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How I got the PW Bug

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  • How I got the PW Bug

    During the summer of 1980 I bought some property "in the middle of nowhere." This once had been a farm, but not for a long time, and was way up a dirt road with no power lines within a half mile. I should have torn the house down, but as it was the oldest in the town and had also been used as the first school house by the earliest settlers there, I elected to try and eventually fix it up. My main focus however was on the land and how to make some kind of farm out of it.
    I had recently moved from Boston and while there had "gotten into" fixing up old(ish) Mercedes sports cars and when I first moved to my new location had 3; a 1957 300 SL (roadster), a 1961 190 SL, and a 1968 280 SL. It didn't take long to realize that I was now in a location where these vehicles were a pretty impractical luxury. The final straw was when two kids (goats) jumped up onto the hood of the 280 SL 2 weeks after just being repainted.
    After selling these, I bought a new F250 and thought I was now all set for my environment. I had other "beater" vehicles, a tractor and what not and life went on. When I bought the F250 I decided that it was going to be a work vehicle and work it I did. I will hand it to Ford with regard to that truck, it really did what very few trucks are actually asked to do these days. I did not know about Power Wagons yet. I lived in a small town where you were either a Chevy guy or Ford guy.
    And then along came the May 1987 issue of the Country Journal (no longer published.) In it was an article entitled "The Legendary Dodge Power Wagon." Included were pictures of a dark blue Power Wagon and I immediately knew I had to have one. My "innate" attraction to older vehicles had found the perfect excuse.
    Now that I had an image and name to focus on I began looking around and eventually glimpsed one tucked behind a Chiropractic office about 30 minutes away. It had most recently been red, had a winch, a plow and a steel flat bed. After observing over a period of time that it never moved, I got up the nerve and went in one day and asked about it. It seems the Doctor had in the early days of his practice had a side line of selling firewood for which he had used the Dodge. As he was now successful in his chosen profession he was happy to sell it to me. It hadn't been started in years.
    The following weekend I had a friend drive me up in the morning with my intention of driving it home. It took me all day (on a cold Feb. day,) but I finally got it going and using the plow for brakes made it home just before total darkness (no working lights.) I remember constantly going over to the window that first evening to look out at it in covetous wonder and enjoyment.
    Well, I fixed the brakes and the lights and even replaced the windshield frame with an Argentine reproduction frame (if I remember correctly) that was a pretty crude affair. Since I had farm plates I didn't really need to concern myself beyond the functional and also viewed this truck as a work vehicle and not a candidate for restoration.
    I never did know what year that first PW was. Over the next few years I added a good number more to the farm including a completely straight 1968 (with Padded dash and all,) a 1954 brush truck from a nearby fire department with 5000 +/- miles on it and many others, mainly parts trucks. I had a blast with these and using the front end loader on my Ford 9N swapped cabs, engines, axles, you name it, around as I saw fit. I created a chassis cab with winches front and back, duallies front and back, and after figuring out that skidder chains cut in half lengthwise fit around the dually 900 - 16 NDTs would go anywhere with that! I put locking differentials in some and brought home junk yard hemis and experimented with how to put them in. I was totally spoiled by having so much raw material to work with. This was before they had become big time collectibles. On my way back from New Mexico one year driving a horse van I had bought off of a sister, I even got to stop at the second annual Power Wagon Rally at Vintage Power Wagons. I still have shirts and a Jacket I bought there then.
    I was totally into the Power Wagons and of course was good naturedly kidded by my Chevy and Ford friends. One day one of these friends, probably the biggest chevy guy of them all, was delivering a ten wheeler load of gravel to behind my barn when he completely buried the truck in the mud. I brought over the first PW (plow and all) and chained the rear to a sturdy tree and handed him the end of the winch cable and told him to attach it to his truck wherever he thought appropriate. I gather he attached it to the front axle somewhere because after I had dragged him free he said something about pulling the front springs out of their hangers. I don't ever remembering being kidded about the Dodges after that from him.
    In 1993/94 I sold the farm and because I was moving onto a sailboat to go off sailing had to sell all my trucks etc. It wasn't easy.
    The first thing I did when I sold my last boat and moved back ashore was to buy a 1942 WC53 Carryall (because I had never had one of those!) That has turned into a long term project with baby hemi, etc., etc. Then this last spring, with no intention of doing so I bought a very straight 1947 WDX. The clincher was that it was the dark blue of the one in that article from many years ago that started the whole thing for me and I had never seen one that color in person. I would say that I have come full circle, except, I think its more like a spiral.
    Last edited by DavidGB; 10-30-2011, 03:08 PM. Reason: mispelling

  • #2
    That's an EXCELLENT story.

    You should beg Gordon to put that in the "Sitting on the Tailgate" section of the magazine.

    We'd love some pictures of your Carryall and WDX, and of the original trucks if you have pictures of them.


    • #3
      The Bug

      Thank you for the nice reply. I will see about pictures. Since the WDX is here I can take some next time I am at home during daylight. I had the original trucks prior to my being "computerized" at home. I will have to see if I can scan in some photos (and I am sure it will take some digging to find some.) The Carryall is still in body off frame state and is in a garage I have 4 hours away in Maine which is why that is such a protracted project.


      • #4
        PW Photos

        It seems I didn't take a lot of pictures of my trucks. I have not found any yet of the first one I bought. Here are one each of some of the others. The fire truck is obvious. The one with the green cab was taken when I was piecing together the one that eventually got the skidder chains. I don't remember why the nose was off at this particular moment. The one with primer all over it is the '68 and the fenders and running boards were off when that picture was taken. Sorry. I will continue to look to see if I can find more. I did come across a bunch of photos I took at VPW when there for that Rally I mentioned. It was fun to look at those again.
        Attached Files


        • #5
          Present day WDX photos

          Here are some pics of the '47 WDX that I am lucky enough to currently own.
          Attached Files


          • #6
            I sent you an email.
            Power Wagon Advertiser monthly magazine, editor & publisher.

            Why is it that the inside of old truck cabs smell so good?


            • #7
              I was pleasantly surprised to see this story in the December magazine. It reads better on paper!


              • #8
                In Print

                Definitely looking forward to seeing it!