1951 Chevy 3/4-Ton Truck
From Chip :
Ok, so I have found the old truck I have been looking for. I was actually able to drive it home, as I was told it would start -- it “just needs new spark plugs.” The “granny low” took about two blocks to figure out and I began to start out in second and stayed out of everybody's way. The brakes were less than road worthy and required pumping to get any pedal.
Now what is it?
It looks totally stock. The body is cheery with no rust, dents, or dings. The paint is recent. The interior is clean with after market upholstery and carpet. It has been converted to 12 volts and had a stereo in the glove box. Stock solid front end and two piece, torque tube and open drive shaft. The engine is a 216 CID, inline six, with four speed, on the floor, transmission. The wheels are after market, eight lug, spoked with wide, low profile tires.
This is strange. It looks as though someone has it running well and then stuffed a stock motor and trans back into it to sell it.
It turns out this vintage truck is a 3/4-ton, rather than the more common 1/2 ton. The rear brake drums are 12 inch, while the fronts are 11 inch. The bed is longer and has two braces per side, rather than one.
Let’s check out the “bad” spark plugs. A compression check showed number four cylinder had zero compression. The other five were right at 130 psi. So much for being able to drive it right away. This explains the “reasonable” price.
What do I really want this truck to do?
I want to keep it looking stock rather than going the street rod route. I want to be able to cruise and use it as a “shop” truck.
The first step was to look for information. Thank God for the Internet. It did not take long to discover Stovebolt, Inliners, Vintage Chevy Club, and numerous other web sites. There was information galore and opinions up the wazoo.
The first thing I found out was the gearing of a 3/4-ton truck was set up for hard work. The 0.456 ring and pinion where never intended for today's freeway speeds. If I did not want to be run over, I was going to have to upgrade the gearing. A discussion with Tom Langdon of Stovebolt Engine Company, convinced me to go the transmission exchange direction and leave the differential stock.
Arrive -- one shiny, clean T-5, V8 geared (1.38 overdrive) transmission.
The engine will have to be rebuilt. But it is a 216 with babbet bearings, splash lubrication and all the less than desirable characteristics of a 1951 engine. As long as I have to rebuild it, I might as well find a later model six and not deal with all the problems of the stock engine.
Which engine to go with?
As my father used to say, “If you’re going to do it, do it right!” And, another favorite: “Bigger is always better.”
Enter the Chevrolet Inline Six-Cylinder Power Manual. (One can never have enough books.) I had heard of the 300 CID Ford six, but what did Chevrolet offer? The heavy duty tall deck (HD-TD), 292CID block series engine.
I got on the internet, located a broker and in ten minutes had ordered a used, but running, complete engine for $800.
Converting from the stock 216CID engine and four speed transmission to a 292CID engine with T-5 overdrive transmission
The engine arrived a few days later. That was the good news. The bad news was that it had not been very carefully crated -- as in, not at all. [ See photo ] It was laid on its side, on an old tire, and wrapped with shrink wrap.
Upon unwrapping, it became obvious that the engine had been dropped [ see photo ]. The thermostat housing and distributor cap were broken, and the fly wheel was bent. On top of that, it was the wrong engine. The tappet covers were only 4 inches tall. It was a 250, not the 292 I had ordered. And it sure was not in running condition.After talking with the broker, they could not find another 292.
Another tour through the internet produced an engine rebuilder who had a fresh 292 short block for $1375. It arrived well protected and with nice, tall tappet galleries.
I purchased engine motor mounts from Stovebolt and then learned the trans mounts will also have to be modified. The 292 is also 2 inches longer than the 216 and the radiator fan will hit the radiator. What next?
While the transplant of a 292 or V8 is nothing new, it is amazing no one has documented the process. Granted there are many ways to skin a cat, but ..
The point here is to do ones home work before the check book is brought out..
Upon close scrutiny, it appears the passenger side, front had been hit at some time in the past. The shock tower, and trans cross member showed cracks and the passenger side front leaf spring had been replaced (the paper part number tag was still on it). The frame itself measured in square with no bends.
I have begun to gather the parts necessary to complete the short block. Valve cover, oil pan, tappet covers, etc.
The big issue is the bell housing. I would really like to keep the “stomper” starter pedal, but it appears the 292 bell housing never came with a two bolt starter pattern. As the goal is to have a “working” truck, I plan to go with a ‘64-’66, cast iron, truck bell housing. I want to keep the bell housing motor mounts and not have to install a secondary cross member to support the T-5. This is the part of an old car I really enjoy. Exploring junk yards on a Saturday. Ah, the smell of differential oil in the morning.
More to follow.