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The Advance Design Trucks

16 June 2016
# 3068 and #3072

Owned by
Jim Slawnikowski
Bolter # 32257

1954 Chevy 3/4-Ton Chevy



1948-53-54 "Mixed Bag" Chevy Stakebed

"Basket Case"


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From Jim :

  This story actually was started in July 2014. Several issues on our end prevented us from finishing this part of a two-part Father-Son story. Jim's son, Stan has a 1964 Chevy C-10 Utility Truck and we got the story of "Montana" finished. We had a good draft on Jim's and then on Jim's end -- he moved, switched jobs and all the doings that go with such a major event. Needless to say, the project still waits for Jim and moving his family - and stuff - from one place to another is still in the works! ~ Editor

I started going through my next project. The truck is titled a 1954 Chevy 3600 with a flatbed (as you see in the picture). It was converted to a wrecker at some point in its life. There is a PTO that operates a winch under the bed of the truck.

When I looked up the VIN and serial number, I found this truck was sold as a 1954 with just the cab and chassis. I've got a pretty strong suspicion that this truck didn't have a bed on it when it was sold.

When the truck was used in Arkansas as a wrecker, the wench was obviously operational. I really hoped to get it working because I wanted to use it to wench up my motorcycle and its side car into the bed of the truck. There was so much involved in getting the bed to work with the existing wench. I ended up nixing the whole wench idea and just got a regular bed.

The flat bed had to go anyway -- it had 1/4" steel plates welded onto it and it was pretty rough. The perimeter of the bed had been smacked around and welded all over the place, so I didn't think there was any saving it.

Not to totally give up on the wench idea, I may build a small box in the bed and put in a receiver so I can use an electric wench. The bed is probably three feet high off the ground which makes it a steep area to overtake trying to run up our five foot ramp. I'll noodle on that one a while yet.

Besides the box for the wench (hopefully), I'm going to make some tool boxes for under the bed where the running boards are suppose to be. I may put some utility boxes underneath. That would be a good place to stow the wench when it's not in use.

In taking a few measurements, I was left scratching my head. The wheelbase is 142". I guessed the rear axle was shifted back around 16" brackets for the rear leaves have been welded to the frame. Were these brackets originally welded?

I could not see where brackets could have been initially bolted in or riveted.

So I found that my 3/4-ton bed box wasn't going to work as planned and longer running boards would need to be fabbed if the wheelbase stays as is. (In the bed box scenario, I might fab a spare tire holder / toolbox between bed and box.)

Also to add to the confusion, the front end ( fenders / grille ) is a 1954 and the cab is 1953 5-window. It could have been sold as a flat face cowl chassis I suppose. The door tags were removed but serial number from the title is J54S05147; and the engine number is 1018109F54XA.

I'm fairly certain the cab is a '47-53. I have a '53 wiring harness for it -- the wiring is a mess! It was converted to 12 volts at some point early in its life but all the wires are crusty and in very poor shape. I'm guessing the '53 harness was right because of the '53 cab. The brake components, suspension components, and drive train items will need to be circa '54 unless I find another mix of years as I dive into it.

Apparently a lot has happened to this truck in its lifetime.

It's quite the ensemble I've got in front of me and some decisions need to be made as to the project's direction. The best part I guess is that it's not a problem to take my own direction as keeping it "stock" would be anybody's guess. If anybody has any insight into the wheelbase and whether or not it was moved at some point, please let me know.

Right now the idea is to get it stopping correctly then get the engine running smoothly and reliably. Then we'll figure out how to proceed.

I've grown fond of the oddball myself. Plenty to do getting it roadworthy as is, before we begin to lay out plans for any changes.

In mid-May, I was hoping to at least get it on the road. I wanted to get it back to being a driver first.

I put a coat of oil on the stakes, rubbed them down and put them in place. I used teak oil and it only took about 30 minutes. I have to come up with a way to fasten the sides to the stakes. I may use the exposed cabinet screws but they are a weird fastener and have a funny head. (There is a good series of pictures in Jim's Photobucket on how nice the bed looks; check it out. ~ Editor)

Next, I'll wet sand everything - cab and fenders - and then seal it. I'll paint the interior.

I want to get it running for this season. I've got new brakes all around with new brake lines, master cylinder, wheel cinders. I got a new fuel tank and and new fuel line. I do have a new wiring harness but I'm not sure when I'll put it in. I may just trouble shoot the existing electricals until we are ready to tear the truck all down -- maybe next year, we'll take the whole cab off and go down to the bare frame.

The motor is in but I'm having some problems with it. Maybe the harmonic balancer is off. I have a 292 I can put in there if need be.

So, as I crawled along on this project, I found a lot of support and advice on Stovebolt. It is what makes the Stovebolt what it is!

Enter: "The Parts Truck"


I went and picked up a "parts truck" from St. Louis while I was debating about what to do on the bed. This "parts truck" had everything but the cab. The previous owner even had a good title. It was cheap. I took one look at it and bought it!

As I was sifting thru all the parts and pieces (all the instruments were there even), we figured we wouldn't be able to put a standard bed on it because it appeared someone had moved the rear axle back about eight inches or so. That completely messed me up for a regular bed (gosh ... this bed stuff ... !!!) But we figured a stake bed would work.

So, I just couldn't part with this "parts truck" -- it was complete (except the cab) ... so .... new project! We'll make her whole and complete!

The cab is a 1948 but that isn't what the title says. So, it'll be a '48 cab with a '53 frame and everything else on it will be a '54. It'll be a split window cab with a '54 grille.

I sourced another cab in Minnesota so I'll run up there, snag it and get this basket case back in order. We'll get this one all together before we go back to working on the first one. We'll get a new bed on and I will at least be able to drive it and take it to shows.

We'll enjoy it until next year and then we can take it all apart again, clean and paint it.

Then we can dive into the first truck and take it down to bare bones.

Once I get the two houses squared away, I can devote more time, attention and, of course, money to these projects.



Keep track of the restoration project details in the DITY Gallery and check for new photos to the Photobucket album. Any and all questions welcome! If you post in the forum, others can share in the discussion. Thanks ~ Editor


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