12 May 2016
# 3135

Owned by
Mike Gramann
Bolter # 40939

1959 Chevy Suburban 3100 Task Force 1/2-Ton


"A tale of three trucks"

More pictures of my old truck

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From Mike :

We have had this 1959 Chevy Suburban for over 18 years and used it as a daily driver. (We were putting the story of the three trucks together and Mike sold the 'Burb right before we were ready to go to print! It's a good story - knew you'd enjoy it. Hopefully, the new owner will claim this page of history for the '59 ~ Editor)

We had four kids at the time and my wife wanted something like a van but not a normal van. When I found the Suburban, we knew it would be just the ticket. When we went and looked at it, my wife saw the headliner, pulled me aside, and asked, “What were they doing? Going to make a love-mobile or something?” The headliner has hearts and the Chevy bowtie designed into it! “Chevy, the Heartbeat of America” I told her. “Oh”

We moved to our current property in 1997-98, shortly before we got the Suburban. I brought the 'Burb home on a trailer. It was in rough shape. The driver's side was flopping in the breeze. However, it was 100% bone stock.

I ended up replacing the bottom foot of sheet metal from the driver's door all the way back over the wheelwell. My boys and I worked on it for a year and a half. We found most of what we needed from American Classic Truck Parts.

Other than windshield gasket and tail light lenses, it really didn't need many parts. It did need seats. It had the rear seat only, the previous owner said they had the front but tossed it since they were going to install buckets in the front … GRRRRR.

The front seat is an original split bench that I found in Albuquerque by searching and doing some digging on the internet and calling a few people. The seat was not in the best of shape but the frame was fine.

I rebuilt the seat, making a plywood base for the bottom, replacing the springs with foam, and I stitched up some seat covers. The seat back still has the original springs -- I just put new cotton batting over it and then recovered.

The rear seats I only had to replace the cotton batting and re-cover. I found the middle seat at the Portland Hot rod Swap Meet.

The truck is a metallic purple with black and two-tone purple on the inside. Fabric on the seats is speckled gray cloth with vinyl surround.

For the purists, I need to point out that the dash was already cut for a stereo when I got it. I didn’t do it!

I do have a spare tire and wheel that match, and a luggage rack that may be original, but I’m not sure.

A few details:

  • Engine: 350 4-bolt main
  • .030 over pistons
  • Crank turned .010/.010
  • Edelbrock performer cam, lifters, and intake
  • Edelbrock 750 carb
  • HEI ignition
  • Heads completely redone in 2016
  • Transmission: SM465, 4 speed with Granny low.
  • No transfer case, or front drive line. I never got around to installing one to finish up the 4wd.
  • 1979 Chevy Blazer axles
  • 3.40 ratio non-posi
  • Blazer front springs (have original front end and springs sitting here still) custom rear spring pack
  • Power brakes (disc in front)
  • Power steering, with tilt column
  • Electric 2 speed wipers
  • “Deluxe fresh-air” heater
  • AM/FM/CD changer with 12”subwoofer

It's done its share of hauling. After it was up and running, we took two trips through Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and back home. Besides our kids, it has hauled many kids from our church youth group to many different events. If they got too loud, we would just turn up the stereo!

It has made many camping trips over the years and more recently, in September 2014, we took the 'Burb all the way to the East coast and back (6600 miles in three and a half weeks) and then in June 2015 down to California and back (San Diego and Dizzyland). It's gone from Seattle to Portland many times since and dragged home both of our big bolts!

In October of 2014, we bought a 35’ travel trailer (1951 Royal Spartanette - pictures here in my Photobucket album). The trailer is 7,000 pounds empty. I thought about changing the suspension on the 'Burb to a 3/4-ton for a tow vehicle but then we came up with a new plan: EXTENDED CAB BIG BOLT!!!!!

We are going to sell the Suburban and small utility trailer (matching era bolt-bed) and get my wife something smaller and less thirsty to drive! Now that the kids are grown (but the grandchildren are a nice addition), she can get away with something smaller and it only needs to haul three or sometimes five of us (instead of seven-plus friends)!

The Suburban is still a daily driver but I don't spend much time working on it ... because ... recently, it hauled home a 1955 Chevy 6400 2-ton flatbed and then a 1958 Chevy 2-ton with a dump on it! With the dump on the trailer, we weighed 17,340 rolling across the scales. Yeah, I know, a little heavy for a half ton!

I am looking forward to learning a lot about the bigger trucks and sharing some of my experience as well. My goal is to make an extended cab out of the '55 and '58 and use it as our tow rig. Here's a rendition of what I'm working towards.




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Mike is not new to wrenching (as you can tell from some of his detailed work) and he recently agreed to co-moderate the Big Bolts forum. He's got three Stovebolts under his belt: a 1959 Chevy Suburban 3100 1/2-ton Task Force; a 1958 Chevy Viking 60 2-Ton Dump Truck; and a 1955 Chevy 2-Ton Flatbed. (Check his Photobucket album: those Task Force trucks make a impressive line-up.)