- The Washington Times - Friday, February 4, 2000

Over the years Mike Cumberland has restored a few pickup trucks and never felt any pangs of grief or loss when they were sold.
The man who bought his 1948 Ford pickup kept after Mr. Cumberland to get another truck. He even located a project truck for the retired Mr. Cumberland.
At the end of the summer of 1997 Mr. Cumberland agreed to go to Olney, Md., to inspect a 1953 Ford F100 pickup. There wasn't much to inspect, as Mr. Cumberland recalls. Besides an incorrect bed, the rusty truck had no running boards, no seat and no rear bumper. It did have a battery, although it was dead.
Mr. Cumberland, whose working life involved maintaining elevators, was unfazed by the condition of the truck and bought it on the spot. The owner happily agreed to haul the truck to Virginia where Mr. Cumberland, with help from his brothers Jimmie and Bill and father, Louis, would begin restoration work.
"We picked up where somebody else left off," Mr. Cumberland reports.
Three owners ago someone had commenced restoring the truck going so far as to rebuild the 215-cubic-inch, six-cylinder engine. Work had begun to convert the 6-volt electrical system to 12-volt.
At that time, for reasons unknown, the unfinished truck was sold.
The next owner reportedly did not advance the restoration and finally paid off a debt by signing over the truck.
That recipient didn't want it and sold it to Mr. Cumberland.
"To begin with," Mr. Cumberland explains, "we took it apart." They discovered it was Ford's economy truck for 1953 with a "Mileage Maker Six" under the curvaceous hood.
"Everything on this truck was an option," Mr. Cumberland says. That includes the spare tire, rear bumper, cardboard headliner and Magic Aire heater.
Options not on the truck include the passenger-side visor and an AM radio.
A virtual necessity in modern-day multilane traffic are turn signals. Mr. Cumberland's truck is now equipped with an aftermarket signal indicator, but in order to make it functional he had to find and buy an optional right-side taillight.
Since Mr. Cumberland is fond of seeing where he is going and also likes his truck to start promptly, he decided to continue the conversion to a 12-volt electrical system. At that time the generator was replaced by an alternator.
Now when he touches the starter button the powerful 12-volt battery easily spins the starter to breathe life into the six-cylinder engine. The single-barrel carburetor under the oil-bath air cleaner feeds gasoline to the engine from an 18-gallon tank.
In 1953 Ford moved the gas tank from under the seat to a frame-mounted location under the left side of the cab. The battery occupies the area beneath the floor of the right side of the cab.
To ease the maintenance chores Mr. Cumberland replaced the messy cartridge type oil filter with a spinoff disposable canister filter.
Mr. Cumberland was somewhat surprised to learn that in Ford's Golden Jubilee year of 1953 the truck line underwent the most significant change since 1935.
With a 110-inch wheelbase the 1953 Ford pickup offered greater handling and increased the front overhang 2.2 inches from 35.8 inches to 38 inches.
The handsome truck features a freshly restyled painted grille, a wider hood and a one-piece curved windshield plus deeper and wider side windows.
At the center of the new grille was a chrome-plated V-8 emblem if the truck was so equipped or an inverted three-pointed star covered with chrome if the engine had six cylinders.
Mr. Cumberland, who stands well over 6 feet, was surprised to find this "Driverized Cab" easily holds him with room left over.
A friend gave him an extra Ford truck seat with no sag springs that Mr. Cumberland had upholstered.
Under the right side of the dashboard is the Magic Aire heater that draws fresh air into the cab via the 14 vents on the right side of the cab.
When the correct bed arrived, Mr. Cumberland installed it with the eight oak slats separated by seven stainless steel strips. He is discovering that the upkeep on the wood is very time-consuming.
The cowl ventilator, which he calls his 1953 air conditioner, does provide cool air as long as it is opened during the winter months.
In less than a year's time the truck's restoration was complete. With the body painted a 1986 Ford truck blue with the grille, bumpers and wheels cream-colored, the Ford hauler appears perfect.
Soon after it was complete, some very dumb thieves attempted to steal the truck.
The only controls on the painted dashboard are the cigarette lighter, choke, wipers and headlight controls. Oh yes, on the far left is the starter button. The would-be thieves ripped out the ignition and did the appropriate rewiring, but failed to push the starter button.
Perhaps that is why they are failed truck thieves instead of rocket scientists, for which the soft-spoken Mr. Cumberland is grateful each time he climbs behind the three-spoke steering wheel of his 1953 Ford F100. This pickup is a keeper.

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