On Wednesday, the company confirmed the breakdown and said dies to make the parts were being removed from the plant, which employs about 3,600.
Chrysler spokesman Roger Benvenuti said he didn't know where the dies were being taken but that moving them was a temporary solution until the press at Belvidere is repaired. He said he couldn't estimate how soon repairs could be made and the closing is being reviewed "on a shift-by-shift basis.""They're trying to get these parts available as soon as possible," Benvenuti said. "They have to use whatever solution they can to get the plant running again." He added that the dies will be returned to Belvidere once production is "back to normal."
A worker at the stamping plant who asked not to be identified said a main gear that drives the press broke, damaging secondary gears as well.
No replacements were available, so workers loaded the dies onto trucks Tuesday to be shipped to other plants and suppliers that have stamping operations. Body parts for the three vehicles made at Belvidere -- the Chrysler Caliber and Jeep Compass and Patriot -- will then be shipped back.
Bill Pruitt, vice president of Local 1268, wouldn't comment.
Sales of Caliber, Compass and Patriot built at the plant east of Rockford rose 63 percent last year, to 181,000. They were up 41 percent in January, but Belvidere is scheduled to lose its third shift at the end of February.
The plant also was idle for a week in January to adjust inventory and Feb. 4 after supplier Plastech Engineered Products Inc. temporarily halted shipments.