Operations at the St. Paul Ford plant may be winding down a little sooner than expected. One plant worker said Thursday morning that he'd already built his last truck by 8 a.m., and was told that a four-hour shift on Friday was voluntary.

A second person in the plant, supplier representative Terry Dinderman, said that the last 20 trucks are nearly completed and will be finished Friday morning, after the line gets fired up at 6 a.m. The last Ranger is expected to roll off the "customer acceptance line" at 9:30 a.m., he said.

The final truck will mark the end of the line for roughly 800 high-paying jobs as well as Minnesota-made vehicles. After cranking out Fords for 86 years along the Mississippi River in St. Paul, assembly line workers are scheduled to punch in for the last time Friday morning. The Detroit automaker plans to selling the site, which is expected to be redeveloped.

Bob Punches, a 12-year fork lift driver who unloaded parts from railroad cars, said Thursday, “It will be a bittersweet day. Everybody’s been upbeat all week, doing their job. No one is destroying stuff or anything. It’s just a bad economy and there’s nothing you can do about it."

Tiffany’s Bar on Ford Parkway is advertising a special celebration Friday to commemorate the end of the line for the Ford plant and several workers say they plan to gather there after their shift ends.

Curt Brown • 612-673-4767