restoring an old truck

Rick Lewis'

1953 Chevy 3600 3/4-Ton

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26 March 2007 Update

From Rick :

           I thought I would send along some photos to update my previous gallery submissions since they are a little out of date.

           The restoration started out as a replacement of an engine that had a cracked block. One thing led to another and before I knew it, I was into a full-blown restoration. I have no clue how much I have tied up in this truck, but I am nearing the end of the restoration. I did all of the work myself with the exception of the top end of the engine. I painted it, did the bed wood, upholstery, wiring, brakes, you name it. After five years, less 6 months spent in Iraq, it is nearing completion. Here's a shot of the engine and the firewall.

           I had one very frustrating day trying to put the transmission in my the truck. I started off with the clutch and that went in with no problem. I used an alignment tool and everything lined up dead center. Then came the problem. I used a transmission jack to raise the tranny and tried to get the thing to mate. No dice. So after about seven hours, I gave up and went down and rented a cherry picker to try putting it through the floor like the manual says.

           Before doing that, I checked the alignment on the clutch and centered it again. It was off just a little, but hardly noticeable. I scratched the heck out of my newly painted dash using the cherry picker, but I managed to get the transmission back on the guide pins again. I was within about 3/4" of the mating surface and could even put the lower bolts through from the back. But it would not go any further and the U joint was locked up tight. Maybe it was supposed to be locked up. I didn't know. I didn't know whether to start cinching down the lower bolts and hope that it would pull it in without damaging the clutch disk or what. I noticed the flywheel was harder to turn than it was before, but I didn't know if the front spline was through the clutch disk or if it was binding and causing that. I had it in 4th gear, which was what the manual called for. The clutch fork moved freely and was properly mated with the new throwout bearing. I tried to figure out if it should go all the way forward to the mating surface on its own or if I was binding up somewhere. Boy, I wanted to get that FINISHED!

           So, before I pulled it all out and started over, I had someone push in on the clutch after I hooked up the linkage. It slid right in! Thanks to all the guys in the forum for helping me work through this. This site the best ever for Stovebolters. Maybe this will save others countless hours of work and frustration.

           I put new upholstery on the seat. I couldn't figure out where to attach the hog rings to the frame without the rings being seen from outside. It seemed like they needed to attach under the seat, but the only spot I could find was the frame edge and the rings would show. I figured they would really show when I did the back of the seat. The old one had the "C" clips, but they weren't re-usable.

           The forum guys suggested some clips from Jim Carter's and I got two packs of them. I talked to a local guy who does upholstery on classic trucks and he recommended the "C" clips also, due to the style of frame my seat has. Because the bottom edge of the frame is solid, there is no place to attach hog rings without them showing along the bottom front edge. My old upholstery which is original (I'm fairly sure) was attached with the "C" clips. But my old clips were rusted out and not reliable for the new covering. Even if the new upholstery stretched far enough to go back under the seat, the only place I see where you could attach hog rings and have them not show would have been directly to the springs and I would think that would cause the springs to be slanted due to the tension. So I didn't want to go there even if I could. The upholstery wasn't that long to where it could be fitted up underneath without compressing the springs. Guess they made those "C" clips for a reason and certainly makes sense to me.

           An aside I thought you might enjoy. Here are some photos that were taken in Baghdad. I belong to an old car club in Oregon called the Silverton Flywheels. Before I went over to train the police leadership, I was given a Flywheels plaque to put on the front of the armored Suburban I drove there. The Governor of Oregon also gave me an autographed license plate. These things were a hit at the Marine checkpoints, especially if any of the guards happened to be Oregonians. All kinds of comments about "being a little ways from home," etc. They were good for a few laughs in a place where laughter was at a premium. I signed and dated the back of the plaques and the license plate as to the dates they were in Iraq. The license plate will never be issued, by the way.

Rick Lewis
Bolter # 1051
Silverton, Oregon

         Rick, thanks for this great update. And thank you even more for your service to our country. The stories you sent were truly motivational! ~~ Editor

13 May 2001

From Rick:

           Here are a couple of photos of my '53 Chev 3/4-ton currently under restoration. Enjoy!

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