The Packard® Motor Car Foundation
               Providing for the Future

    Welcome to the Timing Stand Restoration Progress Page

   Packard club news bulletin editor, Craig Handley, visited the Proving grounds site recently to see the progress at the Timing Stand and kindly supplied us with the following written  words and photos.  "Visitors to the PAC  2006 National Meet this summer will see many improvements at the Packard Proving Grounds. One of the most remarkable transformations is taking place at the timing stand, which is arguably one of the most recognizable features at the site.   The photo with the red 1936 model is from an original company advertisement and shows the timing stand in its prime.

     "This structure, dedicated in 1928, has probably suffered most from decades of neglect. As the roof deteriorated, rain water collected in the southern portion of the building, rotting out the wooden sills. Over time, the timing stand of Packard began to look more like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  Several years ago, Neal Porter spearheaded an effort to temporarily shore up the structure with two-by-fours, enclose the upper deck with plywood and tarp the leaking roof until proper restoration could be done.  The photo shows the stand before restoration began.     That restoration effort finally began this winter (2006).  The weather in January was unusually mild, enabling work crews headed by Bruce Webster and Alan Mabbott to begin bringing this famous structure back to life.   Basement jacks were used to lift the building so that the rotted timbers could be replaced. This also required digging a trench around the entire perimeter. To the casual eye, the stand appears to have sunken into the ground, but actually the opposite happened. Decades of soil erosion from strong, westerly winds made the soil build up several inches around the structure. The bottom row of shingles became partially buried, causing them to rot. Plans are underway to re-grade this area after the restoration is complete. Once the building was once again on solid footing, chains and a ratcheted pulling device known as a “come-along” were used to slowly square the structure.    The upper portion of the stairs were rotted and unsafe.  The stairs were restored, using as much of the original material as possible and duplicating the original design, making it possible to ascend to the upper platform once more. This was no easy task. Measuring and cutting pieces for a circular staircase inside an octagonal building can be a bit of a challenge.  Former Packard test driver Carl Altz recently stopped by to check on the progress being made and couldn't wait to climb the newly restored stairs to the upper observation deck. Not bad for a 96-year old!  Bruce Webster snapped a photo of him.   

   "The crew is following historic preservation guidelines, which require preserving original materials whenever possible. However, several pieces were unsalvageable due to rot including the upper and lower sills of the observation deck which are being replaced with exact duplicates. The columns were in relatively good shape, except for the upper and lower trim pieces. These were expertly recreated exactly like the originals by Tom Asmus and Bill Kroger. The columns are hollow and are given structural strength by thick steel rods that resemble boat oars. The “paddle” portion is bolted to the lower wall stud with four bolts and the rod runs up though each column center. The rod end is threaded and a nut is used to secure the column to the upper sill and roof assembly. These rods were in good shape and were given a fresh coat of paint before they were reinstalled.  

     "Another point of interest is the western portion of the lower wall (facing the test track). During WWII, a tank crashed into this portion of the stand. Materials were scarce during wartime and plywood was used to repair the damage. Unfortunately, the plywood didn’t fit properly and moisture damaged this area as well. Rather than replacing the non-original plywood, this area will be restored to its original configuration. The original roof shingles were of a length that is not commonly available on the market today, so a special order was placed to have the proper length shingles supplied.  All of the structural repairs have been made, the new roof shingles have been applied and many hours of scraping and painting have been done.  The timing stand is well on its way to once again being a showplace at the Packard Proving Grounds Historic Site.  The photo of Bob Valpey's 1929 Murphy towncar taken during the PAC National Meet last summer says it all."  HISTORICAL FOOTNOTE: Who were the original "Friends of the Timing Stand?"  CLICK HERE to find out.

 

 

              

 

Bruce Webster took these nice photos (below). On the left are 'The Elms of Honor' with Fall colors (2006) and on the right, with Winter snow (2007), looking down the main drive towards the flag pole.  This view from the upper deck of the Timing Stand shows the interesting 'Packard Radiator Shape' of the median planting area.

        

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