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Long overdue updates…

19 Feb

If anyone is actually following this blog, my apologies for slacking off in 2014. I blame work and wedding planning for my absence. Good news is, while posting was at a minimum/nonexistent, activities and picture taking was not! I will be updating the blog with plenty of pictures and more specific project posts asap.

Until then, here’s an update based on my last post in Dec of 2013.

Brakes – Front discs, rear drums, dual MC, new lines.
DONE. What a pain in the ass. If you’re debating it, just buy a kit that includes 100% of everything and save yourself the hassle. All the details down to finding the right banjo bolts for the front lines were a complete and major Charlie Foxtrot. I jacked up the bleeder threads on one of the calipers, spent a bunch of time messing around with cheap defective residual valves (finally sprung for the Wilwood valves), and the CPP/POL Corvette type MC that I powder coated did not fit with the Saginaw 4spd transmission…the lines ran right into the shifter levers and linkage. I must have spent a solid month looking into several other MCs including a Dodge D/W100 series truck MC which is the correct bore and has a plastic removable (relocatable) reservoir on a very narrow aluminum body. Would have worked perfectly but I wanted it to look somewhat original and the plastic bits just wouldn’t cut it. Eventually I settled on an early ’60s Mustang dual reservoir MC. Cast iron painted black and mounted perfectly on the CPP/POL bracket. It’s still close but it fits with 90∘ bends immediately off the fluid outputs. Overall, other than a little flexing in the MC bracket I’m pretty happy with the manual disc setup. I’ll get to the details in another post but everything works well and the truck stops as it should.

Transmission – Swap the original 3spd for a rebuilt Saginaw with a Patrick’s torque tube adapter.
DONE. The four speed Saginaw with the Patrick’s torque tube adapter kicks ass. I hate to lose the charm of the column shift but drivability is greatly improved. However, as much as I’d love to rig up the 4spd on the column and add a 3.55 rear gear set…I just cant. After driving two hours out to my wife’s family farm on a highway with a 70mph limit I now know I need an overdrive transmission and I already have a rebuilt T5 with a manual speedometer cable out of an S10 that is slated for the task sitting in my basement. That said, I’ll be on the Sag for another year or two.
Also, turns out that grinding noise I was experiencing back in late 2013 was a U joint coming apart in the ball housing. Fixed it when I swapped in the Saginaw.

Transmission – attempt to rig up the column shifter as a 4OTT with reverse on a cable.
ABANDONED…but not forgotten. This would be so cool if someone could figure out how to do it and maybe even add a two speed axle or some sort of OD.

Heat – Install restored fresh air heater.
POSTPONED. I’m lazy and also ran into some front suspension/alignment issues at the end of the 2014 season so the truck has been off the road since mid fall. More about that in another post.

Lube – Oil/filter and chassis.
DONE. Usual maintenance. No real story to tell.

Paint? – Perhaps a rattle can prime and satin job this spring.
Uh, no.. WTF was I thinking when I posted that. I’m rollin’ full ’54 car caps on wide whites with all the chrome I can pile on. She stays as is until I can get the body taken care of and afford a decent paint job.


That’s about it for 2014. Now with spring around the corner, the wedding in the past and finally getting settled back in with my new position/location at work, I should be ready to get back to ol’ Bessie once the weather warms up a bit.


Oh yeah. I also bought a ’54 261 from the legendary Paul Kruse of Poverty Flats. …what a road trip that was!


Lube …or lack there of…

30 Nov

I do blame myself for not checking something so simple sooner. I know better and there is no excuse for waiting till it gave me trouble popping out of gear on that 200mi road trip.

Drained some thick, milky, surprisingly not sludgy, crap from the differential and almost nothing from the transmission. …seriously, maybe a 1/2 Cup came out. Dark black too.

Now that they’re filled with nice clean fresh gear oil the transmission is quiet and it shifts wonderfully. …go figure. :P



The manual says 4 pints 80W90 multi-purpose GL-5 for the rearend and 1.5pts for the Chev 3OTT. I filled em both till the tip of my pinky (stuck in the filler hole and slightly bent) got wet.

[edit]   If you’ve stumbled across this while looking for info on draining the differential on an AD truck … the bottom dif cover bolt is the drain.

You’re welcome.

Knob and Chains

26 Jul

New shift knob and stainless tailgate chains installed!


(Trick to installing the shift knob is to nuke it for 30sec. then smack it on w/a rubber mallet.)

Finesse required.

30 Apr

New shift box in! Shifting has improved but it is almost 100% necessary to double clutch every shift and the trans still occasionally jams in 1st if you’re sloppy and try to shift too quick. I’m hoping that the rest of the bushing kit will cure the issue.

On that note, the gf lent a hand in the shift box swap. She was more than curious about everything I was doing and after explaining the 3OTT pattern and principles of double clutching, she now wants to learn to drive stick. Needless to say, I’m in heaven.


23 Apr

After driving around for a few days its apparent that the shifter box is toast. Its worn too far down and is allowing the middle tab to slip between the forks. New/rebuilt box ordered this morning.

Also figured out how to hook up the throttle cable … apparently it threads thru the throttle linkage rod where it attaches to the carb. Just have to pick up a cable stop somewhere.


11 Apr

Greg and I made a bit more progress on the ol’ girl tonight. She kept getting jammed in first so I pulled the shift box off the steering column, cracked it open, washed it in kerosene and rebuilt it. Still need to order some bushings and grommets for the rest of the linkage but this alone was a vast improvement.

BEFORE: …~60yr old grease is some nasty snot.


Happy early Xmas to me!

4 Dec

Drove to Indiana to pick up one of Nostalgia Sid’s 4″ drop axles from fellow Bolter, Dan S. While there, I took his 49’s tired old 216 off his hands along with it’s three speed transmission and steering box.

2011-12-03 15.09.46

Technically this is as plug n’ play as it gets with this type of thing. Mount the axle, connect the brake line, bleed the brakes and bolt on the wheels. Having come off Dan’s ’49 3100 though, the brakes are the Huck type while Bessie, being a ’51, has the later self adjusting Bendix type. From what I understand the Huck brakes are prone to fade more so than the Bendix type, and require more frequent periodic adjustment. Parts are a bit more expensive too. Lucky for me they only have a couple hundred miles on them after being rebuilt. I figure I’ll use them until they need another rebuilding or prove to be a pain, after which I’ll look into rebuilding my front Bendix drums or doing a disc conversion. Either way, I’m replacing the single reservoir master cylinder with a dual.

Plug for Nostalgia Sid –
Two plugs for Dan – –

1, 2, 3…

6 Apr

The clutch is in and she shifts like a 3OTT dream!

Shade tree repair #3:
Noticed the transmission mount is actually a cut of bias-ply truck tire tread with the bolt holes drilled thru. Decided to leave it be since the tread is way stronger and will last longer than the correct rubber mount ever will. Plus its one of those touches that give the old girl true character.

More work space and a new clutch.

30 Mar

Mr. Brown standing guard over the toys in the clean new driveway.

2011-03-17 18.22.05

Bad storm = big insurance claim = widening the driveway by almost 10′. I’m on the edge of the city and the driveways in the neighborhood are all roughly 10′ wide. Mine had retaining walls on both sides making it a bit claustrophobic.

Bessy is getting hauled off to a friends shop. Didn’t want to crack her open for a clutch and transmission work and risk spilling gear oil and whatnot all over the brand new driveway. Its good to have friends with lifts and tow trucks. :D

2011-03-30 16.44.16

…pay no attention to the lawn. Its collateral damage from the construction.

And for shits n’ grins an artsy shot of the hood ornament.

First drive…

8 Mar

The drive home didn’t go so well… The shifter jammed and when I pulled over to try and fix it I found oil splattered all over the firewall, valve cover and air cleaner. Never having owned a vehicle of this vintage, I called the owner a tad miffed as he had sworn there were no issues and it ran fine. I later discovered that the oil misting is typical because of the vented valve cover and that the description, “Running fine”, isn’t what most would consider it to be when you’re dealing with a 60 year old piece of farm equipment. So, with it stuck in first gear allowing a max speed of +/-10mph, I slowly made my way home across the city.