20 February 2014
1966 Chevrolet L60
From Kevin :
Well, another old truck project and what will prove to be a very fulfilling one.
I re-acquired a farm truck my Dad bought new from City Chevrolet in Great Falls, Montana in 1966. It is a 1966 Chevrolet L60 327 4 speed / 2 speed, L6636S191906.
The previous year, Dad had purchased (against his better judgment) a new Ford 2-ton. He was not happy with anything about it and used it only one season.
He traded the Ford in on this Chevy L60 which happen to go well with the 1963 L60 he bought new three years earlier. We had two 1958s as well -- a six cylinder in one and a V8 in the other.
Surprisingly enough a neighbor bought the Ford and it is still in service today.
My Brother Ray took an immediate liking to the new rig and let no one else use it. He is almost nine years my senior and as a five year-old that year, I enjoyed riding with my Big Brother during harvest.
In 1969, National Geographic magazine took a truck load of pictures at the farm for an article they were doing on life along the Missouri River. Ray and the truck were in many of the pictures taken, but never made it into the magazine (Vol. 140 No. 3 Sept. 1971 That Dammed Missouri River). A silhouette of a buddy of his, shoveling grain, is the only one to make it into publication. We at least have slides of the proofs. Some are pretty artsy photos and nice to have around.
In 1970 my Dad hired a new farm cook. We moved Lola and her three boys 200 miles from Bozeman in that truck. We were in Helena going to get them when a very bad storm hit. I thought we were going to get blown off the road but Dad kept on going even though the birds were flying backwards and the billboards were disintegrating as we drove by them on the highway.
The whole state got torn up with that storm. We arrived home to find power poles broke off; roofing blown away; a garage on top of my Sister’s Vista Cruiser; windows broken; grain bins missing; and a lot of tree debris to be cleaned up. WHAT A TRIP!
That cook ended up becoming my Stepmother and I gained three brothers to boot.
Same year, Ray drove the truck to Gary, Indiana to pick up some grain drying equipment we put in some new grain bins. We had a Motorola radio installed for the trip ( I just removed it a few weeks ago ). I can still hear my Brother singing “Indiana Wants Me.” That started Ray on a 20 year career in truck driving. The last 20 he has been managing an AC Delco distributorship.
My turn at the truck took place in about 1972. I drove it in the field only for some "after-harvest" work when Dad went back and cut some grain that was too green to cut earlier. Pretty cool job for an 11 year-old.
In 1973 I was able to hit the county road and haul grain to the bins at the house -- my first time hauling grain on the road. The '46 I have was the first farm truck I drove down the road (half mile) to get to our dump road.
By 1975 I was able to haul the 12 miles into Highwood to our grain elevator.
Over the next few years I spent a lot of time snoozing on the seat. My feet (sans boots) hanging out the window. The hum of the combines in the distance, the smell of fresh cut straw, the song of the Meadow Lark, all bring back good memories of my youth.
In 1978 my Dad decided to retire and my Brother was off on another path. My cousin took over the farm and I stayed one year until I graduated high school. The 1966 was one of the pieces of equipment not sold at the farm auction. It stayed in general use on the farm until 1985. My cousin threw in the towel and moved to Canada to become a large and quite successful farm implement manufacturer (Precision Metal Fabrication). He sold out a few years ago and is enjoying racing Corvettes on the Montana circuit.
A gentleman (and friend) of my Dad’s from Big Sandy, Montana took over the farm lease and put his Daughter and Son-in-law in charge. Again the truck missed the auction block and stayed home. The old '66 kept going across Chouteau County between Highwood and Big Sandy for the next 20+ years. The last few years, the truck has had an 1100 gallon water tank and pump on it and used strictly as a harvest fire truck.
Sadly Charlie passed away in November of 2012 (on my birthday). I told him that if he ever wanted to sell the '66, that I would like him to contact me first.
Well, I happened to be out on the farm in November of 2013 -- the day after my 53rd birthday as a matter of fact. My Son-in-law, Daughter, and a couple of their friends were out deer hunting. I stopped in to visit with Dennis. The visit lasted two hours and during the conversation, the '66 came up. I related some of the stories of its past.
One thing I find silly is how they make a big deal about "drifting" some little rice burner around a flat paved corner. I was 15 and doing it in a 2-ton truck on a graveled, super elevated, 90 degree corner over 35 years ago! To this day I cannot look over my shoulder to backup. I learned with side mirrors and that is the only way I can do it. How many kids today can double clutch or split shift?
Again, I digress…
To make the short story long, Dennis made me a deal I could not refuse. “Your Dad bought the truck new and you need to have it. When do you want to pick it up?”
I will say this, my Dad was correct when he said when Dennis and Carol took over the farm, it was the best thing that could ever have happened. It has proved to be true once again. Dad has been gone since '96 but I know he would be glad to see the truck come full circle.
I went back about three weeks later to get the truck. They had it loaded on their gooseneck trailer and ready for me to pull home. I drove it off at home and only put about three miles on it before tearing into it.
The years of rough roads have taken a toll on the cab and some other things but are all reparable. Most of the missing or worn out parts have been found.
The big problem is the driveline brake. Everything but the drum has been stripped out and finding pieces (LCF) is difficult to say the least.
The PTO shaft interferes with all the shoe setups I have. The high cab requires a large fulcrum for the lever that I cannot find. The 4 speed shift boot is another thorn.
I am a few weeks away from starting the task of putting everything back together. I have a commitment to Dennis that my Brother and I will be out at harvest this summer with the truck to haul grain one last time. That will put real meaning into the license plate “STLHLN.” I also have requests for parade usage as well.
More pictures posted in the Flickr album as I get stuff done. (If you like to see "Working Bolts" and Farm Trucks and Big Bolts, you will love the initial page of the Flickr album ... I did! ~ Editor)
Next up will be my 1967 K20 CST that Dad also bought new. It was the first vehicle I drove by myself. He put me behind the wheel on my knees. He put it in first, pulled out the throttle and said “Turn the key to go and turn it back to stop.” We moved a lot of equipment between fields that summer.
My endeavors have lead me to acquire too many "Big Bolts." ( There is no such thing as TOO MANY ~ Editor ) I currently have 10 full trucks in my yard along with four cabs -- 1939 Chevy to 1959 GMC LCF. In the shop is my Brother's 1939 Chevy, my 1946 Chevy 2-ton, 1967 K20, and now the 1966 Chevrolet LCF L60.
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