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Old 01-16-2012, 03:38 PM   #1
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Bullethole - 39 Ford Skoolie

Thought I would introduce myself and my project "Bullethole", a 1939 Ford Skoolie.

My name is Jeff, and I live in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Bullethole was my first bus, but not my last. I am also working on a 1947 Flxible Clipper, and had a 85 Ford / Bluebird converted to a camper.

While looking for an old bus to make into a camper, I heard about the Ford from a guy who saw it at an auction, but couldn't remember eactly where it was. I remember the auction, although I didn't go to it, there was another auction the same day about 50 miles away and it had more things that I was interested in listed. I had a general idea where the bus was, it was sitting in a field, and it was close to my house, so how hard could it be to find?

After about six months of looking I had just about given up, when I saw a quick flash of yellow in the distance while topping a hill. That had to be it! I pulled over and hiked down into the field, and there she was, hiding in a draw, and not visiable from the road except for a second or two, if you had to be looking in exactly the right spot. I drove by this place several times a week, my wife worked just up the road, and passed it every day on her way to and from work, but neither of us had seen it.

Now that I knew where it was, I had to figure out who owned it. Talking to the neighbors got me the name of the landowner, who lived about 200 miles away. I contacted them, and told them that I was interested in the bus. They didn't even know it was still there, thought it left with the auction, but agreed to let me haul it away! Looking it over more closely, I could see that it was full of junk, and missing the wheels and tires, but was in really good shape, considering it's age. I scoured the local junk yards, and found 4 tires and wheels that would fit, lined up a trailer to haul it out on, and made plans for the weekend. Unfortunatly, this was fall in South Dakota, and along with the weekend, came snow, a LOT of snow! The bus was in a draw in the bottom of this huge field, and there was no way I was going to be able to get it out until the snow was gone.

Checking on it several times during the winter, I realised that it was going to have to wait until spring arrived, and things dried up, before I could haul it out. Finally in early summer, it looked like it was dry enough, so I contacted the landowner again to make sure it was still OK to haul it out, and they informed me that they donated the land to a Univirsity! They thought I had hauled the bus out in the fall, but decided that since the donation did not include the bus, they would let me take it out, providing that I did so immediatly. No problem, I was on it! Went back and checked on it, the ground was dry, the bus looked just like it had in the fall, all I needed to do was round up the trailer again, and head over on the weekend.

Saturday morning, I had my jacks, tires and wheels, come-a-long, ramps, and other items that I thought I might need to pull it out, and headed over to the field. As I was driving into the field, I noticed thatr they had cut hay in the last day or two. As I got closer to the bus, I also noticed that it was full of holes! Apparently the haying crew was bored while eating lunch and decided that they needed some target practice. There wasn't a panel on the bus that wasn't shot, including the dash, radiator, emblems, even parts of the engine. I almost cried. But, I had been thinking about what I could do with the old girl all winter, and was not about to give up now. This was the coolest bus I had found, and it was going to be mine.

The first problem came when the 3 ton jack wouldn't lift the bus. Upon closer inspection, I found out that the interior was full of junk, most of it iron. Two pick-ups full later, I was able to jack it up enough to put the wheels on it. Next problem was that it wouldn't move. Hooked it up to the pick-up, and jerked it a few times, and got the brakes loose, then started to pull it on the trailer with the come-a-long. The sun was starting to set (I had been busting my butt all day), and it was just about on the trailer when the cone-a-long cable snapped. Damm, what else could go wrong?

After blocking everything up so it wouldn't move, I disconnected the trailer from the truck, and headed home for a well deserved cold one. Sunday morning I borrowed another come-a-long, and managed to get it loaded, and out of the field (although it took 4WD Low, and a lot of slipping and sliding to do so).
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Old 01-16-2012, 04:47 PM   #2
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Re: Bullethole - 39 Ford Skoolie

Great story how about some more pics??


please
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Old 01-18-2012, 10:45 AM   #3
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Re: Bullethole - 39 Ford Skoolie

Bullet holes in the engine?? Sounds like you've got a serious project there.

We.....must......have......pictures.
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Old 01-19-2012, 07:27 PM   #4
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Re: Bullethole - 39 Ford Skoolie

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Originally Posted by roach711
Bullet holes in the engine?? Sounds like you've got a serious project there.

We.....must......have......pictures.
The holes are actually in the heads (it's got a flathead in it), but I'm not worried, plan to use a more modern engine (even though I do have a spare 95 hp flathead in a parts truck). I'm working on pics, it's hard to get any good ones where it is parked right now, and I need to figure out how to upload pics to a site I can link to.
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Old 01-19-2012, 07:45 PM   #5
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Re: Bullethole - 39 Ford Skoolie

Photobucket dot com
Free have been usng it for years
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Old 01-20-2012, 11:10 AM   #6
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Re: Bullethole - 39 Ford Skoolie

Ditto for Flickr.com...then just link the pix with the URL of each image. Can't wait to see this old girl.
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Old 01-20-2012, 11:15 AM   #7
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Re: Bullethole - 39 Ford Skoolie

Quote:
Originally Posted by bansil
Photobucket dot com
Free have been usng it for years
I tried it, let see if it works. Hopefully these pics aren't too big, if so, I can use a smaller size. Only have two pics right now.



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Old 01-20-2012, 11:28 AM   #8
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Re: Bullethole - 39 Ford Skoolie

WOW, It looks like they have been shooting up that bus for a while.

Your pics are actually small, not too big. Try resizing them to 640X480. That is the best size for posting to forums.
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Old 01-20-2012, 07:09 PM   #9
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Re: Bullethole - 39 Ford Skoolie

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Originally Posted by Accordion
WOW, It looks like they have been shooting up that bus for a while.

Your pics are actually small, not too big. Try resizing them to 640X480. That is the best size for posting to forums.
That was all done in one day. There weren't any holes I could see when I looked it over the day before I went to pick it up. Pics were recently taken, not right after I picked it up, so it looks rusty now. Hopefully I am going to move it this weekend, and will bget some better pics.
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Old 01-21-2012, 10:07 AM   #10
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Re: Bullethole - 39 Ford Skoolie

Did that bus ever belong to Bonnie & Clyde? Man...somebody went through some ammo. What a crime to see a great old unit like that treated that way. Best of luck with the rebuild, she looks worth the effort...and Bondo.
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Old 01-21-2012, 11:22 AM   #11
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Re: Bullethole - 39 Ford Skoolie

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tango
she looks worth the effort...and Bondo.
Hopefully not much Bondo, I plan on relacing most of the sheet metal.

My original plan for Bullethole was to restore the running gear and add period speed equipment It had a 95hp flathead, and I was thinking of aluminum heads, Fenton cast iron headers, and a three duce carb set-up, as well as some internal mods. Finish that off with a beehive oil filter, and some chrome acorn nuts on the heads and such, and it would be a sweet looking engine.

So, to that end I started looking for a parts truck. In addition to the front sheet metal, someone had cut off the steering wheel, and all of the instruments in the dash were shot. Talking to my brother in law, I found out that his uncle might have one up on the homestead. Licjkily the homestead is only a couple of hours away, so with trailer in tow, we were off to the uncles place.

The truck was indeed a 39, but unfortunatly it was in terrible shape. It did have a steering column, and the grill had some usable ribs if I wanted to do some cutting and welding to repair mine. The carb and oil pan were off the engine, so probably not much usefull there, and the rear axle had been replaced with a Chevy axle somewhere along the way. Most of the sheet metal was rough, but one of the cab doors was good, and could be sold, and patches could be salvaged here and there, so I decided to haul the thing home.

It had been sitting in place for years, without any wheels on it, and had buried itself in the mud. After a lot og grunting, sweating, cursing, jacking, and blocking, we got it up high enough to get the trailer under the rear end. We also discovered that a skunk or skunks had been living under it. Luckily, they were gone, but unluckily thier aroma was not.

After getting the old girl home and stripping it, we were able to save a few parts for the bus, and a few to sell at the next swap meet, and we scrapped the rest. A pair of front fenders and hood, and possibly a grill were still on our shoping list.

Bullethole has been an ongoing project, covering several years. I was tinkering with it now and then, but really didn't want to dig in hot and heavy until I had a plan and most of the pieces I needed. A year of two after dragging the bus home, I found another 39 truck at an auction. It was in pretty good condition considering it's age, and very complete. It was roumored to run, and also had a 95hp flathead V8 in it. I was the successful bidder on it, and added it to my collection of parts for Bullethole.



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Old 01-22-2012, 08:01 PM   #12
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Re: Bullethole - 39 Ford Skoolie

Great find! Looks like some pretty decent metal on that truck.
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Old 01-22-2012, 10:24 PM   #13
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Re: Bullethole - 39 Ford Skoolie

nice find! booo on the shoot em up crew!
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Old 02-27-2012, 12:20 PM   #14
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Re: Bullethole - 39 Ford Skoolie

So your replacing the engine, steering column, dash and all the sheet metal? What parts of the original bus are you keeping besides the frame?

It sounds like a fun project although a long one.
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Old 02-28-2012, 11:01 AM   #15
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Re: Bullethole - 39 Ford Skoolie

It would be easier just to get an existing 1 1/2 ton chassis, and put the bus body on it, especially since it would be a good idea to remove the body during restoration especially since it is this old.
Then you would have modern steering and brakes. And if you wanted a flathead engine and tranny, they would be quite simple to install by fabbing up some mounts, etc.
That would certainly fool people when they looked at the engine compartment...
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Old 02-28-2012, 10:32 PM   #16
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Re: Bullethole - 39 Ford Skoolie

Quote:
Originally Posted by chev49
It would be easier just to get an existing 1 1/2 ton chassis, and put the bus body on it,...
I saw that and as tired as I am I read it as a Deuce and a half chassis. That actually gave me a good visual and a giggle. I actually would consider something like that if I had the ability to do that extensive of a fabrication project. That great looking bus body on a tough and reliable military chassis. It you make an impressive boon-docking rig. Now you have my mind buzzing.
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Old 02-29-2012, 08:58 AM   #17
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Re: Bullethole - 39 Ford Skoolie

I had thought of that before... That would be sweet. The ultimate offroad skoolie!
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Old 03-02-2012, 10:33 AM   #18
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Re: Bullethole - 39 Ford Skoolie

Quote:
Originally Posted by AMKing
So your replacing the engine, steering column, dash and all the sheet metal? What parts of the original bus are you keeping besides the frame? It sounds like a fun project although a long one.
Not even keeping the frame, will mount the body on the frame off the Winnebago. That will give me a more up to date and safer running gear, including power brakes, with disc brakes up front, power steering, automatic transmission, and a more powerful engine, not to mention it will make it easier to find parts and shops that are willing to work on it if it breaks down in the middle of nowhere.

I will try to keep as much of the original dash as possible, and would like to try to keep the original steering colum, if I can mate it up to the newer steering box. The gauges may pose a problem, I might have to use some aftermarket ones that fit in the original positions.

From the exterior, I would like it to look as original as possible, with the exception of the tires and wheels, which I will be upgrading to a current size, and the appropriate rims (not to easy to find decent 7.50 x 20's nowdays unless you want to go with bias ply).
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Old 03-02-2012, 10:49 AM   #19
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Re: Bullethole - 39 Ford Skoolie

Here are a couple of shots of the Dodge/Winnebago chassis that I will be using. You can easily tell what the ugly beast was from the first one. All of the nose section and floor for the drivers area were welded to the frame, but came off fairly easily with the application of a sawsall. The original floor was a sandwich of 1/4" plywood and foam sheet. There were outriggers welded to the frame to support the floor, which I cut of as I will not need them to support the bus body. I'll have to re-locate the large fuel tank on the side, as it will interfere with the entrance step. I may or may not keep the smaller fuel tank located in the rear center of the frame, depending on what it looks like inside (rusty?). Luckily the wheelbase is the same as the bus, so no problems there, just hope the radiator and all will line up with the front sheet metal without too may modifications.

While working on these pics, I adjusted the size of my previous pics I had in the earlier posts to 640x480, up from the smaller size and edited those posts, so all of the pics are appx 640.480 now.



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Old 03-02-2012, 11:16 AM   #20
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Re: Bullethole - 39 Ford Skoolie

Quote:
Originally Posted by chev49
It would be easier just to get an existing 1 1/2 ton chassis, and put the bus body on it, especially since it would be a good idea to remove the body during restoration especially since it is this old.
Then you would have modern steering and brakes. And if you wanted a flathead engine and tranny, they would be quite simple to install by fabbing up some mounts, etc.
That would certainly fool people when they looked at the engine compartment...
Great idea! I like the idea of putting the flathead back in, never really thought about that. I might have to keep it, and possibly swap it back in after I get the rest of the project done. I really wanted to keep it and dress it up with a bunch of period accessories (three duces, aluminum heads, Fenton cast iron headers, beehive oil filter, etc. My main concerns with keeping the original running gear had to do with the brakes, steering , and such, kind of like the one below (unfortunatly that one is not mine).

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