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The Lone Wolfat his craft

  • The body takes shape as Harvey Beers continues the restoration.
    The body takes shape as Harvey Beers continues the restoration.
Published September 24. 2010 05:00PM

Harvey Beers and his wife Janet are proud of their 1923 Chevrolet delivery van which has won a roomful of trophies. The body had been built by Martin and Parry Carriage Company, York, for Chevrolet.

The reason for the excessive pride is that he rebuilt the body "from the engine back" with just a pile of boards, many of which were rotted into powder. The few decent ones that remained were enough to give him measurements to create templates to restore the body.

Beers got the delivery van in 1966 when he found it sitting in a fencerow near Cresco. At the time he was considering building a street rod.

He brought it home, took it apart and stored it in the barn.

Then in 1994 and again in 1999 he suffered heart attacks. Beers gave up fishing because - if he was going to restore the van - it was time to get going on the project.

He made measurements as closely as he could with the material he had to work with and created patterns for the woodwork. A steel frame was built to fit the body.

Steel panels on the sides were the next step. When the panels were complete it was painted with PPG Wineberry paint from which the van got its name - Mom and Pops Wineberry Express. A license plate also says Mom and Pops.

The frame for the windshield was made of wood as were the sunvisors.

The side windows did not roll down but were taken out and hung inside the body. Beers is not sure how they were hung originally but has them hanging on the wall behind the seats.

The original seat was a bench seat but he put in bucket seats. It is still an uncomfortable ride, he says, and when they go to distant shows the vehicle is trailered.

The fiberglass fenders were purchased from a company in West Baltimore.

Beers' son, Harvey Jr., helped install a small-block Chevy engine - a 350 four-bolt redone truck motor. The van was taken to the son's home in Bath where he did the wiring when he had time.

Wooden running boards were made to fit with the fenders. The door handles were steel and could be salvaged. Light brackets were made from connecting rods, the front ones bent at a 90-degree angle and the rear for the taillights with the metal twisted. He said if he could bend it he could twist it, and did.

Janet helped install the canvas on the roof (though he used vinyl). The interior shows how the roof was made with wood with spaces between that are covered by the canvas.

It was purchased in Connecticut because it was the only place he found that could provide material that was wide enough.

A toy poodle, Tia, was with Beers whenever he worked on the van and became his mascot. When she got tired she would jump in a pickup and rest.

Unfortunately, Tia died before the van was ready for its first trip so she never got to ride in the car she seemed to consider hers.

The project had taken 3-1/2 years.

"I ran it in September and October 2002 but without the mural," said Beers. The first show was the Jukebox Cruisers in Jim Thorpe in 2002.The prizes added up and shelves were added to the game room to turn it into a trophy room.The mural was added in 2003 and from there on "We've been running to shows," said Beers. Unless it is extremely hot, Janet accompanies him.

The mural is of a barrel with a woman shooting out. He said all the old-timers made wine in wooden kegs and if you drank enough wine you'd be flying.

At the house-door are two six-foot trophies from the Ocean City, Md., Rob's Custom Show, which is so large it fills spaces all over the town. Only one of the large trophies is permitted per vehicle. One year he was scheduled to get two but was told if he accepted the second one he would have to give it back. But he got the second one the following year.

For those who line up by 7 a.m. there is a parade of cars on the boardwalk. Everyone has to be off by 9 a.m.

In the trophy room are many plaques in addition to the trophies - over 100 he says. He has received four clocks - three of them based on slate.

There are eight plaques from the Palmerton cruise including one from this year which was held at Blue Mountain Ski Area. In Pottsville in August he got the special judges award.

"This one means the most," said Beers. It was received at Becky's Drive In Dream Come True Cruise 2003 where the winner was chosen by the sponsor - the parents of a boy who had received a "dream." It is a memorial trophy. He said he was lucky enough to be chosen.

"It was so cold that year," he recalls.

Janet said they enjoy going to the local cruises sponsored by businesses with perhaps only 30 cars.

A trophy with a vinyl record base, two gas pumps and a car was chosen by the DJ at one show. Beers said the shows do not have any special rules about judging: one may be all people's choice, another will have category judges, or the sponsor may make his choice.

Since he does not belong to any club, he is considered a "lone wolf" and a sign on front proclaims that.

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