Previous tour and Reunion pictures
FLORIDA REUNION 2020
FLORIDA REUNION 2019
2017 TOUR SHEDIAC NEW BRUNSWICK
FORT WILLIAM ONTARIO REUNION
2010 TOUR, MILE '0' NEWFOUNDLAND
THE END IS NEAR, YES I CAN HEAR A DISTANT RUMBLE
The story starts in May of 2011 when a good friend in Cranbrook mentions that there is a cool old ambulance at a neighbours house and it might be for sale. My Paramedic mind quickly became alert and before long we are on our way to the mystery vehicle. In a building looms a big grey beast. The story goes that it was a GM prototype built for the Sullivan mine and also served the town of Kimberly. Documentation and an original newspaper article confirms the history. Opening the big suicide side door reveals it has all the medical equipment of the day still in place along with all the service records from new. Quite a find, and as it was always stored inside there was no rust just a coat of grey paint which looked like it was left over from a WW2 navy vessel. A short negotiation and I drive down the road the proud owner of another old ambulance.
It was a brute, powered by the original 216, a non-synchro transmission and a top speed of 40MPH. Equipped with Armstrong steering I aimed it rather than drove it. The decision was made to update it somewhat to make it a better driver.
The hunt was on, a 261 truck engine was tracked down and sent out for rebuild, new modern brakes installed all round and many more elite parts searched and obtained. After months of work, hardships and smiles, all car people who build their own know the drill. The motor finally arrives and we work a day and a half doing a pristine installation….. all for not, the internal oil line wasn’t connected and when it started it sounded like an old Dodge diesel. The builder (JOKE) says it was something we did, I agree we made the mistake of turning the key. Heart ache after four years of work. Cross Canada dream of using it shattered. Life goes on, the 48, its grey paint now a shiny red is condemned to a corner of the barn, with an empty hole where an engine should purr. Not unlike the empty spot in my heart after so much effort was put in by Family and friends.
Fast forward four years and me and the old Chevy have a long chat one rainy Saturday afternoon. We come to the conclusion that I’m going for it, the dream is alive again. The rumor spreads through the family and my son surprises me with a beautiful crate engine, a Father’s Day present. Yes a tear was visible and the excitement was renewed.
The past several weeks I’ve put in countless hours of pure joy getting the Panel up to snuff. “I know I should give it a name” The Pontiac was named big Red so maybe Big Red II would be appropriate.
The biggest problem was finding all the parts I had squirreled away over the past few years, some incredible surprises emerged from the high shelves and dark corners of the ninety year old dairy barn. Last week all the parts were assembled and we are ready for install, Life is good.
I hope to have October 1st as the reveal day, no let’s make that the 15th, you know what fate can do.