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Lil Rascals Rod Shop

By Dale Holt
Proprietor, The Lil Rascals Rod Shop

Destined for a crusher and a future as a soda can,
a left-for-dead '52 1-Ton turned rat rod helps Dad by...

the next generation

           The truck was built on a whim because of a rat rod the boys saw at a car show that was built by adults for little money. They thought it looked unsafe and poorly built, and commented to me that they could build one better.

           So I challenged them to do it.

           I knew of a '52 GMC 1-ton I could get for free if I hauled it away. So we had their truck and a starting point.

           Because they decided an 8-lug 1-ton would not be very cool AND the boys wanted to show the truck at the local car show, the Cowlitz County 30th Anniversary Unique Tin Car Show, the clock was ticking and the job was on!

           To make this come together quickly, I donated my wife's 1984 Monte Carlo (bought at an auction for $200). It ran and drove with a V-8, power steering, power disc brakes and the body was shot.

           In five 10 - 14 hour days, we put the '52 on the '84 frame. The boys got all the bolts holding the truck to the frame off in two hours and then we lifted the cab off with a tractor. It took another three hours to get the Monte off its frame. We left the Monte's engine, transmission, and brakes intact on the frame and welded new mounts on. Then we set the cab.

           We had to replace the floor and braces in the '52 cab plus build a trans tunnel as the truck floor was flat. The front fenders were then mounted to the cab so we could build a new core support and fender brackets.

           Chris got the job of trimming off the Monte Carlo front frame horns, while Josh cut 1" tubing to build the core support. The welding was left up to me (Dale).

           We used the '52's original radiator. It cools the 305 great. The inner fender wells were trimmed down and reinstalled.

           Next, it was on to the bed. It was too long and needed to be a lot shorter to fit our new frame. We took 17" off of the box which made it exactly 72." We used the Monte Carlo gas tank and original fuel lines. All of this saved tons of time. Had we used the '52 frame, we would have had to plumb brakes, fuel, build engine mounts, and hang new suspension. But because we had a running, driving donor-car, it made perfect sense to use it all.

           We also got a added benefit. The frame is un-lowered but due to the fact the cab sits lower on the car frame and because the car is naturally lower than a truck, we get full suspension for a superior ride while the truck has a great low stance. (This truck drives just like a 1984 Monte Carlo -- you forget you're in a '52 GMC).

           Due to time restraints, Chris, Josh & Zac decided to paint only the interior of the truck.

           They spent hours on their heads sanding and masking. Then they went at it with white spray paint, re-sanding if they ran it! (Hard not too do with $.98 Walmart paint!) Plus we think the patina of the old brushed-on green paint gives the truck character. Patti Holt (my wife), repainted the numbers on the gauges (and, in the process broke the speedo pointer -- which we replaced with a wooden tooth pick cut to length -- try it -- works great and nobody noticed) and painted the logo on the sides. We decided on "Little Rascals Rod Shop" due to the kids' ages.

           Jim Timmons of Cedar Hills Street Rods in Longview, WA donated sand paper, grinding disc, the carpet for the floor, the '89 S-10 seat, and some bulk electrical wire. The wheels and tires were some old E-T Uni-lugs I had in the barn for years saving them for just the right project. I think they look great. Their patina matches the truck. The original heater works and we rebuilt the original vacuum wiper motor so we can drive the truck all year.

           The only real money spent was to buy argon and wire for the wire-feed welder, steel to replace the floor/braces and core support, spray paint and tail lights (paint and lights from Walmart). Because they had a budget of practically zero, I made them go figure it out, either by "horse tradin'" or buy doing something to earn it. They went to Jim Timmons (who had stuff they wanted/needed) and because they didn't have any money, they had to learn how to wheel and deal for parts.

           As folks became aware of the project and were impressed with the boys and their motivation, a lot of people donated stuff for the project.

              Finally, the big show came -- the 35th anniversary show of an event we have here in our county. It's a big show and the boys really wanted to have their truck in it. Well, this was the one they had been working hard for. They got a lot of comments and everybody was really positive about it. They even got their picture in the paper. And all of that has certainly gotten the boys excited about the hobby.

           And then they got an award at the second show we went to! The "Cruise to the Country"  show and they won a sponsored award.    



The Future

          Plans for the future include straightening the body, detailing the engine bay, and possibly adding a 4" top chop and/or a 4" section of the body. But those are low on the priority list as we have too much fun driving the truck to park it long enough to work on.

          We have had several finished hot rods (1956 Chevrolet 210 Del Ray 2-door, 1966 Nova SS, 1936 Chevrolet 2-door Sedan) and this truck is more fun to drive and draws more attention than they did.

           People love or hate the truck. There is no in-between. We usually hear "Don't change a thing." Sometimes people ask when we are going paint and finish it. And we do hear the rare "What's that piece of junk doing here?" (usually from trophy hunters). But the truck wasn't built to please others. It was built to get the boys interested in old cars and teach them how to work together. And that goal was accomplished.

           Thank you very much in showing interest in this truck. It has got the boys very excited and makes them proud of what they have done. With encouragement like this, it will motivate them to stay active in our hobby and show others in our hobby that the young can and do build old cars and t hat it can be done for little money if you use what you have at hand.

           The boys even have their second project lined up -- a '55 Second Series Pickup.


Dale Holt
Castle Rock, WA

           (For updates, check the Rascals' gallery page!)


          Well, this was a nice surprise for us at Stovebolt Headquarters. Peggy figured we were getting close to a bazillion gallery submissions! But Gordon Hillsden (a realist) made a computer-generated count and helped clear out some straggler links. So, in fact, we were fast approaching a hallmark. Dale Holt and the Lil Rascal young 'Bolters turned out to be our 1,000 entry in the gallery! So, we sent the whole crew a great hoo-ya t-shirt to tell them "thanks for carrying the torch" and "good on ya." Dale says the boys have gotten a lot of attention from their friends and classmates. They are all anxious to see this here Stovebolt Page stuff!

          This is a good thing! ~~ Editor

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