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1956 GMC 370 2-Ton Dump Truck




 

 
 

" 'Tater "

Owned by James Waechter
"Freq2002"
Bolter # 12882
Whidbey Island, Washington

Talking about this truck
in the DITY Gallery


01 December 2009
# 2709

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From James :

Howdy! Welcome to the insanity I named 'Tater. All the step by step details, trails, tribulations, and numerous other items of (dis)interest can be found on my Big Bolts forum thread but I'll throw down a basic run down of my crusty old girl for those that don’t have all day.

In 2006 I was looking for an old truck that I could modify to haul around my other money pit, a highly modified VW roadster . I was hoping for a flat bed, but came across 'Tater instead. I just loved the look of those 55-59 grilles and had to have it.

After getting it and realizing it would never be what I wanted without making a whole new truck, I elected to keep her as is.

As for history, based on the paint layers, it seems it started life as a county truck. Then this old Task Force was sold to a local farmer. Finally it went to a retired judge. Then I bought it from a third party who had never transferred the title. So the old truck still had the original farm exempt sticker on the fender and the original title from the early '70’s.

Getting her home was a fiasco. The brakes worked, but only so long as I didn’t let the pedal come all the way up and drain the residual pressure. No return spring so I rigged a bungee cord to help, topped the fluid, and we headed out at a blazing 30 MPH (it was stuck in low range).

Trip went well. The old beast ran well when you consider I later found it was running with one totally dead cylinder and a carburetor for a much smaller engine. I stopped before the first town to check for leaks, add some fuel, and headed out again. However, seems I forgot about the brake issue and let the pedal come up too far. Wouldn’t have been so bad except for the whole busy intersection ahead and the light was red. Good thing was the roads here have WIDE shoulders and the right turn lane was open. So I down shifted, engaged pucker factor 8, and swung that big old girl around the corner without entering the crossing traffic lanes. NOT cool, but a motorcyclists attention to detail, reflexes, and practicing defensive driving probably saved my hiney!

Needless to say I decided to have it towed to a local tire shop for new rubber. Thankfully there was an old guy that knows his slit rims and had fun scaring the youngsters with my two widowmakers (two outta six, not bad!). The guys around the shop were calling her ‘Mater. I thought it’d be funny to call it ‘Tater -- Tow-Maters big sister.

After she got some shiny new shoes, I had her towed home and the real fun commenced.

It took almost two years to get the real work done, and I was very lucky finding some of my parts. I managed to luck into a freshly rebuilt 270cu engine that had all the correct casting numbers for a ’56. A fellow on here hooked me up with an NOS factory-correct Holley carb. And by some miracle, I found an NOS in the box HydroVac on eBay for a mere $25. There’s also a local guy that kept all his generator shop toys and does full rebuilds in his garage for a reasonable price.

Now 'Tater is a working girl again. I take her to the local shows with my VW (took home 2nd & 1st place respectively at this show and I have done a couple jobs here and there with my company ... Old ‘N Slo. Business is hard these days, but those are the times we live in. It’s still a hoot takin' her out, loading up a capacity load of stumps or load of dirt, even more so when I see what over 200,000 lbs looks like at the end of a long steep driveway and a longer day.

She may not be the purtiest girl at the dance, but she can still boogie!

These days I'm trying to put together those parts I need to get the rust in the body fixed, as funding allows of course. Being out of work for six months kinda skewed the finances a few degrees off course. But I'm hoping we can get her near fully restored, as close to original as possible, AND still workin' for her supper. << Grin >>

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