View Full Version : 1969 Stoner-Chevrolet "Crash Wagon" Ambulance from Air Force Plant No 3

Nicholas Studer
02-24-2018, 05:26 PM
Previously discussed at http://www.professionalcarsociety.org/forums/showthread.php?t=20671 and on the PCS Facebook page.

Originally photographed by Steve Loftin in the mid-1980s. Photo from http://www.professionalcarsociety.org/forums/showpost.php?p=71389&postcount=160 and re-posted below.

It was local (less than 30 minutes from my home), and I was able to visit it prior to the Craigslist and eBay listings. The seller purchased it from some individuals near Houston, TX in SEP2017 with intent of resale. This vehicle previously served at Air Force Plant No 3, a 642 acre Government-owned/Contractor-operated facility that the Tulsa International Airport was actually built around. Air Force Plant No 3 (There are others, all dating from WWII) was also known as the Tulsa Bomber Plant. It was shared by Douglas Aircraft (later McDonnell-Douglas) and North American Aviation (later Rockwell. Both M-D and Rockwell were purchased by Boeing in the 1990s) until 1994. Douglas Aircraft appears to have produced the last complete aircraft there in the late 1950s with the B-66 Destroyer. After that, M-D built components and repaired many military and civilian aircraft there. As noted by the seller, Rockwell Int'l built the Space Shuttle orbiter's cargo bay doors, Lunar Module carrier, and other components for space vehicles there, in addition to B-1 and other military aircraft components. The Plant lost M-D presence then with post-Cold War cuts resulting in minimal aircraft orders, and thus M-D chose Tulsa as the site it would close. M-D has operated the plant emergency services and administered the 3-million square foot facility on behalf of the Air Force. The plant itself was given away to the City of Tulsa in 1999, and now houses Spirit Aerosystems (Boeing airliner components) and a bus manufacturing facility. https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/facility/afp-3.htm

While the photographs made it look to be in better shape than it actually is (isn't that always the case?) - it certainly wasn't bad! What struck me was the completeness of the interior and its condition. There is fairly standard 67-72 Suburban rust along the rocker panels bilaterally, driver's front fender, and the third door. The D-pillars are rusted badly at the top where they connect to the fiberglass roof - they were covered up with duct tape in the eBay photos. The car was so unmolested overall, it still had its 1985 OK license plate. The fire extinguisher in the cab is dated last in 1993, the year M-D left Air Force Plant No 3. Mechanical condition was sold as "Runs, stops with emergency brake." The seller initially believed this to be a $15K+ car, and I needed to wait until that didn't come true before it was possible to strike a deal. Thankfully, the only eBay bidder (Who won for less than $10K, and then turned out to be a "deadbeat bidder") was someone apparently in Saudia Arabia who thought they could rip the fiberglass roof off and find a flat OEM roof underneath. I couldn't let that happen...

Anyhow - I had the vehicle delivered from across town to a shop I trust, for a full mechanical check-out. Paul Steinberg is very right in that mechanical work is first (See, I sometimes listen Paul!) In the end, we replaced transmission and motor mounts, front/rear axle seals, thermostat, air filter, transmission filter/gasket/fluid (thankfully, the modulator was not ruptured despite years of sitting), wires/plugs/cap/rotor/points, complete brakes including booster, master cylinder, wheel cylinders, shoes, springs, front/rear hoses, drums cleaned up, and DOT 5 silicone fluid used. The Rochester Quadrajet was not rebuilt properly and was leaking, so I brought it back to the shop that had done the supposed previous work and it was fixed/cleaned up. I had some R12 refrigerant, so we changed some seals and recharged the AC system - appears to be holding!

Gas tank was missing when seller bought the car, and had replaced it with a plastic tank. I picked up a reproduction steel tank/sending unit from LMC truck and was glad I did so for a few reasons that came up later. The locks were corroded and keys missing anyway - replaced rear, side, and ignition cylinders and all keyed alike with a kit from GMC Paul's. At some point, the Coronado Jr. West Coast Mirrors on the car were removed and someone installed a single OEM-style driver's side mirror. I pulled that off and was able to find some old Coronado mirrors on eBay to install. After startup, it was clear the motor was running poorly and had inadequate compression. We removed the intake cover, and the studs and gaskets were serviced. I also learned the motor was either rebuilt or replaced by 4 States Motor Parts at some point...

Now that I've had the car, I wanted to clean up the cosmetics and have started on that. After extensive cleaning (second to last photo), last weekend I used Chemical Guys V32 compound followed by V36 polish with a Torq 10FX random orbital polisher. It was great to figure out how to do that myself! While it is clear the car will still need to be repainted one day, it looks presentable now overall. Last photo a the bottom is post-polishing. I plan to get the Flightline Numbers and M-D logos reapplied soon. My hope is to get the car ready for the Randolph AFB car show next month.

Things that remain to be done in the short term include: Interior detailing, repairing the dual Unity spotlights, polishing chrome, waxing after the vinyl is applied, cleaning up and reinstalling the driver/passenger door panels (water leaked in and rusted the attachment points), replacement of the missing CP25 speaker (The base is present with the top welded shut), and replacement of the damaged Federal Model 184. While I was able to acquire a red Model 184 dome to replace the missing dome, it turned out the metal skirt was basically fractured in multiple locations. Perplexed what could've done that...

I've reached out to the Tulsa FD and Tulsa Fire Museum, have yet to find anything substantial besides what Steve Loftin has been able to tell me. Also looking for any Stoner literature.

Paul Steinberg
02-24-2018, 07:00 PM
Federal Model 184. While I was able to acquire a red Model 184 dome to replace the missing dome, it turned out the metal skirt was basically fractured in multiple locations. Perplexed what could've done that...

Old age... the base is brass, and it wants to revert back to its original flatness. I will look in the garage.. I might have a good used one.

Walter Suiter
02-24-2018, 08:03 PM
Brass base was produced by metal spinning, a nearly lost art today.

If you have to fix the existing base, DO NOT attempt to braze or solder it unless you want to cry.

Best fix for spun brass of that nature is JB Weld backed by shaped plastic cut from plastic buckets. Rough the plastic up with a rasp on the adhesion side. Lexan will also work, but it's a lot tougher to shape.
Bucket plastic shapes well with a heat gun from Horrible Freight.

Peter Grave
02-24-2018, 10:56 PM
JB Weld is wonderful stuff I fixed a cracked block on a Studebaker with it and it held great. Just make sure everything is clean before you use it that is the secret for good adhesion.

Kurt Arends
02-24-2018, 11:21 PM
I would never attempt to fix that skirt. It is just too far gone and it will just continue to split in new areas. Pitch it!

Michael Catalano
02-25-2018, 01:17 AM
Congratulations on the purchase, a very nice find! I'm really glad this one fell into good hands. :applause:

I too had all the mechanical work handled on my Stoner GMC first to get the truck completely roadworthy. Good plan for interior refurbishment and body/paint to come next. Stoner literature seems to be pretty tough to find for me so far.