1952 Chevy 3/4-Ton
11 May 2007
From John :
Here is my 1952 Chevy 3/4-ton. It has 80k miles on the original 216. My Dad bought it in 1974 for $600. He picked it up in Aberdeen, South Dakota and drove it back to St. Paul. He brought it home with sideboards above the top of the truck and with a grain door above the tailgate. It was blue and only had a few minor scratches from various fence posts and haywagon incidents. My Father purchased it from my Uncle's friend who asked his Father to find him an old farm truck at an auction. He did, but his son didn't want it because it was a 3/4-ton, a true haywagon.
My brother and I were very excited when he brought it home. He told us that it would be repainted and redone in two years. Not quite. The truck was only driven in the summer and we loved to get rides to hockey practice or baseball games riding in the back with the dog. During that time, my Father tried some different things with the truck. Him and a buddy put a dual carb setup on the truck with limited success. I'll never forget when they started it up and flames shot out both carbs all the way up to the top of the garage. Quite a site. Needless to say, it returned to its regular configuration except for the Fenton split manifolds that were traded for the dual intake manifold. They still sound great. Soon after that, she was put in storage in the bottom of a relatives barn.
After eight or nine years of truck purgatory, Uncle Frank decided he needed the room in the barn and we need to get that piece of "crap" out of the barn. So we dragged it out of the barn, full of bird doo and still standing tall on the still inflated split rim tube tires. I took the spark plugs out, sprayed down the cylinders with WD-40, put a battery in it, sanded the points and in about 10 minutes she was running like watch -- albeit on the old, skanky gas.
Now that it ran, the problem was getting the truck out from the old barnyard up to the street (the barn's built into a hill and had two levels). After sitting for so long, the exhaust was non-existent and there were no brakes. I decided I could start it up and drive it up the grass hill onto the street. No problem -- unless it starts to rain and makes the hill slick.
After a few exciting rides forward, then backward rolling into the old chicken coop, I made it to the street. This is when the work began.
The brakes were all gone through, a new regulator and fuel pump (I'm sure the old gas was not beneficial) were installed and it was semi roadworthy. I had some custom 1950-style mufflers made for the split manifold and new exhaust (Porter style?) pipes. I then drove it straight to a friend of the family's backyard body shop and had him do the minor bodywork, primer the truck and paint the running boards black.
I then drove it straight to a tire shop and had two of the split rims with tires taken off and replaced with 16.5" wagon white wagon wheel rims and 2 bias ply tires. The beloved haywagon could now be driven on the roads. This was, I believe, around 1986.
The truck was driven sparingly on and off (mostly off) until 1995 when it was once again put into storage. This time my Father put in a pole barn with a nice class 5 gravel floor. Out of sight, out of mind. Besides, by now he had other toys to attend to that needed far less work.
Seven years go by and I asked him where the truck was -- I wanted to go see it. He told me that somebody saw it in the barn and wanted to buy it for $5,000. I was mad! How could that happen? My brother and I decided not to let it happen since I had poured my heart, sweat, and money into that thing. We were originally going to buy it from him for $4,000. But Dad decided that he would give it to my brother, sister and myself. Then he decided to give the truck to me since I had put most of the work into it. Awesome! Because of the good storage conditions, the truck looked like it hadn't aged a day when I saw her in the fall of 2002.
The following summer, we dragged her out of the barn into the world again. I traded $100 and a limited edition Dale Earnhardt diecast car to Huggy (the barn and shop owner) to help me get the beast running again. This time I sucked out the old gas, put in a new battery and let it rip. I would fire, but wouldn't run. So we beat on the tires to free up the brakes enough so the wheels would turn so we could tow it into the shop.
Turns out that the gas tank was scaled up inside and kept clogging the fuel line. After cleaning it out, she was born again (we thought). A few days later, my girlfriend and I drove down to drive the truck 25 miles back to home. About two hours and about 10 fuel clog breakdowns, we made it home. Stopping every mile or so to disconnect the fuel line and blow out the fuel filter by mouth was quite and adventure.
Shortly after that, I pulled out the gas tank and had it cleaned, coated and put a new sending unit in it. I also installed an inline glass fuel filter to prevent the problem again. Since then I've rebuilt the carb, put in new points, plugs, wires, coil and condenser (turns out at the time all it needed was the $2 condenser).
Now that I have her, I try to do something to it every year until I run out of my truck fund (tax refund). Since then I've put in new oak and stainless truck bed (lots of work), new front springs, shackles and shocks and had the brakes rebuilt. This year my fund has been depleted by my regular car (which needs a new transmission). All I'm doing this year is buying small things that I know she needs to stay healthy.
This picture with the other black vehicle in the garage -- that is my buddy's 1930 Chevrolet 2 door sedan. He's building it himself from the ground up. Quite a project considering most of the inner framwork of the cab is made of wood and he's replacing most of it with metal.
The next step will be to buy some new metal parts (stake pockets on the bed, splash apron, back sill on the bed) and have them welded on. It should be ready for paint in the next few years. I'll keep pecking away at it and eventually it'll get done (is it ever done?). I figure I have to get it done soon enough for my Dad to see the results. I love driving it and I hope it will be in the family for years to come.
I'll send more pictures when it is completed.
Bolter # 12041
Cottage Grove, Minnesota
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