GM Futurliner 1999 Progress Reports
The following are Don Mayton's progress reports from the work sessions held in his pole barn. To read it in chronological order, start from the bottom and read up the page.
|Had a great turnout.
Del Carpenter, Ed DeVries, Jerry Sigler, Jim Baker, Wayne Jackson, Connie DeJong, Don Mayton, Jeffery Miller, Bud Dinger, Lois Jackson (Sent lunch with Wayne), Carol Mayton (Served lunch)
Without the Futurliner we concentrated on smaller items that needed taken care of.
Del and Wayne worked at building a set of rolling horses so the doors can be mounted on and worked on. Then they worked on making a cover plate for the shifter mechanism.
Ed and Jerry constructed a shipping box to ship the drivers seat to Dean in North Carolina since he volunteered to restore this item. In the process they discovered one of the seats' aluminum castings was cracked so Ed took that home to get it welded. Ed also brought (he paid for) lots of structural angle iron and flat stock for Connie to weld.
Jim and Bud disassembled the gasoline tank holding straps so that they could be taken to the sandblaster. They then removed 40 years of debris off of them. Jerry and Bud scraped and wire brushed the two 45 gallon gasoline tanks. Next they will go to the gasoline tank repair shop as they are full of debris and one has a large hole in it.
Jeffery spent time recording all of the items he needs to do the instrument panel and the brake system. He has not only volunteered to do the instrument panel but also the air brake system from compressor to the final braking system. This would include a modern emergency brake system for safety reasons. Since he is an electrical engineer he will be in charge of all the electrical. We will have to find a local industrial electrical contractor for him to work with on the large generator and the industrial side of the Futurliner.
About 4:30 PM the tow truck showed up with our primed Futurliner. Everyone helped getting it in the barn again.
| The day
started very unusual. Woke up to everything glistening in pure white. It
was below freezing and a heavy fog had rolled in from Lake Michigan over
night and froze on everything. Every branch, twig, blade of grass, the
houses, and cars were covered with 1/8" of frozen fog. We had a
brilliant white winter wonderland with out any snow. This condition occurs
rarely but it is absolutely beautiful. Sorry for the digression.
Del showed up at 8:30 AM and we headed to the sandblasting place. We had to remove the tarps that we had placed on the Futurliner the Friday before. Good thing we had covered the Futurliner due to the frozen fog. The sandblaster got a late start due to the fog not starting to lift until late AM.
The weather forecast was predicting rain and snow for Tuesday and temperatures not exceeding 40 degrees for the balance of the week. Since we needed good weather and temperatures above 50 degrees to prime the vehicle we had to make different plans. Our original plan was to prime the Futurliner out in my driveway. I had heard that Dave's brother Steve had a truck painting business and I asked Dave about the possibly of shooting the primer on the Futurliner. He stated that his brother was very busy but I could check myself.
Off I went to see Steve. He stated he was booked the entire week and had no openings. I reviewed that we had no way to get it painted without a heated building. Finally he stated if I could get the Futurliner there as soon as Dave finished it he would prime it the next day (Tuesday)
Dave finished the sandblasting by 5 PM and I had a commercial tow truck scheduled to show up at 5 PM. In the meantime the police called the tow truck service because a semi truck lost its load on US 131. The tow truck showed up at 6 PM.
Here's where things got exciting. To move the Futurliner from the sandblaster to the paint shop was only a mile. However the route crosses a very busy railroad crossing where trains pass every 1/2 hour to every 1-1/2 hours. This crossing is also a large hump and as the tow truck crossed the tracks the Futurliner became disconnected from the tow truck. So now we have a 38 ton tow truck sitting across two lanes of a four lane highway and a Futurliner sitting across the railroad tracks. There were a few anxious moments but the driver did a lot a scrambling and managed to avoid an accident.
|Due to forecasted rain and snow Del and I went to Dave's and covered the Futurliner. The plan is to have the 75% sand blasting done by the end of next week. Stay tuned.|
|Del and I spent about two hours getting the Futurliner ready for a commercial tow truck to take the Futurliner the 3 miles to Dave's for sandblasting. For this first sand blasting we will get about 75% of it done. We do not want to remove additional upper skin until we have replaced some structural members. We do not want to lose dimensional integrity. About 4:30 PM a 38-ton tow truck showed up. The driver only spent about 30 minutes winching the Futurliner out of the barn and hooking it up to the tow truck. We then drove the three miles to Dave's place.|
| Again we had a good turnout and a lot of work
got done. Following are the volunteers that contributed their time and talents:
Ed DeVries, Del Carpenter, Jim Baker, Connie DeJong, Wayne Jackson, Jerry Sigler, Carol Mayton
Del and Wayne spent the entire day cleaning years of debris, grease and rust off of the cases of both the 3rd transmission and the differential. It was a very nasty manual job with putty knives, wire brushes and rags.
Jim continued to remove the sheet metal from the inside of the rear of the Futurliner. This is a slow and tedious job since every screw must be drilled out or ground off with the grinder. These panels are in good shape and they have compound shapes so we plan to reuse them.
Ed and Jerry spent time in the cockpit finishing removing inner sheet metal sections, accelerator and brake pedal assemblies, much old insulation that was hidden from all the sheet metal panels that were removed, the remaining instruments, windshield washer bottle and its bracket, and the remaining trim and upholstery.
Jerry also made a wood contour template of the curvature of the outside cab at the belt line. The cab horizontal bracing is so rusted that as we repair this we must be able to go back to a fixed dimension.
Connie worked at grinding away rust and welded in new replacement angle iron.
He then removed the rusted battery box. The right wheel house was completely removed as it was badly rusted. The other three are in good enough shape to repair in place.
Ed, Jerry and Connie spent time making lots of measurements to obtain replacement structural metal.
While working on the Futurliner, Dave Flokstra the person that we are hiring for sand blasting came to look over the job. Because of the size of the Futurliner, the fact that the weather here in Michigan is shortly going to be not conducive to sand blast outdoors it was decided to have the sandblasting done as soon as possible. Plans were then made to have the Futurliner taken to Dave's place to have that done.
| The Futurliner work session held on 11-2-99
the following volunteers were present:
Bruce Beimers, Jim Baker, Ed DeVries, Jerry Sigler, Connie DeJong, Del Carpenter, Wayne Jackson, Don Mayton, Carol Mayton, Dee Beimers, Sue Carpenter
Carol provided lunch with salad and desert provided by Dee and Sue. Just like Jerry said as he sat down "looks like all the ranch hands on the farm".
Visitors that showed up to see what work is going on and to check on our progress were Wes Myrick, Dave Rumsey and Clyde Pole.
Jerry immediately tackled removing the left gasoline tank with its saddle. Connie and Jerry then removed additional rust on the bottom of the sub frame.
Jim Baker continued to remove panels from the rear of the Futurliner. Although there is some rust out here the rear has less structural rust.
Ed and Bruce removed the bulk of the wiring harness and air lines. Then they removed the Hydamatic shifter column with its associated linkages and cables. Fortunately they were able to remove all of this intact. They also proceeded to remove some of the rusted floor in the cockpit. The drivers seat was then removed.
Del and Wayne continued to disassemble the spare 3rd 2-speed/PTO gearbox. They then loaded all of its parts in their trucks to take home for soaking and cleaning. Following this they disconnected the drive shaft on the front and the rear of the 3rd 2-speed/PTO gearbox housed in the Futurliner. Upon draining the gearbox the only thing that came out was 2 quarts of water. Next week it is their plan to remove this gearbox from the Futurliner and then start its disassembly.
| Following are the people that worked on the
Futurliner on 10-26-99:
Del Carpenter, Wes Myrick, Connie De Jong, Wayne Jackson, Bud Dinger, Bruce Beimers, Jerry Seigler, Don Mayton, Carol Mayton
We had a great volunteer crew.
I included my wife's name as she has been making lunch for each of the work sessions. In fact Jerry said the only reason he comes is to eat. I might add that Jerry's wife Deloris provided brownies for our snacks and in the past Del's wife several times has sent with Del Jell-O salad. So our ladies are taking care of us.
Jerry and Connie tackled removing the rusted floor that is located inside the Futurliner as well as the rusted subfloor that is located under the storage area at the bottom of the Futurliner. this was a major job that required the use of the air chisel for almost 6 hours. Since then I have gone out and bought ear plugs for the crew. Jerry and Connie then proceeded to start the unbolting of the two 45 gallon gasoline tanks. By the end of the day the right tank was out standing next to the Futurliner.
Bruce and Bud removed the trim from around the front of the Futurliner just below the drivers cockpit. They then removed the two grill pieces that are located just below and slightly to the rear of the 1/4 windows. We discovered something new here. In the video of the Futurliner it appears that there is some sort of back lighting in the front and on the sides. In talking to past Parade of Progress participants there was no back lighting in the front. However as they were removing these grills they found light fixtures behind the grills that would shine a light through the grill to the outside. Almost every screw that had to be taken out had to be drilled or chiseled out.
Del, Wes and Wayne tackled the disassembly of the 3rd gear box (2-speed/PTO) that was donated to our project by the Canadians. When we received it it was froze up and would not turn. Upon disassembling it the reason it was frozen up was quickly discovered. It was full of water at one time and everything was covered with rust. Although the rust prevented it from turning or shifting as they disassembled it it was discovered it was only surface rust. With some cleaning, emery cloth, new bearings it should be as good as new as all the gears show no or minimal wear. The gear box is a Dana-Spicer 2-speed/PTO unit. The data plate states it was made for Yellow Truck (a GM division in the 30's).
|The following were here for the 10-19-99 work
Wayne Jackson (Wayne also recently received some color copies of the GM pamphlets that were used in the 1941 Parade of Progress from a person he talked to at Hershey about the project. Wayne is also the Chevy person who tracked down the color Target Red as a 1953 Chevy color.)
Del Carpenter, Connie DeJong (pronounced DeYoung) Connie is an excellent body man. We need lots of these. Jim Baker, Bruce Beimers, Jerry Siegler (Jerry belongs to the BCA and the AACA) He now knows what Futurliner rust is.) and Don Mayton
We focused again on removing rusted out metal panels. We also removed the large aluminum panels that hold the ribbed side panels in place. In addition Del and Wayne worked on power washing the spare transmission, engine, power steering pump and other accessories to the engine. Our short term goal is to get the Futurliner stripped to the point that we can get it sandblasted. As we continue to remove parts we continue to find more structural rust. However not much different that we observed in the photos of the Canadian or Peter Pan Futurliners.
Yesterday the Michigan Classic Chevrolet Club stopped at our place on their fall tour. There were about 30 cars and 65 people. The oldest were two 1928 Chevys and on up to a late model Chevy Suburban. It was cold and the wind was blowing hard but they had a good visit with real interest in the Futurliner. One of the members was a retired State Police officer. He recalled when the Michigan State Police had a Futurliner. He said he also knows the driver that drove the Futurliner for the State Police. He is going to get me his address and phone number.
| Dean, just a report on the Futurliner work
session of yesterday. Had five people working on the Futurliner:
Don Mayton, Wes Myrick, Jim Baker, Bruce Biemers and John Homeniuk
We had an excellent turnout considering a lot of the regulars were on vacation and some preparing their cars for next weeks Glidden Tour.
Jim Baker tackled the inside rear removing three of the seven sheet metal panels that make up the inner wall. We were pleasantly surprised to find a minimum amount of rust damage in this area. There are still four large inner sheet metal panels to remove and hopefully we will again find a minimum amount of rust damage. There still will have to be patches welded in where there is some rust through. A couple of inner braces in this area will have to be replaced.
Wes and John removed the air valve and piping to the air powered step. Then they removed the step and air cylinder that controls the step. Next out came the power steering pump. It appears that it is ok other than needing the surface rust removed and painted. Wes and John continued and removed the remote engine air cleaner. It is mounted to the rear left area of the engine compartment. Next they took out the air pressure tank that is mounted up against the front bumper. The associated plumbing was removed also. Sketches were made of everything prior to removal as well as photographs.
After lunch, Wes had to leave because he had to pack for Glidden as he was leaving the next morning. John then started to diagram the electrical panel above the left front door, which is the engine access door. Next work session we will tackle that.
Bruce and Don worked up in the drivers cockpit removing the trim around where the windshield is located. Most screws were rusted in place so the usual; heat, drilling, chiseling, lots of WD-40 was applied to remove these trim pieces.
In the process of removing the trim pieces in the cockpit it was found a #10 stamped on several of the trim pieces. This could indicate that our Futurliner was #10. Up to this point we have not be able to identify which one of the Futurliners that we were working on. Even if our Futurliner is #10 I do not have a list that ties each Futurliner with each of the 12 displays of the 1953 through 1956 Parade of Progress. I do have such a list for the prewar Futurliners.
A large sound-audio control board was removed from the rear of the Futurliner.
We received a wheel cover from Conrad Vaughn via Steve Brock and Len Dorne. Steve and Len did a relay to get it to Zeeland. This gives us two wheel covers from the 1956 style and one from the 1953 style.
We have documentation that states the color of the vehicles were Target Red and White. Wayne Jackson did some research and found that a Chevrolet commercial color in 1953 was Target Red. He even went so far to get the paint numbers in both enamel and lacquer.
Again, the volunteers are what makes this project so exciting. Their contributions of time, talents, money and physical work is the fire that keeps this project on track.
| Dean Tryon from N.C. is here today. We took
off the carburetor. Dean plans to take it back to N.C. for restoration. The carb is a
Holly with engine speed governor that is vacuum controlled. We decided to go to Northwest
since they might be able to come up with a carb repair kit. In we walk in with the Holly
carb and the distributor. We laid our parts on the counter and after the clerk looked at
them he said what vehicle and year. We said it was for a 1953 Futurliner. He gave us a
long stare and then he said "Are you those crazies from Zeeland?". He later told
us that his boss "Sammy" had shown them the photos that I had given Sammy. The
clerk then proceeded to start digging for a carb repair kit that included governor repair
parts. Although he had to go through about four books he managed to find a repair kit and
a governor repair kit. He also found all the items necessary to rebuild the Delco
distributor. Once Dean finishes the carb and distributor, he will ship them off to Bill
Bicknell in Ohio when Bill is ready for them.
We just recently found out that the large cast aluminum "GM" letters on the front of the Futurliner were anodized in "Gold". The latest pictures we received from Douglas Dean confirms this. We do have a great color picture of a single Futurliner that came from Douglas private collection.
| Had a great turnout including some new
volunteers. Following is a list of those that helped.
Ed DeVries, Del Carpenter, Dale Olsen (new), B. Biemers, Bruce Berghoff (new and the author of the book "The GM Motorama-Dream Cars of the 50's"), J. Baker, Wayne Jackson, Bud Dinger, Wes Myrick, Josh Vuyst (new and my grandson-14), and myself.
Ed DeVries last week had major surgery and I was even surprised that he came. He not only was there in spirit even in he could not do much but was able to give on advice on some of the disassembly.
Bruce Berghoff we found out actually worked for H.B. Stubbs co. the company that made all of the displays in the Futurliners for the Parade of Progress. He was able to describe in detail some of the workings of the displays and recalled a little of the history of what happened to the Futurliners after GM quit using them. We have additional names to follow up for research.
We did get a lot of work done. Del reassembled the engine for transport to Ohio for Bill Bicknells overhaul. Del and others also removed the large electrical panel at the right rear of the Futurliner. Behind that was a large transformer that they removed. Wes worked on trim and the left outside mirror that had to have every bolt drilled out in order to remove it. Dale removed trim from around the back and later worked in the drivers compartment removing trim. Bruce Biemers and Wayne tackled the grill and then removed the large metal panel above the grill. The steering had become almost impossible to turn so we jacked up the front and worked on the steering so it once again could be turned. If I did not mention some one they were helping some one else. I keep forgetting but Carol my wife always supplies lunch for the men and Sue, Del's wife always helps by sending over a salad or desert. Another good work session and good fellowship.
Another note I got a call from Ron Bluhm from GM Powertrain and the spare motor and transmission that is being donated by Bus Conversions should be shipped in July with GM picking up the transmission tab.
Getting lots of mail from past participants. Did get copies of color photos taken in the 50's. When we finish we will no only have a restored vehicle but we will be able to document the entire Parade of Progress and all the people that participated.
Due to everyones busy summer, our next work session will be early Sept.
| Had a great work session yesterday. Those that
were here were Wes Myrick, Ed DeVries, Del Carpenter, Bud Dinger, Jim Baker, Bruce Beimer
and myself. Our goal for the day was to remove the fin (15' light bar that travels 7' up
above the Futurliner). Its complicated lifting mechanism again slowed us down to the point
that a lot of internal disassembling of the long 8' acme screw, pillow blocks and Ed's
handy torch to perform surgery on those pieces that did not want to give had to be
applied. We ultimately got to the point that we could use Ed's high lift to lift the fin
up and off the Futurliner. Ed's high lift's forks go up 21' and we had to use all that
lift to get the fin and its aluminum arms high enough to clear everything.
After getting the fin set on wood horses Del and Jim proceeded to disassemble the arm carriages. They discovered that at one time someone start to disassemble the front carriage as parts were missing. The rear carriage has all its parts so it can be used as a sample for the machinist (that we must find yet) to reconstruct. Both carriages the acme-thread is stripped. We are currently going to check out a few names for a volunteer machinist. Lest any one forgets this is an all-volunteer effort.
Meanwhile the rest of the crew got the generator out. It must weigh more than both the engine and transmission together.
| The crew showed up again and spent the entire
day in the hot sun working on the Futurliner. In order to work on it we must drag it
outside with Ed's 12,000 # fork truck to get space around it to use the fork truck as a
crane. So the crew has to contend with the weather. Although showers were predicted, we
had hot sun all day. The crew was:
Wayne Jackson, Ed DeVries, Del Carpenter, Jim Baker, Wes Myrick and myself.
Wes is a long time old car nut having 40 to 60 cars. Most of his cars are original drivers but include several perfectly restored Auburns and a boattail Cord.
We started the day by quickly removing the right two 16' doors. This is the large upper overhead door and the door that serves as the stage or platform on the right side. Just before lunch, we started to tackle the large 15' top "fin" or light bar. In normal driving position, it is recessed into the roof. Once the Futurliner was at a show the top would be raised. I will try to describe the mechanism that raises the top. Hidden in the top is a parallel set of rails or tracks about 18" apart. At each end of these rails sits a carriage. Threaded through the carriages is a long 1-1/2" diameter acme threaded rod. For 1/2 of this rod the threads are pitched one way and for the other half they are pitched the opposite direction. Pinned to each carriage is a 7' aluminum casting. These castings are lying in the roof section. At the opposite end which is at the center of the large 15' light bar these castings are pinned to the light bar. The motor to turn the acme-threaded rod is located at the end of the Futurliner. Of course, our motor is missing. As the motor started to turn the carriages would be drawn together causing the aluminum arms to push the light bar up in the air 7' above the top of the Futurliner. I hop you understand all of this. Maybe I can get Dean in a future newsletter to make a simple drawing.
Our goal was to simply remove the light bar or fin to get to the top since there is extensive rust repair that has to be made. To make a long story short the carrier on the front end of the Futurliner was stripped. We spend the rest of the day trying to figure out how to remove the fin. We finally started to remove part by part. We did not get it off but will work at it next time we have a work party.
| A Futurliner work team showed up consisting of
six plus myself.
Del Carpenter-retired from Michigan State Road Commission. Has 20 plus antique cars, trucks, and tractors. Has been giving up one day a week to work on the Futurliner project. Belongs to AACA and BCA.
Ed DeVries-is a self employed mason. Took a day out of his busy work schedule to work on the Futurliner. Has several old cars including two rare Minerva's and has been invited to both Pebble Beech and Meadow Brook this year. He is a regular Glidden tour participant. AACA and BCA.
Jim Baker-likes to do old car research. He has already found Grand Rapids Press articles of when the Parade of Progress was in Grand Rapids Michigan.
Bruce Beimers-is retired from being a school system administrator. He has a beautiful restored Cord and his wife is chairperson of the 2001 Glidden Tour here in Michigan.
Wayne Jackson-retired from the General Motors Fisher Body plant in Grand Rapids. Has several old cars and belongs to the Chevy club and the AACA.
Dick Modzeleski- is a retired electrician from the General Motors Fisher Body plant in Grand Rapids. He willingly is helping out because we needed an industrial electrician to try to sort out the wiring before we started disassembly.
Managed to get lots done. Ed brought his 12,000 # fork truck, which really helped. Jim and Dick started marking and separating wiring and making a wiring diagram. Wayne and Bruce removed the two rear doors and them went to the front and removed the front doors. The balance of the crew worked on removing the bottom access doors on each side. Then every one worked together to remove the large side doors on the left side of the vehicle. These doors are 16' long by about 5'. They are very heavy and took all of us plus the fork truck. Before these could be even removed, the large 16' fold out lighting panels that are attached to the top of the overhead doors had to be removed.
We started at 9AM and except for a lunch break finished up at 4:45PM. Every body was tired but we got a lot done. Next comes the right large 16' doors and the top lighting bar. Due to the extensive rust most bolts had to be removed be cutting off with DeVries hot wrench (torch), hand chisels, air chisels, breaking with a wrench or drilling them out. We did find extensive structural rust damage in the ceiling. Most of the roof structure will have to be replaced. With safety in mind, we had a perfect day with not even a scratch. However, if I can speak for everyone else I am very sore today.
In all the literature that I have it always refers to the top lighting bar as the "fin". Even the electrical panels refer to it as the "fin". So as I communicate when I refer to the "fin" it is the top 16' lighting bar that extends above the Futurliner 7'.
| Bill, Del and I worked most of the day. With
four of the pistons out were able to rotate the engine almost 150 degrees, enough to get
all the torque converter bolts out. By disassembling my engine hoist and reassembling it
inside the Futurliner, we were able to make a rigging that balanced the transmission and
were able to drop it onto the floor onto a Jalopy Dolly and roll it out from under the
We continued to remove accessories from the engine to make it easy to remove. We did reassemble the lower end and put all the pistons back and attached them to the crank. The engine itself looks great. The piston walls are smooth, the crank looks good, and we found nothing wrong except #4 piston is stuck solid. There was no sludge in the engine and everything was clean (inside). Next week when we go at it we expect to get the engine out. Don
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