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Projects 1948 Diamond T pickup tow truck project journal.

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by flynbrian48, Dec 12, 2010.

  1. flynbrian48
    Joined: Mar 10, 2008
    Posts: 4,533

    flynbrian48
    Member

    I've been sorry since I started on this project that I don't have unified build thread here for it. To remedy that, follow along and we'll see what I started with, where I am now, how I got there, and where I'm going with this thing.

    4 years ago in April, I had just sold my '61 Panhead, and was looking for another project. I was thinking about a '56 Caddy to replace the beautiful chopped convert I'd traded for the bike, when I found this '48 Diamond T model 201 pickup thru a Spartan trailer discussion group on Yahoo groups. I'd always wanted one, and a few days later, this was in my driveway...
     

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    Last edited: Jan 13, 2011
  2. flynbrian48
    Joined: Mar 10, 2008
    Posts: 4,533

    flynbrian48
    Member

    The truck sat for a year while I finished the "Fordillac", and two years ago I moved it inside and slowly got to work. The first order of business was to get rid of the stuck original engine, and find a suitable donor. I bought a '93 Chev G20 van, with a good running, but high milage, TBI 350/4L60E, and got started.

    I narrowed the vans front crossmember, which, like Chev pickups of that age, simply unbolts from the chassis. I mounted it and the engine/trans, and felt pretty good about the whole thing. It looked like it had potential.
     

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  3. Diamond T's make for a good Rodded Truck. Looks to me like you have a good project.
    This one built in the USA recently was seen here in Australia.
    [​IMG]
    Here is another
    [​IMG]
    It is now covered with Murals of Lady Diana and flies the Confederate flag :rolleyes:
     
  4. flynbrian48
    Joined: Mar 10, 2008
    Posts: 4,533

    flynbrian48
    Member

    With the truck up on wheels, late model Dodge 3/4 ton aluminum ones from my buddy Tom, a Dana 70 rear, the van front end with 3/4 ton spindles and brakes, it was time to figure out a box. I wanted something different, and spent some time mocking box sides up. I bought a pair of Auburn Speedster rear fenders from some ya-hoo in California, and although dissapointed with the quality, the style was perfect.

    A couple hundred feet of 2x2 mild steel tubing, some 18 ga. sheet metal, a couple sheets of polished diamond plate, and weeks of work and I had a pretty cool box on the truck. It's starting to look promising, no?
     

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  5. WOW, looking good.
    A couple for ideas for you.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  6. flynbrian48
    Joined: Mar 10, 2008
    Posts: 4,533

    flynbrian48
    Member

    The one fly in the ointment thus far was that even tho I'd narrowed the van crossmember as much as I could, the massive 245/75R17 tires hung outside the front fenders by about 2 inches. This might have been OK in the 70's, but I'm fussier now, so what to do?

    The answer was to widen the front fenders by almost 4" each. This was accomplished with my buddy John's shrinker/strecher, and two strips of 18 ga. sheet metal. The widened front end really worked out well, eliminating the rather "pinched" look of the (narrow) model 201 pickup. (The larger series DT trucks have much wider tracks, the fenders are longer and wider, and don't suffer from this. Had I only known...)

    So, with the fenders done, a set of '47 Chev bumpers, homebrewed brackets, and a fantastic stainles steel grill (found via the HAMB!) to replace the nasty die cast original, I was making progress.
     

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  7. flynbrian48
    Joined: Mar 10, 2008
    Posts: 4,533

    flynbrian48
    Member

    About that time, I was sort of grumping to my wife that the 350, which while it ran fine, had 175K miles, and I wasn't really excited about rebuilding it. "Why don't you buy a good engine, won't it cost about the same?", she asked. Once again, Kim was right, and I bought a 6.0 Chev LQ9, and a 4L60 for it, along with the engine harness and ECM. I was feeling regretful for buying the van for the 350 and not using it, but I'd used it's front suspension, steering, the wheels went on the '48 Pontiac, and I sold the rind for 250 bucks for scrap. It was a wash.

    I did have to modify the front crossmember for the 6.0, and used a pair of Corvette aluminum engine mounts and insulators, which worked really well. An afternoon of shoehorn work found the "new" engine/trans nestled between the Diamond T frame rails like a large egg in a small nest. Now, what to do with all that wiring?
     

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  8. ffr1222k
    Joined: Nov 5, 2009
    Posts: 585

    ffr1222k
    Member

    I like your engine and transmission choice. That is going to be an enjoyable truck to drive.
     
  9. fab32
    Joined: May 14, 2002
    Posts: 13,982

    fab32
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    That's going to be one awesome truck when your finished. Keep posting the progress.

    Frank
     
  10. twochops
    Joined: Feb 28, 2006
    Posts: 1,493

    twochops
    Member

    Hi Brian -- That truck of yours is looking really nice.
    You'll probably have it done when I get back to Michigan
    (I'll drop by and check it out.) Always enjoy seeing the updates.
    BILL

    Is there really a Kalamazoo???
     
  11. Ocean56
    Joined: Oct 5, 2009
    Posts: 128

    Ocean56
    Member
    from Michigan

    I read one of your other threads on this completely - very cool truck!
     
  12. FrozenMerc
    Joined: Sep 4, 2009
    Posts: 1,599

    FrozenMerc
    Member

    Keep up the work Brian, I love big hot rod haulers.
     
  13. SPDJNKY
    Joined: Mar 10, 2008
    Posts: 929

    SPDJNKY
    Member

    Looks cool. I'm a sucka for a vintage hauler. :D
    Hope to build my own one day.
     
  14. flynbrian48
    Joined: Mar 10, 2008
    Posts: 4,533

    flynbrian48
    Member

    Thanks for the compliments guys! Now, back to todays exciting episode:

    In April, I took the truck apart, and started blasting the frame and cab, thinking I'd have at least that much painted in a couple of weeks. HA! I did manage to get it pretty much blasted, but then my compressor died, summer started, there was an incident with the Roadster and some stupid indoor car show :)rolleyes:), and work stalled. Then of course it was hot, there were more fun things to do, but I finally did get the frame painted, the firewall painted, and got the engine in.

    Along the way, I had to swap exhaust mainfolds for some GTO ones, as the truck manifolds dumped right out on top of the frame. I still had to notch them and box the rails.
     

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  15. flynbrian48
    Joined: Mar 10, 2008
    Posts: 4,533

    flynbrian48
    Member

    Once the engine was mounted, I could hang the master cylinder and booster I'd saved from the G20 van (still trying to get my money's worth from that thing!) Since the firewall is made of somthing like 11 ga., I wasn't worried about having to reinforce anything, and it went right on.

    The steering shaft uses the vans collapsible D tubing and two u joints. I originally had hung the van steering column in the truck, and was planning on using it as is, along with the van's wiring harness along with the cruise and so on. One of the good things about being here on the HAMB is that somebody is always quick to point out what's not "correct", and in this case, they were right. I cut the original Diamond T mast and shaft, and mated them to the van collar and U-joints. The shafts were the same size tubing, it worked great. I can use the Diamond T's original bakalite wheel and beautiful brass horn button, which a fellow HAMB'r supplied NOS. These were engraved with the owners name, saying, "This Diamond T custom built for...". It'll be pretty cool.

    I spent the better part of two weeks of free time getting the glass Auburn speedster fenders usable. Honestly, I don't know how anybody could build one of those things if all of them are as poor quality glass as these things. Just terrible. I will say they are straight, although how they stayed that way as thin as they were, I don't know. I laid up two layers of mat and two layers of cloth, and hated every second of it. I had to do quite a bit of work on them anyway, in order to make a mounting lip, but it was way more work than I imagined. They mount to the sheet metal bedsides with nutserts. Pretty slick, if I do say.


    I also made a pair of wheelwell covers for the inside of the box, and got the running boards finished up, worked on the seemingly endless list of things that need to be done when one makes 75% of the body of an old car or truck.
     

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    Last edited: Dec 13, 2010
  16. flynbrian48
    Joined: Mar 10, 2008
    Posts: 4,533

    flynbrian48
    Member

    So, enough history, where am I now? The past week I've gotten the wiring pretty well done. At least, it cranks over, the fuel pump runs the appropriate 2 seconds and shuts off, the ign. curcuits are all "hot" with the key on. I have the SW "Wings" gauges all wired up, and I THINK they're all going to work. I ruined the voltmeter, but was able to adapt the voltmeter guts from the '93 G20 van (remember that? :rolleyes:) into the SW housing, and it works just fine. The wires are all pretty much harnessed and in looms, although I have a little work to do yet. The lighting circuits are run, dimmer switch in, blinkers wired with a really cool Guide accessory turn signal unit that I saved from our '48 Pontiac.

    I'm going to use '37 Ford tailights, and the original Diamond T headlights which are the Guide ones with the little housings on top for the blinkers that everybody wants now. The only thing I haven't gotten wired are the trailer brakes, have to get a controller from Tractor supply and the wiring will be finished. If it starts that is...:eek:

    I have the gas tank out (again, it's a piece from the long gone '93 van), have the SW sending unit in, and have to get a new fuel pump. I'll either adapt a Walbro in tank pump or a Chev pickup pump from one with an LS engine. I think I can adapt either one.

    The interior is very simple, a late model seat from something that I got from my favorite place to shop, "Morris Rose Auto Parts" here in Kalamazoo, in a taupe colored leather. It fit perfectly on the original seat pan, although I have to make a little riser, AND matches 4 hides I have that will be the headliner and rear panels. Lucky me.

    My wife registered the truck for this springs "Tin Can Tourists" Spring Meet in Milford, so there's a deadline. I'll be busy getting the body work done, and getting it ready to paint and assemble this spring. I'll be busy!
     

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  17. koolkemp
    Joined: May 7, 2004
    Posts: 5,609

    koolkemp
    Member

    Thanks Brian! You just made it alot easier to follow your build , lets see aclose up of that horn button sounds cool!
     
  18. flynbrian48
    Joined: Mar 10, 2008
    Posts: 4,533

    flynbrian48
    Member

    I'm still trying to figure out what Lady Di and the Confederate flag have to do with one another, particularly if the truck is in Oz? I've seen pics of the earlier one (orange) finished, it's pretty over the top. Mine will be a little more restrained (see the inspiration pics thumbnails).

    Brian

    brian
     

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  19. flynbrian48
    Joined: Mar 10, 2008
    Posts: 4,533

    flynbrian48
    Member

    For seating, I have a rear seat from some SUV, make and model unkown, in a taupe pleated leather. As it turns out, I also have 4 hides which match close enough to use for headliner and corner panels, so I lucked out there. The only issue is that the seat was too low on the original seat pan, and I had to make something to hold the seat back in place.

    I raised the original seat pan base 3 1/2" by making a riser extension of 18 ga. The top edge of the riser has a pin on each side, the pan has three holes in it that fit on the pins to allow some adjustment fore and aft. For me, having it all the way forward works fine, so it can go back for taller drivers. I have a little more work to do, as it's just tacked together, but you get the idea. I simply welded a tab on each side of the pan that the backs frame tabs drop into to locate it. It was simple and works.

    That's all for today...
     

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  20. That what every one says when they see it. What do they have in common :confused: The orange truck is in Australia and has been on ebay for sale. Yours in comparison looks much better, refined. ;)
     
  21. Nice progress. Its really coming together well and im sure itll be a great truck to drive.
     
  22. 38FLATTIE
    Joined: Oct 26, 2008
    Posts: 4,363

    38FLATTIE
    Member
    from Colorado

    Brian, I enjoyed reading/seeing it here, as I did in the original threads! Heep it coming!
     
  23. flynbrian48
    Joined: Mar 10, 2008
    Posts: 4,533

    flynbrian48
    Member

    Here's a couple pics to better show how the seat business worked out. With the seat in, the steering column (loosely) mounted, the small size of the cabin becomes clear. Wow, it's tiny. I can't imagine anybody much bigger than myself being comfortable driving one of these (I'm 5'4" and 150lb). My buddy in Santa Fe told me he couldn't set in it and depress the clutch with the door shut (which is why he sold it, he's over 6'), I'm sure it's true. Another build that nobody but me can drive...:rolleyes:

    I'm really happy with the decision (thanks to ridicule from the HAMB!) to replace the late model column with the original column and wheel. Thanks to Banjeauxbob for the beautiful orignal, un-engraved horn button, and I'm really glad I saved the Guide turn signal indicator from my '48 Pontiac! I knew I'd need that someday.

    No work today on the truck, our neice is getting married and it's my job to be the emabarrassing uncle at the reception!:D;)

    edit: Last pic is my helper, Milo the Cat, climbing my leg. He's a big fan of my blog too!
     

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  24. cheveey57
    Joined: Mar 11, 2010
    Posts: 678

    cheveey57
    Member


    I would kill for this baby (the Daimond T ) I would hurt someone for the girl too though ..
     
  25. flynbrian48
    Joined: Mar 10, 2008
    Posts: 4,533

    flynbrian48
    Member

    I spent a little while today actually mounting the seat in the Diamond T, as opposed to it simply being propped up in the cab. With the foam cushion and upholstery attatched to the plywood base, it all fits great, is comfortable, I think it looks like it belongs. There is a tiny bit of for and aft adjustment, the back moves with the base as original. It's in the middle now.

    http://flynbrian48.wordpress.com/

    Brian
     

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  26. flynbrian48
    Joined: Mar 10, 2008
    Posts: 4,533

    flynbrian48
    Member

    Gee this is slow going! I'm at the point where everything seems to be tedious, but it's gotta be done. Got a little cover panel for the main fuse panel made of diamond plate aluminum, the blinker switch is mounted and wired, and most of the wiring is at least run, if not "finished". I'm stuck now waiting for some stuff I ordered to arrive, the fuel pump, courtesy lights, and some 34 Ford stainless tail lights, but it's coming along!
     

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  27. J. A. Miller
    Joined: Dec 30, 2010
    Posts: 228

    J. A. Miller
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Central NY

    Coming along nicely!!
     
  28. flynbrian48
    Joined: Mar 10, 2008
    Posts: 4,533

    flynbrian48
    Member

    The hood trim for the Diamond T turned out to not be replateable. It's not like building a Ford or Chev, where a credit card and two mouse clicks have anything I need on my doorstep in 24 hours, so I got busy and made 'em myself from 1/2" aluminum half hard bar stock.

    This little trick would work for a variety of trim, and extrusions could be done to duplicate unusual ones. I'm really happy with the result, and it's WAY cheaper than having the original stuff chromed, if were even salvagable.
     

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  29. Hdonlybob
    Joined: Feb 1, 2005
    Posts: 2,968

    Hdonlybob
    Member

    Excellent build !!!
    And not your every day cool rig...Very nice job.... :D
     
  30. flynbrian48
    Joined: Mar 10, 2008
    Posts: 4,533

    flynbrian48
    Member

    Thanks! Now, I'm waiting for the big brown truck to bring me the fuel pump (ordered AutoZone's web site) and the tail lights and stands from Ford Parts Obsolete. I'm using 33-34 Ford stainless tail lights and stainless 40's era Ford truck stands and wiring loom covers. I spent almost half an hour looking for the radiator shell support rod yesterday, it has to be in the shop somewhere, but I can't find it. If I make a new one, I'll find it right away...

    Brian
     

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