About this project

The 1926 Model T Ford Motor Home is one of only a pair of this type thought to have been built, though not produced by the Ford Motor Co. The Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources contracted B.R. Howard to perform conservation services to prepare the vehicle for exhibition


What we did

The conservation of this vehicle focused upon the stabilization of all metal components and aesthetic compensation of all exterior surfaces. The goal of this treatment focused upon returning the motor home to an in-use appearance rather than being new or having had suffered severe deterioration caused by years of abandonment. BRH removed loose surface corrosion, chemically stabilized the iron, and applied  a protective lacquer coating to prevent further deterioration.


The interior had been repainted white by well-intentioned volunteers, however, the museum curatorial staff, currently responsible for the care and exhibition of the motor home, sought to have it returned to its original color scheme. The original colors were identified using microscopic cross-sectional analysis of samples taken from the interior of the motor home. The materials used for repainting the interior were fully reversible and also painted over an isolating barrier layer. Severely deteriorated window sash were replaced with accurate reproductions and reinstalled. Interior components were partially disassembled, cleaned, and then coated to insure their long-term preservation. 


Background story

The body of the motor home is thought to be a third party addition to the chassis and was not constructed by Ford. Unfortunately, research into the builder of the body has been inconclusive and therefore is unknown, however, the original owners of the vehicle have been identified as Mr. Charles D. Meyer and his wife Rhene Salome Miller-Meyer, a circus manager and performer respectively. It was reported that this couple literally rolled into Smackover, Arkansas, as part of a small circus around 1929. As was the fate of many small shows during the Great Depression, the circus fell upon hard times and was disbanded. The motor home became the residence of the former circus manager and his wife for the next fifty years. The vehicle was last driven in 1950 when the Meyers and their home moved to a piece of swampy land on the outskirts of town. It was there, after her husband's death, the Mrs. Meyer gained her nickname, “The Goat Woman of Smackover” for her reputed love for her pet goats. She died in 1988, and in the late 1990's the motor home was removed from its swampy parking space and placed on exhibit at the Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources in Smackover.