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Stovebolt Sagas

Oral history of Stovebolt Quests, Journeys, Treasures and Dragons

Stovebolt to the Bone

By Eric Radack


        We have a lot of activity on the site - with lots of old time Stovebolters and now Stovebolt, The Next Generation is slowly coming onboard. This kind of motivation and Stovebolt Fever is great to be part of. This story is a confirmation of where there's Stovebolt Passion, there's a way! From learning how to do all this restoration stuff (and I do mean ALL) to some creative financing ideas to continue his project, Eric's story is another wonderment to the Power of the Bolt! And Eric must have Stovebolt Radar -- besides what he's mentioned in his saga, he had the winning It Ran When I Parked It entry for 2005 and The Peoples' Choice in 2004!

Part One | Part Two


It is Finished!

        Remember when I said I would get my truck done by winter 2004? I got it done in winter -- but not in 2004. I finally finished my truck February 3, 2006! It took me a lot longer to complete my truck then I thought it would! Just over two years I resurrected my 1954 Chevrolet 3100! Gave it a second chance at life! By the way, the Sinclair station in the photo is a real relic, found in Elberta, Utah. (So, we added it to our First Edition Calendar ~ Ed)  

        A lot has happened since my first saga. I made a few changes, had adventures and learned a great deal from people I met on the road, car shows, neighbors, family, and especially here on STOVEBOLT!

        When I first got my truck, all I knew about auto work was how to change the oil. I didn't know how to do motor work, electrical, body work -- nothing! I didn't have classes to take (until later). So I just taught myself. I started taking things apart, seeing how things work and what its function was. It all started to click! Alright! This is easy! I could do this!

        Anyway, I converted my truck to a 12-volt system with an alternator. I tuned up the 235 and it runs well! It's a 4 speed manual transmission. I would like to swap out the rear axle gears so I can go faster than 55 mph and have better acceleration. I found the visor, windshield trim, grille, and the hood ornament here on The Stovebolt Page!

        Richard Williams, who is my neighbor, helped me get started on the body work. A lot of the time, it was hard for him to find the time. But soon I got the hang of it. I was in my senior year in high school and I took an auto body class where I got lots of time to work on my truck while I get credit for graduation! That class was a big help!

        My truck is the very first truck I have ever painted. I have never done it before. After seeing the other students paint their cars, I didn't want to paint mine! Their cars had paint runs EVERYWHERE! I was so scared to paint my truck because I thought I would make runs too! My teacher said that I had to paint it or I would get a bad grade. So, I started to paint. I took it slow and was very careful! Lucky for me -- I didnít make a single run!

        Later at a professional auto body shop, the manager gave me a very nice complement. He said, ďI have painters that have been painting for 20 years and you paint just as well as they do -- if not better! After taking that class, I learned all the tricks and skills of body work and paint!

        I got the front of the truck done first before I started on the bed. I got the front of my truck painted and started on the bed. Then school was over and I had to finish the bed at home. A few weeks ago, I got my bed all ready for paint and my old shop teacher was nice enough to let me paint the rest of my truck in his paint booth. Shortly after, I got the bed walls, bed strips and running boards sprayed with the bed liner. I put in an aluminum diamond plate floor with the wood bed strips to give it that classic look!

        My teacher had a 1950 Chevy 6400 I bought from him for $200. It was such a good deal. I would have been stupid not to get it. So I got it and drove it home! I sold it later for $500 -- Iíd rather have a COE.

        I got some bucket seats from a 1996 Pontiac Sunfire and put them in my truck. They look brand new and only paid $18 for them. I also installed a 6 volt trumpet horns from an early '40s Plymouth. They are running on a 12-volt system and are extremely loud! I also put in a pair of air horns. I have a switch under my dash so I can change horns while using the button on the steering wheel. The original heater works and itís very toasty! It has old fashion cruise control, locks on both door handles, blue dot taillights, and more! About 95% of the work that has been done to the truck has been done with my own two hands.

        There was a guy I knew that moved away that had a blue '54 Chevy 3600. He had a '55 1st series Chevy 3100 parts truck that he couldnít take with him so he gave it to me. I parted out all that was salvageable and sold the rest for $300. There was another neighbor that had a 1931 F**d truck -- I traded some work for it. Then I sold it for $400 (if it were a Chevy, I would have made a hot rod with it). Then there was that 1949 Suburban I used to have. I was stupid for selling it. Now Iím looking for another one. I have lots of ideas for one.

        Then I had a 1956 Olds 98 I found for $800. I drove it home also! I sold it for over $1600. One great accomplishment I have done is I converted two of my friends to the Stovebolt religion! After my friends have seen what I have done with my truck, it got them excited and now they want to restore one too! The strange thing is they want the 2-ton trucks instead of the pickups.

        After two long years, lots of hard work, creative ideas, trial and errors, money, and determination, I finally finished my truck! Boy, Iím ready to do it all over again! This time a Suburban like the one I used to have. Sometimes I think the truck gets too much attention! I wouldnít want anyone to get in a car wreck from looking too long!

Another Stovebolt Movie Star

        My truck is in the movie, “The World's Fastest Indian.” It is in the California scene at the used car lot. My truck was in the beginning stages of restoration so the front was primered and the bed a rusty blue with no windows in the background. It has orange rims with a white rim on the spare tire rack. I was driving the red '52 GMC truck a lot in the movie. (The red GMC truck wasn’t mine -- I wish it was!)

        Out with the new and back in with the old! I would never buy a new car! (Except the Chevy HHR -- I would buy one because it looks like the '50 Suburban!)

Keep on trucking and NEVER STOP!

Eric Radack
"Beast54"
Bolter #5143
Riverton, Utah

v. February 2006


The Hunt and the Score

††† †††††††††††††††††††††††††††      -- HI! I'm Eric. I'm 17 and I live in Utah, and boy do I have stories to tell!

The first hunt ...

       It all started when I was just a little boy. I always loved old cars and trucks and always wanted one. But then, just last year in 2003, when I was a junior in high school, I somehow got extremely interested in the 1947-1955 Chevy First series trucks. I looked all over the place to get me one of those trucks! On eBay, the paper, and on the road! I was just driving my parents NUTS!!! I would talk about nothing except trucks!!!

       This went on for about half a year! My family loves to ride four wheelers, and we would go everywhere to ride! When we went riding or anywhere, I would look out the car window and search deep into people's yards and fields hunting for the truck of my dreams! Many times when we went riding, we would always pass through this small town. And every time I went through it, I'd see this 1954 Chevy truck and a junky 1940's Ford dump truck just sitting at some old auto shop.

       So, I finally decided to get the telephone number of the owner. There was a gas station across the street from this old shop so I went there to see about a contact person. I got the phone number of the owner, gave him a call and just simply asked if he wanted to sell the '54 truck. And he did!

       So I talked with my Dad and made arrangements to drive down to pick it up! On our way down, I could not sit still in my seat! The excitement DROVE me nuts!

       We finally got there. Me, my Dad, and our neighbor (mechanic) gave it a good look-over. It was a 3/4-ton and a long bed. Dad didn't like the long bed look. The cab floor was all rusted out. The cab corners had huge holes. The motor had been played with. So, my dad talked me out of buying it. I was sooooo sad.

A 'Burb' in the hand ...

       On the way home, again, I was just starring out the window in great disappointment until we passed through another small town. I looked deep into a field and spotted a 1949 Suburban! I hollered "Oh my GOSH! There's a SUBURBAN!!! Hurry. Turn right! Turn! Turn! Turn!!!"

        So Dad turned and found the house the field connected to. Luckily, the man was home and we just simply asked if he wanted to sell the Burb. And he DID! So, for $600 I got a Burb that had been sitting for over 20 years.

       We loaded it on the trailer and went home. At first, I was thinking I wanted to get it to resell because I knew it was rare but then I decided to keep it.

 

The joys of your first Stovebolt ...

       When I got the Burb home, I started to clean it. YUK! Mouse poop everywhere! Lots of dirt and junk. The more I looked at it, the hopeless and more expensive it got to fix. So I decided to sell it. Too much work for a 17-year-old.

       I put it on eBay with a staring bid of $600 and a time limit of a week. During that time, I was looking in the paper one day in the second week of December 2003 in the classic and antique autos section when I came across another '54 Chevy truck. I called the guy and made arrangements to come and look at it. So my Dad and I did.

       The truck was very solid and it had a spot light. It was a 1/2-ton short bed, 4 speed on the floor. I knew this was the truck for ME! My Dad liked it and said I only wanted it because it had a spot light! We opened the hood and looked at the motor. I didn't run at the time but it was complete. The guy was taking offers so I offered him $800 for it. He took it. Yehaaa!! Finally a truck for me!!

††† †††      Loading it on the trailer -- what a job! No brakes, no winch, no nothing! In order to get it on our trailer, my Dad jackknifed the trailer and we used my 1973 GMC to pull the Chevy out of the small space it was stored and put it in the back of the trailer. I got to drive -- well, steer -- my truck on to the trailer. What fun that was for me!

       On the way home, I drove the '73 and stayed behind the trailer and watched it go to my house. I could just not believe a kid my age getting a 50-year old truck and would be able to put it to use!

       When we got home and unloaded it, I went right to work on it. Later I found out that my motor was froze! I was told to dump 12 quarts of thin oil in it and put a 100w light under the oil pan for a week. Then a week passed and the motor freed up!!!!!!

Movin' out of the 'Burb ...

       Ok, back to the 'Burb. The auction ended and I sold it to a guy in California for $1200! That guy, 30 minutes after he bought the Burb, he had it running, pumped up the brakes and drove it away!!! That made me so mad ... and so sad! If only I had known, I would have kept it or sold it for more!!! And I almost cried when it left my house for California because it was my first truck I bought on my own! It had a lot a self value to me.

       Ok, back to the '54. Today July 16 2004, the progress I have made. I put a brand new brake system on, drums turned, new lines, new rubber hoses, new shoes, new wheel cylinders, new master cylinder, parking brake cable, everything! I did not want my brakes to fail!

       Then I moved to the motor. I had a stuck intake valve and a broken rocker arm. A guy I met here on the Stovebolt Page told me to put diesel fuel anti-gel on the valve stem to free it, and it WORKED. I replaced the rocker arm. I had the carb rebuilt, new fuel pump, and a fuel filter installed. It runs well, but it keeps flooding and when I drive it, sometimes it would just die. My Dad says I would need to replace the float in the carb.

       I took out the bench seat and put in bucket seats. I took off almost everything except the cab and the hood. All that's left to do on my truck is just mainly body work. I would like to paint it red and have the grille chromed.

 

Creative financing ...

       I have a friend that found an abandoned 1941-1946 Chevy truck. He took me there to see if I could use anything. I looked at it and pulled the tailgate down -- it fell right off. The doors fell off too. The entire front was gone, even the motor. The whole truck was one big rust hole. No body part was useable. There was nothing I could use but there were some things I could pull and sell. The items I was able to save were the steering wheel, dash trim, trans, hubcap, wiper arm, two door handles, and one window handle. Sold everything but the hubcap -- I want to keep it.

       The money helped me with the restoration of my truck. It's hard to get money when you work part time at a fast food joint having around 10 hours a week. But I get by.

       I will have my truck done by winter. I will let you know when it's done!

       HAPPY TRUCKING!!!

Eric Radack
"Beast54"
Bolter #5143
Riverton, Utah

       The old abandoned truck Eric found (and photographed) won him The Peoples' Choice for the 2004 It Ran When I Parked It contest, entitled "Lost Camping." ~~ Editor

v 2004



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