The SB4WD Club has towed floats in the Santa Barbara Fiesta Parade — [El Desfile Histórico] for decades. The floats that our rigs pulled were built in the 60’s and over time, the wooden platforms and running gear made from Model A axles have fatigued and were starting to fail. Because we are so familiar with the floats, and have the tools and experience to take on such a job — the SB4WD Club volunteered to rebuild the floats.
It was a multi-year project but through hard work by volunteers, good food, and dedication we feel that we built floats that will last generations just like the ones they replaced. There was two phases to the project, and below are notes and plenty of pictures from along the way. Hope you enjoy!
Phase 1 – Rebuild Float Platforms
The existing platforms and underlying structure built in the 1950s and 1960s, used — to the full extent of the word — every year, and have over time become less reliable.
Rebuilding the floats was a big project and going into it we planed for it to be a multi-year project. The first year, 2018, was focused on rebuilding the float platforms. These platforms are 12′ wide and 20′ long [12’x20′] and need to be extremely resilient to whatever happens to get mounted [or danced] on in the next 50 years.
After a lot of work the platforms were put completely together and painted. They were used in the Fiesta Parade mounted ontop of the old running gear and axles.
Phase 2 – Replace Running Gear
The second phase of the float rebuild project involves replacing the running gear for the floats. The near running gear includes two custom made, heavy duty front and rear axles designed for the float platforms that would mount to them.
Building the new running gear was a multi-weekend and required hundreds of man-hours. The axles were built from raw materials — square steel tube for the beams, new heavy duty bearings and joints for the steering axle. Everything had to be moved, cut, welded, cleaned, painted, and put together by hand — thankfully we had many willing and able!
Historically, the floats have been disassembled — the wooden platform separated from the running gear — and the platforms stacked for storage until they are needed in August. The stacking and un-stacking of the floats is a lot of extra work and can sometimes cause damage to the platforms. As part of the design, the float platforms and running gear will be able to be stacked together, and do not need to be disassembled each year which should hopefully prolong their life.
The final product looks AMAZING!
After lots of hard work from lots volunteers the new floats were completed. They were built to last many years, and we hope that these live even longer than the last ones!! The floats should also be much easier to pull out from storage due to the easier stacking/unstacking and no need to reattach/unattach the side skirts every year. when they need to be used each year.