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Help needed. New owner of a 1947 Ford Woodie


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Hi All, 

I'm looking for a bit of guidance on starting the restoration on a 1947 Ford Woodie I just picked up. It has 50,000 original miles and hasn't been on the road since 1960. Everything is original on the car, including motor and trans. Previous owners started to sand the original wood and purchased a wood kit for the roof from Cincinnati Wood Works in 2009, prior to the shop being closed. All the wood is there it just needs some TLC, there is no rot. I'm looking to do as much wood work as I can myself so any info on the refurbishing process would be appreciated as well as any and all info about this year. I'd like to connect with owners and find vendors for roof material. Thanks for the help, can't wait to get started!

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Many of the rubber parts are available from Bob Drake or Dennis Carpenter. As you will find out, "woodies" are fairly rare, so many parts are hard to find and it takes a little searching. For example, do you have the roof gutters, as they are almost "unobtainable". What do you have in the way of window regulators, track's, slider handles and locks, door handles etc? As for the roof material, it has been discussed several times on this and other sites if you care to research what has transpired. The only place that had the 66" wide roof material was LeBaron-Bonney. When they closed, what most people are doing is placing a seam ether in the middle by using two pieces of roof material or a seam on each side and using three pieces. I think most prefer the two seam look. By the way where are you located?

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Thank you fo the help. I'm in Oregon. I'll continue to do some research on parts and I do have the roof gutters. I'm interested in what kind of chassis upgrades people have done to make the drive better. Does anyone have any info or a thread that discuss this?

 

Thanks. 

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I'm not sure of what you mean by "upgrades" are you looking to replace your front end with something newer? If you want to keep it stock, then the first thing I would do is jack up the car up and "unload" the front end by putting the frame on jackstands. You can then check the play you have in the spindle bushings, spindles, spring shackles, tie rod ends etc. If nothing has been done to the front end in 73 years it might be ready for a complete rebuild. 

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12 hours ago, thompsonblake40 said:

Thank you fo the help. I'm in Oregon. I'll continue to do some research on parts and I do have the roof gutters. I'm interested in what kind of chassis upgrades people have done to make the drive better. Does anyone have any info or a thread that discuss this?

 

Thanks. 

If you want to drive it a lot, do a mustang II front end with rack and pinion steering and disc brakes, as well as upgraded ford rear end with disc brakes. If you drive in the mountains, you will probably need a better engine to avoid overheating. Otherwise, you will be okay, unless you need to drive 70-75 on the interstate for longer distances. Custom Engineering and Fat Man make the front ends. Ford Explorer rear ends can be picked up anywhere. Three of my four woodies have modern suspensions and engines, which make them easy and reliable to drive. 

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16 minutes ago, blind pew said:

If you want to drive it a lot, do a mustang II front end with rack and pinion steering and disc brakes, as well as upgraded ford rear end with disc brakes. If you drive in the mountains, you will probably need a better engine to avoid overheating. Otherwise, you will be okay, unless you need to drive 70-75 on the interstate for longer distances. Custom Engineering and Fat Man make the front ends. Ford Explorer rear ends can be picked up anywhere. Three of my four woodies have modern suspensions and engines, which make them easy and reliable to drive. 

 I do like the idea of a reliable and comfortable drive, but I'm also debating keeping it stock. This car is a 2 owner car with 52,000 original miles. It hasn't been on the road since 1960 and garaged ever since. I don't have any intentions to sell it when its complete. I enjoy driving old cars rather than keeping them in the garage. Does it take away from the value by upgrading the drivetrain and such? I'll probably run the flathead for a while until I have the budget to upgrade. Thanks so much for the help. 

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I think that the value of a restored or modified car has more to do with the quality of the work than the nature of it, but if you don't plan on ever selling it just do what makes you happy. You say you enjoy driving old cars, so what is it about driving them that produces the enjoyment? The answer to that question will go a long way towards telling you what, if anything, you want to change about the car. When you get around to the wood work I'd be happy to provide any advice I can. It's free of charge and guaranteed to be worth at least what it cost. Good luck! Have fun!!

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Your not going to be driving your '47 every day, so I wouldn't hesitate using and rebuilding your front end. An independent front end such as a Mustang II, or some other aftermarket front end is a major commitment. Once you remove your old front end and cut out the front crossmember, there is no going back. I drove my '46 Woodie "coast to coast" and back from Long Island to the Wavecrest Woodie show in California. My front end was totally rebuilt and sure, it's not like driving a modern car, but who cares, it's a '46 Ford. With that flathead you're not going to be doing 80 mph anyway, more like 55. Another thing to consider with changing the entire front end, is what else needs to be done. You will need to change your steering column or modify your old one to accept universal joints from the column to the R&P steering. You will also need to upgrade your braking system and change your master cylinder if you use disc brakes. As far as New Old Wood's offer, check out his work! You couldn't get a better offer, he does some beautiful work!

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23 hours ago, NewOldWood said:

I think that the value of a restored or modified car has more to do with the quality of the work than the nature of it, but if you don't plan on ever selling it just do what makes you happy. You say you enjoy driving old cars, so what is it about driving them that produces the enjoyment? The answer to that question will go a long way towards telling you what, if anything, you want to change about the car. When you get around to the wood work I'd be happy to provide any advice I can. It's free of charge and guaranteed to be worth at least what it cost. Good luck! Have fun!!

@NewOldWoodI'm currently reading and researching as much as possible on the wood work. I plan to do as much as possible. The previous owner started on some of the wood work so I'm looking how to pick that up in the best way possible. 

 

The current wood is all original and in pretty good shape. In 2008 the owner purchased the attached list of materials from Cincinnati Wood Works to replace the roof headers, bows, and mahogany side panels. I have this kit still intact, with most of it unopened. The exterior passenger side of the van has been stripped from the hardware and has been sanded, with maybe some bleaching. The interior remains original varnish. The driver side is in its original state. I'm currently reading "The DIY Guide to Woodie Woodworking". I've read Rick Macks website and guidance. Do I need to completely dissemble all the wood into individual pieces sand, bleach, tone, clear coat or can I do these in sections? Like if I do a door, or the tail gate etc. Does everything need to be removed from the car and refit after sanding, bleaching, toning, removed again, then clear coated and placed for final positioning. I've read a lot on the process of starting with new wood kits but not much on the process of having a complete car with original wood and bringing it back. 

@46 Woodie, I agree with the front end rebuild there, it hasn't been on the road since '60 so everything could use some TLC. I like the idea of cruising at 55mph max!

Thanks again for all the help, is just the community I'm looking to plug into. 

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Thompson, you can sand the doors just the way they are. It's uncanny how alike the condition of your car and my '46 Woodie was when I first got it. What is really weird is the piece broken off on the bottom of your driver side front door. When I first got my car I found a chunk of wood in the glove box. After poking around I found it was broken off my driver side lower door in exactly the same location. I just dowel pinned and glued it back. It looks like someone has done some refinishing on the passenger side, you might get away with a light sanding. I would pick New Old Parts brain about the refinishing, as I originally stated his work is impeccable. I notice that your floor pans look like they are in excellent shape. What part's are you missing?

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Agreed-

 

You can keep all the hardwood frame in place, sanding it and varnishing it right there. 

 

However, when you varnish the doors (after plywood insertion) you should do that with the doors lying down to prevent running of varnish. You could simply varnish your plywood panels before inserting them as well. Make sure you use a sealer on the lower edges of the plywood to prevent delamination down the road. 

 

Again, do not varnish the plywood after it is inserted and vertical, as you will get runs and will get an awful finish. You have to put on several coats of varnish first to develop a "base" before progressively finer sanding to 2000 grit with wet sanding. Some guys spray auto clear coat and have very nice appearances. 

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@46woodie, So far I know I’m missing the spare tire cover. I have the mount but not the metal cover.  I’d also like to get a new front decal for the hood and new rubber.  Ive seen bob drake has rubber but any help locating the other would be awesome.  
 

I’d love to see photos of the evolution of your 46 if you have some. 
 

We got it running today.  Sounds amazing.  Had to have the radiator recored and order two new water pumps  but that’s minimal for a rig that hasn’t ran in 60 years.  Need to get some new wheels and tires under her as well.  
 

@blind pewgreat to hear I can leave everything in place and intact. Makes the job a little less daunting.  Rick Mack says that he prefers the clear coat for durability.  Do you have a preference? It seems like it may be a little more robust long term? It seems that’s good paint shop could spray a clear on everything once intact including the paneling, would you agree?

 

thanks guys. 

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The Ford Station Wagon's were varnished from the factory, so that is what I went with. I have seen a lot of Woodies and the automotive clear coat always looks too "plastic". By a "new front decal" what exactly do you mean? As for the spare tire cover they occasionally pop up on E-Bay.

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On 4/9/2021 at 12:22 AM, thompsonblake40 said:

@46woodie, So far I know I’m missing the spare tire cover. I have the mount but not the metal cover.  I’d also like to get a new front decal for the hood and new rubber.  Ive seen bob drake has rubber but any help locating the other would be awesome.  
 

I’d love to see photos of the evolution of your 46 if you have some. 
 

We got it running today.  Sounds amazing.  Had to have the radiator recored and order two new water pumps  but that’s minimal for a rig that hasn’t ran in 60 years.  Need to get some new wheels and tires under her as well.  
 

@blind pewgreat to hear I can leave everything in place and intact. Makes the job a little less daunting.  Rick Mack says that he prefers the clear coat for durability.  Do you have a preference? It seems like it may be a little more robust long term? It seems that’s good paint shop could spray a clear on everything once intact including the paneling, would you agree?

 

thanks guys. 

The guy doing the dodge power wagon clear coated everything and it looks fantastic.

 

I have always used marine varnish, but that is just out of habit. Some say the varnish has a more "warm" tone which clear coats have a slight bluish hue. I really don't buy that. 

 

It would be a hell of a lot easier to have an auto body shop shoot clear coat. When I do varnish, it is 8-10 coats and is a royal pain in the ass, as you have to lay down a decent base to being with, then progressively wet sand to get the really nice "glass" finish that everyone likes. 

 

I'm doing a '41 international right now and am choosing varnish rather than clear coat. I am just a glutton for punishment and enjoy the struggle. I do everything myself, which results in an amateur job, but its more fun. 

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@46Woodie The hood decal on the top of the hood.  The plastic tip on mine is broken. Also the plastic vents on the dash, a few of the slats are broken. Is there a main parts house for these or just a bit of hunt because of the rarity? The rest of the trim is in good shape, I plan to pull it all and have it reworked, to pull the dents out and re chromed. I've found  a shop in CA called Bumper Boys, struggling locally here in Oregon to find a rechrome shop. 

 

@blind pew Currently I'm leaning towards clear coat. I've read on Rick Macks Website how he uses wood toner after the sanding and bleaching process to help determine how warm he wants it. I agree the varnish adds that nice rich hue. I'm still a long ways away to determine Varnish or Clear coat lol. I'm planning to leave the primary structural wood frame in place and sand it while its still bolted to the frame. The one question I have is that, I plan to repaint it Tuscon Tan instead of its original burgundy color, where the metal floor boards meets the wood, is that generally 1 color or is that the color of the car? In other words, if I leave the wood bolted on when doing the reconditioning, then repaint the car, will the colors under the wood be incorrect? Same with the floor pan, where all super deluxes painted with a red floor pan? 

 

Thanks,

 

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Dear TB,

If you need parts for your 1947 Ford Station Wagon please contact me. I have a lot parts left over from restorations. ( window regulators, wood brackets, rear bumpers, etc.).

 

I also make the side gutters, front retainer strips, the vinyl inserts, spare tire hub caps, second seat hand rails and the gutter end clips.

 

Thanks,

Mike

708 308 4009

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All of the parts from the dashboard forward are the same as passenger car. Those parts can be purchased from Dennis Carpenter, Bob Drake, C&G Ford among several other parts houses. I'm still not sure in what you are calling a "decal". A decal is what is known as a water transfer, something that is dipped in water and slid onto a surface such as a windshield, etc. If you are referring to the plastic part of the hood ornament, that can be purchased from Carpenter, 704-786-8139, or on line, www.dennis-carpenter.com, PN 6A-16607. There is a great book offered by the V-8 Club of America specifically for the 1941-1948 Ford, that I would recommend you purchase. It will help you with your terminology when searching for parts. As to your paint question, in the book Famous Ford Woodies by Lorin Sorensen, on page 167 it states, "Most years the Wagon floors were painted black, sometimes brown, sometimes a combination of both. In some instances the bottom was left in red primer". I think what they are referring to as bottom, is the underside of the floor pan. On my car, which was an original car, the floor was painted black. The interior wheel houses were painted "Woodie 1K" or Woodie Brown.

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Sorry for the delay, moving my shop again and things are somewhat chaotic right now. The pictures are the car in its current state, right? Assuming that new paint is part of the overall plan, I would approach it something like this. First thing to do is to build the roof. I have never worked with one of their kits so dont know how much work is going to be required to fit the pieces, but that needs to be done first. Once the roof is on, I would go through the doors, quarter panels, and tailgate and make any repairs that were needed, loose joints, damaged missing or rotten wood, and make everything line up as well as you can. There are limitations here, depending on the condition of the wood, but you can move things around too by playing with the hinge pockets, or moving the dovetails and strikers. It's a fussy trial and error process, but not really too bad. Once all the building, repair, and allignment work is done I would remove everything from the car, this is a very good time to paint the cowl, floorpans, etc. The finish prep is going to be MUCH easier to do on the bench. If you decide on a clear coat finish, it will have to be sprayed, it cannot be applied with a brush, and a brushed varnish finish will be much easier to do and will come out better if done laying flat. Doing the finish work with the panels in place should be avoided if at all possible. The clear vs varnish question is a preference thing. Clear coat has no color at all, it can be applied over some stains, but I would recommend a sample to make sure you dont have any compatibility problems. Do not try to use clear over new varnish, you can get away with it over old fully cured varnish but new is too soft. The Power Wagon I recently did was clear over stain. Clear is much easier to work with, it dries over night to something you can actually sand instead of the gooey mess that varnish remains for what seems like weeks, but if you like the look of varnish, varnish is really the best way to get it. That's it in a nutshell, I'm sure there will be many more questions. Sometimes a conversation works better, you can ring me up at 205-565-7571 for another month or so, I'm a landline kind of guy so will have a new number after the move.

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It looks like the top side rails and front header are going to require a lot of work to get them where they need to be. I would think a small hand held power plane might be your best bet. NOW might be the guy to ask how to get the roof rails in shape. What will help you is the fact that your rear main vertical posts are intact. By bolting on the corner steel reinforcements you will be able to get the rear header close to where it needs to be. I needed to replace everything from my rear doors back. What really helped me was the fact that I purchased my wood from the Kline Family Workshop in PA. All their components come with pre drilled holes, in the exact location that Ford drilled them. I was able to install my right and left vertical posts with the rear header using the reinforcements and they came out perfectly. I have seen too many Woodies with plugged holes because they were drilled in the wrong location. Take your time, as once you remove too much wood or drill a hole in the wrong place, there is no going back. Keep us posted on your progress!

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Are the roof pieces in the pictures from the Kit? You said that most of the kit was unopened. If the one in the pictures is the one that you have to use, you will need to install at least a few of the front roof bows before you try to shape the header. The header shape has to be an extension of the roof shape, this is a process I normally do by hand.

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