Woodie Wagon craftsman collects and restores Military buyback cars | Barn Find Hunter – Ep. 76
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Woodie Wagon craftsman collects and restores Military buyback cars | Barn Find Hunter – Ep. 76

March 26, 2020


(upbeat country music) – Good morning, Traverse City. Now we’re going to a place,
Nichols Woodworking, I believe, and they make woody bodies like the car I’m driving right now. These guys are nationally known to build a really high quality wooden body and because they deal in old cars, I’m hoping that they’ll
know about old cars. So, we’re coming here unannounced, though I called earlier
and left a message, we’ll see what happens. Look at that, the garage door
is open and there is Packard. Wow, look at that. That’s a army woody. They painted those things olive trail. That’s very unusual. Well, this could be an
interesting twist to the day. He’s probably going to look
at the wood on this thing and say, “Who did that?” – Well, look at this Birdseye, lets see how much we got here. – Oh, It’s almost all. – Should I critique it? But you’ve been on the
road here with this, so. – Yep. We were in the rain, We’ve
been in the snow, Colorado. – This is always a tough corner to get, when you’re doing the wood, because it’s got to roll in. – Well, you can’t have
been in the bloody business as long as I have and
heard of Mike Nichols. Mike Nichols is based in Traverse City. We are in Traverse City, Michigan and Mike has invited
us to tour his facility and his projects but what we’re most
interested in are the cars that are lying around outside, barn finds. So, I’m following you, man. – Here we go. – Here we go, show us the ugly stuff. – Okay, we’ll start outside. A friend of mine gave me
a staff car a while ago. It’s a 1942 staff car, – [Man In Hat] Which is that? – [Mike] which is this car,
and the floor was pretty bad. I mean it was gone, it’s a six-cylinder, and along with it, you had this parts car, which is a 48. – [Man In Hat] Which is that. – So, what I have to do
is take the military stuff and the 42 stuff off of this, which is the firewall and
the trunk box in the back, and put that on this car and I haven’t- – So, this is unusual, when
you think of an old Ford having a flat head V-8, this
was an unusual option, yeah. – [Mike] This six-cylander, all the military stuff had a six. – [Man In Hat] No kidding, huh. – [Mike] They made 2300 of these. – You know, that’s gotta be a
rare power plant right there. I’ve been in the business
my whole life and I… – Yeah, it is. I don’t know what else they
used it, in trucks or something. – Probably trucks, yeah. – All the service stuff had this military six-cylinder in it. – So this, originally,
was in this metallic blue. I remember seeing it – Yeah, it was a blue. and look at the original paint. I mean, the crayon marks
are still on the firewall. This is a curious car and it’s a car, a 48 Ford, that, if you
saw it like this, okay, you wouldn’t pay too much attention to it, but just think, it’s a 1948,
which means it’s 71 years old, and the original paint on
this car was metallic blue. Now, for Ford to have a metallic color, it’s kind of unusual. Ford didn’t do a lot of Metallic colors but this is the original
paint on the firewall and look at it, you could shine this up, and these crayon marks
here, here and here, those were put on by a Ford
factory worker 71 years ago. So, this car was all metallic
blue, you can see it here, I guess it was painted light gray or something in the meantime, but you can see it here and look at it, it’s even on the floor, the floors are amazingly
solid, they have surface rust, but they are solid floors,
again, for a 71 year old car, It’s amazing. So, this metallic paint is
still shining on the floors which, usually, floors
are just rotted away. There’s nothing left. So, he’s going to take this car which… Ford Motor Company, right before the war and right after the war,
were basically the same cars. So, this one being a 48, Same as 46, 47, That’s a 42. So, he’s taking all the
military hardware off this and putting it on here. There’s a couple of small differences with reinforcing blinds on the
firewall, he’s going to fix that, but this will ultimately be
a 42 Ford military vehicle because the body on
this one is so far gone but this, really, I’d be
surprised if a 25-year-old car would be as sound as this one and this is almost three
times as old as that. It’s interesting because
this was a northern car and this was a southern car. So, if you live in the north and you’re surrounded by cars like this, get in your car and drive south and bring home a car like this and you’ll have good bones
that you’ll be working with for the rest of your project. – [Mike] Oh, you’ll love
this one, you’ll love this. – So, this is called a buyback car. – It’s called a buyback car and they came along
when the war broke out. All this stuff was just
grabbed up by the service. So, they said, “You can’t
Build any more cars. “Everything you have in
stock is going to be ours “if we need it.” I can tell this is a buyback car because the inside of the fluid
in the firewall are a gray which was a standard Packard color. I couldn’t tell you what the name was but they just shut the hood
and painted everything in OD and said, “It’s a staff car.” – Is that right? So, where did this car come from? – Same place I got the other ones. Down in Bath, Michigan. – Are these low mileage cars or something? – There are all kinds of low mileage cars. You might not want to go in
there, Mr. Cotter. (laughs) – [Mr. Cotter] Really? – Yeah, it’s a little nasty in here. – Oh, I was just going
to look at the mileage to see how many miles are on. 99,641 miles. Hmmm. You see the original
gray in the door jam here but then the green out here, and this is a 42 Packard? – [Mike] A 42 Pakard. – [Mr. Cotter] So, You
have that for what reason? You gonna take military parts on it? – No, I don’t know what I… Yard art, yard art today. – Okay. – Then there is another
little toy in here. – Oh, Look at this, a woody, wow. Was this at Hershey? – I took it to Hershey, yeah. I was trying to get 29, I’d
take about 25 for it now but all the woods done on it. – All wood, mechanically it’s all there? – It’s got an engine, it’s all here, the woods been just sealed on the outside. It’d make a really nice
rat ride for somebody. – So, in other words, the woods all new but nothing else has been touched? – Right, right, and it was a Texas car. (slow country music) – So, Here’s another
military vehicle, huh? – Yeah, this is another in 1942. – [Mr. Cotter] Now what body is this? – This is, what they’d call, a war wagon. – And who made the body? – So, It was a standard, two-door sedan and it was cut off behind the front door. Foreword is standard 42 Ford. So, all the dash and everything is 42. Then it was converted, it was
shipped in Middlebury, Indiana and converted to an ambulance
carryall for the service. They made less than 100 of these and there is only you one
other one that we know of. – Okay, so, That’s the data plate from it. – [Mike] Yeah. – So, It says here, “Nomenclature, auxiliary
ambulance and carryall, “Ford Motor Company.” Blah, Blah, Blah. Isn’t that interesting. 45 miles an hour, maximum speed. Does it got a six-cylinder? – No it’s got a V-8. Originally, this car came
from a friend of mine. He told me he found a wagon
out in a cornfield in Iowa and he sent me some pictures and he said, “The seats run lengthwise.” And I says, “They never made one.” And then I compared
– [Mr. Cotter] Look At That. this pattern to a photograph
in Lawrence Sorensen’s book and I said, “That’s what this is.” so, we went out and got it. (Cotter chuckles) – [Mr. Cotter] And this is your car? – Yeah, they stretched
the frame 22 inches. – [Mr. Cotter] Where? – [Mike] Back here. – [Mr. Cotter] So, the
wheel base is standard? – [Mike] Standard and
they stretched the frame on the back end 22 inches. – And the fenders, they
sourced them out somehow? – Well, they came with this
pile of junk I got at one time. – So, It’s interesting. It’s got just past your
car inner door panels. – Yeah. They didn’t do any more
than they needed to. – Right. – And my dad was in the
service, he was in World War II, and he shipped stuff home in boxes exactly like those up there and we just remade them,
had a stencil made. His said, “Navy” but I can’t
put “Navy” on an army truck. – When do you see military
vehicles like this? This is like the only time
in my life I’ve seen this. – Originally, You see where
it was blue, the car was blue and it had these numbers
under the hood right here, all hand painted. We put those right back in there. – That is a 42, boy. So, you brought this to shows and things? – [Mike] Yeah, I take it shows. – [Mr. Cotter] I’m
surprised a movie company hasn’t gotten in touch with you. – [Mike] Took it to a national
military convention down in Cleveland a couple years ago. (slow country music) – So, this is standard woody here? – Yeah, this was a standard
woody, came out of Texas. – Uh huh, is it a customer car? – No, It’s mine. I just gotta figure out when I’m going to have time to do it. – And a Plymouth woody,
is that a customer car? – No, That’s not one a mine. – So, Plymouths, were they oak bodies? – No, They’re all white ash. – White ash, okay. So, you’re not all Ford woody’s, you’ll do any kind of woody? – Oh yeah, I’ve done
some real custom stuff. Parts and pieces. (slow country music) – So, this a fabrication shop here? – Yeah, I kinda use
this room for my welding because it’s isolated from the woodwork and this is going to be another 42. For me, I’d been working on… Well, I had one almost all done but somebody offered me
so much money, I said, “I can build another one.” (laughs) So, Away it went. So, I’m working on another one. This is the floor pan and wood part and this is going to be the
chassis and the front clip. – [Mr. Cotter] Oh, okay. So, these are one unit. – [Mike] These two go together as one. – And here, looks like a finished car. Is that washington blue? Jefferson blue? One or the other. – Yeah, It’s a blue, I
can’t remember the name. Strata! It’s Strata Blue is what it is. – Strata Blue, really? – It’s a 48- – This is what ugly
woody’s become (laughs) when you set it up here. My goodness, is that pretty? So, Did you restore the
body and everything? – We did everything on this car. – Everything, wow. – It belongs to a guy named Scott Reed, live in Brusselton, Australia. So, He bought it at Springfield, Missouri and my wife and I went out and got it, It didn’t look this at all, but Scott bought it out there and wife and I went out
there and picked it up and then we started doing
it and putting it together. – Man, Beautiful. All the wood’s new? You fabricated all this wood? – All new wood. – [Mr. Cotter] Man. Now, Iron Mountain, that’s where the Ford
woody buys it built, right? – [Mike] Yeah, That one’s way up north. – [Mr. Cotter] Do you ever
get lumber out of there? – [Mike] Well, yeah, there’s a story, I was doing a car for
Mr. Dingman at one time and I called it a place in New Hampshire. I said, “I need to hundred and
something feet of Birdseye.” – That’s where my Birdseye
body comes from, New Hampshire. – Yeah, so, I says, “Well, get me some.” Well, I waited and waited
and waited and waited and I says, “I can do better than this.” so, I got on the phone
And there’s a place up Ishpuming that had two inch- – Is that in this country? – oh yeah, yeah. (laughing) It’s right next to that
great University up there. Anyway. So, I went up there and got 200 feet and there’s another pile sitting there, I says, “I like that stuff, too.” – It was old Birdseye? – Yeah, and he says, “well,
that’s Instrument grade “and it’s going to California.” I said, “well, it’s Still sitting there. “Did the guy pay for it?” “No, we’re waiting for
him to send the check.” I said, “I’m here, I’m
going home with that load.” – Wow. – So, I came home with a
$7000 load of Birdseye Maple to do one car. – To do one car. You had a lot left over to
do another car, I’m sure. – Nope, I only had a few pieces left. – No kidding. – By the time I got done, it was all gone. – Okay, so, His finger joints. – This is an extension of that and then the other half is on the door. – Oh, yeah. Oh, okay. So, it makes it… I get it, yeah.
– Yeah, so, when it’s done, It looks like that. – So, What does a finger
joint machine look like? – Let’s see. It’s over here almost all set up. (motor whirs) – [Mr. Cotter] What’s the
next step to match those? Or it’s the same thing? – No, You can’t run the same piece and have them go together. they’ll be offset. So, you have to readjust that. – So, you go up and down a quarter inch? – Yeah, up and down. See, That’s where it was cut and the next one is
going to be right there. – [Mr. Cotter] Got it. Isn’t that something? – And if it’s too tight, I’ll add another shim on the second run. Otherwise, I’ll never get it together. I’d gotta have glue clearance in there. – So, You have that much
clearance, veneer. (laughs) – Yeah, so, It makes one set of teeth just a little bit narrower. – [Mr. Cotter] So, You
cut the curved pieces and then finger joint them? Or do you finger joined them
and then cut them and curves? – [Mike] It’ll be two
blocks together on an angle and when they come together,
you cut the pieces. – See, I’ve only had this on my mind since I was 15 years old. So, you’re answering a
lot of questions. (laughs) ah, Look at that. – We had that line and this
one was probably over there. – So, you’re finger jointing blocks and then forming it into the piece. Got it. So, This has been your
career, lifelong career, isn’t that amazing. (Coughs) (laughs) so, how many ways have
you built, you figure? (low guitar music) – Most of them are on this wall back here. We’re up to 100 and somethin. – [Mr. Cotter] Oh, Look at that. (laughs) where’s number one? – [Mike] I don’t know. I probably started here and went that way, then went back up. We got 29s, we got
sportsman’s, we got 37s, we got 37 Packard, – [Mr. Cotter] Jeez. a 42 army wagon up there, here’s three 38s in a row
we did, Here’s a couple 50s. You probably know Dick LaHaye? – [Mr. Cotter] Oh, yeah. – We get his car a long time ago. Some 47s, some 46s, some 34s. – You had other parts cars
out the back door here? – Oh, yeah, yeah, we have junk
all over this place. (laughs) – [Mr. Cotter] Wow. – Oh, this is just
stuff that’s accumulated over the years. I’d probably start cleaning it up someday. Another 48 wagon that could be saved. I’ve got enough stuff
around here to do that. – So, this could be saved? – This could be saved. – And the hardware, you have
the hardware if it’s missing. – It came with that semi
truck I filled full of stuff. – [Mr. Cotter] And you
still have the truck full? – Yeah, it’s all in
the building back here. – [Mr. Cotter] Wow. – So, A four-door floor
would make this pretty good and you can get dash stuff. – Now, That’s a Chevy you said? – [Mike] Yeah, That’s a 29 Chevy truck. – And that could be made into a woody? – You could. We were thinking we’d put the cab on there and put a big wine barrel
on the back and fill it and we just go down the road and sip along as we go, you know? (laughs) – So, is that 53 Ford truck’s
contents in this building? – Yeah but everybody’s got a
building like this somewhere. So, We got hoods, fenders. here’s a woody fender here. Steering columns up there, dashes. – Your advertisement, it says
when somebody contacts you, your… – Well, I dig into them
when I need something but a lot of people
know I have stuff but… – Do you do body work, as well? – I do my own. I do what I have to do. – [Mr. Cotter] But the
car going to Australia- – We did. – [Mr. Cotter] You did the
bodywork, did you do paint? – Yeah. – [Mr. Cotter] Holy mackerel. You got a paint booth here. – Kind of, yeah. No, we don’t have a paint booth. – [Mr. Cotter] Wow. – That’s high-tech. We got a clean room we paint in. So, This is all woody stuff right in here. Now the big part, you can buy
the handle but need this part So, you can convert a reproduction handle to this if you have that. Ashe trays, lots of ashe trays, radios. – Well, this is pretty cool. Well, I’ve met the legend, the guy had been reading about
for 30 years, 35 years, wow. Thanks for showing us around here. – You’re welcome. – It’s just amazing. It just happens to be good
luck that we were here in Traverse City and I, “that’s right there’s a guy here.” – [Mike] Yeah, there’s a guy here. (engine revs) – Well, That was a pleasant experience. I heard about Mike
Nichols for a long time, being in the woody world and he is one of the
renowned woody bodybuilders and we are in Traverse City. Let’s go visit him And he
sayd, “Yeah, come on in.” And He has movies from junk
in the backyard, parts cars, to cars that can be restored,
to cars under restoration, to concourse cars all
in one piece of property outside and inside his building. It was a great experience,
I met he and his wife. I hope you enjoy it because I
got to learn about woodworking that I’ve been wondering my whole life, finger joints, whatever. I’m glad you come along for the ride. (laughs)
(engine starts) That ain’t no six-cylinder. What nice work, man. – So, We put a 357 Chevy
engine in this one with a- – Can you pop the hood? Is that possible? – Yeah. – Nice work, man. And that’s just the crate
motor, just the stock? – Yeah, just stock 350. – Yep.

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  1. I just saw a parts truck for that 29 chevy truck in a bone yard in Arizona,almost complete . That was in Dec of 2019 , three months ago .

  2. Great video Tom, this guy and you are legends!! Love to keep seeing what you find and as I say in Australia, it is amazing what people have lying around. Keep on finding and videoing it! Cheers Vic.

  3. Wow what a legend Mike is. Such a fantastic place and craftsman. In many ways it's soo sad knowing all these skills and knowledge will just fade away. But what a great place and guy. Many thanks for sharing with us 👍

  4. That was one of the better videos and they're all good. That guy is a true Craftsman like a wooden boat builder!

  5. 1940s cars have the best styling you could want in a motor, the dashboards simple but fantastic lines a throw back to art deco. then you had fantastic seating big bench seats in the front.

  6. Great video! This guy is seriously hardcore when it comes to restorations. An interesting deviation from the normal BFH videos, thanks Tom!

  7. What an amazing man with so much ability and skill
    I hope he has trainees to be passing this on to
    It would be such a shame for his knowledge to die with him 😍😍👍👍

  8. I hope he’s thinking about whose going to take over when he passes. I’m sure there’s are some younger generations who loved to learn.

  9. Thanks for such a good video. Not only was his collection, work projects, personal cars, workshops, and parts rooms a must see, he himself as an individual is very interesting. Mechanics and automotive restorers like myself need to speak with and listen to these guys and draw from them what they are willing to share. I've just recently joined the AACA (Antique Automobile Club of America). It's good fellowship and camaraderie as well as a knowledge give and take experience.

  10. Wasn't it Henry Ford that said "You can have any color you want, as long as its black"

  11. better weather = the woody comming out, huh odd to think that older cars during the war were brought buy the milarty and then painted up in that army green that is kinda cool plus i love that packard, that woody ambulance if the guy who owns it is intrested we've got some streachers that are period, okay they have london on them but there from the 40's there for sale and would look good in there, may or may not fit if the guys willing to come and pick them up, its a shame that by the mid 50's the woody cars were gone and most rotted away in the 80's when no one wanted them i love them but i wouldn't want to own one though,

  12. That's awesome thanks awesome car's and projects and all the stuff to do it, I want to a replica but it will be different, BUT don't have the tools maybe later 👍🏾👍🏾

  13. Can I ask a stupid question? Why would it be necessary to build a car from wood? Was there a shortage of steel or a surplus of trees? Morgan cars in the Uk used to fabricate a lot of the car from Ash I think but it cant be cost effective? Please explain, someone.

  14. my father who has past away some years ago now, told me of one of his exploits while serving in the British army during the second world war, he was in signals and had to serve in India due to his mother being German by birth, he was in a camp that was supposed to have a compliment of 120 officers but for the majority of his service had less than 60, of course they conveniently forgot to mention this fact when it came to supplies allocation, specifically alcohol, American bases were dry whilst the British bases were not, on a particularly rowdy night returning from Jassore ( sorry to any Indians if i have spelt this wrong ) my father who was the designated and shall we say not particularly diligent or sober driver of a, in his words beautiful wooden army station wagon managed to drive straight off the edge of a army pontoon bridge as they crossed a river, all amazingly considering their condition got out ok and had a rather damp walk back the rest of the way to camp, shortly after however news came of a camp audit that was to be performed, what to do about an entire woody station wagon missing became a pressing matter, the plan it seemed and spoiler alert a very successful plan it turned out, was to pay a visit to an American airbase a few miles from their camp, where a deal was struck with, as my father put it 'the most American quarter master including huge fat cigar he ever saw' where upon an agreed amount of cases of gin was to be relocated, and simatainiously a military woody station wagon was to be listed as beyond repair, my father was even more impressed when the station wagon arrived painted in British markings, an unexpected and most welcome bonus, so there it is guys if you fancy a huge project, somewhere in northern India there is perhaps a old station wagon at the bottom of a river waiting to be exhumed lol :).

  15. Absolutely incredible work!!! I'm always so in awe of the older generations Craftsmen and their tricks and skills of their trades. Always cool to see the work of a true Craftsman.

  16. Owning a Woody is one of my dreams. Problem is, would have to move back to Cleveland. Orlando not the best climate for one. Akin to putting your Grandmas dining room furniture outside to rot. 1939 Plymouth is my top pick. The smell in that shop has to be intoxicating.
    JT: Orlando, FLA

  17. Your video's are brilliant, I wish I had come across you before, I have just done a video on starting my 1951 Ford Prefect up after a 6 month break, but, no in the same class a yours, You have a new fan & subscribed, thank you.

  18. Maybe you shouldn’t drive the woody in the rain and snow knowing how much work and time goes into each piece. Maybe get a tin woody for the show. 🙂

  19. Just looked at a house for sale, there was two barns on the property….in one barn is a 1965 Mustang with a 302 motor. Been there for 30 plus years, like you say they are still out there .

  20. Can you imagine how much he knows? Compare to a regular person he is a genius, but even that if you cant teach to someone else all that knowledge will be lost, that is sad!!

  21. You did great once again, now find my unicorn or pegasus, so I can get the hell out of this doomed world we live in.

  22. Very talented gentleman ! Thank you for sharing his collection and life work . Wonderfully interesting video . I would love to see an hour long show of seeing this man do his job .

  23. Very good episode!! Unbelievable craftsmanship!!. Somebody get this man an apprentice before this skill is lost!

  24. My Father owned a millwork shop and yes it's a dying trade. Why because people think thier trade is not worth paying for and cheat the owners out of money. I got to work with some of the world's greatest woodworkers and I'll take thier secrets to my grave because they were not respected

  25. What a talented man! There is a guy here in the st louis area. He was a body man at jerry bickle racecars a long time ago. Has his own shop. It's tucked backup in the woods. He doesn't advertise at all. Go to his place. He has some of the neatest rides u will ever see.

  26. I was not going to watch this but am glad I did.
    I dont need a wooden motorcar but still very interesting. And worth watching, as are most of these clips.

  27. I hope he's teaching someone else everything he knows. That's a lot of knowledge and experience locked up in his head — it'd be a damn shame to lose it all when he passes on. What amazing work he does!!

  28. К сожалению ни слова не понимаю, но смотреть одно удовольствие за ужином:) крутой контент, молодец так держать!!!

  29. The sad part of this is it will never live on. It would take years for and Apprentice to learn half what he knows I bet

  30. Honestly one of the best things I’ve watched in a long time. Anything is interesting when the people talking are passionate about it…….. thank you

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