Bemiller Restores 1931 Model A Ford Tudor Sedan

by Paula McKibben   Jim Bemiller, who hails from Fredericktown and the Mansfield area, but has lived in Bluffton for several years, wanted a car when he started college at OSU in 1955, but his dad didn’t want him to have one. So Jim got himself a Whizzer motorbike in 1956. Then, in 1957, he upgraded to a 1949 Cushman motor scooter. In 1958, he was really cruising with a Harley Davidson motorcycle. However, he was afraid that riding the Harley in the winter might be a little too chilly for central Ohio, so he found a car in August of 1958 with 59,900 some miles for $100 – a 1931 Model A Ford Tudor sedan.
   It was nothing to look at, but it was transportation. Jim, who by that time was 21 years old, says, “I wanted to finally have a car, so I could drive back and forth to Fredericktown with a roof over my head.”
   Well, he got the roof over his head, but there were many problems. His mom made seat covers for his almost bare seats from old coats, the brakes didn’t work and the tires were bald. He had to create turn signals using the parking light and built in a dimmer switch. Fortunately, he had bought a 1931 model which had car lights as standard equipment; the 1930 model did not.
   The first part to be replaced was the radiator. Then, the main bearings went out. He dismantled the engine in the parking lot behind the fraternity house, and using boards and several fraternity brothers, he was able to remove the engine from the car, replacing it with one that he found in New Carlisle. He says, “When they delivered it after dark, I should have known.” It wasn’t a very good engine and didn’t last long.
   In 1959, he was sitting at the light at the intersection of 161 and 315 when his clutch went out. The man behind him pushed him through the intersection and to the side of the road. Then, his axle broke, and he found himself chasing his wheel down the road. At a nearby home, he called a tow truck that came up from Bexley to where he was near Worthington, towed the car back and repaired it for him. The total cost of this adventure was more than the original cost of the car.
Of course, there were no available parts for him to buy new, so he spent time at the junk yards locating necessary parts. He was fortunate to find a man with a Model A truck in Mansfield who had learned to create parts for the Model A. This same man taught him how to do many repairs.
   This was a good thing. His first accident happened just a month or so after he had bought the car while he was working in Mt. Vernon at the glass factory producing milk bottles and mason jars and driving back and forth from Fredericktown. The roads were rain-slicked, and he had no shock absorbers. Before he knew what was happening, the car slipped, skidded around backwards and got tangled up in a barbed wire fence. However, he had the fence straightened up and back in place before his neighbor had gotten home from work.

See the rest of the story in the Bluffton News