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09 March 2013
# 3010

  Owned by
Jim Brad
Bolter # 31387
Woodford, Virginia

1957 Chevrolet 3100 Shortbed Stepside


More pictures of my old truck

Join the discussion about this truck
in the Old Dominion Stovebolt Society Side Lot Forum


From Jim :

Well, here she is. This is my Stovebolt! And this is his story.

The truck was in a Craigslist ad from December 2011. It was located in Orange, Virginia and the fellow was selling it mostly because he had too many project.

The owner posted the truck for $2500. I wanted to check out the truck and had to go to two different places in order to "see it all." He had the chassis (with cab) at his house in the mountains outside Ruckersville, Virginia. The rest of the truck was in parts … fenders, doors, bedsides and tailgate (plus a box of assorted undefined nuts and bolts) ... and was located at a small garage in the Town of Orange proper.

After seeing it, I asked for his "bottom line" and he told me $2100. My wife was with me at the time and we both thought that was a good deal for a 1957 Chevy pickup and original motor. I came back with the cash three days later. I picked up the truck and parts in two runs.

Basics data points:

  • 1957 Chevrolet 3100 Shortbed Stepside
  • 3 on the tree
  • Borg Warner Overdrive 235 Stock motor (believed to be original)
  • VIN: 3A57S113922


The PO I bought it from purchased it from another PO, who was not the original owner either. That PO lived in Tennessee and he was the one who had disassembled it for restoration. That was about 1998. The PO I bought it from intended to reassemble all the parts too, but he had a recent divorce and needed cash more than another project. Other than a really bad light blue metallic paint job (that looks to have been applied by Tennessee guy with a roller), it has had no restoration done on it at all.

So, the poor old truck sat in a field in Tennessee waiting for restoration. Then sat on a mountainside waiting for restoration.

Needless to say, there is lots to do. I started out deciding that I would keep it as original as was reasonable, assuming I could get the 235 to turn over and run.

For me "reasonable" means keeping the look and feel of a truck from this era -- nothing fancy, nothing soft. But, because I will drive the people I love around in it, and it will someday be owned by my now-9 year-old, I will upgrade the safety systems to make it as safe as I can for them. I will add 3-point seat belts, any upgrades that will make it safer in a wreck (like a rollover valve in the vent of the gas tank). I have already gone through the brakes. Though they work well right now, I will eventually upgrade to front discs and dual master cylinder systems. I have also added fuses in a junction block (that mine did not come with) to keep from burning down my house while working on it. In short, no lowering, no mobile boom box, no fancy paint work. Hopefully, just similar to the way it came out of the factory. Only safer.

Getting started

I set out to do what Mark Lambert (Classic Car Restoration) referred to as a "sorting out" restoration. That is, going system by system and fixing what needed fixing and generally cleaning what didn't.

Fellow Bolter Steve Blanchard and I met over a 1950's table saw that I had rebuilt and that he was interested in. I told him that I was going to try to buy and old truck and fix it up sometime soon because I enjoyed working on old woodworking iron and thought that might be just as much fun. Steve told me to look at I never regretted it! It was so different from the usual foul-language, heavy modification, non-family-friendly sites out there. It just felt comfortable. I can reveal my ignorance and get help, not shaming.

So armed with some Stovebolt-knowledge, I replaced the brake shoes, hardware, brake lines, wheel cylinders and rubber lines and rebuilt the stock master cylinder. I replaced the front wheel bearings with roller type bearings as mine were shot. I swapped the rear non-stock axle (5-lug) with a 1957 truck axle (back to 6-lug … only one type of spare).

My new friend from Stovebolt, Chris "Sweet" Sweet, introduced himself online when I first posted in the forum. Chris called and we met about a week later. He had a look at the truck, told me what to buy in order to get it to run, and gave me a short list of things to do to prep for starting day. He said he was coming over to help me get it started!

The first trip was an advisory exchange. Sweet's second visit, we worked out in the cold to get it started (see the video -- not sitting in a field any more ). What a sweet sound hearing that truck awaken after a long slumber (okay, I may have even thought it was dead!).

The carburetor was filled with rain water and the lines were filled with gunk.

Sweet also helped me rebuild the new-to-me rear axle and it's good as new now. Still 3.90 gears, but it'll do what I need it to. It's a three on the tree and the transmission is a 3-speed but has a Borg Warner overdrive unit attached. The OD has been disconnected for some time now, so I don't know what's up with it. I don't have the expertise to rebuild the trans and reconnect the overdrive, so I will hopefully enlist the help of a nearby 'Bolter who has a little time to walk me through it, and who needs beer.

The big scary part … BODY WORK! There is so much rust. I have already spent a lot of time and money on the passenger side cowl, hinge pocket, and inner cab corner.

A previous owner replaced the outer cab corner on the right hand side, but left the inner one cut off at floor level. There's lots of dust, mud and wildlife infiltrated through this path.

I added the inner panel and will eventually get the doors I need to make this truck mouse-proof again. Then again, I'm in no hurry. One thing at a time ... it's a labor of love.

The truck cost $2000 to start with and I'm trying to do it as cheaply as possible while still making sure the safety systems are top notch. My little boy (8 years old) is working on it with me. He LOVES to go for rides, so he and I strap ourselves in and tool around the neighborhood, when the engine is behaving.

Next plan was to do the left side sheet metal work, but I really wanted to see this thing with its panels on, so I decided to take a break from the body work and run it in it's rusted true form for a while. Sweet has helped me get it to a reliably running state, so I think I will do some shakedown work while saving for more sheet metal.

Here is a video taken just recently, after the first long shakedown run. Chris Sweet's 1951 beauty "The Green Machine" escorted me to the filling station.

The truck was named "Bill" by my little guy. It is a reference to "Bill the Goat" -- the US Naval Academy mascot. Because the truck was originally 767 Blue, we decided to return it to that color and (hopefully) it will make a few runs to the Academy to show a little school spirit for my older son who goes there. He bought the magnetic door sticker of Bill the Goat.

So, now I have a timeline to get him done. I have only three years left to get it into shape.

This has all been great. Chris and I have been friends ever since and our families get together to play and chat. I am a lucky guy.




If you want to keep up with the restoration of this truck and the carrying ons of the Old Dominion Stovebolt Society, keep track of them in the ODSS Side Lot. We are sure Jim will keep posting more pictures to his Photobucket album.

Sweet got Jim to the Homecoming at Stovebolt Headquarters in April 2012 so it was great to have a new arrival. Just recently we snagged him to moderate the Paint and Body Forum. Jim, Sweet and the VA side of the ODSS are having more fun than is allowed! ~ Editor


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