1949 Chevrolet 3100
From Dave :
Wow, where do I start? I don't really feel I'm an old timer here, but Iíve been around awhile. I feel it's time to get my truck in the Gallery ... or pics of the pieces any way.
Bob is a 1949 Chevrolet 3100. This is pretty much the story. The names have not been changed to protect the guilty.
Mine has been a tale of woe, or perhaps a study in how not to build a classic truck. Call it perseverance or stupidity. Iíve hung in there.
From early on, Iíve always loved old trucks, hot rods and all things related. I went thru a spell with bikes (still love them old Triumphs) and after I got rid of them, I thought I was pretty much done with projects.
A friend and co-worker bought a 1955 Ford F-100 and we started hanging out together. I was going over in the evenings and helping him work on it. It was to be a total frame off "resto-rod" project. Boy, did I get hooked! So I figured all the times that I said, "One day" was never going to happen if I didnít make a first step. I was soon to realize that I had jumped in with both feet and no safety line.
Living in Franklin, Ohio -- pretty much right in the middle between Cincinnati and Dayton -- puts me right in the midst of a lot of action. Street rods and muscle cars and Harleys are in abundance. But decent old tin brings a premium due to the fact that they have salted our roads for decades. I searched to no avail. Finally, after driving a 100+ miles to look at a first series 1955 Chevy whose cab dropped when I opened the passengers side door, I said, "Enough is enough."
I contacted my "Oklahoma connection" -- my best friend of 40 years -- to see what he could turn up. It had to be a three window Advance Design Chevy or GMC and as little rust as possible -- these were the only guide lines.
We discussed a few he had found and after a couple of weeks, he turned one up a few blocks from his house. The truck was stuffed in a storage shed and from what he could see, it was complete minus motor and tranny -- but it was disassembled. A deal was struck for $500. I bought it sight unseen. We borrowed a service van from work. With a trailer in tow, we lit out for Oklahoma.
The first breakdown happened at around 10 pm on a Saturday night when the idler pulley let go in Vandali, Illinois. As luck would have it, we made it off the Interstate and to a Goodyear service center. The shop was closed but the owner was there. We couldnít get a pulley and belt until the next day at noon when NAPA opened.
We got the pulley installed and as we were getting ready to pull on the on ramp, one of the U-joints started squalling like crazy. I mean right out of the blue. Man two breakdowns in the same town! We talked about the movie Groundhog Day and how Bill Murray couldnít leave the town. Then talked about another movie ďWhat about Bob?" -- this is where my truck was tagged "Bob.Ē
When we finally made it to Fletcher, Oklahoma, my friend had already brought Bob to his house. I went around back to see my new Bolt. Needless to say, I was in shock over what I saw. To this day, Buddy still laughs about the look on my face. With the sound of artillery fire thumping from Fort Sill as background music, I was looking at ... a pile of parts! That was not what I had envisioned.
When we tried to load the truck, we discovered it was too wide to go on the trailer. This was not the bonding time I wanted with my new truck. With junkyard wheels and tires, we finally got him on the trailer and secured. We had to bolt a lot of it together to keep it from flying all over the Interstate.
We spent the next day going to yards looking at old tin and found a few parts for Buddyís F-100. We said our goodbyes and lit out for the "civilized world.Ē
It began to snow as we were leaving. We made it as far as Oklahoma City before it got too bad to drive. We had to hit a couple exits before we could find a room for the night. First room had no heat. They gave us another room and it had water leaking on the floor. Whatever ... we went to sleep.
It ended up being an awful storm that hovered over our van the whole 900 miles back home. It seemed the weather gods had no tolerance for idiots wanting to bring old trucks back to Ohio.
The following evening, every bridge we went over was so icy the trailer would break loose and start fishtailing. My butt cheeks were clenched so tight I swore I ripped the covering off of my seat. To this day, I think I still pull out little pieces of vinyl. It was scary to look in the mirror and see a profile of your truck. This was in the "spring" of 1994.
The original plan was to get the truck put in a SBC, add an automatic, get it running and drive the crap out of it.
Having a very limited budget and little money, I was foolish and started listening to deep pocket friends that talked me into other visions for my truck. After taking inventory of the parts that came with Bob, he ended up being a good deal.
Still, I thought I could do better on the cab. I went back a year later and bought an almost rust-free cab for $200 and a fairly complete 1948 1/2 ton for $50 -- not a bad haul.
This time I took my wife, daughter and my Dadís Dodge Ram.
HA!!! Same luck. We blew a radiator hose in Carthage, Missouri and a power steering hose in Forest City, Arkansas. When I was putting the steering hose on, I noticed the frame was cracked on the truck (thanks Dad!) luckily there was a welding shop in that town and the dude welded and plated it for $20 -- a deal in anybodyís book .
I did a lot of scrounging and horse trading for parts. Building and selling Adirondack chairs bought the Pacer front end, mounting and rebuild kits.
I sold the hideous looking ribbed Plymouth bumpers that came with the truck and bought the motor mount kit. I sold a junk freebie motor and bought the tranny mounts. I pulled a motor out of a van my boss was scrapping and traded it to a glass shop owner for all new tinted glass for the cab.
I kept my eyes and ears open.
Another friend did welding and fabricating. He also sandblasted. I grenaded the truck in late í95 -- they blasted everything, welded the pacer front end on, then primed everything with DP 40 that I supplied. The grand total for labor?? $5.00! Then they gave me six raffle tickets for a new TV. That, folks is friendship!
The cab went to another friendís house (the one who made the trip with me).The only rust in the cab was a small bead of rust in the bottom of both corners. Man it was solid! We cut it out and put in new steel.
Things were shaping up.
A guy I went to church with at the time told me he had an old 350 at his house. I could have it if I wanted it. He thought it was a four bolt but not for sure. They had bought two of these in Indiana but they only wanted one for his son's 1955 Chevy they were building.
I picked it up, took it to my Dads and tore it apart. I bought a rebuild kit and was going to build the first motor in years. I took the parts to a machine shop that belonged to a guy I used to work for years earlier. What a mistake. He got most of the stuff done real quick, except for the block. His excuse was his boring bar broke. What he didn't tell me was that it broke off inside my block.
When I picked it up and got it home, I saw the gouges in one of the cylinders. I took it to a guy I know and he thought it would be ok since it was at the bottom and the rings wouldn't come in contact. It ended up this guy screwed everything he touched. I went back and demanded my money back. He refused and it got ugly. Me leaving without my money was not an option. I left with cash in hand and a story to tell to anyone in this area who is looking to have machine work done.
The motor was nice -- although it ended up being .40 over instead of .30. It had a L79 cam, Erson gear drive, Edelbrock intake.
Man things were happening.
Up to this point, I had no garage -- not even a lean-to. So I rented a 10 x 30 storage locker. It had electricity. I built a work bench and got a heater. I finally had an indoor place to build my truck.
I got sick about this time and come to find out, I had to have my gallbladder removed.It was also about this time, things were getting a little weird at home. It seemed my wife of 16 years and I just couldn't get along for some reason. So I started putting more time in on the truck.
i had just picked up the rebuilt th350 and had it setting on a dolly, fresh engine hanging on a stand. Things were looking good for old Bob. i had an uneasy feeling when I left that night.
After everything was secure, I went home. Got up the next morning to go to work and thought I would cruise by and check on things.
My heart sank as I rounded the corner. I saw my garage door raised about half way up. I pulled up and was in shock. My motor, tranny, tools, heater and God only knows what else, were gone.
I was sick. I had never felt so violated in my life. It was devastating. All the work, the overtime, the side jobs to buy parts -- all gone. All told about $3,000 worth of hard earned parts. Poof.
The police report said solvability : 0. I got a grand total of $500 out of the insurance.
All this was in the spring 1997. What was left of the truck was scattered to the wind, parts went every where. Old Bob went into long term storage. Unfortunately, the cab and frame sat out in the elements. It would be nine years before they were touched again (major family issues).
I started at the truck again in 2006. I left work early one day just in a funky depressed kinda mood. I drove out to the country. I came home and drug what was left of my truck in the barn. I took inventory of the parts I had. [ engine pix ~ rear frame ]
I'd had years of thinkin' about what I really wanted. I had listened to what others thought I should do and not what I really wanted. I only wanted a simple driver, flat black, steel wheels. Just my old truck.
Yes, things got out of control for a while. I don't have the fire I use to. I work slow now. If I don't feel like going to the barn, I don't. I have a long way to go yet but have decided to just put it together, spray it in JD Blitz black and pound the dents out as I'm driving it.
I have alot of parts bought up. Bob wasn't totally ignored -- I still collected stuff. I think I have pretty much everything new for him -- what wasn't rebuilt or reusable that is The main improvements were the Pacer front suspension, Chassis Engineering rear suspension, sway bars, fuel tank moved out back, dual master cylinder on the frame. The list goes on and on.
The time the truck sat was hard on it. It was hard to see all the work that had been done deteriorate. My once almost perfect cab is no longer. Rust never sleeps.
BUT ... it's all good. One day he'll be on the road. What started out as a love-hate relationship between me and Bob has become a friendship. Kinda like Dr. Frankenstein and his creation. Yeah, I talk to him. Sometimes I feel like he's showing me how he wants to be built. Good thing we're pretty much on the same page.
There's a small medallion that hangs from the dash on a silver chain. It is Saint Rita, the Patron Saint of impossible dreams. I need all the help I can get.
Wish there were more pics but I didn't have a digital camera back then. I'll update the pics as the project progresses.