Looking For A Few Good (Ford) Men



Bill Michaelis, Bob Dieryck and friends are looking for a few good men -- a few good Ford men, that is.

It's not that you can't own another kind of car. It's just that you wouldn't want to.


Members of the Old Ford Club (left to right) Merlin Dedman, Eddie Randleman, Bill Michaelis, Phil Watkins, Bob Dieryck, Ron Randleman and Jim Goebel pose with an assortment of classic Fords. In the foreground is Dedman's 1921 Model T.

At least not to these guys' way of thinking.

"It's just the best old car that ever was," Michaelis said.

They're about 12 strong (which is, conveniently, the precise number of doughnuts in a dozen), they call themselves the Old Ford Club, and they're probably one of the loosest groups you'll ever belong to.

"We're sort of a relaxed car club," Michaelis said. "We don't have any elected officers, we don't have any dues."

"No regulations, no rules, no nothin'," Dieryck added.

Between them, they own three model Ts, a dozen model As, and six V8s. The oldest was built in 1921; the newest in 1951.

But you don't have to own a Ford, or even a car for that matter. You just have to like working on them, or watching other people work on them.


Merlin Dedman, Eddie Randleman and Jim Goebel gently lift Bob Dieryck's 1930 Model A onto a flatbed trailer. Dieryck's soon-to-be classic was bound for a coat of bright red paint.

"It's just the interest," Michaelis said. "There's a lot of cars in Payson that never come out of the garage, so we're trying to get more people involved.

On this Wednesday morning, the Old Ford Club has gathered at Dieryck's house to help him get his 1930 Model A ready to paint. Believe it or not, Dieryck found the car in Payson North.

"This guy bought it 35 years ago and he was going to restore it with his son, but he never got around to it," Dieryck said. "It just sat there, and he finally decided he wanted to sell it. It was nothing but a pile of junk, but most of it was there."

Although Dieryck no longer walks, he did all the body work himself -- no small accomplishment considering the task at hand.

"The whole back of this thing was caved in," he said. "It was rusted out all over."

Dieryck is going to have the car painted red.

"What this was originally was a sport coupe," he said. "It was a coupe with a canvas top that didn't go down. I just cut the doors down and cut the window frames off."

It still has the original engine, but it's been "hopped up," according to Dieryck.

"It's got a high compression head on it," he said. "It's a downdraft carb instead of an updraft. It's got a centrifugal advance distributor."

Dieryck was born and raised in Minnesota, but he spent much of his adult life in Alaska.

"I went up there on a job for the University of Minnesota," he said. "We were building refrigeration systems for the hatcheries.

"I got there and just never came back."

He eventually retired from the Alaska Fish and Game Department, where he was a maintenance supervisor. He takes his disability in stride.

"Now that I can't walk, I don't do much -- just fix old Fords," he said.

Fixing old Fords is a subject none of the members of the Old Ford Club can stay away from for long.

Phil Watkins talks about his purple 1941 flathead V8. He found it in "a guy's garage in Mesa" and spent more than two years restoring it.

Merlin Dedman talks about his 1921 Model T.

"It was in bad shape, just a bunch of old parts," he said. "I bought it all."

Michaelis just hangs out and helps.

"I just do the dirty work," he said.

Spend some time with these guys and you'll learn some other reasons they like Fords so much.

  • Availability of parts

Ford built 15 million Model Ts and four million Model As, so Ford parts are available all over the world.

  • Ford bodies have little wood in them.

"Chevrolet, Dodge, Plymouth -- all the framework was wood with sheet metal bent over and nailed on," Dieryck said. "Ford used all steel, and that's why there's so many Fords around yet."

  • Style and design

"Fords have always had very attractive bodies," Dieryck said. "Like the '34. It was one of the fanciest looking cars for an inexpensive car. And that '50 Ford convertible -- it's pretty hard to find anything with lines like that."

  • Ford was the original hot rod

"The rest of them didn't come out with V8s until later," Dieryck said.

The Old Ford Club meets at 8 a.m. on the second and fourth Wednesdays at Crosswinds Restaurant (or, occasionally, in a member's garage) and at 6 p.m. on Thursdays at various restaurants. Spouses and significant others are invited to the evening gatherings.

"We don't do a lot, but anybody's welcome," Michaelis said.

For more information, call Michaelis at (928) 472-6625 or Dieryck at (928) 472-6796.

Classics will travel

Members of the Old Ford Club will bring their vehicles to store grand openings and other events. Call Michaelis or Dieryck to make arrangements.

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