Seeburg Factory Tour
Below is a tour of the factory and the factory grounds, made up of publicity photos Seeburg provided as part of their yearly press kit.
|The original factory. The main plant is in the lower center. Jukebox production was actually on the third floor of this building, with electronic subassembly production on the second floor, offices and cafeteria were on the first. I believe the Engineering offices were in the building to its right, with riveting and the paint shop in the smaller buildings at the upper left. I don't know what was in the other buildings. The street on the left side running from the upper left to the lower middle is Blackhawk Street, while the one running from the lower middle to the upper right is Dayton Street. The street running from the upper left to the upper middle is Fremont Street, while the street running from middle right to upper middle is Weed Street. The new building (see next) ran along Dayton Street, causing Weed Street to be closed. The original building and Engineering building remained, with the Engineering building getting a new fašade.|
|The new building (opened in 1965 is at right in the photo,
in the distance) with the
Engineering building new fašade in the foreground. This view was taken
looking north along Dayton Street, looking towards North Avenue on
Chicago's near north side. In the 60s and 70s, when I worked there, the
surrounding neighborhood was quite run down, a borderline slum.
Nowadays, it is an upscale yuppie area. Seeburg somehow got the city of
Chicago to close off Weed Street between Dayton and Fremont to build the
new factory. The new factory extended almost to North Avenue. A big
huge lighted neon Seeburg logo was on the roof of the new
building, facing downtown Chicago. It was rumored that the Chairman of
the Board had it positioned so that he could see it from his penthouse.
|View looking south along Dayton Street,
right about where Weed Street was closed to make way for the new
|A photo of 1500 N. Dayton Street in Chicago, showing a modified version of the new building pictured above. This photo was taken in September, 2006, and was provided by Ron Rich. The shallow Vs at the roof line are about the only detail of the original building that still can be seen.|
|View looking northwest from the corner of Blackhawk Street (running to the left) and Dayton Street (running to the right). While Seeburg's official address was 1500 N. Dayton St., the main entrance was on Blackhawk Street, just to the left of the leftmost tree. This view shows the new fašade on the Engineering building middle right, with the new factory building far right. The original building is in the foreground.|
|This is a view taken inside the Vice President of Manufacturing's office, showing the main production floor through the window. The man in the foreground is (I believe) Carl Carlman, VP of Manufacturing at the time the photo was taken. I don't recognize the other man. This office was on the east side mezzanine of the third floor of the new building. All of the jukebox chassis, mechanism, and final production took place on this floor. Also on this floor were the cable department, where all cable assemblies were made, and final production lines for cold drink, hot drink, pastry and cigarette machines. The Seeburg cigarette machine that delivered product to the top of the machine (so you did not have to bend over to get your pack) was not built in this building, but rather in the converted Engineering building next door. Also on the third floor of the new building was the Quality Assurance Department, situated right at the end of the jukebox production line. When the new building opened, jukebox engineering moved to the second floor of the original building (where amplifier and control center subassemblies were previously built) and vending engineering moved to the first floor of the old building. The third floor of the old building (where the jukebox final assembly previously took place) was unused, except for the publications department (where manuals were printed) and storage. Probably, the home units were built there, too. On the opposite side of the building from this office, also on a mezzanine, was an employee break/lunch room, complete with Seeburg vending equipment for coffee, cold drinks, pastries, etc. No, they were not free.|
|View of one of several chassis assembly lines on the third floor of the new building. The woman in the left foreground, is handing a partially completed UDPU6 Pricing Unit to the other woman. There is a wheeled cart behind the second woman, holding several of these chassis. In front of each assembly position on the subassembly lines was a pair of rails fastened to the bench. Each chassis was placed into a collapsible trolley, whose wheels ran along the track. The person on the first position on the line (which would be on the left side of the ceiling support pillar) would place the painted/silk screened and riveted chassis onto the trolley, and mount the transformer, solenoids, subassemblies, etc., to the chassis. When this operation was complete, this worker would pass the chassis to the person on his or her right, who would add parts, wiring, etc., and pass it on. The next-to-the-last person (or persons, depending upon the complexity of the chassis, and daily production rate) would do all of the soldering. The last person would inspect for correct components, proper soldering, correct connections, etc. Finally, the chassis would be tested on a piece of test equipment specially designed and built for testing that chassis. Seeburg had several of these subassembly lines, one for each chassis used in the jukebox.|
|Close-up of the UDPU assembly line. The hose in front of the woman's right arm is connected to an air-operated power nut-driver. The chassis she is working on does not appear to be on one of the trolleys, but rather is sitting on a wooden fixture to hold it in the correct position for adding parts. The bins in front of her hold the various parts she will be adding. It appears that the woman to her left is working on the top of the chassis, while she is working on the inside.|
|Yet another view of the UDPU production line. I can't quite make out what is going on in the background, but it might be a series of small subassemblies being built. An example of the subassemblies would be the wired heatsink used in the amplifier. All parts would be mounted on the heatsink, and connected to a wiring harness. The completed assembly would then be mounted on an amplifier, and the dangling wires from the harness connected to the appropriate points on the chassis.|
|When a chassis was completely built, passed inspection and test, it was put on a conveyor, which ran throughout the third floor, along the ceiling. The conveyor was at a height well above your head, so you would not walk into the moving chassis. But be careful if one of them fell off! It swooped down at various places so that chassis could be put on the conveyor (at the end of each subassembly line) or taken off (on the jukebox production line). The stamped flat and riveted sheetmetal pieces with a large hole in them (the one you normally use as the 'handle' to pull the chassis out of the jukebox), is actually the hanger that the conveyor hook fits into. These conveyors were not only used for finished chassis, but were used to move them between the riveting, silk screen/painting, and subassembly departments. The conveyor can be seen at the top of the photo. On the conveyor at the left is an amplifier, followed by a control center and another amplifier.|
|This is a view of the cabling
department, also on the third floor of the new building. Cables were
built on a piece of plywood, having the cable assembly drawing (the
drawing was full size) glued on. The drawing
would specify what color of wire went where. Nails were used to bend the
cable around, to route the wires to the correct place. Wherever a
connector was to be applied, the wires going to it would be held in
springs, laid down on the board and screwed into place. The wires would
be held in the springs until the assembly was completed, with lacing,
tubing, or tie wraps to hold the wires together as appropriate for the cable assembly.
The harness would then be taken off the board, and brought to a machine
which would then crimp the contacts to the cable. Finally, the contacts
would be inserted into the cable receptacle housing and inspected.
Depending on the cable, this process might be modified. Bigger cables
were built on larger panels, with the worker standing in front of it.
The wooden forms at the left held precut wires, which appear to have
contacts already crimped on, since the ends of the wire bundles are put
into plastic bags to protect them.
Seeburg had its own wire striping equipment, buying only solid color wire (red, black, etc.,) and white. The white wire would then be striped with one or two color stripes. The precut wires would also usually be stripped, and tinned, if the wire was to be soldered in a forthcoming operation.
|A view of the burn-in section (towards the end of the assembly/beginning of the burn-in area) of the U-shaped mechanism assembly line. Off to the right (obscured by the pillars) is the subassembly area where the carriages, pickup arm, trip lever assemblies, etc., were assembled. The main assembly line was made up of rollers, which can be seen just to the right of the mechanism in the foreground. After machining (which took place down on the first floor), the base castings would come up via conveyor, and would have the sheetmetal channels and sound isolation springs and rubber mounts applied. Then, the base would be placed on a wooden pallet, which can be just seen under the mech in the foreground. The start of the mech line is at the far end of the U-shaped roller conveyor, out of sight on the side opposite the conveyer where the man is standing in the left background. More components would be added until the mech was complete, and would round the turn shown here. You can see a row of boxes on the shelf above the two rows of completed mechanisms going off into the distance in front of the man. These boxes were mechanism controllers, used to cycle the mechanism from scan, to play, back to scan, etc., over and over as they were run in overnight. The boxes contained the line voltage and 24 VAC power supplies, along with circuitry to energize the trip solenoid for continuous cycling. For burn-in, each mechanism had a rubber band attached to the pickup arm which would cause it to move in towards the turntable once the mech was in play. This would close the trip switch, to trip the mechanism back into scan. The carriage would then move on to the next selection, select trip, go through a transfer cycle, reject trip, etc. An entire day's worth of mechanism production would be run in each night, to become the next day's production of jukeboxes.|
|The worker is checking the mechanism
inspection card, which went along with each mechanism. As each item was
inspected, the inspector would stamp his or her inspection stamp (a
circle with a number in it) on the
card. The jukebox production line is just behind this man, with the mech
subassembly benches on the other side of the mech conveyor. The cabling
department is behind that. In the distance to the left is the tormat
assembly line, with the chassis subassembly lines behind it. The office
shown in an earlier photo is along the wall at the far left. There is an
open walkway to the right just out of the photo, which led to the stairs and
large elevators (used for parts only; no one was allowed to ride, except
for handicapped people and parts runners). Along this walkway is the stairway to the
break/lunch room on the mezzanine. The building was shaped like a large
'L'. This view is looking from the junction of the two arms of the L in
the upper right portion of the junction,
looking into the vertical part of the L. Behind the photographer and to the
right (in the base of the L) is the final test, jukebox blocking, and
Quality Assurance areas. QA was a separate, enclosed set of
offices and labs, which opened directly onto the final test area.
The mechanism magazines were fabricated on the first floor. There was a single punch press which did nothing other than to stamp out magazine separators from a large reel of sheetmetal pre-cut to the correct width. These were then run on a belt sander to remove burrs, and then assembled into forms holding the separators in place until the cap pieces could be installed. Next, the tabs of the separators were welded into the slots in the cap pieces. Finally, the whole assembly was cleaned in an acid bath, and then plated. Seeburg had all of this equipment (punch presses, plating vats, paint booths, etc.), on the first floor of the new building. After plating, the magazine was sent to the third floor to have the end castings bolted on before being mounted to a base casting.
|Jukebox production line. These are LS2s coming down the line. From what I can tell, this should be the beginning of the line, but the machines being worked on look pretty complete. The ones off to the right look to be complete, too. If I am correct, the QA department would be off in the distance to the left. At the right should be all of the vending (hot, cold drink, etc.) production lines. At the left, you can see where the chassis conveyor dips down along the line of pillars. This is where the workers would grab a control center, amp or pricing unit to install in the machine.|
|Either APFEAU1s or PFEAU1s (they are
identical from the outside) being tested in the
sound booths. This machine (and the U100 Mustang) were the first to be
built in the new building. I think the angle to the doorway was cut to
clear the tall U100 cabinet. The previous model year LPC480 was built on
the third floor of the old building. Each machine would have (at the very
least) the sound test record played at full volume, checking to make
sure both audio channels work, with no distortion or cabinet buzzing. This is a series of
tones, guaranteed to drive everyone in the area crazy. The booths were
supposed to be soundproofed, but with the large doors for the machines to
move through, the soundproofing was less than perfect. An oscilloscope,
signal generators, and voltmeters can be seen at the right, along with a
fan. The factory was not air conditioned, so it got a bit toasty in
summertime, one reason why the factory shut down for a couple of weeks
each year. Other reasons for the yearly shutdown were to take
inventory (a filthy task), and to set up the lines for the next model
|DWS2 speaker systems coming through the sound test booths. This photo was probably taken in 1965, when Seeburg built a lot of Discotheque speaker systems. DWS2 was one of the smaller versions, but still weighed in at 72 lbs. Here, they are sitting on plywood pallets. The conveyor is the plate with balls mounted in cups, which can be seen at the left. This permitted the speaker to be spun around fairly easily to get at both the front and the back.|
|Final assembly. Adjusting the lid glass
on a PFEAU1/APFEAU1. At the left is the exit of the sound booth. In this
area, the mechanisms are blocked for shipping, and the machine is put
onto a pallet which will become part of its shipping container. The QA
department is off to the right, out of the picture, and the vending
production lines are behind and to the left of the photographer. Once the
machines were put on their pallets, they would be put onto a roller
conveyor which would move them to an automatic elevator and then down to the
second floor. Here, they would be packed into a large cardboard box and
stabled shut. From there, they would go by automatic elevator down to
the first floor and loaded onto a truck for shipping to the end
The second floor of the new building was primarily occupied by the stock room, housing parts for all machines (vending, jukebox, background music, etc., along with replacement parts for earlier machines). In addition, the incoming inspection department and packing departments were on this floor.
When the automatic elevators were first installed, there were some problems with them. An electric eye was used to detect when a machine was on the entrance to the elevator, and stop the conveyor from moving if the elevator was not lined up with the conveyor. At least one machine met a quick end when the eye failed and the conveyor sent it into the hole where the elevator should have been.