Henry, 1931 Steeltop Stakebed - 40,000 original miles

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lookin-backtexas
Posts: 118
Joined: August 23rd, 2012, 4:12 pm
Body Type: Stakebed
Model Year: 1931

Henry, 1931 Steeltop Stakebed - 40,000 original miles

Post by lookin-backtexas » February 12th, 2014, 6:52 pm

I was posting a reply to a question someone asked me on the Ford Barn about my AA and thought I'd share a couple of photos of my late '31 Steeltop Stakebed (indented firewall) here on the AA forum.
Image

Someone had seen this photo and asked if my truck was all original. Here's my reply:

Yes, it's all original - in the photo above the movie crew had "dusted" it so it would look more appropriate in that scene. I found it in a barn (yes, a bona fide barn find) less than a half mile from my house in 1984 where it had been parked for 25 years and had been put up on blocks. It had 36,000 original miles on it at the time. Now after owning it for 30 years the odometer reads 40,000 miles. I just calculated that it has been driven an average of 133 miles per year since I've owned it - maybe I should talk to Hagerty about getting some sort of rebate for all the insurance premiums paid over that time.

He's pretty cool and I like driving him in parades. Believe it or not, the head has never been off and it runs like a top. I taught my (then) 12 year old son (who is now 35) how to drive a 4-speed transmission in it in our backyard. The nice thing about a AA being geared so low, all he had to do was let out the clutch and off we'd go - no such thing as worrying about stalling; I've actually put it in 1st gear, retarded the spark and let out the clutch - then gotten out of the cab and walked beside it while it "ta-puckita-puckita-puckita's" down the road by itself with no driver. Of course this is done in my 3 acre backyard, not on a public road. Being geared so low, when I am on the street I take off in 2nd gear, otherwise if you use 1st gear you only go about six feet and it's time to shift.

It has been in three movies and a couple of TV commercials and his name is "Henry". For those Ford Barners who only own a Model A car, you don't know what you are missing - everyone should own a AA truck!

Here's another shot of Henry from behind the film crew in that same movie; the nice thing about a stakebed is you can remove the stakes for a different scene and it becomes a platform truck which the film crew liked - looks like a different truck yet they only had to pay for the use of one!


Image

Finally, here's a shot of Henry cleaned up a little bit - we were on a club tour and I was hauling everyone else's gear that wouldn't fit in their Model A car. Pretty handy on a tour since other guys buy things at antique stores for their wives and have no way of getting it in their car so Henry has hauled home just about everything from ball and claw bathtubs to kitchen sinks (literally). If you are wondering what that shiny thing is under the bed behind the cab on the driver's side, it's a twin trumpet air horn off a Peterbilt 18 wheeler - I decided many years ago that Henry was the largest truck Ford made in 1931 and he should sound like a big truck . . . and he does - that thing will part your hair! :shock:

Shortly after I bought him we hosted the MAFCA Annual Membership Meeting in Dallas and had everyone come out to my house for a little field trip; I opened the barn doors and pulled Henry out and all the national judges among the group started drooling over some of the interesting tidbits about him - proof that Ford used up what remaining parts they had on AA trucks. He has deluxe door trim hardware inside (window crank handles and door handles) like were used on Deluxe Town Sedans. They were also amazed that assembly line workers even in a mass production assembly line took the time to "clock" all of the screw heads vertically on the dash rail.
Fred

Image
Last edited by lookin-backtexas on February 12th, 2014, 7:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
If you are not driving your AA truck you might as well be collecting clocks!
ImageImage

spdway1

Re: Henry, 1931 Steeltop Stakebed - 40,000 original miles

Post by spdway1 » February 12th, 2014, 7:23 pm

Very Nice! Thanks for sharing. :D

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spectria
Posts: 1874
Joined: May 15th, 2008, 9:53 pm
Body Type: Mail Truck, Stakebed
Model Year: 1931
Location: Quincy, Ca.

Re: Henry, 1931 Steeltop Stakebed - 40,000 original miles

Post by spectria » February 12th, 2014, 11:37 pm

That's a great Story Thank You.
What Movies? Love to look for him!
Dave in Quincy, Ca. I love Pics!!!! Post them All!!! :)
Join the Ford Model AA Truck Club - membership form at http://www.fmaatc.org

User avatar
lookin-backtexas
Posts: 118
Joined: August 23rd, 2012, 4:12 pm
Body Type: Stakebed
Model Year: 1931

Re: Henry, 1931 Steeltop Stakebed - 40,000 original miles

Post by lookin-backtexas » February 13th, 2014, 6:23 am

spectria wrote:That's a great Story Thank You.
What Movies? Love to look for him!
I can name them but unless you have been in a movie yourself you'd probably be disappointed - as many of you know who have provided vehicles to the movie industry or worked as extras, it's not always glamorous.

Anytime one of my Model A's or AA's has been in a movie I have required that they hire me as an extra to drive it; talk about a lot of "hurry up and wait" and re-shooting the same scene five different times and then you see the final movie and you either ended up on the cutting room floor or they edited the scene so severely that all you see is your elbow sticking out the window in a quick drive-by scene. Of course you have bragged to all your buddies and their wives about being "in a movie" so they come to the premiere with you - you get to shout "Hey, that's my elbow that just went by."

To be honest, most production/property managers who are in charge of the old cars think of Model A's as merely "props" in the movie and they don't care if the car gets banged up or whatever. That's why I have always had a personal policy that if my car or truck is used in the movie, no one but me drives it - most actors don't know the first thing about starting one or what double clutching is.

I have turned down several requests to use Henry in a movie because they wanted to do such things as load him on a flatbed lowboy trailer and haul him 300 miles away to use it in an oilfield scene and planned to load his bed with oilfield pipe - I can imagine them using a forklift and just dropping the heavy pipe onto his bed. I would have been tied up with my job at the time and they wanted to take him anyway and let someone else drive him in the scene. He is a low mileage unrestored original Stakebed and they couldn't pay me enough to use it without my being there to watch what they do to it.

Henry's first "performance" was in a Lorimar Productions CBS made-for-TV movie called "Dallas, The Early Years" which was back when the Dallas TV show was so popular in 1986 - it was to be a flashback showing how the Ewings got all their oil money back in the 30's. They really wanted to use my truck because it was not restored and not too shiny so I negotiated a pretty handsome fee for its use plus being paid as an extra to drive it. They built a replica of an old oil field with lots of wood derricks and then ran 1/4 inch copper lines with small holes in the line about every 12 inches. The copper line was intertwined and wound around the wooden derricks and their plan was to pump gasoline through the line and at a predetermined time set off an explosion with a huge fireball. They rehearsed the scene over and over all day long and were set to blow everything around midnight. They had several firetrucks on location, ambulances standing by, even a medivac helicopter waiting if needed, etc. and cameras set up to capture the scene from several different vantage points - remember they only had ONE TAKE to do it since they were blowing everything up. Well, you can rehearse with actors all day long who know what to expect but they didn't tell the MULES that were there pulling the wagons what was coming. I parked my modern car about a hundred yards down the dirt road to watch the fireworks and it kept being delayed and delayed, etc. until around 2:00 am there was this gigantic fireball mushrooming into the air and (as you probably can guess) silhouetted against the fireball I saw a team of runaway mules pulling their wagon without a driver, nostrils flared, panicked and stampeding down the road toward me at a full gallop followed by that heavy old wagon. What to do? I thought well, this is how my life is going to end being run over by a team of runaway mules and a heavy wagon in 1986; I could just see them coming up and over the hood of my car and through the windshield into my lap. Then at the last minute I thought to flip on my headlights and flash them on bright and at the last second the mules veered to my left and ran into the rear of a new Chevy Blazer parked beside me. Their heads went through the rear window and the tailgate was severely crushed by the impact of their chests hitting it and the truck was moved about 20 feet from where it was parked but the mules survived and then staggered around for a few minutes probably thinking, "What the hell was that?"

For one scene they decided his fenders and hood were too shiny and wanted to "age" the vehicle. They used a pump up sprayer like you apply garden weedkiller and sprayed water in a fine mist all over the truck, then came back and shoveled fireplace ashes all over it to dull the finish for the camera. Took forever to clean it up after that episode.
Image

In 1992 Henry was in a Hallmark Hall of Fame made for TV movie called "An American Story" filmed in the Dallas area and the plot was that all the good guys in this small town had gone off to fight in WWII and while they were gone the evil corrupt Boss Hogg-type politicians took over their town. My main scene was to carry about 20 well-armed guys in the bed of my truck and rush up to the town hall/jail to overthrow the current regime of politicians. Unfortunately the scene was shot in the middle of the night around 3:00 am in December when it was about 25 degrees outside and the actors (extras) in the bed of my truck kept stamping their feet to stay warm and broke out several of the original strips of bed wood. Everything went as planned and I watched while they reshot the scene from another angle with the guys getting out of the bed of my truck while a special effects guy from behind the camera used a slingshot to shoot little fireworks explosives (like kids throw on the ground and pop) at my truck. They were exploding as they hit the front bumper and fenders and the spark in the dark made them look like bullets ricocheting off the truck. They then applied decal bulletholes all over the truck. Not a really big deal until the director walks over and casually asked, "Is this your old truck?" I replied proudly, "yes, it is." He then said, "Would you mind if we actually shot out one of your headlights?" I immediately answered, "Would you mind if I F_ _ _ ed your wife?" He dropped his jaw and I said, "This old truck probably means about as much to me as your wife does to you; no you can't shoot out the headlight. This is an original unrestored 80 year old truck with the original headlights - I can't just go down to Western Auto or Pep Boys and buy another headlight." He walked away with no comment.

Image

If you ever get offered the opportunity to have your Model A used in a movie, yes, it's kind of cool to think you'll be a part of Hollywood but I'm pretty sure if you do it once, that will be plenty. Just make sure that they pay you for the use of your car and then pay you as an extra to drive it - don't let it go to your head that maybe Tom Cruise or the like will be driving your car unless you want to replace a couple of gears in your transmission. :shock: They'll have you get to the set at 6:00 am and sit around while they rehearse all day and might shoot a 5 minute scene at 4:00 pm. Yes you get to eat with the actors and director, gaffer, sound guy, cameraman, entire crew, etc. but the catering is not always that good on location.

One more comment since it appears that I'm telling my life story - did you ever see the movie "Places in the Heart" with Sally Field and Danny Glover? That was filmed in Waxahachie, Texas, just south of Dallas. It's a depression era movie and Wikipedia describes the movie: "Places in the Heart is a 1984 drama film that tells the story of a Texas widow who tries to keep her farm together with the help of a blind white man and a black man during the Great Depression.

Places in the Heart opens in Waxahachie, Texas in 1935 to scenes of the town and the sounds of a church choir singing "Blessed Assurance". Edna Spalding (Sally Field), places the final dish at the table. As the dinner begins there are reactions to gunshots in the distance. Sheriff Royce Spalding has a chance to eat a few bites before deputies come calling. At the railway yards a young black boy is staggering around obviously drunk, firing off a revolver. The Sheriff approaches cautiously and calls him by name, "Wylie". The boy tosses up his bottle and tries to shoot it, then fires off two more rounds before the gun misfires. Impulsively the boy points the gun at the Sheriff and pulls the trigger. Spalding, shot in the stomach, falls to the tracks. He is taken back to his home and his lifeless body is laid on the kitchen table. The scenes change to Wylie being dragged down the streets coming to rest at the Spalding home in view of Edna and her two small children Frank and Possum."

The producers contacted me about using my AA truck in the movie scene where the black kid was dragged down a white rock caliche road behind an old truck. Fortunately for me at the time I had removed my gas tank to have it boiled out and told them I couldn't do it right then; they asked if I knew anyone else in the Dallas area who might have an old early 30's truck they could use and I gave them the name of a friend of mine who owned a 1929 International stakebed. His truck drug the kid's body down the white rock road until the black kid was "white" covered with dust. That scene involved the Ku-Klux-Klan and I'm definitely glad that my truck doesn't have that particular claim to fame. It's a great movie otherwise, I recommend you renting it if you haven't seen it.
Image

His latest "performance" was in a depression era movie filmed about 20 miles from my home in Bartlett, Texas in 2008 called "Kings of the Evening" from which the original posted photos on this forum were taken. I got to attend the gala screening and the after-party with my wife as part of the Austin Film Festival but I don't think the movie was ever picked up for nationwide distribution.
Image
Image
Image

The last photo above is Jethro, my '29 Model A Grapes of Wrath Okie Dustbowl Buggy which was featured in the "Kings of the Evening" movie along with Henry. That's me with my back to the camera at the rear of the car being helped into "costume" by a wardrobe assistant for the next scene.

Through it all, Henry has maintained his humility and has never gotten a "big head". He's still just a good old down-to-earth Model AA truck that enjoys hauling me and the grandkids around.
Fred
Last edited by lookin-backtexas on February 15th, 2014, 7:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
If you are not driving your AA truck you might as well be collecting clocks!
ImageImage

User avatar
spectria
Posts: 1874
Joined: May 15th, 2008, 9:53 pm
Body Type: Mail Truck, Stakebed
Model Year: 1931
Location: Quincy, Ca.

Re: Henry, 1931 Steeltop Stakebed - 40,000 original miles

Post by spectria » February 13th, 2014, 12:22 pm

Thank You! BTW, when is the book coming out, I'd buy it!
Dave in Quincy, Ca. I love Pics!!!! Post them All!!! :)
Join the Ford Model AA Truck Club - membership form at http://www.fmaatc.org

User avatar
Chris Haynes
Posts: 2083
Joined: September 7th, 2003, 5:18 pm
Body Type: 82A
Model Year: 1930
Location: North Hills, CA/ Pine Grove, CA

Re: Henry, 1931 Steeltop Stakebed - 40,000 original miles

Post by Chris Haynes » February 13th, 2014, 1:49 pm

After working for fifty years in the motion picture industry I will give you one piece of advice when renting your vehicle to a film shoot. NEVER LEAVE YOUR VEHICLE OUT OF YOUR SIGHT.

User avatar
fdohnke
Posts: 77
Joined: February 23rd, 2012, 10:34 pm
Body Type: 82A
Model Year: 1929
Contact:

Re: Henry, 1931 Steeltop Stakebed - 40,000 original miles

Post by fdohnke » February 15th, 2014, 9:01 am

What a great story, over 80 years old and still making money. :wink:

Here's what I think is a 29 AA in a Michael Jackson/ Paul McCartney music video from the 1980s. Classic.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVpnng-rK1U

Fred

User avatar
spectria
Posts: 1874
Joined: May 15th, 2008, 9:53 pm
Body Type: Mail Truck, Stakebed
Model Year: 1931
Location: Quincy, Ca.

Re: Henry, 1931 Steeltop Stakebed - 40,000 original miles

Post by spectria » February 15th, 2014, 1:12 pm

fdohnke wrote:What a great story, over 80 years old and still making money. :wink:

Here's what I think is a 29 AA in a Michael Jackson/ Paul McCartney music video from the 1980s. Classic.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVpnng-rK1U

Fred
Looks like that truck was the star!
Dave in Quincy, Ca. I love Pics!!!! Post them All!!! :)
Join the Ford Model AA Truck Club - membership form at http://www.fmaatc.org

User avatar
miner art
Posts: 295
Joined: March 22nd, 2005, 8:27 am
Body Type: AA flt.BD.82a
Model Year: 1929
Location: gold hill oregon,97525

Re: Henry, 1931 Steeltop Stakebed - 40,000 original miles

Post by miner art » February 21st, 2014, 9:46 am

lookin-backtexas wrote:
spectria wrote:That's a great Story Thank You.
What Movies? Love to look for him!
Thank's that was great,We made one short movie,"Gold"......My son is just starting his MP.Career...Art..

I can name them but unless you have been in a movie yourself you'd probably be disappointed - as many of you know who have provided vehicles to the movie industry or worked as extras, it's not always glamorous.

Anytime one of my Model A's or AA's has been in a movie I have required that they hire me as an extra to drive it; talk about a lot of "hurry up and wait" and re-shooting the same scene five different times and then you see the final movie and you either ended up on the cutting room floor or they edited the scene so severely that all you see is your elbow sticking out the window in a quick drive-by scene. Of course you have bragged to all your buddies and their wives about being "in a movie" so they come to the premiere with you - you get to shout "Hey, that's my elbow that just went by."

To be honest, most production/property managers who are in charge of the old cars think of Model A's as merely "props" in the movie and they don't care if the car gets banged up or whatever. That's why I have always had a personal policy that if my car or truck is used in the movie, no one but me drives it - most actors don't know the first thing about starting one or what double clutching is.

I have turned down several requests to use Henry in a movie because they wanted to do such things as load him on a flatbed lowboy trailer and haul him 300 miles away to use it in an oilfield scene and planned to load his bed with oilfield pipe - I can imagine them using a forklift and just dropping the heavy pipe onto his bed. I would have been tied up with my job at the time and they wanted to take him anyway and let someone else drive him in the scene. He is a low mileage unrestored original Stakebed and they couldn't pay me enough to use it without my being there to watch what they do to it.

Henry's first "performance" was in a Lorimar Productions CBS made-for-TV movie called "Dallas, The Early Years" which was back when the Dallas TV show was so popular in 1986 - it was to be a flashback showing how the Ewings got all their oil money back in the 30's. They really wanted to use my truck because it was not restored and not too shiny so I negotiated a pretty handsome fee for its use plus being paid as an extra to drive it. They built a replica of an old oil field with lots of wood derricks and then ran 1/4 inch copper lines with small holes in the line about every 12 inches. The copper line was intertwined and wound around the wooden derricks and their plan was to pump gasoline through the line and at a predetermined time set off an explosion with a huge fireball. They rehearsed the scene over and over all day long and were set to blow everything around midnight. They had several firetrucks on location, ambulances standing by, even a medivac helicopter waiting if needed, etc. and cameras set up to capture the scene from several different vantage points - remember they only had ONE TAKE to do it since they were blowing everything up. Well, you can rehearse with actors all day long who know what to expect but they didn't tell the MULES that were there pulling the wagons what was coming. I parked my modern car about a hundred yards down the dirt road to watch the fireworks and it kept being delayed and delayed, etc. until around 2:00 am there was this gigantic fireball mushrooming into the air and (as you probably can guess) silhouetted against the fireball I saw a team of runaway mules pulling their wagon without a driver, nostrils flared, panicked and stampeding down the road toward me at a full gallop followed by that heavy old wagon. What to do? I thought well, this is how my life is going to end being run over by a team of runaway mules and a heavy wagon in 1986; I could just see them coming up and over the hood of my car and through the windshield into my lap. Then at the last minute I thought to flip on my headlights and flash them on bright and at the last second the mules veered to my left and ran into the rear of a new Chevy Blazer parked beside me. Their heads went through the rear window and the tailgate was severely crushed by the impact of their chests hitting it and the truck was moved about 20 feet from where it was parked but the mules survived and then staggered around for a few minutes probably thinking, "What the hell was that?"

For one scene they decided his fenders and hood were too shiny and wanted to "age" the vehicle. They used a pump up sprayer like you apply garden weedkiller and sprayed water in a fine mist all over the truck, then came back and shoveled fireplace ashes all over it to dull the finish for the camera. Took forever to clean it up after that episode.
Image

In 1992 Henry was in a Hallmark Hall of Fame made for TV movie called "An American Story" filmed in the Dallas area and the plot was that all the good guys in this small town had gone off to fight in WWII and while they were gone the evil corrupt Boss Hogg-type politicians took over their town. My main scene was to carry about 20 well-armed guys in the bed of my truck and rush up to the town hall/jail to overthrow the current regime of politicians. Unfortunately the scene was shot in the middle of the night around 3:00 am in December when it was about 25 degrees outside and the actors (extras) in the bed of my truck kept stamping their feet to stay warm and broke out several of the original strips of bed wood. Everything went as planned and I watched while they reshot the scene from another angle with the guys getting out of the bed of my truck while a special effects guy from behind the camera used a slingshot to shoot little fireworks explosives (like kids throw on the ground and pop) at my truck. They were exploding as they hit the front bumper and fenders and the spark in the dark made them look like bullets ricocheting off the truck. They then applied decal bulletholes all over the truck. Not a really big deal until the director walks over and casually asked, "Is this your old truck?" I replied proudly, "yes, it is." He then said, "Would you mind if we actually shot out one of your headlights?" I immediately answered, "Would you mind if I F_ _ _ ed your wife?" He dropped his jaw and I said, "This old truck probably means about as much to me as your wife does to you; no you can't shoot out the headlight. This is an original unrestored 80 year old truck with the original headlights - I can't just go down to Western Auto or Pep Boys and buy another headlight." He walked away with no comment.

Image

If you ever get offered the opportunity to have your Model A used in a movie, yes, it's kind of cool to think you'll be a part of Hollywood but I'm pretty sure if you do it once, that will be plenty. Just make sure that they pay you for the use of your car and then pay you as an extra to drive it - don't let it go to your head that maybe Tom Cruise or the like will be driving your car unless you want to replace a couple of gears in your transmission. :shock: They'll have you get to the set at 6:00 am and sit around while they rehearse all day and might shoot a 5 minute scene at 4:00 pm. Yes you get to eat with the actors and director, gaffer, sound guy, cameraman, entire crew, etc. but the catering is not always that good on location.

One more comment since it appears that I'm telling my life story - did you ever see the movie "Places in the Heart" with Sally Field and Danny Glover? That was filmed in Waxahachie, Texas, just south of Dallas. It's a depression era movie and Wikipedia describes the movie: "Places in the Heart is a 1984 drama film that tells the story of a Texas widow who tries to keep her farm together with the help of a blind white man and a black man during the Great Depression.

Places in the Heart opens in Waxahachie, Texas in 1935 to scenes of the town and the sounds of a church choir singing "Blessed Assurance". Edna Spalding (Sally Field), places the final dish at the table. As the dinner begins there are reactions to gunshots in the distance. Sheriff Royce Spalding has a chance to eat a few bites before deputies come calling. At the railway yards a young black boy is staggering around obviously drunk, firing off a revolver. The Sheriff approaches cautiously and calls him by name, "Wylie". The boy tosses up his bottle and tries to shoot it, then fires off two more rounds before the gun misfires. Impulsively the boy points the gun at the Sheriff and pulls the trigger. Spalding, shot in the stomach, falls to the tracks. He is taken back to his home and his lifeless body is laid on the kitchen table. The scenes change to Wylie being dragged down the streets coming to rest at the Spalding home in view of Edna and her two small children Frank and Possum."

The producers contacted me about using my AA truck in the movie scene where the black kid was dragged down a white rock caliche road behind an old truck. Fortunately for me at the time I had removed my gas tank to have it boiled out and told them I couldn't do it right then; they asked if I knew anyone else in the Dallas area who might have an old early 30's truck they could use and I gave them the name of a friend of mine who owned a 1929 International stakebed. His truck drug the kid's body down the white rock road until the black kid was "white" covered with dust. That scene involved the Ku-Klux-Klan and I'm definitely glad that my truck doesn't have that particular claim to fame. It's a great movie otherwise, I recommend you renting it if you haven't seen it.
Image

His latest "performance" was in a depression era movie filmed about 20 miles from my home in Bartlett, Texas in 2008 called "Kings of the Evening" from which the original posted photos on this forum were taken. I got to attend the gala screening and the after-party with my wife as part of the Austin Film Festival but I don't think the movie was ever picked up for nationwide distribution.
Image
Image
Image

The last photo above is Jethro, my '29 Model A Grapes of Wrath Okie Dustbowl Buggy which was featured in the "Kings of the Evening" movie along with Henry. That's me with my back to the camera at the rear of the car being helped into "costume" by a wardrobe assistant for the next scene.

Through it all, Henry has maintained his humility and has never gotten a "big head". He's still just a good old down-to-earth Model AA truck that enjoys hauling me and the grandkids around.
Fred

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