After 48 years in the construction business, Wayne Sitler found himself wondering, "What now?" We're sure this was a nice change, but retirement can still be shocking. Luckily for Wayne's wife, Pat, their daughter Autumn and her husband, Steve, had an idea that would not only keep Wayne busy, but also get him out of Pat's hair.
Steve and Autumn were into building and restoring F-100 Fords, and they began hinting that Wayne should find a project of his own. Wayne was already good with his hands, having built a career with them, so it only made sense to team his free time and hands with his kid's knowledge of early Ford trucks.
Things snowballed from here. One of Steve's family members had an old truck and car in a barn on their farm, which had just been sitting for the last 18 years with the hopes of restoring them. After the woman's husband passed away, however, she had no use for them and they were put up for sale. Steve found out that the truck was a '39 Ford and its stablemate was a '50 Lincoln four-door. He asked Wayne if he was interested, but he would have to buy them both. The deal was made from pictures circulating back and forth between all the parties, and Steve loaded up everything needed to retrieve them. He soon found out that "retrieving" meant practically unearthing the forgotten automobiles out of the dirt floor of the old barn.
Once Wayne got back from Florida, he found the '39 in his driveway with a "Welcome Home" sign on it, and boy did they have some cleaning to do! All the years of mud, weathering, and rodent nests had to be evicted so they could assess the work ahead. Much to their surprise, however, the '39 was fairly well preserved under all that muck.
The stock 24-stud Flathead actually ran once the mice were cleared out of the exhaust pipes, and it was deemed good enough to save for the project. The engine didn't even require a full-scale rebuild, and was just freshened up by Wayne and Jack Zentbauer, who runs a garage in Columbiana, Ohio. Jack and his vast knowledge of vintage Fords also handled going through the stock transmission, starter, and generator to make sure the mechanical extremities were up to snuff.
Wayne muscled the truck down to its frame, which was then media blasted, followed by proper amounts of POR-15 that carried over to the underside of the cab. Wayne says he's grateful for having Bob Darney as a body/paint man who was willing to let him work side by side throughout the process. Wayne describes Bob's work as "the difference in just a paint job and a paint job that made the truck," which often makes or breaks even the nicest tin work. The two of them assembled and fit the truck before paint, which was a mandatory step in bumping up the caliber of the 1/2-ton. After the '30s Ford Medium Cream and Phoenix Brown colors were sprayed over everything, the now laser-straight, leaded bodywork was cut and buffed to perfection so Wayne could start in on the meticulous final assembly.