Patriotic Spirit

Omahan Restores 1924 Ford Model TT Truck

By Jeff Barnes

It was six years ago that Barney Deden had finished a 1925 Model T pickup and announced in a feature article on the truck that he was looking for another project.

“I got a call about two months later from a man who said ‘I’ve got your project’,” Deden said. What was offered was a 1924 Ford Model TT truck; for the previous thirty years the owner drove it sporadically with plans to restore it but never did and now wanted to sell it.

Deden took the bait. “It was old and different and I was ready for another restoration,” he said. This one WAS different. He’s not 100-percent sure, but strongly suspects the truck is a Patriot, manufactured in Lincoln.

The Patriot was built by Lincoln businessman A. G. Hebb to take advantage of the versatility of the Model T. Starting in 1913, Hebb manufactured truck bodies that fit on the chassis, providing a new hauler for farmers who’d previously relied on horses; Ford and Chevy didn’t even offer trucks until 1917. The Lincolnite did booming business through World War I until a post-war depression brought bankruptcy and a forced sale in 1924, the year of Deden’s truck. The new owners continued manufacture of the Patriot through 1932.

Deden knows most of its history. A Ford dealer in Beatrice sold it to a Crete farmer named T. A. Moneypenny, and when he died it went to his step-son and wife in Pleasant Dale. That man sold it to Jerry Martin in Omaha around 1980 and that’s the man who contacted Deden in 2011 to sell it.

Deden immediately went to work on a complete restoration for the truck. Friends helped move it to his shop off Grover Street where he did the disassembly, cleaning and restoration from the frame up. The chassis was in fairly decent shape except for a badly worn worm-drive/crown-wheel rear axle for which a friend had a replacement with a Ruckstell differential.

There were just a few dents in the fenders and hood that had to be repaired. Most of the attention was spent on restoring the crank engine and Deden did a great job – in both instances during the interview in which he needed to start it, it started on the first and only crank.

Deden repaired the wooden cab himself, replacing the roof, back and some of the side windows with poplar. The truck originally was a dark green, one of two colors offered at the time along with black. “I thought that was kind of boring,” he said. “My last truck was a caramel color and I kind of liked that, so I made this just a little darker.”

He replaced the entire the wooden box, using red oak. “I did it for my last truck, too,” he said. “I’m not a woodworker – I just took my time.” He also stripped the spoke wheels of their black paint for the original natural hickory. The finished restoration was completed in March 2015.

The cab has a very simple construction. The doors swing open on hinges and are held open by a simple clasp on the cab. There’s no crank for the window on the driver’s side – you slide it by hand to have it open or closed.

Deden is fairly tall and with the narrow door and protruding steering wheel, he can only enter the truck from the passenger side. “I originally had the (bench) seat with four inches of foam on the back, but when I got in I found I was being pressed into the steering wheel,” he said. “I had to replace it with about an inch so I could sit to drive it.”

(Originally published in the Omaha World-Herald, Sept. 10, 2017)

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