Jay Leno Goes Wood

By Chuck Ray | Posted: 05/26/2013 4:32PM


Chuck Ray, PennState, Associate Professor of Wood Operations Well, the Chrysler minivan in my last post reminded me that though the modern family conveyors might not go so well with wood, they certainly did back in the heyday of the automobile.

I've already posted some nice pictures of various "woodies", but here is a video from "Jay Leno's Garage" at the end of this column of one of the best of the best, the 1948 Chrysler Town and Country convertible. This beauty has been resto-modded, which means it has been "restored with modification," but the woodwork is original. The video tells a great story of the durability of wood; they had to replace most of the metal floor due to rust, but the wood was still solid.

Jay Leno Goes Wood Jay wins an honorary "Woodie Award" for correctly identifying the wood panels as mahogany, and he showed some real appreciation of how to work with and maintain the wood. Unfortunately, the fellow who restored the vehicle thinks the panels are walnut, and sort of throws Jay for a loop for a minute. You would think that a fellow who spends months working on a labor of love would at least make an effort to know what kind of wood he is restoring.

They start discussing the wood about the 6:00 mark, and after the restorer confuses Jay on the panel, he decides not to guess at the frame wood. But it so distinctive...the rear quarter panel frame member has great traditional figuring for the species, and the frame member under Jay's arm near the end of the video shows that distinctive wood beauty in a species as American as baseball and apple pie. See if you can guess the species of that beautiful golden wood, and give yourself two knocks on the head if you know it.

If you're a car nut, you'll want to watch the last few minutes of the video when Jay takes the car out for a spin. What a ride.

Chrysler has a great web page on this model, and if you want to confirm your guess on the species of the wood frame, you can find out here.

I still say the day of the Woodies will return. People won't be satisfied with tinfoil and plastic bubbles forever. Go Wood!


About the Author

Chuck Ray, PennState, Associate Professor of Wood Operations

Chuck Ray

Dr. Charles D. “Chuck” Ray is Associate Professor of Wood Operations Research at Pennsylvania State University. His specialty is in the area of operations research, specifically those operational issues that confront the majority of the wood products sector. He previously spent 15 years in research and quality management for two large building products corporations, Temple-Inland Forest Products and Louisiana-Pacific. Ray is the sixth generation of his family to work in the sawmill industry, the Ray Brothers Lumber Company, established in East Texas before the turn of the last century. He can be reached at cdrpsu@gmail.com and followed on Twitter @ChuckDRay. He maintains an Extension website for Penn State at http://extension.psu.edu/woodpro and also writes a blog on all wood issues called Go Wood which can be found at http://gowood.blogspot.com.

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Las Vegas  |  June, 06, 2013 at 09:41 AM

Where can I obtain info on the type of finishes used on Woodies?


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