20 July 2013
# 3009

 
Owned by
Kent Zimmerman
"Lightholder's Dad"
Bolter # 14161
Mesa, AZ
 

1950 Chevy COE Model 5700

"Barney"

 

More pictures of my old truck

Join the discussion about this truck in the DITY Gallery

 

From Kent :

I acquired two half-ton Chevy pickups, a 1942 (about 15 years ago) and a 1951 (about 14 year ago). Each one had been restored prior to my ownership.

I got interested in bigger or midsize trucks. I don't have much interest in over-the-road diesels, but I like the midsize trucks that are the bigger brother of the pickups. That led to purchasing a 1947 Diamond T, Model 509 (GVW 14,700 pounds) in 2001. It also was previously restored.

On all three trucks, there were prior restoration issues that annoyed me. This got me to thinking of trying to do a frame off restoration myself. If I was going to do that, I wanted it to be a truck that I really liked, and that happened to be the Chevrolet Advance Design Cab Over Engine (COE) trucks.

Now you have to understand, I have little mechanical experience, as my day job is a desk jockey (I spend my days peering through a microscope as a Pathologist). I have gained experience repairing my other trucks, which gave me the confidence to attempt a complete restoration. I think I have always had some natural mechanical skills, but little experience.  My first truck was the '42 and I paid a shop to get it going.  My last truck, this 1950 COE, I did a total frame off restoration myself (with some help, here and there). Stovebolt.com was a consistent resource.

So finding a good truck for this project took some doing. I had been looking for an AD cabover and it was a while to find a suitable candidate. I found this one in Minnesota, just east of Fargo, North Dakota and exactly 1800 miles from my place in Arizona. It was a 1950 5700 with a grain body and hoist. The truck was pretty complete; an important consideration with these trucks. Many of the cab parts interchange with the ordinary trucks, so reproduction parts are available. Certain things, like the doors, hood, grab handles, floorboards and fenders are unique. It ran good enough to move around the yard and even the hoist worked.

After reading everyone's experiences over the past several years on Stovebolt, off I went on a 3600 mile round-trip journey, starting in Prescott, Arizona. I had a great experience driving through areas of the US I had not seen before (including the violent confrontation with a hen pheasant in South Dakota that wiped out my passenger mirror on my Silverado).

I bought the trailer a while back to haul my Diamond T, which is similar in size and weight to the COE. Not having any experience towing, I found it kind of frustrating at first. My driver is a 3/4-ton Silverado, Duramax with Allison tranny, standard factory hitch and the salesman knew nothing. The trailer people were knowledgable about their trailer but knew nothing about hitches. The hitch people knew nothing about trucks or trailers (or so it seemed).

So I had to do my research. I put a weight distribution hitch along with an anti-sway bar on the trailer tongue. The trailer people insisted that I didn't need a fifth wheel with the intended use and they were right. The trailer is dual 7000 lbs. axles with electric brakes and it stops fine (I didn't even have it on the maximum braking setting). I have hauled my Diamond T and now the COE for over 8,000 miles and I am really pleased with my rig. The Allison tranny has a tow haul mode which is most useful when slowing where it will automatically downshift, just like you would do if driving with a manual tranny.

With the COE on my trailer, the top of the truck was 11 feet high, so you would think it would handle awful in the wind -- but it handled nicely. At the end of the first day heading back to AZ, the wind and rain were so bad that I could hardly stand up in the parking lot when I got out. I was really surprised that the rig was so steady.

I normally drove about 65 miles per hour but slowed a bit as I had a headwind. The entire trip back averaged 11 miles to the gallon of diesel, but when heading into the wind that dropped to 6-7 mpg.

In addition to the pheasant episode, I was nearly broadsided by a rampaging cow on I-40 in northeast AZ. A semi was passing me, not paying attention to the cow, or cowboy on horse chasing the cow, in the median of the Interstate. I had to do an emergency stop on the shoulder to avoid the semi (who just barely tapped the cow with his front bumper).

The driver truck is 2004 with first generation Duramax and it had enough power. Part of the fun was people stopping and talking to me at the all too frequent refueling stops. I met a fellow ATHS member in Raton, New Mexico who pulled up to talk when he saw my new find. I also got the usual waves from people, especially in Nebraska.

All in all it was tiring (three days there; three and a half days on the return) but well worth it. Now I was ready for the pleasure of a long restoration process.

While I was studying the COE and contemplating restoring one, I wanted to know how tall they were. My shop in Prescott has 8 foot doors and I wanted to know if it would fit.

I was at an ATHS show in Colorado Springs and one guy let me measure the height of his COE. I researched factory information and I determined the truck was one inch shy of 8 feet so it would fit.

When I arrived home from my trip, I discovered that I forgot about the cab marker lights on top and it wouldn't fit!! You have to have the marker lights, as that is part of the truck personality. So, I called my friend who built my shop and despite his protests, I convinced him to help me raise the header on the door, modify the garage door, and raise it 6 inches.

You will notice the truck used to be black and I am more partial to blue, so I decided to repaint it in Mariner Blue, a correct color for that year truck. I really wanted this truck to be stock.

I also restored the bed, using reclaimed telephone poles out of the Arizona desert, which provided very dry and stable wood. It has a hydraulic lift, so this truck could actually go to work.

I started working part time about six years ago, giving me time to attempt the restoration of the COE. The truck restoration took four years. He has already been in the Prescott, AZ Christmas Parade. Since he has to earn his keep, I anticipate he will make a few runs to the local dump also.

My wife named the truck Barney (for Barnesville, MN where the truck came from). The photos in the link above include a shot in Colorado Springs with Pikes Peak in the background and my place near Prescott AZ, with stable mates (the 1942 Chevy pickup and the 1947 Diamond T, model 509).

My oldest son, Scott is Lightholder and he joined Stovebolt.com when he was 12 years old in 2000. He made me aware of your site. He became a mechanical engineer and maintains an interest in old trucks. He doesn't have a truck. Perhaps when he has the time and place for one, he will have one of mine.

Stovebolt has been a big help to me with my three Chevy trucks.  In small increments, I gained the knowledge and confidence to do more and more on these old beasts.  You guys do a great job,

Kent G. Zimmerman, M.D.

Kent

 

Great story Kent! For more details, discussions and updates, post in Kent's DITY Gallery thread. I'm sure more photos will be uploaded to his Photobucket album, too. Thanks ~ Editor

 

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