- Major accomplishments on the vehicle include:
- Front suspension completed and vehicle is ready to roll again on it’s
own with new (used) tires and all front and rear bearings rebuilt.
- Exterior completely removed
- All structural framework has been rebuilt as necessary in the front
and back. The roof has not been started.
- The lower floors are primed and painted and the upper cockpit and
rear are ready for sandblasting.
- Inliners International and their members have been a great help in
locating parts for this project. In addition, they have mentioned our
project in their newsletter. Their web site is www.inliners.com.
- The transmission rebuild has been completed by GM.
- Bill Bicknell in Ohio is rebuilding the engine as you
know. In tearing down the first of the NOS short blocks he planned to
use, Bill found that the factory apparently did not do a good job of
cleaning out the metal chips. Since this block has never been used,
these chips have rusted in the passages and if Bill had not found them,
the life of this rebuilt engine would have been in the hours at best. He
also discovered that two of the crankshaft bearings were not installed
correctly and is correcting that before assembly. Nice job Bill in
finding this before hand.
- A number of leads have been developed to acquire the rest of the engine
dress parts we need. One is Don Nicholls located in Canada
who will be meeting soon with Bill Bicknell.
- Archie Gartell advises us that the running lights were
from a 1941 Chevrolet truck and were also used on 1940 Pontiac passenger
cars. If anyone has lens for these, we are interested. Wayne Jackson purchased
a set of these production lights from Archie at Hershey that we
mentioned in the last newsletter. They must be modified to match the
- One of the less glamorous but most important job has been assumed by
Mike Ball. Mike volunteered to organize and catalog all
the information that has been collected as we mentioned last issue.
One facet of his project has been to build a portable display
that can be taken to meetings or events to help promote the project.
- NATMUS visit personnel will make their annual trip to Zeeland on
May 12 and a big turn-out is expected.
- The only surviving display from the 1950’s Parade of
Progress has been on loan in the Museum of Science and Industry in
Chicago, IL. GM rebuilt it and had the complete display at the January
2001 Detroit International Auto Show and indicated that it will be
permanently located at the new (spring 2001) museum being built at GM’s
new headquarters at the Ren Center in downtown Detroit. This display
has a Futurliner replica (full size but 2’ deep), a glass window and
the operating "American Crossroads" display.
- Don is planning on making original type work uniforms for all
the workers who are working on the project to be used when the
finished vehicle is on tour or display.
- Two more volunteers joined the Tuesday work sessions recently – Fred
Carpenter and Jeff Dornbush.
- Tom Kuhlman has donated a Korean war vintage army truck
so we could retrieve the engine and transmission. As soon as the SW
Michigan snow melts (maybe June), they will pull it out and bring it to
the Zeeland shop. Thanks Tom.
- Thanks to Lorrie Bailey, we now have many photos from the
1930’s and 40’s that came from her father (Bernard Zink).
Bernard was one of the original Paraders in the 1936 trip to Florida
when it opened and now lives in California. These are now one of the
latest additions to the web site by Jim Crame.
- SHOW STOPPER - GM
has completed the drawings for the roof and our sheet metal guys are
starting to work at the top of the cab. Although it will take a long
time to complete this area we cannot start any re-skinning of the
Futurliner until the new roof is manufactured and installed. Also
we cannot hang the upper doors until the new roof is in place. Here
is our need. - locate a company or manufacturer that can
fabricate this roof once we get the drawings. We need a contact with
an owner or someone that has the authority to get this roof built in
their shop. We are asking for this to be donated, labor and material. We
do have a local firm that can build it but they are too small to absorb
the costs. The alternate to this proposal is a donation of money
specifically for this roof. Since we do not have the drawings yet, I
cannot get a firm quote but will describe it so if you know anyone that
could do this work you can talk to them.
- The roof center section for the Futurliner measures 16' long by 5'
wide. It will have extensions on it for tying it into the present
Futurliner. So the over all length will approach 18'. It will be
constructed of standard steel sections like channel iron, angle iron,
square and rectangular tubing. All this would be mild steel. It has a
small parallel track in the center that must be accurate. The business
that takes this on will have to have a layout table large enough to
handle the roof. Its construction is all welding fabrication with the
exception of the track which is bolted in place. The final sheet metal
covering we will do once the roof is constructed and installed. The
construction process will require field measurements. Also due to its
size, whoever takes this on will have to deliver it and unload it at
our work site.
- Because the original roof was so weak, GM engineers are adding
vertical supports at each end of the Futurliner to support the ends of
the roof. These two end supports are of similar construction. Their
dimensions are 8' X 8'. This would be part of the package as all
measurements could be verified at the builders place between the roof
and the supports.
- We know that there is someone out there that can take this on. For a
large company this is not a big job. So anyone out there that has any
contact with someone that could take this on please call Don at
- Our engine has the original type governor carburetor that has
been rebuilt. However, it has a regular distributor and not the military
distributor which incorporates the vacuum control for the engine
speed governor. Does anyone know where we might locate the correct
distributor? Obtaining a spare carburetor would also be nice.
- The project is in need of another donation of sheet and
structural steel. The first 4000# of sheet steel is nearly
- We are still looking for hub caps and a donation of one of
the trunks used by each Parader as they traveled. The trunks
had the Parade of Progress on them, we believe that they were red,
white and blue with their names stenciled on them.
- We have heard recently from Errnest Blatt IV. Errnest
Blatt II (his grandfather) worked on the PoP from 1936 up into the
1950’s. He started with GM in 1934 working at the Worlds Fair and
then followed joined Parade in 1936. His role was in working on the
"Roba Phones" that were used to synchronize the recordings
with the movements of the displays. Errnest now lives up in Republic
- Contributions continue to come in from various sources. Any donation
is welcome. The form below can be used to send financial contributions
directly to NATMUS if you desire.
- We have received financial donations from a total of 100
individuals and companies, some of these have contributed more
than once. This is very much appreciated.
- In addition, another 32 companies and individuals have
donated services or materials to the project – another very
key part of the support throughout the country for the project. There
are still opportunities for any of you since there is a long way to go
yet to completion.
- These 6 cylinder gas engines were used by GMC around 1925 and then in
1929 Buick transferred the OHV engine design and manufacturing equipment
to GMC. GMC then used this basic engine into the 50’s. Through a
variety of sources, Don has uncovered a lot about the history of these
engines that has been documented.
- We learned that the American Bus Organization is writing an
article about the Futurliners and the PoP in their magazine
- The newsletter now has a distribution to over 300 people in 30 US
states plu7 foreign countries. Another example of the widespread
- The American Truck Historical Society (ATHS) has an excellent
article on the Futurliners in the Jan/Feb 2001 issue written by Fred
Fairbrother and Bill Rhodes.
- Another excellent article was printed in the March 18, 2001 local
paper, The Muskegon Chronicle. This same article also appeared n the
March 22 issue of the Lake Shore edition of the Grand Rapids Press.
- We also are saddened to learn that John Wilks, Executive
Director of NATMUS passed away suddenly in March.
- Jacques Matte in Montreal Canada has sent photos of the FIDO
Futurliner that Jim has added to our web site. You can also see his
photos on his web site "www.cybershack.qc.ca/busfan". This
one has been converted and modernized and is being used to sell cell
phones in Canada by the FIDO organization.
- We received information that Stroh’s Brewery in Detroit used one
of the Futurliners for advertising n the late 50’s we would guess.
Anyone have photos or info?
- We still need to find photos of a Futurliner that was used by the
Square D organization. It was reported by two separate sources
(Indiana and New Hampshire) that it was used in to support of Square D’s
sponsorship of a race team.
- Even though we know the NATMUS Futurliner that we are restoring was
at one time used as a rolling billboard for Dreisbach Cadillac in
Detroit, we have no photos of when it was used for that purpose.
(Note: Wally just finished removing the Dreisbach Cadillac stencil on
the front and soon will have the rear sides removed.)