A 'virtual garage' of antique Chevy & GMC trucks from around the World
1954 GMC 1/2-Ton Pickup Truck
20 September 2007
From Dave :
I'm new here and wanted to introduce myself and my truck, a 1954 GMC half-ton pickup. I'm originally from Western Pennsylvania but now am in my third year teaching English with my wife in central China.
My truck lives (driver's side shot here) with my Mom for now. It has an 8-foot bed, deluxe cab, with an original 248 ci engine and hydromatic transmission. My late Father bought it in 1972 for something like $400. He knew of the truck for a while before that, since about the second owner. He'd heard that it had been a demonstrator truck in the Pittsburgh area, which may be true -- it's all gussied up with chrome, two-tone paint, side-mount spare, etc. It doesn’t have a radio, but an NOS unit is among the parts hoard my Dad put together over the years. I think my Dad just never had the heart to drill for the antenna.
The truck is in good, but far from perfect, shape. The interior is in great shape. It is very solid almost everywhere except for some minor rust in the cab corners and floor. The bed is dented from use. The original wood bed floor is splintered and has been covered with sheet steel, but it's functional. The dark blue was repainted in the early 1970s, but the light blue is original (I think the spare tire is, too!). The odometer has a shade fewer than 70k authentic miles on it. So it's sat a lot. I changed the oil this summer when I was home and discovered the last time it was changed was about 300 miles (and 12 years ago)!
About five years ago, I was driving the truck and it just stopped while climbing a hill. I drifted it back into a driveway and after a lot of tinkering (and help from a friend who happened to be passing by), we discovered that the fuel filter on the pump was packed with fine rust. We cleaned it out and eventually got the truck running again.
This summer I discovered the truck wouldn't start, but it'd crank and run off of a squirt of ether. So I ran a line from a gas can into the pump and the old girl ran better than she has in years. There was some rust clogging the sender. I pulled the tank, hosed it out, let it dry thoroughly in the sun for a few days and put things back together. It ran great in the yard, so I took it for a short drive. I was able to move the truck out and back into a better spot in the garage. But it certainly ain't roadworthy under the current jury-rigged setup. I did find that the rubber line by the tank was very cracked. I cut it, but gas was just trickling out. I plugged the line with a bolt and hose clamp before heading back overseas. Unfortunately (but not surprisingly), the brakes failed on that drive. The valve train started making ominous clattering noises, perhaps from my downshifting to try to get some engine braking and keep the truck under control.
So the truck sits un-roadworthy for another year while I'm here in China. I hope next summer (when we'll likely be living with my Mother for a year) I'll be able to tackle the brakes and probably a valve job. It wants to be driven!
I don't really have any plans to "restore" the truck. Our neighbor did that with his '51 Chevy truck, and it's just gorgeous. But our GMC is really very decent cosmetically. So I'll probably just be looking at mechanical work to get it safe and reasonably reliable. Maybe someday I'll try re-doing the bed. If I did, I'd likely hate to use it as a truck, and I don't want that. It'll be a long while before I save enough pennies to re-chrome that big-ol' grille...
Right now I'm teaching English in China, so my time with the truck is limited to a brief time when I'm home during the summers. I'll probably be posting some questions about the best way to get it roadworthy next summer.
You can find more pics of my truck on my Photobucket account.
Thanks for the Virtual Garage -- I'll probably be lurking here for the next year, picking up wisdom and trucking vicariously.