06 February 2012 Update
1947.1 GMC 1/2-Ton
From Jack :
I have an update to my 2008 original posting. My 1947 First Series GMC 1/2-ton truck truck was assembled and running in the Spring of 2008 as stated in the first entry. However, as the saying goes, "They really run nice right before they blow" is very fitting.
In the Spring of '09, I found myself with a "crate" 350 and swapping speed parts. Everything was all together and we were back out the door.
This truck is a blast to drive. A little loud and hot-rod like for now. The kid in me wanted it silly loud to start and I have vowed to "muffle" it slightly for my wife's sake.
I've taken the old truck to several shows and pulling in with that kind of noise gets a lot of attention!
We've got a Mexican blanket for a seat, with some painted wheels and I'm good.
Guys seem to like that it really is an original flatbed from new.
Being's I've actually hauled a little hay with it makes it only 99% toy.
I've been eyeing a '65 with a six and a four speed but I don't want to take another 15 years to drive that one around.
Always a fun site.
03 April 2008
From Jack :
Hi all! What have I done for the past 11 years? Two kids, one new house, a new 10 acre "hobby farm," and this guy -- my 1947 GMC.
The truck came from Idaho and its last mission was pulling another old truck along to Minnesota. I don't know what it pulled. The truck was owned (I think) by the local scrap collector. He was the one who told the story.
When the truck got there in '87 or so, the scrap collector had plans on using it for "collections." His other truck was a very heavy version of a '46 with a crane and hoist / flat bed. He let it sit in an alley in St. Paul, Minnesota.
In 1991, my family bought the building adjacent to the alley. I was 27 with no knowledge of old trucks. Up until then, I was pushing and fixing an MG and just about to get married. I went back into the alley and sat in this dirty old broken truck many times. It was an original flat complete with 16" duals, a 228 and true to its model -- a ton of rust.
I got to know Don, the scrap guy, as we were renovating buildings in the area for the previous five years or so. But I never knew the truck was his.
After I got married, I began to hang with my Father-in-law (Jerry) and we had a mutual interest in cars. I began to learn more and more about "adult sized" cars. Streetrod nights in St. Paul were a regular thing for my wife and I -- I got the bug.
I must say 1997 was a good year. I brought up the "alley truck" and dragged my wife (Connie) back into the alley. Remember, this truck has now been in the same spot for nearly 10 years, although I had logged several hundred "virtual miles" in it.
She said "ick." Not what I wanted to hear. She did say, however, to bring her Dad over and he could look at it. I'm sure she was confident he would say the same thing.
He was close. His response was "piece of junk."
That was spring time and the funny thing is, by the end of June, I was out $300 and pushing this wreck around the corner to our shop garage. The next week it was hauled out to Jerry's and found a place in his barn. I started to clean and remove parts.
According to my wife, I got a whole $300 dollars worth of rust off the truck. I can't pick on her, she helped get most of the mouse hotel out of the cab!
The next couple of weekends there was a lot of negative comments as I was dirt from head to toe. This old guy was so far gone, the truck not the Father-in-law, that there was a long discussion about what would be a reasonable approach, restore or rod. Jerry and I started to plan what was reasonable to try to put this back on the road. Jerry is a wrench magician. He owned his own gas station, raced Camaros and Can-am cars and others and was foreman in charge of building machines for General Mills. A machinist as well.
The engine and trans were seized up, the suspension was broken and I started to get the feeling a "runner" might have been a better choice. Here's a picture from early on.
We chose a '69 GMC to give its life so this rusted, bent-up dream could stay alive. I found a great one and sold everything but the frame and running gear. I was out $100. First, we went with a small block. Next, we changed out the frame.
Enter daughter number one. We were now going out to the in-laws regularly and Jerry and I would be in the barn. Jerry's speed parts were coming off the shelves as donations to the cause. Of course, everything was taken completely apart by now and things were set on things to see how they might someday be attached.
This was not a restoration any longer. So Jerry's buddy, a body shop owner named Dave, entered his ideas. The sheet metal was poor, real poor. Dave was muttering something about a tilt fiberglass front-end. With a little girl and a new house, money was tight -- but we hadn't spent much yet. Thanks to my help, we had past the point of "no return," we threw in a tilt fiberglass front end, tilt steering with rack and pinion and airbags. Speed parts kept finding their way off the shelves and onto the truck.
I'm thinking we're around year three, and the frame is blasted, and the motor is mostly back together. The cab was stripped and primed. The bed was back at my house as I'm more a "wood" guy. I had an old guy in northern Wisconsin who milled trees out of the forest we hunt in. I had him do up some white oak and restored the bed in my garage.
The front end was on the dock in a big crate. [ pix with motor ] I spent quite a bit of time fitting that on to our '69 frame, '47 cab alley cat.
Along came daughter two and anything and everything that we could do to this thing without spending any money was done for the next year or so. This was all leading up to painting and parts we needed that all required a "little" cash.
Things went well for me in the building renovation business and the money came available and the truck was sent to the booth.
Our future changed. Connie has always had a desire for horses and we found ourselves on ten acres, with a barn to build, and fences to build, and an arena and ponies. My truck had already taken 6-7 years so what's a little side trip for my wife. I don't know why people call them "hobby" farms -- this was real work. We have been there four summers and this winter, Connie said why don't you finish the truck and drive it this next summer.
All the parts were painted and sitting in the corner of the garage since the move. I bought a few things that haven't been scrounged. Jerry thought we could probably use weekends over the winter and drive it out of the barn in the spring. It's been a good winter and Jerry has a buddy that's been helping.
Most would have painted last but that was a timing / cost thing with Dave.
I'm starting the 11th summer and we plan on starting it up and driving it out of the barn soon. A lot of changes have been made for both fit and safety but we are on schedule for an April re-birth.
I hope this gives you a little look inside yet another project who's only real reason for being is a 27 year-old sitting in a dirty old truck making motor noises. I thought it would be fun.
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