Ford’s Model TT
Truck of Many Uses
1926 Ford TT k Grant Lundin’s dad bought this truck brand new in 1926 for $600. This model with the deluxe cab
was purchased from A.O. Skinner in Rathdrum, Idaho.
BY GRANT LUNDIN he long standby horses pulling wagons were no
longer competition. The more flexible Ford trucks
Today I want to tell about a decade during which could more easily negotiate wagon roads found on
Henry Ford’s Model TT trucks dominated the truck- the ranches and woodlots throughout the country.
ing industry. You might ask, “How could a vehicle as And these Ford trucks could also take the place of a
flimsy looking as that, dominate anything?” Well, the passenger car for driving to town from the farm. So farm-
answer is “What else was there to compete with?” ers and ranchers, as well as merchants, all needed them
Back in 1917 was when Henry Ford started his and they were also affordable. By 1923, the license bu-
production line of trucks along with his Model T reau records showed seventy-five percent of the trucks
cars, which had already been famous for eight years. licensed on the road were Ford trucks. One wonders how
many out there driven were never licensed. Anyway, that
leaves the other twenty-five percent to make up all the
other makes combined.
10 Nostalgia Magazine January 2005
The Big Guys k The TT Fords still held their place among the big solid rubber tire trucks of various makes, such as
those shown here with the Long Lake Lumber Co. where Grant Lundin worked one winter. Two large 1919 White trucks
hauled lumber at that mill every day.
Parts and Accessories from Monkey Wards Warford. Many passenger cars also had this most helpful
Repair parts were not only affordable, but plentiful, addition installed by their owners. Especially the heavier
most mechanical parts being the same as Model T cars. closed cars. Many more add-on transmissions came on
The main exception was the heavier frame and that awe- the market as well in this T heyday era. Two of the more
some, almost indestructible worm drive rear end! popular transmissions were the Jumbo and Muncie. Just
For repair parts, it was not that unusual to purchase a household words of the day.
set of spark plugs or a fan belt, perhaps even a set of Water pumps too, were a needed accessory. Pa often
bands, at the local grocery store. But of course, Sears and found his truck to be boiling in a cloud of steam on the
Roebuck’s mail order catalogue carried most everything. steep pitches in the mountains while hauling heavy loads.
Any part or accessory for a Ford car or truck, Sears’ or Curiously enough, the engine seemed to know when to
Ward’s catalogues usually had them. Many pages were stop, and just quit running when it overheated. But it was
devoted to special accessories drooled over by T and TT always ready to start up and run again when the steam
owners. One of these special items, said to double the subsided. Finally, Pa had Skinner’s Ford garage install an
performance of the trucks, was the 3-speed Warford aux- accessory water pump. Presto: now the pump, driven by
iliary transmission; their feature was now six speeds a longer fan belt, was pumping the overheated water
ahead with Warford gears engineered to be half speed to from the engine thru the radiator, taking over where the
the Ford transmission ahead. So now you could split original thermo-siphon could no longer handle the steam.
gears, and get your load off for faster start. Since these No more stops on mountain roads from overheating!
were straight cut gears, changing speeds involved double As we talk about Ford accessories, mention must be
clutching. Ford’s hand throttle was not at all handy for made of the almost countless manufacturers of Ford truck
this, so the next thing to buy was an accessory foot pedal cabs, and dump beds as well. Ford wasn’t making much
to mount on the floor board. This left your right hand free showing on cabs until almost 1924, when the all-steel
to use the shift lever. It was also common for truck own- open “C cab” came with the chassis. The term “C cab”
ers to install the Ford-made Ruxtell two-speed rear ends. was put on by a modern generation of hot-rodders for
Then one could boast twelve speeds ahead with the these now much sought after sheet metal panels. Previ-
Photo: Mac McDonald January 2005 Nostalgia Magazine 11
A Model TT compete with this? k Yup, these large trucks, strong as they were, could still count on seeing the
handy little Ford TT trucks hauling everything from logs to cattle.
ously it was common to order a custom wooden cab ception. Ford dealers had a continuous market of T cars
through the dealer when you bought the chassis. Nowa- and TT trucks, plus parts for the eighteen years of pro-
days, when I see a wooden cab truck, recollections come duction through 1927.
back of a very shaky 1920 truck of Bill Richmonds in It is understandable that it is hard for those of this gen-
Rathdrum. On the back was mounted a large one cylin- eration to even believe that these trucks were actually
der gas engine driving a saw blade for sawing wood. Each used for hauling logs. We think of logging trucks as
fall, Pa hired this rig to saw up a winter’s supply of wood Peterbilts, Macks, and Kenworths, but I can name off
at our ranch. Even as a small lad, I became very familiar many loggers from my day whom I knew well from our
with its machinery as there was always a day’s work for area, during the 1920s, who made their living hauling
me connected with it, taking the sawed wood away from logs with these single tired trucks and trailers. A few I
the blade. The engine driving the saw was called a hit- knew were Jess Finney, Charley Finney, Shorty Weeks,
and-miss engine as the governor would allow it to fire Sam Tirnell, Perly Smith, and most of the Howell boys:
only when power was needed. The inertia of two heavy Bill, Isom, Fred, and Charley.
flywheels kept it rolling in between times. But when it did Pa’s truck was already doing universal hauling duty.
fire, everything shook. Cab and truck and all. I could Cordwood, fence posts, live stock, anything on the ranch,
never believe that cab would stay in one piece all day. even hauling gravel on roads for the county’s annual
Every board in it shook. Yet, the following year, it would spring time filling of the winter time ruts in the roads for
still be there. the Georgetown community. A time of prosperity for
anyone who wanted to work hauling gravel with his truck
Logging With the Ford TT or use a hand shovel for loading. Two or three days of
Ford dealers were everywhere all through the teens and working for the county for a paycheck was an important
twenties. Actually, most all over the world. Our small time for the community. It seems the county only owned
town of Rathdrum, Idaho, population 500, was no ex- a three-horse road grader in our district. One year, I
12 Nostalgia Magazine January 2005 Photo: Mac McDonald
pulled that grader easily with my model TT cut-off truck
Of course the bigger saw mills and logging companies
used the larger trucks with their hard rubber tires for
heavy hauling. But the TT Fords still held their place
among them. An example in my experience was the
Long Lake Lumber Co. where I worked one winter. Two
large lumber haulers at their mill, used every day, were
1919 Whites. For their day, they could haul huge loads. It
was my job, as I began my day at 7 a.m., to get them
started. A long handled starting crank hung at the front,
but in the winter time it took much more coaxing. The
first thing was to build a fire under the oil pan. This would
free up the congealed oil to circulate again, and make it
easier to crank. Then its magneto spark would better ig-
nite the more vaporized gas mixture.
But they couldn’t do without their Model T tractor, a
shortened truck used for towing trailer loads of lumber in
the mill yard. It ran every workday. One day, the engine
totally gave up, after its many years of hard usage. It
seemed like the whole mill almost came to a stop. They Versatile Rig k Hofius-Ferris Equipment Co. used this
had me as their mechanic lay aside the important duties truck for local deliveries.
and sent me out to find another engine to install without
delay! and frosty that morning and the engine wouldn’t fire up.
He solved that shortly by putting a jack under the rear
Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch wheel and pushing the lever into high gear. With the
At our ranch, Pa was proud of his big logging team of wheel turning in high gear, the engine kicked off almost
horses as well as a heavy working wagon he bought new right away.
in 1918 for logging his bountiful timberland. Now Pa, as Pa just wasn’t impressed, though. He said, “If I’ve got
an exponent from the old country; had but little insight to go through this every morning, I’ll just buy a new
on things automotive, and tended to avoid them. But truck!”
horses he understood, and was highly experienced with So back to Rathdrum he went to see his friends at
real horsepower. I recall stories he would tell of hauling Skinner’s Garage to look at a new one. I’m sure Mr. Skin-
freight on wagons driving six horses on a winding road ner was glad to see him coming. He showed Pa a new
through the sagebrush from Shantigo to Umatilla, one they called a ’26 model with the latest features,
through Eastern Oregon. What a challenge! But like namely, an all-steel cab with doors that had roll up win-
many people of the older generation in that day, he’d dows with three position pull-up straps. A Ruxtell two-
never laid hands on the steering wheel of a truck. speed worm drive rear end went with this and was an
Until one day, with his wagonload, he met a Ford truck added 200 dollars. Pa fell for it, though I heard him say,
coming back from his first trip before Pa had got started “I don’t know how I’ll ever pay for it”
part way with the horses. With those experiences hap- The total price: 600 dollars.
pening quite often, and the fact that most everywhere But moving to fast forward here: That truck did far
that working people were gathered, Ford cars and trucks more than pay for itself. It was a real workhorse. There is
were the main topic of conversation, Pa could see the a long-standing joke to his starting it for the first cold
wheels of progress were getting well ahead of him. morning when he cranked it. Guess what! It just wouldn’t
And so it happened on an October day, Pa found him- start. It was then he remembered the jacking up a wheel
self in Spokane, determined to go modern with a good routine he’d learned form the Spokane sales man on that
used Model TT truck. He had expected to find used ones used truck for half the price.
plentiful, but it seems they were being snapped up as
something many others were also looking for. He did find Reliable Rig
one. The auto dealer was asking only 250 dollars. The This all soon came to be just routine stuff, and it still
salesman went out to start it up, but it was just a bit cold beat harnessing and hitching the horses. There was no
Photo: Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture (L97.1.38) January 2005 Nostalgia Magazine 13
Assembled Line of Ford TTs k Martin-Perry Corporation, “Largest Commercial Body Builders in the World,” shows
off its craftsmanship in 1925.
doubt the Ford truck was here to stay. It could be de- boys, waiting to hear the stories of the many days of ex-
pended on when Pa’s big eight-cylinder Studebaker, sit- citing adventures that Pa would have to tell. And they
ting in the shed alongside the Ford TT, had continuous were very real! These towns and places he told of were a
ailments no matter how much fixing it received. new world to us. We had never heard of Worley,
To us kids, it seemed we were going somewhere all the Harrison, Rockford, Rode Lake, or Hoodoo Gulch, let
time now, and the fact that we must sit on the back on alone Fourth of July Canyon! But Ma, she had to stay
the flatbed truck, while Pa and Ma sat in the cab, both- home to milk the cows.
ered us not one iota! At seven years old, we almost lived From then on, our truck found more than enough work
with that truck when we weren’t in school. It served at home on the ranch. It was the fall of 1927, and Pa had
double service: shopping trips to town when it wasn’t on won the bid for a hundred cords of wood for the
the road hauling cordwood or fence posts from the Rathdrum school. Dry, split, and delivered. The previous
woods. It played the major part in hauling livestock to winter had been spent cutting wood, and now he had the
market as well. truck to haul it.
With the livestock market only twenty-seven miles away
in Spokane, hogs and steers could be delivered with an Boyhood Adventure
hour and a half drive. Even with driving the gravel wash- For us eight-year-olds, there was a place to fill, espe-
board Trent Road for a half of the way from Rathdrum. cially on the loaded trips into town. We took turns on
Pa, along with his closest neighbor and son-in-law, be- these many days of hauling. One of the special “kid jobs”
longed to a county dairy and livestock association. To- was to be ready with a chock block for a rear wheel when
gether they found a job using Pa’s truck to deliver bulls Pa parked the truck to unload. I remember watching the
for the association’s bull trading program. Pa’s new Ford woodpile grow each new trip, four feet high, four feet
truck, well equipped with cattle racks, seemed to hold wide, eight feet long for each new cord, till the pile be-
these cattle men’s confidence to haul their highly prized came a total eighty feet long. All of it brought there by
cattle. But think what a laugh that would bring to today’s that little Ford TT truck. The smell of those dry pitchy fir
farmer, considering those muddy, rutted roads that con- cordwood sticks linger to this day.
stantly required chains, and only a 20 horsepower engine These were summer days of adventure for us boys, not
for power. easily forgotten. How could one forget the tremendous
But at home on the ranch were two seven-year-old steam locomotives that we’d occasionally meet on the
14 Nostalgia Magazine January 2005 Photo: Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture
Carmen Mfg. Co., 1921 k When the twenties were roaring, delivery trucks of all shapes and sizes were part
of the city landscape.
tracks at Rathdrum where the trains stopped at the water Some Truck
tank. Our little truck would shiver and shake when the Here’s another adventure: This time Pa rolled the truck
engineer blew off steam, as we sat waiting to cross. over on a steep hill, and the three of us had to climb out
I remember too how delicious a cantaloupe tasted, a side window. On a steep pitch, Pa had to catch in the
which Pa bought at the store. We sat on the truck running shift linkage. It fell out and left the Ruxtell in neutral. Pa
board eating that melon on an early morning before yanked the parking lever back but it wouldn’t hold any-
breakfast trip at Rathdrum. thing, so here we were flying down the hill backwards in
It has been said that if you are looking for adventures, neutral. Now a Model TT is not known for its ease of
just drive a Model T. Well this truck was no exception. It’s steering while backing up – especially not when racing
easy to recall many adventures. downhill backward. Well, Pa was hugging the four-foot
One evening when the sun was setting very low, Pa and dirt bank, which was helping some, until a rear wheel
we kids were heading home across the prairie on a dirt found a track right up the bank, neatly flipping the truck
road, and approaching the Milwaukee tracks. Suddenly, over on it’s side. So the three of us were happy to be able
the engine of the Milwaukee train appeared on the tracks to crawl out the passenger side window. From there it
before us! No room to spare here, and before we knew it, was only a short distance home, where we harnessed the
Pa had yanked the steering wheel a full right turn and we horses, and they had the job of pulling the truck upright.
were crashing down a bank and through a barbwire fence Then I drove the team home, while Pa headed the truck
set up for two corner fence lines. What a tangle that was. back to the woods for another load. That truck wasn’t
We were actually wrapped up in barbwire! phased a bit!
As we watched the train go by, Pa said, “Wonder what
that train crew thought, watching our truck driving into Blackmer TT Truckers
all that barbwire!” Though our young lives were pretty much circled
Of course, there was the truck to untangle from the around that truck, there was nothing unusual about it, TT
fence posts and barb wire before it could be backed out trucks were every where, Rathdrum as well. The
on the road again – that is, after we’d gotten through Blackmer City Dray was well-known and well-used in the
shaking! community. It consisted of two Ford open cab trucks,
Photo: Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture (L87.1.19459.21) January 2005 Nostalgia Magazine 15
owned and operated by the Blackmer family.
Mr. Blackmer, a polio victim I think, could be
seen on the street most any time in his wheel-
chair, wherever there was any one to talk to.
But he had two sons who grew up in the hauling
business. There was Max and Rex, and their TT
trucks were a familiar sight on the streets of
Rathdrum. We even met them far back in the
hills hauling cord wood.
Now I’ve missed the most important figure in
the business – Mrs. Blackmer, owner, manager,
and truck driver. A short, hardworking woman,
and left-handed, you could tell she meant busi-
ness when she took hold of the crank. The
whole front end would be jumping up and down
when she started cranking that truck. I always
remember her truck for the gas tank she’d
mounted on the cowl, just below the windshield.
This was to give full gravity feed to avoid back-
ing up a hill when low on gas.
With the advent of the new model A cars and
AA trucks in October 1927, the Model T pro-
duction era came to end for both cars and
trucks. It was true the whole world had been Clean Conveyance k Trucks with modified bodies left horses
waiting in anticipation for the new model A and buggies back in the horse-and-buggy days.
Fords. By 1927, Chevy trucks, as well as GMC,
International, Dodge, Graham Brothers, and of
course the new Ford AAs, were all coming in strong. I yourself farmers. Sears and Roebuck’s catalogue could
know because we watched all these trucks coming off the supply a circle saw and mandrel.
mountain with their log loads. From my desk by the A truck could be shortened up to recreate a very useful
schoolhouse window, I could see the logging road less small farm tractor. This kind of project was quite popular
than a hundred feet from the school building. Yes, it was during the 1930s Depression era.
the end of an era for the T Ford trucks. At least for haul- Another purpose for the heavy worm drive rear end
ing logs. was as a suitable trailer with a bunk for log hauling behind
So now, what happened to all these leftover TT trucks the new Ford Model AAs in 1928.
behind the barn in every farmyard in the country? Well of By the late 1940s, another use became popular for the
course most eventually disintegrated, and that process worm rear ends. They were quite useful to build cable
was speeded by their great usefulness as parts for every winches to load a logging trailer on the back of a log truck
repair and construction job imaginable on the ranch. And on return trips. Ford was now building much bigger,
these once old reliables were also used as a play toy for heavier trucks to haul bigger payloads. These recon-
children, both large and small, to sit in the cab of a no structed cable winches were driven by a power takeoff
longer useful truck just holding the steering wheel. Pre- from the truck transmission.
tending to drive brought many hours of pleasure. Yes, I But the end has not come yet. There are still many
was one of these kids. Ford TTs running. Some better than ever, because some
Back then, many ranchers needed a wood saw to cut collectors have thought enough of them to gather up
their winter’s wood supply. It was handy to have an old those parts thrown away so many years ago, and build
truck to supply the engine to build one for most do-it- them back like new again.
Grant Lundin ran the Antique Auto Ranch on Dollar Road in the Spokane Valley from 1961-1984. He and his twin
brother Claire used to play piano, guitar, and fiddle for Grange Hall dances.
16 Nostalgia Magazine January 2005 Photo: Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture (L89.81.7)