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Checker factory documents and blueprints donated to cab club

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Photos courtesy Checker Cab Club.

Though it’s only been around for a little more than a year, the Checker Cab Club recently scored a couple troves of rather significant documentation on the Kalamazoo cabs dating back to the 1940s and plans to make all of it available to club members and other Checker enthusiasts.

“To say the donation is earth shattering would be an understatement,” Joe Fay wrote on the Checker Cab Club’s website. “The impact is will be great for the exploration of Checker history or the restoration of our cars.”

The first donation, of about 10,000 factory documents, came from John Logan, former plant superintendent for Checker who worked for the company from 1962 through 1998. Among the documents are production reports from 1966 through 1980, engineering memoranda from 1962 through 1982, and illustration manuals from 1964 through 1982.

As Fay noted, Checker researchers could only access basic year and model production figures before; now they can drill down to see the numbers of cars destined for certain cab companies or specific option production numbers. Via the engineering memoranda, “we can now see how and when every change took place; changes can be as simple as adding a reflector to a taillight door, to the introduction of a new model, like the Super Cab of 1964.” As for the illustration manuals, “each manual presents illustrations and parts breakdown for every Checker sub-assembly; CMC Parts Manuals are always a good source for illustrations, but these documents illustrate everything and each illustration includes a part bill of materials.”


Markin, left, and Logan, right. The blueprints, below.


The second donation, of more than 70 factory blueprints, came from Chris Markin, grandson of Checker Motors founder Morris Markin. Dating from 1946 through 1978, the blueprints depict everything from the never-built front-wheel-drive 1946 Model C to components such as carburetors and steering columns. “Within the donation we have found a full scale blueprint for the Medicar wheelchair ramp,” Fay wrote. “One of our members is desperately looking for this information so a proper ramp can be fabricated.”

While many of the documents flesh out existing Checker knowledge with detail, some have provided new historical information, such as the blueprint showing circa mid-1960s stacked headlamps proposed for the heretofore unknown Model A14, a potential successor to the long-lasting Model A12.

Chris Markin said he stashed away the blueprints during his 13 years working for Checker in a closet known to Checker employees as the morgue. “It’s where all the outdated or revised blueprints went to die,” he said. “When we stopped making the cab, the morgue was moot – everything was the morgue at that point.”

His tendency to stash documents like the blueprints, he said, came from his father, David. “He did have that romantic side that coincided with his practical side in making sure that the history of the company was preserved,” Markin said. “So my interest (in donating the blueprints) lies in posterity, so that future generations will know what Checker Motors was. Somebody like Joe Fay, he’s the perfect purveyor of our history, so his were the right hands to get the blueprints into.”

Fay said he’s currently housing the physical documents himself and scanning what he can of Logan’s donation to post to the Checker Cab Club’s website. The blueprints, however, will require the services of a professional scanner able to accommodate the full-scale drawings at about $70 apiece.

While Checker – which Morris Markin founded in 1922 – stopped building cars in 1982, it continued to supply parts to other carmakers until bankruptcy forced it out of business in 2009. The club, which grew out of a Facebook enthusiast page, formed in the spring of 2015 and hosted its first national get-together this past summer in Auburn, Indiana.

For more information and to access the documents, visit