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22 September 2015 Update

  Owned by
Alan Christensen
Bolter # 5686


1950 GMC 100

This truck is for sale

See details


More pictures of my old truck

Join the discussion about this truck


From Alan :

After 10 years, I have an update on my truck for the Gallery. (I noticed your low Bolter # ... always like to see the some of the original gang still around! ~ Editor) The truck has been completely taken apart and each part is de-rusted ( using the vinegar technique I described here in this Tech Tip)  and then painted on both sides. The motor and drivetrain are completely rebuilt.  The window trim still needs to be cleaned and replaced.

I am soon to move out of my suburban garage and into a smaller place.  As a consequence, I am having to sell this fine old truck. I have an ad in the Swap Meet forum for details of the sale. (Hopefully, the new owner then will continue the history! ~ Editor)

I am nostalgic about the truck. My son and I have worked on its restoration for many years.

I bought the truck in about 1979 in Coleman, Texas. It was in good enough shape to drive a few hundred miles to my house. During that time, I damaged the rear axle (by forgetting to tighten the lug bolts on the wheel, which came off while I had a heavy load in the bed).

In the process of changing the axle and differential, I first paid close attention to the condition of the bed and undercarriage. It was kind of a mess. So I decided to go ahead and restore the vehicle. I found a shop ("Don's Classic Cars") who agreed to work on it.  This was about 1997. At this time, the truck was bead-blasted without taking it apart, revealing a lot of scrapes and dents that were previously hid by bondo and paint. Those were slowly pounded out using little hammers and anvils.

I can't emphasize the word "slowly" enough. My hope had been for the truck to be finished in September 2000 (which I considered to be its 50th anniversary). I frequently stopped by to implore a speedup to the work.

I had the speedometer and gauges rebuilt and they were sitting in my closet. Ten years later, the truck was still being tapped.  The worst part was the location of the shop had changed. The truck was stored outside and was accumulating scrapes and dents in the parking lot as fast as they were being removed! The spare parts and rubber gaskets I had supplied had been misplaced. The rear window was broken and rain had ruined what was left of the seat and flooring.  In exasperation, I showed up one day with a trailer and hauled it away.

The truck still had great bones.

In about 2006, I parked it in a friends driveway that was under used (for a fee) and together we started working on it. My son helped a lot. We took everything apart that wasn't welded together (and a giant rear bumper that was welded) and began to clean it, remove the last scrapes, primed and stored the parts in a spare bedroom of the house where it would not rust again. 

As I mentioned above, my son and I experimented with the vinegar method as we described in the Stovebolt Tech Tip.

I bought a kit from Jim Carter that included all the stainless bolts necessary to re-assemble the body parts. I re-bought any missing gaskets, grommets or seals.

For the bed, I bought a kit of hard pine boards, pre-cut for this model. The pine wood was painted with oil paint and new stainless slats were installed between the boards.  (The slats were painted with Rustoleum, but it doesn't stick to stainless that well.)

The truck has a new wiring harness in the vintage cloth covered style. I did not add turn signal wires at that time as they were not on the truck when I first got it. 

Not everything went smoothly. A shop that maintains boat engines owed my friend a favor and agreed to re-do the engine at a great cost.  The problem is they only popped off the heads and replaced the rings. The engine ran, but was burning oil, and even worse, the oil began to look like chocolate milk as water emulsified in the block.

A windstorm caught some parts, including the hood while they were set in place but not bolted together. This scratched up the paint again. 

A glass installer person came out with a new rear window. I had given him a template (also bought from Jim Carter) but he had trouble installing it, broke it, then decided the template must be too large and made the whole window smaller. It rattled around the frame and leaked in the rain. 

We replaced the clutch parts, but had trouble adjusting it.

The real trouble came about 2007 when the great recession hit. I needed to get the truck out of that driveway and at the same time I moved to California for an extended time as local jobs were suddenly hard to find. 

I made a fortunate arrangement with Travis Engine Works. I had the truck towed to their location. They completely rebuilt the engine in what could be called their "spare time."  The great part for me is that I was able to pay for it in installments (and I had no other place to store it).

For the next couple of years, the engine was dismantled and each piece was inspected, x-rayed, magnaflexed or whatever else it took to bring it back to new condition. The block was sent to Houston where it was practically re-forged to eliminate any nicks or cracks that might have let water into the wrong areas.

The parts were put back together with new gaskets and bearings. I purchased a new fuel pump, water pump, plugs and wires and had them sent to the Engine Works. The engine sounded like a sewing machine. Just as importantly, I was in a position to return from the land of eternal sunshine. And I drove it home.

I replaced all the glass in the windows as the old windows, when not cracked, were yellowed and showed bubbles in the safety layer.     The seat was also reupholstered.

My next step was to take it Mercury Charley. This is really a hot-rod mechanic hangout, but they know about older model vehicles. My goal was to make sure it had all the requirements to get registered and inspected. 

They adjusted the clutch, cleaned and inspected the transmission, got the vacuum powered windshield wipers to wiping, and sent the generator to be re-wound.

The steering box was worn and we discovered that if you turned the wheel far enough, it would just keep turning. I was able to locate a "practically new" replacement at a wonderful old junk yard and we fixed it up.

The horn needed work, but instead we have installed a temporary horn button under the dash. I got plates on the truck, and an inspection.

There are a few things to do on the truck, but the heavy work is complete. Some of the interior trim parts were left out in the rain and need to be re-cleaned. The seat adjustment cable needs to be installed. 

The battery cable is wrong. This is maybe the fifth time that a mechanic replaced the battery cables because I had a black cloth cable on the starter and a red cloth cable on the block. The thing is, GMC trucks have a positive ground connection unlike any other American vehicle of the period. At the moment, I have to put the red clamp of the battery charger on the black cable and so on, until the correct vintage cables are reinstalled.

Sometime in all that storage, the gas tank got rusty inside. The fuel line would clog, even with filters. I tried several solutions (vinegar wash, coating with a rust resistant paint). None worked. Eventually, my son and I replaced the tank with a new one (from the LMC catalog this time).  That was actually our last project. 

In the 20 years or so of restoration, my kids have grown up, finished school, and moved out of the house. My son is back at California,  and I think working on the truck was always more about working with him than just driving the truck.

Our house is too big for the two of us, so it's time to move somewhere that doesn't have a spare garage. With one final push, the GMC should be ready for classic car adventures, or just be a dependable workhorse again.



If you want to see more of what Alan did with the truck, check out some of his posts in the forums. Good luck selling this truck. I'm sure you and your son have lots of memories to re-count on this old truck adventure. ~ Editor


21 April 2005

From Alan: 

I bought my 1950 GMC-100 about 25 years ago. It was a farm / ranch truck in Coleman, Texas where the winters are dry and the summers are even drier. It ran well and I drove it steadily for many years. It did rattle some, and the wiring was a mess and it drained the battery whenever I left it sitting. I got into the habit of asking body shops and repair shops about fixing it up, but none were very interested (but they all had a cousin or brother-in-law who might do it).

Eventually, I met a guy with his own shop and he was very interested. He showed me the Corvettes and Mustangs that he was about to work on (when he got the rest of the parts) and agreed to restore and paint the truck for $3000 (I would supply any necessary parts). It sounded like a good idea at the time.

His first step was to cut off the bumper that had been welded to the frame, which also disabled the lights and to remove the items attached to the firewall which included the voltage regulator, and so after many years, the truck would no longer drive. His estimate was three months to fix.

The truck is now in pieces and will soon be going back together. It is at a neighbor's house, actually now it is IN his house. As we took the major body parts off, cleaned and primed them, we reassembled them in his living room.



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