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1953 Chevy 3100 1/2-Ton

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  Owned by Andrew Phelps
Moline, Illinois
21 August 2008
# 2408

From Andrew :

       Here is a picture of my 1953 Chevy 3100 1/2-ton.  I don’t know much about restoring trucks or cars. All I know is that this truck is pretty cool looking. 

       I bought the truck from my Aunt’s brother last summer for $600. It did run a few years ago but ended up sitting in my Aunt’s backyard for several years.  It has plates from 1985 which where last licensed in 1993. 

       This past July, my Uncle, my Cousin, and I drove to my Aunt’s house to pick up the truck. The truck was in Northeast Iowa -- I live in Moline, Illinois (about halfway between Chicago, Illinois and Des Moines, Iowa).

       During all that time the truck had been sitting, it became home to mice, snakes, and any other critter that lives in Iowa. There was a tree frog under the hood the day we picked it up. Of course, we let it go in the woods unharmed. The truck was also up the axles in mud and dirt. Luckily, it was in neutral so we used a 4-wheel drive Chevy Suburban to pull it out.  We then winched it onto a flatbed trailer and hauled it home (about 200 miles).

       Once I got my truck home, I gave it a good pressure washing and blasted away all the green moss growing all over the body. I also removed the mice nests in the head liner. Then I removed what was left of the head liner and foam padding. This was a very unpleasant job!!! 

       I removed the seat, seat frame, the nasty smelling carpet and the gas tank (which resides behind the seat).  I scooped out shovels full of rust particles. 

       After a few days drying and airing out to rid it of the horrible stench, I moved it into my single car garage. I am already realizing that my garage is way to small, but at least my truck is out of the Midwest weather (rain, sleet, snow, hail, tornadoes, etc.).

       I researched my truck and found the serial numbers. My truck was made in Janesville, Wisconsin. However, the engine is a 19’54  235 Inline six and was made in Flint, Michigan.

       My truck has 95,463.7 miles. I’m assuming that not all those miles where put on the 235 engine. It has been converted to 12 volts.

       Apparently, it had been fixed up once and painted red. The original color was a dark green. 

       The cab floor was covered up with a piece of sheet metal which is welded in and the truck bed also has sheet metal welded in instead of wood planks. The front fenders are now connected to the rest of the cab with fiber glass and lots of bondo.

       Part of the dash was also hack-sawed out where the radio once was. I’m assuming somebody did this so a newer radio would fit into it.

       All of the windows are cracked or have been shot at.

       Lastly, a rear bumper was welded on with a home-made trailer hitch. I have the original truck grille but am missing the front and rear bumpers along with the original tail lights. There are currently no turn signals installed either.

       Once my truck was in the garage, I started working on the engine. I bought a nice Craftsman tool set from Sears along with an air compressor and air tools (not cheap, but the right tools make the job so much easier!). I disconnected the fuel line and made a make shift fuel line into a small gas can. I removed and cleaned the old spark plugs and put a squirt of oil in each cylinder. After getting a newer used battery from a friend and charging it up, I installed the battery not realizing that the wiring is a positive ground (positive terminal goes to the frame). 

       After turning over the engine a few times and some smoke, I disconnected the 12 volt generator and hooked up the battery correctly. Sad to say, I will be buying a new 12 volt generator soon as I have fried the current one.

       The only thing that currently works on my truck is the dual horns, which got all my neighbors attention. It’s very loud!

       With no luck of it starting and some testing, I realized I wasn’t getting a spark. I replaced all the spark plugs, spark plug wire set, ignition coil, distributor points, and distributor condenser. The rotary contact was still ok and I just cleaned that up a bit. I am now getting a spark but no fuel to the carburetor.

       I tried pouring a little bit of gas into the carburetor but still no luck of it starting. I removed the fuel pump and tested it -- which is shot. Gas ended up leaking out through its breather holes in the bottom.  I went ahead ordered a new fuel pump and a carburetor rebuild kit.

       Although the engine has oil in it (which is black), I’m going to go ahead and perform an oil change now while I’m at it.  I also am going to replace a leaking lower radiator hose. I just rebuilt the carburetor today after getting the parts. I had taken it apart and soaked the parts over night in a gallon of parts cleaner. I rinsed the parts and did some additional scrubbing which cleaned it up nicely. I oiled all the moving parts in the carburetor as well.  I’ll install the new mechanical fuel pump and the carburetor when I get some more free time.  Hopefully with luck, the engine will fire up and run like a champ.

       I am learning much as I go. I am also learning that nothing is cheap! This project will cost much in the long run, but will be worth it. Once completed, my truck should be Candy Apple red with lots of chrome.  I’m going to try to keep it as original as possible but with disc brakes and turn signals. I want to install dual carburetors. I’m keeping the inline six even if I have to have it rebuilt. I am also trying to find out more history on my truck -- like when the engine was replaced, etc.

       Here are some more picture of my truck on Photobucket. And here are some specs for my truck:

  • Original color was dark green, is now red
  • Original engine was a 216, now has a 235 inline six installed
  • Manual transmission: “Three on the tree”
  • Mechanical glass bowl style fuel pump
  • Has 95,463.7 miles, not sure how many on the 235 engine
  • Has been converted from 6v to 12v & has a positive ground
  • Has 260 air conditioning (two windows down at 60 mph)
  • Lots of rust everywhere


Andrew Phelps

       We certainly wish you the best on this project. Love to see folks with passion like this. And we are always here to help ... the whole Stovebolt Collective! ~ Editor


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