1956 Chevrolet 3100 Stepside
28 August 2006
From Barry :
Hi all! I finally decided to send in pictures and information about my 1956 3100 Chevrolet pickup. My grandpa bought it new in 1956. Dad bought it from my Grandma in 1972 (I was 11). I told my Dad, from the day he backed it out of Grandma's garage, that I wanted that pickup some day. He always replied with a gruff "You don't want that old thing..." I was as stubborn as he was and kept reminding him each year.
We originally used it to carry a field sprayer and to haul hay bales on our farm in Northwest North Dakota. It replaced a 1955 GMC 3800 that didn't run very well (now I know it just needed the carb rebuilt). My pickup ended up being too light to handle the weight of the sprayer so we bought a 1971 Chevy Longhorn to replace it. I drove the '56 to high school and it was my run-around vehicle in the summers.
After spending my entire year's vacation helping Dad get ready for his farm retirement auction sale, he "sold" it to me for a dollar in 1992. My brother and I hauled it from the family farm in North Dakota back to Seattle on a U-Haul trailer behind his 1976 Chevy 4 X 4. I believe it had about 63K miles when Dad got it and it has a little over 70K miles now.
The options sheet is still in the owner's manual:
I rarely drove it in Seattle, as the busy freeways didn't seem too friendly to an old, slow pickup with drum brakes. Finally, in about 2001, my wife asked me why it just sat in the garage all the time. I had a laundry list of reasons -- rusty gas tank, bad brakes, old tires, etc. Being the pragmatic person that she is, she said "Why don't we fix it so we get some use out of it ?"
I discovered the Stovebolt site and Chevy Duty and got at it. I installed a new gas tank, shoulder belts, new brakes, floormat, weatherstripping, clutch, rebuilt the front end, etc. We actually started using the pickup for real work! I hauled crushed rock, dirt, beauty bark, lumber and all sorts of heavy, messy stuff. It was again earning its room and board.
Then I noticed how much surface rust had accumulated on every square inch of unpainted surface. Even though it had been in a garage almost every night of its life, the humid air out here in the Pacific Northwest was taking its toll. I decided to find a place that would put a cheap paint job on it to protect it from the elements. At the same time, I figured I would get a few of the bigger dents pounded out.
A friend had just gotten his 'Cuda painted by a guy that did decent work at a very reasonable cost. We agreed on a price and I started tearing the pickup apart. The painter convinced me that the paint job would protect a lot better if it was sandblasted first. So I took each piece to the blaster and delivered them to his one-stall garage. He turned out to be a perfectionist and removed every single dent from every panel!
Once I saw how nice the body was going to be, I decided I needed to clean up the chassis. So I pressure washed about 20 pounds of good North Dakota soil out of the frame, wire-wheeled and sanded the rust off the chassis and painted it with POR-15. I also painted the engine and transmission (the Krylon overhaul). Almost every removable item was pulled off and replaced, repaired or at least repainted. I rebuilt the carb, generator, starter, cooling system, dual master cylinder, rewired it, split manifold and dual exhaust, new Yokohama 700R15 tires, new bed wood and runners, new steering wheel, added a Quiet Ride sound deadening kit, powdercoated the original wheels and added new chromed repro hubcaps, new chrome bumpers, chrome headlight surrounds, taillights, and grille.
It took over a year to get everything back together and now it is too nice to use!
We have hauled furniture and sheetrock, but mostly we use it for cruising the back roads on dry days. Our kids are always up for a ride and my wife and I occasionally take it out for a date.
I was one of the "lurkers" on The Stovebolt Page for a long time since almost every question I had during the restoration was answered somewhere in the Forum. I can't tell you how much I have enjoyed the website, and it has been an enormous help to me throughout the project.
Bolter # 6778
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