In August of 1989, Bud Yaholnitsky and I were traveling through Colorado when we ran across a Cushman Truckster powered by a 2-cylinder opposed OMC air-cooled engine. After looking this unit over, we decided we should have it. We were able to agree on a price with the owner and made a deal.
We didn’t have room for the entire Cushman in my already partially loaded half-ton pickup, so we got our wrenches out and removed the engine, transmission and differential and loaded them, leaving the rest of the vehicle.
As time went on, we were trying to decide what to do with these components. In the fall of 1995 we decided to build a miniature truck.
After drawing some sketches on the shop floor, we bought some 1×3 rectangular tubing for the frame and mounted the Cushman rear axle and the front axle from a Ford Prefect car using four trailer springs.
We bought two rear hubs and wheels from a Honda car and mounted them on the Ford spindles for the front wheels. We got four more Honda wheels and modified the center portions so that they would fit as duals on the Cushman rear axle. We bought six 4.80-12 trailer tires, mounted them on the wheels and thus had a running gear.
Next we mounted the engine and transmission in the frame. Since this was to be a parade truck, we wanted it to be geared rather slowly. Dennis Reid gave us a transmission from a 1926 Hub mobile car which we mounted behind the Cushman transmission. Then we made adapter plates and installed a Toyota driveshaft between the second transmission and rear end.
The next problem was a steering gear. Dennis had one out of a golf cart steering wheel which was just right, and with a little work was mounted nicely in the frame.
We mounted a brake master cylinder from a Ford van, and after finding a pair of clutch and brake pedals from a Maxwell car, were able to get the controls all hooked up.
It was then time to think about a cab. After some more drawing on the shop floor, we made some patterns and cut the cab panels out of 18 gauge sheet metal. The panels were installed and we lined them with half-inch plywood for rigidity. Bud’s wife Anne made us a nice seat and seat back which was put in place.
Next problem was a fuel tank. I found I had an old kerosene construction heater which had a tank that fit nicely under the seat.
Back to the shop floor. We designed a dummy radiator using an air conditioning condenser from a Dodge van for a core.
After the radiator was in place, we made a hood to fit and had the louvers punched at a local shop. We wanted antique looking headlights that weren’t too large. Dennis had some electrical control covers that looked about right, and I managed to talk him out of them. After machining some rings I mounted some tractor sealed beams in them and we had headlights. A model A Ford taillight was mounted on the rear.
The dummy radiator cap is from a model A Ford, and the radiator ornament is from a Mack Bulldog ash tray.
My nephew in Arizona gave me some beautiful wood for the deck, and after shopping at the local lumber yards for material for the sides and sills we built the box. Bud finished the whole thing off with a nice paint job.
The project was completed in the spring of 1997. Although it was a challenge at times, we enjoyed every minute of it. We’ve had the truck in several parades and shows during the summer of 1997 and received many favorable comments.