|Oral history of Stovebolt Quests, Journeys, Treasures and Dragons|
You can't keep a good truck
Howdy! My name is Lurch. I'm a 1927 Chevy 1-ton cattle truck. My caretaker, Dean, brought me back to life in 1996 using parts from 3 rusty hulks. See my picture (at left) just after I arrived at Dean's house.
Ever since I've been running again, we've been tooling around town (San Leandro, CA), going to shows, being in parades, and having lots of fun! See a picture of Dean and me in The Stovebolt Gallery. For the first few months, Dean and I drove to the shows. Unfortunately, at 20 mph, that limited our travelling range so we kept close to home. I wanted to go further, so Dean eventually got a trailer. This was a great idea, but, not having any towing experience, Dean was an accident waiting to happen!
But, I'm getting ahead of myself.
Dean learns trailering's hard lesson the easy way
Let me tell you about the first long-distance show we went to and how we almost didn't get there! It was a fine Friday (July 11, 1997). I was going to my first Chevy/GMC Truck Show and I was VERY excited (although, it doesn't take much to get a 70-year old excited!). Dean, bless his little heart, had recently bought a trailer for me because I can't go long distances like I used to. When I drove onto that trailer, it seemed like I could see for miles around! I knew that lots of heads would turn as I made my way to the show.
By the way, my cattle cage (which can fold up), was set up, which turns heads, but also catches a lot of air! More about that soon. ;-) After a few trial runs around the block, we were off! Dean was pulling me with his 1994 Plymouth Minivan. We were going southbound on Interstate 880 (the Nasty Nimitz) on a beautiful day! All was going quite smoothly until around Union City (10 miles from home). The Minivan owner's manual said it could pull something as heavy as me (okay, I've put on a few pounds over the years...), but it didn't mention that the minivan can't CONTROL a heavy-weight like me! 'Course, I always was hard to control! Anyway, I started throwing my weight around and Dean couldn't keep me in line (no duh!). It really was a case of the tail waggin' the dog! I started to swerve back and forth and before you know it, Dean lost it (poor chump). (Editor's Note: Lurch, it sounds like Dean didn't have enough tongue weight -- he should have moved you further forward on the trailer. More info on hauling can be found here.)
Lurch flies, becomes a radio personality
Luckily, we were only going 50 mph! My trailer jack-knifed. The trailer and van swung 180 degrees (facing traffic!) and I got thrown off the trailer! I had been tied down with chains and rope, but they were no match for me! Like an old cat that's been there and done that, I landed on my feet (okay, wheels) and scared Dean half-to-death. My cattle cage flew off and was laying in a heap next to me, the trailer and the minivan. Dean needed a change of underwear by now. A nice guy who saw the whole thing stopped and asked if we were alright. He said that EVERYONE saw it happening and backed off to give me room to strut my stuff. I like how he put that! Anyway, I was blocking three lanes of traffic, southbound on the Nasty Nimitz Freeway at 3:00 on a Friday afternoon. My only regret is that Dean didn't have the presence of mind to turn on the radio and hear the traffic reports about me!
Our guardian angels were definitely on hand that day. At the time, it seemed that I wasn't hurt, Dean wasn't hurt, and the minivan was only embarassed! We were towed off the freeway within 15 minutes and then Dean had to get us all home. He found a broken bolt on the ground, but couldn't find where it came from, so he put it in his pocket. Being the tough old bird that I am, I refused to get up on that trailer again, so Dean had to drive me home (via streets) and come back for the minivan and trailer.
By the time he got home with everything, it was 7 pm and he missed the tour of the Winchester Mystery House that the other trucks from the show went to. Dean called Jim Gracy (Editor extrordinaire of the Tailgate Talk newsletter of the Chevy/GMC Club) and told him what had happend. He said I wouldn't be at the show the next day, and explained that we were all okay. Jim said that he would see what he could do.
The next morning, Jim called and said that he found a kind-hearted soul that would fetch me and Dean and give us a ride to and from the show! How about that?! A perfect stranger would drive around 150 miles so we could be at the show! What a guy! His name is Rick Butler and we are VERY grateful to him. ;-) Rick showed up and I drove onto his trailer (a BIG trailer that I easily fit on) and he chained me down GOOD! Dean learned a lot that day about pulling a trailer and how to lash down an old coot like me!
We got to the show around 11:30 a.m. and had a great time. It was great to see all my cousins and grandchildren all shined up and purrrrrty! 'Course compared to me, almost any truck would be purty! You see, I perform a Community Service at these shows. The other trucks wouldn't look half as nice if I wasn't sitting next to them! I also let people climb on me and take pictures while seated behind the wheel. You won't see those other prissy show pieces allowing the public to do that!
See the picture of me at the show parked in the handicaped parking spot (at right). You'll notice a crystal glass under my radiator. I don't drip! Just marking my spot. You know, us old guys have to go quite often.
Lurch wins awards
At the award ceremony, I was tickled that all the good folks at the show voted me 1st place in the pre-1947 trailered unrestored category and also (hee-hee), voted to give me and Dean the "Hard Luck Award," a dubious, but fun award to have! There's a definite need for older, unrestored trucks at these shows. The crowds love us and can't get enough of us! Come on you guys! Get out of the barn and stand up to be counted! Besides, there's always cute, young fillies to hang out with (like a Corvair pickup -- boy, have they got hot rear ends!) that'll start your oil a bubbling and really turn your crank! I might be old and a little slow, but I can still dream and look at the menu!
At the end of the day, I drove back onto Rick's trailer and he took us home. Dean finally found where that broken bolt came from. It was one of the two bolts from the bottom of my engine (1928, 4-banger) that kept my rear main bearing cap in place. And the other bolt was missing! In other words, my oil pan was the only thing that kept my bearing cap in place the entire time that I drove the 10 miles home from the accident AND on and off Rick's trailer at home and at the show.
Sigh, Dean -- grounded then and there.
He decided his luck would run out pretty quick if he tried to start me again, so I waited quite a while for him to work on me and put those bolts back. He had a difficult time finding two 1/2" x 3" replacement bolts because the threads in my engine are 12 per inch, not like today's standard of 13. He eventually found the bolts and we're back in business, tooling down the road with our fellow Chevy trucks.
As for towing, Dean bought a 1958 Chevy Panel truck (see the picture in the Stovebolt Gallery) which tows me just fine. Guess that's about it for this story.
Catch you on the circuit!
"Old and ugly is beautiful!"
For more pictures of Lurch -- from Dean's perspective -- check out his gallery page! ~~ Editor
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