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Kroupas restore 1926 Model T truck

Staff writer

The late Theodore Kroupa of Tampa was 20 years old when he purchased a 1926 Model T farm truck from his uncle. It was 14 years old.

The truck was used primarily to haul wheat to market. It was passed down to his son, Kenneth, when Theodore died in 2006.

“Kenny” Kroupa was born in 1948. When he was a child, the Model T quit running, and his dad bought a new GMC truck to replace it.

That wasn’t the end of the Model T’s usefulness, however. A hitch was attached to the front, and it was pulled by a tractor from field to field, transporting seed wheat at sowing time. Later, its use was limited to storing seed.

Kroupa remembers stories he heard about the truck. It was used to haul grain from his grandfather’s farm south of Pilsen to the Canada elevator. To get to the elevator with a load of wheat, the truck had to traverse a hill. The story goes that it had to be backed up the hill because it had more power or grip going backwards.

Kroupa always admired that truck and wanted to restore it to its original condition. He married his wife, Kathy, in 1970. They left the farm in 1978. He worked in Hutchinson for almost 30 years before returning to the farm in 2003 to help his aging father. He inherited the truck when his father died in 2006.

He started the restoration process by buying new tires. It took six months to get one specially sized tire, so acquiring them was a two-year process. He also redid the rims and painted the wooden spokes.

His wife encouraged him to hire someone to finish the work.

“You’ll never get it done if you have to do it yourself,” she told him.

Kroupa hired a restoration mechanic in Salina. He recently completed the project. He overhauled the engine, replaced the headlights, redid the interior, painted it, and put a new canvas top on the cab.

The truck has a four-cylinder engine that is started using a coil and a magneto. It has two speeds and a hand-cranked windshield wiper. The operating mechanisms include a clutch, reverse pedal, and brake pedal, all on the floor.

Kroupa said Richard Dirks taught him how to drive the Model T. He drove it for the first time in the county fair parade this summer. However, some electrical wires shorted out before he got to the end of the parade route. The truck is still waiting for repairs.

The 66-year-old farmer said he plans to drive it in future parades in Hillsboro and Marion.

“I see history when I look at the truck,” Kroupa said. “In 1926, this was a big truck. I see how farmers used to haul grain. You couldn’t farm very much if this was all you had. Now, we use semi-trucks.”

Kroupa and his son, Kelvin, work together in operating several farms. They also have a cow herd.

Last modified Oct. 16, 2014

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