Motor Home

Goodbye to (the Insides of) the Machine

Inside of the BoxIt seems fitting that an ambulance would be built with the mumblings of Charles Darwin dancing in the back of the designers’ minds. After all, it takes an incredibly evolved vehicle to be able to sustain life that’s on the brink of death while transporting it. Maybe it’s from the vein of Darwin’s words that Friedrich Nietzsche derived his quote “that which does not kill us makes us stronger.” If not, then perhaps the quote could trace its origins back to the story of the Phoenix.

According to folklore, the Phoenix was a beautiful immortal bird who spent her days happily singing songs until she became old, tired, and weak. The Phoenix didn’t want to continue living this way, so she made the long journey back to her home and rested on top of a palm tree. Shortly after landing, the Phoenix loudly sang a song to the sun asking for it to make her young and strong once more. The sun immediately shone down with all its might directly onto the Phoenix, causing her to burn brightly.

Once the flames died down, all that was left of the Phoenix was a pile of ashes. From those ashes the Phoenix began to form and rise again. This time she rose with renewed grace, strength, and power. The Phoenix had new life and began to sing her beautiful melodies once more. She was brought to the brink of death and emerged stronger.

Pandora’s Box is much like the Phoenix. She’s tired and weak, and yearns to sing a different tune. She returned to an area, just a short drive from where she was originally born, to be born again. She needs to be completely broken down and ripped apart.  We’ll then carefully craft her to make sure she’s strong enough to enjoy her new life delivering melodies to the world.

Can't make this stuff up. That's a nomadic evangelical electrician who sells solar panels from a van.

Can’t make this stuff up. That’s a nomadic evangelical electrician who sells solar panels from a van.

It’s time for her to evolve, but this time she’ll be equipped with the power of the sun — not destroyed by it. Solar panels can be pricy, so the hunt for the perfect panel was not something we would take lightly. A Craigslist ad sent to me by Austin Kelley proved to be a great start. Two weeks later, I found myself buying our panel from a nomadic evangelical electrician who was hocking them from an I-40 truck stop about an hour away from the shop. Sadly, the panel wouldn’t fit in my car.  The guy drove about 45 minutes back towards the shop before he dropped the panel off with me at another I-40 truck stop. I had to wait about half an hour for a ride. It was easy to pass the time though. I made direct eye contact for as long as possible with anyone pumping gas. My goal was to confuse them more than anything. Was I a bum with a solar panel? Was I trying to sell it? Was I looking to kill someone? Was I hitchhiking and expecting someone to let me take my five-foot-tall panel along for the ride? Well, that one was partially true.

Once we got the solar panel, it was time to start focusing on other items. Thanks to your generous support, bunk sheets have arrived, batteries were located, comforters are being hunted down and most of the critical interior components have been ordered or pledged to the cause. I’m keeping the parts list up to date with what we need, so please check back frequently if you’re interested in donating or sponsoring. Every little bit helps!

Next, it was time to turn her into the ashes from which our lovely Pandora will soon rise. Removing the shelving from the rear passenger side was simple. The driver’s side, however, pitted us against Pandora in a Darwinist style battle.

We planned to remove each piece very carefully.

We planned to remove each piece very carefully.

We started with screwdrivers and a plan to repurpose as much of the wood as possible. Once we removed the screws, we upgraded to claw hammers to remove as many of the nails as possible. Then, we learned the 1.5 inch thick plywood boards were glued together, making the shelving components three inches thick. We traded our small hammers for crowbars and sledge hammers. It was only at that point Pandora began to crack.  Sledge hammers made way for saws.  Finally, the testosterone laden youth and rage from our team of three proved to be too much for her.

We knew there was transmission wear when we got her, but Trevor was able to diagnosis the extent of the damage. First gear is basically gone. (We have a video describing the transmission issues. I couldn’t get it to post on YouTube, but if enough people really want to see it, I’ll try to load it again.)

Progress is being made, slowly but surely, one weekend at a time. We are determined to deliver this to J by the summer’s end. To quote Friedrich Nietzsche again, “without muSmashingsic, life would be a mistake.”

As always, thank you for listening.

Bo

 

 

 

 

We cut off a piece to make sure we weren't going to cut into any wires.

We cut off a piece to make sure we weren’t going to cut into any wires.

After we realized what we were up against, we had to be a little more aggressive.

After we realized what we were up against, we had to be a little more aggressive.

What it took to build her, wasn't enough to kill her.

What it takes to build her, wasn’t enough to kill her.

Pandora’s Box

According to Greek mythology, Pandora was the first woman. Blessed with true beauty and traits bestowed by the goddess of love mixed with some craftsmanship from Zeus, mankind’s world would soon be rocked forever. Zeus gave Pandora to Epimetheus as a bride, along with a box.

That box came with a warning label demanding it never be opened. As the story goes, Pandora would eventually succumb to her ever-mounting curiosity and take a peak. At the first glimpse of light, ghostly images raced out and filled the world with all the evils we currently know. However, the story doesn’t end there. Elpis, the spirit of hope, was left hiding in the box and unknowingly Pandora trapped hope in the box once more.

While J Loren has frequently told us “there’s no more beauty, in this world” and more specifically “there’s no more beauty in this, world,” I plan to perhaps give him a different perspective on things by building his next touring vehicle with Elpis still inside.

The life of this ambulance is a great metaphor for what once lurked inside of Pandora’s Box. Ghostly images of illness, death and emotion still haunt its cold insides. However, below all of the negative is a far greater force fighting to push through. Hope. In its prior life, that hope came from the EMTs providing life support, and the patients clinging to a chance to see another day.

Now that hope takes a different form. We, the fans and supporters of this group, are giving this band life support… hope. So many people reading this blog have shared stories with myself and the guys in the band about the hope this music has given them. It’s a self-feeding ecosystem that once set in motion can become a self-sustaining force in this world. The music gives us hope, we give hope to the music. With that hope comes sustainability; life support for all.

With that being said, the title of this blog will be “Life Support,” and the ambulance will be named “Pandora’s Box.”

For those who have hope in the project and would like to see it succeed there’s a number of ways to help.

The tab at the top of this page labeled “Parts” contains a lists of parts we are getting set to buy. Please contact me if you’d like to purchase any of the items on the list, or can provide us a discount to help purchase them.

We will be selling sponsorship space on Pandora’s Box as well as on the band’s trailer and this blog. If you have a business, or a lead for us, click the sponsorship tab for more information, and contact me.

Please follow this blog, and visit this page a couple of times a week. The more visitors this blog gets, the more value sponsors see in it.

Thank you to everyone who took part in naming the blog and the ambulance.

And as always, THANK YOU FOR LISTENING.

Shop Entrance The Driver

Trevor (Standing) Randy (Sitting) Kyle (Working on tire)

Trevor (Standing)
Rickie (Sitting)
Kyle (Working on tire)

Front

An early sketch of how the bunks will look.

An early sketch of how the bunks will look.

Falls Apart…

It’s finally here. I can’t call it by its name yet, because we’ve yet to name it. I’ve kicked around several (lame) titles for the project, but ultimately it was decided that naming things was not my strongest attribute.

It got here on life support to say least. Actually, it was put on the back of a truck and hauled through several states to the backwoods of Tennessee. It wasn’t going to make it any further than where it almost killed J Loren. (And I learned my lesson the first time HURT left me the keys to their ride, but that’s for a future post.) He was having to nurse the ambulance because of some tire issues and persistent electrical woes. However, when the cruise control stuck accelerating the vehicle and forced the musician to do his best Ricky Bobby on the interstate in an ambulance, J decided enough was enough.

When I got the phone call and heard what happened my first thought was “man this keeps happening to this guy,” and my second was “it’s not happening again if I have anything to do with it.” I’m not sure if J called just to vent or if he was asking for advice/help. It didn’t matter. The mission was clear; how do we get him a vehicle that can meet all the strenuous demands of the road on a budget that might be stretched far enough to get a good Daewoo?

I’ve spent the last several years recruiting for the automotive industry and I’ve made some connections with the people that supply the talent for several of the automotive shows that air on various channels. I started to pitch J how we could buy him a gutted old bus and get it on one of these shows. The first words out of my mouth were “the first thing we need to do is get a budget.” Immediately J responded with “I have a budget, and I have a vehicle stuck at a dealership.”

‘My plan B’ was instantly pulled out of my ass. [I’m calling it ‘my plan B,’ because I’m not sure how many plans J had before calling me became the best option. I was about 700 miles away from him at that point.] ‘My plan B’ was to get his vehicle to a technical college located about half way between where the vehicle was and where it was going to end up. Just in case that didn’t work, I gave J ‘my plan C’ as well. [A technical college closer to me, but further away from J and the ambulance.] After we ended the conversation I began working the phones like crazy to pull everything off.

Ultimately, after a couple of weeks of phone calls and emails, I ended up going with ‘my plan D,’ none of the above. I had the vehicle towed to a shop outside of Jackson TN. Why Jackson TN you might ask? A little over a year earlier, I met two young guys from there that were doing INSANELY challenging projects. I talk to countless people in the industry every day with years of experience, and these two guys just out of high school were taking on projects that others with way more experience wouldn’t have the knowledge to handle. I quizzed them about these projects to make sure they weren’t exaggerating, and what I found were two guys that where extremely passionate and dedicated to developing their craft at the highest level. (They reminded me of a certain musician I know.) I helped get these guys into one of the best technical colleges in the country to hone their skills. They didn’t disappoint me, and I’ll feature both of them in an upcoming blog post.

After it was decided where the project was going, it was time to create a game plan. Emails of sketches and ideas were bounced back and forth based on the basic things J was asking for. We had a few pictures of the ambulance but no measurements, and no real good grasp of what the interior looked like, or what kind of work was actually needed. But a crew was assembled based on everyone’s skill sets.

In case you’re wondering, that’s my skill set. I have very limited automotive range compared to the countless mechanics I’ve helped get careers for. However, I can network with the best of them. I called seven states before I decided that starting this project just outside of Jackson TN in a small shop about two hours from my home was the best bet.

But back to the ambulance. The driver called me at 7:30 Friday morning trying to figure out how exactly he was going to get his truck with an ambulance on it down the narrowly winding backwoods road to the shop. After I gave him a little positive reinforcement, he was convinced to make the delivery at the proper destination as agreed.

An hour later I received a text message from Trevor, the shop owner that read “This thing is pretty sweet, but it does need a lot of work.”

“Perfect,” I thought while smiling. As soon as I finished my work for the day I made the drive to his place to see exactly what I’ve gotten myself into…

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If you’d  like to help with the project, please fill out the form.

 


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