<VV> More UltraVan history (corrected)
jld at wk.net
Sat Jul 24 11:37:44 EDT 2010
Well on further information, I will state I was wrong in several
statements. First, #559 appears to the made in Oakland (Alameda) and
was the prototype for the 600 series. Secondly, Ultra Inc. did only one
Olds Toronado conversion to an UltraVan and that was #557 or TU100.
Lastly, Dave Peterson was the advising engineer and owner of an UltraVan
conversion facility in Sonoma, CA where Corvair and V-8 powered
UltraVans were converted to rear engined Toronado power.
From Graham Dell - "Adding to the body of information on this subject,
I have a 3 page letter dated 11/20/70, signed by Dave Peterson, offering
to do Toronado rear mounted conversions for Ultra Vans. For safety
considerations he insists on modifying the front cast wheel beam
mounting, modifying the rear A-frame, mounting adequate rear tires for
the weight increase, and adding power brakes. He suggests the added
engine weight is 500 lbs. At the time, he had 7 conversions scheduled
and was soliciting more".
Norm Helmkay's records show at least 13 were converted at Sonoma.
Lastly, I can find no record of any of the Travelons (not Travecos as I
stated) by Prestolite were ever modified by Dave. It seems the reason
for the small seven coach production at Prestolite was the payment of
royalties and not the quality of the construction of the coaches.
All coaches manufactured in Hutchinson (#215-#559) plus the ones
assembled in Hutchinson (#212-#214) came with the cast aluminum made in
Hutchinson plates. Just where the plates were placed on the coach
depends on the date of manufacture. In 1969 Anna Tefft had plastic name
plates made with the name Ultra Coach to replace the aluminum ones.
This was because of the California hippy association with "van" name
that the CA UVMCC crowd wanted no part of. These were made available
to the entire membership that wished to change their name plate. When
Dave moved the production back to Oakland in fall of 1970, he started
production of the 600 series and three were ordered immediately. One of
the things Dave put back into production was the original UltraVan name
plates with the Oakland location (identical to the ones on the first
nine Oakland produced coaches) and 100 (or so) were cast. Those
nameplates have found there way onto coaches as the old ones were lost
or destroyed in painting, wrecks or during modifications. In the old
newsletters, you will find that Dave did not approver of Ultra Inc.
Toronado conversions, as the believed the weight bias was was to much
for the tires of the time and the extensive modifications to the coaches
structure had not been properly vetted by aircraft engineers. The only
coaches known to be modified in Oakland were the Travco's.
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