introduced, and stockpiling of same. Within a short time, all civilian fuel supplies were nearly exhausted.
The rumours driving the rush, was that there were to be extreme limits put on use, possibly as little as 2,000 miles a year .. and that fuel prices would skyrocket after the introduction of rationing.

Neither of these rumours came true. The fuel rationing was not as severe as rumoured, and the Govt ended up putting price controls on nearly every single product, to prevent profiteering.

2. A serious reduction in useage of civilian vehicles. Some people even put their cars up on blocks for the duration of the war.

3. An increased demand for fuel efficiency and alternative fuels. Diesels were in demand, and many alternative fuels were produced, including alcohol.

4. An upsurge in gas producer design, production, and fitment. Many designs were tried, but bulkiness was problem. Some designers even produced trailer-mounted gas producers.

Even IHCA got into the act, and made an announcement that they would soon produce their own gas producer, which could be ordered as an attachment, with any new International truck.
However, new truck sales to civilians were soon restricted, too .. and the military and farmers got priority in that order. The military never ordered any gas producers, they had all the petrol they needed.

Regardless, civilian demand for gas producers was high .. and then the price of charcoal soared, thus making charcoal production a good money spinner for the few civilians left, that were able to produce it.

Fuel rationing was initially limited to the high population Southern cities. Eventually, by late 1941, fuel rationing was extended to all of Australia.

The fuel rationing cut into both new and used vehicle sales. However, as new vehicles were in very limited supply, fuel rationing probably had only a modest effect on sales.

Fuel rationing was initially based on an allowance of 4,000 miles (6,400 kms) a year for civilian cars. Other users, such as delivery vehicles, farm vehicles and buses were allowed a higher allowance.
The allowance was cut again in early 1941 to an allowance of 3000 miles. Later on, in June 1941, the civilian petrol ration was cut once more, to an allowance of 2,000 miles a year.

The fuel rationing system entailed a massive bureaucracy, and a mind-boggling set of rules and restrictions. Every vehicle and engine had to be registered and a fuel ration allocated to it.

The Govt set up the Liquid Fuel Controls Board, with a division in every State. You had to apply to the Board for any variation in fuel requirements, such as additional harvest fuel requirements for a farmer, or for special trips. Fuel ration coupons were the subject of many laws, and punishment was heavy for any illegal fuel dealings.
You were allowed to keep a 44 gallon (200 litre) drum of fuel for reserves, and ration coupons could be saved up for holiday trips.

Australians (excluding the Military) used 30 million gallons of petrol a month before the start of WW2. By June 1941, this consumption figure had been reduced to 20 million gallons a month.
The PM stated at that date, the figure had to be reduced further .. to 12 million gallons a month .. if the military was to get enough petrol, to fight the War unhindered.
The Govt succeeded in their petrol-saving aims, and the petrol consumption of Australia stayed at 144 million gallons a year until the end of 1944, whereupon it started to creep up again, as people realised the War was coming to an end.

Petrol rationing allowances were increased in Dec 1944, increased again in Dec 1947, and in February 1948. In June 1949, a legal challenge to petrol rationing saw the High Court rule that the rationing laws were invalid.
Three months later, all States except Tasmania, re-introduced petrol rationing. It was finally abandoned altogether on February 9, 1950.

Imports of cars and trucks, particularly from America, were the subject of import restriction quotas, as from May 1, 1940.
At that date, the importation of civilian cars and trucks, and car imports were reduced by 24%, and trucks by 6%, by the quotas. Military vehicles were not included.

There were two aims in this .. to increase available shipping space for military equipment .. and to save Australia's precious US dollar reserves, and to prevent a blowout in the balance of trade.
Already, Australias debt to America was blowing out, as military demands increased for everything from tanks, to American machine tools.

The Federal Council of the Chamber of Automotive Industries announced in August 1940, that from Sept 1, 1940 to June 1, 1941, a voluntary cessation of the imports of cars would be undertaken.
This did not include firm orders already taken for vehicles, and the cessation agreement did not apply to trucks.

By mid-1941, the vehicle situation was so serious, that the Military commenced to commandeer private vehicles .. particularly trucks.
Military personnel would stop trucks in the street and question the driver, and then issue a commandeering order, if they determined the truck wasn't engaged on a vital task.
This commandeering was supposed to be on a fair-minded approach, with only surplus or low-use vehicles being commandeered .. but many truck owners claimed that the Military were exceptionally harsh, and took single vehicles belonging to owner-operators.

The Military usually only advised the truck owner to procure a used truck, to replace the one taken. However, used trucks were virtually unobtainable.
In many cases, the owners often shut their business and joined the Military, as they often decided they had little choice, except the Military, as a source of income.

The commandeering of trucks extended to all new trucks held by importers, dealers, distributors and agents .. good used trucks held by same .. but not trucks destined for the Military, or destined for contractors to the Military.

For the Geelong plant, during WW2, assembly of International trucks to meet Australian Military orders, became quite a good portion of their business.

Military and Govt orders were not tendered for, and all purchases by both Military and Govt were provided, at cost-plus prices.
This price was actual cost, plus a margin, usually 10%. A similar situation was in place in America.


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Re: International Harvester Aust manufacturing history 21 Feb 2011 06:56 #45911

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Good stuff Ron, have you ever found anything on ISAS, another part of IH that has been forgotten.

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Re: International Harvester Aust manufacturing history 21 Feb 2011 12:35 #45912

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Atkipete - Yes, I have discovered quite a lot of info on ISAS, which I will put up, in another separate post, later on.

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Re: International Harvester Aust manufacturing history 21 Feb 2011 15:22 #45913

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IHC Australia manufacturing history .. cont ...

1940 was an interesting year for IHCA. The release of several entirely new tractor models (the Farmall A, H, and M, and the W models - W-4, W-6, W-9, WD-6 & WD-9) in July 1940 .. was followed almost immediately, by 3 brand new TracTractor models .. the T-6 (kero), the TD-6 (diesel) and the TD-14 (diesel).

All these tractor were widely advertised from July 1940, and field days were put on by IHCA to show farmers the performance abilities of these new models.

These new tractors raised the interest of buyers, amidst mounting concerns over the course and conditions of the War.
Truck sales were still reasonably good, but the talk of fuel rationing was ever-present, leading to some buyers "hanging off" the purchase of a new truck.
What was going to be the point of buying a new truck, if you couldn't get fuel for it, was the reasoning? There was even talk of possibly having to go back to increased horse useage.

One of the interesting things about WW2 was the amount of private contribution to the War effort, by both everyday working people, as well as rich people.
One wealthy lady in Victoria gave a donation of

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Re: International Harvester Aust manufacturing history 21 Feb 2011 18:47 #45914

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IHC Australia manufacturing history .. cont ...

In early November 1940, the Managing Director of IHCA released the news that the company was preparing to enter the gas producer field, by manufacturing and selling a gas producer unit, built under licence from a British company.
The production under licence of a proven design, eliminated the design work and testing, that would have been required to produce one built to IH design, from scratch.
This was not only a commonsense decision .. it was also based on the practicalities of a severe shortage of Australian labour in every field, from design to construction .. as well as the requirement to place gas producers in use as fast as possible, to ensure that fuel-savings targets, and consumer demands, were met.

From newspaper articles of the time ..

GAS PRODUCERS FOR TRUCKS

I.H.C. Enterprise


"To meet new conditions which have arisen in the motor-truck industry due to petrol rationing, Mr. G. L. McHenry, managing director of the International Harvester Co. of Australia Pty. Ltd., has announced that his company will enter the gas producer field.
Arrangements have been made with the Brush Electrical Engineering Co. Ltd., of Loughborough, England, whereby the International Harvester Co. of Australia Pty. Ltd. has been appointed sole licensees and manufacturers in Australia, of the "Brush-Koela" duo-draught gas producer.

Mr. McHenry said that after many months of careful research, the "Brush-Koela" had been selected after extensive tests under Australian conditions and with Australian fuel. This was in line with the I.H.C. policy of providing its customers with a proved article with the latest and best development in commercial transportation.

The "Brush-Koela" has a history going back to 1901, when it was introduced into India, the name "Koela" being the Indian word for charcoal.
It is believed to be the only gas producer with such a long and consistent record of achievement and development on motor-trucks.
In England the Brush Electrical Engineering Co. is manufacturing it on a mass production basis to meet the heavy demand created by petrol rationing.

In spite of certain claims made for gas producers, Mr. McHenry said his company would not attempt to hide from customers the inherent drawbacks of all types of gas producers, and he stressed that extra care would be necessary on the part of the operators, if reasonable efficiency and engine durability were to be maintained.

The "Brush Koela" embodied patented features not found on other gas producers, including the advantages of both the cross-draught and up-draught.
By this arrangement the cross draught was used in starting because of the ability to make a rich gas supply quickly and in straight running the up-draught enabled the producer to run more economically and with a restricted fire zone.

The combination of these two systems also facilitated operations in traffic and in hilly country, and gave to the unit more of the flexibility enjoyed by the petrol vehicle.
Several other technical refinements were incorporated in the producer itself, together with a series of ingenious devices to clean and filter the gas.
For the present, the production of the "Brush-Koela" unit will be confined to motor-truck service."

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