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'39 Chevy 1/2-Ton

By John Milliman

    The Restoration Series is comprised of trucks undergoing restorations, rebuilds or efforts inbetween. Please note: these trucks may not be 100 percent accurate -- please contact the truck owners to verify items of interest.

 

The Beginning...

    What rolled off the trailer in July, 1993, was not a lot to look at. The poor thing had four beat-up fibreglass fenders and only ran for 12 minutes at a time. A smarter man would have used it as a parts truck. But, we forged ahead nonetheless. Here, we have just pulled it off the trailer and are looking it over for the first time. We are also taking pictures of everything, which will be a big help when we have to remember (2 years down the road) how everything goes back together. You just have to love those Town and Country horns! (which don't work).

 

The Frame

    Gumby was reduced to just a bare frame during the restoration. It was then sand blasted and repainted. Once the paint was on, the springs and axles were refinished and reinstalled. By the way, that's Gumby's great great grandson in the background -- our '93 S-10 Blazer.



Engine

    The 216 is the original one to the truck. When I bought the truck, it wouldn't run longer than 15 minutes at any one time. It also blew lots of blue smoke. It was completely disassembled and bored out 30 thousandths of an inch. New pistons, rods and main inserts went into it. The crank was turned, too. Just visible is one of the truck's "Knee Action" shock absorbers. They don't make 'em like that anymore...


Sheet Metal

Once the frame was done, it was time to concentrate on the body work. Yikes! At some point in Gumby's life, somebody had used it as a firewood target. I thought I'd never get all the little dents out of the back of the cab. Once we got to this phase, it was starting to look like a truck again.



The Interior

    The interior, after 50-plus years as a farm truck, was trashed. There was no floor board and no headliner. The windows, except one of the windshield halves, were all cracked. The seat was just the springs as the fabric and stuffing had long before become part of some mouse's nest.


Finishing Touches

    After we got the engine running and the interior installed, it was time to finish the truck. One front fender was found locally and the other was trucked in from California. The hood halves had their stress cracks carefully welded, and the doors were hung (again). The box was sand blasted, refinished and had a nice piece of wood laid. The rear fenders were attached and temporary taillights rigged. By golly, it's a truck!



The First Road Trip

    After completing the restoration, Gumby needed a shakedown cruise (of course!). The amazing thing was that we had so little trouble getting Gumby running. Once we figured out the alternator wiring and the clutch throwout bearing, we were on our way. Peggy, Adam and I drove to Greenfield, Indiana, for Gumby's Maiden voyage. This is contrary to John Jerome's experience, as related in his book, Truck.
    In the photo, we are participating in the 1995 Lawrence, Indiana, 4th of July Parade -- Gumby's first.

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