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A Cool Old Truck

John Hart's

1946 Chevy Suburban

13 October 2004 Update

From John,

Hello Stovebolt Editor:

    A few years have passed since I submitted photos of my '46 Suburban. There have been some fun developments that have generated requests for more photos, so here are four more.

    Since I last submitted, Vintage Truck magazine featured two-pages of photos and a short article on the Suburban in the August 2003 edition.

    Also, Tom Brownell has included several shots in his second edition of "How to Restore Your Chevrolet Pickup." Most recently, a neighbor and friend has prepared a 2005 "Pickup Pinups" calendar, including over 80 color photographs of antique trucks, all owned by folks who live in our neighborhood in Albuquerque. My four trucks, including the Suburban, are featured.


    Thanks for your efforts to share old-truck fun. Keep up the good work.

John Hart
Albuquerque, NM

April 2000 Update

From John,

    Well, its been 4 1/2 years in the works but the '46 Burb is almost ready to hit the road. A photo with my daughter Melisa at the wheel is attached.


John Hart
Albuquerque, NM


    John also has a 1953 1/2-Ton you might want to check out ~~ Editor


Ready for the shopUPDATE

     I thought you might enjoy a progress update on my '46 Chevy Suburban restoration. Over the holiday, I finally got everything ready to send the body to the paint shop. Its been about 3 1/2 years in the works. The attached photo shows the shell on the restored frame just prior to hauling off to the body shop. With luck, the project will be finished by spring.


Before    You asked for a photo of my '46 Suburban, so here it is. As you can see this is the "before." I hope to have an "after" sometime this summer; if the body work goes well.

     I bought the Suburban about 2 years ago from a Kansas source I found in Hemmings Motor News. It must have been home to a thousand mice for 20 years or more; most of the stuffing from the seats was above the headliner, in the glove box, in the doors, etc. Where the mice had nested, the nearby metal was badly rusted from long term contact with urine; the shell was beyond recovery.

     Fortunately, I was able to find a solid Southwestern parts truck only about 20 miles from home. The parts truck is a panel; it is identical to the Suburban except for the rear windows and seats. In fact, I checked the production codes and both trucks rolled out of GM's Kansas City plant only one month apart.

     I cut the rear window panels out of the original Suburban, did the same on the panel, and welded and bolted the window panels into the panel truck shell. I turned a panel truck into a Suburban. The seats, interior window frames, fittings, etc. from the original Suburban are for the most part in fine shape.

     The Suburban chassis is almost done. I have rebuilt or replaced everything down to the steering balls and spring shackles. It took me over a year, but I found 16-inch artillery style wheels. The engine is a rebuilt 235 with Mallory dual-point distributor and high performance coil. I have installed Patrick's 3.55-to-1 ring and pinion gears in the rear end and I will soon install a Saginaw 4-speed transmission using Patrick's adaptor kit. (I found the optimal gear-ratio Saginaw in Southern Indiana) This allows the use of the original torque tube drive shaft. Unfortunately, on the '46, it also requires that I fabricate a bracket to hold the clutch and brake pedal and master cylinder assembly.


Patrick's Rear-end Kit

     You asked about Patrick's rear-end kit; I don't mind being quoted. I was probably a good test because I had never done any serious engine, transmission, or rear-end work before. I have a friend who is an aircraft engineer and is serious about turning VWs into dune buggies; he helped me with the first ring-and-pinion conversion.

     On the first one, it took us a couple of week-end days and a few hours in the evening to complete the job. It is essential to have a few key tools. Don't even think about it unless you have a dial gauge and caliper that measure to the thousands. The key to the job is to get the proper shim thickness in front of the forward pinion bearing. Once that is right, everything else is pretty straightforward. Patrick's parts seem to me to be of excellent quality. His directions are detailed but still can be a little confusing if you aren't familar with the process. If I got confused, I gave him a call and he did what he could to help. I had the work shop manual for my truck and that was a help too. Since I am a repeat customer, it's clear that I like his stuff.

     The second time I did it (the Suburban) I tried to fake it (I didn't have a caliper so I guessed on the shim thickness). That was a big mistake; it took me twice as long as it should have and I ended up borrowing a caliper gauge anyway. But, in the end I got it right.

     These old trucks are a lot of fun and you can learn some things along the way. Again, thanks for your site.

John Hart
Albuquerque, NM

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