GM Futurliner 2000 Project Notes
The following are miscellaneous notes that Don Mayton receives or makes that are relevant to the project. The notes read from the bottom to the top with the most recent on top.
Our guests for the day were PARADER Raffee Johns and his wife Esther. They brought with them his photos, newspaper articles, one of the lectures he gave at the Parade and paper work describing the Parade of Progress. In addition, they told us a lot of the stories about Parade of Progress. Raffee said he was hired as a trainee in 1954 and the first job he was given was to take a stick with a nail in it that the had been given to him and go pick up all the paper. We learned like all the other Paraders that he did everything from cleaning the grounds, driving the truck, erecting the tent and doing the lecturing. Raffee even gave his opening speech that he gave inside the Aer-O-Dome tent. He remembered it all these years. He also told us that the Aer-O-Dome tent was blown down in Texas during a wind storm and destroyed. Fortunately GM had a backup tent in Detroit that they rushed to Texas. At the time of the Parade of Progress the Aer-O-Dome tent was the largest tent in the world that was unsupported in the center.
In addition to his stories and all the Parade memorabilia after all these years Raffee had saved his Parade of Progress uniforms. He brought them along with him. There was a work uniform which consisted of green slacks, a tan shirt, and a green jacket. On the tan shirt above the left front pocket has an embroided 2" X 2-1/2" "GM". On the back of the shirt is an embroided 3-3/4" X 7" "PARADE OF PROGRESS". On the green jacket is the same embroided "GM" and "PARADE OF PROGRESS" emblems located at the same place. The lecture uniform consisted of a gray business jacket, dark blue slacks, dark blue tie and a white shirt. Raffee brought along the gray business jacket. He stated that the pants wore out long ago. On the left pocket of the gray business jacket is an embroided 2-3/4" X 1-1/2" "GM". We asked if we could borrow these to have them reproduced so that we could have a set for display with the Futurliner when it done and he consented. We really appreciate this since we had only seen the uniforms in black and white photos. We had no color photos of these uniforms. We need to find a volunteer tailor to make about 20 of these uniforms. A big thanks to Raffee Johns and his wife Esther for visiting us and again letting us share in the experiences of a PARADER back in the 1950s.
LOCAL BUSINESS SUPPORT - 11-10-00
In addition Del ask John Wiltjer to see if he could locate the springs that are used in the brake assemblies. The originals were so rusted they were in several pieces. John went to Grand Rapids Brake, State Spring, and Northwestern Parts with no luck. Sam at Northwestern spent a lot of time looking through everything he had with out finding our needed springs. Finally John went the local hardware that has a reputation of having everything and sure enough they had the right size springs we needed for the brakes on the Futurliner.
Montana Paint through the local distributor Wyrick Co. has been providing all our painting supplies. We made the 3rd trip picking up supplies.
We want to continue to thank these local suppliers for the support they are providing in us as we work on this project.
|ENGINE UPDATE FROM BILL
First, Louie Pippin indicated he is still working on getting a 270 engine out of a truck and he will let me know when I can pick up the parts common to the 302. I will procure gaskets and rings from my established sources. I will also get the water pump rebuilt. After studying the manual and parts books, I agree that there are many versions of many of the parts. I will photograph and document as best I can what is needed.
I received the heavy standard transmission flywheel from Tom Schmanski.
|PARTS NEEDED FOR ENGINES
PARTS FOUND AT CARLISLE and HERSHEY
KETTERING UNIVERSITY VISIT
|FUTURLINER BUG BITES AGAIN
Having seen (and been allowed inside) the Peter Pan Futurliner at the Eastern States Exposition this week, all I can say is I'm really bitten by the Futurliner bug. I would love to receive your newsletter to keep up on the NATMUS project (and maybe even find out more on the Futurliner here in NH). E-mail and or PDF files are great for me so please add me to your list of "interested parties". Thanks for your time!-- Dave Lyons --
NICHOLLS WRITES . . .
Don Mayton Replies . . .
INLINER INTERNATIONAL WEBMASTER WRITES . . .
Don Mayton Replies . . .
"Inliners International was founded in 1981 by four people who shared the love of inline engines."
Jack has also put our Futurliner project on their web site. It has already generated some e-mails and phone calls. I recently talked to Mike from Memory Lane Restoration Services located in Orlando, Florida.
He recalls many years ago seeing a Futurliner in a junkyard near Brockport, New York along route 104. This route runs along Lake Ontario (east - west). Brockport, NY is located between Buffalo and Rochester, NY. He could not remember the name of the junkyard except that it was a two-letter name like someone's initials. So, you Futurliner sleuths that live in this area you need to check it out. Mike says someplace in all his stuff he believes that he has photos of this Futurliner. Again, we welcome this information and another information or photos. Remember we have tracked down the existence of nine of these Futurliners getting leads like this. Keep up the good work.
FUTURLINER - LEADED - GLASS
|Received the following from Bill
Bicknell our engine restorer:
The engines were picked up yesterday in California and should be at my place next week. Also in the box is an electronic eye controller for the Futurliner. It came with some spare parts when my Skylark owner owned the one and only Skylark hardtop. The hardtop had an electronic eye. I received a nice parts book for the 302 engine today from Mr. Pippin (the person who sat next to us at the NATMUS booth).
| Had a visitor that was the founder of the Western
Michigan Buick Club, Ken Rodenhouse and his wife Lois. Ken has been following the progress
of the Futurliner project with great interest via the web site. Ken really enjoys the web
site as he totally loss his hearing a little over a year ago.
Picked up a pickup load of sand blasted parts from Dave's Sandblasting. Dave has really helped us on this project squeezing in our work with the big over the road trucks that he is usually working on.
|AUBURN - CORD - DUESENBERG - FESTIVAL -
Greg Pettit a volunteer for the National Automotive and Truck Museum of the United States
called a month prior to the Festival and stated that NATMUS was going to have a display at
the Festival. The display would consist of the 1958 truck tracker coupled to a similar
vintage trailer. Inside the trailer would be lots of photos of vintage cars and trucks
that is at NATMUS. He stated if I got some photos of the Futurliner project down to him he
would get them blown up in size and add a wall for our display. So that is what was done.
Everything had to be done at the last minute so I know a lot of work went into getting our
Futurliner display together. The local truck club had volunteers to man the tent set up
next to the trailer and we had a few volunteers go down from here in Michigan.
Thanks to all those who worked hard to get this set up and at the NATMUS booth and those that traveled to Auburn: Greg Pettit, Bobbie Smith, John Martin Smith, John Wilks, Jim Baker, Wes Myrick, Bruce Beimers, Ed DeVries, Ryan DeVries, Bill Bicknell, Don Mayton, and to all the truck club members whose names I did not get.
ENGINE - We received an e-mail from Jack Halton in Winter Park, Florida offering new parts for our engine overhaul after he had looked at our web page. After our engine builder, Bill Bicknell and Jack talked we found out that Jack had a source to buy NOS (new old stock) 302 GMC OHV 6 cylinder short block engines in California. This is the type of engine in the Futurliner. The price was so good that Bill said we could not get the machining done at that cost. Considering other problems like the block could be cracked and whatever, we decided to order two NOS short blocks and they will arrive at Bill's place this month. We had always planned to do two engines. One engine is for the Futurliner and the other a spare to be used as a backup as well a static display since you cannot see the drivetrain once the Futurliner is restored.
As I mentioned above NATMUS had a booth at Auburn. Bill Bicknell called and suggested since I was going to Auburn that I bring the Futurliner engine and we would slide the engine from my pickup to his pickup and he could get it to his place. He needs the original engine for the purpose of unbolting various parts (for example the head) that is not on a NOS short block engine. Actually, this operation proved to be fairly simple. At home, I had to turn the engine side ways to get it to fit into my pickup with the cap on. I did this with my engine hoist. At Auburn, Bill and I backed up our trucks up to each other and we wrestled the engine from one truck to another. Actually, Bill did most of the work. Again, we need to thank our volunteers: Bill Bicknell, Jack Halton, Jim Crame (web pages).
ENGINE NEEDS We still need to find a 302 GMC OHV 6 cylinder engine to remove the components to put on the NOS short block that will be arriving at Bill's house. This is for our 2nd engine. Anyone out there happen to have one of these???????
FUTURLINER PARTS While at NATMUS I was able to pick up the 2nd rear view mirror and the foot rest that is in the cab of the Futurliner. The two passengers have a large foot rest that they can brace their feet on while riding in the Futurliner. Both are in reasonably good shape. The mirror needs disassembled, polished and then a new glass installed and reassembled. The footrest needs the rust removed from the brackets and reupholstered.
WORK SESSIONS With the activities of summer over we will start our Futurliner work sessions Tuesday, September 5, 2000.
|Follow this link to read the account of a Parader Picnic that Don Mayton attended.|
Australian, Allen Adams, paid a visit to the Futurliner project. Allen is Director of the Sydney Buick Club and was quite impressed with the project.
|E-MAIL RECEIVED: Hi Don,
I stumbled across the Futurliner site while surfing. Fascinating! According to your schedule, it looks like you have the engine rebuild covered, but knowing how these projects go, thought I would drop you a line anyway. I recently purchased a NOS 302 GMC short block and am building a street rod pickup. I am replacing some parts with high-performance pieces, and have the following components to donate, if they are needed:
Pistons (New ,with rings and pins, std bore)
Connecting rods (new, forging # 2341204)
I have a number of serviceable used parts as well.
I would like to make this donation in the name of Inliners International (www.inliners.org) and offer my services in locating any engine parts your builder may need. Many of our club members have built these fine old engines, and we have access to some little-known parts sources like military surplus caches. If we can help in any way, please let me know.
Club Merchandise / Back Issues
Winter Park FL
REPLY: Jack, that donation would be fantastic. Yes we would accept that donation. We will gladly pay for the shipping to our engine rebuilder. Let me know what we must do to get these parts and I will send you a check for the shipping and the address of the engine restorer. I am passing this info onto him as well as the President of the Museum, our web site manager and our newsletter editor all volunteers for this project. Again, thank you very much.
E-MAIL RECEIVED: Dear Don,
I grew up in Flint, Michigan. I remember vividly seeing the Futurliners when they came to Flint about 1955 for what I believe was the celebration of the 50 Millionth GM car to be built. Dinah Shore was the Grand Marshall of the parade down Saginaw Street in Flint and the parade included a gold painted 50 Millionth car which was a '55 Chevrolet. That was the year I graduated from Flint Central High and went on to attend what was then called General Motors Institute.
For some years afterward, my job as a salesman required me to drive all the roads throughout Michigan. One gray winter afternoon, about 1970-71, I can remember exiting the expressway (seems to me it was near P. J. Hoffmaster State Park). I can remember seeing a junkyard by the expressway exit on the north side of the ramp road. Through the fence, I saw what I perceived to be a rusting hulk of one of those fabulous GM Futurliners sitting there in the snow. I stopped my car and climbed up the outside of the fence to where I could just see over the top. I was correct. How sad, I thought, to find this once awesome vehicle relegated to a junkyard. I lamented not having a camera with me so I could snap a photo of it before it disappeared forever. Could this be the same unit, which you are lovingly restoring? I would be fascinated to know.
I thought little over the passing years about my brush with automotive history that overcast winter afternoon until, in the past several years, I began to read little tidbits here and there about the surviving number of the original twelve copies of the Futurliners. I had no idea that any had survived.
I will be visiting your web site to keep track of your progress...and hope that when the restoration is complete and on display, I will certainly make a "pilgrimage" to Auburn to view the results. Keep up the great work!
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
REPLY: Larry, what an encouraging letter. This has been a great project to bring back such a significant historical GM vehicle. As you have probably discovered in our web site we have been able to locate 9 of the original Futurliners. Sadly, most of these are greatly deteriorated. Those that have been rescued are awesome to see but greatly modified from original. Our goal is to take it back to original only correcting some safety items like brakes. Keep track of our progress through our web site.
E-MAIL RECEIVED: I ran across your Restoration web site yesterday
and must admit I couldn't stop reading the "notes" on the project. I hope you
don't mind that I posted a link to your web site on the AACA (Antique Automobile Club of
America) web site's General Forum. Since I own a 48 Packard, restoration is fascinating to
me. Their address is: http://www.aaca.org
The just released issue of Car Collector Magazine - September 2000 has an article on page 60 titled "THE GENERAL MOTORS FUTURLINER --- A Few Have Survived." The author Bob Juneau called last spring and asked lots of questions and I directed him to our web site in addition to answering his questions. There are photos of the original Futurliners as well as Bob Veldez's Futurliner (California - Motorhome). Some of the photos came from the web pages that Jim Crame put together. Our project (NATMUS) is mentioned towards the end with our web page.
E-MAIL RECEIVED: I am very pleased to
see a site for the Futurliner. I have obsessed over these vehicles since I saw my first
one in book commemorating the 75th anniversary of GM. I was nine years old.
Over the years, I caught little bits and pieces of information regarding the whereabouts
and condition of all 12 machines. I have seen more than 10 different pictures of the one
you are currently restoring with the paint it had when you found it. One of which is when
"Cadillac" was freshly applied. I am currently looking for that picture to
forward to you. I would like to make a trip to see your Futurliner as I have never
actually seen one. I would like to have your input as to when would be the best time to
make the trip. Again, thank you very much for the web site and for all the original photos
of the Futurliners. It has been informative and very interesting.
|Talked via phone today to Charles Tangora who was a Parader for the Parade of Progress. Chuck started working with the Parade prior to the Parade starting. He was involved in supervising the installation of the displays that went into the Futurliners working with the H.B. Stubbs company. Once the Parade started he was an advance person that went out to the field the day prior to the Parade arriving and laying everything out. They would measure and chalk a field locating the Aero Dome tent and where each Futurliner was positioned. They would have chalk lines so that each Futurliner would just ride over the chalk line keeping the line at the center of the Futurliner until it arrived in its designated position. Chuck also worked on the Parade in 1953 and in addition to being an advance layout person worked as a lecturer in the Ultra Sonic display.|
|HISTORY CHANNEL BROADCAST -- Airing
for the first time on July, 27, 2000 at 10:00PM EST, 9:00PM CST, and at 10:00PM PST will
be a program that includes some of the original GM footage of the Parade of Progress and
the Futurliners. This program was recently put together by the History Channel and is
called Modern Marvels. There is a segment showing Bob Valdez's modernized Futurliner. Also
mentioned is our restoration project that is under the National Automotive and Truck
Museum of the United States. However there are no pictures or video footage of our
Bob Valdez has been working with the History Channel and he is the one that deserves the credit of hooking them up with our project. The History Channel did use our web site for a lot of the information for their program. I want to thank everyone that has contributed information and photos for our web site.
|HISTORY CHANNEL -- In the past couple of months I have had a couple of conversations with Bob Valdez as Bob has been working with History Channel representatives on a presentation that features his restored Futurliner. The program is scheduled to air July 27, 2000 and is to be called "MODERN MARVELS - BUSES." It may mention our project. So, everyone look for it. Bob has been really boosting our project with the History Channel so we might be mentioned. Bob has also sent me a new set of photos of his Futurliner since he has repainted it. It really looks great. As soon as I can get them to Jim Crame, we will get them on the web.|
|Coker Tire has agreed to
produce the wide white wall tires for free! However, to get the original raised letters
'GENERAL MOTORS", "PARADE OF PROGRESS", "U S ROYAL",
"FLEETWAY" on the tires will require a mold change. The mold will cost $35,000.
We will have to work on finding a way to raise the money since this will be a part of the
$3,000 in donations came in to NATMUS for the Futurliner Restoration Project last week due to this web site!
Paint Sponsor -- Local paint distributor, Wyrick Co. employee Ray de Longpre has secured the Montana Paint Company (representative Ernest J. Borsich) to sponsor this project with the paint supplies. Montana Products, Inc. is located in Burbank, Ohio and specializes in paint supplies for the automotive industry. Pete Peterson founded the company 15 years ago on quality products and now distributes to every state in the union. (419) 846-3202
(Note from the new Executive Director of NATMUS) --
|FORMER PARADER PASSES AWAY
Francis E. Cronin passed away at age 71. He was a retired General Motors public relations executive who joined GM in 1953 as a lecturer on the Parade of Progress show. Our sympathy goes out to all of the family.
| Today (June 12, 2000) GM-Design person
Paul Jankowiak arrived to plan the redesign of the roof structure for the
Futurliner. The purpose of redesigning the roof is:
Paul spent about 3 hours here as we discussed what the new design must encompass:
Paul plans to return on June 26, 2000 (Monday) and make the many measurements so that an accurate design can be completed. Preparations for that visit will include:
I traveled to New Hampshire to locate and take pictures of the Futurliner in New Hampshire owned by Kendrick Robbins. Kendrick lives in Maine since he is working there. Before leaving I tried to call him but the phone number I had was no good. I sent him a letter but without a reply. I will keep trying. I had three possible locations in New Hampshire including the junkyard name prior to Kendrick obtaining the Futurliner.
All these were small New Hampshire towns so I hoped that some one would know of Kendrick Robbins. The first town I stopped at a tire and automotive store. They never heard of the Futurliner or Kendrick. They sent me to the local police station. There they informed me that Kendrick lived in the next town but did not have an address. The next town was less than 10 miles away so down the highway. The first stop was the police station but they said they could not give out addresses. However, they stated if I went to the City Hall I could look up his address in the tax office. At City Hall, they brought up his address on the computer. I asked directions and his street was only a few blocks away. When I arrived at the location of where his street was they were about five very narrow (driveway size) streets headed off in different directions but not the street I was looking for. I saw a man coming out of the local VFW and asked directions and he stated he never heard of the street I was looking for. (Later, I found out at this spot I was about a 1000 yards from Kendrick's house and his Futurliner.)
This local pointed across the street and said go to the post office and they will know. Across the street at the US Post Office they knew of Kendrick and gave specific directions. Back to the VFW up a very narrow street, a turn to another narrow street and finally a turn to another narrow street.
Like all the unrestored Futurliners this one is very bad with years of weathering and lots of rust. In addition it has been gutted and I could not find many key parts including the rear doors, engine, transmissions, windshield, rubber bumpers, trim pieces etc. I did take a lot of photos that will show up at the web site after I get them developed. A person that is renting the house said he did not have Kendrick's phone number but he does show up once a month to collect rent.
After this, I proceeded to the junkyard where the Futurliner came out of. It is still in operation and run by the widow of the original owner. She did remember the Futurliner and said it had been gone for about 10 years. It had been driven to the junkyard in the mid 80s. She could not remember where it had come from but was going to try to find out. Click on this link for pictures.
Carol and I on our way to visit our daughter in Connecticut stopped at Peter Pan Bus Company (Springfield, Massachusetts) to view the progress of their Futurliner restoration/modernization project. Mr. Peter Picknelly, Chairman of Peter Pan had invited us to stop and in addition invited us to lunch with him and Bill Sinico the manager of Coach Builders (Peter Pan's coach building operation).
I was amazed at the progress since we had been there last fall. Mechanically the coach is all together. That includes all the engine, transmission, brakes, and everything to make it run. The braking system is a modern safety system they designed similar to what is used on school buses. They are still in the check out phase of all these systems. Due to the structural weakness of the roof they reinforced it by building an arch support. Unless you are looking for this support, you cannot see it the way they have it blended into the interior of the roof area. They built new 16' upper and lower display side doors out of aluminum. These 16' side display doors are all in place and while we were there they operated the left side. The lighting fin at the top is operational with all its lights. Due to the large bundle of wires that would be required to place the fluorescence ballast remotely from the lighting fixtures they mounted the ballast inside the top lighting fin. That does add some weight to the lighting fin.
In the display area of the Futurliner they have it completely done with all the lights, a TV monitor and modern electronics. All the electric's is powered by a Honda Generator located in the back at the same place where the original PTO driven generator was located. This interior is finished in a gray carpet material on the inside of the doors and the ceiling and looks great. The floor is plywood and yet to be covered.
The exterior is in primer and the lower aluminum ribbing is installed. They plan their final paint to be the color and theme used on the Peter Pan Coaches. Yet to be done here is the rubber strips along the lower sides and installing the windshield. They had enough front and rear rubber bumper sections between their two Futurliners to salvage one set. They repaired the original set where their were tears with epoxy materials and next they will paint them. They will be using standard Firestone truck tires of the correct size.
In the drivers cockpit they have a new instrument panel of their design with modern gages. The original drivers seat they restored. All the upholstery for the drivers cockpit had just arrived and has to be installed. The color of the upholstery in this area is maroon. Since I do not do well on identifying colors I might get corrected on the color.
They have done a lot of work in the last few months and will end up with an outstanding Futurliner. It is really great that these historic vehicles are being saved. Although it has been modernized the fact that its use will be as originally intended as a display vehicle it will allow the public to appreciate its history. Its first use will be in Springfield in the middle of June (I think they said June 14, 2000) at a community event sponsored by Peter Pan. Look for its debut in the Springfield newspapers during this time.
After looking at the Futurliner we were treated to lunch at an old German restaurant in Springfield. The contacts that we have had with Peter Pan has really helped us in our restoration. I appreciate their openness to share their information as they progressed in their restoration. Again lots of pictures were taken and they plan to send us pictures once it has been painted. We have added a few to our web site.
|Don Mayton to Jeff
Jeff, need your help to answer this one.
From: Jolly Goodfellow
To Jolly from Jeff:
Thanks for your response.
The three switches are 1) an air valve (probably the air horn as in my BlueBird), 2) a
dimmer type switch (assumed to be a dimmer), and 3) a momentary which I have been told was
an override for the autronic eye /automatic dimmer so that it didn't flash the high-beams
in sync with an overhead flashing stoplight. The third doesn't make much sense since there
is a manual dimmer switch there also, as the high-beams wouldn't flash if they were turned
off. The turn-signal possibility intrigues me as I haven't yet determined how the
turn-signals operated. Is it possible that a toggle selected left and right, and there is
only one momentary on the floor for flashers? Would you be able to elaborate on how the
bus turn-signal buttons work?
To Jolly from Jeff:
Otherwise, perhaps the Futurliner will someday tour your town again, I hope so.
| Received in the mail an original photo of a
Futurliner taken in 1941 in Duluth, Minnesota. We have very few pictures of the
Futurliners as built in 1940. GM restyled and updated the original twelve in 1952 for the
3rd series of the Parade of Progress that started in 1953. This was at a Parade of
Progress that Bob Kinsman attended with his parents. Bob has a little story with the photo
so I will send it to Jim Crame so he can get it on the web.
Also received in the mail another packet of photos from Tom VanVoorhis. Included in this group is an original photo of the models of the Futurliners, the tractor-trailers used with the Parade and the Aero-Dome tent. These models were used in the setup of the Parade when they were planning their next stop. We need to be looking for these to add to the collection for this restoration project. Again we will pass these onto Jim Crame for his addition to the web.
Thanks to Bob and Tom.
| A letter was received from Tom VanVoorhis and
Victor Garske. They put together a scrapbook of the Parade of Progress and it is best to
quote to you their letter.
We have thought for some time this book should go to the Futurliner Restoration Project.
Vic and I contacted the Detroit Museum, April 12. We went to see the Museum Registrar at historic Ft.Wayne. Our mission was to try to retrieve this book. We were successful. This book had not been logged into the museum records. Consequently, it was legally still ours. Here it is.
We want you to have it. We know it will be an appreciated addition to your Parade of Progress collection.
This book is a treasure of old newspaper clippings and original photos. It will double the size of our material. Look for it to be incorporated into our web site soon.
|Former Parader Harold Hardenbrook
called. 675 C Versailles Circle, Elk Grove, Illinois 6000, (847) 593-6973.
Harry said he was with the Parade in late 1952 prior to it starting again in 1953. He was with the Parade approximately 1-1/2 years. Harry was a recent graduate from Michigan State when hired as a lecturer. Prior to going on the road they went to the Michigan State Fairgrounds in Detroit, MI. There without any instructions they drove the Futurliner in circles practicing on the fairgrounds. As he recalls he either drove #4 or #5 Futurliner. For awhile he also drove one of the support tractor trailer trucks but did not like that due to all the gear shifting that had to be done.
Their shake down was in Frankfort, Kentucky and their next real show was in Lexington, Kentucky in the spring of 1953. The very first show was to several hundred reporters and everybody was nervous. He was in the middle of his presentation and Boss Kettering got up from the audience and came on stage an helped him with that first presentation.
When they were in Orlando, Florida the Parade was given the 2nd Corvette produced to show. Harry got to drive it from Orlando to the next show in Jacksonville, Florida.
He stated there was only two ways to drive the Futurliner and that was slowly and carefully. He stated the brakes were not adequate for all the weight of the vehicles. When the advance team went out to check out the route that was to be traveled by the Futurliners they had to be concerned about the roads grades, the height of the overpasses, and the weight limit of the roads and bridges. He stated the brakes on a long downhill would get so hot they would smoke.
Another big problem was that of the long line of vehicles. The Parade would have as its lead car a Cadillac followed by other divisions cars, the Futurliners, the support trucks and a Cadillac at the rear. There was so much starting and stopping that it seemed they would never get any place. There was a continuous according affect. He thought the total Parade consisted on some 65 vehicles.
Harry was a lecturer for four different shows. One show was demonstrating a machine that measured the smoothest of cylinder walls. Another was a scientific demonstration that was way above the audience and it was shortly dropped. Another was the curved dash Oldsmobile. And the last was mixing chemicals and making foam.
When they arrived in a community often they were requested to do a demonstration for the local TV station. Of course in the 1950's these were always live TV. One in which he did in a southern town he managed to cut himself in front of the TV camera and had blood on his shirt and light gray jacket. He stated he just wrapped his hand with his handkerchief and finished the demonstration.
He thinks our web site is great but would like us to add the Paraders names to it. We need some feedback to you Paraders on that.
He plans to go through his photos and send them to us to copy.
|Saturday April 8, 2000
We had a visit from NATMUS along with the volunteers who work on the Futurliner. We had approximately 50 folks total. Jim is already putting on the web site pictures of the visit.
Ryan DeVries has been working at his hobby shop at home polishing the large aluminum "GM" letters that Charlie Glick had cast. Many hours have gone into the polishing. Ryan brought them over just prior to the scheduled visit. They are outstanding. Due to the casting process where the ribs were cast into the back of the letters, the outer surface shrunk a great deal. This had to be all sanded out prior to starting the polishing process. A big thanks to Ryan who did this beautiful work. By the way, Ryan has a hobby business of casting and polishing antique fire engine bells and in his spare time, he restores fire trucks (big ones like ladder trucks).
We now have a paint sponsor. The local paint distributor, Wyrick Co. and specifically their employee Ray de Longpre has been talking to the Montana Paint Representative Ernest J. Borsich to sponsor this project with the following products:
Acid etch primers (can and spray cans)
This will be a great help in expense as paints are very expensive.
Ernest J. Borsich
| Dan Mayo from a body engineering design source
came to investigate what has to be done to redesign the roof section. The roof section
must be resigned for four reasons:
Dan has already figured out what must be done structurally to strengthen the roof. His biggest job is to take accurate measurements and then figure out how to tie in the new roof with the old Futurliner.
| I received a phone call today from one of the
readers of the Auto Restorer magazine. He stated that Peter Pan is using in their
restoration a 4 cylinder GMC 471 diesel coupled to a HT740 Allison transmission.
A Colorado automotive restoration shop called and volunteered to provide the labor to upholster the seats. That would include the drivers seat and the passenger seats. We will work out shipping the seat cushions to Colorado but to do this in order, we need to get all the material to match.
I also have received many letters, phone calls and e-mails because of the Chicago Tribune articles about two Futurliners in a suburb of Chicago. I have finally tracked down the location. It was the Lake County GMC dealer lot in Wakeogeon, Illinois where these Futurliners sat and I talked to the GMC dealer today and these were two of Joe Bortz's Futurliners. They have not been there for years. I do have old pictures coming from one of the people that contacted me and they will probably match up with pictures that came from this area through FIDO the Canadians.
| My wife, Carol, and I took a vacation in
Southern California. Of course, while there, we took the time to look up Brad Boyajian's
two Futurliners and Mike Kadletz's Futurliner.
1931 Twin Coach - Helms Bakery Truck
A Construction The three rubber bumper strips starting at the front bumper and
ending up at the rear bumper. Beginning at the side lower doors these rubber strips
terminate and the outer sheet metal of these doors takes the same shape as the rubber
If any one out there can supply an answer to the above it would clear up this question.
We appreciate all the information that we are getting to help us complete this restoration.
|On April 8th about 40 members of the National Automotive and Truck Museum of the United States is planning a tour to Michigan to review the Futurliner Restoration Project and then visit two other private car collections here in Western Michigan. I am making the arrangements and will give more details later.|
| Roger Davis from the magazine "Michigan
Traveler" stopped by today, took some pictures and spent 4 hours going over all our
information. He has already reviewed the web site and his plans are to run an article in
the next issue of this magazine.
While he was here he stated that he recalled seeing a Futurliner that belonged to the Michigan Highway Department that was set up to take photos of the road surface in order to determine the levelness of highways after a contractor completed a section of repairing or building a highway. This is new information. Roger was going to see if he could dig up some more information about this.
|"Excellent web site!
I am a 20 year old college student from Illinois that grew up near 2 Futurliners. About 10 years ago I recall Joe Bortz had a few cars on display at the Gurnee Mills mall, and being the classic car freak that I am, I read up on him, and his collection. I was aware of the "parade of progress" and the unique bus-like vehicles named Futurliner. My parents took me to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago to show me the American Crossroads display, and I was hooked.
Then, on a trip down route 41 near North Chicago, Illinois in a lot I saw 2 Futurliners!! I went insane! These things were sitting right in my hometown! After drooling over them, and reading up on them, and numerous photographs, the behemoths were gone. A few car guys told me that Bortz had taken them to be refurbished, and then others said they were donated. I didn't know what to think. Then my father told me about your web site, and here I am.
I just want to say thanks for preserving a part of Americana that will never happen again. As I said earlier, I am only 20 years old, but I have a deep passion for antique automobiles, and currently own a 1955 Oldsmobile Super 88 that I am restoring. Thanks to the influences of my family, friends, and organizations like yours the past can live on, and inspire many more young people like myself to continue the hobby.
Thanks, and best of luck in your endeavor,
| Ed Harben one of the "Paraders" who
has been a regular contributor with information and photos and supplied this technical
information of the first generation Futurliners that were used up to World War II and
recently we have received photos of them being used in parades in the late 40's. They were
extensively updated in 1952 for the 1953 Parade of Progress. I wanted to pass on this
| "I'd like to Help on a Tuesday during the
Winter. I do some farming (hobby) in the spring and fall but the summers are too hot.
I'm 63, a certified mechanic. Since selling our dealership (Pontiac) in '88, I've spent my time doing specialty work in my shop here on the farm. I enjoy challenges like automatic tranys, electrical, and other complex systems, but I also enjoy larger jobs like tractors and combines. I have NO interest in the "fine work" like paint, interior, upholstery,....etc....! I'm comfortable with Brakes, steering, suspension, transmission, differential, and engine.
Give me some feed back as to how I could be of help to you on this project. I'd like to commit to 1 session (day) and see how it goes, before committing to any further."
|Received a call from Nancy Henderson from Chattanooga, Tennessee who works as a feature writer for the Chicago Tribune. She is planning to do an article on the Futurliner Restoration. Sounds like a great opportunity for communication for our restoration. She has done an article on Coker Tire, which I am anxious to see. When our Futurliner Restoration story gets published we will have to see how to get a copy to everyone.|
| Bill Bicknell from Dayton, Ohio has informed
us he is now ready for the engine and will be picking it up sometime in February 2000.
OTHER FUTURLINERS - We just received a letter from Peter Picknelly, Chairman of Peter Pan Bus Company thanking us for Stu Allen's Futurliner presentation that we sent them. In the letter, Mr.. Picknelly stated that their goal for completion of the Peter Pan Futurliner is June 2000. We will give you updates as they progress with their Futurliner.
I just received a letter from Mr. Picknelly that you folks at Peter Pan plan to get your restoration done by June 2000. Having seen your customized buses that you folks rent out for small group events like weddings, etc. I know that your new Futurliner will be a knockout.
If it is possible could you give us some of the details of the "new Futurliner" that you will be creating. Details like engine, transmission, brakes, air suspension, interior, electrics, amenities, etc. It would be nice to include that information in a future newsletter. Our newsletter goes to almost 2000 people and we could put the information in a newsletter to benefit Peter Pan's timing for your future business. In fact our newsletter goes overseas to a few folks. I realize that you at Peter Pan have access to the bus trade journals but our newsletter probably goes to a complete different set of people.
Also a little history on your Futurliner when and how you obtained it and its future use. Thanks, Don.
|Today (1-13-00) Gordon DeBaar delivered the Futurliner transmission that he took to professionally restore. He replaced all the bearings in both the transmission section and the auxiliary PTO section. All gearing has been shimmed to its proper clearances. Our only remaining job is to paint it, reinstall it and then fill it with oil. Gordon will return once it is in place to adjust the shifting mechanism. Just as a reminder, this particular transmission is shifted from the outside when the Futurliner is stopped. Now its three shifting positions function smoothly. A real thanks to Gordon for volunteering his 30 years experience of rebuilding truck transmissions for the Futurliner project.|
Unfortunately, my meeting ran long, and I just returned home around 3:30. On the good side, I did get some pricing to develop a schematic for our air brake system, assuming that it is air brakes. We should look at the air-pump thoroughly to ensure that it is not a vacuum pump which was somewhat common in those days, but it is probably a pressurized air system.
The rear chambers are about 11" or 12" dia, this would be very difficult to reproduce, parts are not available from what I've been told, and they are not FMVSS 121 compliant anyway (no spring brake/safety brake chamber). The most economical alternative would be to replace the assemblies with 8" dual chambers (includes spring brake) which are the most common (used on most all large OTR trucks and buses) and therefore the cheapest @ $60.14ea X 2. Brackets will have to be fabricated, and the chambers will hang below the axle in the rear. I will make some bracket drawings.
The front chambers are 9", it seems most likely that we will size them the same as the rear (typical), and again 8" is the least expensive @ $29.78ea X 2. I will have to check for clearance for the new chambers. The "treadle valve", or brake pedal valve appears shot, it is soaking in penetrating oil to see if I can free it up and perhaps disassemble it. This valve will not work with a split system as it only has one air input, so it has debatable value anyway if we're going for the split system. The treadle valve (dual) is $87.81 and a pedal assembly (if ours doesn't work) is an additional $82.89.
Our stoplight switch is probably good, they are $16.94ea, we will need one if ours is good, two if it is not (and we use a dual system).
The low air pressure switch is one on each system, again we will need one if ours is good, and two if it is not @ $17.54.
Check valves are necessary, we will need two one-way valves @ $23.22ea, and one two-way valve @ $18.69. I found no check valves on the bus.
There are two air tanks on the bus, we will need three for a split system, the cheapest/most common tank that I found lists at $36.41 and will match the air volume approximately of what we have, and mounts will have to be fabricated (there are flanges welded to each tank end). BTW, gloss black is the color of the tank and brake chambers.
The parking brake valve is a push-pull valve as mandated, none on bus, $24.35 and will mount in any hole.
We have one brake valve (relay valve), I haven't been able to tell if it is serviceable, a split system will need two @ $46.04ea.
There are other parts which I didn't yet price, it is basically a relay valve which doesn't allow the parking brake and rear service brake on at the same time, necessary if we use spring brakes. We will also need a drain petcock for the new tank, an overpressure/pop-off valve, and we're assuming that the compressor is useable, they are big money, even used. I didn't price an air dryer, it isn't a huge issue if it isn't operated frequently in below freezing temps, and provided the tanks are drained of their condensation at regular intervals.
These are all list prices, Bendix parts (the big guys) from Western Michigan Fleet parts. I have part numbers so that we can shop around. Obviously you can see that this is getting expensive. We could choose to restore the system to its original single-system configuration, without spring brakes, but I'd rather not if at all possible. I can draw a diagram of the original configuration, and cost savings will be significant, but then it's your baby as I'd be afraid of the liability.
The other option is to leave the system as a single system, not split the front/rear, but still install spring brakes. This would save us the tank, one stop-lamp switch, one low air switch, one check valve, and one brake valve. It would also save the treadle valve (assuming that its salvageable) and give us a fairly safe braking system albeit without a split front/rear system and its added safety.
Also remember that we'll probably want to replace any of the flexible air lines, but keep all of the copper. The copper lines are actually pretty cheap, but the fittings cost money. I'm also not sure whether we want to polish the copper lines or anything like that. I guess that it wouldn't look original, but cleaning up the copper fittings would look correct.
See you next Tues., I will have air schematics and parts lists when I arrive. Hope that all went well today.
Reply: I told Jeffery to go for the safest system and that we would figure out how to pay for it. Don
| Futurliner historical update: Last week Del
Carpenter, Ed DeVries and myself had the opportunity to visit Jack and Bill Braun of the
Braun Brothers Enterprises in Spring Lake Michigan (Western Michigan). I believe they are
65 and 70 age wise respectfully and have had many businesses, mostly automobile related.
Up until about 10 years ago, they owned a large junkyard in Spring Lake.
In 1969 (to the best of their recollection) Jack attended a State of Michigan vehicle auction in Lansing, Michigan. Of the vehicles the state was auctioning off, two were Futurliners. One of was painted blue, which had been used by the Michigan State Police as their "Safety Liner" and the second was filled with parts. Jack Braun became the proud owner of two Futurliners for the total price of $1,100. He decided to drive the "Safety Liner" home since it was in very good condition and the State Police representative said it had been maintained in an excellent condition. He was told that they (the State Police representative) would drive it out of the parking lot since it was so huge. Their driver hit a car in the parking lot on the way out. The Michigan State Police offered him a police escort in order to exit Lansing, which Jack accepted.
This Futurliner (Safety Liner) was driven to Spring Lake without any problems. Later, Jack sent a tow truck to tow the second Futurliner back to Spring Lake. The tow truck was unable to lift the front of the Futurliner so a tow bar was attached and the Futurliner was towed to the junkyard in this fashion. Both Futurliners had a Michigan title dated 1941.
Once the second Futurliner was towed to Spring Lake, it was found it was full of parts including many hubcaps. There were also extra windshields inside and many mechanical parts. The Futurliners were parked along the road in front of the junkyard and they attracted much attention. People would look at them with the intention of buying them and converting them into such things as circus vehicles, car haulers, and motor homes. Of course, none were so serious as to plunk down the cash to purchase them. During this time trailer-truck tractor drivers would stop and admire the shinny hubcaps and buy them to put on their rigs. Most of the hubcaps went this route since the trucks of that era had the same wheel size.
One of the visitors happened to be a Michigan State Policeman that was in charge of the "Safety Liner". He explained in detail what the display was. On one side was the map of the State of Michigan with all the state police posts and a list of the functions of the state police. The other side consisted of a TV or continuous movie of a series of safety messages.
The public became such a nuisance in stopping and looking that Jack and Bill put the Futurliners inside the junkyard. As we stood in their used car office last week, on the wall was an aerial photograph and we could just see the tops of the Futurliners in the junkyard.
As time went on, they had made the decision to crush both Futurliners. However one week prior to getting around to crushing them they had two gentleman show up from Chicago and started negotiating to buy both Futurliners. Jack stated he remembers these men stating that they were professors. At any rate, a price was agreed upon. After the cash ($2,500) was laid on the table, a controversy developed over the price and the deal almost fell through. They decided to drive the better of the two Futurliners (the State Police blue one) back Chicago (actually Roselle, Illinois). When Jack ask what these were to be used for he was told by the buyers that it was a secret.
The second Futurliner remained in the junkyard for about 10 years until the Braun brothers decided to close the yard and sell the property. The second Futurliner was finally towed to the Chicago area. The Braun's had the bill of sale, the serial numbers and the names of the purchasers.
From my records the Michigan State Police (blue) Futurliner went to Canada and ended up as the FIDO Futurliner. I traced this through the tracking of photos of the blue Futurliner. With the numbers we now have, we should be able to confirm this or not.
Also, from my records the 2nd Futurliner ended up with Brad Boyajian out in California. Again, this was tracked by the Futurliner having all the parts in it. Again, with the numbers we now have we should be able to confirm this on not. Following is the detail of who these were sold to:
#1-(Bill believes this was the blue bus and it ran perfect)
1941 GMC Bus
Motor # 302 23637
Michigan title #C340571
Sold to: Michael Carroll
Roselle, Ill. 60172
(312) 529-6697 (The number is no good, I checked and called the operator in the Chicago area and the only Michael Carroll is not this one.)
#2-(Bill said they never had this bus running.)
This information came from a letter that was sent from Bill Braun to Joe Bortz. In
addition, the letter also had what bank the check was drawn on. One paragraph mentioned
that Vic Hyde in Niles, Michigan had a Futurliner but as the date of this letter (May 6,
1988) he had sold it. Vic Hyde was interviewed in the Special Interest Autos magazine in
their March-April 1977 issue and at that time, he owned a Futurliner.
If any of you in the Chicago area can get a handle on these previous owners I would appreciate the help.
| I need to make a correction that was in one of
the previous Newsletters. We mentioned that the motors to run the doors were 220volts.
Since then we have inspected our motors and talked to others and these motors are 110volt
Talked to Kendrick Robbins (# 9) about his Futurliner. The following is a little more history of his Futurliner. He stated that he talked to the owner (now deceased) of the junkyard where he brought his Futurliner. The junkyard owner stated one day this man drove up in this weird bus and wanted to know if he would take this machine. While they were talking the Futurliner ran out of gas. The junkyard said they would take the Futurliner. They then cut the brake lines in the back, took a tractor and pushed the Futurliner 50 yards into the junkyard. In the process they smashed the rear bumper. The junkyard left the top driver's hatch open. In addition the air cleaner was missing from the engine. Over the years so much water came into the engine that the oil pan rusted out. It continued to sit for years until Ken bought it.
Prior to it coming to the junk yard in addition to being used as a "Square D" display vehicle, it at one time was a rolling machine shop for a race team. It had a lathe and some race type repair equipment on the inside. Ken has not been able to track down the race team to date.
Also Ken toured a World War II submarine that is in Portsmith, NH. He states that the radioman's seat in the submarine is identical to the Futurliner driver's seat.
Since Ken is not going to restore it to original he has offered parts that he is not going to use.
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