14 October 2012
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From John :
I have written a little history of my 1946 3/4-ton pickup truck and the story of how it came to be in my garage here in sunny South Florida.
First a little background on me. I retired (for the second time) about seven years ago from the US Navy (27 years of both active and reserve duty), and 18 years with NCR/AT&T. At that time I was living in Virginia Beach, Virginia and decided to move back to my home town in Vero Beach, Florida. My Dad was a retired Colonel in the Air force and moved to Vero Beach and built a house there in 1961. My Brother and I finished off out high school there but went different directions after that.
Moving back here recently, I found a lot of my old friends. I had lost touch with some after leaving the area. Because of the generation I grew up in, my friends and I were all Hot Rodders, building Beach Buggies, Muscle cars and going to the drag strip every Friday night (any straight road would do) and Saturday (at a local strip).
I had a lot of pressure from my friends to build a Hot Rod for myself (the rest of my friends all had their projects going). Some were still in the Muscle Car mode; others were in the rebuild / chopping an old Ford or Chevy (1930's to 1940's coups) with a small or big block. I had a lot of help trying to decide.
We traveled to many South Florida car shows, searching for the right car for me. My friends had one point of view in common: they wanted to build something different.
After all the car shows, I decided they were right. Everyone had almost the same theme: old cars and new V-8's.
It was then I realized that there were hardly any restored old cars at the shows. So my direction was set … now which one for me?
After searching the Internet, I found the type I was looking for -- a mid-1930's to mid-1940's pickup truck. I am not much of a Ford fan, so I looked mainly for a Chevy 1/2-ton pickup.
After about a three month search, I found what I was looking for on a car lot in the middle of Pennsylvania. It was a 1946 1/2-ton (or so I was told by the salesman) Chevy pickup (even in the colors I wanted to paint it - Brewster Green and black).
After many calls to the owner of the car lot and pressure from my friends, I made a deal to have it shipped down here to Florida.
During the research on this truck, I found out some great information that helped reinforce my buying it. This old truck came off the plant in late February 1946 (my birthday is February 20, 1946). The Plant was located in Baltimore, MD (where my Father was born) and was sold to a gentleman, who owned a small grocery store, in mid-Pennsylvania (where my Father's and Mother's families were from). Finally, I found out it wasn't a 1/2-ton but a 3/4-ton with a 4 speed.
The big day arrived, the truck was shipped on a seven car carrier. Mine was the first loaded (on the top), and the first to be delivered.
It was great to have the truck off the trailer and in my garage. Yea … I could start driving it around to show it off to my buddies (or so I thought).
After getting in it, the engine turned over, but wouldn't catch. How could that be? The driver drove it off the truck to the garage? After spaying some starting fluid in the carb, it would fire up, but not keep running???
My first drive would have to wait a little longer …uck.
Later that day, my friends starting coming around. They climbed all over and under it. They were impressed with the condition it was in. I was all smiles (for a while). I told them about the starting issues and they jumped into action. After 40 minutes, still no running truck …uck.
The consensus was to rebuild the carb. So I got on line (Stovebolt.com) to find a parts dealer (which was easy). I ordered the kit and in a few days it arrived. I took off the carb and gave it to a local engine builder and friend to rebuild. He got it done in a few days. When I went to pick it up, he handed me a little zip-lock bag of yuck (dust and rust), and what looked like part of the plunger cup, turned into dust (how did the truck driver get it on the truck and then start it and drive it off the truck is still a mystery to me and the rest of us).
Now on to the driving part. The truck fired right up and was humming nice. I looked on the floor and found oil and coolant dripping from multiple spots. Back to drawing board.
At this point, I needed some professional help (We all feel that way sometimes, John ~ Editor). A good friend of mine, who has an outboard repair shop on his 20 acres homestead and who also dabbles in hot rods and sports cars, said he would go through it and get it running (if I could spare the time … he could only work on it part time). After the first week, he found a lot of areas of "opportunities."
None of the gauges were working. The engine was running hot. The break lines weren't hooked up and the lights weren't working, and so on. That's when I decided to pull the engine out and do a complete rebuild (I wanted to use this truck as a "daily driver") and I needed to know what I had.
With the engine out, all sorts of problems arose from the start … 3" of oil sludge was in the oil pan (which is normal on these old engines). However, I was told that is had been rebuilt a year ago … salesmen!!! I found silicone caulking all over the water jacket holes (sometimes blocking the passages).
After a thorough cleaning, carb rebuilt, new radiator, and oil filter, new fuel pump and filter, the engine fired right up and ran like a top. Now on to the other projects.
Over the next month, all the gauges were brought up and running as well as the lighting and turn signals (I kept the truck all 6 volt, for the time being).
Next was the brakes and parking brakes. Then on to the gas tank (new fuel sending unit).
Now with almost everything done (I sent my carb off to have it cleaned and rebuilt by an individual who specialize in old Carter carburetors -- even though I had it rebuilt locally -- I had a sealing problem with the choke). I am about three weeks from getting my truck back and working on my daily driving career.
I still have a couple items I need done. During the repair period, I found an Eaton axle from a 3/4-ton C20 with either a 3.90 or 4.11 rear end (which should make travel to local car shows in South Florida easier). My current ratio is 5.14-? and I need to replace the fenders and running boards with steel ones. I was very lucky and found a great set of 3/4-ton running boards in almost new shape. Now if I can only find a similar find for my fenders. (I need help from any Bolters out there!)
All in all, the truck was in great shape for me to finalized the finishing product. I am 66 years old, a Disabled Vet with Type II Diabetes. I have enlisted a lot of friends (and some professionals) to help with this project. I did what little projects I feel I could accomplish.
Now on to the drive-in's and car shows. I have my Stovebolt Daily Driver hat ... so I am ready to go!
I will add more pictures as I get them to help finalize the story and dream.
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