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Michigan Engine Builder Resources

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Posted on Thursday, March 13, 2003 - 01:39 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Scott Peters has been doing some impressive research on Michigan made vessels, he is sharing some of the sources here:


Just FYI, I am working on a list of Michigan boat (small craft) and shipbuilders, if you get quite a few inquiries about boat builders,
albeit not as detailed as the Brooks stuff. I also have... an Access database generated out of Lloyds Register of American Yachts for
MI-built boats that might be helpful to show the sizes of engines used in various boat sizes over time. It does not show model numbers, but perhaps the bore and stroke data might lead in that direction.

Another few things for engine history researchers that I have found useful in researching small craft builders:

There are State of Michigan corporation annual reports for quite a few of the Michigan marine engine manufacturers that incorporated at the State Archives of Michigan, 702 W. Kalamazoo, Lansing, MI 48909-8240. They are organized by year of the report, then alphabetically by company name. They list the names of the stockholders, officers of the corporation, location, dates of incorporation, value of stock on hand for inventory, and general assets and liabilities. Nothing about units produced, however--strictly financial stuff. They do give a pretty good idea of how the company might have been doing business-wise over time.

One other source I have yet to tap into is that the Michigan Department of Labor performed factory inspections every year at most of the larger firms (and even some of the smaller ones), listing the number of people employed at the time of inspection, how many were "child laborers," and the numbers of males and females. They also address safety issues in the plant that required immediate attention such as low-water alarms on boilers, guards over grinding wheels, etc. These are summarized in the Michigan Department of Labor annual reports in the Michigan Government Documents area of the Library of Michigan, in the same building as the State Archives. The size of the workforce can sometimes hint at the numbers of units they might have been producing each year. Again, not much for the restoration guys, but it does help for an overall understanding of the industry.

A third source on microfilm at Library of Michigan is the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps for each of the major cities in Michigan. They show very distinctly the size of the factories and how they changed over time, and sometimes they even show the correlation between the processes, such as the casting rooms to finishing and assembly areas. They were usually made a few years apart and updated with paste-overs in between.

If you know of people in this area who are looking for information on MI firms, perhaps this might help them in their search.

Keep up the great work on this really neat site!


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Posted on Wednesday, March 19, 2003 - 05:58 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Scott has been doing some additional Michigan research on engine builders in particular. He has built some impressive databases...


... a... database for Michigan gasoline engine manufacturers who suffered through a factory inspection during the course of their busy workdays during the year 1909, generated out of the Michigan Department of Labor Annual Report, 1910. It has a lot of non-marine builders in it, which probably won't interest you as much, but might serve for comparison purposes. I picked the 1910 report as it was around the era when most of the new startups were still in existence before the industry consolidated, presumably like the auto industry did.

The thing that most surprised me in putting it together was how small the workforce was in most of the shops, especially the marine engine builders. I was thinking most were in the 50-100 employee range, but at this time they appear for the most part to be much smaller than that. Again, these numbers hint at volume of production and possibly at sales revenues (how many people can you keep employed at $2.50-$4.00/day or thereabouts.)

I started work earlier today on the 1915 report, to again show the differences in a 5 year interval, which I will incorporate into the same database so you can sort by year, manufacturer, etc. It also lists approximate date of establishment, which is helpful for a lot of your clientele.

I hope you find the information interesting and intriguing.

Scott Peters

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Posted on Monday, March 06, 2006 - 04:31 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

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