The American Automobile Industry in World War Two
An American Auto Industry Heritage Tribute by David D Jackson

Overview      Lansing Michigan in World War Two   The U.S. Auto Industry at the Normandy Invasion, June 6, 1944    The U.S. Auto Industry and the B-29 Bomber   U.S. Auto Industry Army-Navy "E" Award Winners   The Complete listing of All Army-Navy "E" Award Winners   Sherman Tanks of the American Auto Industry   Tank Destroyers of the American Auto Industry    M26 Pershing Tanks of the American Auto Industry   M36 Tank Destroyers of the American Auto Industry   Serial Numbers for WWII Tanks built by the American Auto Industry   Surviving LCVP Landing Craft    WWII Landing Craft Hull Numbers   Airborne Extra-Light Jeep Photos  The American Auto Industry vs. the German V-1 in WWII   American Auto Industry-Built Anti-Aircraft Guns in WWII   VT Proximity Manufacturers of WWII   World War One Era Motor Vehicles   National Museum of Military Vehicles  
Revisions   Links

 Automobile and Body Manufacturers:  American Bantam Car Company   Briggs Manufacturing Company   Checker Car Company   Chrysler Corporation   Crosley Corporation   Ford Motor Car Company   General Motors Corporation   Graham-Paige Motors Corporation   Hudson
Motor Car Company   Murray Corporation of America   Nash-Kelvinator   Packard Motor Car Company      Studebaker    Willys-Overland Motors

General Motors Divisions:  AC Spark Plug   Aeroproducts   Allison   Brown-Lipe-Chapin   Buick   Cadillac   Chevrolet   Cleveland Diesel   Delco Appliance   Delco Products   Delco Radio   Delco-Remy   Detroit Diesel   Detroit Transmission   Electro-Motive   Fisher Body   Frigidaire   GM Proving Grounds   GM of Canada   GMC   GMI   Guide Lamp   Harrison Radiator   Hyatt Bearings   Inland   Moraine Products   New Departure   Oldsmobile   Packard Electric   Pontiac   Saginaw Malleable Iron   Saginaw Steering Gear   Southern California Division   Rochester Products   Ternstedt Manufacturing Division   United Motors Service   Vauxhall Motors

 Indiana Companies:  Bailey Products Corporation   Chrysler Kokomo Plant   Continental Steel Corporation  Converto Manufacturing    Cummins Engine Company   Diamond Chain and Manufacturing Company   Delta Electric Company   Durham Manufacturing Company   Farnsworth Television and Radio Corporation   General Electric Kokomo Plant   Haynes Stellite Company   Hercules Body Company   Horton Manufacturing Company   Howe Fire Apparatus   International Machine Tool Company   J.D. Adams Company   Kokomo Spring Company   Magnavox  
Muncie Gear Works   Pierce Governor Company   Portland Forge and Foundry   Reliance Manufacturing Company   Republic Aviation Corporation - Indiana Division   Ross Gear and Tool Company   S.F. Bowser & Co.   Sherrill Research Corporation   Tokheim Oil Tank and Pump Company   Warner Gear   Wayne Pump Company   Wayne Works

Commercial Truck and Fire Apparatus Manufacturers:  American LaFrance   Autocar  
Biederman Motors Corporation   Brockway Motor Company   Detroit General   Diamond T   Duplex Truck Company   Federal Motor Truck   Four Wheel Drive Auto Company(FWD)   International Harvester   John Bean   Mack Truck   Marmon-Herrington Company   Michigan Power Shovel Company   Oshkosh Motor Truck Corporation   Pacific Car and Foundry   "Quick-Way" Truck Shovel Company   Reo Motor Car Company  Seagrave Fire Apparatus   Sterling Motor Truck Company    Ward LaFrance Truck Corporation   White Motor Company

Aviation Companies:  Abrams Instrument Corporation   Hughes Aircraft Company   Kellett Aviation Corporation   Laister-Kauffman Aircraft Corporation   Naval Aircraft Factory   P-V Engineering Forum, Inc.    Rudolf Wurlitzer Company-DeKalb Division  Schweizer Aircraft Corporation   Sikorsky Division of United Aircraft Corporation   St. Louis Aircraft Corporation   Timm Aircraft Corporation

Other World War Two Manufacturers: 
Air King Products   Allis-Chalmers   American Car and Foundry   American Locomotive   American Stove Company   Annapolis Yacht Yard  
Andover Motors Company   B.F. Goodrich   Baker War Industries   Baldwin Locomotive Works   Blood Brothers Machine Company   Boyertown Auto Body Works   Briggs & Stratton   Caterpillar   Cheney Bigelow Wire Works   Centrifugal Fusing   Chris-Craft   Clark Equipment Company   Cleaver-Brooks Company   Cleveland Tractor Company   Continental Motors   Cushman Motor Works   Crocker-Wheeler   Dail Steel Products   Detroit Wax Paper Company   Detrola   Engineering & Research Corporation   Farrand Optical Company   Federal Telephone and Radio Corp.   Firestone Tire and Rubber Company   Fruehauf Trailer Company   Fuller Manufacturing   Galvin Manufacturing   Gemmer Manufacturing Company   General Railway Signal Company   Gibson Guitar   Gibson Refrigerator Company   Goodyear   Hall-Scott   Hanson Clutch and Machinery Company   Harley-Davidson   Harris-Seybold-Potter   Herreshoff Manufacturing Company   Higgins Industries    Highway Trailer   Hill Diesel Company   Holland Hitch Company   Homelite Company   Horace E. Dodge Boat and Plane Corporation   Huffman Manufacturing   Indian Motorcycle   Ingersoll Steel and Disk   John Deere   Johnson Automatics Manufacturing Company   Kimberly-Clark   Kohler Company   Kold-Hold Company   Landers, Frary & Clark  Lima Locomotive Works   Lundberg Screw Products   MacKenzie Muffler Company   Massey-Harris   Matthews Company   McCord Radiator & Mfg. Company   Metal Mouldings Corporation   Miller Printing Machinery Company   Morse Instrument Company   Motor Products Corporation   Motor Wheel Corporation   National Cash Resgister Company   Novo Engine Company   O'Keefe & Merritt Company   Olofsson Tool and Die Company   Oneida Ltd   Otis Elevator   Owens Yacht   Pressed Steel Car Company   Queen City Manufacturing Company   R.G. LeTourneau   R.L. Drake Company   St. Clair Rubber Company   Samson United Corporation   Shakespeare Company   Sight Feed Generator Company   Simplex Manufacturing Company   Steel Products Engineering Company   St. Louis Car Company   Twin Disc Company   Victor Adding Machine Company   Vilter Manufacturing Company   Wells-Gardner   W.L. Maxson Corporation   W.W. Boes Company   Westfield Manufacturing Company   York-Hoover Body Company   Youngstown Steel Door Company  

 O'Keefe & Merritt Company During World War Two
Los Angeles, CA

1920-1950 a
s O'Keefe & Merritt Company
1950-1990s as O'Keefe & Merritt Brand Name as part of Tappan

This page updated 1-30-2024.

D.P. O'Keefe and R.J. Merritt began producing gas ranges in 1920 in Los Angeles, CA.  The company's products were very popular in southern California, and it prospered during the population growth of that area in the mid- 20th century.  In 1950 the company was sold to Tappan.

The O'Keefe & Merritt Company won the Army-Navy "E" Award three times during World War Two.

The company was presented with its first award on April 21, 1944, with attendance by the company's 1,200 employees.  The "E" flag was presented to company president D.P. O'Keefe and vice-president R.J. Merritt.

The O'Keefe & Merritt Company's World War Two Products:  Table 1 shows that the company had $41,310,000 in major contracts.  With the exception of four contracts worth $947,000 that were for projectiles and practice shells for the U.S. Army and Navy, the remaining $40,363,000 was for electric generator sets.  Army Ordnance, the Army Signal Corps, and the Army Corps of Engineers all procured generator sets from the O'Keefe & Merritt Company.  Among the generators produced for the Army Signal Corps were PE-95H, PU-32, PH-95G, PU-21, and PU-58.

Table 2 shows that the Army Signal Corps and Army Corps of Engineers were responsible for 85.5% of the total major contracts.  The U.S. Navy only purchased 1.9% of the company's products during World War Two.

This company is one of many documented on this website that built a product line completely different from both its pre and post-World War Two products, which was gas ranges.  O'Keefe & Merritt Company converted from home appliances in August 1942 and began to focus 100% on the manufacture of electric generator sets for the U.S. Army.  This was another unsung company that helped win World War Two.

Table 1 - O'Keefe & Merritt Company's Major World War Two Contracts
The information below comes from the "Alphabetical Listing of Major War Supply Contracts, June 1940 through September 1945."  This was published by the Civilian Production Administration, Industrial Statistics Division. 
Product - Customer Contract Amount Contract Awarded Date Completion Date
Units Generator - Army Ordnance $1,474,000 10-1941 12-1942
Ordnance Equipment - Army Ordnance $81,000 10-1941 12-1942
Ordnance Material - Navy Ordnance $445,000 11-1941 2-1943
 Projectiles - Navy Ordnance $325,000 4-1942 9-1943
Generating Units - Army Ordnance $2,314,000 8-1942 11-1943
Power Units - Army Signal Corps $95,000 11-1942 3-1943
Power Units - Army Signal Corps $1,418,000 1-1943 3-1943
Power Units - Army Signal Corps $464,000 2-1943 4-1943
Power Units - Army Signal Corps $604,000 3-1943 11-1943
Power Units - Army Signal Corps $907,000 4-1943 9-1944
Practice Shells 37mm - Army Ordnance $96,000 5-1943 6-1944
Power Units - Army Signal Corps $1,539,000 5-1943 5-1944
Power Units - Army Signal Corps $4,462,000 6-1943 12-1944
Electric Power Units - Army Signal Corps $567,000 8-1943 5-1944
Power Units - Army Signal Corps $2,037,000 11-1943 9-1944
Power Units PE 95H - Army Signal Corps $150,000 2-1944 12-1944
Generator Sets - Army Corps of Engineers $152,000 2-1944 12-1944
Elec Generator Sets - Army Corps of Engineers $1,961,000 2-1944 12-1944
Generator Sets - Army Corps of Engineers $691,000 2-1944 12-1944
Electric Power Units - Army Signal Corps $80,000 3-1944 5-1944
Power Units PU 32 - Army Signal Corps $978,000 7-1944 11-1945
Power Units - Army Signal Corps $3,452,000 8-1944 4-1945
Rework Generator Units - Army Corps of Engineers $51,000 8-1944 9-1944
Generator Sets - Army Corps of Engineers $283,000 10-1944 12-1944
Elec Generator Sets - Army Corps of Engineers $2,042,000 1-1945 12-1945
Elec Power Units - Army Signal Corps $565,000 2-1945 9-1945
Elec Power Units PH95G - Army Signal Corps $1,207,000 2-1945 12-1945
Elec Generator Sets - Army Corps of Engineers $4,932,000 2-1945 12-1946
Power Units PU 21 - Army Signal Corps $570,000 4-1945 4-1946
Power Units PU 58- Army Signal Corps $534,000 4-1945 9-1945
Elec Power Units - Army Signal Corps $1,839,000 4-1945 6-1946
Elec Power Plants - USAAF $1,175,000 4-1945 12-1945
Elec Generator Sets - Army Corps of Engineers $2,727,000 5-1945 12-1945
Elec Power Unit Parts -Army Ordnance $123,000 5-1945 8-1945
Power Units PE 95G - Army Signal Corps $874,000 6-1945 2-1946
Electric Generators - Army Signal Corps $96,000 6-1945 4-1946
Total $41,310,000    


Table 2 - O'Keefe & Merritt Company's Major World War Two Contracts by Customer
Table added 1-30-2024.
Customer Contract Value Percentage
Army Signal Corps $22,534,000 54.5%
Army Corps of Engineers $12,839,000 31.0%
Army Ordnance $3,992,000 9.7%
USAAF $1,175,000 2.8%
Navy $770,000 1.9%
Total $41,310,000 99.9%

This GMC CCKW is on display at the World War II American Experience Museum in Gettysburg, PA.  It is the most complete display of a World War Two maintenance truck that I have found in a museum.  All of the original equipment is still with the vehicle and much of it is displayed around the truck.  Author's photo added 1-30-2024. 

The workshop in the vehicle is complete.  Author's photo added 1-30-2024. 

Author's photo added 1-30-2024. 

An O'Keefe & Merritt Model E-3 generator is located on the driver's side rear of the workshop.  Author's photo added 1-30-2024. 

 Author's photo added 1-30-2024. 

This generator set was built for the Army Corps of Engineers and is serial number 5301.  The unit was built in August 1945 just as World War Two came to an end.  Gross weight of the generator is 720 lbs.  Author's photo added 1-30-2024. 

This O'Keefe & Merritt-built generator was photographed at the 2019 MVPA National Convention in York, PA.  It is mounted in a Ben-Hur Mfg. Company-designed and built one-ton trailer.  Author's photo. 

The PE-95-K was built for the U.S. Army Signal Corps and has a Signal Corps serial number of 1361.  Author's photo.

Author's photo

Author's photo

Author's photo

The gasoline engine is a Willys-Overland JP-441.  This is a version of the famous Willys-Overland "Go Devil" World War Two jeep engine.  Author's photo

The data plate identifies the generator as serial number 19502.  Author's photo

Author's photo

This description of the PE-G and H models was for ones built by D.W. Onan and Sons.  However, it was also typical of those built by O'Keefe & Merrit Company. 

This January 1945 advertisement shows that the company planned to return to the manufacture of gas ranges after the end of World War Two.  It also notes that after August 1942, it was 100% committed to war production and the winning of World War Two.  This advertisement also gives the address for the company, 3700 East Olympic Blvd. in Los Angeles.  

This is 3700 East Olympic Blvd.  The 3700 can be seen behind the red vehicle going down the street.  Image courtesy of Google Maps. 

This satellite view shows the plant location as it is today.  Note the tourist attraction marker in the lower left hand corner of the image:  "Michael Jacksons (Thriller) MV shooting."  We will come back to this note several photos down.  Image courtesy of Google Maps. 

The approximate area of the O'Keefe & Merritt Company plant on East Olympic is 238,368 square feet, or 5.47 acres of manufacturing area under roof.  The building is 764 feet long by 312 feet wide.  However, there is a cut-out in the northeast section of the plant for the curvature of the Los Palos Street along the east side of the plant.  Image courtesy of Google Maps. 

This Google Earth satellite view shows the plant looking southwest.  

This image is of the northeast corner of the plant at East Olympic Blvd. and Los Palos Street.  Image courtesy of Google Maps. 

This mage shows the cut-out in the east side of the factory building due to the curvature of Los Palos Street.  Image courtesy of Google Maps. 

The southeast corner of the former O'Keefe & Merritt Company building is shown here.  It is down Union Pacific Avenue west of this location that, in 1983, Michael Jackson filmed his "Thriller" video.  Image courtesy of Google Maps. 

At 7:58 minutes into the "Thriller" video, Michael Jackson and his girlfriend, played by Ola Ray, are surrounded by ghouls at this location.  This image shows the same location.  In 1983 there was not an encampment of homeless people living in their vehicles parked here, and there was a clear view of the brick wall in the video.  Image courtesy of Google Maps.

At 8:44 into the video, the southwest corner of the factory can be seen.  Image courtesy of Google Maps. 

Currently the wall is lined with razor wire, and both sides of the street are lined with the vehicles of homeless people.  Image courtesy of Google Maps. 




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