I haven't posted here much, but I have used the site a few times in the past year since joining. In February I bought a 1946 Chev 1/2 ton truck with the intent of modifying it. Modern suspension, 350 V8 - all the usual fun stuff! Even though I bought the truck not running, I figured I would get it running and drive it for the summer while I finalized plans and sourced parts for the build. Well, funny enough I fell in love with putzing around town in it. So much so that I began to feel guilty about planning to tear apart a running/driving all original 6 volt 1/2 ton truck. How many are left now, can I really tear it apart?? I began hunting for another truck, missing out on 1 great deal on a basket case being dumped for 1/2 it's value. I then got a hold of a 1939 1.5 ton truck at an auction. I can now have the best of both worlds, leaving the survivor whole and modify the rough truck. I consider myself very fortunate as my wife works in the retail store that is an offshoot of a restoration shop. The owner very generously allows the employees to work on personal projects. That means I have access to a complete restoration shop where I can not only work, but get advice on what step to take next. I started in on the '39 build by stripping down a 1946 1/2 chassis that I bought from a body-person at the shop. She had swapped the body to a S-10 chassis and was not going to use it, so for 200.00 it was mine. I stripped it down to the rails and rear suspension and sandblasted it. I left the rear suspension on it so that it was somewhat portable. While I do have access to the shop I need to move it in and out of a bay when I am working on it so as to not plug the bay up continuously. Once word spread around the shop that I had started my build and was looking for a 350SBC for it, I lucked into 1980's Diplomat motorhome engine and transmission. The motorhome was rough due to water damage, but only had 70,000 original KMs on it. That converts to 43,500 miles for you Southern neighbors. I pulled the engine and confirmed it was a 4-bolt main and also found zero sludge in the oil pan and the oil gallery up top. I looked at the cylinder walls and there is still some faint cross-hatch visible! The engine is currently on a stand while I clean and paint it and ready it for install- Coming soon! I decided on the rims/tires combo, which is a set of steel 10x16 (rear) and 8x16 (front) rims and will have them powder coated tractor Red. I bought some Michelin P265/75-R16(rear) P235/75-R16 (front) tires which I initially thought would fit. Turns out, the sizes mentioned on the website are not the mounted dimensions so I need to install some tubs in the box to make room for the rear tires. I could choose a smaller tire, but these are going ot look so cool that I am willing to spend the time to modify the box so they can fit. In September I removed the body from the 1.5 ton and it dropped right onto the factory mounts of the '46. A few weeks later we installed a new Mustang II front suspension. I was really excited as the build was progressing nice with regular milestones to keep the momentum going. Since then, things have slowed a little. I have gotten bogged down a bit on the truck box. To start I had no box to speak of as the 1.5 ton had a flat deck and the 1/2 ton was the chassis only. I scrounged up some box sides and rails and then purchased new 47-54 fenders and front/rear panels. I spent a few days modifying the fender mounting positions as the box sides were originally from a long box. Long story short, I finally realized the hours I had spent and the hours I would need to spend were a huge waste of time. I purchased new box sides and started to move forward again. I left for work with the box 90% done so I can get on to the rear suspension when I return. I purchased a Ford 9inch differential from the same lady that I got the '46 chassis from. The next task will be to narrow it and install the 4 link rear suspension. the pictures look a little goofy as the truck has way too much of a rake as it is still sitting on the original rear end. I am very excited to see it sitting on the new suspension and I want a look at the tires in the fender wells!
See the attachment for pictures.
More to come soon!
Last edited by Canadian_guy; Mon Nov 12 2018 12:16 AM. Reason: added attachment
Well here it is 3 months later and a ton of work has been done, I have broken the 250 hour mark on the build... Most of the big welding work has been completed, though some things have only been tacked in place. the rear 4-link suspension is in and I really like the stance of the truck now, low and mean looking! The entire frame will be gone over once all the fitting has been completed. The whole frame will then be sandblasted again and painted. The engine and transmission have been mounted, a small block Chev 350 and a 400R transmission. I changed the transmission as I was originally going with the turbo 350 I got with the engine, but when deciding on the rear diff gear ratio, I went a little lower and can use the 400R OD to get me to a nice cruising speed. This way I get the best of both worlds, if I want a little smoke from the tires I have the torque, but I can also cruise for days and get decent mileage. The cab now has fresh controls; a tilt steering column, brake pedal assembly, gas pedal and E-brake. That was a milestone for sure when the steering was connected up and actually works. Prior to that, when the truck needed to be moved, you had to grab the front wheel and push/pull to steer the wheels. After repairing the firewall I mounted the master cylinder and brake booster. The brake pedal assembly mounting was a little tricky, but only because of the awkward body position required to work up under the dash. The front bumper is next to be mounted, I need to fabricate some new brackets and then drill and bolt it to the frame. There is a picture of it sitting in place and I think it is going to look awesome! I lucked into a brand new set of old stock 5" fog lamps I will mount to the bumper as well. I also got an aluminium visor from my father-in-law and that will look cool too. I had 16 x 8 rims on the front, but had clearance issues with the steering so I needed to reduce them to the 16 x 7 and a regular offset. I went with a Michelin LT truck tire and a set of white wall side inserts as they are much cheaper than a set of white wall tires. I wanted a really wide white wall and only had 1 option for the tire size I had and it was a very expensive tire.
Up next: Fabricate a gas tank, choose a radiator and mount it, fabricate a seat frame for the BMW bucket seats and sort out seat belts.
I am starting to feel the pressure of having this competed for spring, I am not sure I will make it but will keep pushing to try!
It is our 22nd wedding anniversary this month, I will be sure to take the wife out and say thank-you and show some appreciation for all the time she is letting me spend on this project!
I am looking for ideas on a box cover. I don't like the fibreglas style as it needs to be removed, nor am I a fan the fabric with snap covers. I really like the roll-top cover, but don't want to lose the box space to the drum. any thoughts, suggestions?? I have added a couple of pictures to the photo montage.
Just having a look thru your Photo Album. You are doing some pretty nice work, and I like your choices for motor, trans, and rear end. I have a couple of questions 1. I think you may have a 1940 Cab there. As far as I know, even tho the '39 & '40 are almost identical, the " 40's were the only year to have the parking lights on the front fenders ? Are those the original fenders ? Certainly possible they could have been swapped out along the way.
2. You mentioned BMW seats ? That was one of the big issues when I was building my truck - the cab is so small, difficult to find seats that work. Could tell me which model / year the Bimmer seats are from ? Are you planning on mounting on existing seat riser or redoing ?
The seats I bought off a local Buy/Sell site and were already free from the car, I think it was a 3-series but am not positive on the year or model. It would have to be at least 10 years old as they have no air bags in them, not much help I know... I can tell you that they are manual, leather but have several different adjustments. The coolest feature, and the reason I bought them is the height adjustment. As the seat is raised up, it also moves forward which will be very nice for when my wife drives the truck. I am 5'8" while she is 5', so having an adjustable seat will make her much more comfortable and safer when driving. I will be fabricating a new seat mount as I want the space under the seats for electronics ( stereo amp, speakers, etc ) I will be making a new fuel tank that will be mounted under the box and behind the rear suspension. I will post pictures of the seats and the gas tank once completed.
In regards to the truck year, I am not positive if those are the original fenders, but I believe they are. I could not find a VIN decoder for Canadian truck which is as good as what I could find for the US built trucks. From what I could find, I decoded it to 1939. I bought the truck at auction so I have no source for learning it's history, etc.
Last edited by Canadian_guy; Thu Feb 14 2019 08:04 PM. Reason: added addition info on the BMW seats
Another update... Feeling a little out of steam, there is always a lot going on around the household and as focused as I have been on the truck, I feel like I am missing out in other areas. Progress has slowed a little which I suppose is adding to my frustrations. The last day I worked on it, was a 1 step forward, 2 steps back kind of day. Oh well, a friend of mine once asked me how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Which is good advice, I am not sure it was here or another website on building, but some good advice I heard was to set smaller goals. Rather than set a lofty and vague goal of finishing the truck, set a smaller goals for things that can be completed in a day or week... The sense of accomplishment completing these small goals fuels you onward for the next step, and the next, and the next....one bite at a time.
Since my last update, I have completed: front and rear bumpers mounted, Installed the hitch, which is now the rear frame support and started the bed wood install. I have started the fuel tank, the pieces are all formed up and stitched together. I have selected a gauge package, ordered a radiator and have chosen to move the battery to the engine bay.
The front bumper install went well, I mocked it up in position and then stated to fab the brackets. I used 2" x 1/4" mild steel and a press to make the bends. I am going to have a filler panel covering the brackets so I did not bother to arc the brackets as it was faster. I still like the way it turned out and they are very strong...I can stand on them and they don't flex. Completing the front brackets gave me the confidence to jump right into the rear bumper brackets too and got those done also. Before I could do the rear brackets, I got the hitch tacked into position which helped me to locate the height of the rear bumper. The hitch install was a little time consuming getting the angles and fitted up, but all turned out well I think. I will also have a filled panel for the rear bumper too, so again the brackets were made same as the front.
Welding in the hitch allowed me to remove the rear frame support, which is where the fuel tank will go. The basic dimensions will be 24" wide x 26" long and 8" deep. The volume will be about 85L or 22 Gallons which will give me a good range between fill ups. I could have gone a little wider, but needed to allow some room for the exhaust to pass through to the rear bumper. Pictures will follow once it is in place. I have selected the gauges, I am going with the Vintage 5 gauge set from Classic Instruments. The dual speedo and tach in the 3-3/8" gauge was the deciding factor as the Autometer set did not have the dual gauge. I will include the drawing made for me and if anyone wants a copy, PM me and I can email it to you.
I ordered a radiator, and am very excited for it to arrive. I was researching modern rads that I could modify to fit and then found the one I ordered which is a Aluminium 3 core rad with the transmission cooler and designed to fit my truck so it will fill the space better than anything I was going to fab up. A little more expensive, but worth it in the time saving for not having to modify something to fit.
The last thing to update on is the box bed. I had pretty much decided I was going to use composite wood and had reinforced the bed with that intent. I am also intending on using the truck to haul my motorcycle, so I wanted the bed reinforced for that purpose as well. Anyways, when I really looked into the composite wood, I learned that the coefficient of expansion for the material is quite high so the gaps would need to be pretty big to allow for that. The finish and colour was also factors in the decision, but I looked into hardwoods and decided on a natural wood rather than a composite. I chose IPA ( pronounced EEPA ) which is a Brazilian Ironwood. Good lord the stuff is solid, very dense and heavy. In the picture the white painted strips will be brushed stainless to closely match the tie-down rails.
Well that is enough for now, my hands are sore from typing. Later folks, Steve
’39 Chev Truck Restomod update – March 28, 2019 This week I did not get too much done on the truck, so not much of an update. I completed the battery tray fabrication and install. The tailgate got installed and box sides welded into place. I also fabricated the battery disconnect and installed it. Battery tray – I wasn’t sure where I wanted the battery to be located on the truck. I had thought about using a cooler in the truck box, or in the cab behind the seats, but finally settled on the engine bay. Mostly for ease of installation, servicing and wiring. I forgot to take a picture of it, but it’s mounted on the passenger side firewall. I started with a used tray from the wreckers, removing the stock brackets and adding my own. It turned out good, but I need to add a support from the firewall at the top of the battery to the hold down bolt for a little more stability. I also need to relocate the VIN tags as well. I will place them above the battery along that seam at the top of the firewall. Tail gate install – The body is a 1.5T and came with a flat deck. I have installed it onto a 1946 1/2ton chassis so I bought a reproduction box. Overall the box quality is good, the biggest problem I have run into is the holes for the rear cross support are all out. Once the box had been installed and squared and with the tail gate in position and gaps evened, etc. The rear cross member support-bedside mounting holes was out about ½ a hole. Rather than re-drill all the holes, I opted to just weld up the bottom 2 holes and keep the top hole for the tailgate hinge bracket. I also added a weld down the seam for some extra strength. Battery disconnect – For some added security I wanted to be able to disable the engine. I have moved the fuel tank from the cab to behind the rear wheel ( well it soon will be anyways…) I had considered welding up the hole in the cab where the filler neck came through, however I decided not to. I think it will keep the truck looking a little more “stock”. I have hidden the disconnect switch in the old filler neck, and I think it is a pretty cool addition. Anyways, I am back at work so the truck will have to wait again. The break gives me time to plan up what I am working on next. That will be getting the fuel tank mounted and if the gauges arrive I can get the sending unit bolt pattern and complete the tank. After the fuel tank is complete, I will be moving on to the running board extensions and front and rear fender mods.