2002 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.
|Nov. 20|| In the near
future we have some specific needs for the restoration of the Futurliner.
We will have the Futurliner with a new skin done by the middle of December. Then in the middle of December (2002) we plan to move the Futurliner to a local body shop (B & M Customs) for the final metal finishing work. At the body shop we will have two of our volunteers, Connie and Art, working with the owner (Ron Sall). Our goal is to have it come back with all the metal work done, the Futurliner completely in primer, and the lower portion in its final black. Assuming we get all this work done we can start the process of trimming the lower portion, the seven horizontal aluminum ribs that go around the entire Futurliner, and the rubber bumpers that also go around the entire Futurliner.
We only have $4,000 available to spend for this work. The only person requiring wages is the owner of the body shop at $45/hour, which is a bargain. We do not think this will cover our total wages for this work. Remember this vehicle is almost 12' tall X 33' long.
I know financial times are not the best but if anyone needs to contribute or relieve themselves of some money it would help the cause.
If you cannot spare a contribution, we have a great Parade of Progress poster available and a Futurliner hat. Check the web site for this.
Thanking you in advance.
The local firm that has volunteered to restore our air conditioner unit has discovered that our unit is not repairable. They have committed, however, to build us a new unit. Since we want this to still appear to be the original we need the sheet metal box that encloses the air conditioner. These were standard GM air conditioners that fit in the trunk of the 1952 - 1953 GM cars. Does anyone out there have a unit, even if not restorable that we could have. We could use just the "Frigidaire" emblem and fabricate a box to house an air conditioner with all new components. Let us know.
|Sept. 24|| Today Mike
Ball, Bruce Beimers, and Al Batts worked hard organizing who will be
selling Parade of Progress posters at Hershey (Wayne will also be selling
at Carleigh). There will be five selling places at Hershey listed below.
Also are the assignments for those that have volunteered to help sell the
posters and hats.
* Bruce and Dee Beimers (Spot RNG-1-4)
The plan here is to staff the Futurliner table with those from the Beimers, DeVries, Dingers, and others in their group. I am asking Bobbie to stop here to see if they need help. The headquarters for this effort will be at the Beimers location. Del and Sue Carpenter (Spot RNH-5-6) They will take care of their table.
* Fred and Marge Carpenter (Spot CV-34-36)
* Wednesday 7:30 - 10:30 AM - Don Mayton
* 10:30 - 12:30 noon - Dean Tryon
* 12:30 - 2:30 PM - Stu Allen
* 2:30 - 4:30 PM - Arnie Seeger
* Thursday (Same as above unless we change it while there.)
* Friday (We have sold out hopefully)
* Conrad DeJong (Spot RCG-29) They will take care of their table.
* Wayne and Lois Jackson (Spot RCD- 57-60) They will take care of their table.
This is our only money making project that we have put together. Our funds at NATMUS are less than a $1,000. We used part of a donation by the local AACA Chapter to fund this project and our goal for Hershey is to at least get back our investment. Then from that point on we should be adding cash for the Futurliner project.
Jim Crame, Mike Ball and Bobbie Smith at NATMUS are working to put together the process to sell the posters via the internet through NATMUS.
Due to the advice of Fred Carpenter and Bruce Beimers as well as the fact that Mike Ball and Al Batts managed to find the vendors with the best quality at the lowest cost we will be selling the posters for $10.00. That includes the poster, the tube and ends for carrying it home. Once the poster goes to NATMUS it will again sell for $10.00 plus $3.00 for shipping and handling.
The hats will also sell for $10.00. Although the hats will also be sold at NATMUS we have no intention to sell them over the inter net.
This Parade of Progress Poster project again took a lot of volunteers to put together and over a year working on it. I want to thank all of those who worked on it and I have probably forgot all those involved. Again thank you for all your work.
|May 2||GENERAL MOTORS PRE-PRODUCTION
OPERATIONS invited the Futurliner
work crew to the GM-Tech Center in Warren, Michigan for a look and see at
their operations. If you recall this is the organization that built the
roof frame for the Futurliner.
Let me go back in time about two years. We had learned from the Paraders that the roof on the original constructed Futurliners was marginal at best. Sometimes it took many of the Paraders pushing on the large upper 16' doors in order to get them closed enough to latch. With 60 years of rust deterioration we felt we had to build a complete new roof but also one that was stronger than the original. About two years ago we made contact with GM-Body Design about the possibility of a new design. Of course the first thing that they asked us if we had the original drawings which of course we did not.
GM-Body Design sent several engineers to our location that summer (2000) making measurements and having us weigh everything that is hung off of the roof such as the two 16' doors, and the lighting fin. Over the next nine months when the body engineers had time they worked on the roof design. As the time started to get close when we would receive the drawings we started asking over the internet if there was anyone that could take on the construction of the roof including on site inspection, field measurements as well as delivery of the roof.
A few months passed and I received an e-mail from Marv Benedetti asking questions about the construction, materials, size etc. He never stated who he worked for only that he would make an inquiry with his boss. Marv also found out from me that the design was in a computer at GM-Body Design, literally across the street. Marv got the computer design data electronically passed to him. From there Marv went to his managers and finally after several months and lots of meetings he received permission from Kurt Johnson to have the roof built at their shop. Up until Marv got the approval I did not know that this was another GM shop.
Their shop in the meantime became very busy but the adjacent shop run by Chad Seigle was in a slow period. So it was decided that the roof would be built in Chad's shop. Chad and several of his workers made a site visit to make many measurements to confirm the drawings dimensions. During construction they also made several visits. Finally when the bulk heads, and roof sections were shipped they came out and assembled the components in the Futurliner.
On Wednesday, May 1, 2002 the Futurliner work crew boarded a bus plus two vehicles and drove to the GM-PPO site in Warren, Michigan. This is about a 3-hour trip and we had made arrangement with Executive Coach Service to hire a 25-passenger bus. The owner of the company, Jim Ziebarth, drove the bus. Due to the fact that we had 27 people signed up and several of the group had other destinations the next day, two extra vehicles were required.
We were hosted by Marv, Chad, and Kurt. At the PPO operations we observed the methods that GM looks at competitive vehicles, down to the last nut and bolt. They not only physically look at the competitors but look at them electronically and take many measurements and data. Without revealing any competitive secrets it was mine boggling the detail.
Next we saw the operation that they use to build the sheet metal for the pre-production vehicles. A pre-production vehicle is a completed vehicle but one used to check design intent as well as to use for testing in all forms. This process again uses the talents of the workers coupled with the latest technology as well as extensive use of computers. Here is where Marv showed us the Futurliner roof on their computers.
We then spent time on the assembly line where the pre-production vehicles are built. We started with engine dressing, then sheet metal sub assembly, then the body until it was ready for paint and finally vehicle assembly. Although I have described the above in a few short words were in the shops from 10 AM until 3:30 PM.
Next Chad took us in our bus on a driving tour of the GM-Tech Center grounds. This is a one-mile by one-mile complex that has all engineering and car and truck groups represented as well as future technology groups. It was an informative day and one that we will not forget.
We want to thank our hosts, Marv, Chad, and Kurt for an outstanding job hosting us. We want to thank all the folks in these shops that built the roof and those that approved its construction.
BUS TRIP HOME
Once we arrived back in the Grand Rapids area, we paid our driver for the fee that we contracted the trip for. After counting out the money (we had taken a collection from everyone that went) he handed back the money and said it was a donation to the Futurliner project. We want to also thank Jim of Executive Coach Service for making this gift.
|Apr. 2|| I missed an
important donation that was made to our project. Bud Juneau has been a
supporter of this project from the beginning donating various items. This
time he donated a booklet on the Autronic eye that he picked up on e-bay.
You are probably asking what is an Autronic eye. Well it was a GM option
on their more expensive automobiles in the 1950's that automatically
dimmed your headlights when it saw the light of an oncoming car. Each
Futurliner was equipped with one. We do have the eye along with the
controls. Now we have a booklet to make it work.
Bud gave a humorous report of this product that I attached to this e-mail.
|Mar. 24||To all our Futurliner group.
Mike Ball is going to be bidding on a 1953 GENERAL MOTORS CORP. ANNUAL
REPORT. This for our archives. Do not bid against Mike, please.
From the following e-mail you can see that there is a Futurliner for
sale in California on e-bay. This is one of the nine that we have located
of the original 12. Our goal in the restoration is to find a spare front
axle that is unique only to the Futurliners with their dual front steering
wheels. We wanted to make a display of it and also have a spare as there
are no parts like it anywhere in the world. If any of your folks out there
in Futurliner land want to purchase this unit and donate it to NATMUS we
will not stop you.
Hope you find this of some use.Good luck with your restoration. I'm eagerly awaiting more pictures/progress.
Hi Don...My name is Larry and I live in New Orleans. I stumbled on your
web site by accident about two months ago and I'm hooked. I read every
word and viewed every picture. This is a terrific project you guys are
tackling. Wish I could be there and volunteer. I'm about to start on a
project of my own...1948 Ford tudor sedan. Keep up the good work.
Larry, thanks for your interest in the Futurliner restoration project.
I have read much about you and the project, and after visiting the
museum, learned a lot more. I have no idea if I can be of some assistance
to your project, but let me tell you a little about myself and what I do,
and then I will leave the rest up to you. My name is Scott A. Schalow, and
my family owns Michigan First Response in Fenwick, MI ( 15 miles east of
Greenville ). We sell ambulances as well as build Fire Rescue units and
pretty much what no one else wants to build. We built the bomb squad truck
for the Michigan State Police for the Grand Rapids lab. We have built many
other units, all from a "clean sheet of paper" every time. My
area of expertise in our company production is wiring, both 12v and 110v.
I build the power distribution panels, as well as switch panels, battery
cables, build all of our wiring harnesses and loom them, as well as
engineer the total system for the customer before production. I took a
break from the $175,000.00 International Medium-Duty Rescue we are
building now to e-mail you. There are seven harnesses for this truck, and
I have just finished the fourth one. In any event, if my services can be
of any assistance, I would like to volunteer them to you. Just let me
Scott, I really appreciate your interest in the Futurliner restoration
project. Yes we can use your help. We already have the wiring harness done
for the 12 volt vehicle system. However we have not started the 110 volt
wiring diagram nor its harness. There is a large 220 volt generator in the
rear that is stepped down to 110 volts. We need the 110 volts to run:
I appreciate your interest in the project, please feel free to call or e-mail me. Thank you.
|Mar. 17|| What pleasant
surprise to stumble upon the Parade web site! I was the first advance man
to be hired several months before the show headed for its shakedown in
Lexington, KY. My first assignment was to write the Parade's Advance Man's
Manuel. Quite a challenge! It grew in size endlessly but would never cover
the hundreds of unforeseen hiccups the AM's faced on any given day in the
I'd like to share one story with you about "Boss" Kettering.
As a member of OSU's board he was going to clear the use of college property for the Parade's Dayton debut. When board members asked him if the Parade was a suitable activity for the school he answered, "I don't know, but I'll find out and let you know."
He hopped on a GM plane and flew to Blue Grass field in Lexington where I met him and drove him to the show lot in the middle of a heavy rain. Someone got him some rubber boots and he slogged through the exhibit for over an hour asking dozens of questions. The show apparently passed muster and he suggested we get lunch before his return to Dayton.
I drove the Boss and his pilot to a nearby motel restaurant where he ordered a salad. He quickly noted my surprise as a watched him eating it with his bare hands. He hadn't touched the silverware. He looked at me and, holding both hands in the air, said, "Son, when someone invents a utensil more efficient than these I'll use it." The pilot and I could not contain our smiles.
Driving back to Bluegrass Field he commented that he enjoyed his trip and the lunch.
I left the Parade in Ocala FL and joined the Cadillac PR Dept. Later I went with McCann-Erickson advertising agency, first to manage the Buick and GMC Truck accounts and then to Germany where I coordinated pan-European advertising for Opel. I recently retired as Executive VP - International, for the Interpublic Group of Companies, now the world's largest marketing communications company.
|Mar. 13||Jeff Miller, who
is working on the Futurliner project, fielded the following e-mail from
Identifying Autronic Eye
And Guide-matic Systems
I've been trying to be
involved with the automotive enthusiast most of my life and when possible
the salvation of the old cars Though restoration and in many cases
fabrication of the part required And I always try to encourage the car
owner to try to do as much of the "hands on" work as possible
for the restoration of his/ her car, not only for financial reasons but
also for the pride and enjoyment. There are many items that can be
restored, or just improved with a little time, elbow grease, and common
The first of automatic headlight dimming systems were called Autronic eyes. They were first offered in 1952 for Oldsmobile and Cadillac. All other divisions started 1953. They kept his name until 1959. 1960, and up the name was changed Guide-matic but it served the same purpose, to automatically switch the head lamps between upper and lower beams in response to light from an approaching car. Lincoln started purchasing Autronic eye's in 1957, Ford and Mercury and 1964, before this they had a high failure rate until they started purchasing units from Delco. The typical system consistent of four individual units, the photo, amplifier, power relay, and a special foot dimmer switch, or a auxiliary override footswitch.
In 1955 Oldsmobile offered the first on/off switch integrated into the headlight light switch, this was the only division to offer this until 1962 when Cadillac and Buick had a off switch built into the phototube. Many people asked me how to identify a Guide-matic system or an Autronic eye for there car, I think we have all been to swap meets and seen parts or complete units that a vender is trying to sell. But was not sure what it was off of, if you ask the vender, he may ask what car you have first, before he tells you the car you have, or we have all heard "they are all the same in those years" this is not true! Some of the first clues are the shape of the phototube lens. The square clear lens was used in 1952-54 (mid year) but Chevy retained the square lens until mid 1955. But this was only to use up old inventory. Chevy only, used 6-volt autronic eye systems on 12-volt cars with a special 12 to 6volt reducing resister. This was a poor idea, as it was a larger load on the charging system. But it was cheap!
The round clear lens was first used in 1954 and lasted through 1958 on Cadillac and Oldsmobile. Buick, Chevy Pontiac retained the round lens through 1959. The 1959 Cadillac and Oldsmobile unit was a one-year only unit, and a breakthrough in technology as this was the first of the low voltage units. The phototube was supplied with just 2.25 volts. This phototube was still large but the lens was oval and clear and there was a knob on the back to adjust the sensitively while driving. There was one exception a 1959 dealer installed unit that was a high voltage DC unit. The amplifier was mounted behind the kick panel (all amp's were here in 1959 through 1962 in Cadillac, all others 1958 through 1962) this phototube had a knob on the back of the eye as well and a clear round lens.
There was a large (black box) or the amplifier under the hood of the car,. If it had one adjustment knob under it, it was used for 1954 and earlier, 1955 and earlier for Chevy. This was a high voltage DC unit. If it had two knobs, this was a high voltage AC unit and was used in 1955-58. This means the phototube was supplied with up to 1000 volts to operate the system. 1958 was the last of the large amplifier under the hood for Cadillac and Oldsmobile.
In 1955-58 Oldsmobile used a rubber isolation system on the amplifier to reduce shock or harmonic vibration. This had 2 separate metal legs and 4 large rubber isolators.
The 1960 phototube was another breakthrough, This was the first year of the small phototube. it had a amber color lens to make the system less sensitive to fog or snow. The earlier ones had this as well but was inside the phototube housing.
In the Cadillac division only, the phototube was removed from the dash in 1964 (unless it was a dealer installed unit or a professional car) and installed behind the fender or grill. These units are unserviceable and should be replaced if not working.
The first and only year to sport a "safety salute" was 1960, this was a two-step relay. When the headlamps were switched to low beams the upper beams would remain on at a reduced candle power for one to two seconds to indicate the car was equipped with a Guide-matic system. This was a great idea, but poor design and thus had a very high failure rate. There was several attempts to salvage this part of the system by the GM tech dept. but by February of this year GM sent notification to all dealers to disconnect this parts of the Guide-matic system if there were problems.
The phototube mounting changed almost every year with the new contours of each dash. You have to make sure you have the correct one for your car. On a Cadillac it is easy to make sure you are mounting the phototube in the correct location, as the holes are there for you, in the steel dash anyway. Just take a awl and poke a hole through from the under side. For other divisions you must have a template, mark and drill a hole from the top.
The next clue to check the serial number printed on a paper sticker on the amplifier. If the amplifier was mounted under the hood of the car for a long time the tag maybe deteriorated and fell off. The phototube had a metal tag in the years 1952 through 59 and a paper tag between the phototube and mounting in 1960 through 66. The serial number consists of nine digits. The first digit indicated the division this unit was sent to. The second and third digits indicated what year the unit when into. The remaining 6 digits indicated the serial number starting with number one. If you run across a very high number starting with the 100,000 range, this means there may have been a minor mid year production change.
Here is a breakdown of the model and serial numbers as they apply to the various car lines;
156 000001 Chevrolet
256 000001 Pontiac
356 000001 Oldsmobile
456 000001 Buick
556 000001 Cadillac
857 000001 Lincoln. An "A" will follow the serial number 1964 and up
864 000001-B Mercury
864 000001-C Ford
756 000001 Warrant Replacement. The number 7 was GMC truck division and no automatic headlight dimming system were ever used in trucks *There is a exception to this coding, in 1952 this system of numbers was not used yet, but it still had a serial number with all 9 digits.
After properly identifying and making sure the autronic eye is complete, It is time to start restoring the unit, The bad wiring should be replaced with new. Next make sure all connectors are clean and free of corrosion (all electrical connectors on the car should be cleaned, at these were made of brass and on a 40 plus year old car they will tarnish making poor connection).
The amplifier housing cover 1952-1958 should be glass blasted, primed then painted gloss black, the phototube and mounting should be dissembled, and glass blasted, primed and painted the color of your dash. If this unit was originally purchased over the counter at the dealer the phototube was painted Cumulus gray or dark gray, 1960 units and later, the housing was sent in primer, either red or dark gray.
All vacuum tubes should be replaced or tested to make sure they are in top working condition. The vibrator in the amplifier (1952-1958) should be replaced with a solid-state replacement vibrator, which will last for many, many years.
Today driving standards have changed considerable from yesteryear. In 1956 it was dark out there! Today we have halogen headlights, reflective signs, and reflective paint on the highways, so, if we would use the factory sensitivity adjustments, your upper headlamps would seldom turn on. Though many hours of testing of my own cars, I've recalibrated most of my factory testers, most all dealers had one or more of these. Once the unit is running I have always let it run for several hours, if not days, to see if it is going to fail. In my option if the unit is going to fail it will do so in the first 24 hrs of operation.
Another option that was available on Cadillac and Buick was the "twilight sentinel" this was first used in 1960. I am often asked if this option was part of the guide-matic system, It is not. It is a completely separate unit from the Guide-matic. This is a electronic device which automatically turn the headlights on and off. The operation of the lights is determined by the amount of daylight available for safe driving. The twilight sentinel used the same numbering system as the autronic eyes, but the number always started with the letter "L"
Jeff replies …
I believe that we currently have an eye (from a swap meet), but lack the control box. I don't know if it is the correct eye. I started out working on the dash (which is why I am in that section of the website), but am currently focusing on the brakes, so I'm not sure exactly what parts and knowledge we have on the Autronic Eye.
The next time that we will be working on the Futurliner is March 19 (Tues.), I will find out more then. I am also going to forward this to Don Mayton, Director of Restoration, so that he will have your information for our files (Don is an active and avid collector/restorer, mainly of Buick cars).
We are located in S.W. Michigan, work on the Futurliner on Tuesdays. If you are in the area or plan to be here please try to visit us. The Futurliner website ( www.futurliner.com ) contains many pictures and some history, as well as some Autronic Eye photos from other Futurliners ( if I remember correctly, ours was missing). A broken windshield led to significant decay/damage to the driver's compartment of all Futurliners that we have found, and there is little/no documentation, so your help is welcomed.
Thanks again for the information and your email, I hope to talk with you again soon.
My name is Jeff Robbins, and Kendrick is my brother. He did move the Futurliner to his farm in Maine this past summer. He's preparing to shore up his old "Post & Beam" barn to allow for the weight of the Futurliner so that he can continue the restoration in a dry area. Ken has been removing and storing parts for years in a dry environment to keep them from deteriorating, so you may be surprised to find that he does have most of the parts you thought were missing.
He was not aware of your extensive web-site until I discovered it in early Jan. 2002. He thought he'd "died and gone to heaven" when he first started browsing your site. He has an extensive collection of Futurliner information, but it is clearly dwarfed by the volume of data, and photo's on your site. Ken happens to be vacationing in Florida until late January, and will be contacting you upon his return. He looks forward to talking with you, and re-extending his offer to provide some original parts. I think you can also count on seeing him at your reunion this year.
I have also enjoyed browsing your site, and appreciate the time and effort that has been put into both the web-page, and the restoration project. Thank you for preserving an important part of automotive history !
have just discovered in the past month that Kendrick Robbins has moved
to Maine and moved the Futurliner also. I have been in contact with a
gentleman in Maine that has located the Futurliner and has been trying to
get in contact with him. I do not have the specific location but as soon
as I find it I will share it. This Futurliner is missing many
parts and I doubt if it can be saved which is unfortunate since they were
such unique vehicles.
|Jan. 1|| Just received
from Parader, R. John Bradfield an original rubber raincoat with
its rubber rain hat. It is in perfect condition. On the label on the
inside is the following:
"products for industry"
These raincoats were issued to each Parader. We will
add this to our memorabilia. Ultimately this will be on display in the
Futurliner or the Museum (National Automotive and Truck Museum of the
United States: Auburn, Indiana). The Paraders are providing us with a lot
of memorabilia that will make an interesting display.
We want to thank all our volunteers, the Paraders, and the financial contributors that has allowed this project to progress. I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year. May God bless each one of you and keep you in His care.
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