Author Topic: Mother Jugs & Speed  (Read 3045 times)

RichK

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Mother Jugs & Speed
« on: October 03, 2015, 08:11:40 AM »
One of the most recognized ambulance's of all time, I am starting a new project and will do a history and follow along. The ambulance from the 1976 movie, was done by the custom shop of Dean Jeffries. I have always wanted an accurate model of it since I first saw the movie. I have seen many attempts at replicating it, but most fall far short of the actual movie car. For many years, I have collected photos and articles from the movie on this ambulance. One day in late 2012, while searching the internet for  photos, I found a phone number for Dean's California shop, and called it. I was hoping to find out if they had any photos. Dean actually answered the phone. I told him who I was, and what my intentions were, and we talked for about an hour about the ambulance and having it produced in diecast. I made arrangements to travel to California and sit down with Dean and record the interview. He told me that he had a scrap book of the build, which he had for all of his custom works. I also made arrangements to take a copier and scanner. He was very receptive to having a model done, and was not concerned at the moment with royalties and cost. Like me he wanted the models. I followed up with a letter to his firm, and unfortunately Dean died before I could get there to pick his brain.
 
 He did tell me that indeed, the vans were 1975 Chevrolet G20's. I mentioned vans. He told me that the studio sent over TWO Chevrolet G20 vans. He was to build one as show and one as the film car. I remember the year the movie came out, there was a spread about it in one of the car magazines of the times. Over the years, there has been so much false information posted about the ambulance and its builder. It was not built by National or one of the smaller Los Angeles firms as has been posted many times. They were built from basic vans in the Dean Jeffries shop. I asked in particular about the raised roof. He told me that he also constructed it, out of fiberglass. So there you have it, right from his mouth. He did tell me he bought all of the lights and siren speakers and added on ambulance equipment from various firms in Los Angeles. The interior was made in his shops as well.

 I had found an article from quite a few years back, from a Washington newspaper. The article showed the ambulance back in its original street look. It was converted back to a street van, and sold to an ambulance company in Washington. I asked Dean about this, and he confirmed that one was in Washington, and suspected it has long been disposed of. The other, he thought was in a warehouse somewhere in Southern California. I guess we wont know about this chapter until it surfaces, if it ever does. Thinking that the original show ambulance from the movie was long gone, it has re-surfaced, in Washington state. The owner confirms it as the ambulance from the movie, as it was his rig at the ambulance firm in Washington and he drove it until it was retired. It does not look exactly the same. It sports a twin sonic on the roof, and some emblems are different. It does have a different front end, as it was put back to original. Most everything looks the same as the movie car, and there is not much doubt that it is the original.

 The Chevrolet 3rd generation vans were made from 1971 to 1996. There was very little change to the sheet metal during these times. I have chosen to use the A Team van from Hot Wheels Elite in 1:43 scale as a starting point. This van is advertised as a 1983 GMC. In 1978, the sheet metal changed a bit up front, on the fenders. However, the A Team van does not reflect this change, or it was changed on the van when it was customized. Therefore, it will work quite well as a 1975, as the sheet metal was identical. Also, the wide fender flares and front air dam are already incorporated in to the model. Not accurate, but easily fixed.

 The first thing I did was take it apart, and bag all of the parts. Then it went in to the stripper. Here you can see the start of the project. Nothing has been altered yet in these photos. You can see that there will be some work required to modify the front air dam. On the MJ & S version, the fog lights were recessed in to the air dam. On the A Team version, they are molded in externally. Also, the fender flares end at the lower body line on the MJ & S, they extend down to the running boards on the A Team van. Another easy fix. The hole for the sun roof and running lights will have to be filled. And new windows will have to be cut in the passenger side. And an all new raised roof will have to be fabricated, along with the front and side lights for it. The rear bumper will also present a challenge.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2015, 08:15:56 AM by RichK »

Troy

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Re: Mother Jugs & Speed
« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2015, 09:39:21 AM »
Showtime!!!!

RichK

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Re: Mother Jugs & Speed
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2015, 01:56:40 PM »
The first thing I have done, is cut off the fender flares even with the bottom of the van body on the front and rear of the back flares, and the rear of the front flare. I used a jewelers saw to cut them off. Then I cleaned up the running board portion that remained and the small parts on the van body with jewelers files. I also rounded them off a bit, just like the prototype. Then I started on the front. There is a small depression in the van body, that normally would not be seen with the bumper on. I have filled that in, as shown in the photo with a piece of styrene plastic. I also filed off a casting mark and the front most section of the body trim molding. The process will be repeated for the other side. Next up, grinding off the fog lamps.

JoeO

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Re: Mother Jugs & Speed
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2015, 02:30:45 PM »
Awesome glad to see you are finally getting this one going!

unmarkedcarr

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Re: Mother Jugs & Speed
« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2015, 05:24:00 PM »
Interesting project.  You've got your work cut out for you!

RichK

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Re: Mother Jugs & Speed
« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2015, 10:40:40 AM »
I got the holes cut in to the air dam for the fog lights. I basically just drilled out two very small holes in each fog lamp. Then I ground out the area between the holes, so I could get a Dremel bit in there, and grind away at the metal. Once I got close to the outside edges of the fog lamps, I switched over to using a jewelers file and finished them off. Next up, filling the holes and the three depressions you see just below the grille opening. The holes were for the grille guard on the A Team version. The depressions are on the real van, as openings. They are not on the MJ & S van, they were filled in. The area just below was also filled in with what looks like a one piece filler panel. Obviously it was made removable, so they could return the custom van back to original. You can see what looks like screws or some sort of fastener on the top portion, covering the depressions. 
« Last Edit: October 06, 2015, 10:42:52 AM by RichK »

RichK

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Re: Mother Jugs & Speed
« Reply #6 on: October 09, 2015, 06:06:10 PM »
I got the front finished off. I filled in the area where the bumper was with styrene, and did some preliminary sanding. I also filled in the sunroof and clearance light holes with styrene and sanded them smooth. I will hold off on any body filler until I get the raised roof done. This way I dont damage anything I have already filled and sanded smooth.

RichK

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Re: Mother Jugs & Speed
« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2015, 03:44:02 PM »
I started the raised roof today. The first thing I did, was cut some .030 styrene in to strips. I went with 20 scale inches, knowing that the real roof was only 8 or so inches higher. But I had to allow for the slope of the front. I wanted more materials than less. Its so much easier to cut away or sand, than to add more or start over. I have a lot of reference photos. The corner of the raised roof is just ahead of the door line, by maybe 2 inches. That is where the tape is. I took a strip of plastic and laid it up on the roof, and used a pencil to draw against it giving me the outline of the roof bow. Then I cut away some plastic until it was close, and repeated the process until I had the line I needed. Once I got the roof bow close, I sanded it on an angle, so that it would fit the roof at the correct angle and would look good without filler. It is my hopes to glue the roof when it is completed, to styrene strips that will represent the welting or weather stripping that was used. I don't know how this roof was done, but the welting is about twice the size and width and what an ambulance company would have used. And it is very prominent on the real vehicle in photos. Once I got the front piece done, I took a measurement of the angle, and cut the driver side at that angle. I taped the front piece to the roof in the location I wanted it, and taped the side piece in place so that I could glue it. I used Plastruct liquid glue, and got the corners glued in to place. Once it was dry, I did the same for the other side. Next up, I will make the rear piece. Once that one is done, I will start cutting the sides to match. Even though it seems like a lot of work or maybe going about it the wrong way, this will allow me to put a spacer in to the center to give the slight bow that the roof needs. And It allows me to do some fine sanding with the roof off, so that I don't have to worry about digging in to the body. If I can get it precise enough, I will put pins in to each corner, and make the roof removable. That is down the road a ways.

« Last Edit: October 17, 2015, 07:14:53 PM by RichK »

RichK

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Re: Mother Jugs & Speed
« Reply #8 on: October 20, 2015, 05:34:16 AM »
I have finished the basic roof. I added structural strength to the seams by gluing styrene rod to the insides. I will have to take the sharp 90 degree corners out, and wanted extra strength and materials at the seams. The rear presents a bit of a challenge. The body  of the van at the rear looks a bit too rounded. I will have to fudge on the raised portion of the roof a bit to make it look correct. 

RichK

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Re: Mother Jugs & Speed
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2018, 08:44:04 AM »
I have started back on this project, after considerable time away from it. I spent some time sanding the raised roof to the proper shape. Next up, tack the raised roof to the van's roof, and start shimming the rear to fill in any gaps. Once that is completed, then I will add some .20 to the top of the raised roof, and start sanding the slight curvature.

RichK

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Re: Mother Jugs & Speed
« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2018, 04:59:32 PM »
The basic raised roof is now done. I have started to sand the bow in the top. That will take a day or so. The angles for the front and rear are close, and the entire assembly sits on the roof pretty well. It is my hopes that the welting will cover the seams, so I don't have to do any filling. At this point, I noticed that the rear roof of the diecast is misshaped. I suspect they ran the grinder too close to the body when cleaning it up. It will take a bit of work to fix it, its right in the right rear corner.

Troy

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Re: Mother Jugs & Speed
« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2018, 08:33:09 PM »
I always wondered what happened to that project.  I thought it would be ready for my birthday in October 2015, then 2016, then 2017...2018? maybe, maybe not  ;D

RichK

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Re: Mother Jugs & Speed
« Reply #12 on: January 15, 2018, 06:13:52 AM »
I'm pacing myself!!

JoeO

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Re: Mother Jugs & Speed
« Reply #13 on: January 15, 2018, 09:40:51 AM »
I'm pacing myself!!

Hey Troy retirement not birthday  :)