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1947 Chevy AD 3800

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"Waltzing Matilda"

Owned by John Moorhead & Rose Davidson
Bolter # 11899
Lakeport, CA

Talking about this truck
in the DITY Gallery

08 August 2010
# 2811

More pictures of my old truck

From John :

We purchased "Waltzing Matilda" in early July 2010, sight-unseen, from an ad on Craigslist. Our work truck had recently had a stroke and with the economy being the way it is .... somehow something older seemed "purer."

The folks of one of my high school friends had a couple of AD 1/2-tons back in the mid '70s. Boy, did we have fun driving those trucks around. That is probably the impetus for getting this one.

Back then we would go out on this one stretch of back road after we had consumed a minimum of three quarts of water (we were very innocent in that regard then) and do what was called a "U.V." -- a "Ur*nation Violation" - One fellow would drive at 25 MPH, the other would stand on the running board and"mark his turf." We scored based on smoothness, length of stream and risk factors such as cops or cars coming the other way.

Maybe you had to be there to understand why this was so much fun in the summer. It also might help to know that this was before cable TV, sex or microwave ovens.

The old truck was advertised as a 1947 1/2-ton long bed. I now know that there's no such thing and when it came to trailering her home, I also learned that a 1-ton, with a 137" wheelbase will *just* fit on a U-Haul trailer.

The prior owner was not a gear-head, per se. He is an artist and musician that collects cars. He had some real beauties, but I'll save that story for another day ... four words: 1960 Austin Healy Sprite...

Anyway, closer inspection showed that the truck had new seats, had been converted to 12 volt and had a later (~1960) full pressure 235. The truck was shod with brand new tires - still had the nubs and some awesome mags. There were a handful of dents and some surface rust in exchange for her 6+ decades, and of course the phrase, "it was running when I parked it."

We were not able to get her to start or run before bringing her home, but she cranked over easily, farted in a generally agreeable manner and had oil pressure. The owner seemed straight up. So we agreed on a price and got her home.

We took Matilda to Rose's folks ranch so we could drive her around off-road once we got her going. We were able to get her to start, run and die with some gas poured in the carb. So replacement of the fuel pump was first on the list.

After doing that, naturally, the carb crapped out. Tinkering wasn't enough, but a carb kit did the trick.

One of the early "test runs" left us stranded about a mile from the ranch. In my enthusiasm getting her on the road, I waved at a guy in an old Ford truck - and then Matilda stalled out. Had to tow her home.

We went through all sorts of names for her, but the one that stuck was "Waltzing Matilda." Currently, she treats staying in a lane as a study in interpretive dance -- a mere "starting point" if you will. I'm saving all of my St. Ides 40's and PBRs recycling money for Tie Rod ends and Kingpins.

Rose and I are having a lot of fun tinkering - there really isn't that much that's wrong with the truck. A whole slew of small things perhaps, but...

We're not looking to turn her into a 100 point trailer queen. She's a work truck. We will eventually fix the body issues and paint her, along with taking care of the myriad small issues, but boy - what a blast.

At some point we may install power steering and brakes. Otherwise Rose is going to have arms like Popeye and calves like the Colossus of Rhodes. Not that that's a bad thing, I'm just sayin'.

I was very much chagrined to discover that 1947 AD 3800's do have a form of cruise control - and the wife has been needling me. When I sit in the truck, the steering wheel hits my gut - how embarrassing!

I love driving or riding in Matilda. We're not taking her out for any long trips or anything yet - still in our "shakedown" phase. To the uninitiated, she's a beater being driven by some hillbilly. To those in the know, we get a smile, a turned head or a thumbs up. Somehow I don't think that would happen in a 2002 S-10.

In 1947 they didn't make a club cab, so Bodie will be secured in the back when we're all out for a trip. Bodie's a great co-pilot, but her feet don't reach the pedals.



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