09 March 2015
1954 Chevy 3100 with Hydramatic Transmission
From Matthew :
I am a teacher in Nevada and during the summer, I head to our family farm in Michigan, where we grow hay.
Just last October, while at work in Nevada, I spotted in the Swap Meet forum -- Trucks for Sale page -- a 1954 Chevy 3100 Hydramatic -- that was located in Michigan, just two hours away from the family farm. I wrote down the phone number so I could call after work. Later, I went to double check the ad to make sure I wrote the number down correctly -- but the ad was gone. Apparently, the seller lacked all sorts of information about the sale of the truck for the thread -- which it did -- and the thread was removed.
But, I had the number (right one I hoped ) and I made the call. It was the right number and the seller sent me some photos -- most of them of the truck inside a barn. It was kind of hard to tell much about the truck from the pictures. I asked him all the basic questions like the history of the truck. Does it run? Any rust issues? Other things like that. I noticed in the pictures that the truck had been painted (not fresh but newer than 1954) and all the seams for the front and back fenders were filled in. Seemed kinda strange.
I went with my gut feeling and made the fellow an offer that was below his asking price -- considering I was buying a truck site unseen. He told me he would get back to me. I thought to myself I would never hear from this guy again.
A week later, he called and told me to come get it. Since I was in Nevada at the time, and the truck was in the thumb area of Michigan, I called a friend who owns a trucking company to go pick it up. He reported back that he started the truck right up and drove it on to the trailer. He delivered it to our barn on the farm in Michigan. The truck came off the trailer the same way it went on: without a hitch.
The background I found out from the seller was that he inherited the truck from his Father in 1977, when his Father died. The truck was parked in the barn from that time until 1993, when he decided to give it a tune up, put brakes on it and get it painted. Being in the barn helped preserve the truck, and I guess it was kept in fairly good running shape, being a farm truck.
So the son used the truck around the farm from 1993-94 and then parked it back in the barn. It stayed there until 2014.
In October 2014, the son was selling stuff from the farm and he listed the truck on Stovebolt.
So the truck was waiting for me when I came home to Michigan at Christmas. I decided I would go try to fire it up. My friend who delivered the truck said it ran, but it ran a bit rough. So, I dropped in new plugs and noticed two broken wires.
I repaired the broken wires, added some transmission fluid and oil, and she started right up and ran (and runs) great. She blows a little blue smoke but I am hoping to drop some marvel mystery oil in each of the cylinders to loosen up a stuck ring. She also needs an oil change in the worse way. I will be back for a few months this summer and I plan on getting her on the road.
In checking out the truck over-all, it seemed that the owner had filled in all the creases between the fenders and the bed with bondo or something and then painted the whole thing. But the truck was generally solid. There were no rust holes. The floor boards inside were great. There was a little rot on the kick panels.
The truck has 108,159 miles on the odometer. The interior looks good. The gauges are unbelievable. They look brand new except for some surface rust. It needs a new headliner and one window is cracked. The seats need to be re-done. It will need painting. Probably after I return to school in August this year, I will send the truck over to a friend who has a body shop and let him start on those projects.
Since the truck will sit all fall, winter and spring, I've decided to go with a 12-volt conversion. That should give me more reliable starting. My generator isn't working so I figure now it is a good time to convert it. Patrick said with it sitting for long periods of time like it will while I'm gone, the 12-volt will make for easier starting.
I also searched the hydramatic transmissions on-line and found a lot of great information. I was worried if I bought this truck, I would need a transmission right away.
It does need new tires and shocks. I've removed the mirrors. I need to find replacement running boards. I'll need to repair or replace that grille.
I actually wanted a COE so I could haul some hay but this truck this is perfect. It will be more versatile for driving on the farm, pulling the hay wagon, and going into town for parts and stuff. I'll use it for my daily driver while I'm there in Michigan.
This is my second Stovebolt truck. I also have a 1950 GMC 100 5-window that we picked up when I was a teenager. My Grandfather went along with us and he haggled with the seller. We drove it away. I drove it for the few years while I was in high school just around the farm. My Father passed away a few years ago, and I my intention is to restore every single nut and bolt on that truck as a remembrance to my Father and Grandfather. (We'll get that story next! ~ Editor)
I have been on the Stovebolt site since 2010. I've read a lot of the stories but never really signed up because I had nothing to contribute. I didn't have as much experience as most of the folks do (I'm in my mid-30's now). I do love looking at people's old trucks.
"If you think education is expensive, try ignorance."
Keep track of the restoration project details in the DITY Gallery 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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