Joe Bisignano, former superintendent of the Saugerties village water department who retired in 2011, has taken up car restoration as a hobby. Now he’s looking for local support to help win the Good Guy Car Shows’ Homebuilt Heaven title. Bisignano spent the last three years restoring a 1952 Ford F1 pickup truck, one of 19 vehicles in the nationwide contest. The only way to win is through online votes.
To vote for Bisignano’s pickup go to www.good-guys.com/homebuilt-vote/8. As of Monday, Bisignano was in second place. Voting concludes on January 31.
Joe B, as friends and family know the popular resident of the Malden section of Saugerties, was water department super from 1979 to 2011. He served as a village police officer until the town and village combined police departments.
One of the things he said he was looking forward to when he retired was finally having the time to restore the vintage Ford pickup sitting in his back yard ever since he bought it from another local resident, Doug Robinson, for $3000. The 1952 Bisignano bought from Robinson came with a 1951 pickup to be used for parts.
“I was worried about him being around the house all the time when he retired, so I suggested he start work on the pickup,” Bisignano’s wife Landa says. “I was afraid he was going to drive me crazy. He always wanted to do it, so I wasn’t going to discourage him.”
Over the last three years, he and members of his family of five kids and a wife, along with a son-in-law and various friends have worked to restore the pickup.
Bisignano hired a man from Phoenicia to come over and sandblast the rust and old paint off everything. He and his wife then crawled under the truck’s frame and painted it by hand to prevent future rust.
“We rebuilt the engine, built a wiring harness from new, changed out the brakes and lines and hoses,” Joe B said.
Almost everything on the vehicle is original. Some of it came with the truck or the parts truck. Bisignano found some foraging at swap shows. Some were from a parts dealership. The only non-original parts are an aluminum radiator, and the pickup box is an aftermarket part. Rather than the bias-ply tires that would have originally been on the truck, Bisignano put on radial tires inspired from shopping at TreadHunter.com .
The pickup was painted by Dan Starr, who operates Starr Collision and Body Shop on 9W.
Restoration was finished just before the 2016 Sawyer Motors Car Show. “We had to replace the carburetor the night before,” he said.
At the Goodguys Rod and Custom Association show at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds last year, Bisignano’s vehicle was picked to be in the Homebuilt Heaven national contest. There are rules. These are restorations the vehicle owner does in his back yard or garage, not done by a professional or with finishing touches by a professional.
Bisignano is now asking for everyone to go onto the website and vote for his 1952 Ford F1 pickup.
What’s Joe B’s next project? He’s got one. “I’ve got a 1970 Triumph Bonneville motorcycle that was turned into a chopper that I want to restore into its original condition,” Bisignano answered.