The old Ford workhorse comes apart again


I finished up a writing project Friday, posted a new draft of a movie script with 18 trusted readers. This is the one I call “the Key West script.” Not because it’s about Key West but because I wrote it while riding the iron piggy there and back in 2008. Michael Corrente’s option on it expired so I’ve de-Corrente-d it. I don’t mean that in a negative way, just that if he’s not involved anymore, the changes he wanted to see no longer need to be there.

Anyway, with that job finished for now, I’ve launched another non-writing project of the mechanical kind.  With the iron piggy in pieces in the basement, I started taking the old truck apart yesterday for some long-overdue rust repair. Had a helpful assist from long-time comrade Larry Stanley, who kindly took time off from reading papers scribbled by his students at Brown.

I did a full frame-off restoration on the truck 15 years ago and have used it hard ever since. It had minimal rust after 46 years in Alabama but the subsequent 15 winters in New England have really done a job on the sheet metal. I’ll be a pretty good welder when I get done this time.

At the back of that fender, a good example of what road salt does when it gets between two panels. It ate away both the brace and the sheet metal covering it.

The nose comes off with 18 fasteners. The six through the radiator saddle were easy; I had  greased them on installation. Should have done all 18! I had to use a cutting wheel on the 12 that connect up to the running boards and the cab. Did lots of cutting and grinding to take the nose apart, too, once it was off. Next week the running boards and the box come off.

The mighty 100-horsepower flathead eight! 239 cubic inches of decidedly cool obsolescence.

This is my second motor on this truck. I used up the original flathead six. Still have it. I might rebuild it one of these years.

Another typical rust spot. Lower front fender, down at the bottom where it straddles the chassis rail, under the grille.

And in the wheel well, near the top, where the upper and lower front fenders meet. You can see the outline of the heavy steel braces behind the skin. In winter, lots of sand and salt get trapped in there.

Bottom of the cowl, also typical. I can buy stamped patch panels to weld in here, 16 inches high. Not so the other spots you’ve seen. I need to fabricate them from scratch out of flat sheet metal. The cab needs a new floor pan, too. I can buy that stamped out. I think I’ll hire the installation done at Conntech in Warwick. Unlike fenders, where you can futz your way around mistakes, the cab geometry has to be right.  The proprietor, my friend Mike Connelly, is a crackerjack welder. He can build a whole car out of flat stock between ordering a burger and collecting it at the drive-up window.

Grease, the best rust-inhibitor ever! There’s surface rust all over the chassis, except near the spring shackles. In 1995 I had the chassis up on saw horses in the backyard, spent weeks cleaning, sand blasting, priming, painting… This time I’ll clean up the rust with a wire brush then switch to a paint brush and apply a coat of grease from stem to stern.

The truck was out of service for 17 months last time. Below, see my plan for keeping the truck on the road during this so-called “second restoration.”

I’ll bolt on the inner fenders and the grille, put the hood back on, see if Johnny Law considers it street legal. Open rear wheels might be a problem once I pull the box off. If so, I’ll build a quick & dirty flatbed out of lumber and put cheapo trailer fenders over the rear-wheel cutouts.

The nose without the grille and inner fenders. The brace and sheet metal at the bottom fell off the left fender when I removed it.

Fabricating a new one is going to take more welding skill than I currently possess. Will just have to acquire it as I go along. I don’t expect to start welding on the fenders and the box until late next summer. Then I’ll break out the paint gun, shoot a fresh coat of red on the truck and be good to go. Watch this space.

Tony DePaul, Cranston, Rhode Island, October 22, 2011




About Tony

The occasional scribblings of Tony DePaul, 63, father, grandfather, husband, freelance writer in many forms, ex-journalist, long-distance motorcycle rider, motorcycle wrecker, motorcycle rebuilder, collector of surgical hardware, blue routes wanderer, outdoorsman, topo map bushwhacker, handy with a wrench, hammer, chainsaw, rifle, former photographer, printer, logger, truck driver, truck mechanic, jet fueler… blah blah...
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14 Responses to The old Ford workhorse comes apart again

  1. Bill Boogaart says:

    Save those two springs from under the radiator.

    • Tony says:

      Ha ha! Bill, next summer, on my way to Alaska, I hope to finally meet the man who dug down through the snow and climbed under a truck in Calgary to score those springs for me.

  2. Eric Benjamin says:

    Dude, miss your ramblings on FB. But respect your decision to bail on it. Head down to ATL. I hear that the results of a gleam in your eye is gonna be down here for a bit.

  3. Chris Whitney says:

    Two words. Well, a word and a number. Well, a trade name and a number combined for a bigger trade name.

    POR 15.

    Chris Whitney

  4. Samuel Dyck says:

    @Tony’s response to Chris

    Nice play on words – I had to check the lyrics to see if I had missed something when I was listening to the song. I always learn something when I read your work.

  5. Shane Kleinpeter says:

    +1 on POR 15. It’s expensive, and you have to top-coat it, but for something like this (and the underside of trailers…) it is really your best and only option. I don’t get the idea that you’re looking for a concours queen, so that will work better than greasing the underside which is effective but messy.

  6. Clayton Hazelton says:

    Hi Tony, Please don’t mix up the parts for the bike and the truck! Be safe. Doc

  7. Jorge Nelson says:

    Two oil filters? Man, the 8 should run forever with oil that clean! Nice mod…

  8. Tony, you are inspiring me to get back to work, on my ’51 F-2! I sure wish my bed had wood in it, like YOURS does – would make my project a LOT easier!

    You can see my project at

    Anxious to keep an eye on your progress…


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