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"Ol' Earl"

Owned by John Clawson
Bolter # 3777
Gatesville, Texas

19 October 2009 Update

See more pictures of my old truck

From John :

I'd like to give an update on my frame-off restoration of Ol' Earl.

The engine has been completely rebuilt [ pix ]. We are wiring for 12-volt. The truck will have new or rebuilt gauges, new glass with tint, new interior (I'm open to color and material suggestions).

It's the smallest details that hold up progress on Earl. For instance, the mysterious motor [ see below ] does not accept either of the water pumps for that year. So then the challenge was to figure out how to get the right one. Once that was solved, then on to brake parts. We learned (at the cost of three days spent waiting for parts!) that TWO brake cylinder kits are needed to rebuild one wheel cylinder.

I'm working to decide what to do for a bed. I have the original flatbed but would really like to have a box. The trouble with most old boxes is the amount of bodywork that would be required. I'm in the hole too far, already!

One thing that is a bit of an issue for me is that the truck is becoming so slick that it has lost the patina that made it Ol' Earl.

My four-year-old is mighty impressed and is ready to ride. Bodyshop says by Thanksgiving.

So, do I paint the bed or powder coat? I have two house remodels going on at the same time. Too many decisions!

Thank you for your work and for wonderful Great fun to look at all the trucks and helpful resource.

~ John

7 July 2004

From John:

First of all,thanks for an outstanding web meeting place for those of us who have the “bug” for the big, old Chevys.

This is my 1954 Chevrolet 6400 2-ton big Bolt. It has a Mysterious “Mustang” (not a Ferd) 6 cylinder, 4-speed, single speed rear axle. There is no dump but has manual windows, kick starter and a brake handle! I purchased this classic truck from the Earl Fielding Farm in the early ‘80s, affectionately named “Ol’ Earl”

I first got acquainted with this truck back in ’78 or so. Earl Fielding was a farmer in Temple, Texas. Earl would bring his loads of wheat and milo to my Dad’s (Ray Clawson) elevator in Heidenheimer. I was 13 or so when I first saw the then green truck. I was so impressed by the old truck. Each time I went out on the scale to sample Earl’s loads of grain (we would check it for moisture and weight, etc.), I would spend a good bit of extra time talking with Earl and admiring the old truck. Earl also drove a sky-blue '76 Coupe de Ville that I also admired.

I think I enjoyed the old guy – more than his stuff. But at that age, I just loved the sheet metal. Earl would bring his old Allis-Chalmers combine 30 miles west to my Dad’s farm to combine our crops. I would ride with him in the old truck on the way back to the elevator. It would take an hour or so to get there with a 16000+ gross weight – as I remember it (I was a kid! and we were “trucking,” Buddy). I remember sitting in the “saddle” and pretending to shift through the gears while waiting for him to load the truck from his combine. I can also remember that when Earl wanted to oil something on the combine, he would ask me to hand him the “DW-40” (instead of WD). I always thought that was funny.

Earl was also the first to introduce my young taste buds to “Beer-Nuts.” Oh, the life of a farm-kid!

Earl took very ill within a couple of years. He began selling his farm and equipment. He came to Dad and said, “Ray, I want to give my truck to John.” (John – that’s me.) Dad told him that didn’t seem right and he didn’t feel good about it. So, Earl then said, “Well, then I’ll sell it to you for $600!” to which Dad agreed. So the truck came west to our farm on Owl Creek (near Gatesville, Texas) where Dad used the truck every harvest until he parked it in 1988.

We named the old truck “Ol’ Earl” and I have fond memories of driving Earl around our farm and on the country roads. That gear shift was like a friend and (just like Will and Sonny, I was Movin’ On - remember the series?).

We started a frame off restoration in October of 2000. Dad (that’s him in the photo) and I worked to get the front grill and fenders off. Then we sent Ol' Earl to Dick Butler’s Centex Auto Body Repair where he sat until June of ’04. Durn, it has been a slow turn of the wrench! Well, anyway, I’m tickled that work is underway and have a great deal of confidence in Mr. Butler. In the time that we have been waiting for the rebuild, Dick has painted both a ’89 Suburban and a ’90 Cadillac (RWD Brougham - the big one) for me. So we’ve developed a pretty good understanding of each other and the work that I want. I’ll now threaten to tell the whole Stovebolt world if we start dragging our feet again. He he!

I plan to put a box and lift gate on Earl for use in my Audio Visual business. I need a big truck weekly in my business and look forward to both the novelty and utility of Ol’ Earl. My Father-in-law says, “Well, it looks to me like you’re going to have $35 – 40,000 in a ’54 model truck when you are through.” Ouch – I sure hope not – I guess we’ll see soon enough.

Earl has been blasted and primed with Ospho. The frame has been painted with frame paint that includes an Ospho blend. I don’t know what the stuff is but it looks great and is supposed to be real tough. I plan to go back with red as that appears to be the original color. I will probably use “Victory Red.”

I do hope to add both a cab air conditioner as well as a roof unit on my box bed. [ Interior pix ] I plan to run the box unit off of an inverter. The whole truck will be converted to 12-volt. We’ve had trouble identifying the rebuilt engine. Maybe other bolters will recognize the photos. I remember that Earl told me that it was called a “Mustang.” I found the rebuild jobber tag from Mustang Rebuilders, which explains the “Mustang” connection. I can still hear Earl saying “mustang engine” – there was a heavy Central Texas drawl on “tang.” Funny the things we remember.

I welcome any knowledge that you might share with me and if you’re ever in Gatesville, TX, look me up. We can share an iced tea and Chevy stories. Some of my other projects include a ‘64 F-150 (I forget who builds the F), a Ferguson tractor from the ‘40s, and several old Hammond organs. I wonder what ever happened to Earl’s sky-blue Cadi (can you remember the white interiors?)?

John Clawson


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