01 April 2014
1946 2-Ton Chevy
From Randy :
I purchased this old truck from Larry Sparks (a country / bluegrass legend) back in 2010. I never realized how much work these old truck needed. I started out making a new wiring harness. I put a modern alternator, fuse block that uses ceramic fuses, cloth covered loom for the wire, 1157 bulb sockets for the front parking lights to use turn signals from the same light -- just to mention a few of the upgrades.
I thought I had a lot of work done and knew I had more to do. I had hopes of "driving it soon."
I wanted to put a taller-geared rear end so that I could drive at 60-65 with out any problems! Maybe that was asking a lot for a truck that was designed to go 45 mph. I hoped to use the same wheels, drive shaft, brakes, etc. I had a single speed rear end and I believed the ratio was somewhere in the 6.31:1!
At that time, I had only driven the truck a very short distance. I had fabricated a new gas tank and wanted to get the rest of the fuel system in good order.
I intended to use this truck for work as my shop truck, so I needed it to be geared higher. I run a fabrication business ( Indianapolis Fabrications ) so I considered an auxiliary overdrive put in line somewhere, but I thought swapping out the rear end would be the easiest!
I planned on upgrading brakes and suspension and looked into a dual circuit master with vacuum assist! I didn't think it would be that hard to put shocks on it.
I also was thinking about a little bit more power in it.
After discussing it in the Big Bolts forum, I decided to stay with the rear end I had for a while and see how it worked out. I was able to adapt a single wire alternator by drilling two holes in the original generator bracket. Everything lined up as it should. I couldn't believe how easy it was! I only needed to finish up making the wiring harness.
Although I was anxious to get it out on the road, I found a lot of sludge in the radiator and that had to be clean out first.
After about the first month, I had the new gas tank installed, new stainless mandrel bent exhaust, wiring harness, and alternator conversion. I made all these things in my shop. Next I was going to work on the brakes.
After a while, I wondered about selling the truck to purchase a different every-day shop truck. When the calendar turned over to January (2011), I started on the brakes and got 15,000# GVW front disc brakes from a later model Chevy. It was fairly easy to do and I already had the dual circuit master figured out.
By Mach, I was still working on the truck and anxious to drive it! Other work in my shop forced me to move this project out of my main shop.
Fast forward a whole year ... March 2013. I was able to move the truck back into our new shop in 2012. I thought parking it right outside my office door would make me work on it more ... but that didn't work. I walked past it a few hundred times a day. My timing was just off!
I made a list of things I had already done and then a list of the things I had to do before I could drive it:
I was able to work on it a little every day. The brakes were still a problem - I just couldn't seem to get all the air out of one of the rear lines.
We made the trip to the gas station to fill her up. That trip ended up with someone pulling me back to the shop.
We took care of that in a few days, and she was driving great. It made its first deliveries in April 2013, in who knows how many years. I made new mirror brackets ( they were quite the hit in the Big Bolts forum ~ Editor )
By June, things were still going well. I swapped over to Pertronix ignition and it lasted about two miles before it burnt up. The new version gets its signal from the lobes on the distributor. I don't like this design as it doesn't give you any room to adjust. May not be an issue if you had a new distributor. I then put the points back in and didn't change the Pertronix coil. The coil burnt up the points. Went back to the trusty Bosch Blue coil and points! Worked just fine!
The truck was on the road from then on! She was doing great but smoke in the cab was pretty bad. I decided to pull the engine and do a quick rebuild. I'm glad I did. I found a bunch of cracks in the exhaust manifold and a few in the intake manifold.
As the new year ( 2014 ) rang in, I am still working on the truck. I had a little scare with the engine hoist when wrestling the engine with the transmission hooked to back in -- I pulled it back out, set it on the ground and went home.
I was able to remove and install the engine and transmission as one unit without removing the sheet metal on the front. The only thing I removed was the radiator and the floor board. And of course the shifter from the transmission.
I had no oil pressure. Pulled the distributor the next morning and hoped that was my problem. At least everything is back in and it looks pretty. When we tested it, the distributor wasn't setting down far enough. Easy fix. It now runs with oil pressure. Just need to set the timing and wait for a little snow to melt to take a drive.
I ended up adding an electric fan in place of the factory one. I didn't notice that the pulley was too large to clear the fan rivets. It had been running like this, but the fan also had some cracks in it that I welded up. Figured the electric fan would be a good upgrade as I have been using this truck all summer to make deliveries with my business.
On January 9, I drove the truck to lunch. It did great in the snow and I really appreciated that heater in our 20 degree temps.
I bought a cheap flatbed that needs some help. It will work for now until I can build a more period correct one to use. The bed that is currently installed is built from tongue and grove 2 X 6s and it is impossible to tie anything down to it.
Remember when I said, "I never realized how much work these old truck needed."
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