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06 July 2014
# 3073

Owned by
Josh Pelletier
Bolter # 37874
Upstate New York


1949 Chevy 1-Ton Deluxe Panel


More pictures of my old truck

Join the discussion about this truck
in the Panels & Burbs Forum


From Josh :

This is the year I really get in gear to restore my Father's old 1949 Chevy Deluxe Panel truck.

I actually had a little history on the truck ... from my Mom and the fact that I was part of that history!

Back in the early '70s, my hippy parents got the truck from some other hippies in New Mexico. At that point, the truck had already been to Alaska and and ended up down in Mexico somewhere.

After I was born, we toured the country as a family in the truck. Eventually, we settled down in Upstate New York.

After my Father passed away, the truck sat for a long time. It's been over 30 years sitting, but I am finally ready to restore this old beast.

(At the mention of Upstate New York AND an Advance Design Panel truck, the Bolters figured Tim Lederman must know this fellow -- and he did! Josh lives just down the street from Tim -- how fortunate can you get? Tim's early post: "You have as many different sheet metal colors [on your truck] as I had on my 1948 1/2-ton panel truck back in 1969." ~ Editor)

I know we have some die-hard, keep it original guys on the site, but I did want to try a few things just to see what might work ... or not.

If I couldn't find a suitable replacement straight Six, my beautiful and complete 455 Buick will be going in for the engine. So, I took my spare 455 block and dropped it in the truck one night. Nothing serious, just eye-balled it. It looked like a nice fit. Some steering modification might be needed. It looked so good and I was considering the swap.

So next items were straight forward: new brakes, brake lines, master cylinder (got it from Rock Auto for $33 -- score!). The wheel cylinders didn't look too bad - not sure.

At some point during all the brake work, I found my wire wheel for my grinder. I wanted to clean up my fittings and see what the metal really looked like. If I keep stock axles, etc. I'm thinking about clear-coating the aged steel.

I totally rebuilt the front cab corners and used new beefier cab mounts.

I cut into the extremely long bed and made the floor for the cab go back enough for the third row seats to fold down into (half Suburban). I built new floor bracing and added seat mounts. My front seat set up is actually the rear seat from a late model Suburban. My rear seats are removable third row from the same truck. They were donated by a friend. The gray leather matches the original interior color.

A lot of people have said I'm crazy for trying to bring this old truck back. I know it's a lot of work, especially when you are doing everything by yourself. But this truck means too much to me. And just think about how much this truck has seen. I'm staying positive and will just keep plucking away at it.

When spring got here, the electrolysis tank went back up and the main body got sandblasted. Well, after the truck had been in the shop about a week, we had to clean the floor from all the crap that came off this thing.

After a little more work on the Panel, I decided the 455 Big Block Buick was going in. I'll back it up with with a TH400 tranny. When I have more money to invest in the driveline, I will buy the Bell adapter to mate my SM420 to the 455.

Another little side story on the truck: the reason for the different front and yellow fenders is because we had more than two trucks when I was born. We had a school bus and parts off a 3100. The only parts left from school bus are the smoked glass and rear doors. The hood and front of my truck have been replaced with parts from the 3100.

These parts took a good shot down the driver's side. Someone threw a lot of lead on this driver front. Looks like some stuff they didn't bother to bang or pull out. The fenders are cracked and creased.

I hammered the fender back into shape, and put some light weight fill for the pitted areas. Then I applied a quick primer coat to seal it.

So my first time using electrolysis (this was a while ago), I decided to give it the biggest challenge I had for it: that fender! It came out of that tank clean -- like way clean. I wish I could build a drive-in tank.

So, after a year had gone by, there was no rust showing through on the fender. Happy dude, here.

The more I work on this truck, the more I love the design. I always loved the look of the AD trucks but now I understand how they built them and how easy they are to work on -- well, relatively speaking. The metal on these trucks is so forgiving.

While waiting for the TH400 tranny, I did some more body work. There was a crease just above rear fenders about 3 feet long and a large dent behind the rear driver fender. I had to patch the inner panel in that area. So before I patched, I banged that huge dent out. The memory on this old metal is awesome.

The windshield needed a lot of work so I fabbed a few pieces. I also made a patch panel for just below the hood hinge mounts on the driver side.

I got the Big Block and TH400 set in place and the tunnel trimmed. I was working on finding something with a Saginaw steering box.

A friend gave me an 8 lug GMC late model rim and tire out of a set he had laying around. They bolted right up ... unfortunately, the tie rod hit the wheel because these were 16" rims. If the offset was out a hair, it'd be great.

By mid-March I took a day off from working on the truck but still spent every moment I had looking for parts and making plans. I was waiting for better weather so I can run my electrolysis tank.

Seems like the "waiting" didn't last long - other stuff to do.

It all started when I put the water pump / oil filter stuff on the front of the block. The motor would have to go down and into the firewall more. Well that meant cutting the firewall. Well my gas pedal had to be moved. Not a problem.

I drilled the tack welds for the pedal hinge. I also realized the brake pedal was in the way. My first thought was to use the clutch pedal to push the brake. Gas pedal where the brake was. Good idea but the clutch pedal was in the way also. Well it's very close.

It seemed this build was getting crazy. My plan of keeping most of the truck original was sliding away.

So I was talking to my Mother and she said the spare school bus we had was some type of conversion. I guess it was a one-ton panel converted to a Suburban. All the other school busses I see are busses with AD front clips.

So, cooked up a new plan: looking for solid 4x4 front axle swap with Saginaw; something with front disc brakes and I'll grab the firewall mounted brake stuff. Cable to re-mount the original gas pedal. I'll grab the steering column also. I'll probably fab pitman arm if I can't find right one.

I'm still thinking I want to keep lever shocks. So I will flip and mount to rear of front donor axle. I want to fab a mechanical floor shift linkage but if I generate enough funds, I'll probably buy a Lokar. Worst case: I'll cable shift it.

Only questions left are stock rear axle or donor ?? And rear drive shaft staying and either cutting short shaft or buying a short custom shaft or finding / buying a new one piece.

Well, great news after all that. I scored a free parts truck: 1987 v10. I'm taking both axles, the whole steering and the brake booster with the pedal. The truck has front disc and rear drum.

On the parts truck, the wheel surface to wheel surface measurements are :
  • 1949 stock 1-ton
  • Rear : 65"
  • Front : 62"
  • 1987 rear : 62.5"
  • Front : 65.5"

So far most of the parts and materials have not come out of pocket. I happen to have good scrap metal and a whole lot of sheet metal. Even way back, some parts came from donor trucks before they were gift trucks.

The latest installment of this truck will have recycled another dead Chevy. It's like the donors live on in my Panel truck.

The offset on the newer gear has me thinking the front will fit. The outer tire to outer tire comes to 70" about. My inner fender measurement comes to 72" . I will be changing the tires though. These tires aren't holding air. My '49 tube tires are in better shape.

The rear I might keep the Eaton and find 3.23s or 3.56s to put in it. Depends on gears in the '87. If the '87 has highway gears, then I'll swap that over.

We got another score soon there after. A choice of 1/3 divorced transfer cases. We finally got the parts truck from the farm and I started pulling parts, with my son (10) and daughter (4) helping. They got all the little screws and such off the dash panel so I could get the brake pedal bracket out. They actually saved me a lot of hassle. I was able to work under the hood while they worked the dash. My 4 year old is my li'l mechanical genius.

So I pulled the steering column, brake booster and pedal mount with the pedal. Later I pulled the steering box and axles.

I had to help pull the motor and trans as cost of the parts I'm taking.

After all that, I realized I had a dumb moment -- the front and rear axles have to match. At least the gearing does. So I need to identify the gears in the front.

As for the rear axles, I think the Eaton is the better choice over the 10 bolt. But then I have 8 lug rear and 6 lug front.

Conclusion ... beat the 10 bolt until it blows up. I would rather have to replace that then the original rear anyways.

I will probably go with a more aggressive tire. The wheel / tire combo on the donor truck is small. I am up in the air still on the window. I had some glass for it, but all my glass is original smoked glass. I have not found anything that matches. Everything I find tinted, has a green color. My glass is pure black smoke. I don't think I'll be ordering any custom glass soon.

There were many delays in getting my donor truck parts. Once they arrived, I had all my major components in my possession for getting my truck rolling, stopping and turning and possibly driving. Depending on the condition of everything on inspection and clean up, I plan to test fit things. I was eager to get started working on this!

In April, I took a Bolters suggestion of using truck rears. There was a Big Bolt on Craigslist about 40 miles south of me. I had been meaning to talk to the guy as he said in his ad that he had a 1-ton panel there, too. The Big Bolt caught my eye because it was an old wrecker. I thought about getting it and restoring the the thing to use at the shop as a wrecker again. But I got enough on my plate.

"Sounds like you been stricken with the hard to cure Stoveolt-accumulator bug, Josh." - Tim

Tim, you are right. I have been stricken. I absolutely love these trucks. I kinda wish I could save them all.

By May I decided not to do a window conversion. Plus, now that the weather was nice, it was time to re-build "electrolysis tank" and start cleaning parts.

I ordered new windshield rubber, seal and reproduction inside handles for windows and doors, and rear door hinge seals. I can't wait to see what that smoke glass is gunna look like.

Some interesting info I found while shopping for swap parts -- Jeeps used a 2" wide spring and shackles can be easily found cheaply.
I am going to use the original spring packs, with new shackles mounted outside the frame. These springs will then be wide enough to mount to my '87 front axle. The rear -- no width modification is needed. Just need to mount spring axle perches in narrower.

The width of my axles is going to make clearance ok for the leaf pack in the front being out a little wider. The original lever shock might become a problem even flipped around. I found the pitman arm puller but have yet to continue on the removal there, as I am focusing on closing up the truck, starting with the windshield.

I got some free 20" tires for my my Yukon. Same bolt pattern as my '87 axles but different hub size. Well, upon inspection while installing on my Yukon, I noticed they have a universal hub design. So they will fit the '87 axles. Not sure how the back spacing is going to work out.

After I got the tank re-built, the doors and fenders got dipped.

I had a heck of a time getting the door mechanics apart.

By June, I fabricated new brackets to mount to the outside of the frame. The leafs mount to these brackets. While making them, I got some metal in my eye. After many tries to flush it, and even trying a magnet, I had to go the the emergency room. They got it out, but I had a rust ring imbedded in my eye from the metal being in there over night. Eventually the eye people got it all out and I was back to 100%. It stunk being a pirate for a week.

Next step was to start getting the rivets off the front suspension and frame. I needed to get the axle under the truck, so I can mark my brackets for the mounting holes. My brackets are bolt on. The only permanent modification I am making to this truck is the work under the floor. Everything else is bolt on / bolt off.

By July I had the old axle and old springs off. I flipped the left and right springs and ground the ridges off the spring brace. I lined up the axle under the springs after bolting on the flipped rear spring braces.

Also I made a 1 gallon version an electrolysis tank and dipped my passenger side latch. Then dipped it in oil over night. A couple whacks with a hammer and its all freed up. This thing was rough.

I mounted the front brackets and started on the power steering swap.

I figured out a few things on the new 4x4 axle. I noticed that the front axle universals that attach to the hubs are bad on both sides. And the driver wheel is locked. The passenger side was locked but was freed up with some rolling. Maybe when I get weight on it and rolling again, it will pop free. If not, I may be replacing the auto lock hubs with manual hubs.

I may also have to use new style shocks and keep my lever shock aside. This is for 3 reasons.

  • not to destroy my original parts
  • comfort -- I am hoping I will get a smoother ride
  • ease of install

I had a major detail overlooked and I didn't realize it until I started finding facts on NAPCOs . I have an old Dana 24 front drive shaft that exits on driver's side. On AD conversions, they used the Dana 24. Later 1/2-tons used this style and 3/4-tons and 1-tons used Dana 23 and passenger side front drive shaft.

My current front axle is passenger side drive shaft. My Dana 24 will not work in this configuration as far as I know. So on to my search for another option for divorced transfer case. I find the np205, commonly used in GM, very durable. There are many custom and after market options. If I find two Dana 23, I would be in awesome shape.

Since I started working on my truck outside, I have had so many visitors. I enjoy talking about my truck so, if you are in the area and want to swing by and check it out, come on by!

I love my friends. I go to a birthday party at a friend's farm. It is one of the places we all ride our 4x4's. I was at the party 20 minutes and after the second person asked how my truck was making out, I informed them I need a different transfer case. The second guy tells me he has a divorced np205 for me. Lil while later we worked out a deal -- two late '50s International truck doors with glass. I don't even have a International. Someone gave them to me because they confused them for Chevy doors. He has three International trucks; one is a NAPCO. Love that truck.

So, if you want to see how I am progressing on this re-build, check in at the forum thread in Panels & Burbs!




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