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.
The pre-war Ford went together with all polished stainless hardware throughout, and was paired with the newly straightened and polished stainless trim by John Gottard, which makes for tasteful splashes of the shiny stuff. Along the way, Wayne also found much needed help and lots of parts thanks to Bryan at Early Ford Parts in Springfield, Ohio. Bryan provided Wayne with those stainless bumpers and a crash course in Ford truck restoration which was happily absorbed and put to use. The original shocks and Ford script 6-volt battery were found through Mac's Antique Parts while Paul's Chrome in Evens City, Pennsylvania, re-chromed the necessary stock hood ornament.
Toward the end of the '39's two-year-mark in its rebirth, the truck was sent to Portage Trim in Ravenna, Ohio, for an astounding interior. Wayne didn't want anything too modern, as it would look out of sorts on the near-stock truck, so he and Autumn picked out a beautiful buckskin leather for the seat and door panels with a deep brown carpet to match. Such a tasteful and classy interior leaves nothing to be desired except a longer look!
Wayne found a walnut for the bed wood that he liked and proceeded to cut, fit, finish, and install along with smooth stainless trim strips sandwiched in between each glossy plank. He is also proud of the rebuild and use of the original headlight/dimmer switch that mounts at the bottom of the steering column and uses the horn button for adjustment, which was no easy task if you've ever tried! He also points out the use of the aftermarket heater from the 1940s that fit exactly where he wanted it, and now works perfectly thanks to his capable hands.
Wayne and Pat love cruising the '39 down the back country roads near their home. We'll bet Wayne doesn't even miss going to work anymore, not after hauling home many trophies-the first of which was obtained on its maiden trip to the 2005 F-100 Super Nats in Knoxville, Tennessee. Can't argue with that!
Facts & Figures
|CHASSIS ||FRAME: stock |
REAR SUSPENSION: stock transverse leaf
REAR BRAKES: stock drum
FRONT SUSPENSION: stock w/modified leafs
FRONT BRAKES: stock drum
STEERING BOX: stock
FRONT WHEELS: Vintique solid 15x4
REAR WHEELS: Vintique solid 15x4
FRONT TIRES: Coker Classic 205/75R15
REAR TIRES: Coker Classic 235/75R15
GAS TANK: stock
|DRIVETRAIN ||ENGINE: 239 ci Flathead V-8 |
MANIFOLD / INDUCTION: stock / Holley 94
EXHAUST / MUFFLERS: custom / Flowmaster
TRANSMISSION: stock three-speed
|BODY ||STYLE: 1/2-ton truck |
FENDERS FRONT / REAR: stock
BODYWORK AND PAINT BY: Bob Darney
PAINT TYPE / COLOR: Sherwin Williams / Medium Cream & Phoenix Brown
HEADLIGHTS / TAILLIGHTS: stock
BUMPERS: stainless by Early Ford Parts
|INTERIOR ||DASHBOARD: stock |
STEERING WHEEL: stock banjo
STEERING COLUMN: stock
SEATS: stock / Snyder’s Antique
UPHOLSTERY: Portage Trim Inc.
MATERIAL / COLOR: leather / buckskin
CARPET: deep brown