World War I Ambulance.
The Ford Model T project car off the trailer and rolled into the …
An American ambulance near Reims, France, poses for a picture.
The time of the First World War is one of the few periods in history where huge advances in technology are readily apparent. Photographs from that period show that it was commonplace to see horses being utilized alongside cars and trucks. The significance, of course, is that the horse was replaced by the car and truck. For example, kerosene lanterns used with a light bulb hanging in the room, telegraph operators set up next to field telephones or airplanes flying over horse-mounted cavalry all reflect the changes occurring as nations struggled for survival. Over the years of collecting I have always wanted to obtain a large artifact for my WWI collection, such as a cannon, tank or airplane.
I did discover, however, that there are a handful of M1917 ambulances in museums around the country. Stripped car chassis with engine still installed.
My background is in Aircraft Mechanics and Engineering, however. It requires patience to take an old Model T apart, considering it probaby had been sitting for 70 years. A torch and a cut-off wheel work for the stubborn bolts that are too far gone.
There would be a chance that it could be rebuilt. Removing the engine head, I planned to inspect the valves and pistons for carbon build up. With the head off, I was amazed at how clean the engine was inside (except for the nut shells in the water jacket). I decided I would try to start the engine without an overhaul. As I removed parts, the frame became exposed and the mechanical portions of the car were very accessible.
The engine appears to be amazingly clean inside.
Though I suspected that the engine was in good enough condition to run on its own, I had to do a partial tear-down to replace all the seals. While the engine was out it was time to paint the frame its military color. The entire car was painted by hand with a brush. My sights were now set on restoring components like the kerosene lanterns, the steering wheel, the coil box and the head lights. I also used the new replacement parts that included a gas tank, brakes, wood transmission bands, radiator hoses, wheels and tires. Soon, new parts began to arrive.
The carburetor was back, as well as the coils. And last, but not least, my radiator was done.
The engine went back together and installed back on the frame.
The author making final adjustments prior to the first engine start. By my estimate, this car had been last started sometime back in the 1930s when it was driven into or towed into a field and abandoned, left for dead.
Using dimensions and detailed photographs from some of the 1917 ambulances in museums, I was able to create a set of working drawings. The LH and RH main sills are temporarily fitted using clamps. After 10 months of extensive woodwork, the ambulance body was nearly finished.
During this project, I read anything I could get my hands on about the U. S. Some of the bloodiest days for the 2nd Division U. S. I decided to apply unit markings to my ambulance to represent a unit in support of the 2nd Division. They spent some time in England before going to St. Their record shows that they first served with the 42nd U. S. The Section then moved to serve the 26th U. S. They received a 2nd Division citation here.
It was during this engagement that the Section lost some men, killed or wounded.
Section 502 was then involved in the Meuse-Argonne offensive, from Sept. Their casualties numbered three killed and 16 wounded (including gas cases). Get the Standard Catalog of U. S.
The transmission control pedals remain the same as on a standard Model T, except for the extended reverse pedal. Canvas was extensively used on the ambulances, allowing the rear windows to be rolled up for loading patients. The driver rode exposed to the elements on a simple bench seat, which covered the fuel tank and the other ends of the stretchers stowed in the back. This was how the project began, with a Model T touring car chassis found in an old car salvage yard near Iola. The short wheelbase of the Model T touring car necessitated the long overhang of the ambulance body, to allow enough room for full-length stretchers in the back. All of the markings are authentic to that ambulance unit.