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1941 Ford Woodie Memorial


41 woody
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  Several months ago, a nurse friend suggested restoring an old woodie wagon.  Originally, we looked at a locally owned Plymouth needing extensive work.  Unfortunately, it sold before we could make a purchase.  As fate would have it a 1941 Ford Super Deluxe became available.   These 2 RN's will be flying out to look at the car in order to purchase it next week.

  All this being said, this project is a huge undertaking.  I used to be a high end finish carpenter for almost 20 years.  I have a nice bandsaw, 13 inch dewalt thickness planer, 8 inch jointer, several routers with tables, table saw, drill press, different sanders, a dust collection system, numerous hand tools, and a 4 x 6 MFT/T-Track assembly table (the wood shop is ready and waiting).  I am not intimidated by complex wood fabrication.   I have a mill set up to provide appropriate quartersawn wood.  I have also established contact with a CNC shop to make a couple of the complex door pieces versus buying a router duplicator.  The 41 has good wood.  However, I want to produce 2 additional sets of wood, 1 for my car, and another for a restorer needing a set.

  An empty 2 1/2 car garage will be the new home of this car during the restoration process.   As a former combat US Marine and VA nurse it would be amazing to dedicate a 1941 Ford Woodie Wagon to Hershel "Woody" Williams and Gold Star Families who have sacrificed so much for this country.  

  At this point, being new to car restoration, I need some guidance.   Thanks in advance, to this community for any and all advice.

 

 

  

Edited by 41 woody (see edit history)
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  • 41 woody changed the title to 1941 Ford Woodie Memorial

Just don't bite off more than you can chew. A lot depends on the condition of the floor pans and rockers and how much wood needs to be replaced on the Woodie. No one reproduces the pan and rockers, all must be fabricated. The estimated cost for the Maple structural wood, the Basswood roof slat's and Birch or Gumwood panels can exceed $10,000 for a complete re-wood.

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Who is Hershel "Woody" Williams?  Ask some specific questions. I think you can do this. You have the right tools. Unfortunately, this woodie forum does not get a lot of traffic but almost everyone has experience with building a woodie. In addition to what you mentioned, I can add a stack dado blade set for table saw, a tenoning jig for table saw, a mortising machine and a shoulder plane. 

As for car restoration in general, as you are taking the car apart take lots of pictures of EVERYTHING, make a narrated video as you are taking parts off, keep all bolts and screws with the part even if they are broke or rusted. I put them in a pill bottle and wire them to the part. I did all this and I am sooo glad I did. Many years later I did not lose anything and I know how it goes back together. 

Edited by Tom Boehm (see edit history)
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10K is quite a chunk for wood.  No getting around it though.  Does anyone have a cut list for the 41 Ford?  Blueprints or drawings would also be helpful.  I reached out to the Library at Greenfield Villge but no response yet.  You guys are are awesome so far.  So our journey begins.

Edited by 41 woody (see edit history)
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Tom brings up a good point. Once you get started, save everything. Everything on the '41 thru '48 Ford station wagon is unique. All the hardware such as door handles, locks, window risers, quarter window locks and pulls are Woodie only and if you are missing anything, it will take forever to find it and be expensive. It all comes down to what shape the car is in. Can you provide pictures? I never give out phone numbers unless it's O.K.ed, but you can call Woodie body builders such as Ron Heiden in CA. If you Google Ron you can get contact info, he's famous in the Woodie community and pick his brain. Another builder you can Google is Mike Nickel's in Michigan. Unfortunately, Mike's shop burned to the ground Labor Day weekend, he is a great guy and would be willing to answer questions.

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I live by Mike.  These sound like great resources.  I feel weird talking to Mike right now with his recent loss.  I see he has a go fund me page.  Something good happened today.  A friend near Sout Haven. called and said he is clearcutting his property to build.  He said I can have any of the trees if I want them.  Not sure how to even approach that though.  H has Cherry, Sugar Maple and Ash.  I will make sure to not lose anything.  I am sooooooo exited about this.   We are giving ourselves 5 years to finish the project.  Then it is time to hit route 66.

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There is another current thread on this forum on almost the same question. In the "General Discussion" section at the top of the index page. The thread is "woodworking tools". You can also join the National Woodie Club to make contact with many others building woodies and advertisements for professional woodie builders in the magazine "Woodie Times". I think 10k for just the wood is high but I won't say he is crazy. I had some plywood for the panels custom made with honduran mahogany on one side and birch on the other. The final cost was about $300 per sheet. 

Your friend's offer of trees is a real option but here are some cautions. If you air dry the lumber, it takes 1 year per inch of thickness to fully dry. Some of the ash on my car was given to me by an acquaintance who cut it off of his property. It had been sitting many years and was dry already. Also, you do not know what this wood will look like when it is cut up into lumber. It may not be suitable for a woodie. The color may not be uniform and the grain may not be straight. Don't hesitate to spend a few dollars and buy the best quality wood. 

5 years is realistic for some guys. I however have been working on mine for 20. Just slow progress. In between I raised a family, was a scoutmaster, worked, life. The key is to have time and money at the same time!

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As Tom points out, wood takes a long, long time to dry. If you start with "green" lumber, your finished product will probably shrink and check. Ford used Maple for the structural members and any other species won't look the same as the Maple. It took me 5 years of every weekend and most nights to complete my Woodie.

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Since you say you are new to car restoration here is a list of things that need to be addressed. 

Most of car restoration is disassembly, degreasing metal parts, removing rust, painting, and reassembly. Rust removal can be done with a sandblast cabinet and /or chemical rust remover. I like Evapo-Rust the best. If a part is rust pitted and it shows, (meaning not on the underside of the car) The surface must be smoothed and sanded with bondo or high build spray primer. 

Plastic or rubber steering wheel must be restored

Dashboard gauge cluster restored

Running boards rubber replaced

Plastic on dashboard replaced

Wiring harness replaced

Headlight and tailight sockets restored

Interior upholstery

Chrome replating

Sheet metal bodywork and painting

All rubber parts on the car replaced 

Top fabric and padding replaced

Rain gutter replaced or reused

All mechanical systems restored. This includes engine rebuild, cooling system/radiator, brake system, generator restoration, transmission, clutch, drive shaft, rear axle/differential, suspension system, steering system. All bearings and seals.

Window channels

Glass

Floor covering

You should start now finding sources for all these. Ask here and anywhere. Prewar Fords are some of the most commonly restored cars out there. There are lots of reproduction parts and Lots of knowledge out there. 

 

Here are two books that would be helpful "The Do it Yourself Guide to Woodie Woodworking" by Rick Bloechl  Published 1996  by Bay Area Graphics. This book is not as good as it sounds. It is worthwhile for a beginner because the author disassembles and builds a Ford woodie with a kit made up of premade wood parts. Lots of pictures. 

 

The best woodie book by far for history, pictures, and original specifications and materials is "Famous Ford Woodies" by Lorin Sorensen Published 2003 by Silverado Publishing Co. St. Helena California.

 

 

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According to the book "Famous Ford Woodies", in 1941 the choices for panels were birch or gumwood. Gumwood was used first in 1940. The book describes it as darker colored from the Red Gumwood tree of the southeastern U.S. It was "stained lightly" for consistent color. The book doesn't say but I assume birch was used on the inside of the car. 

I don't recall seeing many Ford woodies in person or in photos restored with the gumwood option. It is a very wavy grain. Good pictures of cars with it in the book. 

The book also says the wood bodies were the same from '41-'48. 

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There is a difference in the 1941 Ford Station Wagon body. The rear doors do not have window lift mechanisms, they have divided sliding glass like the rear quarter glass. If Gumwood was used on the exterior, it was also used in the interior. Another book I would suggest in purchasing is the 1941-1948 Ford Book available from the V-8 Ford Club, it will help you in your restoration with all the fact's and other info you need.

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If you go onto the E-Bay web site and then go onto E-Bay Motors someone is selling a set of four '41-'48 Ford Woodie doors. Not the greatest shape, but they do have the window regulators, vent windows and some smaller items. I would estimate probably half the wood needs to be replaced and they are listed for $2400. I don't know if this would help you or not. The regulators and vent windows are extremely hard to find. You should just go to the site to see how much wood and work is required for the interiors of the doors alone.

Edited by 46 woodie (see edit history)
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21 hours ago, 41 woody said:

The maple at the mill is at less than 7% moisture.  It has been sitting for 3 months drying.  Trying to decide on the door panels.  I am not a fan of Mahogany.  I want to do Birds Eye Maple but that would be super expensive.

I built the body for this wagon a while back, it has birdseye panels. I stumbled on a batch of birdseye at a local hardwood supplier, I resawed it into 1/8" veneer and made these panels. I dont remember it being terribly expensive, the hard part is finding it, I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

 

I also think 10K might be on the high side for wood. I recently finished a full body on a 1950 Power Wagon and without digging the receipts out I would guess the total for everything, floors, body, roof and panels was probably not over $5,000.

 

For tools, don't think anyone has mentioned finger joint cutters, will need to be able to do that.

IMG_0835.JPG

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Thanks. I don't consider myself to be unusually talented, I think a lot more people are capable of this type of work than know it. Take your time and pay attention to what you're doing, you just might surprise yourself.

 

As far as changes go, original vehicles or restorations aren't bringing the money they did ten or fifteen years ago, the market is changing. Altering a vehicle on the other hand is a double edged sword. The end value of an altered vehicle will depend almost entirely on the quality of the work.

 

If you are building a memorial car I would think originality would be a priority. As far as color, there's "the" original color and there's "an" original color, is that an important distinction? I don't know if it's even possible to "numbers match" a 1941 vehicle, maybe it is but  I think you're getting into concourse teritory there. An engine of the correct era or series I would think would be fine.

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A lot depends on what you plan to do with the car. If you are planning to enter it into fine point judging, then the color matters. There is an old saying, "it's just as easy to paint a car the wrong color, as it is to paint it the correct color. If you just to plan on driving it and having fun with it, who cares, it's your car. I wouldn't paint it some weird color such as pink or purple though. The numbers on '40's era Fords are on the chassis and top of the transmissions, so I wouldn't worry about changing the motor. By the way, hold onto your hat when you research how much it will cost to rebuild a flathead!

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Hello 41, my opinion on color change is if you pick a color originally offered on 1941 Ford woodies you will not lower the value. It probably would not lower the value If you pick a non Ford color but one that is common in that era. 

 

According to the "Famous Ford Woodies " book the metal colors offered on 1941 Ford woodies were: Black, Harbor Gray, Cayuga Blue, Lochaven Green, Mayfair Maroon, Palisade Gray. There are vintage color charts offered on Ebay and swapmeets.  The original roof fabric was brown vinyl coated canvas with cobra grain. 

 

I know a little bit about Ford woodies because I read books and because they are so relatively common they are talked about a lot on online forums and "Woodie Times". 

 

I am restoring a 1940 Lasalle woodie. There are pictures of it on another thread in this woodie forum category. 

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Here is an update ladies and gentleman.  A new company "Quartersawn Classic Woodworks" has been created.  The 1941 Ford Woodie resides in Ceresco, Michigan.  We have made a couple trips to visit Mike Nickels.  He is a wealth of information.  He has been extremely helpful and patient with this novice.  His shop is going well.  I have purchased Maple tools , and other infrastructure items.  The garage is still being organized.  The immediate plan is to have the car completely disassembled by October.  It is 40% of the way with body panels, rear hatch, seats, hood, doors, front window, and dash being removed.  Next will be remove engine, transmission, and the rest of the wood body.  Alot of work still remaining but Mike has been generous with his time and knowledge.  The company also purchased a running 41 four door Fordor Sedan which is in excellent shape and will be used as a reference when putting things back together.   Pictures will be posted regularly in the near future.  Thank you Woodie Community.  Let's build a car folks.  Lost your number 46 Woodie when I bought a new phone.  Everyone feel free to call (Mike) @ 269-234-3054 with advice.   Need advice on what would be the best welder for my needs (floor boards, tac welding, maybe some stainless).  Mike and I will be taking a welding class this fall.  I have some parts still to purchase if anyone is wanting to part with any 41 stock.  The Fordor will be preserve quality and the Woodie will be Concourse.

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