After realizing my truck was built 2 years after WW-I ended, I had the wild idea of restoring a WW-I truck. I got the initial inspiration many years after I had worked at a large restaurant outside Philadelphia in the 1960's. Mr. Joseph Conti Sr. who started the 'Casa Conti' hotel/restaurant in 1919 was a cook in the US Army behind a horse drawn chow wagon. Mr. Conti had gained his US citizenship through his US Army service in the 'Great War', later known as WW-I. Joseph 'Pop' Conti had actually cooked for General John J. (Black Jack) Pershing once. 'Pop's' restaurant was once a stagecoach stop on the way to Easton, PA. During the period 1919 - 1926 John Philip Sousa who was America's 'March King' (Stars and Stripes Forever) stayed at Casa Conti when his band played at nearby Willow Grove Park.
Growing up as a kid I learned my next door neighbor Lester Lighton in Glenside, PA was a volunteer ambulance driver for the Free French Army in 1916 and held some of the early wet cell storage battery patents through the now Exide Company.
In 1979 I purchased my 1920 Packard truck from Ralph Gery, Mechanicsburg,
PA (Ralph owned Glen-Gery Brick Co in PA, a large brick manufacturer that
dates their history back to the 1800's)
had a brother Edward Gery who was killed in the closing days of WW-I in the epic Meuse-Argonne final major battle of the war.
Such was my inspiration for a 'Great War' truck. I approached the Citizen's Motor Car Company museum with the idea and so the Packard Army truck had its' roots in 1996.
Mr. Ron Carey of Alberta, Canada donated the frame and wheels and
transported same to York Springs. Now here is a patriot and great
guy. No Federal tax deduction (Canadian citizen), no
financial benefit and just someone with a big heart and a wallet to back it up.
Don Meltz of Hudson, NY donated the engine and transmission that arrived in York Springs that had resided in a badly rusted and twisted truck frame with incorrect wheels for the period.
Lance Swank, Palmyra, NY in memory of his father Grover Swank donated
the radiator, engine parts, hood and a host of other truck components.
Lance's late father Grover had worked for
Winross, Inc who made scale model trucks. Winross also had an antique
vehicle restoration division where Grover worked that had restored a Packard truck. Left over parts from donor parts trucks were inherited by Grover from Winross following their restoration. Grover had wanted to restore a Packard Army truck but never had the chance but his untimely death from cancer occurred only just after I had met him..
Bennett Construction of Salisbury, MD provided the heavy duty 18-wheel
transportation and used their tractor and flat bed trailer to transport
all the Palmyra NY parts and truck to York Springs.
Mr. Paul Kenific of Salisbury MD was the driver.
The late Clyde Walters of Canton, Ohio went over the engine (Clyde Walters restored the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co's. 1917 Packard 'Wingfoot Express' in 1980-1981)
Paul Kenific of Salisbury, MD welded the missing 24 inch section of rear 6 inch channel iron frame that Woolf Steel of Middletown, PA donated.
Ted Valpey, Dover, NH donated the money for the restoration of the brass radiator and had a local New Hampshire radiator craftsman do the work.
Marshall Katz, Camp Hill, PA donated the money to have the magneto completely rebuilt.
George Lupfer, owner of Lupfers Tranmission Shop in Carlisle donated the labor and rebuilt the transmission from several parts transmissions. George had worked at the Packard dealership in Carlisle and is a 1951-1956 Packard 'Ultramatic' automatic transmission specialist. George also owns a 1956 Packard Patrician.
Tom Schlarb, Topton, NC made and donated the electric starter and all the custom fabricated stake and bow hardware, etc. from the original April 1917 'War Department' body plans with detail drawings donated by Tim Gosling of England.
Coyle Lumber of Mount Holly Springs donated the oak wood for the body and Lemoyne Sleeper of Lemoyne donated the steel for the body rails.
Dave Jacoby of Gettysburg PA made the body per 1917 War Department
specs and donated his labor. Dave also made the beautiful wooden
top bows. The top bows are made of 5 steam
bent layers of yellow pine. Only after Dave finished the bows did he tell me that was the first time he ever steam bent wood!
The donated canvas top was measured, sewn and installed by Fehl (pronounced
'Fail') Awning Company of Walnut Bottom, PA. Tom Hovetter, owner
graciously agreed to the donation the
first time he heard of the project.
The project has only been possible by the overwhelming generosity
of others. A sincere thanks to all, including those who could only
afford moral support - is extended from the bottom of
my heart - a truly heartfelt thank you is in order for all who participated with their time, talents and generous monetary donations.
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