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Projects 59 Apache - Lifelong obsession

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by 59chev, Apr 23, 2014.

  1. Welcome to the build thread for my 59 Apache. I’ll begin by first telling a little bit about myself: I’m currently 34, married and have two daughters ( 2 and a half years old and 2 months ). I first bought this truck when I was 17. This build thread will start with the first build starting the day I towed it to home, then cover the current rebuild underway.

    I first saw my truck from the window of the school bus sitting out in front of a body shop in a small town when I was about 14. At the time I didn’t know what it was, it just looked cool. I used to drive my parents crazy always talking about it. They finally said “Why don’t you see if you can buy it?” For $300 it was mine. These pictures are from the day we towed it home. It was in pretty sad shape, every single body panel except the doors had serious dents or rust. There was almost a foot of metal missing from the cab corners. Someone had left water without antifreeze in the original 235 engine and the block was cracked from one end to the other through the water jacket. In restrospect I would have been better off finding something in better shape, but at the time it had to be this specific truck.
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2018
  2. I started tearing into it right away. I had no real tools except for hand-tools, no shop to work in and the cash flow of a 17 year old. I had the crazy idea that I would have it ready for my high-school graduation. Wow was I wrong!!

    First I pulled off the front clip and the box and gave it a “Rustoleum Restoration”, scraping the rust off the frame with a scraper/wire brush and degreasing the front end then painting everything with rattle cans of gloss black rust paint. Notice how much of the passenger side cab corner is missing.
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2018
    chryslerfan55 and hotrodharry2 like this.
  3. I_am_who_I_am
    Joined: Apr 16, 2008
    Posts: 194


    I am subscribing to this one. I have a '59 Apache I got for my 15th birthday, drove it in high school and college. Took it apart after college to rebuild it, then life happened. I am married now with a kid on the way. Good luck!!!

    Posted from the TJJ App for iPhone & iPad
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  4. Next, I focused on making it stop and go. My grandpa taught me how to rebuild drum brakes, and I did my first ever brake job on this truck. The drums where worn so thin that we ended up just busting them off with a big hammer. The brake lines and fuel lines where completely rusted through so I also learned how to cut and flare tubing as we replaced all the brake and fuel lines on the truck. I also replaced the engine with another supposedly “good” 235. This was the first of many “learning experiences” I had with this truck. Instead of checking to see the condition of the engine or that it even ran I moved on to more important things, like painting the engine and starting on the body work. More on this later…
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2018
    chryslerfan55 and hotrodharry2 like this.
  5. Thanks! I know this is the absolute worst timing to start the second rebuild, but I am determined to get it back on the road sooner rather than later. Even if I only get 2 hours in the garage a week, I figure it is that much closer. Time in the garage is the best stress relief there is.
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  6. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 56,616


    looks like this will be a fun story! I have a soft spot for 59 long beds....I still have my first, that my dad bought for me to fix up in 1977 (I was 15).
    bct likes this.
  7. I look forward to your build. I have a '58 GMC Shortbed and a '58 Chevy longbed. I love the dual headlights on these trucks. Go man go!
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  8. chevy54man
    Joined: Feb 7, 2013
    Posts: 1,683

    from NC

    Good for you man, I like these trucks too!
  9. redzula
    Joined: Jul 6, 2011
    Posts: 1,231


    You sound a bit like me I'm 28 with two daughters (2.5ys and 2 months) and no time for my many projects. I'm subscribing, this looks like it'll be a fun one to follow.

    Posted using the Full Custom H.A.M.B. App!
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  10. The next thing to get done was cab corners and the dent on the back of the cab. I also bought another set of fenders that where in slightly better shape and did not have the headlight brows rusted out. I didn’t own a welder yet, but the guy I bought the truck from owned a body shop and let me help and learn during the repairs.
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2018
    chryslerfan55 and hotrodharry2 like this.
  11. Here is my first try at the interior. I sanded it down and painted everything GM tan and gloss black with a rattle can. Notice my excellent repair of the floorboards. At the time fixing the holes in the floor was comprised of bending up some sheet metal by hand and screwing it to the floor with sheet metal screws. I am currently re-doing this the right way. To be honest it hid the rot so well that I almost forgot about it until I started tearing into it again.

    The original seat was completely shot. I found this seat in one of the old cars on the farm. It was out of a 66 Dodge Fury 3 and fit perfect in the truck cab. The material was worn out but the foam was still good. It didn't look half bad once I threw a seat cover on it.
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2018
    chryslerfan55 and hotrodharry2 like this.
  12. 1959apache
    Joined: Nov 22, 2009
    Posts: 2,635


    Looks great, keep up the good work! I am still working on mine, but can drive it to shows and around town... it really makes a difference when you can actually experience what it is like to be in the drivers seat.
    hotrodharry2 likes this.
  13. I drove mine for a few years the first time I built it and I started the second rebuild this past fall. I am really excited to be working on it again. The pictures I have posted so far are from the first time I built it during high-school/college.

    I've been following your build, nothing better then getting out there and driving. I'm jealous
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  14. Next, the exterior got some attention. The cab, fenders and hood received some body work and a coat of primer.
    My first car is in the background, a 78 Pontiac Grand-Prix. It was a fun car, 2 door and a V8, too bad it was that ugly 70's green on green on green.
    The original box was too dented and rusted. It got replaced with a rust free long box from a 58 GMC. In the background you can see my brother’s first project, a ’64 Valiant Barracuda. He sold it before really starting on it and replaced it with a running 1974 Dodge Dart.
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2018
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  15. The drivers fender on the GMC box had the spare tire cut out which I didn’t want, so we cut the top out of the original fender and welded it in as a patch.
    I couldn't afford a bedwood kit and new strips so we cut and notched some plain spruce boards and replaced the bed strips with 2” flat steel.
    A subtle change was made to the tailgate. Strips of metal where welded in to smooth the rib that surrounds the Chevrolet in the center of the tailgate. I have had it so long now, that a stock one looks incorrect to my eye.
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2018
    chryslerfan55 and Frankie47 like this.
  16. Now that the truck was starting to look decent, I then finally bothered to check on the condition of the 235 that I had previously purchased and found out that it wasn't nearly as good as advertised. I pulled it out before the truck ever drove under its own power and replaced it with a rebuilt 261.
    I found out that it is a lot harder to install a long inline 6 engine with the front sheet metal still on the truck. We got it in there but for the 8 or so bolts it takes to remove the front sheet metal, it is worth it to remove it first.
    The original 3 on the tree shifter was wore out and had so much slop in it that it would get stuck between gears, I replaced it with a Hurst truck shifter on the original 3 speed transmission.
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2018
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  17. Last edited: Mar 29, 2018
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  18. 59Apachegail
    Joined: Apr 30, 2011
    Posts: 1,504

    from New York

    Great project! love a long bed.
  19. By this point, I had the truck running and driving, but it needed to be a single color. My girlfriend ( now wife ) and I where renting a townhouse with a small single garage. I scuffed the whole truck with a small electric jitterbug sander in that small garage and had to finish it by hand with sanding blocks after I burnt the sander out from overuse. I then took it to a body shop and had it sprayed with epoxy primer.

    I drove it like this for 4 or 5 years until the original 3 speed transmission wore out. It would jump out of 3rd gear so bad that it got to the point I had to hold onto the shifter in order to drive it.

    The truck got parked for another 5 years. I didn't mean for it to sit for that long but I got busy with getting married and building our first house and the birth of our first daughter. During this time I never stopped thinking about my truck and started planning how I was going to build it differently the second time around.
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2018
    chryslerfan55 and Peanut 1959 like this.
  20. wingedexpress
    Joined: Dec 24, 2006
    Posts: 893


    Cool thread, love the simple low buck build threads.
  21. Torkwrench
    Joined: Jan 28, 2005
    Posts: 2,721


    Cool pickup. I'm slowly building a 59 GMC long bed.
  22. Nice looking truck!
  23. While the truck was parked I had some time to think about what I wanted to accomplish the second time around. The first time I built it, it ended up pretty much stock. As far as a learning experience of rebuilding my first project this was the easiest way to go because you pretty much remove the old part and bolt on a new one. The downside to this was when I was done, it handled and performed like a 60 year old truck ( big surprise ).

    My goals for the 2nd time around:
    - ability to easily keep up with traffic on the highway
    - sit alot lower
    - switch to 5 lug for more wheel choices
    - make good decisions. Picking the cheapest option isn't always best if you end up re-doing it later because you know it isn't what you want right off the bat.

    I knew that I had to do something about the transmission, so my planning started here. I considered 4 options:

    1) Repair or replace the 3 speed – I threw this option out right away. With the 3.90 rear gears, the non-sycro-1st and 1:1 3rd gear, this transmission just wasn’t much fun for a young guy in my 20’s. If I started in first I was shifting by 10 mph, so I would start in 2nd most of the time. Also on the highway, I could only do about 50mph before the RPMs got too high. I could replace the rear-end with a higher gear but then I still had the non-syncro 1st to deal with.

    2) T5 behind the 261 - Cheapest option, better top speed on the highway, would need a new driveshaft.

    3) 700r4 behind the 261 – seriously considered this as an automatic was looking better and better with stop and go driving in the city. However the adapters I priced out were fairly pricey. My debate was do I spend the money on an adapter or a V8? Would need a new driveshaft as well.

    4) 700r4 behind a V8 – More performance than the 261 could offer without serious work and the benefits of an overdrive on the highway. Would need a new driveshaft anyway.

    Lowering: 3 options I considered:
    1) Camaro clip- sits lower and rides better than stock or dropped axle, disc brakes and v8 motor mounting included. Rebuild parts are easily accessable. Downside was it would be more difficult than anything I had ever done before.

    2) Mustang II Kit- Slightly less work than the Camaro clip but it costs more. Also looks too modern to me. The camaro clip isn't exactly traditional but a steering box is alot more old-school than a rack and pinion.

    2) Drop axle, mono or reversed eye leaf springs – by the time I upgraded to disc brakes, would cost the same or more than the Camaro clip and not ride as nice. Benefit would be that it would be unbolt/bolt on.
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  24. I decided to choose the options that would best meet my goals: Camaro clip with a V8 and a 700r4. I plan to try to build it in a mid 60's lowrider/hotrod style. Something similar to Rob Fortier's truck ( Classic Trucks, Rod and Custom )

    Once I had a plan, I started collecting parts so that I was ready once I pulled the truck out of storage. I spent alot of time scouring Kijiji.

    Parts list so far:
    - ‘59 Impala Steering wheel
    - ’78 Chevy Van Steering Column
    - ’65 327 – will need to be rebuilt
    - ’81 Camaro clip
    - ’77 Firebird Rear End – 3.23 Posi ( may swap to 3.73s later )
    - ’89 700r4



    Last edited: Oct 8, 2019
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  25. In October, I finally got the truck back in my garage where it belongs. I had stored it out at my Mom and Dad’s farm for the past few years. I put a fresh battery, fuel and a set of points in it and it fired right up.
    330.jpg Over the Thanksgiving long weekend my father-in-law and I tore it apart and installed the Camaro clip. I give full credit to Lux Blue's how to thread for the excellent step by step instructions. It gave the push I needed to attempt this.

    I drove the truck into the garage and immediately started tearing it apart.
    Notice the metal box on the firewall? This was my version of wiring the first time around. I had cut a fuse block out of a truck at a wrecking yard and spiced all the wires into it years ago. The wiring was a mess of original wiring and a mix of what-ever color the closest roll of wire happened to be on my workbench. All of this mess will be replaced with a proper aftermarket wiring harness this time.


    This was a running and driving truck just 2 days before.
    Getting ready to fit the clip.

    Test fitting a fender to see how the stance will look.
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2019
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  26. I got a set of finned corvette valve covers for Christmas, and I wanted a 60ish Corvette Air cleaner to match. I looked at reproduction air cleaners but they where crazy expensive so I decided to try making my own. I walked through the wrecking yard until I found an air cleaner that I liked the shape of. This particular one is out of a 87 Dodge Dakota. Then I cut the snorkel off and bent and welded in a piece of metal to fill the hole. I marked out and cut windows in what used to be the back of the air cleaner. I also welded a piece of metal onto the lid so I could stick a 327 Valve Cover sticker onto it. When I was finished, the windows looked like a little too open so I expoxied a metal screen in behind them.

    The Edelbrock performer intake will be fitted with an oil fill tube when the motor gets rebuilt. This is an early 327 with the pcv in the back of the block so I won’t need to put any holes in the valve covers.
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2019
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  27. riley58
    Joined: Feb 27, 2011
    Posts: 33


    looking real good man. I need to get working on my 58 apache as well
  28. The clip looks good- how far forward did you move your front wheels?
  29. 2 inches, any more than that and and the core support/rad would hit the steering box.
  30. The original seat was only just a bare frame as can be seen in the early pictures. I replaced it years ago with a front seat out of a 66 Dodge Fury III. It was comfortable and fit in the cab nice, but it needed to be re-covered and it always bugged me that it couldn't flip forward like the original seat did. I plan to move the gas tank under the bed to get some storage room behind the seat. I started browsing Kijiji looking for a 80's Chevy truck seat, because I heard they fit in these cabs nice, then I came across this: A seat out of a 59 GMC grain truck that was re-covered. I couldn't believe my luck. Stock seat that I can bolt in and in the color I wanted.
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2019
    chryslerfan55 likes this.

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