Jim Blake's

1949 Chevy 3800 Stakebed Dually

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12 July 2005

From Jim: 

       Hi Fellow Stovebolters! I've really enjoyed looking at and reading the stories of all these trucks on this site. It's one of the best information and collaboration sites I've ever seen. Thanks to the staff and editors.

       Here's the story of how I came to own this '49 Chevy 3800 stakebed dually. More years ago than I care to think about, when I was working for my Grandfather at his Ford dealership, I tried to buy a '33 Ford flathead V-8 pickup to restore from one of the other employees. But I didn't have the $350 and someone else got it before I could scrape the money together.

I'd lost the truck but the restoration bug had taken a bite out of me at this point. During this time, I also drove some of my uncle's farm equipment and had an opportunity to drive his '41 Chevy hay truck (a converted firetruck). I thought that it'd be cool to fix that thing up. Later, after I got my license, I had a '65 and '68 Mustang and had plans to restore the '68, but no luck there either but the bug was still hanging on. After that I joined the service, got married, went to school, had kids, mortgages, etc. and just didn't have the time or money (seems to be a chronic issue) to find and restore a worthy vehicle.

       Over these last few years, I've been looking for a hobby and in a stroke of genius (or was that just a stroke?), I hit on the idea of restoring a pickup with my kids (12 and 15). I figured this would be a good way to keep in touch with them, teach them something about cars (and trucks), get my hands greasy and I'd have a hobby to boot!

       The search was on and the bug was getting a firm grip. When I was on vacation in Vermont a few weeks ago, I stopped in to see my uncle on his farm. While we were there, I took a look at his '52 Ford 8N tractor with thoughts of restoring it (still thinking about it) and also tried to talk him into selling his '44 Chevy hay truck (photo on the left) - another converted firetruck. Yes, that's right - a 1944. He verified it with GM at some point after he bought it during the 1970's.

       It was built as a firetruck for the town of Hartford / White River Junction, VT as a special order during the war. The bug had sunk its teeth even deeper into me at this point. Back here in Colorado, I'd been looking in the paper and on line for a potential project for the last few months with no luck. Then, a couple of weeks ago, I had some time to kill waiting for one of the kids. So I went into a convenience store and picked up one of those "Trader" magazines and lo and behold there at the very end of the Chevy section was this dump body '49 at a reasonable price. Everything worked and it ran!! It doesn't get much better than that.

       I called the seller and arranged to see it. He said he was getting rid of it because he had too many projects and needed to get rid of one of the vehicles - and the '49 was it. So my son and I went up to see it and liked what we saw.

       Now a bit about the truck. The previous owner said that it had been used on a wheat farm out in Eastern Colorado and it had been kept in a carport for most of its life. It was used to haul wheat up until the seller bought it last year. The previous owner before him had spray-painted it to match his other vehicles (it was originally the standard dark green) but other than that, it was as it came from the factory.

       It has the original engine, transmission, hydraulic pump and all other major parts (as far as I can tell). It has been converted to a 12-volt electrical system. The heater and wipers don't work (they probably didn't bother to convert those 6-volt parts to 12-volt) and it doesn't have a radio in it. It has about 52,000 original miles on it. It does have some rust on the floor pan under the carpet on both sides, a couple of minor dents on the fenders and some surface rust in a few places but otherwise there are no rust holes in it that I can find. All the tires are dry rotted to the point that I don't dare put much of a load on it but the rims appear to match and seem to be the originals. The clutch feels a bit worn and the brakes need to be pumped when I'm coming to a stop (no tailgating here!). As you can see, the dump body does work on it as well. What more can a guy ask for? I have my own dump truck.

       So here is my first restoration project sitting in my front yard with several buckets under it to catch the dripping oil. I intend to do a complete restoration over the next few years to make it as original as possible and still be able to use it regularly. I'll add seat belts and may even put in a radio. I'm not planning to make it a show truck (you won't see me on the interstate with it) but I don't want to make a hot rod out of it either.

       Now I can start collecting parts to get ready for the restoration. The bug now has a firm grip and I don't want it any other way. My wife calls it "The Beast" but she does smile when she says it. She shakes her head too, but that's another story!

       Since this is my first project I look forward to asking lots of questions and getting very considered and helpful answers. Already the advice and suggestions from the folks on The Stovebolt Page have helped me tremendously in discovering a few things about it since I'm new to this whole Stovebolt thing. It's been fun so far.

       Glad to be on board!

Jim Blake
Colorado Springs, CO

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