The next generation of the S.C. Overpack Co.

Beginning in the 1870s, Silas C. Overpack began to manufacture logging wheels in his shop located on the corner of Pine and Water streets.

A group poses in front of pairs of logging wheels near the Overpack factory on Pine Street circa 1890.

While these Overpack didn’t invent the wheel (or the logging wheel, for that matter) he did come up with a better design of how to maneuver logging wheels for the benefit of the logging industry.

However, as the local lumber industry continued its downward trajectory, the Overpack logging wheels soon became relics of the past.

With the discontinuation of the Overpack wheels, coupled with the passing of S.C. Overpack in March of 1927, the Overpack family, like the various city livery businesses, had to find a way to change with the times. Thus the Overpack factory and the Overpack name became associated with automobiles. An article on this new business was published in the Manistee News Advocate on November 7, 1927. Portions of the original article follow:

“For 57 years this establishment has operated successfully, shipping its product to all parts of the United States as well as to several foreign countries. The reason for this wide distribution has been due largely to the fact that the Overpack vehicles have always enjoyed an excellent reputation for high quality among lumbermen throughout the country.

“As a result, many of the largest lumbering firms in the United States have been sending regularly to Manistee for their mill carts and logging wheels during a period of years. It may be interesting to note that during the entire 57 years that the Overpack shop has operated this establishment has never missed a single pay day, which of itself is a rather unusual record.

“With the changing conditions and a decline in the lumber industry it became necessary to change the nature of the business to meet these new conditions and the first step was the addition of a complete automobile spring department for the proper repair and building of auto springs.

“The Overpack shop now has the only spring furnace north of Grand Rapids and is equipped to build or repair any kind of an automobile spring as good as can be done in any spring factory in the country. Old springs that have sagged may be easily re-arched and re-tempered making them as good as new. A complete stock of new springs is always on hand, and any special spring may be quickly built, thereby giving quick service and saving the customer much time.”

Overseeing this new 2.0 version of the S.C. Overpack Company was Silas’ son, Roy Overpack who after graduating law school at the University of Michigan, later returned home to help his father with the factory. Among other things, Roy played an integral part in working with the Board of Commerce to bring industry to Manistee after the sawmills had shut down for good.

The November 7, 1927 article continues:

“A complete body and fender repairing service is also maintained for the repair of wrecked and damaged cars. Badly bent and dented fenders are quickly and easily repaired and made to look like new. Smashed and broken bodies are rebuilt by expert workmen, leaking roofs and worn out tops are replaced with new and the entire job given the first-class appearance it had when it originally came from the factory.

“The next addition to this firm’s new line of business was the establishment of a 24 hour storage which is open day and night for the accommodation of the traveling public and which feature met with immediate popularity. In connection with the storage is operated the most complete and best equipped Auto Laundry north of Chicago, being a better equipment than anything in Grand Rapids.

“The pressure system consisting of compressed air and water is used in the cleaning of cars, which is the most approved method and the same as is employed in the largest and finest auto laundries in the country. When a car comes into this laundry it is thoroughly cleaned inside and out and is made as clean as a car can possibly be made. Special features are motor cleaning, chassis cleaning, vacuum cleaning, etc. All work is done thoroughness and dispatch.

“In connection with this Auto Laundry and storage there is maintained a complete Alemite and lubrication service which represents absolutely the last word in the proper lubrication of automobiles.

“Altogether the complete service rendered is most unusual for a city of the size of Manistee and could only be maintained here because of the location directly opposite the Hotel Chippewa, where a large number of out-of-town motorists are served every day and who are given the same class of service that they have been used to in the large cities.”

According to Polk’s City Directory, the S.C. Overpack Co. automobile shop continued to operate into the mid-1930s. Roy Overpack would go on to serve in a variety of roles within the community including a stint at the County Emergency Relief offices, as the aforementioned Manager/Secretary of the Board of Commerce and as a lawyer. He would later pass away in June, 1964.

avatar

Posted by Mark Fedder

Mark Fedder is the executive director of the Manistee County Historical Musuem. He can be reached at (231) 723-5531 ormanisteemuseum@yahoo.com.

Leave a Reply