The New Purchase for this year, a 1941 Packard Henny WW2 Ambulance. which is in good condition considering it's only 77 years old now.
I've been looking and thinking about this Ambulance for a while now when I saw it for sale on Ebay before Christmas.
I've been looking for sothing like this car all last year, well something I can replace the old 1932 Ford Coal Truck with as it's now getting to difficult for me to drive to and from 1940' events
I Bought/collected this car from Stamford in Linclonshire and drove it back the 110 miles down the Motorway back to my workshop in Lye on New Years Eve, the following day I powerwashed the whole Ambulance off including under the wheelarches to get all the salt off and out of the car.
One of the main reason's I bought this car was it is nice and easy to drive !
Originaly this Ambulance worked in the 1940's/50's /60's and 70's at "MURCO BASE AIRPORT" in California USA.
I used to have a straight 8 cylinder petrol engine and stick shift manual gearbox fitted as standard. but sometime after the 1970's the car was abandend up a corner of an Aircraft Hanger with NO engine or Gearbox fitted. Later on sombody bought the Ambulance and stripped the body off the chassis, shot blasted the chassis and powder coated it.
Then fitted a Small Block V8 305ci Chevy (5.7 ltr) petrol engine with a 700R 4-speed Automatic Gearbox and a 9" Rear Axle, New leaf springs on the rear, coil springs on the front with shock absorbers all around, disc brakes fitted on the front, drums on the rear with Servo power. Then Power Steering was fitted and radial tyres for better road holding.
It drive's like a dream !
History on this Ambulance .............. Built in 1941 to serve on Muroc Army Air Force Base (Later to become "Edwards Air Force Base") Muroc was famouse for when in 1947 Chuck Yeager broke the SPEED OF SOUND in a Jet Powered Plane the Bell X1. When the base later changed it's name to Edwards Air Foce Base, where many Military Aircraft take off and land......but the most famouse Aircraft was the SHUTTLE that went up to Space and retured back to Earth, this base had one of the longest runways in the U.S. so the Shuttle could land safely. The Ambulance was Chrissend "SHERMAN" By the Men who worked there. The dashboard was extensivly worked on with over 400 hours of airbrush work for "Kaiser Darrin". Sherman has been to a few shows in the U.S. Around the L.A. Area and was shipped over to England sometime in 2014 where Steve Read Bought the Vehicle, Steve did a lot of intria work to the Ambulance by fitting a new roof lining, new door panels and re-carpeting throughout, plus fitting a Church Pew in the back for passingers to sit.
Muroc Army Air Force Base taken in the 1940's.................
This Ambulance is 21 ft long.......I had no choice but to take the side out of my office, to rearange things, between Christmas and New Year to make enough room to get this beast in my workshop. By the way, this beast was named "SHERMAN" by the Men at the Airforce base. There are some cosmetic jobs that need doing to SHERMAN plus some electrical jobs, but I'm pushing on with those jobs now.......I'm also looking to fit the inside out with some old Ambulance equipment of how it was when is worked on the Airbase.
During this last two weeks I've started by making a list of jobs that need doing to this Packard. I started by jacking the whole Ambulance up as high as I could getting it on some decent axle stands then removing all 4 wheels to check the tyres, I did find a flat spot on the tread of the n/s rear which what causing a viabration through the car at speed. so that needs a new tyre.
Then checking all the brakes, I found the rear shoes low, and will need replacing, plus I found free play in the N/S Front King Pin
which feels to me like the lower bush that is worn ?
I stripped it all down, the King Pin looks good, but due to lack of a grease nipple this bush had worn badly !
I have Malcolm from over the road making me a new lower bush, plus I need to drill the stub axle to put a grease nipple to keep the bush lubricated.
Whilst waiting for the bush to be done, I cleaned all the caked up mud out that was in the the inside of the wheel arches, then wax oiled the inside of the fenders, later, I made up some rubber inner mud flaps to keep the mud out.
In the meantime I pulled out the disc pads to check them as I could feel some brake judder at speed, I found the pads were low and the N/S were starting to brack up !!!.
I was not sure what these disc brakes were off , as the original Packard had Drum Brakes fitted, these were fitted when the V8 and autobox was all fitted in the Packard.
I took a photo of the pads and sent the detailes over to Dave at "Stateside Autoparts" at Atherstone to see if they could regonise them ?
Dave came back to me within and hour ot say they are off a big G.M Truck, which they stock on the shelf and they can post to me within 24hrs !
WOW I THOUGHT....That's good service.
January 20th The Chevy stepside at Dudley Collage Advance Workshop.
Saurday 20th January Clive Dawe Invited me around with the Chevy Truck to the New Dudley Advance Collage for this Open Day they had.
I was put in this magificant workshop with the truck on show with other vehcles. They have a wonderfull Machine Shop as well plus welding and tube bending machines not forgetting the plazma cutter. I was very impressed with it all.
A steady amount of students came to visit during the day, they all seemed interested in my truck which I gave them a little talk on.
But as the day was going on, I could see out of the very large windows in there SNOW......Lot's of SNOW coming down ! The whole place was going white over in no time.
I had never driven this truck in the snow before, but with no heater in the truck, it was a bit Burrrrrr !
Needing new Brake shoes on the rear axle.
I had the bushes back from Malcolm where he made me 4 of them, so I decided to do the other King Pin as well, after fitting the bushes I carfully remored them out useing an adjustable remor being very carfull NOT to go too far ! keeping the pin as tight as you can so you can JUST rotate the stub axle tightly is good enough.
Cleaning the rotors up and fitting the new disc pads finished the front end off compltely.
Then it was the rear bakes to sort out. The brake shoes needed replacing plus I found the two brake Cylinders leaking as well. After a phone call to Dave at Stateside Autopart's I had all the new part's for the rear brakes within 24 hrs.
The other problem I had, was the Hand Brake not working ?
Part of the Hand Brake Mechanisum had gone missing, So I decided to strip a complete Hand Brake, Lever/ Cables/Rods etc off a scrap Ford Transit, then make up under the Ambulance, as luck had it the ends of the cables slotted nicly into the brake shoes, removing the old foot brake pedal, I fitted the new hand brake lever in the centre of the front seats.
Having fitted new rear brake cylinders and shoes, I finished off the handbrake under the vehicle, which works fine now. I then found a Gear Shift indicator as this one was missing, I needed one with a 4th speed as most auto boxes have only 3 speeds, this vehicle has a 4th gear overdrive, so I was lucky to find this indicator, fixing it was a problem, so I decided to make a consul down the centre of the car to be able to mount the indicator on and hide the modern hand brake lever, I also found a nice old Hand Granade to use as a gear shift knob.
Whist the front sears were out I managed to fit in some inercia reel seat belts which I also had out of this Ford Transit, having welded in the nut's into the main B Post first, they all bolted in okay with the 2 long stalks bolted down on the floor in the centre coming throught the front seats okay.
Hank has been coming down to sort out the wiring in the vehicle, sorting out the rear lights plus the fuel gauge that's not working as well.
I had to remove the fuel tank to get the old sender unit out so we could test it, I've got a new gauge and tank unit on order now.
New Handbrake, seat belts and consul fitted in now.
15th February, Canal and River Trust come to fit 2 new bottom gates of Lock 3 at Parkhead including dredging out the lock chamber as well.
February 21st, I had a new Starter Motor arrive in the post, which happend to be the wrong one. the top motor is the new one, the bottom one is the one that came off the Paxckard but it's a race car one, very lightwight ?
It turns out that my flex plate is bigger anyhow at 168 toothed one instead of a 158 toothed (that's the teeth on the st/ring)
So, I've reordered another St/Motor which will be two weeks, coming from the States. in the meantime I've fitted the old st/motor back on so I can start the engine.
In the meantime, I took the Dash Board out, to fit the new fuel gauge then later modified and fitted the new fuel tank sender unit, later on I fitted the fuel tank back in the chassis with a new fuelpipe and fuel filter plumbed into the chassis up to the fuel pump.
Having fitted the fuel tank in Hank came around to wire it all up, I put 4-gallon of petrol in the tank to start with, later on the fuel gauged WORKED, be it only showing 1/4 tank full.....So I put in another 16 gallon to fill it up, and the fuel gauge was showing FULL. so I was well please that worked out. Having put all the wheels back on (for now) I got the engine running having serviced it first and put freash antifreeze in the radiator, I had it running sometime to get the air locks out of the system.
March 12th I started rubbing the bodywork down in preperation for a new coat of paint.
March 17th, I took the Race car To Roy Wildings workshop to have some work done.
Last year I was having a few problems with the front axle of the race car, as this front end was set up for a 200 mph Funny Car the king pins were laid back too far thus giving me some shake under heavy brakeing, plus it was very dificult to steer around the pits. the king pins had a 25 deg of lean back, they should be around 7 deg ! So Roy had the car for a week to cut out the existing King pins that was welded to the front axle, and rewelded with a 7 deg angle of set back
Having spent a week of rubbing down and putting red oxide undercoat on the bare metal, then rubbing that down I started putting on the OLIVE DRAB GREEN top coat Paint on by brush, well I say brush, I did roller the paint on first then laying it off with a good brush after, this is a MATT finish paint as per the WW2 Colours of the time.
this is while we are having some mild weather at the moment at 10 deg c.
March 26th The first coat of Olive Drab Green in Matt finish is dry and waiting for another wet & dry rub down ready for it's second coat.
March 29th, Looking Better now with it's final coat of paint, plus I matt blacked the grill's.
April 1st, Easter at Western Park, a cool dry day was had by all who attended
Saturday April 7th
I took the J.C.B. Tunnel Tug through 2-miles of the Dudley Tunnel to collect the work boat "Flying Scott"
from Parkhead, having conected up the boat to the Electric Tunnel Tug i proceded in a southerly direcection back to the portal.
Contactors were going to use the Flying Scott as an inspection boat to look at the underside of the railway bridges for the new Metro line to go over.
Saturday 8th April. "INK & IRON" Show at the New Bingley Hall in Birmingham.
Saturday April 8th.
I took the Chevy Truck to a show called "INK & IRON" at the New Bingley Hall in Birmingham.
I had never been to this NEW Bingley Hall before as it's only about 3 years old, which was the old Bus Station nr the Hockley Flyover in Birningham.
This show was mainly about Tattoo's with many hundred's of people having tattoo's put on them.
On the other side of the hall we had the Iron part of it comprising of Cusom cars and Custom Motorbikes
There was some nice vehicles there including a nice Rat Rod (above) fitted with a 383 ci Small Block Chevy engine and Supercharger that WON Best Custom Car.
I on the otherhand WON BEST "CUSTOM COMERCIAL TRUCK"
Plus a cheque for £200 which was a very nice supprise indeed.
April 10th, Having first put two coats of Gloss White on the roof I spent ages masking out the CROSS that was to go on the roof, I painted this in Signal Red Gloss paint, which again had to have two coats.
April 12th I bought Dave Perks in to start on the Signwrighting on the Packard Ambulance.
He started on the 2 large American stars that went on the two rear doors, but later he was keen to do this Caduceus Symbol that appears on ALL Medical vehicles and things, It's an old Greek Mitholagie Symbol that goes back donky's years ?
The U.S. Air force use's it everywhere in their Medical Departments.
Well he painted it on the two front doors and the back door of the Ambulance for me.
He did a nice job of it.
Dave, having coming back the next day to give the Caduceus and the Star's another coat of white paint.
He started on the Bumpers
by putting American Star's on each 4 corners of the bumpers, this it how the Ambulance livery was back when it worked during the 1940's at Muroc Airfield in California.
The lettering and numbers will be done on a computer in the form of Stick on Stencils, No I'm not using stick on letters here, ALL the letters and Numbers will be painted on.
We have to wait a bit for these stencils to be made but should only take a few days next week to get them done then Dave can get back to painting the lettering on the bodywork.
Dave does Signwriting on Narrowboats, it's the first time he's done a Ambulance before.
Saturday April 14th.
After popping around to the Portal to move Bittell alongside Sagitta for an Open Day on the two Historic Boats
Later I drove up to Lichfield to the H.N.B.C. Aunnual General Meeting at Whittington Village Hall.
I went up there to accept the John Hemelryk Award for BITTELL.
YES, Bittell WON the best restoration Project on a Historic Narrowboat during 2017.
There were around 150 people in this hall, a film slide show was shown to the members to show how bad Bittell had sunk and then all repaired again by Ian Kemp of Stourbridge.
I collected the award on behalf of Dudley Canal and Tunnel Trust.