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1954 Chevy 3100 Pickup Sleeper

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by hdh, Jul 1, 2009.

  1. No, really, it's still sleeping too. I do however plan to wake it up and get it back on the road to ruin soon.

    My Malibu was too new, and too valuable a musclecar to keep and tear up so I sold it.

    After some dumb luck fell into my life, I have found what to me is a really sweet 1954 3100. It's been sitting the past 7 years after a transmission mishap. The body is rusty in spots, the motor is not running, the door glass is broken, and it's full of pine needles. The inside of the cab doesn't smell too good either. That said, the body is very straight, the chassis upgrades appear at first glance to be done right, and it has a nice(to me) v8 hot rod 327/t350/12bolt combo underneath it. I dig the sun mini tach and "sleeper" stock looking automatic shifter too. My sense is that whomever owned this truck prior to the PO cared for it well. The PO(not responsible for the motor swap or chassis work) also invested in it during the honeymoon of his ownership with a custom radiator, intermittent wipers, a deck cover, a whole separate stainless / polished wood bed kit, etc... It's a tidy starting point I think.

    I hope to keep it for quite a while as I first get it running and driving safely, then lean into to it a bit to clean it up to use as my decent daily funmobile/cage. I have a couple of motorcycles to haul, and some house projects to support, so I plan to use the practical side of it regularly. This'll be my fifth truck - fourth old one, second chevy, and I'm stoked to finally one that's the right vintage with a V8.

    I'm just a back yard hack at this, so I don't have much to offer here yet, but I will post some decent pics and expect I'll learn a a few more things as I go...

    I haven't made a final decision on direction for it yet, although I have an idea or two, so should be a fun time either commiting or not over the next few weeks while I get it running and start scaring the neighbors.

    Any and all advice regarding sources for bits and info on these trucks is very welcome and will be appreciated appropriately.


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  2. Fatbob309
    Joined: Jan 1, 2009
    Posts: 491


    look like a good start
  3. ok, it was delivered yesterday and we dug into it a bit today. Pulled the boxes out of the cab, figured out how to access the battery, replaced that, checked and cleaned all the key electrical contacts, confirmed an open fuel line, replaced some sketchy fuel hose, primed the carb and vroom - started and idled nicely immediately. Gotta love the small block chevy.

    Turns out the "327" is actually a 76-77 305. Doesn't really matter though, because the 65 283 I have is about to get a new cam and freshened up heads before it gets dropped in, so it's all good. Also think I we may have discovered the source of the lean running and poor power the PO mentioned - pinched fuel line (very pinched near the pump). Will put a new hard line in tomorrow along with the rest of the fuel line all the way back to the tank.

    "fixed" the passenger door latch and hood latch with the WD40 wrench, and began to wiggle, tighten, clean and check all the electrical with good success. Only thing we need to complete are turn signals and passenger side taillight.

    Tomorrow I'll dig into the brakes. With the pinto / disc front end and under cab master cyl, I'm not sure what I'll be able to find at the local auto parts stores, so may be a few days until I can drive it. Broke the front hard line pulling the master cylinder out, so I'll be making one of those too.

    We pulled all the parts out of the boxes. Found some great news - old plates (63 vintage) that are on the title (PO had custom modern plates), a bunch of trim, dash, heater etc... parts, 3 great and one fair original hubcap, interior bits, jack, original chains, etc... FUN! I'll be selling the stainless/oak bed kit to pay for the windows and some of the motor work.
    I won't need it

    Monday, Tuesday, we'll hit it with the pressure washer.

    Coolest things about this truck so far? The "wings" steering wheel, and the woven seatbelts. Amazingly nice details for an old truck!


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  4. Nice lookin' truck! Great that all the 'hard stuff' is already done.

    I wouldn't mind making an offer on the bedwood kit but it's the wrong year, dang!

    It's got a different number of boards.

    Good luck!
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  5. It was pretty easy to get it running, so now I'm working on getting it stopping too! Once the brakes work well, then I'll have to get it to back up since the PO says reverse in the TH350 is shot from a "got stuck and pissed off trying to get unstuck" incident.

    I pulled the master cylinder and cleaned it out. In the process broke what was probably a marginal brake line anyway. Tomorrow, with any luck my rebuild kit will show up so I can hone it out, install the kit and new line which I'll bend to fit myself, and then bleed it all. With any luck all the lines have the same clean fluid in them that has leaked from the front joint since disassembly! I posted on that to another thread, but no response yet. You guys have any master cylinder kit experience??

    Now, I'm just trying to ID the rear end, the front suspension (PO says pinto, but others seem to think MII and I have no way to tell yet. I'll be posting a "what do I have here?" thread tonight with pics so hopefully can get some help.

    Went through all the misc. parts, so I have a few things to unload too like stock hubcaps, bed oak kit, and original bed chains.

    I'll post these in the parts for sale section here and possibly on another site as well as CL. Looking for funding for my cokers and rear wheel upgrade.

    Oh, and it runs really smooth. Idles wonderfully and little if any smoke. Have a fresh oil filter and plugs along with the belt and fuel line. Fresh air filter's in there already. PO used dielectric grease on plug wires, distributor and many of the connectors. THANK YOU! That said, the 305 that's in it is coming out and the 283 I have for it is getting a cam, some head work and going in ASAP.

    Electrical all works save for turn signals, but I assume right now that I'm a flasher and a bit more cleaning away from FULL electrical utility. The new battery is in, the lights are bright and all the gauges appear to work properly. How cool is that dash when lit at night!!

    Can't wait to drive it!!
  6. pics didn't upload...

    attempting again.

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  7. ratpak
    Joined: Oct 21, 2008
    Posts: 85

    from Onsted, Mi

    very cool, i have a 48 and have to do some minor updates and get rid of the original motor trans rearend combo. She doesnt like going very fast haha....
  8. hvychvy
    Joined: Jul 21, 2005
    Posts: 1,874


    Good lookin truck,keep us updated.
  9. Thanks, guys, I'm off on a motorcycle ride this weekend, so no real progress. I'll be back to it Wednesday eve with any luck. Brakes and turn signals are the next priority. itchin to roll it around town!

    I sold some of the spare parts that came with the truck for a few hundred, and received the factory manual DVD I ordered for it, so I'm armed for a little more progress. Picked up a new rear end gasket and fluid too, so I can service that and assess exactly what gearing is in the 10 bolt 8.5. I was able to find new door glass locally for very reasonable price too. It'll present a bit better without two shattered windows I think.

  10. harpboys4
    Joined: Jun 7, 2008
    Posts: 609

    from So Cal

    The front suspension might be AMC pacer they were used quite a bit in those model trucks and they are ford bolt pattern.They have rack and pinion with disc brakes.Do you have a picture of the whole front suspension from underneath?Nice truck by the way I have 2 and one has a pacer front end.
  11. Somebody asked me Saturday after they took a quick look at my truck during the Sat a.m. Starbuck's meet - "Do you know the term 'sleeper'?". This truck is it!

    First (rough) drive Friday night around the block and down along the waterfront. A little sketchy with the dusty, rusty brakes not very reassuring.

    After a bit more cleaning of the brakes and some adjustment, I wiped off the windows and hit the road running Saturday a.m. There's a local little get together at Starbuck's parking lot on 41st so I headed over there @ 8.

    Good times. Love how it drives. With the rack it steers great. I'm sure it'll ride a bit better with two instead of one rear shocks and some tires that are round and haven't been sitting poorly inflated for 7+ years.

    I almost hate to wash it, but know that's the next step along with a bunch of little clean up items. I picked up windows, some of the window hard/software and a few other bits this week, so plenty to do.

    Still no wipers or turn signals, so have to sleuth that out.

    Smokes the tires, gets up and goes good. Probably should change the oil, huh?!


  12. pix

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  13. motorhead711
    Joined: May 7, 2008
    Posts: 737


    Nice ride man. Keep up the work, and let's see those finished project photo's when its complete!!
  14. UPSrodder
    Joined: Jun 9, 2005
    Posts: 566


    Nice find, I have the same year project now. Taking a little different tack though. Stock motor with a 5 speed. Join the AD truckers group on here and talk some truck. Mine is starting to come together. Dropped the motor and trans in last night. I love the assembly stage of a project. Good luck with the truck
  15. :)
    I've been driving my truck this week on my short commute through the local hills here and loving it. It actually drives pretty well considering. This weekend hope to begin to check all the 'roadworthy' bits off the list. Turn signals, wipers, side glass, new front brake pads, etc...

    I guess also that I'll have to really clean it now, reduce the in-cab gas fumes, and change the old engine oil.

    I hate to pull the trans to get reversed fixed, because it'll be down for a week or so, but how soon until I forget it doesn't back up and go and get myself stuck in a parking spot!?

    I found some 54 210 sedan dog dish caps for my front wheels (local, really cheap) that look just right. Measured rear wheel backspace I'll need for the tires I want to run so ready to order up a pair of new steel wheels. I'll post a pic or two tomorrow with any luck.

    Shopping for the posies rear springs to get my axle / wheel centered in the fender. Will probably trim the front bumper a bit on the sides a few inches each - too wide for the stance I'm interested in.
  16. Hupdate! ;)

    I drove it for a while and then blew out a rusted brake line. DANGEROUS. Luckily, it worked out that where it happened was close to home and I was able to nurse it home. After checking all the lines and clips decided to replace all of it. I've been doing that little by little over the last week. Also, my tires arrived and I'll begin to get those mounted up tomorrow starting with the rears. My new skinny front rims will arrive early next week. Can't decide yet on white or black powdercoat for the front but most likely black.

    After learning how to remove the front seat bottom I found the source of the rank cab smell - two mouse nests in the bottom of the cab. Cleaned them out completely. Amazingly, they seem to have preserved the metal well, because now that it's clean the bottom of the cab looks pristine. Smells quite a bit better in there now too. Just a hint of fuel, which will probably go away once I re-seal the insert in the top.

    Took apart the old belts and cleaned them, cleaned the seat, and began to grease the chassis.

    Located locally some missing bits too like the ashtray, a missing window crank and the little sheetmetal wedge that sits above the running board below the bed - it was missing on the pass side. Mounted the pass side running board after cleaning up the bunged up threads on the mounting studs. Someone cross threaded the wrong pitch nuts on there.

    I like my 4 groove cheaters - think they'll look just right under those long lines of the running boards.

    Heads for the 283 turned out to be solid and with the exception of two new studs and some higher strength springs, won't need much. roller chain, high volume oil pump and a fresh gasket set - I hope to have it back together next week. It'll be a while probably before I swap it out for the 305, but hopefully by October or so I'll be revving around with that little screamer!

    Next up - finish the wheel set up, fix the turn signals and wipers, and go through the trans. Need to get reverse working to really use it as my daily ...

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  17. Oh, and do you guys have any idea how I can find a visual reference or define for certain which rear end I have in my truck.

    Here's some visuals. Pretty sure it's a 10 bolt / 8.5, but beyond guessing at the ratio, I'm stuck so far.

    The big gear - is it calle dthe ring gear? - has "GM48" on it. I don't see any other numbers inside stamped on anything else yet, other than part numbers on the bearing caps.

    Any help welcome!



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  18. Falcon
    Joined: Jul 28, 2009
    Posts: 482

    from nevada

    I don't see the sleeper. :cool:
  19. rear tires on - 28.5 hurst 4 groove cheaters. I think they go well with the running board vertical lines

    next up fronts - waiting for my 'skinny' rims to hang the cokers on

    brakes lines replaced

    mapping out front bumper trimming - going to take about 3" off each side to skinny up the front view just slightly and remove the 'overhang' on each side that bugs me. bumper should not be wider than the fenders!

    gotta center the rear wheels and drop the back a bit to flatten it out. posies spring kit coming soon...

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  20. houston54
    Joined: Jul 9, 2006
    Posts: 142


    Nice project.

    If you are needing an ash tray for that dash send me a PM.
  21. Thanks to some rubber and steel from hurst, coker, stockton wheel, and craigslist my wheels are now on and rolling. used a black hammertone finish on the front wheels and they look great - just a bit of grey. the caps are 54 sedan dogdish versions and the rims are 15 x 5 with 6.7 silvertowns.

    Can't believe how smoothly it drives now! Found I have 2:56 rear end - no wonder it rolls so fine on the highway at speed.

    Have to get the posies springs soon to flatten it out and get the rear wheels centered.

    Funny today driving home sitting in bumper to bumper some pretty young gal pulled up next to me - driving in the emergency lane(!) in her modern 4x4 pickup - just to tell me how much she dug the truck - "I LOVE your truck! It's totally f^$#ing cool truck! So sweet!"

    Not sure what it is about this truck, but it sure is happy to folks.

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  22. lots of miles, even more smiles so far. this truck drives well even in the rain with the hurst rears!

    still in "as found" configuration for the most part, with some small critical repairs and upgrades complete. now just about everything works which is nice. no heat yet, but I'm working on that...

    today - old seat out and off to upholsterer tomorrow. decided on a bit more safety so cut up some old wood flooring slats I had along with a scrap of board and screwed it all together for a solid sittin' spot. threw an old t shirt over the back tonight, and it all seems to allow for safe driving for a short time at least.

    can't wait to dig into the rear suspension and rebuild of that spare 283 I've been collecting parts for - unfortunately, i had to cough up a bunch of money for the DMV transfer fees (previous owner back fees), so that set me back a bit. :eek:

    i look forward to posting shots of the complete updated interior next week!

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  23. "Before" seat

    My local upholsterer is doing up a black tuck and roll with a small embroidered detail I hope works out well and doesn't cost me an arm and a leg. Basic black, but hopefully the quality will carry it. Looking forward to posting the "after" in a couple of weeks or sooner.

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  24. after shots of my rebuilt seat :)

    now, to sleuth out the rattling parking brake pivot in the frame - it's just loose and banging around over every bump - and better alighn the brake pedal rod with the cab - the squeaking is killing my delicate ears and it sticks a bit on the return.

    still getting thumbs up from folks every day - still fun to drive

    wishing i had more time to wrench on it, but house-related projects and work sucking up all my time

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  25. studebaker46
    Joined: Nov 14, 2007
    Posts: 645


    the m11 and pinto are the exact same set up. so shocks ball joint etc will all be same tom

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