1. Introduction to Pat's 1950s Ford.
Background to this restoration project.
The model is a Ford Thames E83W, wooden dropside pickup truck, registration MBW 138.
Built in the closing stages of the 19 year long production run, this vehicle was first registered in September 1957, by Oxfordshire County Council.
It was first owned by a large country estate - Cornbury Park, Charlbury, in Oxfordshire, then on to O.V. Watney (of brewing renown) where it was used primarily for the collection of milk.
Churns of milk were collected from several dairy farms on the estate, and then transported to a milk collection point for collection by a larger vehicle for onward transport to a dairy plant.
After 10 years with the estate the truck passed to an Oxfordshire farmer, who used it for the next 5 years on general farm work. Sometime in 1972 it was taken as part-payment for some vehicle parts by a vehicle dismantler in Witney, Oxfordshire. He realised that these vehicles, once common, were now becoming very scarce, so he decided to keep it out of interest. He laid it up in an open fronted lean-to shed, covering the cab over with a sheet. There it remained, untouched, in this position for the next 31 years!
In March 2003 it was purchased for preservation. Despite the length of time it had been laid up, the vehicle had survived in remarkably sound condition. The front part of the wooden load bed had rotted away, but most of the rear of the truck was in fairly sound condition. Fortunately details of the truck had been transferred onto a V5, and the original buff coloured logbook still exists, documenting the owners and enabling it to retain its original registration number.
A 4 stage restoration was started, involving a total stripdown. The original engine had been replaced at some stage in the vehicle's life, but during restoration it was found to be in good condition. It was overhauled, and reconditioned where necessary. Every effort is being made to retain as much of the original vehicle as possible, only replacing where unavoidable.
The 4 stages are as follows: 1) chassis and running gear, including brakes, suspension and steering 2) engine and gearbox 3) cab, wings, grille, bonnet etc 4) the wooden body. To date, March 2005, stages 1 and 2 have been completed. Stage 3 is well under way. New front wings have been fabricated in steel, as the original ones had rusted badly on the rear parts & are being fitted.
Here are some general views of the truck, as found. At some stage someone started to respray the cab, so it is half grey & half in the original green. The extra paint has helped to preserve the metalwork. It can be seen how amazingly sound the vehicle is, considering it has been laid up in a barn for 31 years!