Our trip to southeastern Kentucky
in the '49 F-2

This is the recount of my wife's and my trip to Truckstock 2012 held near the small town of Blackey Kentucky in September of 2012. The seed of our trip actually planted on May 21, 2012 when Shane McDougal made the generous offer to host a small get together for members of the '48-56 discussion board on the Ford Truck Enthusiast's web site, www.ford-trucks.com. After thinking about it for less than a day I decided was going.

At first when I told my wife Michelle I was going to drive 800 miles to southeastern Kentucky for a truck meet she thought it was a silly idea. My wife is not a big fan of my old car hobby. When I told her I was taking the F-2 I think she thought I was kind of nuts. She didn't want to go along at first but when I told her I was going with or without her she relented and agreed to come along. I think she realized I might have fun without her and she wanted to come along to make sure I didn't have too much fun. I knew the trip wasn't going to be as easy as throwing a few things into the truck and taking off. Although the old Ford still looked presentable with it's 17 year old restoration, it needed a lot of work even. I figured the trip would be roughly 800 miles each way and the truck needed to in a safe. I knew the truck needed a lot of work but because of economic reasons and time constraints I put off doing needed repairs over the years because I never took the truck far away from home.

The first thing to be replaced was the 30 year old tires. They were starting to wear pretty bad and I knew no 30 year old tire was safe. Next to check was the sloppy steering the truck has had since I started driving it over 30 years ago. I pulled the worn steering box and replaced it with a good, tight box I recently pulled from panel truck I parted out. I also rebuild the drag link, replaced the tie rods and installed new king pins and had the front end aligned. I then started going through the truck and fixing the little things. I had an electric windshield wiper set up from a '51-52 truck but it never seemed to work right so I installed the vacuum set up I pulled from the panel truck I got the steering box from. Vacuum wipers are better than no wipers. I installed seat belts, something I had resisted doing for years because I wanted a stock truck. Admittedly, that's a silly reason for not doing it. I figure if we were going to be traveling strange roads and mountainous areas I wanted the belts to hopefully keep us a little safer. I also installed a power port to power our GPS and cell phone. It was a very easy install and worked great (click here). Another important addition was a cover for the box of the truck to keep our stuff safe. We would be staying in hotels at least six nights on the way down and back home. Along with our clothes and normal travel supplies I also took my tool box, floor jack, jack stands, two spare tires and a box of spare truck parts. There is very little room in the cab of the old truck so everything had to be stored in the back of the truck and I didn't want anything walking off while we slept of made stops along the way.

We left on Wednesday, September 12 around 12:30 in the afternoon, we tried to leave earlier but I had to get a few more things done to the truck before we left and still wasn’t able to get everything done. We were able to make it to north west Indiana the first night. Just before entering Indiana around 8:00 pm the truck developed a vibration. We found a motel and the next morning I raised the next morning I raised the front of the truck up and checked the front wheels and couldn’t find a problem. We left the motel and about an hour later the wobble came back. Chelle asked if it could be a tire balance problem, I thought it might be a bad bearing. We found a small tire shop and asked if they could look at the truck. The owner told me they were very busy and wouldn’t be able to help us for some time. I asked if it would speed things along if I removed the tires and he said it would help. The owner started asking questions about the problem and was able to diagnose it as coming from the rear left wheel. Chelle and I pulled the rear wheels off and the shop balanced and added a few ounces of weight to both tires. This didn’t get rid of the wobble entirely but did make it a lot better. The guy didn’t charge us but I gave him $10.

We had a nice drive until we got to southern Indiana and had to cross the Ohio river. A friend suggested crossing it in Madison Indiana. I didn't realize there are two bridges in the Madison area, a nice one and an old one. The old bridge was being replaced and the city had rerouted the approach for the old bridge. The new temporary approach was a steep ramp with a 90° turn at the top. The old bridge is very narrow and at the end the exit was the same. After getting off the bridge we had to go up a steep hill about 1/2 mile long and at what seemed like a 45° angle. The F-2 had a challenge getting to the top of the hill but that was a hint of what was to come.

We drove to Frankfort Kentucky that night and came into town after dark. The road going into Frankfort was a twisting, winding road and it was interesting maneuvering it with the F-2. We left Frankfort and came to a newly constructed major highway. Thinking it was a four lane highway I turned onto it only to find it narrowed to two lanes and the first exit was 12 miles. The road had a steep downward slope and had at least two big turns. I couldn’t make the truck go faster than 50 mph or it would start getting squirrelly so I started backing up faster traffic behind us. After a while I pulled to the side and left the traffic pass. We continued on and about a mile later, after coming out of a turn we saw the traffic slowing down. In front of them was a Model A. I thought it was funny, the group was able to get past me only to be slowed once again by an even slower vehicle. After this we stayed on country roads which were interesting but I don’t think there’s a single road in southern Kentucky that you can go more than 100 yards without making a sharp turn or go up or down on.

Once we got near our destination we were following Hwy 421. My wife was my navigator. Every time I saw a 421 sign I’d ask Chelle if I should take it. “Yep, 421” was the answer. We finally ended up in a valley at a cross roads. Chelle said, “Oh-oh!”. I ask, “What?”. She answered, “We must have missed a turn. We’re suppose to by here and we’re here.”, as she’s pointing at the map. She tells me we have to continue on 421 to get to another highway to get to our correct destination. As I look at the 421 sign it points to a mountain road going way up into the mountain, about 400 feet up, which was very twisty and winding. I told her, “I don’t like this, I don’t like this at all.” She said it was the only way to go, otherwise we'd have to back track 100 miles. I start going up the mountain, I started in 4th gear, then in 3rd and finally topped it out in 2nd at about 15 miles per hour. We get to the top and there’s a sign indicating a downward grade with “8%” at the top. I didn’t know what an 8% grade was but I didn’t think it was good if they had to list it. I was correct with my assumption. We started down the mountain and went back and forth for at least a mile stretched to two miles with all the twists. By the time we got to the bottom I hardly had any brakes left even thought I alternated between the brake pedal and using engine braking. The pedal almost hit the floor. We rested at the bottom of the mountain for about 15 minutes and proceeded to the next town about a 1/2 mile down the highway. When we got to the next town I called Shane and told him we were a town called Harlan and he was very surprised, to say the least, at where we were. He ended up sending his father to come and get us to show us the way to his house.

Shane's father gave us two choices. We could take the major highway, Hwy 119, which took us 75 out of our way and had a long, big upward drive over the mountain and a long, big downward drive on the other side and would take us over an hour and a half to get to Shane's house or we could take the mountain road in front of us but it was higher and steeper but would only take us about 45 minutes. I told him I just got off a mountain road and didn’t want to take another. He said if I could handle 421 I could handle this one. I chose the mountain road, which although wasn’t as bad as 421, it was still a pretty good challenge to get up and over.

When we pulled into Shane's driveway everyone there started clapping. All of the attendees were waiting for our safe arrival before partaking in a great meal that was the start of a great weekend. It turned out during our entire trip down there internet discussion of “Where is Bob today?”. I drove the farthest in a total stock truck, about 800 miles one way. The longest distance driven was 1500 miles by a Ross Collard from New Mexico, which he planned to do in his '51 F-1 but because of some mechanical concerns he decided to drive his daily modern daily driver.

We had a great time. We had planned on tent camping in the Shane's yard along with a few of other people who attended but Shane and his gracious wife Amy had two houses and had rooms for every one who had planned on tent camping. My wife and I were given a room in the McDougal's beautiful guest house. There was a few others that had hotel rooms. Our hosts kept us all well fed all weekend long.

Saturday morning all the attendees got in our trucks and headed out on a cruise up a mountain, the same mountain we came over the day before but on a different, slightly less winding and wider road. This road was also a challenge for the F-2 but it made it.

Saturday night we had a catered meal consisting of regional Southern Kentucky favorites and listened to a legendary Bluegrass banjo player Lee Sexton and his band. It will be the most memorable event of the weekend, sitting on the front lawn listening to great Blue Grass music.

Thanks to Wade Johnson for these great pictures.

When we left on Monday morning one of the attendees, Gary Sharon, offered us a room stay that night at his house in northern Kentucky. About an hour after we left the Truckstock we stopped for gas and as we left it started raining. I turned on the wipers and they went flip-flop,flip-flop and stopped. We drove the next 5 hours with no wipers but I had applied RainX so we were able to see out the windshield. Chelle had to continuously wipe the inside of the windshield with a napkin. That night Homemade and his wife Linda shared more of their Kentucky hospitality and made our trip even better.

When we left Kentucky the next morning Homemade guided us to a better bridge to cross the Ohio River back into Madison Indiana. It was flat with flat approaches. It was only a few miles from the first bridge, if only we knew the week before. We drove north through Indiana but took a detour to Peoria Illinois to visit with a member who wasn’t able to attend the meet. We got there around 8:30 at night, had a good conversation for a couple of hours and left to find a hotel room. The next day we drove the rest of the way home to Wisconsin without incident.

We drove up through Indiana and made a detour to meet member Jeff Filson and his wife Nichole in Pekins Illinois. He wasn't able to make it to Truckstock so I thought I'd bring him a little Truckstock to him with the F-2. I was able to check out Jeff's project F-2 and talk Ford trucks. We had a great visit but had to cut it short because it was getting late. We got a motel room in Peoria and the next day we continued home to Wisconsin without a glitch.

It was a great trip that I’m sure I’ll remember for a long time.

See you around,


Last edited November 11, 2012