Archive for July, 2010

Last Sunday Bob and I decided we wanted to try and get the RH passenger side door open.  It was the door that was smashed in the car accident that lead to the Wagon being parked in 1969.  It was not salvageable.  It did prove to be a bit of a challenge for me to get open.  Until Bob showed up and listened to me complain about how I had been trying to get the door open for over a week. How I had tried prying it open, How I twisted and pulled on the door.   While I continued to ramble on about how this door was going to be hard to open, he climbed inside and reached over and lifted up on the inside door handle.  The door opened.  Why hadn’t I thought of that?

After I recovered from feeling stupid, I looked down and noticed that when the door opened the entire Passenger side Outer rocker panel, along with the decorative door sill plate had fallen off and was laying in one big rusty chunk on the ground.

I’ve had alot of things fall off of my cars over the years.  Mufflers, hubcaps, wiper arms, even a spare tire from under my truck.  But a Rocker Panel?

That is a first. I also hope it to be the last time.


Heatwave & Wagon Fever

Posted: July 26, 2010 in Uncategorized

It was another scorcher today! 96 degrees, and too hot to work too long.  I woke up early today while it was still cool and decided to finish removing the rear spare tire panel/ rear floor panel.  The screws were amazingly easy to get out and the panel came out in one piece.  The spare tire was still in place, however a rat or mouse had built a nest with clumps of seat foam and padding from the fallen headliner.  It had long been abandoned but was quite the mess to clean up.

The well was also filled with dirt, chunks of moss and of course flakes of rust.  I had cleaned alot of it up, but there was still plenty to get.  Bob, this Ranch Wagons “Godfather” stopped by to lend a hand.  He climbed in the back and pulled each of the  headliner bows down and handed them to me.  I pulled all the tattered remains of old headliner cloth and insulation off of them and tossed them into a waiting trash bag.  After that, Bob used a shopvac to vacuum up the rest of the crap in the spare tire well.  He would occasionally toss a big clump of rusty flaky metal into the scrap bag.  When all the cleaning out was done, we discovered that not only had be vacuumed up the the dirt & dust, but we were staring straight through the wheel well floor,through  the top of the gas tank, and through the bottom of the gas tank and  seeing the ground beneath the car.  Did I mention this wagon was rusty?

Here is a picture of the newly cleaned up interior roof:

Bob has presented a few ideas as how to deal with the recently revealed rusted spare tire well & gas tank dilemma.

1. Patch in a new spare tire well and find a good tank

2. Cut out the rusty tire well and find a gas tank that will fit in its place and do away with the spare tire well.

These are interesting ideas.  Both of them good.  I guess I have to ask myself,  “How far do you want to go in staying original with this very rusty Ranch Wagon?”

I wish they had a cure for Wagon Fever.  These questions would be so much easier to make if I didn’t suffer from this debilitating illness!

It’s too hot to work.

Posted: July 25, 2010 in Uncategorized

I got up early today and tried to get ahead of the looming 95 degree weather.  I went to 4 small, rural junkyards that I used to frequent years ago.  Most I hadn’t been to in over 10 years.  I was surprised at how little old iron was left.  In junk yards that used to have rows & rows of ’50s & 60’s cars were now filled with 80’s & 90’s junk.  The scrap prices of 5 years ago seemed to have taken their toll on these classic American parts sources.  Of all 4 yards, I found one 1950’s car.  A 1959 Edsel Villager Wagon.  It was pretty picked over, and nothing I needed interchanged with it.

I got home around 11:00am, and the temp was already at 83 degrees.  So I unloaded a set of rims & almost new tires I had stored and carefully cleaned them up and primed & painted them. The hot weather & bright sun was perfect for baking on the Chrysler Red enamel I decided to use on them.  I don’t know what it is, but whenever I see an old ’50s vehicle sporting bright red wheels with their small hubcaps I smile.  So for now, the wagon will have tires that will hold air, and shiny red wheels.  I have a set of really nice 1957 or 1958 Ford center wheel covers in the attic of my garage, but it is so hot up there now I think I’ll wait to go searching for them.  Tonight during the evening I will be putting the wheels on the car.  Now, I must go BBQ hamburgers.

I got the tailgate open!  Actually, the Ranch Wagon and I came to an understanding. Either it cooperate and drop its tailgate or become a Chinese motor-scooter after I haul it down and watch it get crushed for scrap.  There might have been some colorful language mixed in as well.

I know why the wagon was so insistent on keeping  its tailgate closed.  Because once I got it down, I wished I had never opened it.  There is a lot of rust behind the tailgate and in the rear compartment lip area.  Since my wife is a teacher and not a welder, I am going to have to  find a friend who has the equipment for welding in patch panels.  The sooner the better.

As earlier noted, the tailgate is shot.  It is not salvageable at all. You can see how badly the area around the hinges are completely deteriorated:

The rest of the pictures will be of the rusty area between the tailgate and the body area.  It is almost non existent:

The final thing I did tonight was clean out the rear cargo area of all debris, moss, pine cones, dirt, rust flakes, and junk.

It was a bitter sweet victory tonight.  I beat the tailgate, but the Rust got me in the end.  Doesn’t it always though?

I got ambitious tonight, and decided I was going to try and get that rear window & tailgate open.  I had sprayed the hinges and pivot points with penetrating oil Sunday night. I laid an old blanket in the rear interior of the car and entered it with a rubber mallet, screwdriver and can of penetrating oil ready for a battle.

I was not disappointed.  I have herded cows that were less stubborn and obnoxious than this window hatch was being! Finally, with the blow of the rubber mallet the latch broke free and success! The rear tailgate window was unlatched. I exited the car, completely  covered in tattered pieces of headliner, dead insects, spider webs, rust flakes and dirt.  I carefully lifted the glass hatch up 2 inches and sprayed it with oil. Than down. Up four inches and sprayed with oil.  Than down. Than all the way up.


I surveyed the damage around the glass lift frame and the roof rails around the sealed glass hatch. The Pine needles and water did a good job of corroding them.  Most of the paint was bubbled up and flaky.  I scrapped it with a screw driver and found solid metal in most places.  However there are a few thin spots and a few pin holes.  I thought it would be a lot worse so this is good news.

I will include some other interior pictures in this post, as there is better lighting tonight.

The actual tailgate is being extremely stubborn. The latch on the Rh passenger side is stuck and won’t release off its latch pin. No matter how hard I bang it or soak it, it refuses to budge.  So that battle was lost. I even tried talking nice to it, but to no avail.  It just laughed at me and during a quiet moment of mental strategy I swear I heard it giggle at me and say….“amateur”. That is when you know its time to pack up the tool box and call it a night.

Well, it looks like Bob has pulled off the impossible! He has located a ’58 Ranch Wagon tailgate and sent me a picture.  The price was right, and the condition is excellent. It’s been purchased and will be mothballed until I get to the point of getting the old one off.

This Ranch Wagon is lucky to have such a great friend in Bob.  If its Ford, than Bob knows how to find it, or point you in the right direction.

Taking Inventory

Posted: July 21, 2010 in Uncategorized

Since getting the Ranch Wagon home, I have been carefully taking inventory of what needs to be replaced, what is missing, and what is reusable.  I have also been running around soaking everything I can with a can of PB Blaster penetrating oil. The car has sat for so long that any time I try to move something on it, it refuses to budge or groans to the point that it sounds like it is going to break.

I Washed the back half of the car, removing 41 years of moss and pine needles from about every surface or crevice on it. After about 3 scrubbings with a stiff brush it has come fairly clean.

The rear tailgate is a complete loss. The rust on the bottom edge around the hinges is extreme. The area just below the tailgate is extremely rusty as well. The years of pine needles accumulating, and the moisture they absorbed acted like a wet sponge. It held all the water in these areas and rusted them out. The roof and roof rails are surprisingly in good condition. The rear lift gate window & frame are in good shape as well. However, I cannot get them open. The latches are stuck. I have sprayed penetration oil into the latch areas hoping they might loosen up.

I got the 2 sliding windows free and sliding. I stuck my head in and this is what I was met with:

No, those aren’t bats hanging from a cave (although they startled me as much as bats would have) those shreds of material are what is left of the original headliner from 1958! What did I get myself into?

Next I sprayed the hinges on folding back seat, as they were seized in place from sitting for 41 years.  I worked them free and folded the seat down:

The floors in the back seat are very soft and non existent in places. The years of sitting water have taken their toll. Also, squirrels had taken up residence inside the Wagon at some time as there are tons of acorn shells and pine cones on the floors and under the folding back seat!:

I am losing daylight at this point, so I am going to spray a few more things in the car with penetrating oil and put the car cover back on.

So far my list of needs are:

Driver Door, Passenger Door, Front Floor pans, Rear Floor Pans, Both outer Rocker Panels (area beneath doors on outside of car) and both front fenders and a Hood, and a Tail Gate.

I think I might need a parts car. Hmmmmmm….. Don’t tell my wife.


I have acquired this 1958 Ford 2 door Ranch Wagon. It has seen better days, and frankly should be crushed. This car is in the worst condition of any car I have ever bought to restore. However, it is rare enough, and it has just enough good about it that I have decided to start a quest to bring this wagon……back from the grave!!!

I have a soft spot for wagons. They were the work horse for the family for generations. They got no respect for years. Many family station wagons met their fate after years of faithful service through family vacations, hauling the kids around, camping trips, only to end up as a battering ram on wheels at crash derbies and county fair demolition derbies all over the country.

A deal was struck and now the car sits in my driveway. I had to quickly cover it with a car cover as the neighbors were throwing daggers with their eyes. “What pile of rust did Don drag home this time” I imagined them saying.

The car has sat since 1969. It was under cover for a number of years, before the roof it was under dry rotted and collapsed on top of it. This allowed the car to get very wet and mossy. If this were a 4 door wagon, it would be going straight to the crusher. However the 2 door production numbers are very low, thus making this car rare.

This blog will be a  journey of how I get this hulk back on the road. I hope you enjoy the ride. Oh, make sure you get a tetanus shot before entering. I have a feeling your going to need it.