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Mopar Ashtrays and Candy Dishes

Dave Van Buren sent over this pair of custom-made ashtrays from the Outer Drive Manufacturing Technology Center (ODMTC), which is also called Mt. Elliott Tool & Die—a former Briggs Body plant which is now up for sale. Dave got these ashtrays at a swap meet, but he knows the full story behind them.

Despite appearances, they look almost identical (though they aren’t). The one on the left, from 1984, is slightly less silvery and clean than the immaculate one on the right, but in person both look new and unused—a trick of the camera.

Dave Van Buren wrote,

We also made ash trays at Warren Stamping, at the Employee Family Day Tour; we also made candy dishes. Everyone who wanted to make one got to feed the stainless steel blank into the machine, by dropping into the chute that feeds it to the die. They would hit the 2 safety buttons and cycle the press. The finished stamped part would get ejected out the back, go down a chute, and slide around to the front of the press, where you could pick it up. They would actually be warm when they came out—but they needed to be wiped off too because you had to use some draw die fluid (a type of oil) on the part to prevent galling and sticking in the die. Stainless steel in real tough to stamp out or machine.

When we tried out and ran the ash trays, they wound up all over the plant before the family day.. We made ours in 1971, so people were smoking in most parts of the plant. The 2 dishes I sent you are, I believe, made of two different types of metal. Get a good magnet and see if it sticks the same to both [the darker one barely attracts the magnet, the lighter one has a strong attraction]. Ask Elon Musk about the difficulties he is having making the stainless steel panels for the Cybertruck!

We also designed and made the blanking die, and ran off the stainless steel blanks they used ahead of time. Cadillac Stamp Co. made the part that did the letters; we did the rest of the die and chutes. Die shop management got all the apprentice die makers together and told us to have fun designing it and making it work. We did not get any help from Engineering or any journeyman diemakers.

They gave us a 20 or 30 ton OBI (open back inclinable) stamping press to use. It was the first time I ever saw that kind of safety practiced with a stamping press. They put some plexiglass around the moving parts of the press and die so you could not get into it. The bed of the press was about three feet by three feet; it had about a one foot stroke.

The one problem we had was some people would jump back when they hit the 2 cycle buttons to cycle the press and it would stop the press if it had not got to the bottom of the stroke. We had to take turns “babysitting” running the press, helping clean the parts and making sure the press cycled all the way. I am going to guess the ODMTC (Outer Drive) did the same thing for their Employee Day. I don't think they will ever make stainless steel ashtrays again, the stainless steel would be shockingly expensive!

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