Restored 'tin lizzie' ready for auction

By Beth A. Birmingham | Aug 03, 2014
Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham From left, Student Services Coordinator at Mid-Coast School of Technology Bob Deetjen; Ethan Yankura, Education Director and Curator; and Special Event and Auction Coordinator Toby Stinson show off results of the cooperative efforts.

Owls Head — One man's trash is another man's treasure — or so the saying goes.

For Owls Head Transportation Museum, a collection of spare car parts combined with the workmanship of students from Mid-Coast School of Technology created a one-of-a-kind vehicle.

The project of building a 1920 Model T from parts started last November at the museum and was completed by the students in June. It will be sold at auction Aug. 16 with all proceeds being used to fund next year's project, on a journey to fulfill an idea of creating a restoration school at the museum.

"It is an idea that has been in the works," said museum Special Events and Auction Coordinator Toby Stinson of the pilot program.

"We are learning as much as we are doing," said Stinson. "Hopefully this will be a long lasting relationship going forward," he added.

The collaborative effort is a vision Executive Director Russ Rocknak has shared for the museum — to institute a restoration school. "With the facility [MCST] just down the street it is sort of proof of concept," said Ethan Yankura, museum Education Director and Curator.

Stinson explained the museum wanted to give the volunteers a really good project to work on this past winter. It started with the idea of building a car, then Yankura said they realized now was the chance to partner with MCST — just five miles away.

Students from three MCST programs, Auto Collision Repair, Small Engine Technology, Welding, and Residential Construction, contributed their skills as part of the museum's community restoration project.

The museum's ever-growing pile of old Model T parts and the automotive program at MCST seemed to be a natural, according to Yankura. "We were concerned about the woodworking portion of the project, but the carpentry program came through."

And in just eight months, the combined efforts revealed a 1920 Model T that will be auctioned off at the New England Auto Auction at the museum on August 16.

"We did our 25 percent and the students did the rest," said Stinson.

A volunteer loaned the school his Model T, and the students went to work. They built two wooden pick-up bodies, one was a mock up to see how the process came together and the second went on the finished product.

Instructor Dan Dishner was instrumental, according to Bob Deetjen, Student Services Coordintor at MCST.  "He took them to another level," said Deetjen about the fine woodworking skills that went into the project.

"It was a great process for the kids," said Stinson. "You take your design, you build a test, go to concept and then you go to the finished product," he said.

Stinson said one of the fenders did not come out quite right and a student spoke up and said they need to do it over because the project was for the museum and they can do better.

"What a great attitude coming from high school students that you might not see in other aspects of the school work," said Stinson.

Deetjen said this is something that is actually going to contribute to the museum, not just a project they hang at school or take home.

"Talk about pride; I'm extremely proud of the work that they have done," said Deetjen. "Not only for our school but for the museum too. It's been a great opportunity."

Yankura explained it was more than just a collaboration between the two entities. Donations were received from the community as well. Lang Old Car Parts of Massachusetts donated the drive shaft; Everett L. Spear donated lumber for the fire wall; Rankin's Hardware & Building Supplies donated the lumber for the body; Corson's Auto Supply donated some parts to the project, and school supplier National Coatings and Seals donated all the paint and prep materials for the project. Camden National Bank also contributed.

"It wouldn't have happened without the efforts and support from everyone," said Deetjen.

Yankura said that an original 1914 Model T would sell at auction for between $8,000 and $12,000. "But because of what this represents to the community, we would love to see upwards of $15,000," said Yankura.

"Someone is going to get a really smooth riding car," Stinson said.

Money raised from the sale of the vehicle will roll back into the program to continue whatever the project may be next year.

"The rationale behind the school is securing the future of the hobby of restoration," said Stinson. "Hopefully we will pull on some heart strings," he added.

The 37th Annual New England Auto Auction takes place at the museum in Owls Head beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 16.

Courier Publications reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or via email at

Complete with an original 1920 engine, this Model T will supply many happy hours of riding to the highest bidder at auction Aug. 16. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
This 1920 Model T was designed with a unique extra in its floor board — an electric starter button. It can also be started with the hand crank. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
The carpentry class at Mid-Coast School of Technology built the pick-up body — actually two, saving one as a mock up for future projects. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
A Model T of another color and time is on display at the Owls Head Transportation Museum for comparison sake. This is a 1913 Ford Model T Roadster. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
From a hodgepodge of leftover and donated parts, the Model T project gets off the ground at Owls Head Transportation Museum. (Courtesy of: Owls Head Transportation Museum)
Brandon Betts, left, and Instructor Dan Dishner look over the chassis of a 1914 Model T that is part of the project Mid-Coast School of Technology and Owls Head Transportation Museum collaborated on. (Courtesy of: Mid-Coast School of Technology)
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