03 September 2016
1948 Chevy Loadmaster 6400
From Micah :
It was with nervous excitement and trepidation that I came and introduced myself and my new old truck in the DITY forum.
This whole adventure started in 2013. Our little town of McDonough has an event every May called The Geranium Festival. One of the participants, Southern Belle Farm, has an old truck that they bring to the event. The farm started out as a strawberry farm and then branched out. At the Festival, on the bed of an old Stovebolt truck, they have a hit-and-miss engine hooked up to an ice cream churn and they make ice cream all day long.
My wife walked by and said, "I always wanted a truck like that." Well, my Brother-in-Law said his Dad had one behind his barn at his house in Knoxville, Tennessee. It had been sitting for 10 years.
We've known Mr. Zook for nearly 30 years so we contacted him. He sent me pictures of the truck. He had a lot to say about it. He had started collecting stuff he would need to get it running, including reference materials. He also had a Cedar tree he cut down and run thru his mill to make stake sides for it.
Mr. Zook was the second owner. He bought the truck from the original owner, Mr. John Fuller of Rockwood, TN. Mr. Fuller bought the truck brand new ($2639.01, best I can tell) off the lot because he needed it to haul wood in the local area. That was his job and he bought the truck for that purpose.
The truck was Mr. Fuller's sole transportation and is the very vehicle he and his wife courted in prior to marriage. They used it as their family vehicle in their early years as well. Because they lived close to where he worked, the 26,759 miles is the actual mileage of the truck.
Mr. Fuller owned the vehicle until Mr. Zook bought it in June of 1999. It was over 50 years old then.
So, we talked a few more times and Mr. Zook got quite nostalgic about the truck. I was all ready for it on my end. I had been looking up a lot of information on-line and had bookmarks of various aspects for restoring the truck. I was excited about the prospect of getting her here and getting start. Then Mr. Zook called and told me he wanted to hold on to it.
In 2015, I was going thru my computer, clearing out old files, and deleted all the stuff I had collected for the truck. About 60 days later, Mr. Zook called and said, "I have good news and bad news. The good news is I'm going to sell the truck. The bad news is I'm going to sell the truck. I told you I would call you if I ever was going to sell it."
He also wanted to be sure that I was going to restore the truck for our personal use and I assured him that I was. Our family is seriously into fixing up old stuff. Our first house was 128 years old with no walls, plumbing or electricity so this is par for the course. We have always had old trucks, vehicles, homes. It's kind of the way we are wired. I feel like we are part of history from all this. I am riding a motorcycle that is older than I am. I've got four vehicles, with my teens driving. Between the four, there are almost 800,000 miles on the odometers. My newest vehicle is 10 years old.
It's not like we don't have three teenagers (one in college and two in high school), a family business and my corporate job, church and family to keep us busy. We thought it'd be fun to add something else like this into the mix.
Making the deal on the truck was the summer of 2015 and it took me six months to find someone with a trailer big enough to bring it from Knoxville to Atlanta. We have a friend who restores classic cars and he fixed us up. We had to pull the outside tires from the rear axle in order to fit it on the trailer. There are some good pictures of the truck being loaded onto the trailer and some funny ones with the outside tires actually just sitting on the frame of the truck.
Mr. Zook called to say the truck was leaving the house. He said the trailer had "one important vehicle and one worth a lot of money." Turns out the hauler loaded a BMW X-5 behind the Big Bolt. He dropped it off somewhere around Atlanta before he got to our place.
I've read some of the stories in the Gallery and in the forums where some folks come across a great barn find. They may be missing doors, or engines, broken glass, major parts MIA, etc. I feel very fortunate that this truck is really pretty solid -- and is all there! It is rust free except for surface rust -- as far as we can tell from the initial cleaning. Even the door seals look good. No rust holes. The floor boards have some weak spots but I can probably replace the floor pans. I can tell more when I get to some serious scraping on the interior.
I get a little overwhelmed because there are so many things that need to be addressed. But in fact, this truck is in great shape for her age, and everything is accounted for. It needs time and attention. I keep reminding myself: little steps. Even tho I am anxious to drive her around the yard!!
So, the first step was this year at the end of July. I dropped the radiator off at the radiator shop as well as the fuel tank. The first good news was that the fuel tank had too much rust damage to repair. I will add that to the official list of things to buy. There was something about welding around a fuel tank that made me nervous anyway. The radiator was good.
We haven't turned over the engine yet. The truck was running when it was parked 10 years ago. I'm hoping everything will be good when I get to that point. I think it the motor is a 235. It has the 2-speed rear axle.
The interior looks pretty good but the dash is dirty. It needs a good cleaning with a stiff bristle brush.
The seats look pretty bad in the pictures. I have the structure of a seat. But I also happen to have a neighbor who is a retired upholstery man. He told me to pull that seat out and he would go thru his inventory and see if he's got some of the original seating material. Even if he does not, he will take care of the seat!
What a good neighbor. Speaking of ... my neighbors have been stopping by on a regular basis, when I'm out there cleaning it up. They love to check out the truck and share their memories of old vehicles.
We have a small barn so I don't have enough "shop space" to work inside. Most of what I am doing now is in the driveway or yard. This would be a great excuse to build a bigger barn! If need be, I can get the truck down to my BIL's to work on. My BIL and I have worked on a lot of different projects together over the years and we share tools, etc. He's got the welder! Even if I don't take the whole truck down there, I can always take pieces at a time.
I am going to re-wire the whole truck. I am an engineer by education and I want it re-wired for safety. There is some dry and rotten wiring. Also the insulation around the firewall is cracked in places. I'll do it now and save me a headache down the road.
The plan for now is to put a flatbed with stake sides. We'd like it to be what we think was the original type of bed that was on the truck. The stake bed is what Mr. Zook said he pulled off the frame when he got it. If he gets the Cedar cut, we will use those for the sides. This isn't going to be a show truck -- we plan to use it.
The biggest challenge for this truck is the wheels and tires. I can't find what I am looking for. I have been asking folks for direction and I have read the Tech Tip ( New Wheels for Advance Design Big Bolts by Grigg Mullen ). I'll keep working on that, since it certainly is important.
One of the things that has been a big help with this project and many of the other things I have done was the experience from my first job. I worked for a friend's Dad at an auto salvage. I spent my days after school and on weekends pulling engines and taking stuff apart. If I knew then what I know now, I would have paid my boss for letting me work there. I learned so much just from working on things. I never would have considered something like restoring this old truck if I hadn't worked in that auto salvage. I can remember my first day -- the boss asked me to pull a radio out of a dash. Even to this day, I don't like working on the dash of a new car. I'll pull an engine and stuff like that but don't ask me to do any finish work.
We named the truck "Lucille" in honor of the Zooks. It seems that name is common to both sides of their family. We are sure the the Zooks will get a kick out of seeing us make progress on the truck. They come to see their family in the area, fairly regularly so he'll get a chance to watch her transform. It will make this restoration even more enjoyable for us.
Initially, I didn't have all this background story on the old truck and I'm glad I went digging deeper into its history. Mr. Zook was happy to talk about it ... I just had to ask!
We look forward to a rewarding journey of getting the beauty back on the road. Plans are to make her road-worthy but not a full restoration. Our family has always done things as a team. My son in high school has taken welding and carpentry classes and my daughters enjoy working and helping out on things as well so, it will be great to create memories as a family as we work on the truck.
Always welcome any directions on parts providers and tips and techniques we might find handy.
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