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Work Hard/Play Hard

By: Bob Schmeichel

Dale Bowne grew up on a farm and learned at a young age that if you wanted something, you had to work to make it happen. His whole life has been focused with his “nose to the grindstone” (an old saying) to achieve whatever he sets out to do. Today, Dale and his son share his focus with a large farming operation near Brookings that involves yearly planting of crops and harvesting, as well as cattle and hogs. This usually means your day starts early and ends when you go to bed, while hoping nothing needs attention while you sleep. He mentioned once there were a bunch of calves born at the same time during a blizzard, which tends to raise the stress level especially if they aren’t inside. Wintertime slows a bit, so besides planning for next year’s crops, machinery requires continual maintenance attention or something else needs to be done that can’t wait.

As we get into talking about cars, Dale told me he wasn’t really a typical hot rodder today – although he built a 1937 Ford with a small block Chevy engine in high school that he still has today. I asked, “What does that mean?” He said he was more into the older stuff – Ford model T’s and A’s – that he has been accumulating and restoring himself during the winters when he has time. Even with limited time, Dale said he has always been a builder of some sorts. Whether it be with cars or farm machinery, Dale is not afraid to tackle building anything and making it better. Dale’s present vehicles include a restored 1925 Ford roadster pickup, a 1928 Ford pickup he has been working on for four winters, and also a 1928 Ford Phaeton 4-door roadster that he really enjoys driving on a warm summer evening.

In 2012, Dale was interested in building a newer car – a real hot rod. A 1932 Ford 3-window coupe was in his mind, but he wasn’t sure where to start. Since Dale had never really been in the hot rod scene to see how cars are put together today, he made a visit to Randy Gribble of Gribbles Welding in Watertown to get some insight and advice. After a bit of discussion with Randy, Dale decided he wanted to build a ‘50s style nostalgia hot rod. Randy worked with Dale, ordering parts for him as needed. The first things they ordered was one of Speedway Motors’ new ‘32 Ford 3-window coupe fiberglass bodies. Next was a complete Pete & Jakes chassis with all the suspension components to make it a roller. As parts started arriving later at Dale’s farm, he was surprised at the quality of everything. He said the fiberglass body was quite straight; even with its chopped top and filled roof, there was very little body work to do to make it perfect. He said it was kind of hard to not start working on the car right away, but he was in the middle of harvesting and that had to get done first. After the final day of harvesting was done and the combine was in the machine shed, Dale was going to work on the car the next day.

Now there is one thing to keep in mind. Even though you can buy everything brand new to build a new ‘32 Ford, these cars are not a kit, don’t come with instructions and aren’t built overnight. These cars are all built to personal taste, depending on what you do to put them together with every little piece you add. Appearance, function, safety, comfort, ease of driving, power, and overall finished impression of a vehicle are some of the things that are always on a person’s mind from the beginning of a build until you can drive it. It’s really not hard to build a car if you have ever played around with building model cars. I always use that as a comparison, except on a full-size scale.

As Dale moved forward getting the frame together, he gathered up other little needed parts as many of us do at salvage yards. These can be bought at a reasonable price and still function for years. He got a late model 302 Ford and a C4 Ford trans that he rebuilt and put in place for the mock-up. Now when I say mock-up, that is just all it is. As a person is building a car with items that aren’t necessarily made for where you are trying to put them, you might take them in and out a dozen times before you have them modified and mounted to your taste. Once you have every last piece in place the way you want it, the entire car and I mean everything, is taken apart and painted piece by piece if it isn’t aluminum, stainless steel, or chrome plated. And then the final stressful part begins with putting everything back together again without scratching the paint. Even with Dale handling the majority of building the car and doing everything except the upholstery (which was done by Jeff and Sue Mendering), it still took four winters for him to complete the car start to finish, which is no small feat by any means. After having the car on the road for two years now, Dale thoroughly enjoys driving the ’32 to area car events within an 800-mile radius. It really works well, too! Air conditioning with the radio on and cruise control pushing you along in a newer old car – what more do you need?





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