2001 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.
|Dec. 11||Tom Kulhman donated an army truck to the Futurliner Restoration project. The purpose of this donation is so that we can have an extra engine and transmission to restore for spares. GM used the Korean War era army truck drive train to power the Futurliners when GM updated them in 1952. We will be scheduling a trip to Tom's place to remove the engine and transmission sometime in the future.|
I got a personal letter back from Oral Roberts. He remembers the busses and the tents, but does not know what happened to them. He said that Don Spires and all the team that were with him in those days are all dead and gone. I don't know how to pursue this any further. I already tried calling the Oral Roberts ministry headquarters to see if anyone else knew about the busses and found that none of them were around back then and none of them knew about the busses.
I think that when I have time, I will call them back and see if they have a historical record of the ministry that may have pictures of the busses.
|Dec. 6||From the editor of Motor
Matt Stone, Senior Editor
Wishing you and everyone at NATMUS the best with this labor of love. I wanted you to know this article was in the oven, and I'm happy to give your project and website a plug, as its saved me a lot of digging (which I like, when your on deadline, its nice to find good information in one source.)
|Nov. 21||Andy Elliot from Peterboro, Ontario, Canada just shipped us material describing the Parade of Progress visit that occurred in Canada in 1955. In this material was an air plane photo of a Parade of Progress setup that showed all 12 Futurliners at one time. The copy of a GM booklet described each city visit of the Parade with examples of newspaper clippings. Also included was a copy of a pamphlet of the 1936 Parade of Progress. Thanks Andy for taking the time to find this information, copying it and then mailing it. Don|
|Nov. 14||FUTURLINER ROOF
Great news about your new philanthropist. Sounds like everything should be going smooth from here out. Dave Pitlock will be sending his guys out to see you on 11/26 and reviewing the details of the roof project before they start fabricating. They would like to do this before you buy any steel to make sure you don't have to buy any extra. The stock list can probably be finalized during the visit and steel can be ordered when they return. I am handing this project over to Dave at this time but I would still like to get the updates from you. I guess I've taken an interest in this big bus even though I won't be working on it. Next time I'm in Grand Rapids, I'll look you up. -- Kurt
Kurt, thanks for the information. I appreciate all the help you are giving us in this project. I will contact Dave. -- Don
|Nov. 13||Hi Don,
I continue to be amazed at the work you guys (and gals) are doing. I have been wondering if anyone is documenting the restoration on video. It would make a great program for the History Channel, Speedvision or just to have as an historical record.
Inliners International is planning our August 2002 convention for the Detroit area. I would love to see the Futurliner on my trip north. Please keep us in mind.
Best Regards, Jack Halton
Jack, sorry but we are not doing a video. However we are doing extensive documentation via photos. I will look into doing a video. Thanks for the interest in our project. Also we keep getting help from you "INLINERS" with spare parts. When you come to Detroit in August make sure you stop in. We are about 3 hours west of Detroit. Give me a specific date or dates so I can get them on my calendar. Don
|Nov. 12||SLOAN MUSEUM PRESENTATION
Hi Don, Just a note to let you know that the presentation at Sloan Thurs. night went well. We had about 35 people show up. I was very glad to see Wayne Jackson and his wife there and Wayne was very helpful in answering questions. Most of the people were from BCA or AACA although we attracted some people who had seen the website and wanted to learn more. The presentation consists of about 70 slides and we got through it in about 45 minutes and then had 20 minutes or so of questions.
I think we have a couple of people interested in helping with the instrument panel so I'll follow up with them. Do we have the original gages and any pictures of the panel before it was dismantled?
I think my son plans on getting me a CD burner for Christmas which will allow me to make some CD's of the presentation so that any of the volunteers who need it can have ready access to it. I know Wayne wants a copy. -- Stu Allen
Don, we have samples and are able to match the solid vinyls exactly with NOS goods .The striped woven material is aftermarket saran seatcover material and we can get close but not exact. We can most likely get this donated.
Randy, Tina and Ian
Bare Hill Design
716-554-3869 or 737-4322
Randy VanderBrook, from Bare Hill Design, has offered to do the interior of the upholstery of the Futurliner. They have stated that they will get the material donated and when it is time to do the interior they will travel from New York State with their equipment, material and trailer and do the interior. -- Don
|Nov. 8||TWELVE FUTURLINERS
Here is a blurry scan of the Toronto P.O.P. of 1955. It's even harder to see with the bad scan but it appears all 12 Futurliners are in this shot. Pointing away from the flagpole is one Futurliner with some sort of tent structures, one on each side. Perhaps you are familiar with this setup? Directly facing it is a second unit plus a third unit to the right. The other nine are easier to see. The picture is clearer in the booklet copy I am sending you. I've had copies made of the whole 1955 Canadian Parade booklet also the 30's Parade booklet for you, Brad B. and Joel D. and will mail them out in the next few days. The last thing to mention (and the most important) is I too am a Christian and know Jesus Christ as my personal saviour! It's amazing how this little group of guys with a common interest also share in knowing God! Take care. -- Andy Elliott / Peterboro' Canada
Andy, looking at the picture it does appear that there are twelve Futurliners. If that is so it is the first photo that shows all twelve. -- Don
|Nov. 5||Letter addressed to Paul
Neighbour regarding response below.
Don Mayton and Dean
Tryon passed along your email about your exposure to a Futurliner in one
of its post Parade of Progress manifestations.
|Nov. 4||Dear Don,
I cannot tell you how excited I am to find your web site with pictures of these wonderful "busses". I have been looking for one for years. It has been a lifelong dream.
You see, in 1959, when I was 5 years old, a friend of my dad's came to see us in his Futurliner which was sporting a brand new paint job. It looked just like the one in the header of your web page including the wide whitewall tires. It no longer said General Motors on the side, but in the same place with the same lettering, it said JESUS SAVES.
My father was a missionary and we lived, at that time, in Brownsville, TX. The man with the bus was Don Spires, a missionary to Mexico. His plan was to preach the gospel to everyone in Central America using the bus as a mobile stage from which to preach.
I was young, but I remember the bus very well. Riding in the "dome" high above the world (or so it seamed to me) was the most exciting rush to me. To this day, I long to drive one. We went to Mexico with Mr. Spires and he and my dad would take turns preaching while my family provided music. The crowds that gathered to see this spectacle of the bus with the lights high in the air, loudspeakers blaring the gospel message stage doors open on the side.
When we drove down the road, cars, trucks, bicycles motor bikes and people running would follow us anxious to break up the monotony of their lives by seeing and touching this "UFO" sort of a phenomena.
If you have any idea of the whereabouts of the bus of my dreams, I would love to know. It may be one of the still-missing busses. It was one of three that belonged to the Oral Roberts organization for whom Don Spires worked. My recollection is that they had one (Mr. Spires') to use to evangelize Central and South America, one for Africa, and one for Europe. Do you have any knowledge of these buses?
Today, I run a small boarding school for troubled youth and pastor a small country church in western Washington. It still remains a lifelong dream to see, ride in and even drive one of these colossals. I have a commercial drives license and have driven almost every kind of bus. It has been a joy to me to fulfill some of my childhood dream by driving some of these marvelous machines. My favorite, because it is the closest to the Futurliner, has been some of the old Crowns, Flexibles, and Gilligs. I especially love to drive the old double clutching pushers with reverse shift pattern. It's not that I love abuse, I just love big old busses that most people today don't know how to drive!
Obviously, I love your web site.
Sincerely, Paul Neighbour
Paul, great information that you gave us. The only information that we have about a Futurliner being used as a Missionary Vehicle is a one line sentence I read in a car magazine stating such. This is the first information I have that Oral Roberts had three such vehicles. We would like to find out more information on this "Missionary" Futurliner. We would like to obtain photos, literature or any information. Do you know anyone that would have such information? Do you have the contacts to see if you can get this type of information. Also give me an e-mail of all the details that you can remember.I see that you are in Christian work. Praise the Lord. I am a Christian also who is also an old car nut. I just enjoy working with the challenge of bringing nothing back to something and preserving the past. All the men working on this project are old car nuts and most of them know the Lord.
What ever you find as far as the Oral Roberts Futurliners and the one used by Don Spires we will put one our web site. We are rapidly putting all the pieces together to have a complete history of the Parade of Progress, the Streamliners used in the first series of the Parade, and the Futurliners. We have extended the history on our web to what became of the 12 Futurliners. So you see we need your help.
Thanks for the interest and the new information.
Don, praise the Lord! I love to read the words you wrote in your letter the way you did, it tells me you are a Christian who really loves his Lord. So do I.
My dream has been to find Don Spires old bus to use it in my ministry to troubled youth across America. Before my father went to be with the Lord a little over two years ago, he and I talked about the bus and tired to find information about it with no success. We could not find Don Spires either. Don would be in his early 80's if he is still alive. I have put in a call to Oral Roberts Ministries to try and get some information.
I will give you a bit more detail about the bus as I remember. However, you should know that I was 5 years old when I knew the bus, and that was 42 years ago. I do have a vivid memory back to when I was 2 years old about things that impressed me. This memory has been a life long dream, so I think my memories are mostly clear. I called my 82 year old mother a minute ago, and she has the same recollection as I, except that she never rode in the bus or even went into the cockpit. I did.
It is hard to know where to begin my recollections. I might first say that I told you in my first letter that the lettering on the new paint job said, "Jesus Saves". It did not. My mother and I agree it said, "Vida Abundante!" (Abundant Life). At the back of the bus, the bumper dropped down to make a stair into the rear cabin. There were double doors that opened up to reveal a tall, crowded room. On one side there was a small closet with a toilet in it. On the other side there was a coat closet. There were bunks on the left and right with storage cabinet doors above and below. There were three or four bunks on each side, if I recall correctly. I must say, after looking at the picture of the rear of one of these marvels on your web site, I don't see how there was room in the cabin for all this, but that is what I remember and so does my mother. The stage area was kept open except that there were several hundred chairs stored in there. They were set up in front of the stage when we opened the doors. The only other thing that might interest you, is that the forward entrance was a little different than in the picture. My memory could be faulty here, but I will tell you what I remember. There was a door on the front to one side. On the other side was a smaller door that only a small person could get through. When you went into the larger door, which was really rather small since both my father and Don would have to duck to get in, you came into an engine room. There were two engines sitting side by side. One ran the bus, the other a generator. It was tight, but you walked around the engines to get in. Even I, as a child, found it tight. There was a drop down bunk hanging from the rear bulkhead. This is where Don said he slept on the road. He had a little "window" he could open next to his head. When it was closed, from the outside, it looked just like a compartment door. Next to the bed, was a ladder built onto the wall with only about 4 rungs that you climbed up to get into the cockpit. The hole was small and my dad lifted me through it. He said that they had to take out the stairs to put in a new engine, I believe. Once up stairs, there was a sort of a bench to sit on behind the driver's seat. There was a small chair on either side of him for people to sit. Not right next to the drivers seat, but off-set about half way. There's not much more to tell you. The light bar worked well. Everything looked just like your picture in your header on the outside.
Please keep in contact. I will let you know as soon as I hear back from Oral Roberts.
Your friend in Christ, Paul
|Oct. 3||PARADER'S REUNION
We have just received details on a 50th anniversary of the beginning of the post-war Parade of Progress PARADER'S REUNION. Jim Morris, one of the Paraders is putting together all the details.
This reunion will be held in Saugatuck, MI. September 3-5, 2002. This invitation has gone out to over 50 Paraders. Their plans include visiting the Futurliner work site here in Zeeland, Michigan on Wednesday, 9-4-2002. We welcome their visit and plan to have our work volunteers here as well as John Martin Smith and others from The National Automotive and Truck Museum of the United States present. We will also be working on a joint luncheon. Stay tuned for more details.
WORK SESSION FOR OCTOBER 9TH
There will be no work session for next Tuesday, October 9, 2001 due to the fact most of the volunteers will be in Hershey, Pennsylvania at the annual Antique Automobile Club of America fall meet.
|Oct. 1||Subject: Parade of Progress
Ed, thank you for your offer. Yes we would like this to add to the items that we already have. Again, all this will end up at the Museum as part of their display. In fact when the Futurliner is on the road again there will be a display of these items within the Futurliner. We have asked all of our group to look for the playing cards at any car swap meet they might attend. Again thanks for your help
|Aug. 23||We have another sponsor for our
Futurliner Project. Lubrication Engineers has donated 10 tubes of extreme
pressure lubricant that is used for conditions where it will not wash out,
pound out, melt even with extended service and in severe conditions. First
of all let me give you a little history of how they became involved.
TIN CAN TOURIST RALLY
This event is for antique and vintage trailers and motor homes. Carol and I look forward to it yearly so we can drive our 1936 Buick Roadmaster pulling our 1936 Bowlus Road Chief travel trailer. This year, like the years in the past, was a great event with a large variety of vintage trailers and motor homes. Many trailers were being pulled by antique automobiles of the same year. In addition to our combination there was a 1964 Chevy Impala SS pulling a Bambi Air stream, a 1958 Chevy Wagon pulling an older trailer, a 1936 Curtis 5th wheel trailer being pulled by a one-of-a-kind special International truck built specifically to pull the trailer. The antique motor homes ranged from the 1940's up to the 1970's GMC's. This year had the most units in the four years that the event has been taking place.
(Note: "CARS AND PARTS" antique automobile magazine just ran an excellent two part series about the Tin Car Tourist event at Park Dearborn in their most recent August and September issues.)
After leaving the K-Mart, Carol asked "What's that noise." My intelligent reply was "What noise?" After I listened carefully, I could hear a grinding at a regular interval. We stopped and looked at all the tires, shook the wheels, but could not see anything. We started down the road again but the noise was still there and we could feel a little vibration on the floor. I told Carol we must look for some sort of garage.
About two miles down the road we pulled into a Good Year tire store. The manager was outside and asked what we wanted. I explained that we had a noise and it could be a front wheel bearing. He said that he could not help us but he knew of a place that could. He directed us down the street about another 2 miles to a Corvette restoration shop.
With his good directions, we immediately found the shop. It was full of about a dozen Corvettes of different years. One of the mechanics immediately came out after me explaining our problem. After jacking up the front, shaking the wheels, spinning the wheels to look for a bad tire the mechanic detected a noise in the right front wheel.
He disassembled the wheel and found that the inner wheel bearing was in the beginning stages of failure. Fortunately, no damage had occurred yet.
He also stated that he doubted he could find these wheel bearings, as they were ball bearings. However he called around and Car Quest said that they had them but had to send a person out to their warehouse near the airport. After a 1-1/2 hour wait the bearing showed up but the warehouse had sent the wrong one. After another hour, the correct one arrived.
It only took the mechanic another hour's worth of repairs. During the repair process the mechanic raved about the grease that they packed Corvette wheel bearings with. In fact they said that the wheel bearings that they had replaced on Corvettes had never failed again and they knew of several Corvettes that they had done that already had over 100,000 miles on the wheel bearings. The mechanic took the time to show me how sticky the grease was. After he got done packing the wheel bearings that he had replaced he handed me the tube of grease and told me when I got home to pack the other side with this grease which was Lubrication Engineer's Almagard 3750.
Although we lost 5-1/2 hours, we got repaired and back on the road and had a great weekend with the Tin Car Tourist.
I took the tube of grease which is red in color and did repack the other side of the 1936 Buick. Next I repacked the 1953 Buick Skylark front wheel bearings as we were shortly going to take it on a trip to Pittsburgh to the annual Skylark meet. Next I repacked my 1950 Willys Jeepster. Since we were going to take the 1929 Buick on the Glidden Tour in September I repacked the front wheel bearings. I also pulled the rear wheels and repacked these wheel bearings. Good thing I did as I discovered that these bearings were dry.
OUT OF GREASE
To make a long story short Steve and Stewart committed to supplying 10 tubes of Almagard 3750. Steve drove out today and delivered the 10 tubes. In addition he donated some penetrating oil that he claims is twice as good as that other brand that we have been buying by the dozen cans. Steve also talked about us using their transmission oil and engine oil.
We want to thank Steve and Stewart from LUBRICATION ENGINEERS for their donation to this project. Their products are designed specifically for extreme use. For others who want to inquire about their products their phone numbers are:
Stewart Clegg (817) 834-6321
Steve Axtell (616) 458-0793
|Aug. 4||From Pat Austin, Holland,
My sister, Sharon Gammons, informed me that you
talked to her on the phone about my father being a part of the Parade of
Progress. Isn't this exciting?!
I'd love to get together with you and see the Futurliner and also for you to see the little buses. I work at Wal-Mart in Holland and almost always work on weekends. Can we set up a date? My mother is coming to stay with me mid-August through November and I know she would also be very interested.
Thanks for keeping this alive.
Don Mayton replies:
Pat, I was really excited to get you e-mail as well
as talking to Sharon. The information that you have concerning the 1936 -
1939 Parade of Progress I cannot wait to see. Also the little buses that
you have is a real treasure. Not only will we want to see them but
photograph them. It is hard to believe they are so close to us here in
Western Michigan. As soon as we can set a date I would like you, your
sister and your Mother to come and see the project.
This project has been so rewarding in the many people that have not only contributed to the work but also the information. We are archiving all the information so that it will be available for future generations. I do not know if you have looked at our web site yet but we have over 500 photos on it. As soon as we can copy the photos that your sister Sharon has and the little buses information we will get it on the web site. Some day we hope to put a book together on the Parade of Progress, the Streamliners, and the Futurliners. The real important part of this project however is the people. We are talking about the people in the "Parade," the people that have supplied us information, and the people that are working on the project. You information about your Father being in the Parade will add to all of that.
I mentioned to your sister that we have very little information about the 1936 - 1940 Parade of Progress and what you have will be greatly appreciated. The real treasure will be meeting you, your sister and your Mother.
Thank you so much for saving all that information. It will be exciting to see it.
|July 14|| Jim Morris is
setting up a "PARADERS" reunion for the dates listed below in
Western Michigan. Everyone put these dates on their calendar. Don
After careful consideration, we decided that Sept. 3-5 of 2002 would be the best time to hold the next reunion. We also decided on a hotel in Saugatuck and have made preliminary plans for all events (except the visit to your site) to be in Saugatuck. I will get a letter off to all Paraders on my list and to you, Jim Brady and other interested people in September or October to alert them to reserve the dates. We had lunch with Reffee Johns and Esther Tuesday (We stayed for an extra day due to car trouble) and returned to Lake Huron Wed. Thanks for your hospitality on Monday. We thoroughly enjoyed it. All the best, Jim Morris
|July 6||Doug Hosler writes:
Dean, we will be building a GMC display for the All American Quarter Horse Congress in October 2001 that will include a pictorial history of GMC trucks. We are looking for sources for historical photos on GMC Trucks besides GM Media Archives. Any direction or guidance on available sources for photography would be greatly appreciated.
|July 5||Jeff Miller writes:
Don, I received a shipment today from Chuck at Bendix Brake (Honeywell). It contained many of the parts for the Futurliner brakes such as valves, tanks, and much of the tubing and fittings that we'll need. The brake chambers are probably close behind, along with any more fittings and tubing (probably temporarily out of stock).
Chuck also sent many hangers for the tubing, we will probably have enough left over for hanging the fuel lines.
I guess that it's my turn to get back to work hanging and connecting some of this stuff, always a pleasure with new parts on a clean frame! We even have a shiney new pair of air-horns, sure beats trying to resurrect the old ones.
|June 27||Don writes:
I have attached one of the most recent e-mails from Jeff Miller. Jeff is one of our volunteers that has been working for the past year with Chuck Eberling of Bendix Corporation for the design of the braking system. Bendix will be supplying the brake components for the Futurliner. Our thanks to Jeff for all his work, Chuck and Bendix for supplying the technical assistance and the parts.
Following is Jeff's detail of the 1939 Futurliner brake system as designed and how it will be upgraded in the restoration.
Jeff Miller writes:
The front brakes were another story. To understand the front brakes, it is best to understand first the unusual nature of the front end and balance of the Futurliner as compared to a conventional bus or truck.
Unlike a car, busses and trucks have a significant rearward weight distribution. A car typically gets around 70% of its braking from the front wheels, a bus less than 50%. The dual rear wheels are more heavily loaded and have more traction available for braking and therefore play a larger part in stopping a truck or bus. The Futurliner’s weight is more evenly distributed, which required dual wheels in the front and in the rear. This is fairly common in Japan or Europe where the same requirements are met with dual front axles, two wheels per axle, but the Futurliner tackles this with a unique dual-wheel steer axle.
The dual wheels on a steer axle create some unique problems. How do you steer a dual wheel set which is almost two-feet wide? The solution came from Differential Wheel Corp., Detroit, MI (Pat Nos. 1975206, 1975273, and 1979598) who manufactured a "differential hub" for the front dual wheels. This differential used concentric axles on bearings so that the two dualled wheels were free to turn at separate speeds when steering.
Now you start to see the next design hurdle: effective braking of all "steer" wheels. Since the inner and outer wheels can turn separately, they will each need their own brakes. This was accomplished by connecting each wheel via its concentric axle tube to its own brake drum. The two drums sit side-by-side inboard of the dual wheels with only a small clearance between them. The brake shoes are also side-by-side, not conventional shoes but a band-type shoe for each drum which expands to meet the drum using a common actuating cam which is air operated in a conventional manner.
The brake cam is rotated by an adjustable arm or "slack adjuster". The brake chamber pushes on this slack adjuster when air pressure in the chamber pushes on a diaphragm and plate, extending a push-rod and clevis. This part is standard air-brake design.
The steer wheels are the only unique part of this braking system, the rest of the system is simply sadly outdated and dangerous.
Air brakes were the latest design for trucks of the day, and allowed smooth even application of all brakes on a large vehicle. Hydraulic brakes were impractical for such a long run for several reasons. Drum brakes were and are still common as the Futurliner’s 20" wheels would limit the diameter of a disk brake. The swept area of a large wide drum allows more friction for the Futurliner’s roughly 28,000 pounds.
The air brake system was fairly simple. The engine drives a compressor (via v-belts) which fills a reservoir "wet tank" with compressed air (about 110psi). This air also fills a "dry tank", closer to the brakes themselves.
When you depress the brake pedal or "treadle", you are opening a valve allowing air to travel from the tank to all of the brake chambers. The brake chambers extend their pushrods and rotate their slack adjusters, which rotate the S-Cams and move the brake shoes outward against the drums.
There was also a bottle filled with alcohol to prevent condensation forming ice blockages in the system during winter operation.
Pretty simple eh? Several problems plague this simple and effective system though, all involving the loss of available air or leaks. Not the least of these problems was the fact that the engine must of course be running to provide air pressure in an air brake system.
We have heard stories about one of the Futurliners losing its brakes, and rear-ending another Futurliner. This was fairly common in the early days of air brakes, as there was no way to apply the brakes without air pressure. Further, a leak at any wheel meant that the entire system could not be pressurized and again you would have no brakes. Sure the Futurliner had a parking brake, a small driveshaft brake which could probably hold the truck once stopped, but much too small to slow a moving vehicle.
Although originality is a primary objective in the Futurliner restoration, this is one area where we have chosen to deviate from original. The Futurliner will require a special "CDL" license to operate, with an endorsement for air brakes. The training for this license is surprisingly thorough for air brakes, but doesn’t address the special needs of an obsolete and dangerous system. We would like to have the Futurliner safe to travel from city to city as it once did and are updating the air portion of the system.
Enter FMVSS 121 in the mid ‘70s.The new standard was for a dual brake system, with safety brakes or "spring brakes" on the drive axle. This made the air brake system more robust, with a final fail-safe mode if all air is lost. With a generous donation of parts and engineering help from Chuck Eberling and Bendix Brakes, the Futurliner air brakes will have the addition of a third air tank, new style spring brake chambers, some relay valves, and significant changes to the routing and control of the air. Our intent is to meet the current standard for air brake safety.
Probably the most important change is the spring brake chambers. These are the current standard, and use springs to apply the brakes (for the rear axle only). This is both a parking brake and a safety brake as these will hold the brakes on indefinitely without air pressure. These are dual chamber where one chamber has the spring, and the spring brake is turned off with air pressure, and the other chamber is conventionally operated by air pressure turning the brake on. The front and rear systems are kept separate, with their own storage tank and check valves in the system. There are also air relay valves which are located near the brakes and the air tank so that the brakes are instantly applied when the pedal is pressed. The original system took some lag time as the air pressure started at the pedal and had to make its way slowly thirty feet to the brakes. This new method also balances the timing to apply all brakes at once for the same reason. Additionally we’ve added an air dryer to keep the moisture out of the air system (instead of the alcohol evaporator bottle), and we’re replacing the original single air pressure gauge with dual gauges for the front and rear brake systems.
The operation of the brakes with a loss of pressure is the most impressive feature.
A drop in pressure in the front brake system will light a warning light on the dash, and a warning bell will sound as pressure drops below 70psi (still useable). A complete loss of pressure in the front system will allow the rear brakes to operate normally, with the addition of the rear spring brakes coordinated to preserve the normal braking feel. Remember that the rearward weight bias means that more than 50% of the braking effectiveness is still available with the front brakes disabled.
A drop in pressure in the rear system will similarly light the warning and sound the bell below 70psi. As the rear system pressure drops below useable levels, the rear service brake chambers are abandoned. The front system pressure is now used to operate the front brakes, and to operate the rear spring brake chambers so that all wheels are still braked! There should be enough air in the front system for three complete applications and releases of the system without any compressor input.
Once the system is completely exhausted, or whenever both systems fall below 40psi, the parking brake valve automatically trips applying the rear spring brakes. The only way to move the vehicle after this point is to build system air pressure again, preferably after making repairs.
I feel that it is important to note that much of the original braking system is intact. The original wheel or foundation brake is used, along with the original compressor. Copper lines will be used as original, the brake chambers are very close to original. Even the original warning bell will be used! The updated safety factor might not pass muster at Pebble Beach, but you’ll have to know what you’re looking for to find it.
Jeff Miller continues in an e-mail:
I am hoping that we will see parts soon, perhaps after the 4th. Once they do arrive I would like to spend a little time walking them around the Futurliner and sizing up the rest of the parts necessary, routing, and locations for the parts. We'll need to find a friendly source for copper tubing fittings, hangers, and lots of 1/4" and 10-32 period nuts and bolts for mounting this stuff, as well as some Grade 6 3/8" bolts for assembling the treadle to the treadle valve. Oh BTW, Chuck is attempting to find a treadle or pedal which is aluminum like the original, instead of rubber covered. I sure wish that we could have found a chrome dryer though.
We will need a tubing bender for forming the bends and offsets in the copper, they are cheap but keep and eye out for a decent one. We won't need a flaring tool, the fittings don't require flares. Tubing sizes range from 5/8" O.D. down to 1/4" O.D.. I have a cutter, as probably do you. If we want to get fancy we could polish and clear-coat the visible tubing, personally I'd leave it natural.
I have set us up to have an air output for accessories, it will only function if the system pressure is above 75psi for safety reasons. You could air up tires from it, run air cylinders for shifting, etc. If you feel that a quick-release air outlet should be installed I'd suggest in a storage bay like I have in the 'Bird. Further, we will need air pressure to move the coach once the brakes are installed. We can install a fill port under the front of the vehicle to fill the tanks from shop air, it would be a good idea to leave it there as it will be necessary if the coach is ever towed.
The front slack adjusters are not of a common design, so they will have to be adjusted periodically. The rears will be self-adjusting. Our air-tank drains will have lanyards so that they can be opened from the side of the coach, we could mount them in the bays. I am concerned about producing a maintenance manual and lubrication schedule, there are a lot of zircs that will be hard to find when the truck is complete. I also noticed that the RF brake has a zirc in a location that the LF brake has a plug. They should both have a zirc. When I removed the LR slack adjuster I noticed that there is a lot of blasting sand already in the newly installed and oiled parts, we should probably move it outside before doing too much more work and blow it off as well as possible.
Anyway, attached is the modified "article", add the brake rebuild credits if you can.
|June 25||Jim Stacy writes:
Sorry I didn't get back to you sooner re: the Peter Pan Futurliner. We (about 60 converted coaches) spent Memorial Day as the guests of Peter Pan. They did an outstanding job. They made the Futurliner available the whole weekend for me to look through. Sunday afternoon they gave three of us a long ride around Springfield in it. PP has put in a 4-71 Detroit Diesel which they have turbocharged. They claim it goes about 55 MPH. It was not too bad a ride but VERY noisy since they have no soundproofing or carpeting on the single layer of metal floor between you and the engine.
The gentleman in charge of the Coach Builders facility where the coach was refurbished said they used the standard Bendix "schoolbus" air brake system pictured on the back cover of the Bendix air brake manual. They used every item on the sheet including brake actuators front and rear, air park control valve, air relay, etc. They claim the brake system has worked very well with good control, easy installation, and no maintenance problems.
I am sure the Bendix contact you have can get whatever parts you need. If I can be of any further help, I would be glad to.
We just got back from Springfield, OH which is the reason this is delayed.
I would like to bring my old 1953 GM converted bus for you to see and also show you the pictures I took of the Futurliner (digital). Unfortunately, my only visit to your house was after dark, snowstorm, and some one else was driving. Would you be kind enough to give me directions and advise of a good day. I'd come on a Tuesday if you don't feel it would disturb the work party. Thanks.
|June 25||Bob Bryant writes:
Don: So far I have been unsuccessful in my attempts to learn more about Vic Hyde’s bus. I expect to be in Michigan in September and will try some first hand research then. I would like tie in the ACD Festival and Reunion, but will not know until later if I can. There is one Hyde phone in Hawthorne that is in service, but no one ever answers. Don't know if it could be Vic's ex or not. The Futurliner website is very interesting.
|June 24||Larry Bullis writes:
You already have a cropped version of the attached picture on your website. I just found my original (uncropped) version and thought you might like it better.
To the left of the Futurliner is a corner of the Aer-O-Dome tent. To the right is a second Futurliner. These were both cropped out of the photo I sent to Keith Silcox a couple of years ago.
I am still not certain, but circumstantial evidence suggests that this picture was taken in Wisconsin Rapids, WI, in 1941.
|June 23||Marc Roland writes:
Where is the engine located in the actual Futurliner? How is it cooled? It doesn't appear as though the vehicle has a lot of grill area.
|June 22||Marc Roland writes:
I linked into your website from the Antique Trucks site. Boy, was I surprised! What an undertaking. I wish I was out in Michigan to help you out and volunteer. I had only seen the barest glimpse of the unusual Futurliner in a couple of magazine articles or TV shows. They were way before my time, and they look so imposing, and well, creepy. The front view is particularly odd, with its 11 foot cyclops drivers seat.
Anyway, it is a fascinating vehicle. I am glad to know that they are still around. I hope you guys are having a good time with it, I can't wait to see the finished product. Many kudos for your website. I guess you have >a good scanner, all those pictures put you right into the action! I will be back.
Where was the 302 engine located? Are you restoring the brakes to original condition or updating them for modern standards?
Best wishes to the team.
Marc, glad you enjoyed the web site. Our web site manager is Jim Crame and he deserves all the credit for a great job. We located the GMC OHV 302 inline 6 cylinder engine through INLINERS INTERNATIONAL. This group restores and hot rods all kinds of inline engines. They found a source for us to purchase a NOS engine. If you are interested I can look through our information and find the exact source. Yes we must update the brakes for safety sakes. We are restoring back to original except for safety items.
|June 9||ENGINE OVERHAUL
Following are the specifics on the restoration of the Futurliner Engine that volunteer Bill Bicknell contributed.
In order for Bill to accurately perform a historical restoration of the Futurliner engine, he had to learn the differences between the military and commercial version of the GMC 302-inline 6-cylinder OHV engine. For this information, Bill was able to obtain a military manual and, along with help from many members of INLINERS INTERNATIONAL, he was able to sort out the differences. In addition, he had the physical engine that came out of the #10 Futurliner we are restoring.
The first thing he discovered in his research was that in engine in our Futurliner was a replacement based on its serial number and the date it was manufactured. It appears that this engine was installed in 1955. He also discovered that when GM replaced this engine they used a commercial version rather than the military version. The displacement (302) of the military and commercial engines are identical and many of the internal components are the same. However, the external portion of the engine blocks are different to accommodate several differences such as engine motor mounts. This required Bill to fabricate and modify the front engine mount attaching surfaces.
Because the military engine uses an electric fuel pump, rather that a mechanical fuel pump, Bill had to seal properly the hole in the commercial engine block that would normally accommodate the mechanical fuel pump. At one time, during the life of this engine, the distributor was changed from the original. In order to allow the vacuum operated governor to operate we must locate the proper distributor.
Other differences include the fact that military engines are sealed so they can travel through rather high water. Military engines have 24-volt systems. Some of the engine pans are cast steel rather that stamped sheet metal. I have just listed a few here, there are many more that Bill had to sort out.
Bill's goal was to restore this Futurliner engine to the same configuration as it was in 1952 when GM readied it for the 1953 Parade of Progress. He studied all the information in the military manual and installed oil lines, vacuum lines and all accessories that are attached to the engine in the exact same way it was in 1953. He obtained parts from many sources that included places in Florida, California, North Carolina, Missouri, Ohio, Michigan, Canada to name just the ones I heard about. There were others.
When Bill restores an engine he goes through every detail. Even though we had a NOS (New Old Stock) engine from GM he disassembled it. It was good he did, as he found machining debris inside the engine which he cleaned out as well as other items that needed correcting. Then Bill assembles the engine to its original specifications. Another function that Bill performs once the engine is assembled is installing all the accessories such as generator, distributor, starter, carburetor, oil and vacuum lines, fan so that the engine is complete. The next step is to run the engine on his test stand.
In our case, he ran the engine over 4 hours. During that time he measures all the engine parameters such as oil pressure, temperature, RPM, etc. Any problems such as an oil leak he takes care of. Next in the process he removes all the bolt on accessories (generator, distributor, etc.) so that the engine itself can be properly painted. Once the paint is dry, he again installs all these accessories. Next, he built an engine mounting cradle for shipping and displaying purposes.
Bill loaded the engine in the back of his pickup and delivered it to us here in Zeeland this past Friday. We received an engine fully assembled, painted and with oil in the crankcase ready to be installed.
All of us in the antique restoration business have had or have done an engine overhaul. I do not think we have ever had or done an engine restoration as complete as Bill has done. We could not have had a better volunteer for this job.
Bill is an engine engineer by profession. Specifically his past jobs have included converting very large locomotive size diesels to run on natural gas for powering natural gas pumps. Bill does have a hobby engine restoration business (Bicknell Engine Company) and has done many variety of engines including Dusenburgs and Buicks to name a few. He is thinking about making his hobby business a full time business. If you are interested in a professional engine restoration Bill can be contacted at (937) 864-5224. Bill does not know about me plugging his work until he reads this.
We want to thank volunteer BILL BICKNELL for the outstanding restoration he has done on the Futurliner engine. We also want to thank all those from INLINERS INTERNATIONAL who supported Bill in this process. This entire restoration is being done by volunteers.
|June 8||ONSITE VISITS
Local organizations as well as car clubs have been putting on their agenda a stop to look at the Futurliner and the restoration progress. This is a great aid in further communicating this project, obtaining donations and getting leads as to who can supply parts and services. Yesterday, June 7, 2001 the Coopersville Museum and their supporters toured our work site. This particular museum as a restoration project is restoring a early 1900's inter urban trolley car.
Today, June 8, 2001, the VMCCA's one and two cylinder car tour stopped for a look and see. Early 1900's Maxwell's, Buick's, Brush's, Reo's, Cadillac's, Ford's, Old's and a few names I forgot made a beautiful parade arriving. In fact they were so outstanding that neighbors from several miles away seeing all these old, old cars followed them to the work site. This is the first time I have ever seen four 1902 & 03 curved dash Olds on a tour. The 26 antique cars that arrived made for some great photography.
|May 23||TIN CAN TOURISTS
On Monday May 21, we had a visit by members of the Tin Can Tourist organization. This organization is headed by Forest Bone and it promotes the restoration and use of vintage travel trailers, motor homes and any form of vintage camping equipment. Their yearly spring get together just took place May 17 through May 20 at Park Dearborn near Milford, Michigan. This was their fourth year spring meet and this meet had the largest group of vintage campers. Nineteen of the Tin Can Tourist group visited the Futurliner project. We want to thank them of their generous donation of $220.
While visiting, Steve Cordes, one of their members, volunteered to take the wheels and dismount the tires. This will allow us to get the wheels sandblasted and then painted.
Ken Faber also stated that he thought he might know where there is a trailer of type used on the Parade of Progress in the 1950's and he would check it out.
During the Tin Can Tourist weekend get together, which Carol and I attended, one of the visitors to the event was able to give us some more information about the Futurliners. Jim Hill from Indiana along with his wife made the trip to Milford to view vintage trailers. He had with him photos that he had taken in the late 1970's of a group of Futurliners that were parked in a field in Elburn, Illinois. It appears that there are either five or seven Futurliners in the photos. Already we have identified the NATMUS Futurliner along with the Canadian Futurliner. Jim also stored one of the Futurliners in a building of his for a short period recently. This particular Futurliner is now in California.
is a report of the National Automotive and Truck Museum of the United
States annual visit to the Zeeland work site where the Futurliner is being
restored on May 12, 2001.
Over 50 people met on Saturday May 12, 2001 to
observe the progress of the Futurliner Restoration project. The NATMUS
folks arrived by charter bus and the volunteers showed up in their
automobiles, some driving their antique cars. Bill Bicknell pointed out an
interesting fact. Back in 1953 the first showing of the Parade of Progress
after World War II occurred on May 12, 1953 exactly 48 years ago.
On May 10, 2001 Bill had the rebuilt engine running for the first time and it ran two hours without any problems except a small oil leak that he took care of. The engine is in primer and his next step is a final paint job.
Joel Dirnberger came from Monicello, Minnesota and brought along the 1:24 scale Futurliner model that he is working on. He has the body done and continues to work on all the attachments. It looks great.
Mike Ball had his portable display set up for all to view. In addition, he set up the slide projector and many took the time to go through slides taken in the 1950's of the Parade of Progress as well as the Futurliners. These slides came from the PARADERS.
Almost all of our volunteers that work on the Futurliner were present. In fact, to show the dedication of our volunteers Wally and Audrey Snow were present as well as celebrating their 29th wedding anniversary. Congratulations Wally and Audrey.
John Weller, his wife and son were present. Weller Truck has restored most of the major running gear on the Futurliner including axles, brakes, differential etc. A big thank you to John and his company.
After reviewing the work progress everyone headed for Jerry's Country Inn for lunch. Afterwards we had a short program. Linda DeVries had made as a donation to our project a leaded stained glass Futurliner. Ed DeVries volunteered to auction off this donation to raise funds for the project. Ed managed to raise $700 for the leaded stained glass Futurliner. GREAT JOB ED! I think we will have Ed be our auctioneer at the next AACA and BCA meeting.
We also want to thank TONY BECKER for making the high bid.
We also want to thank the folks from NATMUS that made cash donations at the work site for the Futurliner Restoration project.
I have prices to purchase 25 Futurliner work uniforms. The cost is
$4,128.97. This includes the jacket, pants, shirts and GM and Parade of
Progress emblems which are on the shirt and jacket. However, it does not
include the cost of sewing the emblems on the jacket and shirts. I know
the company is just charging us their standard prices, no price break. Do
you know anyone or a company that could sponsor this? Or any another
scheme. I do not want to take money that is in the account at NATMUS.
We also have prices on the Futurliner dress uniform. The clothier is trying to find a sponsor.
|Apr. 4||From: Lee
Subject: Stroh's Futurliner
I saw the GM Parade of Progress in the very early fifties (probably '53) at John Ball Park in Grand Rapids, MI. I was so little, that I remembered very little about it, but it made a big impression on me nevertheless. It was great to see the animated display at the Detroit Auto Show this year, just as I saw it as a youngster.
After I saw the Muskegon Chronicle's article, which was picked up by AP and printed, in our Monroe (Mich.) Evening News, I went to the web to see what else I could learn. After seeing pictures of these beautiful vehicles, I suddenly remembered seeing something like that painted up with beer advertising in Saugatuck, Michigan about 1960. Then I saw a reference to the possibility that Stroh's had used one. I don't know where it went from there, but I remember my amazement at the extreme height of the cab and the driver's seat being in the very center, on this futuristic "beer wagon." This probably won't be a lot of help, but sometimes little pieces of a puzzle can be useful. There is little doubt in my mind that this was one of the Futurliners because its unique features were exactly the same. Until now, I had not made the connection.
Best of luck on your project. I will be watching for future news about it.
|Mar. 29||TRANSMISSION REBUILD
From Ron at GM regarding rebuilding of the transmission.
DON, TRANS IS DONE AND ON THE WAY BACK.
want to let you know that John R. Wilks, Executive Director of NATMUS
since May 1, 2000, died very unexpectedly around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, March
27, 2001. Preferred memorials are to the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo (Ft.
Wayne, IN) and to the National Automotive and Truck Museum of the United
States (NATMUS) (Auburn, IN).
Bobbie Smith, NATMUS, Auburn, IN
|Mar. 26||GM302 ENGINE INFORMATION
I have only begun exploring your website, but thought I'd share some things with you before I forget. The weak point of the 302M is high range reverse. I have yet to find the weight of the Futurliner, but the army truck this transmission is out of weighs about 12000 pounds, and long time users and mechanics will tell you to avoid using high range reverse, and if loaded absolutely not to. Failure to abide by this rule of thumb results in catastrophic transmission failure.
Also, in government service, these transmissions were filled with NON-detergent motor oil, NOT ATF fluid. The weight of the oil was varied based on ambient temperature. I can provide details if needed. The oil filter canister you mention needing at one point is called a "military senior," and was used on many army trucks of that era, not just GM.
If you still need one I can send one to you. Just let me know. The carb and air compressor also appear to be the standard military items, and as mentioned earlier Memphis Equipment can supply all parts. I see mention of second engine....if this vehicle is powered by two engines and transmissions, then it may have more in common with the M59 armored personnel carrier than the M135/211 trucks, as this APC was powered by two military 302's driving through two 302M transmissions. Oil filter housings have a couple of decals on them. I am investigating having these decals reproduced for my M135 restoration. If I can work this out I'll send a couple sets to ya'll. In military applications, the canister is same color as block (semi-gloss OD, FS #24087), while the supporting bands are gloss black (as is fan, distributor, oil fill tube). If you like I can scan and email a couple of GM 8x10 photos of the engine assembly line. Just let me know. Hope this helps.
DON MAYTON REPLIES:
We have discovered Memphis Equipment but so far have only used them for transmission parts.
The Futurliner is powered by one 302. We wanted a 2nd engine for a spare and also to use it for a driveline display.
We have found out the oil canister is not a GM and yes we would like decals.
Again thanks. Yes we would like to have you scan the GM 8X10 photos of the engine assembly line. Thanks again. We really appreciate the help you are giving us.
Jeff, I received a drawing and specifications of what the Peter Pan folks did to change their Futurliner brakes. They sent me a copy of a Benedix drawing which is simply a school bus brake system. The Benedix drawing is titled "Typical Air Systems 100". Have you heard from Benedix?
Del will be starting on the installation of the differential next Tuesday and then the drive shafts. He could work on the brakes at any time.
Enter the other variable.
The front hubs contain a differential, and the track is spread to two tires and almost two feet wide! An unbalanced braking force could very well cause a severe pull to one side or another, or lockup of a brake in the front.
For this reason, I am asking Bendix for their "expert opinion" on front/rear balance, as well as the addition of a proportioning valve to allow different braking pressures front/rear or a pressure limiter on the front.
Also, the Futurliner front brakes had a significantly smaller chamber than the rear brakes. Usually the chambers on the front brakes are the same size as the rear. On the Futurliner with its increased front axle load, you certainly wouldn't expect a smaller front chamber. On theory that I've had is that the smaller chamber was to reduce the front axle braking to avoid some of the dynamic problems such as wheel lockup or pulling under braking. It was very common for a truck driver of this era to disconnect the front axle brakes of a tractor-trailer rig, they weren't considered as important and some considered them dangerous (jackknife).
It is also possible that the front brakes have a larger mechanical (leverage) advantage than the traditional S-cam brakes in the rear, and didn't need as large a chamber.
It would be helpful to find out what size chamber was used and what effect it had in the Fido and motor home conversion, also any experience with braking performance with their new setups (pull, and lockup included). If you are able to contact these people it could help to speed up specifying parts for the new system.
Thanks for the updates, I am enjoying hearing about your progress.
|Mar. 23||Good evening,
I found your site while looking for contact information for Kim Schroeder, GM archivist. If you can supply this information I would appreciate it. I have no idea what a Futureliner is, however I saw the Military Vehicle Preservation Association mentioned on your site. I am a member of this group. In fact, I am trying to contact Ms Schroeder concerning information on a GM military truck series that were powered by a GM 302, coupled with a 302M hydramatic transmission. I am preparing an article for the MVPA publication. If I can provide you with any information that will help you, let me know what you need. Thanks, David Doyle
DON MAYTON REPLIES:
|Mar. 10||COMMUNICATIONS FROM CANADA
Don Mayton Writes: Andy, the Parade of Progress arrived in Oshawa, Canada July 26, 1955. It had its show at Alexandra Park. Usually it took a few days to set up so the show would have been the 27th or 28th. However whenever we get newspaper articles they often have photos as the Parade arrives in town. So, you should start looking days prior to the Parade arriving. I hope this information helps.
Thanks also for the Futurliner work update e-mail. I sure wish you were closer as I'd enjoy being part of the effort. Boss Kett would be proud of the hard work you are all doing!
Sorry again for the long message Don. I feel like I'm keeping you from working on the Futurliner! Feel free to take your time responding to my messages as I know I've kind of bombarded you in the past week or so. I really do appreciate the info. and hope to uncover more of the Futurliner history in Canada. Thanks again and take care. - Andy
FUTURLINER ENGINE RESTORER BILL BICKNELL
NOTE FROM AUSTRALIA
|Mar. 3||MORE FUTURLINER RUMORS FROM
I've viewed almost everything on the Futurliner website and it's really great!! It makes me feel somewhat sad to see what progress has really become. Sure technology is great now but those were the really great years for North America!! It would sure lift my spirits to see "The Parade" roll into town now or to go to a Motorama!!
On a more chipper note have you ever known of any rumours of a Futurliner ending up in Canada in earlier years than the Petit "Fido" one? I've been tracking something for a while that sounds possible but it's never come true yet. One guy I spoke to swore he passed up a deal for $1500 a few years ago. His description of dual front wheels, high drivers cabin and alot of rust sound really promising especially since he knows nothing about them! Anyway good luck with everything and thanks again for your reply! Take care. Andy Elliott / Peterboro' Canada
|Feb. 23||ROBA PHONE
Just recording some notes I have taken over time after talking to Errnest Blatt IV.
First of all there were four Errnest Blatts.
Errnest Blatt I - Newspaper man
Errnest Blatt II - Worked on the Parade of Progress in 1936 up into the 50s I think. More about him later. Our Errnest Blatt's grandfather.
Errnest Blatt III - No connection with GM. Our Errnest Blatt's father.
Errnest Blatt IV - The man that has contacted us.
Errnest Blatt II (we will just call him II) started with GM in 1934 working at the Worlds Fair (Century of Progress) and then followed onto the Parade in 1936. He was a technician for the ROBA PHONE. This was the system that used records that would describe the exhibit and an audible beep would trigger the reply and in the case of the American Crossroads the section would turn. According to IV he has some of the old parts of one of these ROBA PHONES. It was basically the timing device that matched the recorded voice with the revolving sections in the American Crossroads. It was also used in any of the Futurliner exhibits that had a recorded voice and action taking place.
We will probably be hearing more on this so wait until we hear from IV again.
I have finally gotten those other nuisance projects (1953 Skylark and 1937 Cord) out of the way and started on the Futurliner engine. I have one of the NOS shortblocks stripped down to the bare block and I am starting to clean parts. What I found interesting is a quality problem from the factory. The machining chips were never cleaned out of this shortblock. So there are 50 year old rusty metal chips stuck in several cavities in the block. When I get them cleaned out there will be no problem. However, if this engine had been installed without a teardown like I an doing and the chips were left in, the engine would likely have had major wear problems in just a few miles once the chips got sucked up into the oil pump. The other shortblock does not have this problem.
PARADE OF PROGRESS WORK UNIFORMS
Received a package in the mail today from Parader Tom VanVoorhis.
Contained in the package was a 5" tall pewter mug, an ID card stating
that Thomas C. Van Voorhis is an honored guest of the City of Galveston,
Texas, and a second ID card from the Montreal, Canada press club. Here is
the story that goes with these items:
The pewter mug has scribed on the top line "Parade of Progress", and on the second line "Canada 1955". Tom states that "I bought it in Montreal in August of 1955".
"While in Galveston, Texas I got a parking ticket. The police gave me this Courtesy Card to use at no charge." Follow this link to the to the new web page we created.
the following mentions that 10 Futurliners were sold to Anchor freight and
two were given to the State of Michigan in 1959 that accounts for all
twelve in 1959 at least. We can only locate 9 of the Futurliners. Can
anyone out there help track down the other two?
PURCHASER/SELLER OF MOST OF FUTURLINER
FLEET AROUND 1959
The following communication
was for a man in Turkey who wanted our Futurliner for his museum:
Our restoration of the Futurliner is only 20% complete and will take another 3-4 years to complete. With volunteer labor we will spend over $250,000. This Futurliner belongs to the National Automotive and Truck Museum of the United States (Auburn, Indiana - USA)
Another Futurliner is in California and was converted to a motor home and cost the individual over $200,000 plus all his own labor.
Another Futurliner is in Canada and was restored and modernized. This Futurliner cost $300,000 (Canadian $) to restore. This Futurliner could possibly be borrowed for your museum. The owners are Richard Petit and his brother Mario Petit. They are located in Montreal, Canada. Both are French speaking but Mario speaks good English.
|Feb. 7||WHEELS OF TIME
Editor Shirley S. Sponholtz,
I just finished reading in your Wheels of Time, January/February 2001 issue, the GM Parade of Progress article written by authors Fred Fairbrother and Bill Rhodes. What a great job and very accurate.
As part of our restoration, we are gathering all the history of the Parade of Progress starting with the first parade in 1936 and ending in 1956. In your article, you were able to fill in a lot of information that we had not known about in the first Parade that used the Streamliners from 1936 through 1940. If possible, I would like to contact the authors since Fred drove one of the Streamliners. Although we have been able to contact over 40 Paraders that worked on the 1953 - 1956 Parade of Progress, Fred Fairbrother is the first name of a person we have heard that worked the 1936 through 1940 Parade. After all this was 65 years ago. Some questions that we have about this period are:
+ What engine did the Streamliners use. We understand that the GMC small trucks of that era used flathead 6 cylinder Oldsmobile engines as mentioned in your article but the larger GMC trucks used OHV 6 cylinder engines of greater cubic inches.
+ We are looking for any memorabilia, photos, newspaper articles, and information of this first Parade of Progress (1936 - 1940). We would appreciate copies of the photos used in your article.
+ We have a good list of the displays used in the Futurliners. What displays were in the Streamliners?
Again, what a great article for an historic event, the Parade of Progress and the eight Streamliners and twelve Futurliners that were made for this event.
|Feb. 6||MORE INFORMATION
Larry Bullis from Phoenix, AZ writes: "I just found the Futurliner website. On page http://www.futurliner.com/pics.htm there is a b&w photo of a little girl standing in front of a Futurliner. The photo was taken by my mother and I think the little girl is one of my cousins. There was no place or date on the photo but the uncropped original has enough background to suggest that it was taken at the Wisconsin Rapids (Wisc.) High School stadium. My mother had grown up there and my cousin's family also lived there. My cousin was born about 1936 so I would guess that the photo was taken somewhere between 1941 and 1943. The summer of 1941 would be my first guess. (My mother had moved to Chicago but returned to Wisconsin on weekends quite often during that time period. I was not born until 1948.) The high school stadium served as the local fair grounds.
I found the photo just a few years ago in one of my mother's albums. All of the other photos in the album were from the early 1940's.
P.S. Please feel free to continue using the photo."
Question was asked by West Peterson, Managing Editor Publications, Cars & Parts and Cars & Parts Corvette. "I've been looking through your website on the restoration project. WOW! As I was looking at your tires, and dilemma, I was trying to think of a less expensive solution (cost is estimated to be $35,000 for the mold). Is it possible to reproduce the unique "Parade of Progress" letters by themselves, in rubber, and then attach them to existing tires?"
Don replied: "West, I appreciate that suggestion. I also appreciate you following our Futurliner restoration progress. It really is a fun project. We will look into the possibility of attaching the letters to the tires. Specifically since Coker has offered to make the 10 X 20 truck wide white wall tires for our project as a donation (minus the letters) I will call them to see if that is a possibility. Thanks again for the suggestion."
FUTURLINERS IN PHOENIX
Don replies: "Chris, we follow up on every lead. We received photos of two Futurliners that were in a junk yard in Yuma, Arizona. Could this be the same set of Futurliners? We managed to trace those Futurliners to California. One went to a man named Brad Boyajian and the other went to a man named Mike Kadletz. If this place is in Yuma these probably are the same Futurliners. If you still have the old photos we would appreciate copies of them as we are trying to keep track of all the Futurliners. We have been able track down 9 of the 12 that were built."
|Feb. 2||CROSSROADS EXHIBIT
Bryan Weston from Bloomfield, MI writes: "I discovered your Futurliner web site several months ago, and have been back for updates...bringing one of these vehicles back to its original glory, in GM colors, is amazing! I do not know if you went to the recent North American International Auto Show at Cobo Center in Detroit, but upstairs in the General Motors display I saw something that stopped me in my tracks! It was a full size mockup of a Futurliner side profile...early '40's bubbletop style, with what looked to be an original Motorama exhibit in it's "display bay", depicting the evolution of an American town and road system, from turn of century up into the 1950's! The display moved, roads got bigger, rural buildings flipped under, replaced by bigger deco buildings, the village expanded, cars got newer, traffic increased, etc., all with narration over a PA system. It attracted quite a crowd! Unfortunately, there wasn't any sort of history of the Futurliner or Motoramas with this display. I wonder what GM plans to do with it now...the full sized side profile seemed to be made out of fiberglass or plastic...about two feet deep to the wall behind it. Are you familiar with this exhibit?"
Don replies: "Bryan, we appreciate you following our web site. If you go deeper into our web site you will find the display at Cobo Hall was moved from the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry in the past year. GM had the display loaned to this museum for many years. I have heard that GM plans to move the display to a museum of their own that they are setting up at their world headquarters in Detroit. Wouldn't it be neat to have the display in the restored Futurliner some day? When we get closer to its completion we will ask GM. Thanks for your comments. By the way to my knowledge the Futurliner display you saw is the only remaining one left."
Bryan replies: "OK, so just after I e-mail you I see a "new" section on your site map talking all about the American Crossroads display! It really drew a lot of attention...there were probably 80 chairs in front of it at the autoshow, all were full and people watching it intently, more were standing behind them! It was like we were all in Kansas at a Motorama in the '50's...kind of amazing that they were taking that much time to view this display... given modern computer games, TV, etc., that they're now accustomed to. This old diorama moved slowly and methodically, and it was charming/captivating...a real period piece! What I'm wondering is if there's a way that GM could be convinced to put this display "on the road" at key old car gatherings, where the display could be embellished with more Futurliner and Motorama static displays around it, along with a form that people could take to help out your project through donations of money, time, materials, skills, etc. Like Autorama at Cobo, Labor Day weekend in Auburn, some of the more major Carlisle weekend
events, St Ignace, a place of honor for the Woodward Dream Cruise as part of a GM exhibit, the Novi '50's Festival/Car show...maybe at the Henry Ford Museum. It really seems like this would be a great attention-getter for your cause! Do you have contacts that you could approach on this? It would be good PR for GM too...maybe they'd fund it as part of one of their displays for new crate motors, restoration parts, etc."
Don replies: "Bryan, I have copied your e-mail to a GM PR person. We will see what happens. Thanks again."
|Jan. 17||TRUCK DONATED
We had an Korean War vintage army truck donated to us so we could get an engine and transmission. The donation was made by Tom Kuhlman and his wife. The truck is located in SW Michigan and since it is buried in snow at this time we will not be going down to remove the engine and transmission until some of this stuff melts. The truck is a:
Serial No. 446
Stock No. G-2749-8358600
Contract No. DA 20-018
Ordinance No. 119
Tom says it has the same engine and transmission as the Futurliner. Tom also says it is identical to his army truck that is a M-135 built in 4-52. He is also donating all spare parts that he has with the truck.
As soon as the weather breaks we will be going to Toms to extract the engine and transmission.
HAVE 302 PARTS
APRIL 28 (SATURDAY) FOR THE NATMUS VISIT TO ZEELAND
HOW WILL THE FUTURLINER BE DISPLAYED WHEN IT IS
|Jan. 6||Regarding Futurliner, General
Taxi, 1929 & 1936 GMC Trucks, Pickwick Knight Coaches and Yellow
THE BUICK INLINE OHV-6
HERE IS WHERE I NEED YOUR HELP.
+ Roger directed me to a auto book published in 1957 called Floyd Clymer's Catalog of 1929 Cars. I happened to have been given this book by my parents in 1957. Roger pointed out that the specifications for the 1929 Buick engine and the 1929 GMC truck engine were identical. Again, I need a photo of a 1929 GMC truck and its engine. The model numbers listed that use this engine are Types 1001 - T-11
" 2003 - T-19
" 3003 - T-30
" 4003 - T-42
" 5003 - T-60
" 6001 - K-102
+ In going through my book "GM - The First 75 Years of Transportation Progress" I found on page 66 that the description of a 1936 GMC truck use an inline OHV 6 with the exact same specifications of the 1930 Buick inline OHV 6. The model of this truck was a 1936 T-23B. Again, I need photos of both the truck and the trucks engine.
+ Roger stated that bus companies of that era also used the Buick inline OHV 6 cylinder engine. This could have been used in both the front drive configuration as well as rear drive placement. I know at the Flint auto show about five years ago there was a 1920's bus with a Buick engine so it had to be a OHV 6 cylinder. Specifically he mentioned Pickwick Knight Coaches and Yellow Coaches. Again, is there a bus antique club or clubs that I can get info and photos?
+ Roger pointed me to another book and I have ordered it called the "Standard Catalog of American Light-Duty Trucks 1896 - 2000" that will answer the questions of the engines in the GMC smaller trucks like pickups and suburbans of that era.
+ In talking to a Buick engine engineer he stated that one of the GMC buildings in the Pontiac area was referred to as the Buick engine plant. Probably the tooling at one time was moved from Flint to Pontiac. I have no information as to when that happened.
Thanks in advance for your help..
|Jan. 3|| Our friend up
in Canada, Jacques Matte, has sent us some pictures of the FIDO Futurliner
up in Canada. They are excellent photos and if you click on the individual
photos they will come up full size. They can be found at http://www.cybershack.qc.ca/busfan/futurliner
Again just a little history on their Futurliner. After GM completed the Parade of Progress in August of 1956 GM started disposing of the Futurliners. We have no dates on when the first left GM. However we know that in 1959 GM gave two Futurliners to the State of Michigan. One was used by the Michigan State Police as a "Safety Liner" and the second one was for spare parts. The "Safety Liner" eventually made its way to become the FIDO Futurliner in the following sequence.
+ In a Michigan State disposal sale in the late 60s the two Futurliners were sold to the Braun Brothers junk yard in Spring Lake, Michigan. They actually drove the "Safety Liner" to their junk yard after the sale. The other one had to be towed. (This second one made its way to California and is now in the possession of Brad Boyajian and that is another story.)
+ In the 70s both of these Futurliners were sold to two men in Chicago. Again the "Safety Liner" was driven and the other one towed.
+ Sometime in the late 80s or early 90s Joe Bortz (Chicago) came to own both of these Futurliners.
+ Then it was purchased by Richard and Mario Petit of Montreal, restored and modernized, and now being used to sell cell phones for the FIDO organization.
We appreciate these added photos to our collection of the Futurliner history.
|Jan. 1||FROM Brad
Boyjain WHO IS RESTORING A FUTURLINER
Merry Christmas Don.. I am getting all your updates and am jealous of your progress. We are working here on other projects that are a little more affordable. I hope to get going this summer on at least one unit. Please keep your eye open for areas where we have common ground. I will participate in purchasing parts you are having made in an effort to lower the overall cost. I've been dreaming about a team of experienced "Futurliner Pros" that need another fix when they get done with yours. They would descend upon my units like hungry bees helping me get my buses restored....well so much for dreaming. I wish you the best of 2001!!
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