P. J. Heiden's
1950 Chevy 3600 3/4-Ton
My Chevrolet 3/4-ton pickup was purchase brand new in 1950 by my Grandfather. He lived in Utica, Nebraska where he owned a small farm that he worked until he retired to "town." He kept the truck and used it to drive out to the farm's orchard or to take me fishing when I was still small enough to swing my legs from the front of the seat.
After he passed away, my Mother and her siblings decided the best way to divide up their parents' belongings was to have an estate sale. The one item I knew I wanted was this Chevy truck. I gladly paid $1350 for it but was then faced with that task of getting it to Arizona where I live. Fortunately, my brother-in-law decided he wanted to take a road trip to Arizona so he loaded it onto a U-haul trailer and set out. A week after I bought it, it was sitting in my driveway.
For the most part, it has been a trouble-free vehicle other than the usual items (brakes, master cylinder, tires, points, plugs, etc.). I've had a new drive shaft built for it and replaced gaskets on the transmission and differential. I also discovered that the motor mounts were gone while I was removing the generator for service. I was able to push the engine to one side when I was lifting the generator out.
I've been trying to get through all the major components just to get them all working as best they can and so far the only parts that have proven to be a real challenge were brake drums for the rear. Those 3/4-ton drums are not easy to find but I managed to find some at a bone yard about 40 minutes south of Phoenix.
I added the visor and a right hand mirror and for summer. I found the window cooler but, to be honest, it doesn't stand a chance when it's 113 degrees outside. It does look very cool hanging off the side of the truck though.
It's a great daily driver and I've used it to haul landscape materials, building materials, motorcycles and mountain bikes.
It's even a little famous. It was used in a movie called "8-Legged Freaks" (one of the first scenes in the movie -- but only for about 10 seconds) and in a Chevy print ad that was used in everything from Sports Illustrated to People Magazine. The shot with the "bowtie" (left) was used on billboards and print ads in magazines. I think it is a really nice shot. The photographer who did the shoot probably took in the neighborhood of 1500 pictures over the course of the day. I never got a chance to see one on a billboard, but a friend of mine who lives in Michigan said he saw it on a billboard outside of Detroit. My brother who farms in Nebraska said he would see it in farm magazines all the time. There is at least one other shot that I know of that they used in Sports Illustrated. It was taken from the front with the "model" sitting on the front bumper.
Made pretty good money for just sitting around too. Honestly, it's the only vehicle I've ever owned that has actually paid for itself.
I grew up on a farm it was pretty much mandatory that we would be able to maintain and repair anything that we drove. My Dad was one of those guys that no matter what it was, if it broke, he would fix it. As a result, I had a lot of hands-on experience with everything from cars, trucks, tractors, mowers, combines, etc. The pickup I owned prior to getting the '50, was a '78 Chevy 3/4-ton. In comparison, the '50 is very simple to work on and since I have the good fortune of having reliable parts sources here in town and a well stocked shop full of tools, I can usually manage to make even semi-major repairs in a relatively short amount of time.
Since the '50 is really my main transportation and workhorse, I can't have it laid up for very long. I think the longest it's been down was when I had a new drive shaft made for it. While I had the drive shaft out, I put all new gaskets in the tranny and differential and installed new u-joint bearings. The radiator had a small leak at that same time so I had a new core put in and that took about a week and a half before it showed up. Just enough time to get everything else done. Last Christmas I went through the rear brakes and repacked the front wheel bearings while I was putting new tires on the front.
The one thing that I know for sure ... when it comes to these old trucks, one thing definitely leads to another! Fortunately, I really enjoy working on this truck. It's actually real great therapy and a nice break from my usual job. I have my Dad to thank for passing along the talent and knowledge to work on things like this. On a very sad note, my Dad passed away this last April and there are very few days that go by that I don't wish I could give him a call and get his opinion on how to "attack" a project. He was a great teacher.
Obviously, this truck will stay with me as long as I'm alive and since my kids are already fighting over who gets it once I'm gone, I don't think I'm going to have to worry about it leaving the family any time soon. I guess they could always buy it off of my estate sale?
A few other interesting (well at least to me) facts:
It really is a very special truck to me.
Thanks again for everything that you do regarding this website. It takes a lot of dedication to stay up with something like this and I really enjoy visiting your site.
P. J. Heiden
Wow ... what a great story. What a great truck Thanks PJ! ~~ Editor
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