Ford Pilot Woodie

Discussion in 'Show Us Your Bit On The Side' started by docjohn, Jan 9, 2021.

  1. As requested....
    The Ford Pilot V8 saloon was built in Dagenham from 1947 to 1951 using redundant pre-war US tooling and an early 21 stud version of the side valve V8 that was widely used in European and Canadian military vehicles and stationary power units. There were also pick ups and vans and these went on to 1954, mostly for the export market.
    One way of getting a new car in the early postwar years was to buy a chassis and have a station wagon built by a coachbuilder. Ford supplied two variants of the Pilot; in the early years it was essentially a chassis with some of the front panels, later it was the commercial pick up. Early Woodies have wooden front and rear passenger doors and later ones have the pickup steel doors and wooden rears; both had various designs of wooden tailgates.
    My car was was first registered in 1954 to Major Edmund Archibald Calvert, a distinguished officer in The Royals who was mentioned in dispatches in WWII. He kept the car for just over 2 years whereupon it passed through owners in Sussex, Surrey and Kent ending up with Lawrance Peyto in Essex.

    Woodie 1975 front CS.jpg
    PPX948 (1).jpg
    The last MoT was a retest in August 1975 when the mileage was 47361 and the next piece of documentation was when the car was exported to Holland in 1977.
    On trailer.jpeg

    I bought the car in October 2013 from a dealer in military vehicles outside Rotterdam who had taken it in part exchange. He said that it had been in a woodwork shop, which would fit with the thick layer of sawdust everywhere.
    It seems from some photos that came with the car that began to be dismantled in the UK and then was further stripped down to bare metal in Holland.

    It makes no sense whatsoever to restore the Woodie, apart from the fact that there are only 10 or 11 left in the world, of which 7 are in the UK including the one in the Queen's collection at Sandringham.

    As you might imagine, there are no new panels or repair pieces available, the wood is a complete one off, but the mechanical parts are largely 1937 US Ford with some odd British bits. This very much a background project and I make a bit of progress now and again. Happy to post photos of bits I've made if that interests anyone.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2021
  2. davidoft

    davidoft Sponsor

  3. Merlin Cat

    Merlin Cat Moderator

    Keep us posted!! Maybe you could sub contract @Geordie to do the woodwork.
    Geordie and docjohn like this.
  4. What a good idea! The woodwork really isn't my forte.
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  5. Poptop2

    Poptop2 Moderator

    Great looking car
    docjohn likes this.
  6. Thank you
  7. That's a beauty :thumbsup:
  8. Random stuff coming up.
    Video of first start for 40 years. Engine is a genuine Ford reconditioned one with excellent compression and oil pressure.
    Louey, art b, scrooge95 and 1 other person like this.
  9. The steel bits of the body weren't too bad really. Stripping the paint off and leaving it decades hadn't helped much though. There were frilly bits on the front wings, the bonnet had an interesting story to tell, the front doors were peppered with pin holes, the rear wings had been subjected to a fairly hefty rear end bump and suffered from corrosion, the inner rear wings were rather improvised things made by the coach builder and weren't up to the loads imposed by the rear wings and the heavy wood work. Most places with double skins had corrosion, and there's a lot of lead loading of the seams hiding the rust. So far so good then :rolleyes:.
    The main bodywork problem, ignoring the fact that the wood has moved and the aluminium roof has cracked, is the A pillars and bottom of the cowl. The Pilot, being essentially a '37, is that it is one generation on from the '32, which is in turn the direct descendant of the Model T. Since Henry Ford wasn't one for technical innovation unless there was a strong commercial advantage, the body structure on the Pilot looks very vintage. That wouldn't be a problem if the doors weren't so big and heavy! The upshot is that the A pillars weren't up to the job when they were new, let alone when they have decades of corrosion between the multiple layers of sheet steel with wooden stiffeners.
    Other things that I discovered: the front axle had been swapped for a '37 one with cable brakes and a rather improvised conversion from the original hydraulic front, retaining the rod rear brakes o_O Also, since it had been dismantled and moved about, there were loads of bits missing. So many that it was worth buying a rusty, crashed Pilot saloon for the bits, and to get some idea of how the body was built.
    To cheer myself up I made some wider wheels to take modern tubeless tyres. I've still got plenty of original wheels so that not a crime ;). Anyway, I rerimmed some centres with 5J rims from a taxi, 6J rims from an Iveco van and 7J rims from a Land Rover Discovery. The 5s on the front and 6s on the back look Ok without looking too out of place.
    art b, Merlin Cat and Dubs like this.
  10. This is the bottom of the A post where it goes into the floor after I cut it out to do some forensic archaeology on it.
    Old OS A pillar.jpg
    ...and part of the repair piece

    Installed with some repairs to the floor and sill and a completely reengineered hinge mounting arrangement.
    Jean-François, Merlin Cat and Dubs like this.
  11. Similar repairs to the upper hinge box.
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2021
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  12. The bottom of the cowl was quite bad, with multiple layers of steel. Working from the inside outwards, making each piece as we go along... IMG_2400.JPG

    OS cowl in primer.jpg
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2021
  13. Awesome, something different!

    So, what did your forensic archaeology tell you in the end :)
    docjohn likes this.
  14. That you wouldn't build a car body that way:eek: I can't believe the number of individual pieces that come together at the A pillar to floor joint! 5 layers in some places....
  15. This is the reason why I didn't chose to do a Bay restoration and bought a decent one instead. I don't want two projects on the go, 3 if you include the new engine and plans for new rear suspension on the V8 MGB GT....
    scrooge95 likes this.
  16. a recipe for collecting moisture perhaps?
    docjohn likes this.
  17. I fitted Hoyle IRS to my V8. Are you a member of the MGCC?
    docjohn likes this.
  18. Yes, I'm in the MGCC, and the Early Ford V8 club!
    I drove a tweaked 4 cylinder MGB with the full Hoyle set up around Castle Combe, Donnington and a few other places on one of those classic tour things. I must say that it was very good. Do you like it in your V8?
    Mine has the RV8 front suspension and my own design and fabrication of 4 link and coil overs on the rear. Another thread sometime, perhaps? :)
    77 Westy likes this.
  19. JamesLey

    JamesLey Sponsor

    Love it. Keep the progress pics coming as it's great to see something different.
    docjohn likes this.
  20. I have the Hoyle suspension front and rear, a vast improvement over the original MGB setup. This is my car when I first built it, it’s more or less the same now except for a slightly larger engine, wider wheels and tyres and power steering.
    docjohn and jim mcglynn like this.

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