1954 Chevrolet 3100 1/2-Ton
11 April 2009 Flashback
Usually we have an "update" but this story has been sitting in our stack for a year now. We thought it was still worth telling.
Here's Dave "Koolkar" Feltner's story ... this all happened a year ago last month.
March comes in like a lion they say. But not this day. This day was perfect.
I agreed to help new Stovebolter "JDL" (Jordan, a 14 year old Bolter) get his first truck home from where he purchased it.
Recently, I bought a near junk 18 foot trailer. I knew my GMC truck could easily pull the trailer with Jordan's '54 on board.
I got up early in the morning and rigged some lights on the trailer, and set out for Southern Indiana. Like most plans of mine, there are setbacks and this was to be no exception. On the way, a guy who had a riding lawnmower I wanted insisted I pick it up that day. So I made a side trip to pick up the mower. After figuring out the wheelbase of the trailer, I thought the '54 would still fit.
So down South I went. The trip was great. The windows were down and I was cruising at 65 mph. The truck handled better than ever and I did not even notice the trailer. About 65 mph is the "sweet spot" for the 454. The sound of the exhaust passing through two Flowmaster mufflers with side pipes makes a sort of humming sound I honestly like. It just couldn't be better. I almost forgot I never got around to getting plates and registering my trailer. A minor detail.
I use to drive a semi part time and made deliveries to customers in Southern Indiana. One of these customers was not too far from the town Jordan lives in. As I came to a junction, the weather, the stereo (playing Seegar), and old habits took over. I made a wrong turn toward the former customer's place. About six miles or so later, I figured out I had gone out of my planned route. I called Jordan. Now there I was asking a 14 year old for directions. I pulled my head out and turned around. I headed back to the junction. Heading the right way this time, I passed through a small town. The local Cop was on duty running radar. That didn't bother me (the speed part), but the missing license plate did. Of course, he pulled out and followed me for a mile or so. Maybe he didn't want to work that day. Maybe he didn't notice the missing plate. Or maybe he was a drag racing fan (the truck is a former NHRA rescue truck and has plenty of decals on it). Or perhaps he just got a call for a run. He passed me at high speed and gave me a "thumbs up" as he did. It was good to see the Cop car disappear in the distance.
After a few minutes, I was at Jordan's house. He as standing out front and waiting for me. Jordan's Mom was also waiting. I figured she was more than a little bit skeptical of a grown man driving over 100 miles one way to help her son -- who he had met on a web site. A good call on her part. I would be skeptical in her position.
After introductions, we headed out on a gravel road. I followed Jordan and his Mom. I'm not sure how many thousand potholes were in that road, but I'm sure I hit every one of them. The truck has had the rear suspension beefed up and doesn't do bumps well. I could also feel the trailer bouncing as I went. I decided to drink my coffee later.
A few miles and some twists and turns later, we arrived at the house where Jordan's "new" old truck waited for us. I pulled into the drive rather than backing in. I had hoped there would be room for me to turn around. I was wrong.
The truck was parked in a wooded area. Upon first glance, it looked like it was going to need to be hand-pushed out. Bearing in mind I was to have surgery on my neck six days from that day, and any exertion causes me severe pain for hours, I wasn't in the mood to hand-push a truck.
I brought a tow strap and chain with me. So I hooked the bumper brace on the '54 to a strap, then a chain. I had just enough to reach the tow hooks on my ton truck. I was glad GMC put those things on there. The warm weather that day had thawed the ground and mud was everywhere. I didn't need to crawl in the mud hooking a chain to the frame.
Slowly pulling the truck, while watching the trailer, I started to back down the drive. I knew we were going down hill, but I didn't think it was that much down hill. I also didn't think the '54 would roll as easily as it did. It just kept coming at me when it got out of the soft dirt and on the gravel drive! Now I'm trying to back a trailer and not get hit by a truck with no brakes.
Fortunately, the seller of the truck was "driving" it and he pulled into the soft dirt to keep from hitting my truck. He barely missed a tree while doing so. I decided it was a good idea to turn around and back into the driveway. At least if something was going to get run into, it ought to be the near junk trailer. Besides, nothing beats gravity when loading something.
We loaded Jordan's truck by pushing it with owner's S-10, and then a come-a-long to pull it the rest of the way. The riding mower left just barely enough room for Jordan's truck -- well enough with everything behind the rear wheels of Jordan's '54 hanging off the back. I decided the trip back would be very slow.
We headed back down the bumpy road to Jordan's house. Jordan road with me with Mom's permission and I got a chance to talk to him for a while. Jordan is honestly a good kid in my opinion. He seems to be highly intelligent and he loves his old cars and trucks. He sort of reminded me of another Junior Gearhead who got a '50 Ford when he was 14. Two years later, the '50 Ford had a 409 Chevy it in and a 4 speed. He did all this from his job at a gas station, where he learned to work on cars.
Back at Jordan's house, I backed the trailer close to where Mom wanted it parked. The soft ground had me worried and we off loaded Jordan's truck onto some steel roofing that was laying around. A brief goodbye and I headed back. As I was leaving, Jordan was inspecting his new treasure. I kicked the 454 pretty hard on my trip back North and hoped my wife would understand the reason why it would be well after dark before I got home. I married a good woman. She has put up with my crazy backside for well over 30 years. When I told her of all the day's events, she smiled. Man am I lucky.
I took the time to off load the mower and put it in the garage just as it started to rain. A short shower (mice poop in old trucks), some computer time, and off to bed. It was a good day. Lately, can't get enough good days. I look forward to one of the newest and youngest Bolters making progress and maybe one day passing him on the road.
23 June 2008 Update
From Jordan :
Here's an update on my truck. I got it running! I decided to stay with the original 6v instead of 12v which I was starting to do. I had to get the engine unstuck. But the truck was put on hold for a little while since I had to get surgery to remove hardware in my ankle from a backyard football accident.
A little PB Blaster and oil (which sat in the engine for two weeks during my recuperation), a pry bar to the flywheel, and that got the engine free.
Then I had to figure out why it wouldn't start. So thanks to the friendly people on the Stovebolt forums, I found out that my points were corroded. So I filed those and they sparked like they should have -- but it still wouldn't fire. So I have to figure out how to get sparkplug wires and a coil. A day passes and then I get an offer from Drummin52 (Chris) for his almost brand new sparkplug wires, points, and a coil (plus a rotor, and a distributor cap, but the cap was too small because it was from a car engine).
In a week it arrived and I put it all on. Then I can't do anything for a couple days since the battery dies. I went and got a battery charger that can charge 6v and 12v. I put it on the battery and charged it. Then I don't get back to the truck for a couple days because of school.
When I got time again, after hearing of Trev's (37chevytruckguy) good luck getting his '36 started with starting fluid, I went and got some. I sprayed some down the carb, turn on the key, and hit the starter ..... ROARRRE!!! It roars to life.
But only for a little while.
So the next day, I came home and ran a hose from the steel line to a gas can, sprayed some more starter fluid down the carb, and it fires to life and stays running!
So now, I can drive it around the yard. No brakes -- but hopefully after getting the gas tank straightened out, I can get to those.
I've had numerous offers for free parts from the great people here on Stovebolt and many have helped in other ways. I am truly humbled and grateful.
I love this truck! Check out some more of my pictures on Photobucket.
Thanks to everyone!
20 March 2008
From Jordan :
Well, it all started three years ago (I'm 13 years old now). I went over to a friend's birthday party and I saw this truck. It was under a tarp, all lonely and sad. At first, I thought that it was just a piece of junk (from my friend's description) and paid no mind to it at all. But in the next few weeks, while hearing more and more about the truck, I found out it was a 1954 Chevrolet 3100 1/2-ton. So, I went researching it on the Internet. I found The Stovebolt Page! (Thank you so much for the web site.) I discovered that the truck was in almost perfect condition (minus rust holes in the floorboard). I decided that I just had to have that truck!
I was set all up to pay for it one day after Christmas (Christmas Eve is my birthday and I was going to get some money). We went over to pay for it. After we got there, my Mom decided she wanted to look it over "when it was warmer." So we came back home that weekend.
When we got there Saturday, the owner wasn't there. We left. About a mile down the road (on a very dangerous curve I might add), we almost ran into the owner. When he passed us, we turned back around and followed him to his house.
He was apparently in a very bad mood. After we got out and exchanged pleasantries, I asked if we could see if the truck would start. He just said, in a very grumpy voice, "NO, you can't see if it'll start right now. Maybe when it's warmer."
After that, my brother (he went with us to look at the truck) said that "It would be nice to fix it up -- but it's not worth it."
So for another year, I sat and wondered about the truck. I saw all of the trucks on The Stovebolt Page that people were buying that didn't look any worse than the 1954. I begged and begged my Mom to let me pay for it. She just kept saying, "I don't think that the truck is worth anything." So I made no progress.
Then last year, after I broke my ankle playing football, I'm home even more -- and able to beg more. I started to make progress and she starts to cave. I told her "I need a hobby so I can get out of the house." She says she'll think about it if I'll leave her alone.
Around Christmas of last year, I finally registered in the forums of The Stovebolt Page. I thought since this time of year was the greatest possibility for getting my truck, I wanted to know more about it. A few days after I join, I've not only found out what I needed to know, but I've already made at least five friends.
Not only that, they cracked my Mom to where she would let me get the truck!
Fast forward about a month, and I get TWO yes offers on the same day for help to get my truck home. I contact the Bolters and they said that they might be able to do it in a few weekends, if it was warmer.
So, I wait until that weekend, and the weather's still not better. The next weekend looks better, but the Bolters can't get away!
Two weeks after all this, Dave (Koolkar) Feltner, the first Bolter to offer help, is on his way down from just north of Indianapolis. Dave had to pick up a lawnmower on his trip this way. I went off to pay for the truck. Two hours later, I'm waiting anxiously. Dave calls back and says that he's picked up the lawnmower and is now in Davies County, leaving Greene County. Wait a minute!! I'm in Greene County!!
I tell him and he says that he'll turn around and come back. About 30 minutes later, I called him back again, and now he's in Lyons. He's about 10 minutes away in the next town over. He says that he'll be there in a couple minutes. Yahooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!
I get my shoes on, go outside, and stand by the road until he shows up. He gets out, shakes hands with my Mom, then me. Right after that he took a picture of me for the Stovebolters!
So, we head towards the truck's location. Here she is in the cold, dark woods. When we pull up, we have to figure out how to get the truck into position to put it on the trailer.
Hold on, here comes the scary part. They (Dave and Scott, the previous owner) put a strap on the bumper [ image ], and Dave gets into his truck and starts to pull the '54. Scott is steering it. When the truck starts to roll, I'm wondering how they're going to stop, as the truck has no brakes. In my head I'm thinking, "Oh no! He's going to hit Dave's truck ... no the tree ... no, the truck ... tree ... AAAHHH!!!"
He hits the tree. But only the tire hits it. Then the tire rolls over the big root (which it hit) and proceeds to stop. Now, to get the '54 back up on the lane so that we can put it on the trailer.
Scott goes and gets his little S-10 and pulls the truck back up the lane (which as you probably guessed is on an incline) so that Dave can turn around and put the trailer in front of the truck. We have to wait a couple of minutes for Scott's daughter to leave so that he could put the trailer in front of the truck.
After the trailer is lined up with the '54, Scott gets back in the S-10 and starts to back up with Dave steering the '54 onto the trailer. Well, after the '54 hits the ramps, it stops. So they decide to push the '54 onto the trailer with the bumper of the S-10. Dave is still inside of the truck. Once the truck is on the trailer, Dave is stuck in the '54, because the driver's door is blocked by the rail on the trailer. He has to come out of the passenger side.
Since the truck is only three-fourths of the way on the trailer, Dave gets out his hand winch and pulls the truck onto the trailer with the hand winch. Once the truck is on the trailer up against the lawnmower (remember the one I said he had to get?), we have to pull the ramps out from under the truck. Dave then puts on the straps. [ Nice neat package here.]
Then it's off to my house we go. As I'm riding with Dave, we have a nice chat about the valuable things on my truck and why he's helping me. As we get to my house, we decide where to put it.
Once the trailer is situated, we take the straps off and then push the truck off. We take a picture of Dave and me (Dave's been taking pictures all of this time and these are his in this story). I say "THANK YOU!" and he says, "You're welcome." He offers that if I can make it that he can get me in to a car show.
After Dave leaves, I check out the truck. The previous owner took out the battery! I finally get the locking gas cap off since I can't see if the engine starts. Since it's dark, I came back in the house and updated the Bolters waiting in the forums all about the big adventure of the day. Then it's off to bed.
The next day, after school, I cleaned out the truck. As it gets dark, I look under the seat. THERE'S A CAT IN THAT THAR TRUCK!!!!!
I pop off the seat and I get a big surprise. It's not a cat. It's a family of opossums! (There was a nice discussion on how to get them out in the forums.)
Since I have no wish to get bitten in the dark, I wait until I get home from school the next day to get them out. I pop off the seat again and I get another surprise. It's not a family of opossums and babies, it's just TWO GREAT BIG ONES!!! So I run in real quick, get my bb gun (I had no wish to blow a 20 gauge shotgun sized bullet hole into the truck and get splatters everywhere) and shoot at them. One runs out real quick, the other one I have to shoot four times. After I pushed it out with the gun barrel, it goes under the truck. As I'm doing this, my cousin (age 9) comes over. I get a rake and pull out the possum from under the truck. It's not dead so I throw it in the weeds, since no damage was done to the opossum.
The next day after school, I came home, checked to see if the opossum was gone. It was, but in a different way. It was cold and stiff. So I buried it and then went to drain the radiator on the truck, fill up the oil in the engine and oil bath air cleaner. I figured out that the spark plugs were wrong. Now I'm waiting to get a battery, new spark plugs, a can of gas, and maybe a digital camera.
Editor's Note: Stay tuned as Jordan makes progress on the truck!! And as of this writing, Jordan received several items donated by his new friends at Stovebolt - including a digital camera. So, now he has extra pictures on a photo hosting site. Be sure to check them out!