GM Futurliner 2010 Progress Reports
The following are Don Mayton's updates on Futurliner activities. To read in chronological order, start from the bottom and read up the page.
Now in 2010, starting at
the AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, again a single Futurliner will
be visiting shows hosting the Futurliner starting in Rhinebeck, New York
just a few miles from New York City. To my knowledge this is the first
return of a Futurliner to New York State in show condition in 54 years.
The next stop the Futurliner will be visiting Dunkirk, New York.
Then the Futurliner will travel onto Michigan and then to Ludington, Michigan. In Ludington it will be loaded onto the SS Badger, the only operating steam ferry in the USA for a four hour trip across Lake Michigan. This itself is a historic vessel having been built and launched in 1953. A trip across Lake Michigan itself is a memorable experience especially if you stay in one of the ship's 40 staterooms. These staterooms are exactly as built in 1952. For those who want to enjoy the nostalgia of traveling in the 1950's you will not beat this.
Once the Futurliner arrives in Wisconsin it is onto St. Paul, Minnesota to the "BACK TO THE 50'S" show.
Then from Minnesota the Futurliner does some back tracking to the annual "OLD CAR AND SWAP MEET", Iola, Wisconsin.
The Futurliner again travel's to the docks in Manitowoc, Wisconsin for a return trip on the SS Badger and return to Michigan.
PENNSYTUCKEY - For all you that live in the Bedford Pennsylvania area we need your help. We have never been able to obtain photos or other information regarding this event. Someone out there has to remember this strange vehicle arriving in town and some mechanics out there doing the work on this vehicle. Any information would help.
NYC - Today Show - We have attempted to find photos, or any published information of the Futurliner in 1954 while at the Today Show. Again, someone saw it there or has a photograph, or any type of information. Any information would help.
Send any information about the stop in Pennsylvania or the Today Show to firstname.lastname@example.org
Don Mayton - Futurliner Restoration
"THE TODAY SHOW NYC" and the FUTURLINER
The Parade of Progress using a caravan of Futurliners from 1953 through July of 1956 toured the country from east to west and north to south presenting to the American public a fantastic show. One tour involved one Futurliner with "PARADERS" driving it from a show, breaking down in Pennsylvania and then making it to the Today Show in NYC for a "GOOD MORNING AMERICA" presentation of the
American Crossroads exhibit. "Paraders" were those that drove the Futurliners, set up the shows, did the maintenance and were generally new hires fresh out of college.
Paraders Will Colcer and Renald "Rennie" Goyette were selected to take the Futurliner to the Today Show in NYC. Here are the Paraders stories.
Parader Will Colcer joined the Parade of Progress in 1952 and saw the Futurliners at the GMC Truck and Coach plant in Pontiac, Michigan being restored and updated after the pre WWII tour. "Our American Crossroads" exhibit in one of the Futurliners used a system to sequence the recorded voice with the mechanical action and was done with Robophones. Will was trained on this system during the restoration of the Futurliners.
Parader Rennie Goyette was hired onto the Parade of Progress in June of 1954. Rennie had previous experience with a similar system in the US Navy maintaining tape controlled Strowger switches on the aircraft carrier the USS Oriskany in 1950.
Each Futurliner carried different displays as the Parade of Progress toured North America. Because of the popularity of "Our American Crossroads" exhibit in one of the Futurliners throughtout the Parade of Progress shows word came down that Dave Garroway wanted to have this feature on one of his Monday morning's "Today Show". It also was a fact that GM advertised on this TV network. "Our American Crossroads" exhibit was one of dioramas that changed as the narrator talked about the changes to the country because of the advent of the automobile.
The two Paraders, Will and Rennie, were selected to drive the Futurliner containing Our American Crossroads. They traded driving positions as they drove east headed for New York City. Somewhere, referred to as Pennsyltuckey by Rennie, the Futurliner broke down. This "Liner" had had seen its last mile as it coasted to a stop in Pennsyltuckey. Recall that this vehicle had left Detroit in the spring of 1953, traveling to 66 cities for the Parade. Its engine-transmission drive train had hauled this 30,000 pound vehicle over hill and dale.
A State Patrolman drove the Paraders to a phone (no cell phones) and a call was made to Bart Blett and immediately replacement parts were shipped. Bart also arranged for the Futurliner to be towed to the closest GM Truck dealer, near Bedford Pennsylvania. Bart told them not to spare any expense and that the Futurliner had to be repaired ASAP. The GM facility could not accommodate the Futurliner due to its size so it was moved to a large warehouse on the outskirts of town.
While waiting the delivery of the drive train components we wondered off to a local Road House where they had some pretty good steaks, cold beer, and lively country music which helped us relax as we were a tad exasperated. We were on edge and didn't know if we could get to New York City on time.
With the new drive train modules arriving early Saturday morning and with the help of the local GM garage personnel and working 26 straight hours we were able to get the unit installed and running. We had still lost nearly a day's travel so it was up to us to make up the time. Driving all day and night and consuming a lot of "No Doz" and taking cat naps and more "No Doz" saw the miles pile up. Sunday brought about the same schedule and the new drivetrain was not complaining for the job it was doing.
Sunday night we arrived in the "City" and parked at the Side entrance of the studio. With the help of the RCA Studio Technicians, Crossroads was given a dry run very late into the evening and we were confident all dioramas endured the trip and were ready for the Monday Morning News ---Today Show---with Dave Garroway. Then the next morning we moved the Futurliner in front of the RCA building, parking the wrong way so the exhibit would face the right way. That resulted in a ticket from a NYC cop. One of Dave Garroway's staff said they would take care of it.
The exhibit performed flawlessly and the show was deemed a great success. Multi million viewers saw what the beginning of the U.S. auto industy brought about for America and for that matter -- the World. The return trip to Detroit was uneventful. Everything performed flawlessly. Oh, we didn't get to meet Dave Garroway.
I love the Futurliner site and your
restoration, and though you might like to see an article on the progress
being made on the Futurliner that went to Sweden for restoration. Here is
a link to the Google translation of the
Swedish web page:
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