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1951 Chevrolet 3800 Series 1-Ton

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Owned by Don Oleson
Bolter # 13589
Arnolds Park (Lake Okoboji), Iowa

Restored by Wally Bloch
"Wally Body"
Bolter # 16727

06 July 2009
# 2628

Before pictures / after pictures ... on Webshots

From Wally :

This is a 1951 Chevy 1-ton long box owned by my good friend and long-time customer Don Oleson from Arnolds Park (Lake Okoboji), Iowa. Although I don't own this Advance Design truck, I feel an attachment to it after working for two years bringing it to the condition it is in today. Practically all his life, Don has owned and driven Fords, having many of them in his collection. Now after 51 years, I'm proud to say he has maybe "seen the light"!! ~ Wally

This is Don's story ~

The truck is a 1951 Chevrolet 3800 series 1 ton pickup truck, restored as closely as possible to 1951 showroom new condition as I could make it.

I bought the truck in March of 2007 from the Stovebolt "trucks for sale" listings from a very honest man named John Huettl from North Dakota. It was his Grandfather Matt Huettl's truck. Matt purchased the truck when it was fairly new for use as a farm truck.

The truck had 86,000 miles and had the original 216 engine with a 4 speed transmission. It had very little rust but a lot of dents, scratches and thinning paint with surface rust (patina). I purchased it for $2500 and had it delivered to my shop in Iowa.

I always had a "soft spot " in my heart for 1-ton pickups because, as a kid in elementary school in California, I walked by a 1952 Chevy every day on my way to and from school. I knew it had a longer than normal bed. I borrowed my Dad's tape measure and one day on the way to school, I measured the truck's bed and learned it was 9 foot long! Even as a 10 year old, I knew pickups didn't have a bed longer than 7 1/2 feet, unless they were something special. I learned later that Chevrolet built 3800 1 ton pickups with 9 foot. beds. I knew some day I wanted to have one!!

My first inclination was was to keep it in unrestored condition and just have fun driving it as it was. But soon I realized that I would need a "pit crew" to follow me every time I took it for a drive. It had been stored in a shed for 25 years and had all the usual ailments -- old gas, rust in the fuel tank, leaky wheel cylinders, etc.

I contacted my longtime bodyman friend Wally, who has redone several of my cars and trucks during our 31 year friendship. Wally had just retired from a lifetime body shop career, and he agreed to work on the truck part time in my shop to do the restoration.

The truck was disassembled down to the frame and cab, sandblasted inside and out. New floor pans and cab corners were installed. The frame and suspension were coated with POR prior to assembly. The cab was a 3 window and Wally expertly converted it to a 5 window.

The 216 was still running, but was getting rather tired. It was sent out to Arnold Motors in Spencer, Iowa for a complete rebuild. It was bored .30 over, with upgrades to hardened valve seats and conversion of the babbited rods and insert bearings. It had the optional oil pump and external AC oil filter.

The radiator is original, needing only cleaning and painting.

A new master cylinder and wheel cylinders were installed by my mechanic friend Tom Radcliff.

The 5.14 to1 rear end was retained. I found an original 1951 Chevy truck radio and had it repaired and rebuilt with a new face plate and knobs by Hamilton Radio Repair, a local shop.

The interior was redone with new headliner, seat covering, steering wheel, gas tank, floor mat and door panels. Windshield glass was replaced, along with one door glass and a vent window which was broken. (Someone was locked out way back when.) The original Briggs and Stratton keys were both with the truck -- one was found during disassembly wired under the bed !

The bed was a difficult decision. I opted to go with the honey oak boards with polished stainless strips for appearance sake. Right and left taillights were added along with turn signals and the conversion of the front park lamps to include the signal lights.The 6 volt electrical system was retained. However, I did install an 8 volt battery which makes a big difference in starting.

Other appearance items include chrome grille, chrome front and rear bumpers, a GM script spotlight, and the west coast style mirrors which were disassembled and rechromed. (They were dealer installed in 1951 for $11.00 -- cost $400 to rechrome!) An additional side mount spare was installed using mounts built by a local welding shop.

The 17 inch tires were replaced with Goodyear Silvertown bias-ply wide whitewalls along with new hubcaps.

The paint job was done in pieces and sections using Dupont Nason single stage urethane. The color is 1951 Chev Seacrest Green, obtained by shooting an unweathered section of the firewall with the local parts store's spectrophotometer. (Kudos to Jeff at Car Quest in Windom, Mn. -- the color was dead on!!) I found an original jack and tire tools, and topped it off with a set of restored black and yellow California plates.

All in all, the truck's restoration is stunning. The correct Seacrest Green is pretty and unusual. The "big truck "size with the 9 foot bed makes the overall effect impressive! (my opinion)

My thanks to all who helped in this two year project, Chevs of the 40s and especially the Stovebolt members with their advice and photos -- it was invaluable!!

Don Oleson


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