Sandstone Heritage Trust - News

HTN 130 - Sandstone Heritage Trust joins Afroid Trans-Africa Classic Car Safari

31 August 2006

Roger Pearce, well known for his exploits with MG's on the African continent (Roger drove all the way to the UK in an MGB recently), has organised a fascinating classic car rally which takes the participants from Johannesburg all the way to the Equator.

The Sandstone Heritage Trust's contribution will be to drive a Ford F100 Series American V8 truck dating back to 1950. In many ways these early Ford trucks are icons in their own right. They conjure up visions of
Route 66 and the good old days in the United States. They have very strong associations with farming and therefore we thought that it would be appropriate to select this vehicle from the Sandstone Heritage Trust's Commercial Vehicle line-up. The Sandstone Heritage Trust exists as a result of the dynamics of Sandstone Estates' arable farming operations and our various commercial vehicles form the lifeblood of that operation.
Obviously trucks like the F100 have been in retirement for some years but an event like Afriod provides an opportunity for these trucks to be sorted out and put back on the road.

For those who are technically minded here is a brief summary of the vehicle. It is a V8 powered Ford fitted with the last of the 3-speed gearboxes which were phased out in late 1950. In all other respects it is a standard right-hand-drive truck which would have been assembled by the Ford Motor Company in Port Elizabeth from CKD kits imported from the United States. Its condition was thought to be reasonable but inevitably upon further investigation a whole host of problems were revealed. Chris Wilson, who is well known as a vintage tractor specialist, took the project on hand last year and brought the truck up to its current standard. It had never been licensed and Chris went through the tedious process of completing the formalities to get this truck registered in the Free State.

The upgrade was significant in the sense that the entire gearbox was removed and stripped, and most of the gears were remade to specification. However, when the trials commenced there was a disintegration of a number of gears and it was revealed that they had been over hardened by the gear specialists and effectively shattered like glass. Because of the short time available to repair the gear box again we searched the Internet and were astonished to find that we could obtain gears, shafts, bearings and gaskets ex stock in California. Through excellent support from our friends in the United States these parts arrived a little over a week
after they were ordered and the gearbox was duly commissioned with new components. This was all arranged by EMGEE Garage in Randburg, who did an amazing job of stripping and rebuilding the gearbox in 24 hours!

There is a lesson here for South African preservationists - do not make something that you can order new from a specialist supplier somewhere around the world. The sheer level of sophistication of the classic car parts industry is something that needs to be taken into account.

The full Afriod programme is attached. We will attempt to update this web item from time-to-time giving details of the trip, where we have been, and how we are getting on. The drivers are Wilfred Mole from the Sandstone Heritage Trust and his daughter Tamara who lives in the UK. Tamara is an excellent driver and has plenty of experience driving various vehicles in various parts of the world and she relishes the opportunity to drive a truck that is nearly twice her age. In Wilf's case he was 6-years old when this truck was manufactured. It is the oldest vehicle in the line-up and inevitably this will attract some attention. The event concludes at a Classic Car Concourse to Elegance event in Nairobi.

For those who love this type of vehicle, there is no doubt that our old Ford has its own special type of elegance. She speaks to you in many different ways. Arm out of the window on the open road, the best of American automotive industry which probably peaked in the 1950's and the 1960's comes to mind.

The low revving, high torque, leisurely way in which their power plants worked is always a joy to have in front, and of course in an age where there is a permanent energy crisis it is wonderfully nostalgic to be able to put that aside and to watch one's travellers cheques vanish into thin air. Is there value in that? You bet.

Father and daughter team, Wilfred and Tamara Mole are gearing up for what will no doubt be a trip of a lifetime. It's not often the case that one can make that claim these days, but in this instance I think it if fair. A road trip from Johannesburg to the Equator! Wilf will be leading with Tamara taking up the role of co-pilot as they set off in this old Truck.


The trip will take 3 weeks, cross 5352 km and four countries. The adventure commences on Saturday 9 September 2006 at 7am. Day one will take us straight from Johannesburg to Francistown in Botswana. By day two, we will have already reached Livingstone in Zambia. Four night stops later, and an average of 500 kms/day all vehicles will cross into Tanzania via Mpika. By day eight, we hope to abandon the vehicles (and our laundry) to take flights across to the colourful Zanzibar where we will be resting for two nights, and also enjoying a beach party or two! When back on the main land, we continue our journey north and on day eleven views of Kilimanjaro will befall us. Having passed through the Ngorongoro Conservancy area, on day fourteen we will enter into Kenya where two bustling days in Nairobi are scheduled. A number of the vehicles will be attending the Concour. By day seventeen we will be ready for the final push - to make it to the Equator, overlooking Mt. Kenya, our final destination.

So, all that is left to do, is finish our packing and make it to the start line!

We'll let you know how we get on!

>>>View the African Odyssey Daily Itinerary

>>> View the African Odyssey Entrant List

Above: Our Ford F-150
Above: The certified registration document
The Numberplate!
Below: Extracts from the book - "Classic Ford F-Series Pick-up trucks. 1948 - 1956" - Written by Don Bunn aand published by MBI Publishing Company - © Don Bunn - 1998