Living Legends Part 2

Another inspiration is my uncle, Russ Liechty, who was born in 1930, and grew up on a farm near Pettisville, Ohio. Being the last in a family of nine children, he felt no particular need for higher education because his Dad did quite well with only a sixth grade education.

His dad (my grandpa) Joseph Christian Liechty, was an entrepreneur who had several dealerships, selling Maytag products, Chrysler automobiles, John Deere tractors and a farm to complete the mix. He provided plenty of machines to take apart around the farm. Below is my Grandpa, Grandma Emma, my Mom and Dad, Uncle Wayne, cousins Shirlyn and Ellen with my sister Anne between them, and me in front of Grandpa.


One by one, the brothers began taking over the family businesses. Russ did a little of everything, from mechanics to farming, and anticipated joining the car business after school. After high school, he drove a truck for a year until his sister Doris (my mother), who was at Goshen College, persuaded him to give college a try. Russ agreed to go for one semester, and got hopelessly “hooked.”

There he thrived and found a stimulating opportunity in education. This lead eventually to a PHD in Psychology and a career in college Administration and Student Development. For this reason, the guys at the factory in front of his shop call him “Doc” Liechty. The photo below shows Uncle Russ and Aunt Marge in the early days.


The photo below shows my Grandma Emma Liechty and all of her children: Aunts Lorraine, Mary, and my mother Doris, Uncles Don, Wes, Herman, Wayne, Harold and Russel, along with Don’s wife Lois, Carly June and one unknown to me.


Uncle Russ’s mechanical roots were tangled deep though, and he never lost the childhood interest in cars and trucks. I would put my money on him to be able to identify any year of Chrysler car or Dodge truck for the last century. (Added note: he reviewed this post for dates and details and did not refute this claim!)

A few years back, he bought a 1947 Dodge 2 1/2 ton semi-tractor in rather rough condition for $600. This began a five year full restoration that required complete disassembly down to the bare frame. Every part was cleaned, repaired, or rebuilt as necessary before reassembly began. The major components, i.e. engine, transmission, starter, generator, etc were all rebuilt by experienced professionals. It now has six new tires, all new glass, interior mats, door panels, headliner and seat upholstery. Uncle Russ did the body repair work, but the final painting was done by a professional.

This led to being featured in a major truck magazine. This is a really big truck for a man with a really big vision. It has an air horn to match.


The Big Red truck is now estimated to be worth around $25,000 and is a parade and show favorite. Uncle Russ also restored a 1919 Dodge touring car, a 1949 Chrysler Windsor, a 1962 Chrysler Newport, a 1964 Dodge Dart convertible, 1964 Rambler American convertible and a 1936 Dodge 1/2 ton pickup shown below.


Actually, this truck might be the best of all of the featured choices to pull the boat, should it ever get done. Currently, I am working on putting the mahogany veneer on the sides. This step required some special clamps to help hold the pieces in place as I was shaping them down to size. They have an inner concentric surface which tightens up as I turn them. The outer piece is just to hold the large floppy pieces in place during shaping.


Here is the preparation for the second piece.


Jeff Margush helped provide a full size pattern that helped create a good line down the side for the bottom of the veneer.


And finally, Jeff and I epoxy the pieces in place, essentially completing the last of the major wood parts added to the hull. This is a huge milestone to pass, and the hope of getting in the water this summer.


Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.

Napoleon Hill

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