A 'virtual garage' of antique Chevy & GMC trucks from around the World
1957 Chevrolet Pickup Truck
22 October 2007
From Russell :
At long last, my truck is ready for the Gallery. This is my 1957 project that I started 6 1/2 years ago. It was advertised as "needing paint." Ha!!
I took the truck down to the last nut and bolt, and invested more than any two previous vehicles ever cost me, but what an education.
The truck was trailered home in January 2001. I expected to fix a little here, and a little there (remember, it only really NEEDED paint, and paint doesn’t make it run any better). I hoped I'd have it on the road as a summer daily driver. As I dove in and discovered the true needs, I quickly embraced the doctrine that there’s no sense healing the symptoms if I don’t cure the whole patient. Consequently, I spent that winter dismantling the entire truck (photo here of truck minus front suspension), labeling every component, putting small parts in egg cartons or baggies, and taking digital photos of various assemblies and brackets for use in the re-assembly process (photo of left toeboard and right hinge). I devoured everything on The Stovebolt Page and read Custom Classic Trucks every month (it was different a few years ago). I sent for several parts catalogs (the ones we all use), and started going to swap meets. At the swap meets, I asked questions of truck owners, and gradually developed a sense of how to proceed.
I reduced the truck to nothing but the bare frame and rear axle. The rear axle had to stay in place so I could move it around like a wheelbarrow. I rigged up a tongue to the front bumper, and towed the frame to a friend’s who had a good-sized sandblaster. I brought the blasted frame home, removed the rear axle, and painted the chassis with POR 15. The completed rolling chassis included new kingpins, tie-rod ends, shackle bolts, U-bolts, brake lines, polypropolene leaf spring liners, and power steering from a 1976 pickup.
I decided to bite the bullet and have someone else do the body. I asked everyone I knew, and followed many leads, but found that capable individuals only worked on their own vehicles, or correctly assumed that I didn’t have enough money to hire them to do the job. One such chap had an AD cab in progress, and was able to demonstrate the importance of correctly supporting the cab while working on it, and welding cross braces in the door openings before cutting body parts away. I did both, and never had any trouble with fenders, hood or doors fitting after the sheet metal restoration.
The replacement of patch panels took a long time, but it was a good excuse for buying a MIG welder, taking a welding course at the local high school, and buying a real air compressor with die grinders, cut-off wheels, and a paint gun. Between a full-time job, a landscape company and Christmas tree plantation, the truck project was seldom highest priority. I retired in 2003, expecting to finally be able to devote more time to it, but the landscaping and Christmas trees didn’t go away, and launching a consulting firm put me back where I had been.
I continued by tackling many projects, one at a time, (photo of gas tank and photo of door bottom) until it really needed a skilled pro to align the fenders, hood, and doors just so, and get it ready to paint. LaDuc’s body shop in Rutland, VT always has two nice 1957's in their yard -- a car carrier and a wrecker. When it was suggested I talk with Don LaDuc, I finally found the right guy. He has a whole stable of tri-fives, and he was willing to finish mine. Be careful about dealing with a craftsman. Steps, cab corners, and slightly bowed bed panels that I felt were ready to paint, were offensive to his eye, so he ‘upgraded’ the body work. I discovered the real difference between OK and top quality work. He kept the truck for three months in 2006, and returned it to me with the cab, doors, and glass all done (photo at LaDuc's).
Last winter, I worked on the dash, electrical system, interior, and bed wood. This spring, I prepped the bed sides and rear fenders, and took them to LaDuc’s for paint and final assembly. I brought home the finished bed, and with one guy on each corner, we set it on the frame. We took it out in public to the local cruise-in for the first time on June 26, 2007. Photo from the driver's side and the passenger's side.
I bought a lot of parts from Chevy Duty and LMC Truck, but this project never could have succeeded without The Stovebolt Page. Between answers to my own questions and posts by others, the mysteries of 'bolting have been revealed. Throughout this odyssey, my wife, Donna, has been very tolerant, figuring it was a better past time than booze or strange women. But now that it is on the road, she enjoys riding in it, and gives a polite "Thank you" to the many comments of "Nice truck."
A big thanks to the Stovebolt Staffers for maintaining this site.
Russell S. Reay