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Pieces of the Past: Made Here

April 19, 2023

I recently received my copy of the Warren Historical Society’s publication “Stepping Stones.” The January 2023 edition contains a real masterpiece of an article written by Byron W. Knapp.

He detailed the story of Warren Gear. A perfect example of “made better in Warren” but swallowed up by “corporate America.”

In his article, Knapp told how accounts receivable took Warren Gear from a parts manufacturer to an automaker. Warren Gear supplied parts to some of the notable companies of the past: Studebaker, Willys, Pierce Arrow, and a company called Abbot-Detroit. Abbot ran up a huge bill. The owners of the Warren-based parts supplier decided to take the carmaker over!

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In the early days of the American auto industry, Abbot had come out with one of the first 4-door cars. Warren Gear eventually could not manage the production as an absentee owner. They withdrew from the business and stuck with what they knew.

Warren was home to many companies that competed on a national level. Piso cough syrup, Glendora coffee, and New Process are just a few. One company that got credit historically for its innovative designs was Struthers Wells. Many historians think Struthers made the boilers for the famous Union IronClad Monitor that battled the Merrimac. That one unfortunately is a myth. But close to the truth!

The first Monitor was designed and built in secrecy. Later Struthers– Brown foundry in Titusville made boilers for other Monitors. By the end of the Civil War, there were several Monitors in service. By then the design was improved making the Monitors more stable in rough seas.

As for Warren Gear, the original location of their plant burned down. They rebuilt at the foot of Irvine Street and Lexington. You probably were in there for auto parts. The building was Barnhart Davis NAPA for over 50 years. Today RAMS ENGINE is repairing engines of all types where Warren Gear made parts for the automobiles that would motorize the nation.

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