Claremore Business Finds Piece of History

Pixley Lumber has been a downtown Claremore staple for more than 50 years. And recently, owner Paul Pixley was able to retrieve a piece of history: the company’s very first delivery truck.

The 1957 Ford F600 was first owned by Paul’s uncle, Paul R. Pixley, and his Chelsea Lumber Company. That was during the construction of Oologah Lake, and Uncle Paul was busy relocating homes in the area so that the lake could be built, thus requiring an extra truck. After that project, he didn’t need it anymore, so he sold it to his brother, Warren, in 1963, who had just started Pixley Lumber Company. The shiny red Ford became the first delivery truck for Pixley. It was a boon for the company because it had a hoist, or “dump bed,” and it was used to haul everything from sand, cement, and concrete blocks, to framing lumber, asphalt roofing, gypsum drywall, and trim materials.

Around 1970, the Ford had more than 200,000 miles on it, and the Pixley fleet had expanded to four others, so it was sold to Raymond Corley, a local residential home builder. He retired in 1975 and sold it to Haskell Warren, owner of Warren Drywall and Insulation. Fifteen years later, after a useful life of hauling insulation, gypsum wallboard, and other building materials, the Warrens decided the truck was too deteriorated to continue using. They parked it on a piece of their property out on Industrial Boulevard and left it.

In the mid-1990s, Mr. Smith happened along the truck. He didn’t care about the vehicle itself; he was more interested in the winches that the Warrens had added to it. The Warren brothers were ready to get rid of it, so they told Mr. Smith he had to take the whole thing. For the bargain price of $100, he did. He was true to his word and left the truck abandoned on a vacant lot on South Muskogee, and put the winches to use. Although the truck was old and faded, and the subsequent owners had painted over the door, the original Pixley information still showed through.

In 2005, Paul’s brother, John Pixley, happened upon the truck and asked Paul about the possibility of the company buying the truck back for a restoration project. They decided it was worth it, and John set about tracking down the owner of the vacant lot where the truck was parked. He found Mr. Smith and they agreed upon the selling price of $100 once again. The title was misplaced, but was found at a later date. Pixley Lumber officially reacquired the truck on December 30, 2005.

The truck was sent to the Pixley Lumber Company mechanic, Larby Crawford. He began working to see which parts could be salvaged and what needed to be replaced. He didn’t have a ton of luck finding the right old parts at salvage yards. After two years, he fell ill and decided to discontinue the project.

In 2013, Brandon McLaughlin stepped in to help. Brandon’s wife worked for Pixley Lumber, and he spent his off days from his firefighter job working on the truck. He completed his work in August 2015.

Parts for the restored vehicle came from a number of sources. A portion of the truck is original, including the front steering axle, front leaf springs, two-speed rear end, two-speed shift motor, hi-lo speed adjustment mechanism for the speedometer, spring hanger parts, miscellaneous steering parts, drag link, tie rods, radiator, valve cover, breather, timing chain cover, oil pan, downdraft tube, transmission exclusive of PTO equipment, and the original manufacturer’s tag for the bed.

The front clip was located in Lamar, CO. The cab and doors are from a 1958 F-500 from a Mayes County salvage yard. The glass is original, except the windshield. The bed was built in Pryor, the wheels are from Nebraska, and the motor is from Seattle.

By the time all of the body work was done, it was time to check it out mechanically. Vinita mechanic Steve Smith took a look and he worked on the truck periodically until October 2016. At that point, he told Paul Pixley that he needed to take it to someone else to handle the heavy-duty repairs that remained. Paul took it to Jack Kissee Ford, and longtime employee Gary Wise finished the restoration.

The truck was completed and delivered to the Pixley family on May 25, 2017.

The truck will have a permanent safe home with the Pixleys and will be a star in upcoming local parades. In fact, the original Pixley delivery driver, Fred Gordineer, will serve as the driver when called upon. Fred’s name is even painted on the door in gold Ford script.

If you see the Pixley truck, be sure to stop and admire her. She’s a beauty!

Watch the special moreClaremore feature video of the truck HERE! 

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