Kyle Delaney is perfect example of what happens when passion meets determination. He is currently enrolled at New England Institute of Technology in the Advanced Automotive Technology with High Performance program, set to graduate in June 2017. But his story reaches far beyond the confines of campus.
Delaney is in the process of restoring a 1949 Ford F1; a project that was originally started by his father and a close family friend back in the early 1970s, and that he and his father have now been working on since Delaney was about 16. His penchant for fixing things started at a young age, with his father being the main influence of his interests.
“I’ve always been around cars and trucks my whole life. My father worked as a construction worker and he used to always give me rides in the machines when I was little. I think that, plus the vehicles we have had throughout my life, whet my appetite for everything mechanical. When I was six, I got my first dirt bike and there were days I would ride it and try to fix it if it was broken from first thing in the morning until the sun went down.
Once I started getting into cars and learning more about them, I started to go to a lot more car shows and read more about car related news. After going to a couple shows I really began to like and respect the older vehicles more than today’s vehicles.”
Delaney provided some insight into the history of this project, which was originally started by Delaney’s father, and Dan, who was a father figure to the elder Delaney.
“My grandfather died when my father was younger, I believe 11 or 12. Dan basically was the one who showed my father how to do things around the house and in Dan’s free time, when he needed some extra cash, he would work on people’s cars and my father would help him out. Around the same time frame that my grandfather died, Dan bought a truck from a guy who lived down the road; a 1949 Ford F1. Dan wanted to rebuild the truck to have fun in and drive around town. In their free time Dan and my dad would work on it. Along the way, Dan showed my father how to rebuild brakes. They then sanded it all down, fixed all the rot and imperfections, painted it with primer, and rebuilt what else needed to be rebuilt.”
After Delaney’s father graduated from high school, the F1 was moved to a friend’s garage. The restoration was cut short when the garage collapsed on the vehicle, crushing the frame and rendering it all but totaled. Dan dismantled the truck, but kept everything together, and it remained by that garage for almost 30 years.
“I was talking to my dad one night and we both agreed we’d like to get a project car to work on in our free time. Around that time, Dan got back into touch with my dad. Dan still lived in Portsmouth, RI with his wife, Mim, down the street from where my dad grew up. He got into contact with my father after learning he had pancreatic cancer. Thirty-one days after he found out, he died. After the funeral my father made it a point to go see Mim every weekend we could. One day we got on the subject of my father and I getting a project vehicle and she said, ‘You know, Danny still has all the parts for that Ford truck you guys used to work on. You guys can have it all if you want.’”
And so a new generation was introduced to the 1949 Ford F1 project. This time around it was especially challenging considering the truck was in pieces, and some of it was unsalvageable.
“I started with miscellaneous parts that ranged from the original seat to the original windshield that still shows the 1969 Rhode Island State Inspection sticker. I only had the doors and a couple fenders for the outside.
I had a vision of having a perfectly restored 1949 Ford F1 that was all stock. The only problem with that was all my sheet metal, like my bed, front fenders, and cab, sat outside for 30 years, not even a mile from Narragansett Bay. Most of it was rotted away and the chassis was nowhere in sight. I basically had to start off by finding what I needed.
I ended up finding a 1949 Ford F1 chassis that was listed for sale in Connecticut. We bought it and began assembling it in my garage. At first I really struggled because I had no clue where most of the parts went. It wasn’t until a coworker of mine gave me a manual he had for these trucks that I was able to assemble it correctly.”
Delaney also purchased a parts truck, a 1948 Ford F2, to help slowly piece the original truck back together. The main reason for the purchase was the engine, but he found some automobile history on the doors of the cab in the process.
“I found them with a full coat of primer over the letters and paint and could see through the primer what resembled letters. I sanded down the primer lightly and began to find more and more letters. The best part is both doors match. I used the cab from the truck as a donor cab since mine was completely rotted out.”
Delaney did his homework. He contacted the Cambridge, Massachusetts Historical Society, sent them pictures of the doors, and received a response within the hour. They sent him photos of the building and some of the vehicles the business used to promote the company.
“Apparently that guy’s business was huge in Cambridge! The company’s name is Russell’s Engine Rebuilding and it was in business from the Model T era to the mid-1970s. They would do full engine rebuilds and mechanic work in Cambridge, Massachusetts.”
As his love of antique cars grew, Delaney decided to pursue a career in the automotive industry and enrolled at New England Institute of Technology. His experience at New England Tech has provided him with the fundamentals of design, theory of operation, and servicing techniques of the many systems and system components of today’s automobiles, but he has been fortunate to apply the same techniques to help him get his antique Ford running.
“Right off the bat, I started my experience at NEIT by rebuilding a Ford Flathead V8 for my truck in the Engines Lab. I took what I learned in my other classes, like electrical, and completely rebuilt the electrical system, my drive-line related class, and rebuilt the brakes and rear differential, and welding, by re-welding patches and other little pieces like a crack in one of my original steel wheels that had the Ford logo stamped into the center.”
Delaney has his truck to the point where he is able to hop in and ride around his neighborhood, but he still has a long way to go.
“If I was to try and find parts for this truck in the Midwest where nothing really rots, they are all usually dented and destroyed since these trucks were made to be worked on a farm.
I have everything assembled on it to drive down the road, the only things I need to buy for it are running boards, a bed, and to completely paint it. My goal is to completely finish this truck and drive it around to car shows and to mainly have fun with it.”
A combination of cost and model rarity are Delaney’s final hurdles to get over to achieve his dream of owning a fully restored 1949 Ford F1, and continuing the legacy that his father, and Dan, started almost 40 years ago. Considering the amount of time, effort, and passion he has put into this project thus far, there is no doubt he will succeed.
*Kyle also let us know that today, January 25th, just happens to be his father’s birthday, so New England Tech would like to wish Mr. Delaney a very Happy Birthday!