Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Co.

A Fiatallis HD-41B, which weighed upwards of 140,000 pounds counting blade and ripper.

A Fiatallis HD-41B, which weighed upwards of 140,000 pounds counting blade and ripper.

The Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Co. (later Fiat-Allis and Fiatallis) made heavy construction equipment from 1928 until 1985 at a 70-acre plant between Sixth and 11th streets and Stanford Avenue and Stevenson Drive. At its peak in the 1960s, A-C employed about 6,500 people in Springfield.

Allis-Chalmers’ first Springfield plant was bought from Monarch Tractor Corp., which was in financial straits, in 1928. The Springfield Monarch factory, which was descended from a company that had manufactured crawler tractors in Watertown, Wis. since 1913, had opened in 1925. (The Wisconsin Monarch should not be confused with an identically named British manufacturer.)

RitchieWiki, a collaborative website about heavy equipment, explained Allis-Chalmers’ interest in Monarch.

Monarch’s pre-existing models, the Six-Ton and the Ten-Ton, would form the basis of Allis-Chalmers’ new track-type tractor line-up. Eventually, they would develop new models that included the Model 75/Model F and Model 50/Model H. These models were abandoned for the more favorable Model K, Model L, and Model M and in 1937 the Model S.

allis chalmers at warLike most manufacturing firms, Allis-Chalmers’ production was switched to wartime purposes during World War II. Although other portions of the firm contributed to the atomic bomb project, the Springfield plant’s output continued to focus on heavy equipment, such as artillery tractors and bulldozers, many of them used for airfield construction.

The Illinois State Journal noted A-C’s contribution to the war in a V-E Day edition on May 9, 1945.

The Allis-Chalmers Co. was the largest manufacturer of the crawler tread prime mover, and also the M-18, a machine which carried a crew of 15, supplies of ammunition and a large calibre field gun at high speed.

Following the war, A-C moved to outflank competitors like Caterpillar with the HD-19, the world’s largest track-type tractor. More than 2,600 were sold before the next model, the even more powerful HD-20,  went into production.

A-C expanded in Springfield by buying American Radiator Co.’s factory at 11th and Ash streets in 1944 (that facility, identified as A-C’s No.. 2 plant, closed in 1968) and then added the Baker Manufacturing Co. plant, 503 E. Stanford Ave., in 1955. A-C also had a proving ground along the Sangamon River near Mechanicsburg.

Allis-Chalmers warehouse, 1945 (Sangamon Valley Collection)

Allis-Chalmers warehouse, 1945 (Sangamon Valley Collection)

Major products at the Springfield plant included crawler bulldozers, such as the HD-14 and later the HD-41 lines, and heavy-duty graders.

Facing both a recession and increased competition in the construction machinery, Allis-Chalmers entered a joint venture with Fiat S.p.A. in 1974. (A-C was the junior partner, with 35 percent ownership.) The venture operated under the names Fiat-Allis and then Fiatallis, but never gained the sales it needed.

The Springfield Fiatallis factory finally closed, costing the area 1,700 jobs, in 1985. Fiatallis itself eventually was sold to CNH.

“The loss of Fiat-Allis was the final blow to manufacturing as a dominant employer in Springfield industry,” wrote Edward Russo, Melinda Garvert and Curtis Mann in their 1998 Springfield Business: A Pictorial History.

Hat tips: This entry has been edited to reflect Steve O’Connor’s better information on peak employment at A-C. See his comment below for much more information about the company in the early 1960s. In addition, Kenneth Vance’s comment below has more detail about Fiatallis’ last years and its final shutdown.  Thanks to both of them.


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81 Responses to Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Co.

  1. Sherri Boner says:

    I donated several Allis-Chalmers/Fiat-Allis items in 2011, to the Sangamon Valley Collection. See Curtis Mann to look at them. I donated a scrapbook and other small items. Be sure to check them out (book can’t be checked out of library)

    • editor says:

      Sherri: Thanks, I’ll do that. Even tho my dad worked at A-C/Fiatallis for more than 30 years, I was only in the plant once, so I’m interested in anything about the place.

      • Sherri Boner says:

        I was just looking at my comment and I see a type.I meant to say that the book could not be check out! Not ‘look, can’t be checked out”. Sorry.
        I also gave some things to a man who is in the A-C group. I forget his name now. I had found it in my parent’s papers. There is (or was) an A-C retirees group that met for lunch. However in 2011, the man said that not many came anymore. They are, of course, in their 80’s and 90’s, IF still alive.
        I think I also donated some photos to Sangamon Valley Collection, of A-C people. I was never in the plant either.

        • editor says:

          Sherri: I knew what you meant, but thanks for the reminder that I need to look at those photos.

        • Rosemary Hinrichs says:

          They are still alive and meet every other month for lunch and updates on members who are still living. My husband belonged and although he passed I still go to the lunches.
          .He retired after 30 years.

    • I believe there is a typo inside brackets (look should be book) Charles Ryan, 1980-1992

      • editor says:

        Ms. Boner noted the typo two years ago, but I apparently never made the change. Apologies to her, and thank you, Mr. Ryan for the reminder.

  2. Liz says:

    My dad worked at Fiat from 73-85. He worked near 11th and Stanford and would walk to work in good weather, since we lived in Southern View. He knew a lot of guys that worked the early shift that would clock in, walk to Spammy’s on Stanford, drink all day, then walk back right before quitting time. There were also guys that would finish their shift, drink at Spammy’s, then head back to work for their next shift.

  3. In the 1962 Illinois Manufacturers Directory ( 50th edition ) it listed the following information about the Springfield, IL. Allis-Chalmers plant:
    Allis-Chalmers MFG. CO.
    3000 S. 6th St.
    Telephone – 544-6431
    Gen. Mgr.-A. C. Book
    Works Mgr.-H. J. Detjen
    Works Pur. Agt.-W. V. Kauffman
    Traf. Mgr.-A. J. Bianco
    Chief Eng.-F. A. Schick
    Products-Tractors (crawler), Graders, Bulldozers, Snow Plows
    Employs at this plant-6,500
    Other plants at Springfield-1901 S. 11th St.
    Other plants-see Deerfield, Harvey, Ill.
    Employs in Illinois-9,000
    Home Office-West Allis, Wisc.
    1126 S. 70th St. (Milwaukee 1)
    Telephone-SPring 4-3600
    Pres.-Robert S. Stevenson
    Exec. Vice-Pres.-W. G. Scholl
    Sr. V-P., Tractors-B. S. Oberlink
    Sr. V-P., Industries-J. L. Singleton
    V-P’s-John Ernst, W. J. Klein, C. W. Schweers, T, D. Lyons, B. E. Smith, A. Van Herckes, W. Yost, P. F. Bauer, E. J. Mercer, W. M. Wallace, R. M. Casper, L. W. Davis
    Secy.-A. D. Dennis
    Treas.-Asst. Secy.-G. F. Langenohl
    Comptroller-W. S. Pierson
    Total Employees-38,000
    Cap.-over $100,000,000.

    • editor says:

      Mr. O’Connor: It took me two readings, but it finally dawned on me that you had better information than I did about A-C’s employment totals in the 1960s. I edited the post (and gave you credit) to reflect the change. I also appreciate the additional information on plant management and output. Thanks for the additional information, and thanks very much for reading.

      • Editor – you are very welcome. I am going to do a post on my Facebook page this weekend about this factory and would love to use your images giving you credit.

        • editor says:

          Thanks for reading, Steve. As far as photo credit, however, you may certainly say those photos were published on SangamonLink. However, Allis-Chalmers was one of the first entries I did, and I obviously did not give sources for the pic of the HD-19 or the WW2 ad. I’m confident they are in the public domain — I have always tried to make sure of that — but I don’t know now exactly where I got them. So giving SangamonLink “credit” for them would be overstating the case. In the case of the third photo, please identify the source as the Sangamon Valley Collection at Lincoln Library, Springfield’s public library, as I did. And thanks again for improving our entry.

  4. Sandy Baksys says:

    Reading your post, I felt nostalgic about this place, the factory, where Dad went around 3:30 p.m. and returned home around a quarter after midnight five days a week. I still remember his cap with the badge on it and his battered metal lunch (dinner) pail.
    I, too, only visited once, when I was in college, I believe. Dad still dreamed about going to work there late into his ’80s, 25 years after it was no more. I can tell you he didn’t clock in and go to a bar. In fact, post-World War II Soviet refugees there, Poles, Lithuanians and Ukrainians, had a reputation for being very hard workers.
    One time when we were visiting in Kentucky, he told me that seeing roads carved into the sides of mountains, he knew where the earth movers they built had gone, and he was proud at what the machines had allowed this country to do.

    • editor says:

      Thanks, Sandy.

      • Julie Clark Close says:

        Sandy. I too only went inside the plant with Dad once. We also did the plant tour, which was in the 1970’s. Probably about the time Fiat-Allis formed. My Father too still talked about the plant until his death, 2/11/12, he was still a loyal AC/Fiatallis employee. We heard all about what they did in the early years on the manufacturing floor, the years in manufacturing Engineering, and later Purchasing. He would tell stories which included the cost of machinery he had made in Europe, meeting Dave Bing in Detroit to buy steel! We also enjoyed meeting and getting to know the many, many people that came through the plant, visitors from Germany, Italy, and Japan, to our small town home.

  5. frank weitzel says:

    my father , grandfater and uncle all worked at the plant . my grandfather was the president of local 1027.

  6. David C. Hollis says:

    Dave says ….

    I worked at the Springfield plant from 1973 to 1976 as a welder. My parents had each worked there for a while in the 1950s. I had about four of my uncles there at times, one retiring after many years. My grandfather worked there running drilling machines for some thirty seven years from near the start in 1930 until his retirement in 1967. I think in the the decades from the thirties to the eighties, practically everyone from the Springfield and surrounding area had at least someone in their family who worked there. It was truly awesome to see the huge machinery that was put out in the plant. The sights and sounds from such a scale of production are no longer a part of Springfield. I am one who misses it and what it meant to the community.

    • editor says:

      Dave: Springfield really was a manufacturing center for much of its existence. That’s hard to keep in mind these days.

      Thanks for reading.

  7. Donald Jordan says:

    I worked at FiatAllis for 34 years, We raised four children, bought a home and have
    lived here in the same house for 56 years. FiatAllis was good to me and my family. I’ll
    not ever forget them. I will be 83 coming January first 2016. And still remember the good times.

  8. Susie (Larson) Weitzel says:

    My Grandfather Earnie C. Farnam worked at Allis-Chalmers and retired from there, as My Dad Albert D. Larson worked there and retired as well. And my Father -in- Law Harold Weitzel worked there also. I remember going with my Mother and taking supper to my Dad and meeting him on 11th street and watching in the end buildings as the men worked on the big tractors. It was a fun time to watch and some times my Dad worked from 4 pm to 12 Midnight and other times he worked from 4 pm to 4 am. So many times My Mom took my Dad to work and I would ride with her to pick him up at Midnight and watch all the Men come out of the Plant caring there Lunch Buckets, And knowing they all worked very hard on there shift. Lots of memories for so many familys . It will always be Allis- Chalmers corner to me.

    • editor says:

      Ms. Weitzel & Mr. Jordan: My folks raised 11 kids with my dad’s A-C pay check being their only income for many of those years. Those indeed were tough jobs, but they were good ones. Thanks for commenting.

  9. Barney says:

    I just stumbled on this site and enjoyed reading the article and comments. It’s the kind of history I really like reading about. Thanks.
    I had heard on the radio this morning that the Springfield plant closed because the union workers went on strike. Is that true? Thanks again for the site.

    • Kenneth Vance says:

      I work at the plant from 1963 until they closed in 85. In reply to the question about the plant closing because the union went on strike, no I don’t believe so.

      Our last contract negotiations, the company insisted that the union give concessions to the company in order to keep the company afloat, which we did give up 10% across the board.

      A-C/Fiat-Allis had struggled for years, and with foreign and domestic competition. Before pulling out of the US, they were close to reaching an agreement on a contract with Russia for HD 41 units that would have guaranteed a additional 5 years work. However, when President Reagan placed an embargo on trade with Russia, that was the final blow to our plant in Springfield.

      • editor says:

        Mr. Vance: Thanks very much for clarifying the reason behind the shutdown. My memory (I was an editor at the Journal-Register when A-C folded, and my dad worked there for 30-plus years) coincides with yours. Cancellation of the earthmover deal really was the last straw.

  10. Kendra (Castles) Deane says:

    My Dad, Kenneth Castles, worked for Allis-Chalmers / Fiat-Allis for almost 20 years. He was in management and left around 1981 or 1982 (because the plant was closing). Was a great job for him, but was not old enough to retire (He would have been about 38 at the time he left). Took him 2 years to find another job (in another state). Dad was in management. My brother and I would go in to work with him sometimes on Saturdays. Such an amazing building, but didn’t appreciate it as much as I would now. We would also attend the summer picnics. They were always so much fun. My father passed away in 1995 (Age 53). I still have items with the Fiat-Allis logo (not sure if anything with Allis-Chalmers). Some things that were given away at the picnics and/or the open houses that were held. Many good memories.

  11. Josephine says:

    Would anyone know if this image is from the Allis-Chalmers Manufactoring plant. How would one go out about receiving permissions to use this image?

    Image found and then sold on Etsy. (Yes, I have contacted the buyer and seller of this image, no luck).

    • editor says:

      Josephine: OK, now I’ve seen the image (sorry for earlier confusion). Assuming that this is an image from Allis-Chalmers, I believe the copyright is held by CNH Industrial, which eventually bought out Fiatallis. You can follow the link above to CNH’s home page. Good luck.

  12. Eric Beyers says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading article & comments. I’m 53 years old, born in 1963 in Pana, Illinois. I great up on farm which used Allis-Chalmers equipment. I now own a 1965 Allis-Chalmers HD16 bulldozer which may have been built in Springfield. How is it that our State of Illinois has lost so many good companies & jobs over the years? Allis-Chalmers, later Fiat-Allis, employed 6500 people in Springfield, Illinois. That’s amazing! I understand that Allis-Chalmers went out of business. But how is it that another large construction equipment company did not purchase the old ALLIS-Chalmers buildings, toolings, & experienced employees? I drive by this part Springfield & see nothing of these past eras. Was all of it just scrapped? If so, that’s sad.

  13. Sudeep kumar N. says:

    I am Mr.Sudeep kumar N, an Engineer from Sabarigiri Hydro Electric Project which was constructed and commissioned by Allis Chalmers in early 1960s in Kerala, India. As we are crossing 50 years of successful production of Hydro Power, we would like to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the Power House. We came to understand that your esteemed firm VOITH acquired the Hydro Business of Allis Chalmers in 1986.

    As part of our celebration and honor, we would like to get in touch (at least) with any of the staff/member of Allis Chalmers Manufacturing Company (Pennsylvania, US) during 1960s or later. We would be most blessed if we could get such an opportunity during this occasion. Since I got this one link to get connected to Allis Chlamers, I request you to kindly provide us a traceable link to any person or information regarding to it.

    Thanking you

    Sudeep kumar N.
    Assistant Engineer,
    SGHEP, KSEB Ltd,
    Moozhiyar, Kerala,.

    • editor says:

      Mr. Kumar: I’m not sure anyone from A-C’s hydropower division has ever read this encyclopedia, but perhaps another reader has the right connections. I’m willing to be surprised by anything. Thanks for the note.

  14. Joe Kumpf says:

    Greetings all Fiat-Allis friends. I worked for the company from 1974 until 1980 at their Sacaton, AR proving grounds and also at the main plant in Springfield, IL. Had many friends there, most of which have now unfortunately passed away. When we developed the HD-41 as the world’s largest crawler tractor I remember the great pride by all the employees and the community. It was unfortunate that we were not able to stay competitive and continue the great heritage.
    I am now turning 65 and trying to find out who has control of the FiatAllis pension fund so I can apply. My pension will be small, but is needed.
    If anyone out there knows who I should contact to submit for my pension, please let me know.
    Thank you, Joe Kumpf

  15. Liz says:

    Hi Joe,

    I will pass your post onto my dad, who worked at FA from 70-85. He may have some information as I think he may be getting a pension from Fiat.

  16. Nick Penning says:

    I had remembered my father-in-law, John Templeton, telling of an AC contract with Russia to buy trucks, at one point in his long career as a welder at “AC,” and then Fiat-Allis. The truck order surprised me, because I didn’t know we had commerce with Russia. I hadn’t known that the factory’s closing was caused by a Reagan embargo that blocked the HD 41. AC was the heart of good, union-negotiated middle class jobs, and one of our two (the other being Sangamo on the north side) large factories in Springfield. When AC closed, I was dumbstruck. How could that possibly happen? It had been a fixture of town all my life (I’m 70 now). That huge parking lot, with its own traffic light on 6th Street during shift changes, suddenly went empty. Thanks for the info, Mr. Vance; and for this great piece, Mike.

  17. Liz says:

    It was the older union guys not wanting to give in to certain things as well. It was a damn shame that Fiat closed. My dad started in 1970 at the age of 19 and the plan was to retire in 2000, at the age of 49. Fiat provided for our family as it expanded from 3 in to 1971 to 6 in 1980.

  18. Joe Kumpf says:

    Good morning everyone,
    Thanks for the support in finding the source of the old Fiat Allis pension plan. With your help I was able to make contact with the right people.
    However, now there is a difference of opinion on the amount of service time needed to vest for pension benefits and I could sure use your assistance again.
    Does anyone have an old Fiat Allis employee handbook or employee benefits summary sheet that includes the pension vesting period? If so, could you let me know?
    Our pension benefit from Fiat Allis is small but it will be helpful for my wife and I.
    Thank you so much,
    Joe Kumpf

  19. PRESTON STEVEN says:

    I was in my travels and found a horse drawn road grader made by The Baker Manufacturing Co., Springfield,Ill. I have a few old farm relics and I could not pass this up, I was born and raised in Springfield until I left in 1988, but still have very strong ties to the community and the history. I hope to someday restore the grader to original working condition as a reminder of my roots.
    I would like to know if there is still info out there on this road grader, the tag is still intact and would be glad for any info on it.

    • editor says:

      Sir: Perhaps another SangamonLink reader can help. In any case, it probably is worth your while to check with the Sangamon Valley Collection at Lincoln Library (217-753-4900). They might have some ideas for other places to check. It’s very cool that you found a Baker grader. Good luck with the restoration, and thanks for reading.

  20. Jared says:

    Does anyone have some photos of the penthouse of the plant from late 1956 or later? The penthouse is located across the street from 11th and East Oak Street. Thanks.

  21. Sherri Boner says:

    My maternal grandfather, Earnie Metzger, was a guard at plant 2 (on Ash St) for many years I believe. My dad worked at this site, then later at plant 1 (main plant) and on Stevenson and 11th for a time. I have donated a scrap book, compiled by my grandmother?, to the Sangamon Valley Collection, several years ago. Also some photos I found when cleaning out my parent’s home. Be sure to go see Curtis Mann for these.

  22. Hello,
    My Dad was an employee with Allis Chalmers in Matteson,IL
    I am 1 of his 3 kids and unfortunately we can not find the Pension Award letter needed for a Hardship Application at the local dental school.
    His memory can not help us. Who do I contact? I believe the Union office was located in Harvey,
    John L Garza– A.C. 1956-1980 Matteson, IL

  23. William Wieties says:

    My Grandfather worked for Allis Chalmers and later Fiat-Allis that is all I know ,his name Herman Cox. I grew up in Springfield and left in 1974 . I would like to find out anything I could . THANKS

  24. Julie Clark Close says:

    Thank you for this article and blog! I was just wondering if A/C-Fiatallis was remembered anywhere in Springfield, with a little museum collection or articles. This is fabulous.

    My Father, Al Clark, worked there 36 years, I believe, starting in 1947 and retiring as the plant starting to close down. He certainly wasn’t ready for it and talked business negotiations and Purchasing for years!

    Things I recall: When he started, the plant was still being retooled/repurposed from the WWII manufacturing of war vehicles. He said some of the tracks were still hanging on the walls.

    There was a full cafeteria there and two ladies from our little town of Modesto cooked in it. They’d carpool with my Dad to work. Bessie Dunn and Edna Ostendorf.

    The guys would try to get him to chew tobacco, so one day he took them up on it not wanting to spit, he swallowed instead. He would get sick just telling the story about going to the Nurses Station because he turned green!

    He worked his way around the plant floor learning all the tooling, then he was the manager of all those different sections. Those were the days when you could learn your machinist skills on the job. Got promoted to Manufacturing Engineering by the late 60’s and when I was a kid, he was in Purchasing, buying steel out of Detroit off of the likes of Dave Bing (He loved telling that story), have equipment built in Europe, working out of the Fiat plant in Torino. He was designing a plant for them to be built in China, we were going to move there for awhile. Politics put an end to that, I believe. Later he heard it was built in Russia.

    And yes, Politics/Embargo’s did make changes that effected little Springfield, IL. They always do, we just really, really felt it when we had manufacturing here on a large scale.

  25. Michael Sloan says:

    My father, John (Jack) Sloan worked there for a short time. His WWII draft card, dated Feb 16 1942 says that he worked for A-C at 10th and Stanford. Shortly after that he joined the Navy and was sent to the South Pacific. After the war, he apparently chose not to return there.

    When I was a boy in the 1950’s we would drive by the plant on the way to my grandmother’s house and he would always remark about how busy the place was during the war.

  26. Jane E. Driskell (Slaughter) Fairchild says:

    What great memories! My Dad was John R. Driskell, Manager of Purchasing at the main plant from about 1946 to some time in the early 1970s. I was born in Harvey in 1944 and we moved to Springfield so he could take the A-C job. (Purchasing Agent before promo to Purchasing Manager sometime in the 1960s I believe). They bought a little house on College Street where I lived my enttire life until leaving in 1964. Dad always felt a little guilty that he wasn’t in the military during WWII because his job was considered essential to help produce war equipment. I observed my first computer at A-C which was installed somewhere near his office, and it punched out cards that my family used to make Christmas wreaths.

  27. Jane Driskell (Slaughter) Fairchild says:

    I forgot to mention (above) that my grandfather, Dr. Cecil R. Driskell, was the plant physician for several years, from the late 1940s till the late 1950s (?). He treated many eye injuries and industrial accidents. I believe he was part-time as I know he had other jobs as well. Not sure of any dates.

  28. Julie Clark Close says:

    My father, Al Clark, worked at AC in those days. He recalled a story of a few guys loosing their thumbs on the job. Back in the days of all human run machinery, tooling that punched out parts… The one I recall involved a man being distracted by one of the lady employees… but I won’t go into that.

    I bet your grandfather worked on a few of those types of injuries!

  29. sharon haynes says:

    hHi my name is Sharon Haynes my father Jack Haynes work at theater Alice in the 1950s he worked in Department 14 he was a welder when fiat-allis without Allis-Chalmers he had enough years to have retired so he was still in his early fifties and had enough years to retire we all got jobs I graduated in 74 that was my first job that I had my father got me a job there I went in on the Stanford side and ran a washer put in small parts in and another gir at the other end and took them out dry them my brother was a security guard there my father was a very hard worker but he loved being a welder I don’t think dad think ever Miss too many days never home working 4 to 12 and he wasn’t ready to go but he did have enough years to retire and get my father died in 2005 my mom died in 2009 I’m trying to get some help to find out what is out there that my father work so hard forhas coming to him because I do know that they did have a good plan for your employees for retirement and pensions I’m his daughter Sharon Haynes if there’s anyone that can give me any type of help or any type of them advice that I could help me out to find out if there’s Someone I can talk to about finding out some things it’s very interesting hearing all the stories about Allis-Chalmers thank you and God bless you through these trying times

  30. Thomas F. Jansse says:

    My grandfather, Henry J. Detjen was works manager. I remember several of grandpa’s stories. That’s where my father , Robert E. Janssen met my mother Janet L. (Detjen) Janssen.

    I got to visit the plant a number of times while growing up.

    Thomas F. Janssen

    • Julie Clark says:

      Thomas, I know that my Dad Al Clark, Modesto Illinois, thought the world of Henry Detjen! In fact not long before both of them passed, Henry came out to Modesto and visited. Good Men!

      • THOMAS F JANSSEN says:

        Indeed they were.

        And my father, Robert Janssen was involved in the transition to Italy. I remember him working in Lecce, Italy for 6 weeks, then back home for 6 weeks … back and forth if I recall correctly for about 2 years.

        When the transition was finished we got to go over as a family and visit. Beautiful country!

  31. Larry Senalik says:

    Some pictures from the Sangamon Valley Collection:

    • editor says:

      Thanks, Larry. My dad went to work at A-C in the 1950s and stayed into the 1980s. I used to pick him up regularly after second shift right outside the employee entrance, but was inside the plant only once, the day I was awarded an Allis-Chalmers scholarship to college in 1966. My recollection is that the assembly line looked much the same as in same of these photos.

  32. Phil Shadid says:

    Those are great photos of A-C equipment. What did they manufacture during World War II for the military, if anything?

    • editor says:

      Phil: As the entry mentions, a lot of the Springfield A-C plant’s production during WWII went to the military (as did the output of probably every manufacturer in the U.S.). Standard earthmovers, certainly, but several of Larry’s photos show what I think are tracked, perhaps armored, vehicles destined for military use. Look at the ninth photo down, where one of those vehicles is pulling what could be an artillery piece. (I suspect there are other readers who can correct me if I’m wrong.)

  33. Jason Roberts says:

    Hello Everyone,
    Jason Roberts from Pawnee, Illinois
    I own the very last Fiat Allis 41b that was produced. It was made in 1982 but I believe it sold in 1985 or 86. They only made 13 41b’s in 1982 and from 1974 t0 1982 total 764 41b’s made. The rest were Allis Chalmers’ HD41 model. My41b serial# is S764.
    What a Beast I have owned for over 20 years now. It would make a good monument

  34. Bob Adamson says:

    This is a great collection of stories. My Dad worked at AC / FA for 33 years ! My Dad would take me often as a young boy, I can remember the smell of hydraulic fluid, the sound of metal on metal and the laughter from the Engineers. Great memories !

  35. Ron Kempke says:

    I was a drafter in the engineering dept. at the Deerfield plant from ’79 thru ’82 when we were told the plant would be closing. I started as a temp and Fiat-Allis purchased my contract and made me captive in ’80. We were all offered paid transfers to the Springfield plant but I declined the offer. We knew something was going on behind the scenes long before we were told of the plant closing because our file drawings were disappearing and being replaced with copies. The engineering dept. had just been upgraded with new carpeting and electric drawing boards prior to the announcement. I worked with Peter Hoag, Richard Dangel, George King, Don Sandrock and Leo Lentzen. My supervisor was Richard Jacob, who had 2 years to go to his retirement. Anyone know if he made it? Dick Jacob said he was temporarily moving to Springfield to finish out his 2 years and I hope he did.

  36. Dale Simpson says:

    Anyone know when the building at 11th and Stevenson was built? Fire Marshal office is there now.

    • Gary Stewart says:

      I think that was the Worldwide Education Center. We had classrooms and workshops to teach repair of AC earth moving equipment. I went to work there in 1971 and it was pretty new then.

  37. Michael Sponsler says:

    Does anyone know about the history of integration at the factory? How many African Americans were employed? Did affirmative action help?

    • Ron Kempke says:

      I worked in the engineering department at the Deerfield plant under Richard Jacobs and Peter Hoag from 1969-1982, when it closed. I don’t recall seeing any blacks in engineering or in the shop during that time – but that’s not to say there weren’t any.

      Incidentally, anyone know the whereabouts of Dick and Peter? Dick transferred to Springfield but Peter and I declined the move to Springfield and we parted company. Those were glorious days for me at Deerfield, but only because I was unaware that the company was already on the rocks the day I was hired. I could have easily stayed at Deerfield until I retired.

      • Julie says:

        Hi Ron. My Dad Al Clark worked at the Springfield plant from 1949 until it closed. I wouldn’t know about African American employees, but for one. When the plant did close there were three people Dad had worked with, that opened two stores in what was a relatively new operation in Springfield, White Oaks Mall. Mike and Ann Bloechle had the Cookie Factory and an African American fellow named Mac, I believe. Mac had a tobacco shop, second floor near the center of the mall. It smelled wonderful in there with all the wonderful pipes, pipe tobacco, and cigars. I remember this because Dad would stop in and say hi to all of them occasionally.

      • Ron Kempke says:

        Sorry, I meant to say I worked at the Deerfield plant from 1979-82.

        • Ron Kempke says:

          For Springfield commenters who may not know, the Deerfield , IL plant manufactured front-end loaders. I was a drafter in the engineering dept. there from ’79 to ’82, when the plant closed. I worked under Peter Hoag. Richard Jacob was our dept. manager. Dick moved to Springfield when Deerfield closed so someone may remember him. Anyone know Dick’s or Peter’s whereabouts or if they’re still with us?

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