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Projects 1955 Chevy Cameo. Build Thread

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Torkwrench, Jun 15, 2009.

  1. Torkwrench
    Joined: Jan 28, 2005
    Posts: 2,386

    Torkwrench
    Member

    Well, it's only taken over 12 years to get this far, but there's been some progress on my 55 Cameo. First of all, a little bit of it's history. The first pic is from when my dad bought the truck in 1987. It was really rough, but all of the Cameo parts, (except the rear bumper), were in very good condition. The farthest back that it could be traced was the early 70's, when it was in the Lasalle / Peru Illinois area.

    The next pic is from after I completely rebuilt it for dad. By the way, it looked alot better in this pic than it did in person.

    The third pic is from when it was totalled in May 1996. This is what happens when a mid-90's Buick pulls out from a side road, in front of a 55 Cameo, when the Cameo is going about 60 MPH, or so. I still don't remember the actual collision.

    Finally, this is what happens to a, (brand new at the time), mid 90's Buick when it is broadsided by a 55 Cameo, that is doing about 60 MPH. Fortunately, (and suprisingly), no one was seriously hurt. No, I didn't have a seat belt on. I hadn't had them installed yet.

    As bad as it looked, the Cameo parts survived very well. The cab was crunched kind of like an accordian. The rear window, although unbroken, was partially popped out. Fortunately, the damage basically stopped at the back of the cab. There were only a few stress cracks in the fiberglass box parts and nothing done to the taillights or rear bumper..

    The frame itself was bent pretty badly too. The driver's side frame rail was pushed back about 3 inches, and every crossmember was bent. Even the front axel was twisted.

    The engine and trans survived, too. They ended up being ripped off of their motor mounts and shoved into the firewall. Even the Clifford intake and headers were OK.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Oct 6, 2014
  2. Torkwrench
    Joined: Jan 28, 2005
    Posts: 2,386

    Torkwrench
    Member

    It basically sat like it was until early 2001, when I found a 59 GMC parts truck in Dalhart Texas. However the GMC was too solid to use for parts. So, a year later I found another cab in Gibbon Nebraska. This was from a 59 Chevy 60 series grain truck. This was a very solid and straight cab. There was only a tiny bit of rust in the cab corners, and the step and hinge pocket area was rustfree. The only problem was the small back window.
     

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    Last edited: Oct 6, 2014
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  3. Torkwrench
    Joined: Jan 28, 2005
    Posts: 2,386

    Torkwrench
    Member

    The frame was straightened in 2002. Rebuilt the suspension and brakes at the same time. The new cab and the box were mounted on the frame and then it sat some more.
     

    Attached Files:

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  4. SquigMachine
    Joined: Dec 6, 2008
    Posts: 184

    SquigMachine
    Member

    Thank you for saving that and not crushing it! thats what its about,bringing something back to its former beauty regardless of the hassle or cost.

    Nice Cameo by the way, i wish my 55' even looked half that good
     
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  5. Torkwrench
    Joined: Jan 28, 2005
    Posts: 2,386

    Torkwrench
    Member

    Finally, about 2 years ago, work on the cab and doors was started. First of all, a big thanks to Jim's Auto Restoration in Forreston ILL. who did all of the metal and body work.

    He started out with the tough part....Changing the rear window. Fortunately the back window area of the original cab was still repairable. So, the small window was cut out of the new cab and the big window was installed. There is ALOT of work to this. There are several extra braces and brackets in the big window cabs. The outer roof skin was taken off and parts of the door jambs had to be changed too.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Oct 6, 2014
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  6. Torkwrench
    Joined: Jan 28, 2005
    Posts: 2,386

    Torkwrench
    Member

    When Jim was done with this part, the big rear window fit just like it was supposed to. A few rust spots did show up after the rest of the cab was blasted. The outer cab corners needed repairs, although the inner corners did not. The worst areas were in the lower front cowl, in the air vent area. This cab was originally from a 2 ton grain truck and alot of corn chaff had collected in the vents, which rusted this area out.

    However, overall it was so solid that it made it worthwhile to change the rear window. There were some other things changed too. There are a few small differences between 55 and 59 cabs, mainly in the firewall area. So the wiper motor area was cut out of the 55 cab and put in the 59 cab, and the correct bolt holes were either drilled, or filled.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Oct 6, 2014
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  7. Torkwrench
    Joined: Jan 28, 2005
    Posts: 2,386

    Torkwrench
    Member

    The cab and doors are finished up to the primer stage, course it has now sat another year like this. Sloooow and steady, I guess??? It sure looks good though.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Oct 6, 2014
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  8. Sphynx
    Joined: Jan 31, 2009
    Posts: 1,142

    Sphynx
    Member
    from Central Fl

    Its great that you kept it after all that and your fixing it nice job I had a 56 step side a few years back a real blast good luck with it.
     
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  9. Torkwrench
    Joined: Jan 28, 2005
    Posts: 2,386

    Torkwrench
    Member

    I was able to get the hood done too. The original hood had been replaced when I first rebuilt the truck in 1988, so a replacement hood was the one crunched in the accident.

    Fortunately, the original hood was still sitting out in the shed. It did have some rust in it, and it had been bumped in the nose at some time, but Jim was able to fix all of this.

    An interesting thing was found when it was stripped. Not sure if it is visible in the pics, but, someone at the factory wrote "IVORY" on the underside of the hood. So, the hood is up to white primer, too.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Oct 6, 2014
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  10. Torkwrench
    Joined: Jan 28, 2005
    Posts: 2,386

    Torkwrench
    Member

    A little bit was done this last November. A pair of NOS front fenders were found. There hasn't been anything done on them yet, but, if the economy picks up??? Maybe next year it can get painted.
     

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    Last edited: Oct 6, 2014
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  11. 2-TONED
    Joined: Jan 31, 2005
    Posts: 1,683

    2-TONED
    Member

    NICE truck!
    your coming along with the progress. -- i always wondered how much work was involved putting in a big back window. keep on truckin youll be drivin soon. thanks for the pics!
     
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  12. michael_cini
    Joined: Jun 5, 2008
    Posts: 105

    michael_cini
    Member

    keep up the good work...its gettin' there!
     
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  13. torchmann
    Joined: Feb 26, 2009
    Posts: 787

    torchmann
    BANNED
    from Omaha, Ne

    WOO HOO
    [​IMG]

    OOPS
    [​IMG]
    55 chevy, 1967 350 olds rocket. I lost it in the rain on the interstate at 55, just couldn't bring the big old wheel back around fast enough. Saw it was lost, saw the wall coming ran my arms through the wheel and hugged it for life. Hit the Jersey at 45 degrees shoved the front end over 2-1/2' and the rear 1'. seat broke loose and flew out ...Banana truck
    Back then we didn't have the internet and the truck had 3- 16" 6 lug artillery wheels on it and no one knew what they were or where to find another so they got scrapped. Hate to think of all the "old worthless stuff" that went to the iron pile back then. Somebody bought the 55 off me for parts.
    The truck might have been cursed. After buying it I found the cab was sprung badley when I tried to get the doors adjusted. pulling the fenders revealed a flattened airbox and a sectioned doorpost and part of the roof. It took a year to get it fixed, porta powered square and had alot of trouble getting it to stay set.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2009
  14. truckedup 28
    Joined: Nov 7, 2006
    Posts: 814

    truckedup 28
    Member

    glad to see its coming along wish i could find one of those some day
     
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  15. Torkwrench
    Joined: Jan 28, 2005
    Posts: 2,386

    Torkwrench
    Member

    Thanks Jeff. Just keep looking, one will turn up sooner or later. By the way, your 59 is really lookin EXCELLENT.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2014
  16. 454_4_ON_THE_FLOOR
    Joined: Feb 15, 2009
    Posts: 179

    454_4_ON_THE_FLOOR
    Member
    from Selden, TX

    Keep it up, she's looking good! I love that model
     
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  17. Torkwrench
    Joined: Jan 28, 2005
    Posts: 2,386

    Torkwrench
    Member

    No photos, but the front bumper has been straightened and rechromed. The front inner fenders and a few other parts have been powdercoated, too. The next step is to get the NOS front fenders fitted, and primed. Then finished paint and reassembly.

    The, (sort of), sad part is that the previously mentioned, (parts truck), 59 GMC is just about finished as a daily driver, while the Cameo just sits.
     
  18. COCONUTS
    Joined: May 5, 2015
    Posts: 566

    COCONUTS

    I wonder if it would of been easier to make the cuts, first as you did above the rear window and the bottom across the floor just in front of the door jam? Anyway looks good.
     
  19. Torkwrench
    Joined: Jan 28, 2005
    Posts: 2,386

    Torkwrench
    Member

    The original cab had been badly bent in the accident. It was much easier to swap in just the big window, rather than the entire back of the cab.
     
  20. Torkwrench
    Joined: Jan 28, 2005
    Posts: 2,386

    Torkwrench
    Member

    Hmmm......Over three years since the last post.......

    Anyway, it's FINALLY on it's way back to the restoration shop. It's all loaded up and goes in tomorrow.

    By the way, the 59 GMC in this photo is the previously mentioned "Parts Truck", for this Cameo.......And that's what is trailering the Cameo to the restoration shop. The last photo is of the GMC, after it was pulled out of a Texas junkyard, in 2001, (except in the yard it did not have any wheels or tires).

    7 - 7 - 19 To Body Shop A.jpg 7 - 7 - 19 To Body Shop.jpg scan0022.jpg
     
  21. lumpy 63
    Joined: Aug 2, 2010
    Posts: 914

    lumpy 63
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Whats gonna be powering It?:D
     
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  22. 56sedandelivery
    Joined: Nov 21, 2006
    Posts: 5,683

    56sedandelivery
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    DANG, NOS fenders!!! Coming along nicely, and you do good work from what I can see. One of the many cars/trucks I should have kept, was a X-NAVY, 1958, 3/4 ton, L-O-N-G box, that somewhere along the way, someone had installed a 1955, 4 barrel, 265, and added dual exhaust to it (originally it had been a six cylinder truck). It was still, and remained, a 3 on the tree shift. Leaving a stop sign one day, absolutely driving normally/legally, it snapped the input shaft on the 3 speed trans right where it necked down in the area usually seen on Tri-Five type 3 speeds. Had to have it towed home a couple of miles Luckily, I had a passenger car 3 speed to throw in it; just had to bolt, lock washer, and nut the lower trans fasteners, and had to swap out the side cover (don't remember why that had to be done). I knocked the hub cap retaining clips off the wheels, found a used set of Dunlop Gold Seal Radial tires with the dual gold sidewall stripes, and painted the rims black; finished the rims off with chrome acorn nuts. I bought a black naugahyde seat cover from SEARS (try that now!), used some house carpeting jute backing to rebuild the seat, and installed the seat cover. Drove the truck everywhere, but could never get the rear main rope seal to quit leaking oil, and I did that "repair" twice; it still leaked (???). I decided it had to have scored crank where the seal rode or something similar. Then,l I had to replace the clutch due to oil contamination, and when I removed the flywheel to take it in for resurfacing, I found out it was't the rear main rope seal after all; someone had used the wrong, thicker rear cam soft plug, and it was cocked slightly; there was the oil leak. Fixed that with the right, thin, plug. Then one day, a city employee stops while I'm working on the truck in front of the house (thought I was going to get in trouble for working on the truck in our cul-de-sac, but he offered me stupid money for the truck; SOLD (I had only paid $400.00 for it-he gave me $3500.00, way back in 1979)! But, the body was almost perfect; even the cab corners were pretty solid, and all the glass was good. He took it into an off-road shop, and had it converted to 4 wheel drive (they must pay city maintenance workers well), and had it lifted up, and nice wheels/tires installed. He also installed roof clearance lights, and then I always knew at night it was my old truck. Yep, should have kept it. Keep yours!!! I am Butch/56sedandelivery.
     
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  23. I saw the original date and wondered who had bumped a 10 yo thread. Glad to see you’re still pecking at it


    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
     
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  24. Torkwrench
    Joined: Jan 28, 2005
    Posts: 2,386

    Torkwrench
    Member

    I'd really like to keep the 235 six. It was pretty well built before it was totaled. Bored .060 over, balanced, forged pistons, Isky cam, ported & polished #848 head, with a Clifford intake & headers. It had less than 6000 miles on the rebuild. However, it would probably be a bit underpowered for pulling a loaded car trailer.

    The other possibilities are a 302 GMC six, a 348 Chevy, (block cracked but repairable), and a big block Chevy. Not sure if the big block is a 396, 402, or 427, but the heads on it are 1967 date coded 425 Hp. 427. The GMC six is a NOS short block, while both Chevy engines need rebuilding.
     
  25. mkebaird
    Joined: Jan 21, 2014
    Posts: 289

    mkebaird
    Member

    I vote for the 302, or better yet, get it going with the 235 while you're building the 302!
     
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  26. I was surprised to see that the Cameo was green when you first had it. I was told that all the 55s were ivory. How are the tail light housings holding up?
    I am happy to see the effort you are making to get the Cameo on the road again. I now have a 454 in mine (replaced a 396 I swapped in in 1971), but my nostalgia gene leans toward the 348.
    The problem with the 348, is do you have all the parts for that engine. The reason I say this, is that I have learned from others that there were many changes made to the internals of the 348 engines, and you might have a difficult time finding some of the required parts.
    Installing a big block with a manual transmission isn't that big a deal, but the swap is easier if you have the V8 standard bellhousing. With the two rear engine mounts, you can use the rods meant for the 6 cyl on the front crossmember. The clearances on the right hand side won't be a problem, but with this method, there will be two issues on the driver's side. First, the head won't clear the firewall, and the firewall has to be banged back to make clearance. Secondly, there will be a clearance problem with the steering box and the exhaust manifold. My solution is to cut the headers for the two back cylinders, and weld them back in so that the tubes are tighter to the engine. I just use any big block headers, but the ones I prefer, are the big block later truck headers, because there is more clearance underneath. I used Camero headers once, and they did work fine. I don't recall any issues.
    Squirrel did his differently, I think using side mounts. That works great as well, and if you are intending to use an automatic, this makes it an easier swap, because you can use the single transmission mount. There is lots of room for the TH400, no modifications to the floor are required.
    I don't care what engine you eventually swap in, I am just happy to see that a truck that was that badly damaged is being redone.
    Bob
     
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  27. Torkwrench
    Joined: Jan 28, 2005
    Posts: 2,386

    Torkwrench
    Member



    Bob, You're right. All 55 Cameos were Ivory (with red around the windows). A previous owner painted mine green, and white with gold bumpers, grille, etc. As far as the taillights.....They have held up quite well. They were rechromed when I restored the truck for my Dad, (in the late 1980's). Fortunately, the back half of the truck was undamaged when it was totaled.

    I have a complete 348, (1959 250 Hp.) engine. It's basically the leftover parts from the 348 that I built for my 59 BelAir. I also have a V8 stick truck bellhousing.

    Lair 59 A.jpg



    I'm about 99% sure that it will retain a stick shift trans of some sort. However, I do have a complete 4 speed Hydramatic setup, for a six cylinder. It came out of a 58 shortbed with a 235. Of course, the Hydro would also bolt up to a 302 GMC.
     
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  28. I love those old hydramatics, but they are heavy. I know that the service manuals show that GM coupled the hydramatic to the V8, but I have only seen them with the GMC V8 in the half tons. I don't know anything about whether you can adapt the unit you have to the V8, but knowing GM, it can't be that difficult.
    I would be happy just having it coupled to the standard. That is how I originally had mine set up. I also had an M21 in the truck at one time, but the wife didn't like driving with the 4 spd, so I installed the TH400. I wish I had kept the 4 spd, but I sold it. I do have all the fixings, plus a super T-10 sitting in my garage, should I choose to make the swap. I am happy enough with the TH400, that I run hot and cold about switching back.
    If you have both options, you could run with the std and collect the parts you need to install the HM.

    Bob
     
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  29.  
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  30. I wasn't so lucky. My 55 got hit in back. Destroyed the taillights n all 4 bumperettes. I've found some fiberglass bedsides. Still looking for AFFORDABLE taillight housings n bumperettes. PM if you know of any.
    Thanks Rex Winter
     
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