THE JUNK YARDS

One example how we used junk yards to give full service for our garage customers at the Grand Canyon.

The repair business is dependent on certain parts that aren't practical to purchase anywhere else but the junk yard. In my situation while supervising the Public Garage at the Grand Canyon National Park, often time I would need a steering knuckle/spindle for a tourists car. Most people don't know they should repack wheel bearing until a front wheel falls off going down the highway. We bring it in on the wrecker and find out the bearing has seized on the spindle and galled the journal surface to the point you can't save the spindle. If the job came in before noon, I might have the part by morning the next day.

Lodging for the customer,

By now it's obvious that the customer will need lodging another night and rooms go for at least $75.00 bucks. If they don't have a room, I could get them one of a few that are held vacant for emergencies like this. The trick was you had the know the right person in the company make this happen. If the customer was a hard luck case and had a good sob story how broke they were, I had further options for the situation. If a wife and children were involved, things mover a little faster. My transportation manager could get them a free room and meal tickets. If that wasn't enough, he would give the family a free Harvey Car tour on a scheduled trip to Desert View and back to help them have fun.

I witnessed a similar situation within the first couple months of working at the Fred Havey Garage. This convinced me I did work for a real hospitality company that had compasion for people between a rock and a hard place. A couple months later, I was placed in charge of the garage and now it was my resposibility to make things like this happen.

 

Finding the part

The car dealer most likely wouldn't have it in stock or he wants twice the money for it than the junk yard. If the customer was pinching pennies ( and most of them were) the junk yard would be the first option if they had it. In the mean time, I was checking prices and availability by phone in Flagstaff eighty miles away as this is where most of our parts came from.

Getting the part

Our garage was open seven days a week and the workers two days off were spread out over seven days. Every day of the week, there were two men taking their weekend and most likely, one of them would be in Flagstaff. The problem with the junk yard I used, it was twenty miles from Flagstaff in the wrong direction. I had a standing offer with all my fourteen mechanics, that if they were in town on their day off, I would pay for their gas to and from town if they would pick up a part and bring it to the garage. Working at the Public Garage was not just a job, it was a way of life and cooperation with the men in this regard was successful.

Paying the freight

In those days, I would reimburse them a twenty dollar bill for getting the needed part. We were part of a large corporation, so getting the cash required going thought proper channels. I just couldn't take it out of our cash till. I had to fill out a "Cash Disbursement" form and have the head accountant (Company Controller) approve and sign it. He was always busy but waved me into his office when seeing me at his door. Joe would barely look at it, them glance at me over the top of his glasses as though I was a common thief or embezzler, sign it and give it back to me without saying a word. Then I would take the Cash Disbursement slip the the "Cage" or the company bank for Peggy to trade me it for that twenty dollar bill. This sounds like a lot hassle to make this procedure work, but for me, it was easy as the accounting department and garage shared the same stone building.

Part arrival

If one of my mechanics would get the part from the junk yard, he would get it to the garage by morning if he got in town after hours. If he wasn't coming home that night, he could drop it off at one of our parts supply house. They in turn would bring it up the next day if they were doing a stocking delivery. If not, I could get them to bring it to the Nava Hopi Bus Depot and it would arrive at the Bell Mans desk by 10:20 AM at the Bright Angle Lodge. Me or someone would have to meet the bus and then hustle the part to the garage.

Installing the part,

A mechanic would jump on the job and get the car out by noon so the customer could get on their way. The company got their twenty dollars back when I added the freight charge to the repair invoice. If the bus was also used, that charge of $8.10 was added to the bill.

This is a rather complicated junk yard story, but typical when your fixing cars in Northern Arizona in the middle of nowhere.

There is no vehicle service for the tourist anymore at the Grand Canyon as the garage now only services company equipment. The gas station (just down the road from us) closed several years ago. All this is just another example of our great country going to the dogs.

 

 Junk yard on the layout

This is a more laid back operation that brings back memories during my teen age years. The stone building is a casting I made from scratch to represent the one back home. The building was originally the Calumet Water Works but was abandoned when the Water Works was moved to Lake Superior. Demars bought the building and property for a junk yard of which I frequented several times looking for an old car that could one day become a Hot Rod. I was fourteen at the time and dad had no objection for me to have a car to work on and learn about. The 32 Ford Roadster frame and body I found did not interest him. To appease my disappointment, we walked over to a friend of his that owned a body shop and small junk yard near home. There were several cars in their yard and I noticed a 1949 Desoto four door with a straight eight. Dad said that was to big and bought the 1947 Plymouth two door sedan across from it. In those days, you didn't argue with a parent, but accepted their decision. To this day, I think about that 32 Ford Roadster.

 Before I built up some Jordan Products Fords, considerable time was spent on the building roof. The Campbell strip shingles were cut at different lengths so individual shingles were a bit shorter for an uneven look. Because of the 1932 Ford I never got, my yard has plenty to choose from now. When I was an older teen, I had a 55 Oldsmobile that acquired a crack in a cylinder wall. Dad arranged a used engine from Demars and I installed it as a car was needed for attended Dunwoody Industrial Institute in Minneapolis MN. That was a good car that ran for several years and I regret ever selling it.
 Some junk yard owners like to specialize in certain car models. Our obsession happens to be restored Packards for the driving pleasure of the owner.

 The largest party line in America

I know this must have started at least in the early 50's as a friend of mine talked about it back then. I recall witnessing it in action in the 70's when dealing with French Lake auto parts in Minnesota. There was this speaker on the wall with a constant chatter of voices asking about parts from various junk yards in the U.S. One time I was in there telling Floyd about a part I needed. You could tell he was listening with the other ear about what was coming from the "Squawk Box" we called it. He quickly ignored me as the voice was asking about a left front fender for a 57 Chevrolet from some junk yard in Indiana. Floyd leaned over to a microphone on the counter, pressed the mike button and said, " Floyd here, French Lake Auto Parts, I got one". They discussed other details and a sale was made. Leave it to the junk yard owners to come up with a national network that benefited everyone.

HOME