- The Washington Times - Friday, April 3, 2009

Long before Josh Wolf was born, his grandfather, Frank Wermuth, bought a 15-year-old used truck for his Wisconsin vegetable farm.

The 1949 Dodge B-1-D 126 one-ton truck with a stake body bed was purchased from a Madison, Wis., construction company and put to work on the farm. When the Wermuths bought another farm, all of their worldly goods were moved to the new home on the back of the 1949 Dodge - even their Ford tractor.

With a gross vehicle weight of 10,000 pounds, the Dodge proved to be a useful workhorse on the farm for more than 20 years. Eventually, the brakes went out and the well-worn truck was put out to pasture in the mid-1980s.

From his earliest days, Mr. Wolf checked out the old Dodge every time his parents took him to visit his grandparents. As the years passed, the Dodge deteriorated and all nine windows in the cab were broken.

After his grandfather died in 2001, Mr. Wolf, a teenager, began lobbying his grandmother for permission to resurrect the truck. With permission, Mr. Wolf then enlisted the aid of several family members. With a severely limited budget, a grateful Mr. Wolf received an abundance of help from his relatives.

He found that two of the four rear tires held air, so with the front of the truck lifted, it was towed to his uncle’s nearby farm. The odometer registered 68,000 miles. He was pleasantly surprised to learn that the 82-horsepower, inline, six-cylinder engine turned freely and did not need to be overhauled.

“They don’t make them like they used to,” Mr. Wolf observed.

The bent bars of the grille were removed. “The dents were hammered out and then they were shined up,” Mr. Wolf said. Damage to the full-length running boards was confined to the rear half, so the damaged areas of the running boards were trimmed off, and they now end at the rear of the cab.

As work on the Dodge progressed the bench seat was reupholstered in black vinyl. Because of budgetary concerns, the door panels and headliner remain on the “to do” list. The original 9-foot-long oak floor and sides of the bed were replaced with pressure-treated wood.

At the rear of the truck are two taillights, one on each side of the two brake lights in the center. Below the lights, Mr. Wolf said, is an iron trailer hitch that discourages tailgaters. The other end of the Dodge is protected by three large bumper guards.

With the Dodge prepped for painting, Mr. Wolf gave his adventurous grandmother a brief ride. It was short and chilly because the windshield had yet to be installed. “It made her smile,” Mr. Wolf recalled.

Wearing a fresh coat of blue paint, the Dodge was ready for six new 6.50x16-inch, 8-ply, bias tires to be installed on the heavy steel black wheels. Mr. Wolf had to search for a shop with the equipment and skill to mount the tires on the two-piece, split rims. To further complicate matters, the rear dual wheels are equipped with a locking ring.

By spring 2004, after about a year of work, Mr. Wolf declared restoration of the truck complete. The next two years, his junior and senior high school years, the Dodge was Mr. Wolf’s daily transportation. He was always careful parking his truck with its long 126-inch wheelbase. “There are only three inches clearance on each side of the parking space,” he said.

Mr. Wolf used his truck as a float in many parades, and the flat bed proved to be a great dance floor. With no rear shock absorbers the Dodge rides exactly as expected.

“I have hit my head on the ceiling,” Mr. Wolf said.

Since then, he has kept a sharp eye out for bumps in the road.

Regardless of the load, he said his Dodge delivers 10 miles per gallon. The 80-mph speedometer is overly optimistic, Mr. Wolf said, adding that 58 mph is the absolute top speed. The odometer has recorded more than 71,000 miles.

Mr. Wolf is now a student at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. His restored Dodge, however, is stored in a barn on the farm, where it worked for many years.

“A lot of love and time went into this truck,” he said.

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