08 December 2014
1941 Chevy 3/4-Ton Short-bed
From Skip :
I am a do it yourself kinda guy and love working with my hands, I sold a 1955 Chevy 2 door big block car years ago and missed the ole ride. I always had a love for the old trucks and when this one popped up, I jumped at the chance. I bought the truck after only seeing pictures of it sitting in a barn. The old man that had it hated people on his property but a guy I know was able to go and get it three weeks after I gave him the money.
While waiting for the truck to arrive, I had to clean out a big area in my garage and hang a few shop lights.
In February of this year, we pulled the truck out of the old barn with a Massey Ferguson tractor and loaded it on to a trailer. It was not running and two wheels were frozen and it would not roll. We took the truck to another house until we could schedule a day to bring it to my place.
When the truck arrived here, two friends came to help me out. She had a pile of Tennessee dust build up on her but I loved it and couldn't wait to start working. We did a quick pressure-washing and stuck two dollies under the wheels so we were able to tuck it into my garage.
We had a few celebration beverages and started looking it over. It is a short bed. It has a factory clock up between where the visors are (heard this is rare). It has been updated with standard shocks or maybe that is the way 3/4-ton were then. The motor spins freely when grabbing the fan and turning it.
I put four wheel dollies under her so I could move it around in the garage, I have a narrow space to work in so those helped to slide it side to side.
Someone asked if I had a battery to try to start it and it was game on from there to see if it would run. We put in 6 spark plugs and a coil, did a quick cleaning and setting of the points. With a squirt of starter fluid, the engine lit right up. The truck had already been converted 12 volts and to my surprise, all the electrical worked.
So, I started my "restoration" with the frozen wheels -- driver side front and passenger side rear. It took six hours on the rear to get it loose and off and then four more hours on the front.
I worked on the truck as often as I could (I only get one day a week to work on her). It became apparent that Mondays were going to be my most productive days to work on "Ole Rusty" because I was home alone in my shop with just a radio playing and full focus on what I was working on.
In May, I pulled the front axle, installed new king pins, bushings, shackles, and rebuilt all the steering linkages. I got the steering rods and balls all done. I cleaned parts and painted as I went along. I was getting to know John at Jim Carters pretty well, with weekly parts calls and e-mails.
After bending new brake lines, doing the rear brakes and installing all wheel cylinders and a new master cylinder (with John's help again), I was now ready (almost) to cruise around the neighborhood (our world was expanding).
Well, I hit a bump in the road you might say.
A friend gave me four wheels that were 8 lug that I could put radial tires on. I found out that they wouldn't clear the tie rod ends. So back to the forums seeking a solution. There again -- the info was there and the wheel issue was solved and orders placed for two new front ones.
I got the tires on the new rims and went to do the final brake shoe adjustment before bleeding the system and I got stopped in my tracks trying to adjust the rear shoes. I couldn't adjust them because the emergency brake cables were frozen, not letting me do the final adjustment before I bleed the system.
Called Jim Carter and he fixed me up with a new cable set.
The wheels on the left are for the front and are narrower and a different offset to clear the old style tie rod ends, The ones on the right have a little deeper dish and are an inch wider for the rear that I got free but had to paint them to match the front.
I would look all through Stovebolt forums seeking knowledge, doing searches and reading posts that seemed like they were meant for me to guide me along.
Months went by and I hit some road blocks with it being an 8 lug 3/4-ton and the lack of parts. I had to fabricate the bar that actuates the pads when pulling the emergency brake that was missing. I found the cables were frozen so I made another call to John.
I get a call from my Brother who says he is coming into town for the Rod Run in a few months and wants to ride around in Ole Rusty. Oh man, I need to step up my game to pull this off! Now I am on what seems like an impossible deadline and getting frantic to drive it for the first time.
In June, I was still moving along at a good clip. I cleaned the gas tank the best I could and installed new lines, fuel pump, dual fuel filters.
I rebuilt the carb and installed a new fuel pump and all new fuel lines. I put some gas in the bowl. It fired up and purred like a kitten. The old truck ran on its own for the first time since parked in the old barn in 1996. The motor held oil pressure and showed to be charging the battery. The truck could run on her own now. I was amazed the radiator didn't leak. I was so ready for a cruise around the block.
Here comes the shoe drop: on my next Monday "truck day," I discovered the fuel had turned back to a black tar type substance that was all through the system. So I had to do it all over again.
I was pondering what to do about the fuel tank at work one day when talking to co-workers. It came up in conversation about using a keg and a customer said he had a keg he would give me
for the old truck. He brought it over and it was perfect for the look, being an old one.
The Rod Run is just weeks away now. My Brother has his trip all settled, plans made, money spent in reservations ... and I still have not driven the truck due to small set backs ... but big ones in the grand scheme of things to come.
When installing the keg fuel tank and hooking everything up, my foot goes through the wood bed. The bed wood was rotten but you couldn't tell from looking at it. Yet another task I have to do before the Rod Run. But now the truck runs fine on its own and I go around and do another brake bleed and adjustments. By the days end, I still have not been able to test drive it. It is so close that it's hard to stop "for the day" ... which actually means another week.
It was the end of July and I go through another work week just dieing to get back to the truck. I snuck in a few evenings of minor stuff and oil changes so that my day off could be the day to DRIVE IT.
Magic Monday finally comes. I roll up the garage door. I get the truck down on the wheels and clear the path to that open garage door. I climb into the truck, push in the clutch, turn the key and hit the button and it comes to life. I feel nervous, happy, confused, excited, scared all at the same time. I realize we can finally leave the garage we have spent months in, with my truck under its own power. So, I put it in gear. I test the brakes and let out the clutch and we rolled toward that open door!
I finally get it out on the road. What a fantastic feeling to be driving this old truck and cruise around. I wasn't going to get too far from home, tho. I noticed my double clutching skills from driving a semi back in the day are lacking a bit, but my feelings of accomplishment were soaring and I've got a smile a mile wide. I decided I'd better head back home before something breaks ( really didn't want to ruin this euphoria ).
I parked the truck outside the garage and sat there staring at it for an hour or more. I did not want to put it back in. I looked it over, still savoring its first drive -- a success with no overheating or leaks of any kind. Ah yes, life is good.
It appeared I would meet my goal of having it at the Rod Run for my Brother and I to ride around in the old truck together.
Now it was time to clean up the inside and paint it. I did the headliner with a potato sack and painted the interior with hammered silver. We can now ride in it without the need for a tetanus shot. I added some indoor / outdoor carpet and some did more pressure washing on the outside.
I turned my focus to that rotten wood in the bed. I took the truck to Lowe's and bought the materials to re-do the bed floor. I got it all done. If someone wanted to ride in the back at the Rod Run, I could be sure they would ok and not fall through.
It wasn't until July that I finally got the emergency and parking brake working. We started the full system bleeding process.
I was able to drive it to work two days in a row. However, that took its toll on the generator and it stopped charging on my way home from work. I figured it might be time for an alternator conversion.
But then I thought: hey! I am driving a truck that we drug out of a barn only five months ago, that was built in the 40's and I still have the same fan belt and radiator hoses on it that sat in the barn since 1996.
The Rod Run came and we had fun driving Ole Rusty for a few days with only one minor problem. The points went bad and I replaced those in a hotel parking lot. We were back in the game.
As the months have gone by, I drive the old truck on Mondays now, doing trash runs and getting lunch. I still am doing some repairs to it.
I struggled with the idea of painting it but so many people that see it at the gas station or a store, say not to change it. One woman actually focused on the broken rear window and said she loved how it looked and said, "Please don't replace it." Another time, I came out of a store to find an elderly lady standing on the running board giggling and another taking her picture. They said not to change it -- they loved its old look.
As I drive around, there are usually horns honking and people waving and smiling as I go by.
One trip, the truck hiccups and starts to die. I give her gas but she just starts slowing down and the motor is just not firing. All of a sudden BUUURRRR, she takes off again and runs fine all the way home. I tucked her in the garage and thought, "Skip, you know better than to drive something this old with no tools, duct tape, electrical wire and connectors, spare tire or jack and you never even put a new fan belt on it." And I did that twice.
Wrenchbender Ret was able to help me with the generator problems.
Another month goes by of enjoying my Mondays with the Ole truck and I decide to do a process i saw on the internet to preserve Rusty's patina. Just this month, I bought two jugs of CLR, a BBQ grill brush and a few gray Scotch Brite pads. I started the process of scrubbing down the truck.
I used the CLR and brush on the heavy rust and the pad on the rest, scrubbing until it foamed up and the pad slid around easy without sticking to the truck. I also used Krud Kutter Rust Remover that seemed to work great. I rinsed and looked at progress. If it needed more, I did it again. (FYI, your hands and fingers may get irritated by the chemicals for such a long period of washing and scrubbing so rubber gloves are probably needed ... just saying from experience.)
It became apparent, as the rust haze started washing away, that the truck had four colors hidden underneath. It had a way of telling a story by the different paint jobs it had over its lifetime. Then I clear-coated it with satin clear and all those years of true patina came to life!
People still say how much they love it and those that saw it before, love it even more now. ( There are some good pictures in Skip's Photobucket of how it looks after all this scrubbing and the clear coating - amazing! ~ Editor )
One thing left to do is put the S-10 5 speed in it, then Rusty and I can do our trash runs and errands on Mondays and drive to work during the week with a smoother and quieter ride.
Thank you Stovebolt and all the members posting answers to questions for guys like me. What a great place to come in and find many helpful guides to success. It's a good feeling to keep these trucks alive.
Keep track as the restoration project continues in Skip's thread and check for new photos to the Photobucket album. Any and all questions welcome! If you post in the forum, others can share in the discussion. Thanks ~ Editor
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