The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
  • Front.lift
    MORENCI student Dalton McCowan puts everything into a dead lift attempt Saturday morning during the Wyseguy Push/Pull event. Lifters helped raise more than $1,600 for the family of the late Devin Wyse, a former Morenci power-lifter who graduated last year. Commemorative T-shirts are still available by contacting teacher Dan Hoffman.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.office
    NEW OFFICES—Fayette village administrator Steve Blue speaks with tax administrator Genna Biddix at the new front desk of the village office. Village council members voted to use budgeted renovation funds targeted for the old office and instead buy the vacant bank building on the corner of Main and Fayette streets. The old office was sold to Sherwood State Bank. When everything is put into place in the spacious new village office, an open house will be scheduled. Council member David Wheeler donated all of his time needed to make changes in the bank interior to fit the Village’s needs.

Hal Stambaugh's Model A fits him to a T

Written by David Green.

By JEFF PICKELL

It’s busted up, rusted up and broken down. It’s a crusty, oily, flaky mess that even the rats and goats have had enough of. Heck, you can’t even get within 10 feet of it without catching the rank musty scent of the barn attic it’s spent the last 40 years in.

And yet, more than a few collectors would kill for it.

It’s a 1930 Model A Ford—Fayette resident Hal Stambaugh’s newest acquisition, and it was no easy job getting it from that barn in Michigan down to his shop on Main Street.

halstambaugh Hal first learned of the car eight years ago, when he and a friend went up to tow a different car from the barn it was stored in. He expressed his interest in buying it, but until about a year ago, the owner was reluctant to sell.

When the owner finally decided to let it go, it took almost a year for Hal and him to agree on a price.

“I think the reason why he didn’t want to sell was it was his first car, and he had a special place for it,” said Hal.

The man purchased the Model A from his high school teacher in 1935 and drove it consistently for the next 26 years.

Hal’s initial intentions were to scrap everything but the body and turn it into a sleek and shiny hot rod, but he changed his mind when he learned that the man he bought it from had fallen ill. Now he wants to get the Model A running within the next few weeks and take the previous owner, and the Amish family whose barn housed the car, for a ride in it.

After he accomplishes that, though, he’s going to get to work fixing up the rest of the car, right? Turn it into a true hot rod?

Wrong. It may have once been the goal of all classic car junkies to have the sleekest, loudest vintage ride on the block, but in recent years, a new breed of collector has cruised into town—the rat rodder.

What’s a rat rod? It’s a hot rod without all the work.

Hot rods, in the true sense of the term, are classic cars that are bought in poor condition and restored back to shipshape by hobbyists and professionals. Rat rods are classic cars that are bought in poor condition and, well, that’s it.

In fact, a lot of rat rods are bought in poor condition and made poorer. It’s not uncommon to see a rat rod stripped of its front fenders or boasting a new gray primer paint job.

But then again, “poor condition” is a relative term in this instance, since rat rodders go out of their way to make rattles and clanks louder, wear their rust and patina like badges of honor.

“A lot of guys would want to get their hands on this,” says Hal of his Model A, “Its old dents and rust are all original.”

It’s not insane to wonder how a hobby that was once so intensely focused on absolute perfection in automobiles has devolved to a state where the original dent is king. Hal says it’s simply a matter of fun.

“Everybody likes the old style. They’re fun to drive. You don’t have to worry about dents and scratches. It’s mostly young guys driving the wheels off them,” Hal said.

What about safety though? Isn’t it dangerous to be driving these rickety jalopies around? What about the safety of other drivers?

True, you’re not going to find airbags, safety glass windows and precision crunch engineering on most rat rods, but at the same time, it takes a special knowledge to keep the older style cars running. Most have been tinkered with by seasoned mechanics.

Hal has been fixing up cars all his life. He started rebuilding engines with his father when he was in his early teens and learned the basics from him and other mechanics around the area.

For a while, Hal kept a semi-serious car restoring business in his garage, but as it became harder to keep up with technology, and collecting bills from customers turned into a bit of a burden, he decided to scale his operation down to something a little more casual and fun.

“I started working on old cars as kind of a hobby job. I make my schedule six months ahead of time so it doesn’t get to be a regular job,” said Hal.

It’s a good system, he says, because now he can find time to pursue some other projects, like fixing up a rusty Model A for an someone who loves it, as stinky and goat-chewed as it is.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016