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Welcome Wagon Four Is Ready for Any Weather

Chapter 91’s hard work paid off

By Ti Windisch

July 22, 2017 While working as co-chairman of the Welcome Wagons at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2016, Larry Young, EAA 169501, experienced something any grizzled AirVenture veteran has surely gone through — what he calls “the annual rain shower.”

Not one to sit idly by when a problem arises, Larry thought about his desire to replace his 2000 Chevrolet S-10 pickup truck, and he realized his old truck might make a perfect Welcome Wagon.

“What went through my mind was that we needed it; we needed another Welcome Wagon up there, so I said to myself, ‘Let’s make something we can use with a roof and side curtains and all for when it’s raining,’” Larry said. “I brought my idea up to the chapter, and they were all for it.”

With the Chapter 91 vote over and done with, it was time to get to work on turning Larry’s truck into the crème de la crème of the Welcome Wagon fleet. This was no mean feat, and it took the whole chapter to accomplish the project.

Framework had to be assembled for the bed of the truck out of metal plate and tubing, which had to be sized and cut specifically for the project. There’s no kit on the market for turning a Chevy into a Welcome Wagon. Well, not yet at least.

Woodwork had to be stained and finished, and bench seats had to be fabricated. A bed cover was transformed into the roof of the passenger compartment, a Sonex canopy was turned into a windscreen, and a beacon and stoplight were installed. Then, everything had to be made pretty with a coat of paint and all the right decals.

Larry said work was just nearing completion on June 13, but Welcome Wagon Four is here at Oshkosh and helping make homebuilders happy for a few reasons.

“It’ll make it easier because we’ll have four vehicles instead of three, so we’ll have more availability,” Larry said. “And it’ll be the one we can use when we get the annual rain, which we always get.”

Larry talked about some of the other work Chapter 91 had done, and the 25 years he spent as president of the chapter before giving up that title in January. His approach to the work that had to be done — whether it involved the four huge hangars the chapter constructed or building the fourth Welcome Wagon — is a simple one.

“Just making things happen is what I’ve been doing for the last 25 years,” he said. “It was a no-brainer; it’s just what I wanted to do.”

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