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07 September 2009
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From Mike :
I got my start at age 14. My Dad had a 1972 Chevy 1/2-ton shortbox he bought new in that year. It had a 250 and a three on the tree. By the time that I was old enough to drive it, haulin' wood and the Wisconsin road salt had gotten the best of it. It had a rotten cab. But I learned to drive on it --and loved every minute of it. By the time I got my driver's license, my parents were concerned about the safety of the "shot cab" and they sold the 1972 Chevy and let me drive a 1984 Olds.
Now I'm in my 30's and live in Washington state. When I moved out West, I always said that I would buy an old, low-rust truck from a state that doesn't use road salt.
I found this 1954 GMC on Craigslist. I ended up paying a fair price for it (this included a huge box of extra parts - chrome, etc.). I was the only one to respond to the ad and the guy needed to sell. I was able to drive it home without incident (not very good brakes, though, which I knew).
Here's the story - as best as I can tell - about this truck. It is a deteriorated amateur restoration from the 1970's. It's been in Monroe, Washington for some time. The guy I bought it from owned it seven years and did little except drive it every now and then. He had big plans for it but all he was able to do was put on a completely new exhaust system, fuel pump, and battery.
Prior to the previous owner, it was on a homestead. Those people bought it with the homestead. Judging from the condition of the paint, it probably sat in a leaky barn. It now has a nice "patina" to it. The paint is all cracked. Of course, from 40 feet away, one would think it would look great!
Mechanically, the original 248 has been swapped for a Chevy 235. Judging from the casting numbers, this is probably from the 1958-1962 era. I still have yet to discover whether the lifters are mechanical or hydraulic. It has great oil pressure. All the gauges still work! It has a three on the tree.
It still has a 6 volt electrical system. It has been converted to negative ground (GMC was originally positive ground at this time).
So far, I have just been doing things to get it to be a good weekend driver. I've changed all the fluids, new belt, new upper radiator hose, new plugs, etc. I'm on the cusp of putting in a new / rebuilt carb. Then it's time to adjust ignition timing and adjust valves. The list grows longer and longer as I discover more and read more. Throughout the whole process, I have been taking it for local trips.
The interior is in decent shape. The seat has been reupholstered (1970's). I have to get a new headliner and floor mats.
There is almost no rust. The cab corners have been patched (probably before you could get the newly manufactured corners - some sheet metal, some plastic filler). The floor has very little rust. In the cab near the kick panels, most are some pinholes, with a dime-sized hole near the brake pedal.
For now, I will focus on the mechanics. I paid someone to redo the brakes - major job with many new parts. The rest I'm working on myself.
As for the body, I will just polish it up, cracks and all. Someday, maybe, I will paint it up right... but that is a few years away.
If anyone has any advice on tire shops in the Seattle area, it would be greatly appreciated. I have 16 rims with tube-type bias tires. I like the look and want to keep the original rims. They probably aren't designed to hold tubeless tires real well, and I haven't found a knowledgeable tire shop that could put on tubed tires.