Thursday, September 29, 2022

1954 Ford Country Sedan

1954 Ford

In the early 1950s Dad drove a '32 Chevy. Gayle was born in the back seat of that car on the way to Glendale Memorial Hospital 16 Dec 1953. Around the time Dad paid the mortgage on 914 North Isabel off in September 1954, he decided to buy a 1954 Ford Country Sedan. It had a straight 6 engine and lots of torque in the low end. I think Dad bought it so we could all travel to Idaho together in comfort. I learned to drive in the old Ford. It had "three on a tree," meaning you shifted manually from the steering column.  I assume most of my siblings learned in that car too. At first, shifting was rough and Dad winced as I tried to let my foot off the clutch smoothly, when taking off from a stop. But Dad was patient and I finally learned. It's something you don't forget. On the freeway when you took your foot off the gas in 3rd gear it went into overdrive or 4th or gear automatically. That saved on gas. It had an AM radio. We all learned to drive stick in that car. The old Ford took lots of abuse.

After driving it for six or seven years Dad heard a knocking coming from the engine. That meant a bearing was going out. He replaced he bearings and the bearings went out again. He discovered they cut the block wrong and the bearing spun out again resulting in more knocking. He pulled the engine a second time and put it onto the bench in the garage. He found the block lacked a little tab that held the bearings in place. So he notched the block so the bearing was held in place. While doing this he showed M.... and I how to use plasti-gauge and pointed out all the engine parts and what they did. Everything else on the car lasted a long time. It wasn't until the late 70s that he sold the car and bought the VW Van. 

The Ford was dark green. He later painted it white with red around the windows in the back yard using his spray gun. Dad redid the seats. He replaced the radiator but other than regular oil changes, that is the only maintenance in all those years. One time he hit a deer on the way to Malta. He made some of the Ford's decorative parts and attached them to the car.  Our family depended on the Ford every day for almost 25 years. That Ford was like having a best friend.

1955 Ford Station Wagon:

When M.... was 15  he owned a Honda 50 which he loved and rode to High School every day. M.... never insured his motor cycle or wore a helmet.  Dad noticed that M... wasn’t doing well in school or generally so in 1965 JHG bought a wrecked 1955 Ford 2 door 6 cylinder station wagon with a blown engine, in poor condition and badly dented from a guy at NBC for a dollar.  It had been hit in the side quite badly. The interior was trashed. M... and JHG redid the engine at McJoiner Brothers in Burbank. The back seat was ok so he kept it. M... found a black tuck and roll front seat at a junk yard and installed it. The Ford drove with "3 on a tree" and had a broken the bracket that held the steering column in place. The shifter needed fixing fixing, so one day M... and I were at Charles Brown's house, when Charles pulled out a transmission from an old car he was working on which had an extra floor shifter which he wasn't using. M... said, "Do you want that?" Charles said no, do you want it?' M... said “Sure." M... found a tall shift rod to go with the shifter but needed a knob on the top of the gear shift. M... made an orange 3 ball in High School with which he made a gear shift ball. Now the Ford shifted from the floor. M... painted the 55 twice in the back yard. He used JHG's compressor and paint equipment. He painted the Ford red. Later he wanted a better paint job and he repainted it the same color.
Hi Kent,
Great story!  I remember riding in that car several times.  The only item that doesn't jive with my memory is the billiard ball shift handle.  I remember distinctly it was a solid yellow number 1 ball.  It's funny that that detail would stick with me.  I remember when I was little thinking the 1 ball on the shift was very cool....and still do  And many times playing pool in the years that followed, seeing the 1 ball on the table would trigger that memory.  Anyway, to me it's funny the random data and memories I have rolling around in my head from all those years ago.

One time M... was going on a date and he heard a clunk and a thud and clunk, clunk and clunk. The next day he took the rear end apart and found a bolt had come loose. The bolt actually became a gear. M... took the bolt out and the rear end ran fine after that.  M... used to take kids to the beach often during the summer in his Ford before his mission, usually after work. 

When I got home from my mission, October 1967,  (M... is now 17) I went out on the street to meet M.... Before my mission he was a little kid just like he always was growing up. I walked out to a red 1955 Ford Station Wagon and out stepped M..., towering about me. It was a moment. While M... was on his mission to Alberta, Canada, 1969-71 JHG drove and took care of the ’55 Ford Station Wagon. In 1971 or 72 I traded my yellow MGB-GT to M... for his 1955 Ford Station Wagon and some cash. I needed the trunk space to haul school supplies and I wanted to restore and drive an MG-TD. The first time I met Suzanne in Glendora she was a MIA maid looking for a ride home. Her brother was late and she accepted the ride. I took her and her friend out to the parking lot and placed Suzanne in the back seat of the 55 Ford and her friend in the front seat. From the back seat Suzanne looked through the floorboard and saw the pavement below. 

The adventure surrounding the TD is next.

1956 Chevy 

I viewed it as an old persons car and wanted something better when I returned from the mission field. So for $200 I bought a 1956 Chevy two door. It had a four on the floor Hurst gear shift, black tuck and roll upholstery and a radio with reverb. I drove it for a couple of years. I even got some spacers for the springs which gave it a harder ride. It was a great car. At the time people were trying to conserve gas so I added a little meter onto the dash. When you put your foot to the floor the gauge went into the dreaded red zone. That meant you were sucking large quantities of gas through your carburetor. I learned to easy up on the gas. The car looked and ran well. I drove it to BYU a couple of years and it did very well. Love,  Dad


While working in Glendora in 1972 I traded the 67 MGB-GT to M... for his 55 Ford and M... gave me some cash to make the deal fair. The reason I traded is because I needed something that could haul school supplies and I needed a little cash because I wanted to restore an old MG. The one M... and  I restored was a 1952 MG-TD. M... at first bought a trashed 1952 TD from someone in the San Fernando Valley. It had good wood which was unusual. Later we found a car that was ready to be restored but not put together. I bought that one and M... and I took the two cars and made one beautiful car. The day we had the car together we gathered around for an exciting moment. I turned the cart over, it started, and I looked at the oil pressure gauge.  No pressure.  Dad yelled, “Shut it down.” I turned the car off. Dad said,”I’ll bet you didn’t put a gasket between the oil pump and the engine block. M... and I drove to Goleta near Santa Barbara to Moss Motors, bought the gasket and brought it back. We took the pan off the car and added the gasket. The car ran perfectly after that. But the car needed paint. We took the car apart and with the help from Curly across the street we detailed the body and all the fenders and got everything ready to be painted. Because M... has already painted the ’55 Ford he knew we could paint it outdoors which was somewhat dusty. We painted each part and hung the fenders on the clothes line to dry. Between coats we rubbed out the paint which resulted in a perfect finish. You could set a light piece of cloth on the front hood and it slid off like it was on glass. 

The truck is stumbling on the way to the swap meet. M... pulls into a parking lot. M... pulls the distributor and finds it all pitted and dirty.  "Dad, don't you ever tune this thing up?" Dad, "No, never." M... later tuned the car up. 

Kent:  In 1954 my father purchased a new green 1954 Ford station wagon. It had plenty of room so the next summer the family took our first trip to Malta, Idaho, where dad's parents lived. We had a great time and took many trips in that car. After seven years of heavy use dad painted the Ford white with red trim around the windows. Sometime in  the 1960s the Ford threw a main bearing and dad and 12 year old M... rebuilt the engine. It threw a main bearing again and this time dad figured out that the bearing "spun" because the tab to hold it in place was etched into the block in the wrong place. Dad fixed it and the car went for many years. 

I learned to drive in the old Ford. It had "three on a tree," meaning you shifted manually from the steering column.  I assume most of my siblings learned in that car too. At first, shifting was rough and dad winced as I tried to smoothly take off from a stop. But dad was patient and I finally learned. It's something you don't forget. 

One time I got a job delivering phone books. I drove to the warehouse and loaded as many phone books as I could into the Ford. There were books all the way to the ceiling. Then I drove around Glendale delivering the heavy soft covered books. My route included many apartment buildings and I hefted an armload of books over lawns and up apartment stairs. I had good energy and enjoyed the work. 

When my brother was 15, in 1965 dad thought he needed a little direction. At the same time a friend at dad's work had a crashed green 1956 Ford with a blown engine. He offered it to dad for a dollar. Dad brought it home and he and M... rebuilt the engine and fixed the dent and interior. They used Myjoiner Brothers in Burbank to do the machine work on the engine. M... found some seats at a junk yard and the car was ready to drive. It was a 2 door station wagon with a front and back seat and lots of room behind the seats to haul stuff. The car sat at a bit of an angle with the back slightly raised. M...and dad painted the car red in the back yard and it looked good.

When M... was 15 and 1/2 he bought a Honda 50 from a kid in a gas station. M... handed him the money and said, "I don't know how to shift it, can you give me a short lesson?" The young man did and M... drove the Honda 50 all the way home. 

One time while driving the Ford M... heard a clunking sound coming from the rear of the car. He discovered a bolt had dislodged from the spider gear. He fixed it. The red Ford had 3 on the tree and a six cylinder engine. One day the shifting linkage broke. M... was friends with Charles Brown who was going to throw away some extra linkage he had. He gave the linkage to M... who promptly used the it to move the shifter to the floor. 

In 1969 M... went on a church mission to the Alberta Canadian Mission. During the two years dad took care of M...s's car and on his return he had wheels. 

In 1972 while I was teaching in Glendora I bought a yellow 1952 MGB-GT. The car was super cute with wire wheels, a good interior and was fun to drive. One day I drove to Highland Park to a somewhat tough area to pick up a girl on a date. As he drove into the neighborhood I suddenly saw bright flashing lights in his rear view mirror. The policeman pulled me over and asked what I was doing. He said, "We don't often see this type of car in this neighborhood." I laughed. 

Around the same time I decided I needed more room to move school materials and car parts and traded my yellow MGB-GT for M...s 1956 Ford. M... drove the MG until he got married when it became impractical to own it. Both M... and I have dreamed of owing that little car over the years.  M... liked everything about it except the spoke wheels which needed bimonthly tension adjustment. 

In 1973 M... and I got interested in old MG's and M... purchased a 1952 MG-TD that was junk with the idea of restoring it. Later they found another TD which had all the parts and a rebuilt engine. They decided to restore it. They did most of the work at dad's house in Glendale. It was quite a day when they hung all the fenders on the clothes line and spray painted multiple coats of paint, sanding between coats and taking great care to work with as much perfection as possible considering we were outside in a dusty back yard. When the car was put together it was a thing of beauty. The brown body, black fenders and black interior gleamed. We tossed a cloth across the hood and the cloth slid across the paint like it was on glass. 

Once Kent drove the TD from Glendora through Pasadena to Glendale the night before the Rose Parade. People holding their places for the Parade gave loud shouts of approval to the car.  A family I home taught made me a black felt cap which looked pretty cool with the car.

One day while teaching in Glendora in the summer of 1973 I drove to church in the 1956 Ford. After teaching the 14 year-olds he walked out to the lobby and saw a very pretty, young woman on the phone. She had long luxurious hair and I overheard her asking for her brother to pick her up from a Laurel Conference. He told her it would be a while. So I struck up a conversation with Suzanne Brown and her friend Melinda Romney. I offered to drive them 20 miles away to their homes and they accepted. I put Melinda in the front seat and Suzanne in the back. Where Suzanne was sitting she could look down through the floorboards and see the street below. In 1974 I sold both cars and bought a 1972 MBG-GT.

In the summer of 1974  Suzanne and I dated in the Ford. We went to the Hollywood Bowl, dinner downtown LA and to a Dodger game. At the end of the year they got married Suzanne never let me forget I put her in the back seat. She probably didn't realize that I thought she was too beautiful and too young to ride in front with him.

Dec 10, 2022

Hi everyone: After all 8 children learned to drive in the 1954 Ford station wagon it was time to let it go. So in the late 1970s Dad decided to sell the car. Somebody heard the Ford was up for sale and came by the house. They made an offer on the car. Dad thought for a moment and said, “No, that is way too much, the car is not worth that.” Dad then lowered the price and the happy man picked up the keys and drove away. 

As you may remember Dr. Brown owned many Rolls-Royce cars, Jaguars and Volvos. He like the look and feel of a fine piece of machinery. He had an Hispanic patient who worked on Rolls-Royce cars in trade for payment of his medical bills. That helped Dr. Brown afford cars that were expensive to maintain.

When we were first married Dr. Brown gave Suzanne an old station wagon that still had some life in it. During our first year of marriage Suzanne drove that car to the Temple where she was the Temple receptionist. Later when we were in Stevenson Ranch he gave us an older red Jaguar sedan. We drove it for about a year and sold it. It was too expensive to restore. 

One of Jim's favorite cars was owned by Richard Boone who starred in Have Gun Will Travel.  It was a Safari wagon.  After many years of driving it in parades with his family he sold it to the maker of Armoral.  He took the proceeds from that car and otherr Rolls and took Marjorie to New Zealand and China and later his children and their spouses to Nauvoo.

When Dr. Brown sold a car he had the habit of calling the person a week or two later and asking if they were still happy with the car. If not he was willing to take it back. 

David Ramsey: "Giving is the antidote for selfishness.” 

"One of generosity’s biggest payoffs is something you may not expect: contentment. Givers are content because they know that stuff won’t make them happy. They recognize that they have enough for themselves and enough to share. In our chaotic, gotta-have-it world, genuine peace and contentment shine like a lighthouse."

David Ramsey says on a Holliday go to a local restaurant and leave your family in the car. After ordering something, leave a $100 tip and walk out to your car. With your family, watch the reaction of the waitress through the window. Waitresses who work on a Hollidays need money and her reaction will be predictable.

This week I was thinking about the generosity of Dr. Brown and JHG. I had an offer of $3,200 for the Camry. It had new tires, a new starter and a new catalytic converter. When the couple came over to buy the car they were expecting to make out a check for $3,200. I surprised them by lowering the price. I hope their teenage son will enjoy the car and if anything goes wrong they have $700 for repairs. 
Hi, The first month we drove the Rav4 everywhere and only used a tank of gas.  40 miles per gallon is cool. There are a lot of things we like about the new Rav4 Hybrid. When you are in park, or drive slowly or are gong downhill the battery powers the car. When backing up the car make a sound like aliens under the hood. That is to prevent people being run over by a silent car. We like sitting up high. It is easy to look behind you for oncoming traffic while making lane changes. Although we didn’t ask for it our car came with a weather package. The heavy mats are nice when dealing with all the snow storms we have had lately. We park way away from other cars and have noticed we have a lot of company - all evenly spaced apart. Deborah feels safer on the road and likes sitting up high. 

Toyota recommends that you “break in” the car by not going over 4,000 rpm’s for the first 650 miles. That is hard to gauge on a Rav4 because it doesn’t have a tachometer. It has an "intake manifold gauge" which measures how hard you press on the gas pedal. It is similar to the gauge I added to my 1955 Chevy. See photo below. The gauge is a reminder to keep your foot off of the gas.

When JHG’s VW Bus was new he had the car dealer change the oil. When Dad got the car back he noticed cob webs around the drain plug. That was the last time he went to the dealer for an oil change.

One time M...'s daughter took her Honda to Jiffy Lube to have her oil changed. They screwed the drain plug on so tight Mark couldn’t get it off with an impact wrench. His daughter had to return it to Jiffy Lube to have the plug loosened. 

When M... had a fairly new Mercedes, he had the oil changed at Jiffy Lube. They put 2 and 1/2 quarts extra oil in the engine which blew the seals in the upper part of his engine. Jiffy Lube denied any wrong doing but Mark knew that was not true because he drained the oil and measured the amount over what should have been in the engine. 

Changing your oil is one of the most important things you do to maintain your car. There are a lot of cheap, fake oil filters on the market. Sometimes filters even come in the exact packaging as the real thing and look exactly the same. There are Youtube videos that recount horror stories around getting oil changes and fake oil filters. With the Rav4 there is a plate under the car that protects the filter and the bottom of the engine from dust and dirt. Needles to say I’ll be changing my own oil every 5K miles. The Rav4 sits up high so I can just slip under the car and comfortably change the oil. Kent