A 'virtual garage' of antique Chevy & GMC trucks from around the World
1953 GMC 9300
14 February 2006
Greetings! This is my truck. It’s a 1953 GMC 9300 and it runs on maple syrup. One of the first things I was told when I came to the ‘Bolt was that since my truck was a Canadian model, it ran on maple syrup. [ View from the rear end ]
Well the story begins in 1952 with my Opa. Edmonton Motors was selling brand new '53 Chevrolet half-ton trucks for $2250. My Opa needed a truck but he didn’t want to spend so much. He went down to the guys with the gold teeth (that’s what he says ) on Whyte Avenue (for you Edmontonians). They were shipping trucks, one towing another, from Ontario and selling them in Alberta. He bought one that had been towed for $1750 with no warranty. He was overjoyed with his first vehicle.
Now, move ahead 53 years. His Grandson (me) bought a '53 GMC as his first vehicle and is overjoyed as well! I had been looking for an old Chevy ('47-72 … I hadn’t decided on a style yet) for about a year. I had looked at over 25 trucks but hadn’t found the one that I really wanted. I bought one but then it was deemed unrestorable (oh well, after I welded the frame, it’s sure fun in the mud!). That was a '60 GMC short box.
One day I stumbled on this ‘53 by accident. When I first went to see it, it had lots of work already done but due to an illness, the work on the truck was stopped. The frame was done. The cab was on. All the sheetmetal on the truck was sanded down. The engine was rebuilt. Many parts were painted. And (now here’s the catch) … the truck was parked outside for two years. But me, being young and uneducated, didn't see any big problems.
The price was right. It was pretty solid and came with lots of parts. It was only 10 minutes from my house! So I had a truck.
This is my first restoration and I had no idea what I was getting into (neither did my parents). When I bought it, I was 15 years old and had planned that this would be my daily driver. After reading lots and researching more, I realized that I could not drive this truck everyday, especially in the Alberta winters. That didn’t stop me though.
The next weekend, we brought the truck home. It was raining all week and when we went to pick it up, it started to snow. We got the truck home and I started sorting out parts (I had no idea what was missing, or what was there … but nevertheless, I sorted them out). About a week later, I decided to try to start the engine since the previous owner said it ran so good. (He could not start it for me when I saw it because of a few reasons, the price showed that though.) First I had to figure out how to start it … foot starter ?? This was something I had never seen before. Nothing happened. I tried to turn the harmonic balancer. All of a sudden it all came together.
It was parked outside and the hood was off and the oil bath had also fallen off. Water had gone in through the carb and it was seized. Pondered here and there … decided that I wanted this low pressure (not knowing the difference at the time) engine. Tried everything from diesel in the cylinders to towing in gear with a large round bale on the back (that was good for it -- can’t you tell we are farmers? If something breaks you fix by any means necessary). Nothing would work.
Eventually, I pulled the head. It didn’t really look too stuck. I soaked it in penetrating oil for a few weeks. Still nothing. I finally got smart (hehe, yeah good luck with that) and welded a big nut on the harmonic balancer. Put a big three-quarter inch drive with a pipe on the end and rocked it back and forth …. it did the trick (smarter then they credit me for ).
So I had an unseized-low pressure-235 engine. I put the head and such back on. Tried to start it up. This time it turned over. Still wouldn’t start. Pulled off the valve cover and another startling discovery (gasp), a few bent pushrods. I then realized that many of the valves were stuck as well (groan).
This whole time, I had that '60 GMC with the bad frame but a good 235 (with 848 head I might add), sitting behind the shop. By this time I had the body all sanded down and in primer (we’ll get to that). Finally, I called up my trusty mechanic and he (sigh) decided that he would work on it. Reseated the valves and figured out the timing and it ran. It ran pretty good, far from what I expected though (well, it is 53 years old).
Back to the body work now. I went and talked to a professional painter that was recommended to me and he said sand it down and put primer from Canadian Tire (hardware store) on it to cover up the bare metal (from a rattle can). So I did. I learned to weld with a mig welder and patched a few things here and there. Went back to see him a few months later and he had gone out of business (just my luck). The person that owned the paint shop told me to take all that primer off because it never really dries and doesn't bond to the metal properly and if I paint over it, it will only look O.K.
After a month delay, I decided to start sanding again (at least the primer came off better then the rust). The only good thing that came out of that was that I found way more ( too many) high and low spots. I then went and talked to a paint supplies shop and was convinced to prime/paint it myself. I bought some supplies and the primer went on. Now remember, if you prime / paint in your home / farm shop, make sure that if you hang plastic / poly, the bottom is fastened well. I had it all in primer for mere moments when a draft came in and blew all the plastic onto the back of my cab … I immediately pulled it off, along with all the primer -- groan. I had a window in the back and the door open a foot and a half with a fan in the opening to draw out the fumes and create some movement of air (it was recommended to me --shrug).
The truck has one coat of etch primer and two coats of buff primer. I have painted it a lighter version of 2005 GTO Yellow Jacket. The paint went on fairly well and looks good from a few feet away, but is a little rough. The pressure was too high and the paint partially dried before it hit the truck (so I’m told). I know it will be better next time. I learned a lot even after the primer.
It has a low pressure 235, three on tree, torque tube, and of course low rear gears. It runs good now. I converted it to twelve volts (but not before burning out the gas gauge and heater). I took it to my first car show at the end of August which was a positive experience. I thoroughly enjoy cruising though. I am slowly fixing all the bugs and was driving it daily for a couple months. I have removed that full pressure 235 from the '60 GMC and an in the process of overhauling it. I plan to put a T5 behind it.
The initial pictures were taken at the beginning of November 2004. The pictures of it painted are from August 2005. I also included a two pictures of my Opa's truck back in '53. This one has a great view. This is the truck hard at work.
Much thanks to The Stovebolt Page for all the wonderful help. It is much appreciated!Colin B.