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A Cool Old Truck

Casey J. Davis'

1963 C-30 Chevrolet

1 July 2004

From Casey:     

          I am a 24 year old graduate student attending Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida. I have been working on this 1962 C-30 since I was a teenager and have been using it as a daily driver since the summer of 2000. I have put about 60,000 miles on truck since the day it was put back on the road. The truck has made six cross-country trips between Arizona and Vermont and has been involved in one major accident where it was totaled by the insurance company. The truck is still running. The following is the story of my truck.

          The Chevrolet was originally an olive drab Massachusetts Air National Guard airport maintenance vehicle. It was equipped with a multi-compartment utility body and that is the reason it was purchased by my father in the late 1980's.

          The truck sat around my parent's property and sometime around the age of 13, I came up with the idea of getting the old Stovebolt running. After talking with my Father, it was decided that I could have the truck for FREE! My Father and I spent a couple of Sundays tinkering on it and were successful in bringing it back to life.The truck, when running, would expel large amounts of blue smoke and the occasional smoke ring from the tail pipe. We hoped that the piston rings would re-seat, but by the end of the summer the engine had seized. Over the next three years the motor was rebuilt and placed back in the frame.

          It took an additional four years to fix the cab. During this time I was attending college in Arizona during the fall and spring and working on my truck each summer in Vermont. I had to replace roughly 50 percent of the floor, both rocker panels, and each cab corner. An old army surplus trailer bed was placed on the back as a substitute for the missing utility body.

          The truck was road ready by the middle of August, just barely in time for the 3200 mile trip to Arizona. The motor had only 100 miles on it before I headed out west. The truck ran great out on the open highway! The maximum speed was 55 miles per hour. I was in Albuquerque, New Mexico after five days on the road, and was planning on one more day of driving on I-40 to finish the trip.

          During my last day I was cruising along I-40 West at about 55 mph when I heard a horrible noise. For a moment I thought the motor or differential had blown, but then I saw something. My suitcase was flying out over the roof heading towards the road in front of the truck. An instant later, other items that I had placed in the bed followed. I then realized I had been hit. After glancing in the review mirror and seeing the offending vehicle spinning out of control into the median, the truck broke free and headed off of the interstate and down into a small field. Upon reaching the dirt, the truck skidded again and now I was cruising at 50 mph parallel to the road. I thought everything was alright until I realized that I was heading straight for a concrete lined ditch that was the entrance for a culvert that crossed under the interstate. The obstacle was about three feet deep and four feet wide. I was sure the rig was going to dive into the hole and stop. As I braced for impact, there was a loud noise as the truck wheels hit the other side of the ditch and the nose of the truck bounced into the air. The rear wheels followed suit and there was a loud clunk as the driveshaft slapped up against the frame and the truck slid to a stop. I had to exit the vehicle through the driver's side window.

          As it turns out I was hit by a 2000 Ford F-150 that was traveling at 90 mph. The driver had fallen asleep with the cruise control on. The other driver and I were unhurt (I only had a lap belt!). The New Mexico State Police could not believe that the truck did not roll over and that I was not hurt. I spent the next couple of days in a $19.00 motel arranging transportation for me and the truck to Prescott, Arizona.

          The damage to the vehicle was extensive. Both of the rear rims where dented in about 5 inches. The front motor mount broke allowing the metal fan to grab the radiator and rip it out of its mounts. The oil pan was ruined because it had been pushed in by the IFS cross member and then ripped open by the crankshaft. The rear bed and bumper where destroyed and the cab was permanently deformed. I would spend the next four months battling with the insurance company over the value of the vehicle because the guy that hit me had no insurance or driver's license.

          I finally settled with the insurance company and started repairs during the spring semester of my junior year at college in Arizona. I took the wrecked bed to the junk yard, removed the original gas tank and mounted another on the frame rails. I found some new rims, radiator and cooling fan. I used the welder at the college's machine shop to fabricate a rear bump and trailer hitch.

          I rented a U-Haul trailer, loaded all of my belongings into it and head to Vermont. The truck made its second cross-country voyage without incident or accident. Once in Vermont, I started the process of building a new truck bed. I wanted a flat bed with tool boxes and a fuel tank. I went to the junk yard and got some scrap C-channel and started welding. The bed is covered in 1/8th inch steel diamond plate and the boxes are made of the same material. The gas tank holds 53 gallons and was constructed out of 1/8th flat sheet.

          I also ended up painting the truck a dark blue color. Not a professional job, but it looks okay from a few feet away. I replaced the original differential carrier that had a 5.11:1 ratio with a more modern carrier that has a 4.1:1 ratio. This greatly improved the drive ability of the truck

          Since that summer, that truck has made four more cross-country trips, each time carrying two people, two motorcycles, and enough personal belongings to survive college life. Each trip was quite an adventure. The old six would work hard on those trips. Gas consumption was somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 miles per gallon.

          It was at college where I discovered your site. Stovebolt.com helped me realize that my carburetor had a stuck power valve and that there was a resistor in the wiring harness that supplied current to my modern coil which already had an integral resistor. These two items made the truck accelerate more quickly and improved gas mileage to 15 mpg. I am truly grateful for all of the information that I have learned and continue to learn from Stovebolt.com.

          The past couple of years the truck has done everything from hauling over 2 tons of crushed stone to lumber from home depot. It primarily gets me, my stuff and my, motorcycles to wherever I am working or attending school. I really like this truck and can't wait until I have the money and facilities to really fix it up right!

          Future plans for the truck include:


          Please feel free to email if you have any questions or comments.

          Casey J. Davis

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