01 January 2016
# 3119

 
  Owned by
Brady Warner
"diseasel"
Bolter # 27118
Pennsylvania

 

1950 Chevy 3800 1-Ton Daily Driver

4-53T Detroit Diesel Converted

 

More pictures of my old truck

Join the discussion about this truck

 

From Brady :

I'll start with a brief story of my life and the build of the truck.  It took me a good six years to get it to where it is today. My first entry in the forums about this truck was November 2010 but I had been looking in the forums for quite a while before I finally posted something about the truck.

I took a pause for two years on the project. There was a time lapse to move, get married, get a house, have the first kid. But most of the big stuff is done on the truck and it's good as a daily driver. And like many of the old truck owners, I'm always tinkering, fixing, changing, adding something.

The truck:

  • 1950 Chevy 1-ton 3800
  • 1980 453T Detroit Diesel (out of a C65 with 80,000 miles)
  • Clarke 5 speed over-drive
  • 1996 P30 I-beam front (shortened about 11') with Single Rear Wheel hubs (it was a dually front end and I found a hub from NAPA and I machined it down to make it fit)
  • 1985 14-bolt rear converted to disc
  • 1975 Dodge Saginaw 4wd steering box

The story:

I was on the hunt for a project that would involve a diesel conversion.  I was actually looking for a half-ton. I wasn't that familiar with this series Chevy but I thought a 1-ton would have to be better than a half -- you really don't see them around much.

I was in my mid-20s at the time and was not looking for a garage queen. I wanted to build a workhorse vehicle that I could hold onto for a very long time and drive it like a normal truck.

After relocating from Georgia to New Jersey, I rented out an old barn where I could build my furniture and restore a vehicle on the side, besides my job which is fabrication and sculpture.

I started looking everywhere for this truck. My boss had a friend and older co-worker who had a 1950 Chevy 3800. He got the truck back in the mid-1970s where it used on a Georgia peach farm.

The truck had a 216 with Muncie 4-speed but it was pretty worn out. The frame was solid. The brakes were gone. There was a lot of that good old Northeast salted down rust.

We do business with the owner -- he transports sculptures. But back in the day, he used the truck to haul heavy blocks of stone which were used in his stone sculptures. My boss was having dinner with him and he mentioned he wanted to get rid of the truck. He had planned on giving the truck to his son, who was now in college. The PO never got around to fixing it up and in doing some spring cleaning, he just wanted to get rid of it.

My boss called me right away and I dropped everything and immediately went over to check it out. I only had $10 on me and the owner said great and signed over the title.  I then had it hauled to the barn I was working out of. It cost me more to move the truck to the barn than it did to buy the truck!

I immediately started working on it. Everything needed work. There was a substantial amount of rust in the cab. I started welding in new sheet metal while working around the install of the drive train. 

Once the engine (Detroit 453t with Clark 280VO 5peed) was installed, I had a pretty good idea for the axles and steering based on Grigg's Mullen's build. I discovered that the steering setup was the hardest part of the whole project -- matching the geometry with the p30 axle to a power steering setup (mid '70s Dodge 4x4 Saginaw box).

After electrical (Painless 12 circuit fuse block) was finally done, glass in, I took it for a test drive and couldn't have been happier. That was January of last year and four years had already passed. The only big thing that happened was the drag link nut ripped because the nut was stripped. The cotter pin was there to stop it. Fortunately, we were on the main street.

I had some alignment issues to fix and plenty of odds and ends. I had a kid from work paint the truck with Tractor Supply enamel. I did the prep work. I'm not good with paint but he was a did a decent job.

I can use the truck for anything and can cruise all day at 70.

Right now I'm working on the finishing touches I guess you could say -- windows and fix the headliner. I have to replace the heater core.

I did a little more tweaks and got some odds and ends fixed. Now I drive it to work everyday -- a five mile commute through the city of Trenton. 

I still have a little more interior work to do. I have half of the firewall lined with Dynaliner, and need to add more to the top half. Some of it is road noise coming up through the door and the shifter column which needs a bellow on it. Before it was just bare sheet metal, and you couldn't stand the full RPM, even with the muffler I have on there. Once I started lining it, it was night and day, even a little goes a long way. (You need to hear this! He's not exaggerating ~ Editor) Other than that, I don't know how to quiet down a Detroit.

Why a Detroit? I have been around diesels growing up. My Dad had a 6 cylinder Detroit in a military crane (he builds houses in South Carolina). That is what got me hooked on the Detroit. I really like the way they are dependable and have a good reputation. Keep it maintained and it would run forever. I hope to give it to my kids some day.

I'm slowly incorporating more modern accessories. I had completed a custom gauge cluster. I am looking into heated seats and new headlamp kit and I want to fabricate a custom interior trim. Want to add LED headlights and get a trailering harness.

I have quite a list and there's always something more I want to do with it.  In a way its like owning a home, You live in it for a while, upgrade it and customise it to your needs. I think that distinguishes these trucks from your typical new car that you use and resell over and over. I find more soul in an older vehicle that you build with your own hands that carries you to work, keeps the roof over your head, and creates stories to tell.


Brady

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