Hello again! This time I bring you another truck, but with a unique back story.
This truck came from a farm in the Catskills of New York which had been owned by three generations of Dodge Brothers car lovers. In 2015, the family collection of Dodge Brothers cars and parts were auctioned off. A large quantity of parts were passed over by the auctioneer, so a group of Dodge Brothers enthusiasts were invited to the farm to pick through and purchase what was left.
While there, some Dodge Brothers folks started talking about assembling a vehicle that would be displayed at a museum for kids to climb on. Since kids (and adults) aren’t usually allowed to touch restored antiques, it might inspire kids to embrace the car hobby if they have memories of actually touching an old car.
This farm truck, which was a mixture of 1920 through 1927 parts, was found rusting away outside. The group decided it was too far gone to be restored or repaired, but it had the bones of something that could be cleaned up and displayed. No one knows the history of this truck, but the typical story is that a teens or 1920s car was modified into a farm vehicle during the Great Depression. Over the years, parts were replaced with anything cheap that would fit. We think the family found this truck decades later and brought it to their farm. It is possible they used this truck for harvesting hay.
A group of Dodge Brothers enthusiasts bought it, and one fellow trailered it to his home in New Jersey. They agreed that volunteers would do work sessions at the New Jersey home until the truck was ready for display. For the next two years, it was disassembled down to the frame, leaving the engine, transmission, axles, and brakes in place. Parts were sold, traded, and donated to get everything necessary.
After disassembly and degreasing, a sandblaster stripped everything to bare metal. The group tried to save as many parts as possible, but the cowl was rusted too thin to save. Luckily, the parts from different years were similar enough to fit together with little or no modification. We ended up with two 24” wheels and two 25” wheels, with four bald tires, but since we’re not actually driving anywhere…
A body man was brought in to do some patch work, bondo, and assembly tweaks; he also built a pick-up bed from various pieces and an old bed frame. My daughter and I were involved in disassembly, degreasing the frame, and painting the frame in red primer and a final coat of black paint. I helped with some stages of the body cleanup.
Over 60 people were involved in this project. Parts came to us from all over the country. A young woman was hired to do the lettering and signage. The fellow who stored the truck during the project did a boatload of work on the truck by himself. Finally, in November 2017, the truck was ready for prime time. Our NJ fellow trailered the truck to the AACA Museum in Pennsylvania.
In early 2018, I heard a rumor that the truck was an outdoor display in front of the AACA Museum. When I visited the museum in July of 2018, I was happy to see that it was indeed on display. I was even more happy that the truck could be climbed on by anyone who chose to.
I’ve always enjoyed sharing my crusty, unrestored Dodge Brothers Touring Car with any person who showed interest. I’m glad I had a small part in bringing an antique vehicle which can be touched by anyone into the public eye.
Some say the antique car hobby is in trouble and might not survive. I hope that projects like this one will keep our hobby alive, to thrive!
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