The following story was published in the 2/17/06 Washington Times
1951 Studebaker fished from waters of Bull Run
Vernon Parker, The Washington Times
not likely, but it's possible, that President Dwight D. Eisenhower could
have seen this 1951 Studebaker model 2R6 half-ton delivery van roaming
the Washington area, delivering Tom's Roasted Peanuts at 5 cents a bag.
built as a chassis-only vehicle by Studebaker, the vehicle was shipped
from the Studebaker factory in South Bend, Ind., to the Boyertown Auto
Body Works in Boyertown, Pa. There it was fitted with a van body designated
"Step-n-Serve," and ultimately delivered to the S.J. Meek's
Sons dealership in Rockville, where it was sold Nov. 5, 1951.
trundling approximately 350,000 hard miles, the Studebaker was retired,
eventually being parked behind a shed in rural Manassas next to Bull Run.
Studebaker aficionado George Hamlin heard of the truck and went to investigate.
"The first time I saw this truck, it was sitting in Bull Run,"
he says. "Not near it, in it. Whenever Bull Run flooded, the truck
flooded," he says.
there are not many such vehicles left, Mr. Hamlin overlooked the fact
that it was full of junk, shot full of holes, had no glass in any of the
eight windows and -- except for the wooden subflooring -- everything below
the waterline needed renewal, even the rusted springs.
miracle was that the owner could be located and had a title," Mr.
Hamlin recalls in amazement. The purchase and title transfer took place
in March 1978.
had to be brought in to get the 16.5-foot-long relic out of the creek
and onto a trailer. Once it was at Mr. Hamlin's Clarksville, Md., home,
the real work began. All the wheel bearings and the complete brake system
needed to be replaced, along with anything made of rubber. The original
245-cubic-inch in-line six-cylinder L-head engine was overhauled so it
could once more deliver 102 horsepower.
an eye to the future when he knew the 4,600-pound gross vehicle weight
truck would be on the highway, Mr. Hamlin located and installed an overdrive
unit to give the three-speed transmission longer legs.
truck stands 8 feet, 9.75 inchs high, which permits a stand-up height
in the cargo bay of nearly 6 feet. A new set of 6.50x16-inch light truck
tires now support the truck on a 112-inch wheelbase.
the bottom two-thirds of the sides are new steel welded into place after
all the rusted material was removed. Fortunately, most of the metal that
need to be replaced was flat and all of the glass was flat.
the truck had been painted silver with black fenders but after all the
metal work had been completed, Mr. Hamlin decided to keep the fenders
black but paint the body orange.
must be an unwritten law somewhere that states a restored antique truck
isn't complete without lettering of some kind on the sides, either authentic
photographs of the truck appeared in the Studebaker Drivers Club magazine,
Mr. Hamlin received a telephone call from the Des Moines Register asking
him to keep them in mind if the truck were ever to be sold.
inside of the truck is 99 percent grey with only the glove compartment
door and instrument panel painted black. From the single seat in the vehicle,
the driver has an unobstructed view of the 100-mph speedometer through
the three-spoke steering wheel. Each windshield panel is kept clear by
a vacuum-operated wiper. "They work completely independent of one
another," Mr. Hamlin says.
the entire front of the truck is a grille guard with a Studebaker "S"
in the middle. The guard is painted black and was made by State Welding
Works in New York.
addition to the overdrive and grille guard installed by Mr. Hamlin, the
optional extras on the truck include a heater, Class A turn signals and
stainless-steel trim rings on each wheel.
Chrome trim on the truck comes from the cars Studebaker built, including the hub caps, headlight rings and engine hood ornament.
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