1969 1/2-Ton Chevy Shortbox Stepside
01 June 2010 Update
From Gene :
It’s been almost exactly three and a half years and the '69 Stepside is finally “all together.” I didn’t say “done” or “completed.” It’s just assembled together and running. I still have lots of paint polishing, dash, upholstery, carpeting and adjusting and tweaking to keep me busy for another year or so.
I want to give special credit and thanks to Russ Peterson, my refinishing instructor at Clackamas Community College for his supervision of the paint and body work.
The wood bed came out great. I researched lots of different wood finishing options and finally settled on using a one step product called Australian Timber Oil by the Cabot Company. I learned of the product from a decking contractor who raved about the UV protection of the product on mahogany decking. If it gets dinged up, a simple re-wipe and it looks new again.
I also did something a bit unusual on the aluminum grille shell. A new OEM style grille runs $900. I salvaged mine with a lot of gentle body work and a generous amount of JB Weld as a body filler substitute because of its high heat resistance. After $125 for a powder coating, it looks like new.
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18 January 2010 Update
From Gene :
Last year was a busy year, but we made significant progress on the 1969 Chevy Stepside.
Painting has been the focus of last year's work. Actually it was not painting, it was PREP! Did you notice that "prep" is a four letter word?
And, of course, what is a project car without a few surprises? We had already taken the clip apart and sent it out for media blasting, sealed it with epoxy and applied primer surfacer. [Pix 1]
After that experience, I decided to send the remaining removable parts to the powder coating shop for stripping and coating and then chemically strip the cab at home. [Pix 2].
Things went well until I sent the driver's door and rear fender out for stripping. You want to see a mess covered by bondo? Take a look at this beauty! [Pix 3]
The rear fender was just as bad. Needless to say, we needed a new door and fender. I tried to re-skin the door, but the new skin ended up being about 3/16th of an inch smaller than the original skin. This created too big of a gap at the cab and fender, so we got another door. That's FIVE doors and a skin to get two good ones.
I was able to do some painting at home, such as the interior [Pix 4], but for the exterior, I needed a downdraft booth since I decided to go with a base coat / clear coat finish.
I enrolled in the Saturday Clackamas Community College body shop class and thanks to the careful coaching of my instructor Russ Peterson, I got great results in painting.
After a break for the holidays, I plan to shoot the cab and clip in early January. These PPG base coat / clear coat catalyzed paints are super expensive, but produce superior results.
Gene Cubbage [an error occurred while processing this directive]
22 March 2009 Update
From Gene :
I wanted to get the truck back on the road by Labor Day 2008, but we at least we made it by Christmas.
Reassembly of the drive train and the front clip was a lot slower than getting it apart! In the future I am going to label those nuts and bolts more clearly. [ pix ]
I took a lot of time re-routing the engine bay wiring to hide it or wrap it in spiral split black tubing. The entire clip and chassis was sprayed with PPG Epoxy primer prior to applying the color. When I media blasted the plastic filler out of the hood, I found a nasty "oil can" dent that I could not remove.
Luckily, I had Brent Emni to rescue me and use a little torch work to shrink the metal. The body color is PPG Torch Red as used on the SSR Truck and Corvettes.
I used single stage catalyzed Acrylic on the inside of the engine bay and clip, and plan to use the same product on the outside, but may add a coat of clear for the final finish.
I used my new HVLP spray gun and found the learning curve with this new technology is almost like starting to learn to use a gun for the first time.
We then removed the box and detailed the chassis with GM reconditioning paint.
To top things off I received my new custom license plate -- 69 STEP.
Next up is tackling the doors and the cab exterior and then on to the box.
01 June 2008 Update
From Gene :
We had a pretty nasty winter in Oregon, so I made a lot of progress on the project. "Progress" in this case means turning a perfectly good running truck into a pile of parts in my garage!
We installed new cab and bed mounts and had to use a few shims to level everything out even after all the frame tweaking. The exhaust system was cleaned up by replacing the turbo mufflers and re-routing the pipes behind the rear wheels.
The bench seat springs were rebuilt and vinyl patch panels stitched in.
We pulled the drive train and cleaned everything and repainted the engine [ pix ]. There were a few rust spots in the firewall heater box area which we fixed. All the welded-in pieces in the cab foot wells were glassed in and smoothed out. The chassis was cleaned and cleaned and cleaned in prep for painting. All of the clip parts were media blasted in prep for painting.
Radiator and heater core were renewed and the headers were repainted. New taillights were installed into the fenders and new hidden hinges and latches will replace the stock step side chains.
Next step is to paint the chassis and firewall and reassemble the primered clip to make sure everything fits and still runs. That should take most of the available time this summer.
The goal is on the road by Labor Day!
12 September 2007 Update
From Gene :
I made a lot of progress on my 1969 Chevy Stepside pickup truck last winter and “learned” a great deal. “Learning” is a code word for realizing that what you bought is a very long way from what you thought you bought!
I rebuilt the front suspension with all new moving parts and installed disc brakes from a ’73 Chevy truck. I found out that some auto parts houses (Schuck’s) will give you some pretty good discounts if you tell them you are doing a full restoration or rebuild. Here's a picture of the truck from the driver's side.
I installed new Dutchman 5 X 5 rear axles to match the front spindles. We lowered the truck with dropped A arms from Charlie’s Drop Shop and short coils in the rear. The eight inch wheels are mounted with 60 series BFG TA’s. I found that Costco had the best tire prices. This was all fairly straight forward stuff thanks to lots of help from Dave at DC Truck parts in Vancouver, Washington.
The frame was squared up on a frame machine and patch panels took care of the rust in the cab. What seemed to be relatively minor rust turned out to require over 20 hours of welding and fabricating by Dan Bozich (Bozich Metal Fab in Tigard, Oregon). We also welded up 54 holes that had been drilled in the body to install various accessories! We installed new shoulder belts and added a new steering wheel from a ’70 Suburban.
I was surprised at the number of botched modifications that had been done by previous owners. The rear bumper had poorly fitted brackets from wherever and the automatic transmission did not have a neutral start switch wired in. That was a real exciting “learning!” The big shock was “learning” that the V8 engine had been installed in the 6 cylinder location causing many clearance problems. After new motor mounts and stands, a new driveline and refitted fuel lines and throttle linkage, the job was finally right. We installed headers, an Edelbrock 600 CFM carb and manifold and an HEI ignition on the 255 HP 400 cubic inch small block.
When we finally started to put some test miles on the truck this summer, we realized that the TH 400 transmission needed a rebuild! More learning!
Next winter’s work will take a closer look at the cooling and exhaust systems, replace the cab mounts and bed mounts, install the straight used Chevy fender we found on Craig’s List, “French “ in the ’72 IH Scout tail lights bought over the Internet and try to figure out how we are going to paint this Stovebolt.
01 January 2007
From Gene :
This is a 1969 1/2-ton Chevy short box Stepside that I just purchased here in the Portland, Oregon area. It was originally a six cylinder truck, but a previous owner put in a 400 cubic inch small block with a Turbo 400 and a 3.07 rear-end. It has a lot of rust in the footwell area and in the doors, but two good doors came with the truck. I will let a fabricator friend do all the welding needed to repair that damage.
I chose this truck because I previously restored a '69 1/2-ton long bed that my parents purchased new. I redid that truck in 1987 and drove it until 1999 when a friend of my son "just had to have it."
My first effort will be to convert to a five lug disc brake set up using '73 parts. I will also drop it about 4 inches using custom made lower A arms and coils from a local drop shop. I am mainly a body and paint man, so all this mechanical work will be a challenge for me.
I am retired and I bought this truck to work on in the winter when it's too cold to play golf!
I also have a '93 Mustang Cobra so I never know where to sit during those Ford vs. GM arguments! My son has a Ford pickup and a Chevy Suburban, so we are always in the middle of that debate.
I am gathering tips, advice and specifics on molding or "frenching" vertical taillights into the rear fenders. The OEM tail lights are the only feature of the Stepsides that I don't care for. My goal is to end up with a sharp looking driver with a mild street rod style.
I have met a lot of very helpful people in the area since I bought this vehicle. If anyone in the local area is having trouble getting into the network, just drop me an email and I will try to help.