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1961 Chevrolet C-20 Apache

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Leonardtown, Maryland


Owned by Will Hammond
Bolter # 9266
Virginia Beach
15 December 2008 Update
# 1298

Will Hammond’s Truck, Part II

From Will :

Ahh ... my 1961 C-20 3 on the tree -- no motor, power ... nuthin’.

This man is a sailor assigned to a Norfolk-based ship. Went out for a couple of months in the Caribbean, chasing smugglers. I came back to find my newly rebuilt engine missing [ see! ] . About the time I was trying to figure out the next move, I got orders to Alaska. I gotta say, this hobby is really tough for a young guy with a family and a demanding job.

I stumbled on this Craigslist ad, looked at it and made a deal. Then came my trip to the doghouse…. [ we remember that ~ Editor ]

From my original story (and it’s a good one), you can see an old Marine saved his trip home one time. Well, I’m not that old a Marine -- although retired -- and was focused on saving this nice old truck -- and not the dining room chairs we need, kids’ tuition, etc. I think my wife finally decided this hobby was cheaper than the girlfriend hobby (as I turn 49 next week) and she would always know where I was.

I have a “running when it came out” 235 to insert for the short term. Now long term would be hoping to add auto trans, power steering and brakes, and maybe go with a 261 instead of the SBC.

For now, I just need to be able to haul a boat from the yard to the ramp. So I haven’t done a Chevy since before the Internet. I had a ’49 that spent my entire per diem while training as a tank officer at Ft. Knox in ’82. Boy, do I know Kaintucky junkyards. Did an Arizona Ford 15 years ago -- a rolling restoration with no spare car if I screwed something up. No more Fords for me -- not nearly as well built!

This time, I’ll be leaning on an accomplished shade tree guy who is just finishing a 40 by 40 garage for the tricky stuff to keep me from the inevitable screwups!

Well, Will ... you may have lost on engine ... but sounds like you gained a ... well, you have a less-resistant spouse now! AND a friend with a 40 x 40 garage. Life sounds good! ~ Editor

28 November 2005

From Will:

           Here are some photos of my 1961 Chevrolet C-20 Apache. She's old, but she runs, even though she drinks a lot, but I finally got her to stop smoking.....

           A few photos first:interior #1 ~ interior #2 ~ side view

           My Spousal Unit (a.k.a. The War Department) and I picked her up for $3,000 in Pennsylvania and have since dropped another $3K into her to get her up and running. The guy I bought it from owned it for "quite a few years." He just did the "basic" maintenance on it. I took one look at it and the lights of Heaven descended down upon this beauty. I swear there were angels singing overhead, like the "Sword in the Stone" Disney flick.

           The War Department was less than ecstatic. She just stood there grumbling under her breath something to the effect of me being an ignorant fool who knows next to nothing about what I should be doing with that $3K -- like buying her a new diamond ring. Yeah, right. She's got me, what more could she ask for right?

           Anyhow, despite her trying to decapitate me with those daggers in her eyes, I took it for a spin and was hooked. Paid the man in cash and drove it to the local drive thru oil joint.

           This guy's idea of basic maintenance was horrific. Inside the oil filter reservoir was a roll of toilet paper in lieu of a normal filter and the technician was laughing hysterically when he told me, I was a little uneasy about what information I had just received, but it is pretty funny now looking back on it.

           So, 40 bucks right off the bat! I dropped a wad of cash into the gas tank to get her back from Pennsylvania to North Chicago. About 400 miles into the trip back home, the transmission went. The bearing where the slip yoke is located was completely disintegrated and all the oil is somewhere on the interstate. (It got so hot, the slip yoke welded itself to the output shaft of the tranny. Let me tell you that trying to find a 3-speed transmission in the middle of Ohio is not an easy task, especially when you have no idea where you are and knowing that you have to be back at work first thing in the morning (0500) and it is 2 in the afternoon already.)

           I rattled off the highway to this General Store and was befriended by this retired Marine who owns / runs it, John. John comes out with a big grin on his face and says "You MUST be a Squid." Thinking this guy's kin to Mumford the Magician or something, I said "yes sir, how'd you know?"

           "Cause sonny, only a dumba$$ squid would be standing there staring at a truck like that and not know what the problem is. Jes' go inside and drink a beer while I figger this out fer ya .... Squid."

           Needless to say, I was floored. This guy's pretty sharp and his tongue is quick-witted even for a Navy Drill Instructor like me. So not wanting to offend the natives, I grabbed a cold one and headed back outside to do some recon on what John was up to.

           You gotta love Marines, even when they're old, fat and blind -- they're still Marines.

           After a quick look under the truck, he pinpointed the problem, gave me another ration of "you-know-what" and a smile. After about a dozen phone calls (and a couple more beers) to try and locate a replacement tranny and slipyoke, he was out of tricks. (All the while, the love of my life is in her car weaving a cloud of obscenities that my dog has still not fully recovered from hearing to this day.) Lucky for me, the War Department was following me home in her 4-runner so I didn't have to show any leg to get home on time. (I might still be walking!)

           The Marine let me park my diamond in the rough in the parking lot until I could get back to trailer it back home. About every other day John would call me and ask if I was interested in selling it. Apparently, it was boosting his business 'cause people would pull off at his exit and go inside to ask if it was for sale. He'd politely told them no, "But while you're here, why not grab a cold soda or a sandwich?" More sales in two weeks than he had in months.

           That really lit a fire under me to get back there and pick it up before it disappeared!!! So I got home, called up a buddy of mine and convinced him to take a "little trip" with his new truck and trailer to pick mine up to bring it the rest of the way home. So $150 later I got it home, got my hands on a rebuilt tranny (that's another story in itself), installed it and now my truck is up and running again!!

           Since then, I have had the head resurfaced, new piston rings, a valve job, timing adjusted, carburetor rebuilt, new hoses and belts installed. Now I just have to get the heater working before the snow sticks to the ground so I can drive it in the winter.

           My wife absolutely despises me owning this Big Red Beautiful Rig after that trip. She asked me if I was gonna name it and with a quick reply I told her "why yes my love, 'Rachel's Demise'." She gave me another one of those "If only....." looks and stormed back into the house scaring the hell out of the dog again. Since then, she's cooled down a bit and has enjoyed cruising down to Home Depot with me to pick up some odds and ends for the yard, provided it hasn't broke down again.

           My theory / moral of the story is: What's the fun in having it, if you can't fix it every now and then?


Will Hammond


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