Bill Ritter's

1951 Chevy 2-Ton Ashton Body Wrecker

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10 January 2007
# 1776

From Bill :

           Here is my old Big Bolt for the Gallery. It is a 1951 2-ton with an Ashton Wrecker body. It is completely original, 216 babbit-bearing 6 (don't tell me these engines aren't strong ) two speed rear axle. It has never let my family down in the 20 years we have owned it.

           It is one tufffff truck. and is still in service!

           Here is some history on the truck. It came from the factory with the Ashton Wrecker body on it. The original 216 has never been opened up. It has a two-speed Eaton vacuum shift rear-end, the old granny low 4 speed, and a PTO driven winch. It's all NOW as it had been when it was built.

           It was first owned by a local Chevrolet dealership to tow cars needing repairs. It was the biggest wrecker in town for decades. After several years of service, the dealership sold the tow truck to some old friends of my Dad's. They were rock layers and they used to haul rocks out of the mountains of Arkansas for their work. They would chain the wrecker's front bumper to a large Oak tree, use the winch to back two 1/2-ton Army trucks down steep mountain sides, load them up with tons of rocks, and winch them back up the mountain again.

           Thankfully, it was not used very long by them before it was parked for about 10 years. One Sunday morning after we had gotten heavy into restoring all things old, my Dad remembered the old wrecker. He made some phone calls to track it down and we went to see it.

           We put fresh gas and a hot battery in it and drove it home that day (with no brakes!). It has been in constant use by us ever since.

           The picture is from my parentís yard, where the truck is. I am a second-generation old stuff nut. We have about 75 old cars left from Cuda's to T-models that my Dad, my brothers, and me hauled in over the years. At one time, we had well over 100 rusty old cars waiting to be restored.

           Since my Dad passed away in Ď04, I have been using it a lot to pull the old cars out of the woods and selling them one at a time on eBay for my Mother (they were my Dadís life insurance policy for my Mom I guess! She sure has been blessed to have the extra income.)

           I use the Chevy almost exclusively on my family's property now. I have a boom extension that my Dad built for it. It is VERY handy for pulling engines, and moving heavy stuff.

           I would love to hear from all other old Bolters, but especially those who have pictures of other Ashton bodies. I know that the boom, sling, and rear of this body are not original. Dad built it years ago. How was it tore up? That is another story for another day.

           I would like to find or build one that is closer to original though. With time, other old cars and trucks that my Dad collected over the years will be sold, but this truck will not be! We can't bring ourselves to part with it. When all of the hard work is done on our property, I will restore it. For now, there is too much work to be done! And even being restored, I will never retire it. It will always be a working truck.

Happy Bolting!!!

Bill Ritter
Bolter # 9539
Hot Springs, Arkansas

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