I have been busy building an M1917 Ford Model T ambulance and just pulled it out of the shop for the first run this afternoon, not a long drive as the temperature is just above zero, as a matter of fact, I should be clearing snow drifts, but my tractor is too cold to run as I did not bother putting any stove oil in it this fall.
That is neat. Well done.
Do you have any type of plans for your ambulance ? I have a 1917 chassis one would fit on nice and be correct for the era.
That's a nice piece of work, Gus.
I do not have any plans, This one was made using the first one as a baseline along with photos of my first and period photos. By comparing measurement I was able to make some changes from what I did on the first that should have this one a little closer to right. It would be a real benefit if anyone could find an original to get measurements from. Enough people have searched for blueprints or original drawings that I am pretty sure that none exist, and because of the errors in the replicas built by the Baker Brothers in the 1980s that are seen in museums around the country, I doubt that they had correct drawings.
Nice job. Looks like your passenger approves also.
Hey Gary, that poor dog had not had a ride in the T for a month while I was building the body, I had a hard time getting her out when I parked the car.
Nice work Gus.
Great looking job. I'd imagine most of those ambulances took a great beating by the time they'd been around for a year.
Looks like you're ready for deployment to France. Very nice work.
What the purpose of the holes and canvas bags on the tailgate, and the holes in the front wall of the compartment?
Holes and canvas bags are for the stretcher handles to go in.
Ronald -- That's a nice Delivery in your profile pic. Is that an original body?
I agree, neat truck, Ronald! I really like the roll-up window curtains and the tool box bolted to the side of the pickup box instead of the running board.
The H. H. Babcock Company of Watertown, NY made ambulances from a very early date and had patents for several designs, but evidently not for the one above.
The ambulance bodies were packaged torn down and sent overseas during WW-1 for assembly. The Model T chassis were sent separately.
H. H. Babcock also sent a team of their experienced employees to assembly the bodies. They were indicted into the U. S. Army and worked in France and Italy at different times.
H. H. Babcock finally got an ambulance patent granted after WW-1 ended, so not many were ever made.
They also got another patent in 1921 for another ambulance vehicle that saw more service as a bus.
Some pages of the 1918 patent are below.
Ronald nailed the answer. the body of the ambulance has to be so long to accommodate the supine human form that it extends too far behind the rear axle, by allowing the handles of the stretcher to extend under the driver's seat, they were able to get the weight further forward. If the box had been made long enough to accommodate the handles at the rear, there would be too much weight too far back, so this was done to try to keep the weight as far forward as possible. A few of the M1917 ambulances were fitted with frame and driveline extensions, but this impacted the turning radius, and that was one of the features that made the Ford Model T so well suited for ambulance work at the front during WW1. The interior benches are only in the front half of the body, this allows an additional wounded soldier, because the weight is kept closet to the front. Even with unloaded, the care is very light on the front axle, and in loose gravel, it tends to slide rather than turn if the steering wheel is turned to the stops, and in such conditions it is necessary to go as slow as possible to make a tight turn.
Hey Mike, the cardboard bodies were actually rather durable, as seen in this photo.
OK, tell me the secret for posting photos on the Forum 2015 page!
I love it, looks great.
And no joke; if you took this baby to northern Iraq the Kurdish fighters taking on ISIS would welcome it. Much better than shoving the seriously injured into the back of a pick-up truck.
Do you have a standard T rear spring or something more heavy duty?
This type of body would work well I think as a basis for a basic camper as there seems room enough to sleep in the rear. Very interesting.
What are you plans? Will you build any more or create a blueprint?
Yes, this would make a very nice camper. just a correct sized air mattress in the back and you are good to go, and a TV tray to set between the benches and you have a dinette for up to 4 people, although I think two would be the maximum for comfort. The springs are stock. I have no plans to make blue prints, but David O'Neal will eventually. I am not sure how many more I will build, My first one was driven over 3,000 miles before I removed it and set it on a non running chassis as a display only model, it took about an hour to switch chassis. The new one will be driven until it has a well use d patina as well. If I pick up another chassis, then I will probably build another as the third one should go together much faster.
If I was as big a man as you, I would drive this across at least one continent
Hey James, it is the same as before, but you have to remember to click the "upload" button after selecting the image, I often forget to do that.
Gustaf, what I was trying to do was display a few pages of the 1918 patent. The number is 1,229,589 and you can read and print the whole thing from Google Patents.
The files I saved were somehow corrupted and were the earlier .jpg type and not the .jpeg type required now.
The earlier .gif files are evidently still allowed.
James, if you want to change the type of file, try opening it in Paint and then "save as" the type of file you want.
The body in that patent is actually what would be referred to as a depot hack, the body is not long enough to accommodate litters. I do know that some depot hacks were used in France, as a friend has a photos of one numbered to SSU 524. My understanding was the M1917 bodies were manufactured by Ford and the early ones were assembled on arrival, it was found that they were not jigged correctly and that there were modifications needed to bolt them together. Everything I have seen of the Babcock ambulances indicate that they were nothing like the US Army ambulances used in Europe. But a lot of people referred to any ford in France as an ambulance. Walt Disney is often reported as a WWI ambulance driver, but he was an American Red Cross worker after the war who drove a Ford delivery van.
An old note from my local home town paper.
The Watertown Daily Times
Tuesday Afternoon, April 19, 1919
Captain James E. Barney is Home
Arrived Here After Year and Half in France
RECRUITED BABCOCK UNIT
Returned on Former Hamburg-Amercan Liner
Cleveland, and Receives Discharge at Camp Dix.
Captain James E. Barney, who left this city in the early winter of 1917, as a lieutenant, in command of the Babcock ambulance unit, and who has been in France since December, of that year, arrived in Watertown this morning. He received his discharge from the service Sunday at Camp Dix.
Since last May Captain Barney has been in the office of the chief surgeon. American Expeditionary Force, headquarters of the service of supply. He returned on the Mobile, formerly the Cleveland of the Hamburg-American line, one of the German liners turned over to the allies for carrying food, and landed at New York Wednesday. He returned in command of a detachment of 36 women nurses. He went to Camp Dix and received his discharge Sunday.
Although Captain Barney's mother, Mrs. Mary E. Barney, formerly of 115, Winthrop street, and his sister have moved to Washington, D. C, he will remain in this city for the present, he said this morning. He will take a vacation before deciding on his future course. This is his first visit to the city in about 18 months, and he was kept busy greeting friends this morning.
Barney received a commission as lieutenant in the sanitary corps of the National Army late in September, 1917, and recruited the Babcock unit, many of whom were men from this city. The unit sailed in December, 1917, and arrived in France about Christmas time.
For five months he was stationed at St. Nazaire, in command of the Babcock unit, having charge of the assembling of Babcock ambulances sent to France. In May he was transferred to the chief surgeon's office to act as liasion officer between the medical corps and the motor transportation service.
In November, 1918, he was promoted to captain. His work took him largely from one base port to another.
Great information, I think I have discovered the Babcock connection, they made bodies for the GMC ambulances from what I can find, but more study is merited.
Here is the government report on the Babcock ambulance bodies, they were built for the GMC M16 3/4 ton chassis, there were two different versions, the open body and the closed body, the closed body is the type used in France and Italy
Here is a photo of some of the boys from Evacuation Ambulance Co #8 in France next to a GMC with a Babcock body, they were quite a bit larger than the Ford bodies, capable of hauling 4 recumbent or 8 seated, while the Ford body would only haul 3 recumbent or 4 seated.
Opps, I for got the link to the government report
The next time you come to Watertown, we can go to the Jefferson County Historical Society across the Street from Flower Memorial Library and look at the Ambulance there. I do not believe it is on a T- Chassis but may be close enough to get some measurements. I forgot all about it and will try to get down there ASAP, and get some photos.
I meant to add, that what you have is definitely is a labor of love. Thanks for sharing.
If I can get down to Watertown 17 miles from home, and I can get some pics, then I will get them to Jim Golden for him to post and keep in his files.
Thanks John, It has taken a lot of research to get as close to correct as possible, there was a time that I thought that the Baker Brothers had blue prints for the M1917 Ford ambulance, but of all the replicas in museums around the country, I have yet to find one that it constructed in a manner that would suggest that it was done from blue prints. The did have some information as they did get the construction very close, but by photographing the finished product and comparing it to period photo shows that they were close but not right.
The Babcock body would not come close to fitting the Ford frame, I have a friend who has and original open body GMC ambulance, and it is only similar to the Ford body in that it is made from wood and some kind of cardboard as period writings describe the construction.
John, that ambulance may have the 1918 Dodge chassis.
The body is probably the same as this 1918 GMC.
Yes they took a beating. My grandfather drove a T ambulance in France in 1918. His ambulance took a direct hit by German artillery. Nearby soldiers ran to the scene and saw one foot sticking out of the debris and pulled him out. He survived, but spent months in a hospital. Yep, they took a beating!
Here is a photo that is in the collection of Matthew G who posts here, this is the car that I based my ambulance on. I noticed that in an earlier thread, someone had suggested that there were two bullet holes in the radiator. My wife looked at the photo and commented that some one had hit the radiator with the handles of a folded stretcher when this car was parked too close behind another. The spacing, height, and size are perfect for just that.
I have worn the motor out and need to rebuild it this winter.
You had better hurry, as winter is almost over, Did you build yours? What year is the chassis? I am in panic because I have a leaky radiator, and it will take a couple of days to get it repaired and I do not want to be down for that long.
I see you did a nice job of making yours very complete. But I am going to take the liberty of calling mine complete.
I am in no hurry to use mine, because of all the salt used on the roads here in Illinois.
I built mine on a 1917 chassis I had bought to rob body parts from. I was very fortunate it ran for 3 years with only minor work to the engine.
I think that I may just change the engine to a later model with a starter. Because they would like to use it in a WWI reenactment in Rockford, IL in April.
Yours still looks good, I drove my first one around for a couple of months before I got around to finishing it, this one was pretty much finished before I took it out of the shop, but the fact that the temperature was around 75 when I did the first one and -9 when I was finishing this one probably encouraged me to keep it in the shop.
Where did you get your measurements? It looks good.
Take a look at http://history.amedd.army.mil/booksdocs/wwi/finance_supply/ch23rev.html for information on the Ford Ambulances - 1917 and 1918.
I took the ambulance to the Utah Gun Collector's Association gun show over the week end, I won 2nd place in the judging with this display.
I was topped by a display of a collection of WWI canteens and mess kits.
You were robbed, Gus.
I do not think I can really complain, as the canteen display was mine as well.
Seems the length of the Ambulances was a problem.
Here is an Australian solution.
This is a pattern adopted by the defence authorities for use on a Ford chassis.
The feature in the design for the department overcomes the difficulty of mounting a body for two military stretchers on the one side one above the other and extending the inside body forward to the windscreen. The body is 7ft 10inches by 4ft 8 inches.
That is a great design, it could carry about 4 casualties, 2 on stretchers and 2 seated with out putting too much stress on the rear axle. Although given the great track record for the longer French and American designed bodies, I do not think that the longer body was a handicap.
The spare tire is in an interesting place.
I have restored a 1916 Model T and constructed an ambulance body on it. This ambulance represents 1,200 ambulances donated by Americans and driven by American volunteers in France during the first three years of WWI. They succeeded in evacuating 500,000 wounded from the trenches to hospitals in the rear. 127 divers never returned home.
Last year I had my ambulance in France for six months covering 9,800 with my tow car and trailer and an additional 400 miles diving the Model T.
The bodies were built by George Kellner and Sons near Paris. The Kellner body was copies by the US Army in 1917 although they used different materials.
You can see a video of the ambulance being driven in Paris on You Tube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jhq8e_mNK8
You can also visit my website at www.ambulance255.org
I recently acquired a photo album from a driver in SSU 554, there is a photo of ambulances at Allentown that are Model T Fords with Babcock bodies. This is that only photo I have ever seen of a Babcock body on a Ford chassis. To the best of my knowledge, none of the Babcock bodied Fords served in France, but then until now, I thought that they did not put Babcock bodies on Fords, so "never say never" or at least "don't say never very often"
We visited the World War I museum in Kansas City, Missouri and they had two Model T ambulances used in the war effort showcased:
While not technically an ambulance, here is a cardboard cutout of an old photograph of a Model T "pet ambulance" found at the American Royal Museum in Kansas City, MO.
The top Model T is not an ambulance, it is a delivery van, they did use some of them in WWI, the ambulance is a replica of the style used by the AFS and the USAAS after the nationalization of the volunteer services, as I recall, the interior was not finished on this one. They had a big "to do" at the museum for Walt Disney when it was donated, although Walt Disney did not drive ambulances in WWI as he claimed. He did work for the Red Cross after the war and got his photo taken beside at least one Ford delivery car that he had drawn a dough boy caricature on. Being an ambulance driver was a big thing and a lot of boys used that to advance themselves by claiming to be ambulance drivers, even Hemingway only drove an ambulance one or twice before he worked in the commissary.
Dave has threatened to post on this thread, I would like the administrator to please please please lock this topic, I am sure he will post photos of his ambulance and I always get jealous when I see photos of his machine.