Cushman Build

An airborne Cushman 53 scooter tribute to Pvt John Daum of the 508PIR who sadly lost his life in Normandy June 1944.

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The Story Behind The Build

In August 2016, one man and his shed embarked on a journey that would result in a tear jerking memorial to Pvt John Daum, a member of the 508 PIR who lost his life in Normandy - June 1944 just days after he was dropped in by parachute. This man is Glyn Shipstone of Nottingham, an avid re-enactor and history buff of the 508 PIR during Normandy. Glyn has built up a fantastic reputation for his re-enactment group JUMP 44 LHG, who now have many ties with veterans and families in America. One Friendship Glyn has come to establish over the years is with Thomas Stumpner of Wisconsin, USA. Thomas is the nephew of Pvt John Daum who served with the 508PIR during Normandy and as Thomas’s mother (John’s Sister) used to say, John would be the bud that would never blossom. Thomas has come to realise the impact John’s story has had on many people and thinks this incredible tribute tells a different story.

So where did it all start?

On 6th August 2016 Glyn embarked on a mission to replicate an Airborne Cushman 53, an extremely rare item to find as an original and with no plans available apart from the overall dimensions of the bike, Glyn’s first task was to make up his own plans using a scaling technique from original photographs for each and every part of the scooter. After he had drawn up the plans and found all of the correct dimensions to make the Cushman to the same specifications as an original, Glyn set out to gather the materials needed to make the frame for his Cushman 53. The First Problem that arose was shaping the steel into the correct shapes for the frame which gives the Cushman its Basic structure to house all of the other components. After some head scratching, a home-made forge was built using very basic forging techniques and his wife’s hairdryer to keep the air flowing through the forge to keep it hot enough to bend the steel bars. Needless to say Glyn ended up buying a new hairdryer. Now the steel bars are bent they needed to be welded together to make the basic frame structure for the Cushman whilst giving enough strength to hold the whole bike together and support the weight of its rider.

There is more than just a frame to a Cushman 53, and these other parts would prove to be the most difficult to find and build. First of all Glyn needed an engine for his Cushman and with original engines only found in the U.S. with prices way out of Glyn’s budget, he had to source a modern bike engine that would fit the Cushman frame and give the same speed as an original. After extensive searching an engine was found and that’s where the fun began. To make the modern engine look and sound the same as an original Glyn had to manufacture his own exhaust system, air intake and throttle leaver system that would link to the pedals on the Cushman. To do this Glyn called in the help of his best friend and fellow re-enactor Graham Lawson also from Nottingham. With Grahams help, Glyn managed to get around these problems and the Cushman was slowly beginning to come together but there was still three vital parts that were needed to complete the Cushman, these were the wheels, the seat, and the petrol tank.

After hours and hours of searching the web and scouring around classic vehicle dealers Glyn was able to source some original tires, an original petrol tank and a leather seat imported from the U.S. Whilst waiting a long time to finally get hold of these items the next step was to manufacture the handle bars and steering column to the front wheel. Again, the home-made forge was fired up and the metal was bent and cut into the precise angle to give the Cushman that authentic feel just like an original. With Glyn working most days of the week and some weekends he had very little time to get this done and had to make use of the precious daylight hours to get the main parts of the bike built. Once the front forks and handle bars were attached to the main frame Glyn set out to cut and weld the front panels to give the Cushman its iconic look. Whilst waiting for the original tires some mock up tires were purchased so the Cushman could be wheeled around easier and the other components could be built such as the braking system to the rear tire and the engine could be positioned correctly so the chain would be the right length to fit onto the crank of the original tire.

Now all the main components of the bike had been built and the remaining parts were on the way Glyn could focus on the more detailed parts such as building the seat bracket and springs ready for the leather seat to be fixed on. Some more problems arose when the engine was tested and the exhaust system did not sound right so that also had to be adjusted. With Glyn’s plan to get the bike built by April 2017 ready for what would have been John Daum’s birthday drawing in, there was worry that this build would not have been finished in time. But in the months building up the parts did finally begin to arrive and the Cushman could finally all be assembled to see if all the hard work had paid off. There were a few minor tweaks that needed to be sorted but other than that the Cushman was ready to be stripped down and painted. After the olive drab coat had been painted on the Cushman Glyn could now set out to stencil the bike up with John Daum’s enlistment number found on his dog tags, his birthday engraved onto the data plate and his regiment also stencilled to the rest of the bike. The Final Touch to the bike was to put John’s nickname ‘Bud’ given to him by his father onto the petrol tank. Thomas had grown up to be told about his ‘Uncle Bud’ and that is what Glyn chose to name the bike overall.

On 2nd April 2017 Glyn and some other members of JUMP 44 LHG put together a memorial reveal video for Thomas Stumpner which you can find below. Thomas was overwhelmed by the dedication and respect Glyn and the group had for his uncle and only wishes to someday see the bike for himself. Overall Glyn has put everything he has into making this bike and hopes that the group will have fun using it, but at the same time teach the story behind this incredible Tribute, and let John Daum live on in the hearts of many more people to come.

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