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Rare Civil Defence Henney Found

Posted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 1:29 pm
This is courtesy of our friend, George Hamlin, from a copy of the Henney Chapter of the Professional Car Society. The 2nd
quarter 2014 edition, reveals that an example of an vehicle generally thought lost, the 1942 Henney CD ambulance model,
has been found. These vehicles were a great improvement over the "limousine" style, but due to December 7th, only a few
of them--maybe 10 or 15 were made. The CD style featured a modern style "box" ambulance body behind the front part of a
standard Henney front cab coachwork & traditional 1942 Packard front sheet-metal. Henney patented this design, which seems
to have set the industry standard when they adopted the large body "van" units. Although it doesn't specifically say so, it
appears that it was either at, or previously from the Beacon Hill VA Hospital in Seattle, Washington--{the original operator of the
ambulance?} A club member; Patrick Martin, from Illinois, now intends on its preservation. A similar (the same one??) photo of a
unrestored one turned up several years ago; also from the NorthWest. This one appears in generally good condition, but would
require some extensive TLC to be properly displayed. Some older references suggest only prototypes, but clearly there were
several produced. I believe the Cincinnati fire department may have had one in the 1940s as well. This Henney survivor of a very
limited style is likely the only representative remaining of this type.

Re: Rare Civil Defence Henney Found

Posted: Sun Apr 13, 2014 7:26 am
I checked the "HENNEY" book by Thomas McPherson regarding the CD Henney ambulance and found photos of two units
and some descriptions. He says that 100 were ordered but due to war-time shortages only about 10 or 12 were completed.
The remaining chassis scheduled for use were redirected to other traditional ambulance & combo hearse styles. He goes
on to say that most were sold to New York City. A hard to get government certificate of "need" was required to purchase one.
If this is correct, it then appears that NYC got 6 or 8; Cincinatti Fire dept 1, & Beacon Hill VA hospital 1 or 2. Which would
account for just about all of them, with a Beacon Hill unit being the only likely survivor.

These units could carry 4 patients on stretchers & 4 attendants or 12 adult people or 20 children bench seated in the rear.
This modern ambulance style was designed "in house" and resulted in 4 or 5 major patents for Henney. This "van" type
ambulance became the industry's standard by the 1970s & later, owing much to HENNEY.

Re: Rare Civil Defence Henney Found

Posted: Sun Apr 13, 2014 4:22 pm
One more thought--Perhaps George Hamlin or someone in the PCS could contact Mr. Martin on this
ambulance and determine the VIN # , build date and importantly the firewall anti thief #. This might
shed some light on the CD production and the later days of 1942 production. One source said that some
government orders were still being delivered as late as June 1942. Henney apparently got all the parts
sets & frames they could from Packard before Feb 1942 and proceeded to "build out" all the units they could
with what parts they had on hand, even though this took several more months to finish up.

Re: Rare Civil Defence Henney Found

Posted: Tue Apr 15, 2014 9:01 am
by henney42
Hello. This discussion came up in an internet search I was doing looking for information on the Civilian Defense ambulances, so I registered on this forum specifically so I could reply. I am Patrick Martin, owner of the ambulance being discussed here. My ambulance served the city of Long Beach, California, and when found it was sitting in someone's desert backyard in the town of Tehachapi, California. In person when the light is hitting it right, you can see where the side used to be lettered Long Beach Fire Department. I know that the city of Chicago also had one of these, and as a Chicago native, it is my intent to restore this unit as being the Chicago rig.

George Hamlin and Brady Smith, who both are members of both the Packard club and the Professional Car Society, have already asked me for the numbers off the data tag, but the data tag is gone. If there is a number somewhere that is actually a part of the car, do let me know. I've not been able to find any numbers anywhere yet.

If you don't mind, I'd like to ask two questions. You seemed pretty sure that this ambulance served the Beacon Hill VA hospital in Seattle. I do not believe that to be correct, and I'm just curious what lead you to that assumption. You also mentioned having seen a photograph from a few years back of another one of these surviving somewhere in the northwest. If you have that photo available, I would sure love to see it, and any information you may know about it!

I sincerely appreciate the interest that is being shown in this ambulance. Rest assured, I fully intend to restore her correctly.

Re: Rare Civil Defence Henney Found

Posted: Tue Apr 15, 2014 6:18 pm
Patrick, I'm glad to hear from you and applaud your good luck in finding the Henney CD. I will be happy to share
what I found. I have a 42 120 combo & a 42 160 airport limo; so I have collected anything I have spotted over
the years on the 42 HENNEY. I'm far from an expert on them, but fortunately what I have on the CD was close to
the top of the pile. I hope that you will find this helpful. I look forward to seeing more on this rare model.

Since Long Beach is a long way from the North-West, it suggests that your CD is not the one featured in the PAC
magazine from the late-80s. This man & his CD was from Oregon and he gives most of the numbers for it. I
would think that your unit would have had numbers very close to this one. (I post the whole item below & a period
reference Henney # plate I have). I didn't know about the Chicago or Long Beach units before. The totals given for
1942 production in it don't reflect the Airport Limo numbers either-{better data now --7! more} & so may not include
the special order CD units. Also, the McPherson Henney book has a couple of different photos of the CD (from 1942)
>>>>>>>>>>>> First: You may not be totally out of luck on numbers. One number You should still have is
the firewall 6 digit theft-proof number. This would tell us something. Also if there is a motor you could get a
number from the block (look in the area of the distributor.) We could compare it with the one in the 1980s article.
Finally, there still might be a Henney plate in the car. Henney stuck mfgr's plates in odd places on its products.
Best places to look; on front seat frame, on floor under or near front seat, sometimes in the rear section on a "riser"
edge, door frame, or on floor in out-the-way spot towards the front. Check the tool storage if there is one. The top
of the differential in the rear probably has a mfgrs date, (like 12-41). Some of the parts on my 42 2003AB limo were
"heavy duty" stuff and were similar to those of a V12 of 38 or 39. Yours may also. I could supply photos of the number
plates off my 42 if that would assist you. Good luck.
>>>>>>>>>>>>> Second:You are right. Beacon Hill Hospital in Seattle was mentioned in an article next to another photo of
your car in the PCS Henney bulletin. As I didn't get the cover photo--I thought this was a small version of it and the item
pertained to finding the car. It talks about a "posed" photo, so I made the assumption that this was where it was found
(my bad!), but I did say in the first post; the article didn't specifically identify the Henney as from Beacon Hill. (see Henney
front page below). One doesn't trip over Henney ambulances these days, but in this case the Beacon Hill Packard was a
different one.
Third: I found this quality illustration--which came from Henney originally. It probably was from a patent
illustration that wound up in a sales brochure. I will look and see if I have anything else that might pertain to the CD.

I hope you can use some of this and would be happy to see more photos of the CD. KEN

Re: Rare Civil Defence Henney Found

Posted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 6:49 am
I should have ID'd this better, this letter to the editor page was from the Cormorant--not the newsbulletin,
sorry. I found the exact date today after digging thru several decades of past issues. This was from the
Autumn 1992 Cormorant on page 34. I did not see any follow up on this item.

Re: Rare Civil Defence Henney Found

Posted: Thu Apr 17, 2014 9:19 pm
by henney42
Thank you for the reply. I can understand the mistaken impression regarding the Beacon Hill VA hospital. I was enthusiastic to learn about another one of these ambulances being in Oregon, but then disappointed to read that no further information on it ever came forward. Naturally it would be great to know if it is still around and/or whatever became of it. The first thing I noticed on the photo of the Oregon ambulance is that the window on the side of the box body appears to be a simple square shape, whereas on mine and on all the other photos I've seen of these units the side windows have been cross shaped. I wonder if that was Henney done or a modification from a later date. Regarding your suggestion of places to look for numbers, I shall definitely keep that in mind next time I go over to see the unit. It is not at home but is in my offsite storage building, so not sure exactly when I'll next be over there. Looking for a Henney plate somewhere in the interior could be a bit of a problem, as currently the right front passenger door is the only door on my unit that opens. The driver's door does not open at all, and the rear doors only open a couple inches before they hit the rear bumper. I'll also admit that while I've liked Packards for years, this is the first one I've owned, so I feel very much a novice when it comes to details.

Assuming I can figure out how to do it, I'll try sharing a couple photos myself. The first one I'll attempt is a rear view of my ambulance, since photos of the rear of these units seem to be nonexistent. Then I'll share two photos I have of the Chicago ambulance showing it in both early and later paint schemes. Regarding the two Chicago photos, this is only conjecture on my part, but I find myself thinking that the Civilian Defense ambulances completed by Henney probably all wore the Henney paint scheme when new with only their lettering reflecting where they were stationed. After the war, I'm thinking the ambulances were probably considered surplus property and given to the local municipality. There they were probably repainted in the city's standard paint scheme for emergency vehicles. Like I said, that's just my own conjecture, but it is based on the photos I've come across of various Henney CD ambulances.

Finally I'll post a photo that is somewhat off topic, but I find it to be an interesting oddity. The person who sent it to me said that he thought it looked like a Henney CD box remounted on a truck chassis. I'm not sure it is, I think there are too many detail differences. But regardless, whoever built it, I don't think there's any doubt where their inspiration came from.

Re: Rare Civil Defence Henney Found

Posted: Fri Apr 18, 2014 5:39 am
by Dave Czirr
Wow, what an interesting topic! Thanks PackardAPL for starting it, and to Henney42 for those most interesting photos; despite all my years involved in Packards this is all new to me and fascinating.

Re: Rare Civil Defence Henney Found

Posted: Fri Apr 18, 2014 6:54 am
Thanks for sharing those very interesting photos of your CD. I had never seen this rear view before. As to the Oregon unit perhaps
someone much later just cut out the corners of the "cross" and intended to make a square window--the ones in the rear may have
been treated the same way. The inside on the rear doors show the "cross" window made by two "C" shaped filler panels in a square
frame--perhaps they were just removed later. Easily fixable. Good luck on finding numbers. One thing that I didn't see addressed
was which chassis this was built on, the 120? or the 160? (the 160 usually had the 356 Packard engine). There are some parts
differential between models. Also: Check to see if the drivers door problem is only having the mechanism jammed or stuck in the
"locked" handle position--some penetrating oil might be in order & would solve the problem.

The rear doors hitting the bumper suggests a couple of things. First; this bumper-although old--doesn't look much like the
ones Henney (or Packard) was using in ordinary pre-war 1941-1942s, it may have been a replacement. I had a Chevy panel truck
(1937), with a similar door arrangement in back, some years back and the rear doors on it--just--cleared the standard bumper
after a bit of "adjustment". It appeared that the truck had been pushed several times on the rear bumper and this "lifted" the
bumper height a half inch or so--either bending the supports or they were slack--loose enough so that they gave a bit under a solid
push and moved some. I believe that removing the rear bumper would be your best remedy here to access the rear; you might be
able to just loosen those support bolts on the frame(4 bolts?) and it would drop down to its proper position. The bumper in the photo
looks something like the one in McPherson Henney book, but that one appears to have had a extended step plate between the body
and bumper--like UPS trucks today. Maybe this is missing/ bent & is the problem. Most Henneys of these years had one or two types of a
rear bumper that was similar--or the same--as the front 1941-1942 one. I have an extra one of these if you require it. I also can
supply photos of whatever you might wish to see of my 42s if it will assist you in some way. {my email;}.
The 1942 owners manuals, shop manual & parts books (not CLIPPER) are all reprinted by the club.

I'm very interested in seeing more photos & learning more about this rare PACKARD Henney.

Re: Rare Civil Defence Henney Found

Posted: Fri Apr 18, 2014 2:56 pm
by henney42
Thank you for the additional information. Even though this thread is about the Civilian Defense ambulances, I sure wouldn't mind seeing pictures of your combination car and airport limousine! Would the engine itself be marked with its size? If so, then that's another thing I could look for. I just dug out my copy of Tom McPherson's Henney book and read the section on these ambulances, and it states that these units were built on the 2001-A commercial chassis. So, if I'm understanding things correctly, that means it should have the 282 engine? I was also under the impression, but please correct me if I'm wrong, that model designations such 120, 160, etc. don't apply to the commercial chassis. I thought the commercial chassis was its own unique thing, that there was only one commercial chassis, its just that you could get it fitted with either of two motor choices.

You are correct in regards to the cross vs. square rear window shapes. I should have, but neglected to, mention in my earlier post that on my unit, the interior box compartment windows are square shaped on the inside and cross shaped on the outside. Looking out from the inside of the car, the corners of the windows only reveal the back side of the exterior sheet metal! Speaking of the McPherson Henney book, the in-service photo on page 162 I believe looks like another view of the Chicago unit.

As for the rear bumper, I imagine its entirely possible that it got replaced with a non-standard unit at some point in time, but I don't really have any evidence that it was. Its vintage and the coat of paint on it seems to match the rest of the car. Given the fact that these ambulances were something entirely different when they came out, and that the rear portion of the body indeed looked like a truck, it wouldn't surprise me if Henney used a truck-like rear bumper rather than a Packard rear bumper. I'll attach a scan I have of a page from the patent application where the drawing suggests a very simple straight bar bumper with no styling frills.

With the interest that is being shown in these ambulances, I'll go ahead and post the rest of the photos of them that I've come across. Some of them appear to be scans of newspaper photos, which limits their quality and makes lettering unreadable, but I suspect they'll be of interest nonetheless.