04 November 2014
1946 Chevrolet 1/2-Ton
From David :
I found this 1946 Chevrolet 1/2-ton in 1985. The truck was sitting in a parking lot at a Piggly Wiggly ( that's a grocery store for y'all who don't live in the South ~ Editor ) with a "For Sale" sign in the window.
I fell in love. I paid $2100 for it (which was WAY too much back then).
I'm not sure if the seller was brokering the truck or actually had purchased it for himself. Later, I found a registration in it that showed it came out of it's Phenix City, Alabama. I tried to track down some of that history but didn't have any luck.
When I got it, it seemed to have been recently painted (not sure of the color, but it's definitely a blue sky color). It's not a great paint job but it didn't look bad either. I saw no reason to change it ... and 30 years later, still have not!
The old truck was driveable. It had the original gears. It leaked water out of the size of the block like crazy. It was going to need some serious mechanical work. So, I got started.
I switched over to a 1954 235. After I got the engine in, the transmission was a problem. Someone had an NOS 4-speed for sale in Hemmings Motor News. In 1986, I paid $250 for the transmission and shift lever. It was still in its WWII military crate. It's a crash box and not synchronized but it's fun to double-clutch. I use to be an over-the-road driver so I learned how to shift watching a tach and listening to the engine clue you in!
I swapped out the 411 rear with the 355 and got the ring and pinion set from Patrick's. I switched to a larger tire size for better road speed. I like to cruise at 50 but I can get up to 60 mph, and the truck feels comfortable there.
I re-did the wiring in 1990. I got a whole new cloth wiring harness. I debated a bit on going with cloth (original) at $155 or the *new* plastic at $115. I'm glad I spent the extra cash on the cloth. It still is in great shape and I notice some cloth wiring harness are running $800.
The truck has no turn signals. I use my hand-signals ... which some people think I am waving at them, which is fine! I did add a passenger side tail light.
On the interior, someone had already done the seat. All the paint inside was a really bad rattle-can job. In 1990, I disassembled the entire interior and had it powder coated all gray.
All the instrument panels were working except the speedometer. I re-did the cluster and re-faced the gauges. I bought an NOS speedometer for $50. I sent it out to have a cable made and have it calibrated to account for the change in rear and tire size.
I worked on the cab and bed in 1990. The cab wasn't damaged, it was just beat up. No one had butchered it. There was a gun rack in the back so there were some holes there. When you powder coat, you can't use body filler, so the holes remain. There was a little fiberglass here and a little bondo there. The bottom of the doors are starting to bubble up a little bit now. But, it's all fine. If I really wanted to get serious about it, it would be a lot of work, time and money! Since this isn't a show truck, it's all just fine. Just keep it out of the weather.
I have powder coated a lot of parts of the truck ... the wheels, up under the hood, bumper brackets ... and more.
I had a painted grille for years. I finally bit the bullet and re-chromed it. They really just re-chromed the front of the bars; there is nothing on the backside. When a grille is originally chromed, it is dipped. This grille looks good but is not show quality. It's not rusted or anything, tho. I had all that done in 1992 so it's holding up pretty well.
I designed the spare tire mount for the side of the truck. Chevy didn't offer that (probably started with the Advance Design trucks). I made up a model out of cardboard. I wrote up the specs and took it to a welding shop. It's great having the spare mounted on the side of the truck. It's handy when needed, plus it leaves more space under the bed for when you have to work under there -- tons of room without the tire there!
When I did the bed, I replaced all the wood with oak and stainless steel. I put on a light stain and used Marine Grade varnish - 10 coats! That took a long time to get it all done but that was 24 years ago and it still looks good.
Since I do use the truck for hauling a variety of materials, I made a "work floor" for the bed. Rather than the roll-up rubber, I just cut a half-sheet of plywood and glued some old carpet strips on the underside to protect the stainless steel. I keep it in the back of the truck all the time, unless I'm going to a show. It has really protected that bed, is easy to remove to wash the truck, and is cheap and easy to replace when it wears out. AND it just plops right in!
This is not a show truck but a truck I like to show. I especially like it when little kids want to look at the truck. I encourage them to get in and get a feel for it! Hopefully, these little folks will take over our trucks when we've moved to the Passing Lane.
The truck over all has held up well. A big help is keeping it in the garage. My car stays out in the rain!
I have had no gut-wrenching experience like I did with the 1951 GMC 100 Deluxe Cab ( see the Gallery story ... it is amazing ~ Editor ). However, I did have a fender bender a few weeks ago and the guy left the scene. I have a dent in the fender and bumper. Amazingly, the bumper popped right out with a little tug on it, almost like it was set with a spring, and almost back to its original shape! I thought once bent, it would stay dented! I should be able to get all that fixed.
This '46 is my main work truck. The '51 is not presently registered although it gets driven occasionally.
In the Photobucket album is a picture of the old truck decorated for the 4th of July parade in 2010.
I love this site!
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