- The Washington Times - Friday, September 15, 2000

"As a kid I thought they were ugly," Gene Welch said. He's talking about the fat-fendered, post-World War II Ford pickup trucks with all the wisdom most youths possess.
He grew up on farms in Virginia's Clarke and Loudoun counties so he saw plenty of those Fords.
By 1990 Mr. Welch decided to get a Ford pickup, but since he is fond of flathead Ford V-8 engines, he had to go back to the mid-1950s or beyond.
After a few years of searching, he found a 1947 Ford half-ton pickup in Warrenton, Va. It was offered for sale by the original owner.
Evidently, the original owner had used the truck on his farm where, in the words of Mr. Welch, "It was treated rough."
Back in the 1970s, the truck must have been ailing, so the owner gave the engine an overhaul. For whatever reason, the truck was hardly driven after the overhaul. In fact, it was parked for 20 years in a barn until Mr. Welch rescued it in April 1994. It was filled with hay and mice. Mr. Welch said, "It was a mess."
"The seat was missing and a wagon hitch had been welded onto the rear," Mr. Welch said.
In spite of all the shortcomings, Mr. Welch still found charm in the old truck.
Mr. Welch hauled it to his White Post, Va., home, parking it for six months while he decided what to do.
Not knowing that he wouldn't finish the restoration project until May 1997, he plunged ahead.
The pickup bed was barely hanging on, so Mr. Welch purchased a new one from a reproduction outfit. Then he had to locate oak flooring for the bed. Eight oak slats form the floor, separated by painted steel ribs.
All of the 1947 Ford pickups came from the factory wearing the same coat of Greenfield green, with the 15-tooth waterfall grille painted Tacoma cream. Each sold for about $1,600.
The early 1947-model trucks had painted stanchions for the outside mirrors, while the late models of that year had chrome-plated mirror stanchions.
Holes in the front fenders were where front and rear truck signal indicator lights were mounted. Since he wanted signal indicators anyway as a concession to modern-day traffic, Mr. Welch used the same holes to mount 1947-era truck signal indicator lights.
The original 6.50x16-inch six-ply tires have been replaced with four-ply tires, which make for a smoother, more comfortable carlike ride. Besides, the only cargo Mr. Welch plans to haul in his refurbished truck is air.
Inside the cab Mr. Welch has replaced the green cardboard headliner with a like piece. The metal dashboard and metal door panels are painted the same color as the exterior of the truck.
Seen through the two-spoke steering wheel is the 100 mph speedometer. Unusual for a truck of that era is the second windshield wiper. Each wiper has a separate operating switch.
All the safety glass in the cab has been replaced to enhance the appearance.
Mr. Welch reports highway gas mileage of about 16 miles per gallon, not bad for a truck of that era.
Unlike the Ford cars of the immediate postwar era, Mr. Welch's truck is equipped with a leaf spring at each corner. It likes to run about 45 to 50 mph, Mr. Welch reports. Any more than that and it's straining.
With 68,000 miles on the odometer his truck has endured years of hard work and then years of neglect followed by a 20-year hibernation.
It seems to have earned the golden years of retirement Mr. Welch has provided.

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