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Doing the impossible? Modern day SPORTSMAN build

Jeff Yeagle

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My first car was a 1946 ford sedan that my father and I drug home a few days after my 13th birthday. (i still owe him 300.00)

In June of the following Year American Rodder magazine published a story called “drafting board” by the Automotive Artist extraordinaire Mr Thom Taylor.

The “drafting board” was a collection of several sketches which proposed what might be made of a “derelict” 46 - 48 ford sedan, (this was the 80's and there wasn't much call for fat fender-ed 4 doors at the time). Each of the designs included modifications to these cars with the addition of wood.

One of the sketches was a simple ¾ rear view of a ford sportsman, this sketch was ultimately the first interaction I had with the ford sportsman and what lit the fire to learn everything I could about these cars.


I started to attend the Hershey fall meet regularly in 1993 and in 1998 I stumbled onto a vendor in the “WHITE” field.who had 3 original pieces of ford sportsman wood.

The asking price of “FREE” should provide some idea of how “good” these pieces were, but I gladly carted them away with the intention of owning another neat piece of “wall art” us car guys are so fond of..

During that same Hershey trip I caught my first glimpse of a real ford sportsman for sale in the car corral and I burnt 3 rolls of film shooting the car’s unique parts.

for 10+ years those three pieces of wood were kicked around my garage, as I dreamed about what might be.

In 2010 I was able to view 2 Sportsman's at the fall Hershey meet, both (at the time) were owned by two gentleman from pennsylvania, both of which I photographed extensively.


thanks to my good friend AL I was able to talk to a sportsman owner from Texas, whose car was still undergoing restoration. He shared with me a copy of the 71 society newsletters, and I read the entire volume cover to cover several times. I called several current sportsman owners and even though I didn't realize it, I was perpetually thinking about this project.

texas sportsman..



it was through those 71 society newsletters that I read of the clubs early efforts to get sportsman to a Early Ford V8 club meet at Charlotte in 1975, and more interestingly a 1976 meet in “Valley Forge, PA” just a few miles from my current home, and along my morning commute.


In the fall of 2011 I had a chance to attend a swap meet where, while negotiating the purchase of another woodie part, I met a man who turned out was one of the charter members of the 71 society and whom had traveled to valley forge in 1976. I managed to secure an opportunity to see his sportsman's and am forever indebted to him for his hospitality.


In the fall of 2011 I located a pair of rear fenders for a sportsman, a rear gravel pan, and then locally I bought a very very rough 46 convertible which was missing doors and a top..


and at Hershey this past fall I sourced a 46 - 48 top bow.. ironically from the son of Mr. Eisenhower..


and a donor pair of doors that no one else would buy, ..the better of which.. looked like this..



I ran an ad which lead to the acquisition of these..


which are the correct rear quarter window regulators. (and yes.. I have the cylinders as well)

and these..



after my 2012 trip to hershey I De -skinned and repaired the doors and mocked up the wood I had found at hershey in 1998.


I have developed a process to recreate the door parts of the car. and reproducing them are my focus in the new year..

unfortunately an upcoming move to a larger shop will slow progress this spring.. but hopefully summer will allow me time to get serious about the car..

I am still searching for anyone who might be able to assist with locating parts for the project as of today 12/31/2012.. this photo shows all the wood that I have presently.


Edited by Jeff Yeagle (see edit history)
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Guest Rob McDonald

JEFF, you are one dedicated woodie dude! Patient, too.

"unfortunately an upcoming move to a larger shop" This sentence does not hang together - there is no "unfortune" to a larger shop. I have to solve a chinese puzzle every time I need to work in my garage.


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  • 3 months later...


the new shop is slowly coming together.. the former owner was a car guy.. but I had somethings that needed changed for my own tastes.. ..

In the interim I had received a lead on some more convertible parts which "required" a trip to the detroit metro area a few weeks ago..

fortunately I was able to arrange it that my father and I were able to combine the trip with a visit to the Detroit autorama.. which was epic..

my frame came back from my favorite amish sandblaster and I found a rear axle locally that I will be picking up early next week.. underneath this one will be somewhat "contemporary" .....

hope to post more process photos soon.

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Guest boones

I thought you might have bought the project sportsman one listed on the HAMB a few weeks back. (I sent you a note about it being found in a larger collection).

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  • 2 months later...

recently I began working with my friend Robert to develop a plan for the process that we would use to recreate a few of the more "difficult" pieces of wood..

unfortunately as with many of the "best laid plans" we ran into a little snafu..

I wanted to start "at the bottom" so our first piece was the driver side lower door horizontal..

I "technically" have a passenger side lower door horizontal as seen here (the bottom of the door)


unfortunately.. about 8 hours in..

this happened..



I've heard this called a "beauty mark".. but I see no beauty..

needless to say..if it were not for this unforeseen defect.. I'd be announcing that I successfully recreated my first part..

alas.. it just was not to be.. adding salt to the wound.. I had been saving this piece of maple especially for the first part.. and it was the clearest piece of maple I've had for quite some time..

when we noticed the defect.. we were too far in not to make the material look like "something" so we just kept going.. just to prove the process.

tonight.. my education cost a few more dollars.. and after a break for the holiday I'll get to make this one again..

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...
Guest Ari Rios

Hi Jeff,

My name is Ari Rios. I found a Sportsman in Mexico and am in the process of restoring it.

Please get i touch if you want to compare notes.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 4 weeks later...
Guest wagonwheels


How's the car coming? Hey thanks for the chat, I really enjoyed it! I'm still checking out all my options. I hope you can make it out to the Shore sometime to look at the wagon. I'd like to do some bench racing and just hang. PS, can you put fans on the motors to keep them cool?

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  • 2 months later...
thanks! still stings doesnt it!!!

I think it might have been worse for Jim, he wanted to get the car to Louisville and the schedule was tight even before I had to tell him that I was going to have to start over on one of the harder parts of the car to make. He made the show, but I don't think he slept much the week before. I haven't done a car yet that I haven't had to throw at least one piece in the scrap pile because of something like this. A tree is something of a time capsule, and like Jim said, you don't know what's in it until you open it up. I've found all kinds of cool stuff, bullets, barbed wire, screws, nails...mostly just worm holes and big ugly knots though.

Hey Jim! Imagine running into you here!!! Been meaning to give you a call, how's the car liking it's new home?

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  • 4 weeks later...

Jeff, I am curious as to how you plan on recreating the steel framework behind the quarter panels and trunk lid. I have given some thought to this in the past as I have had a couple people inquire about building a Sportsman from a convertible, just tire kickers though so I never had to do it. If it would help you, I have quite a few pictures of the two Sportsmans I have built, some showing the back of the car without wood on it. I'd be glad to send them to you. Tim O'Connell did the sheet metal work on Jims car, he had to build the trunk frame from scratch, he's an exceptional sheet metal guy and he said it was not an easy thing to build.

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I am essentially building from a convertible.. luckily I have some photos of a car in mexico that is missing its wood.. so i have a pretty good idea what the factory did.. and.. I have one piece of the sheet metal structure that fits inside the trunklid.. which I am thankful to have.. so I know I can mirror it to create the other side.. I don't have the top or bottom of the inner structure.. and a photo of what is on jims car would be very helpful...

more than likely I will also be faced with the prospect of building the trunk frame from scratch as well.. I have an idea as to how I will go about it.. and I keep hearing that some other restorers us a different Monomer for creating the panels.. which I may try as well..

at present the quarter panels are KICKING MY tail.. I have been trying to prototype their recreation process in some FOAM insulation panel on my duplicator.. and I just keep running into issues with how to hold the material, and when to do which operation..

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Your trunk lid frame looks like it is in good shape, at the very least should be a good pattern. You will need a mold to make the panel from too, you can get that shape from your trunk lid. You could lay up a plywood panel if you wanted to, I would use a couple layers of glass, then veneer over it. The trunk panel is a big enough project without making it even bigger.

I always thought that if I were going to do this kind of build I would mock the wood parts up on the convertible, support them somehow in the correct position and then build the metal skeleton to the inside of the wood. It looks like you have wood for one side, so that side might not be too bad, mirroring the other side will take some finesse.

I'll look around for some pictures. Also, feel free to call, the finer points are a lot easier to convey in a conversation. 920-825-7497

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  • 3 months later...
  • 3 weeks later...

after talking to newoldwood, I became convinced that I had to have this front door leading edge before I could proceed..

because I have NOTHING.. I had to make a pattern.. which.. is mostly BONDO.. fortunately I worked in a shop where this type of work was ENCOURAGED

it seems to be working, and with a little luck.. I might just have a pattern in a few 100 more hours..


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  • 2 months later...

its been quite some time, since my last post..

in the interim, my helper Robert and I managed to make this..


which has a few issues.. namely the finger joints were not as tight as I wanted, so this will likely become a wall hanger..

otherwise I had quite a few "activities" over the last few weeks..

one of which was a trip to the early ford v8 club meet in Gettysburg PA.

where I was able to check out a few details on this ..


my trip home, was via Hershey, where I was able to stop and visit the AACA Library. were I found this photo


the details of which I committed to memory.. and returned to my shop where I set up my finger jointer, and made up this..


Hopefully I'll have some time this week to move forward on the project.

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Hello Jeff, it was great seeing you at Gettysburg. I am in the process of doing an article for the "Woodie Times" about the meet. Interesting fact, as you know there were an even dozen "Woodies" on the show field. Every "Woodie" displayed, won an award of some type. That's amazing! Keep up the great work on the Sportsman.

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What kind of problems are you having with the finger joints? What are you using to cut them, and how are you clamping them together?

I am currently using a Radial arm saw with a custom blade (after giving up on my shaper/ custom cutter) , I add "lugs" to the sides of the material..

My first quarter finished out with only 1 finger through the middle which is functionally fine, but it does not look like any other sportsman i have photographed..

so I'll try again.. soon.

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  • 8 months later...

wow.. its been awhile..

as they say "life gets in the way"

since my last post I literally hauled my radial arm saw to the dump.. salvaged a few parts of the first fixture, and started all over.. with much success.. finger joints are now TIGHT.. and look good. and MOST importantly.. are repeatable.


I also got really "lucky" recently and found a deck lid..


somehow 3 other projects have recently popped up.. so progress continues at a slow.. but steady pace.

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