|Stovebolt Feature ~ Events|
|'Third Annual Stovebolt Reunion and the
trip to the Midwest All Truck Nationals, Kansas City 2007!
Update in KC Reunion Forum
We had a great turn-out for the 3rd Annual Reunion at the Midwest All Truck Nationals in Kansas City. It was a great three days. Lots of new Bolters to meet. Some came a long distance. We have lots of photos you can see in the Stovebolt Photobucket (some of those pictures identify the Bolters who were there). And some of the gang have stories to share. Cletis* promised this one before we even left Kansas City. ~~ Editor
What? Are you crazy? Travel 1,200 miles in a 51-year old truck?
By Charlie "Cletis" Hardin
Actually, my wife June didn’t say that. She’s been with me long enough to know I’m crazy enough to try it. But I prefer to call it "being adventurous."
In 2006, I towed my truck to the Midwest All-truck Nationals in Riverside, Missouri. Where’s the adventure in that? Laid back, CD blasting, AC cooling, cruise control set, Powerstroke diesel purring. My buddy, Joker, was cruising right with me in his 1952 Chevy truck with the 235 purring, window down, straining to hear the CD over the highway noise, getting a trucker tan on one arm. And he had a bigger grin on his face than I did. Here's Joker kissing Red Ryder upon our arrival in KC that year.
OK, so this year, I declared, I’m driving the ’56. Actually, the reason I didn’t attempt it in 2006 was my differential bearings were shot. I remedied this by installing a 3.07:1 Spicer rear end from a ’59 GMC. OK- road gears! While I was at it, I completely re-built the brake system using a dual chamber master cylinder.
Ready for the road
Well not quite. I decided I needed A/C in the truck if I’m going to convince the missus to go along with me. She’s kind of funny about showing up with windblown hair. So about two months before the trip, I started working on getting it air conditioned.
I started by installing an electric fan. To do that involved moving the radiator forward. What seemed like a simple little job turned into a couple of weeks of headaches -- but that’s another story. Maybe I’ll write it up later.
I had a rebuilt compressor and a new condenser that came with the truck when I bought it. It also had an evaporator unit of unknown origin installed, but the ports had been open on it for who knows how long. So out it came. I ordered a new evaporator and hose kit from Hotrod Air. I ran into multiple problems with the installation and with getting it operational. That, too, is another story waiting to be written. But I’ve included this much in this story because it gives some background to the problems I ran into on the trip. I got the system charged up, for the third time, the night before we were to leave for Kansas City. But it still wasn’t working right.
The dogs are ready
(Thursday, September 6) We loaded up the truck and hitched a trailer to it. (Here's a nice bigger image !) We loaded the dogs in the trailer and we were on our merry way. It reminded me of The Beverly Hillbillies.
It was a nice cool morning so we didn’t try the AC for the first 100 or so miles. When we decided to try it, it was only getting to 75 degrees at the outlet vent. It was cooling to about 60 degrees at the vent the night before on the test run. Oh well, still cooler than outside.
As we neared Lake Texoma, we decided the dogs could use a dip. We pulled off the main highway and headed for the dam. Soon, the truck started acting up going up hill. I thought maybe we got some bad gasoline in Gainesville. But it soon straightened out. We stopped at the dam, let the dogs out and the water looked so inviting, I put on my trunks and took a dip with them. After our break, we continued on our merry way.
As we neared the Durant, Oklahoma exit, I noticed the truck was over-heating. Oh great. My LED indicator shows the fan is still working. We pulled into the first gas station, but of course it had no water. I started draining water from the ice chest into a dog dish and pouring it over the radiator. That’s when I notice the fan isn’t working. With the wind turning the fan it was generating enough electricity to light the LED, giving me a false indication.
I got the truck cooled down enough to limp to Walmart. Still wearing my wet trunks, I bought some anti-freeze and put a new fuse in the fan. Soon we were on the road again. But we ran without the AC, thinking that was the problem.
As I was driving I was thinking. I had already blown a 30 amp fuse before we started on the trip. I had bought some 30 amp fuses for the trip but they were too long for the fuse holder. So I scrounged some 25 amp ones from an old Cadillac out back, put one in it and brought the rest along just in case. Maybe I need to stop and get some 30 amp ones?
Before we got to Atoka, we were over-heating again. Sure enough, another fuse gone. And we weren’t running the air this time. We stopped at a fruit stand and while June looked around, I changed another fuse. In Atoka we stopped at a Sonic for some cooling for us. Then we stopped at an auto parts store for some fuses. Aha, they had 35 amp ones in the right length. But I didn’t change it right then because my hands were still burning from changing the last one. The fuse holder was very near the exhaust manifold. So we hit the road again.
By the time we got to Lake Eufaula, I decided the dogs and I need another dip. We stopped at a park and cooled off. After our dip, I decided the truck had cooled enough for me to put one of the 35 amp fuses in. That’s when I made an interesting discovery. The fuses weren’t blowing. The solder was melting out of them. The one in it wasn’t gone yet but the solder was on the outside of it. I popped a new one in and we made the last 40 miles to Muskogee on it. But the “bad gas” problem started again on a couple of the hills and we had gotten a fresh tank in McAlaster. What is it?
We pulled into Muskogee after about nine hours on the road. It’s usually about a six hour trip.
Long drives give ya plenty of time to think
(Friday, September 7) We spent the night at my Mother’s house. She had just put some insulating material over some of the windows in her travel trailer. I grabbed a scrap of leftovers and tied it around my fan fuse holder. We dropped the trailer and the dogs there and continued our journey. We hit some pretty heavy rain around Chouteau and I was mighty glad I Rain-Xed the windshield. Other than that, we had an un-eventful trip to Kansas City except for the occasional coughing and sputtering of the engine.
Meanwhile, I was still thinking. We’ve been through a couple of tanks of gas so it probably isn’t water in the tank. Then I remembered the time I had a fuel pump quit on me in Colorado a few years ago. Before it went out, it was doing the same thing. I decided I need a fuel pump.
Soon after we checked in to the motel, I was on the Internet. I found a parts store nearby that had a fuel pump in stock and found directions to it. Ain't technology grand? I picked up the new pump and planned to change it that evening.
But first, we had eating to do. We weren’t there just for the truck show. It was also the Stovebolt's 3rd Annual Reunion.There were plans for barbeque at Jack Stack’s Freight House. We certainly weren’t going to miss out on that.
So we met the group of Stovebolters (a lot of us were staying at the American Inn) and went to the feast. A great time was had by all.
During feasting, several wanted to go to the truck show grounds for the Friday night cruise-in. I’m glad I went because I won the 50/50 drawing! Of course, it was dark before we got back to the motel so I didn’t get the fuel pump changed.
Instead, we joined the party in progress on the patio. The Bolters there convinced me to just change the pump on the show grounds Saturday Morning. Besides having enough light, he'd have LOTS of help!
We had a great time Friday night spending time with Stovebolters from all over the country.
Serendipity averts disaster
(Saturday, September 8) I wanted to wash the road grime off the truck before going to the show grounds. So after breakfast, I went to a car wash. June stayed at the motel. Then I drove to a store the waitress had told us about to get some folding lawn chairs. The truck really started acting up on the way back. It finally quit on me three blocks from the motel. I was able to coast into a convenience store lot. Looks like it’s time to change that fuel pump.
Now, I was carrying one of those Craftsman tool kits with me. This thing has everything. Half inch, three eighth inch, quarter inch sockets, regular and deep, metric and American, combination wrenches, everything I should need. Wrong! First thing I find out is the fuel line is a 5/8” nut and the combo wrenches skip from 9/16 to 3/4. Luckily, there was a shop next door to the convenience store where a couple of guys were working on a race car. I borrowed the wrench I needed and soon had the pump changed. But she still wouldn’t fire.
What now? I pulled the fuel supply line again and there was barely a trickle coming from it. Maybe the rear fuel filter is clogged. So I jacked up the truck and climbed under it. I pulled the line from the rear filter and sure enough, just a trickle there. I blew into it and gas came gushing back. But then it went back to a trickle. Looks like I need a new filter.
A customer from the convenience store came up to check out the pretty ’56 truck being worked on in the parking lot. When I explained my dilemma, he volunteered to take me to a parts store. We went and got a new filter and the guy wouldn’t even let me buy him a beer for his trouble. See, there still are some good people left in this old world.
He left and I installed the new filter. I made sure I had good fuel flow but she still wouldn’t crank. Meanwhile, one of the Stovebolters called to see why I wasn’t at the show. (Thanks again, Joe) I told him what was happening and he was on the way to help. While waiting on him to arrive, I pulled the pump off again to check the drive rod and I discovered it was bent!
Apparently this thing had been bent for a long time but with the old pump on it, it couldn’t fall down out of the way. Of course, when I removed the old pump, it did fall out of the way. I went back to the race car shop. Another stroke of luck. They just happened to have one they’d sell me.
We'll get it figured out
About the time I was walking back to the truck with the replacement rod, Joe and the crew showed up. We got the new pump back on and the truck fired up like it should have three hours ago.
We made it to the truck show about 1 o’clock. We missed the Stovebolters group picture. (Editors' Note: So did a few others, unfortunately. And here's a bigger image with names, as you 'mouse over' the faces) and the serving of the cake. But it was a great show nonetheless. We got to meet some more Stovebolters who weren’t around Friday night. Of course, my truck didn’t win anything -- she’s a driver not a shower. But I did win a door prize -- a can of tire dressing.
We had catered barbeque at the motel that night. After that, a bunch of us invaded the lounge for drinks, cigars and karaoke. Check out the Stovebolt Trio -- KC Mongo, John and Cletis (Editors' Note: I think we changed the group name about four times.)
On The Road Again
(Sunday, September 9) The Stovebolt group met at the headquarters of The Antique Truck Historical Society for a private tour. There they have a sizable collection of old truck memorabilia and an enormous collection of old truck literature dating back to the first trucks made. I could spend weeks in there just reading the GMC literature. But we could only stay a couple of hours.
We said our goodbyes to the Stovebolt crew and made one more pass by the show grounds. There we said goodbye to the local Stovebolters who are also members of the show host club: The Genuine Chevy GMC Truck Club of Kansas City.
Back on the road again, we were looking for an un-eventful trip back to Muskogee. We had a new fuel pump and the fuse insulation got us all the way to KC. But about an hour out, I noticed the fan indicator light isn’t as bright as it should be. The truck wasn’t heating up but I suspected the fuse was out again. We pulled off the highway at some little Podunk town and, sure enough, the fuse was blown. This time the fuse holder was melted and I couldn’t get the fuse out.
I cut the fuse holder out of the wire and twisted the wire ends together. Fortunately, someone had donated dozens of rolls of electrical tape to the Stovebolt cause and they were passed out at the show like candy. (Editors' Note: Dakota will LOVE to hear that!) I took a couple of rolls, never suspecting I’d need some so soon. That got us rolling again.
Before we made it to Muskogee, the truck started sputtering again occasionally. There’s still some problem but it made us to Muskogee. Upon arrival at my Mother’s, we found two very excited dogs.
Dogs, Mufflers and the ubiquitous coat hanger
(Monday, September 10) Since the AC still wasn’t cooling properly we decided we’d wait until evening to start the trip home. Besides, I wanted to show the truck to a couple of my high school friends while I had it in town. I went on my rounds and a couple of blocks from my Mother’s house, a muffler strap broke and I was dragging a tailpipe. I drove it back to the house and used field expediency and a couple of coat hangers to get that problem temporarily fixed.
That evening we hooked up the trailer and loaded the dogs and headed for home. We had no problems except the occasional sputtering.
I found out, after replacing the entire fuel line, the fuel blockage problem is in the tank outlet. I still have that problem to fix before the next long trip. I replaced the fan fuse with a fusible link. I’m hoping it solves that problem. New tailpipes and mufflers are on my to-do list.
We traveled a total of 1,325 miles. We had more fun than we’ve had in ages. And we have a grand adventure tale to tell. Would we do it again? Of course. They are expecting us in Kansas City next year. Hope to see you there!
As Cletis says, "I'm an old truck nut and I'm especially fond of pre-1960 GMCs and Chevrolets. But I like all old trucks, old cars and old machinery in general.
* We are sorry to report that Cletis in now milling about with other old truck lovers. Cletis passed away July 15, 1917. He is truly missed ... see The Passing Lane.