David & Lisa Northcraft's

1957 Chevrolet Stepside Pickup Truck

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06 August 2007
# 2010

From David :

           My wife and I bought our 1957 Chevrolet Stepside pickup truck with the idea we would fix it up a little, touch up the paint, tune the motor and make it a driver. My good friend Kevin had a different idea. He suggested doing a frame off restoration. I had NO IDEA of what that was, but it sounded like fun. After all, I thought, I'm a computer guy with woodworking skills how could this be a problem? It might take a month or two longer, but what the heck?


           Fortunately, Kevin has a metal shop with tools and skills and LOTS of encouragement. Needless to say, I'm learning more than I ever imagined about metal fab, motors, drive trains, gear ratio's, suspension, etc. It's been a fun, frustrating and rewarding project all rolled up into one!

           Now I dream of the day I drive it out of the shop. Like someone told me after the fact -- this isn't one big project, it's 1400 little projects! That's 1400 research projects for me. You guys on the Stovebolt forum have been a HUGE help!!

           Here is what the old Chevy looked like when we found her, not drivable - missing some engine parts and the hood The body was in pretty decent shape. Rust in the door panels and cab corners, but overall in great shape.

           The prior owner had put a 1956 grille on it. Kevin went with me to pick her up. I wanted my wife Lisa to drive it with the total stock suspension and steering so she could really appreciate all the updates we were going to do.

           With a new carburetor, intake manifold and lots of tuning and patience, we got her up and running and off (with the dog in the back) we went! That's the picture at the top of the page! We made it about a mile from the house before breaking down with a bad starter, bad fuel pump, bad alternator, and bad you name it. BUT - mission accomplished! Lisa got the feel of driving a kidney buster stock 1957 truck for exactly one mile. Kevin towed us home.

           Next came the fun part and so far the easiest part. Tearing her down. We stripped her all the way down to the frame in one day. I took some pictures - BIG MISTAKE! If I could give any advice from what I've learned so far, when you've taken as many pictures as you think you should, take a HUNDREDS MORE! You may not remember how it went together a year from now. Thank GOD for Chevrolet assembly manuals! Also bag and label all your parts!

           Next was the blasting. We used walnut shells for most parts with sand for some of the thicker metal parts. I found out real quick how fast you can warp a door panel with sand. If you're not careful, it heats that thin metal up to red hot right now!

           We put a good coat of epoxy primer on the frame and all body parts to keep them from rusting.

           We drooled over some internet photos of a frame rotisserie but didn't want to spend the cash to buy a new one. So we drew up plans from the photos and built our own, (shown holding the frame & cab in this photo).

           We talked about rebuilding the motor but then discovered it was a 283. For what it was going to cost to do the complete rebuild and get the horsepower we wanted, I purchased a ZZ4 crate motor. Kevin had a Turbo 400 tranny he had saved for 20 years and he donated it to the project. We had it rebuilt.

           In the rear, I installed a new leaf spring kit from TCI and a rebuilt Fxxx 8.8" rear end -355 gear ratio with locker. This gave me disc brakes all the way around to stop that 355 HP ZZ4.

           I installed a fuel cell in the back to get the gas tank out of the cab. We bent all our brake and fuel lines. Sometimes you have to hang the sheet metal just to keep motivated and remember what she looked like.

           Here's a shot of the Ididit steering column we put in. My wife wanted a stock steering wheel, so we made one for her. She wasn't impressed! We later got a reproduction wheel to replace this one. She was happy.

           Here is a shot of the motor with aluminum radiator, hydraulic lines, steering linkage, headman headers, etc.

           Well that's about where we are at the present. I have more pictures on my Piscasa account if you'd like to see! Kevin and I are taking a body and paint class at our local community college this year. We are also learning how to do lead body work to fill and smooth out some of the factory seams. We plan to weld all the extra holes in the frame and the firewall.

           I would not have gotten this far with out the Stovebolt Forum! You guys are awesome. Thanks for all your help and great advice! David

David & Lisa Northcraft
Bolter # 9828
Boring, Oregon

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