Ned Stapleton's

1952 Chevy 3100 1/2-Ton


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29 January 2007
# 1792

From Ned :

           This is my almost finished 1952 Chevy pickup truck. This picture shows It parked in the driveway at my good friends Roger and Rebecca's house in Allegan, Michigan.

           I bought this beauty in North Carolina in 1992 and it's been a slow, "three state" restoration. It appears to be done -- and it drives okay -- but still has a few remaining issues, mostly electrical. The truck is in Michigan (long story) and I live in Virginia so I only get to work on it a little here and there. We will be reunited in retirement which is only a few years from now.

           The truck had been a daily driver when I found it. It was painted primer red, still had the original 216 and a very tired three speed on the column. The interior was a time capsule, complete with ratty 6-volt wiring and non-working gauges. Someone had discarded the bench seat and drilled in funky Pinto bucket seats.

           The cab had been damaged in some way and sort of fixed. It looked okay but neither door would shut right. That has since been fixed but neither door still fits quite right; will probably always be part of the identity of this truck.

           I found a 235 engine, rebuilt it to stock and matched it with the proper carburetor, also rebuilt. The 235 is a good, solid engine and is well worth rebuilding. The 216 is a disposable 40,000 farm engine -- makes a decent boat anchor.

           My buddy Skip Roberts ('51 five window) put me on to a forgotten junkyard in his home state of West Virginia where cows and sheep roam among vintage GM cadavers. Everything was $5. Bench seat frame: $5. Door: $5 Door hinge: $5 Trim screw: $5 Window crank: $5. I came away with all I needed for like $105. No logic to the pricing but who was asking? What a treasure!

           One rainy day I got "Patrick" on the phone and he convinced me that GM used the same bell housing for 30 years and a Saginaw 4-speed would mount right into my truck. I found one in a 1980 Chevy Monza (remember those?) and the thing only had 49,000 miles on it. So that tranny is now in my truck along with a Patrick's period shifter. The tranny works well, shifts great, and was just the thing to do!

           I rewired the vehicle 12 volt and rebuilt each gauge and changed each light as necessary. That part was actually kind of fun but I still have a problem with the alternator. It stays "hot" even with the key is off so I have to disconnect the battery every day. I need a wiring geek. Always something.

           I have taken a lot of grief for my choice of interior color. I am well aware of the original GM utilitarian dark gray-olive that went with every exterior. I chose to paint my interior a carmel-tan that is actually a stock '51 exterior color. It goes well with my dark brown interior vinyl seat, arm rests, and head liner and can still be considered "stock."

           I moved the truck from my home in Falls Church, Virginia to Michigan in 1998 and arranged for my friend Kenny Sisson to finish the body work and put the great paint job on it that he did. He took a personal interest and convinced me to replace the cab corners and other fatigued metal body parts. Kenny did a great job and I am indebted to him and his wife and kids, who let him spend long nights out in his garage working on my truck.

           The last work session, Roger and I installed the rebuilt heater on the interior firewall and mounted restored outside mirrors. Next spring, we'll tackle mounting a new, rebuilt head, newly purchased headers and exhaust system. We'll install the after-market oil cleaner. I never set out to build a hot rod but performance enhancements definitely make the truck even more enjoyable to drive.

           The truck is now in storage. I get to work on it two or three times a year. One of these days, it'll be a daily driver again.

Ned Stapleton
Falls Church, Virginia



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