Monday, April 27, 2009

A little background before we begin...

69 Chevy built in 1999

78 Blazer that my ex-wife and I built.

Kind of like the teachers you had in school, I will start out this first day by covering the basics.

The purpose of this blog is to document the restoration of my old 63 Chevy pickup. I've actually been quite flattered to find out that there are a good number of folks in this world who watch my projects and builds intently. I've never been too structured or organized in documenting the whole process, so out of respect for the interested people, I thought I would try and compile the whole deal into something cohesive and hopefully interesting to follow.

More background...I have built a lot of old trucks in the last 15 years. Heap many (spoken like Indian chief). All of them have been Chevy trucks. I hold no bad feelings towards other brands, it's just that I have gotten familiar and comfortable with one specific brand. This makes it much easier for me. There is less of a learning curve involved, which allows me to focus on expanding my skill level.

Since my divorce nearly 3 years ago, I have had to regroup and gather my resources a bit. Lately, I have started into the powdercoating venture. For those if you who don't know about this process, it is an industrial coating that you apply to a metal part and bake in a large oven to cure. There are currently over 6500 colors available. Once applied and cured, the finish is equivalent to any painted finish in apprearance, but approximately 20 times as durable. Further, powdercoating is an electrically applied process. The electrical charge causes the powder to cling to all areas of the part. Unlike paint, powdercoat will get into cracks and hard to reach areas for better coverage.

So, in light of my new venture, I figured the time was nigh to build another old vehicle to showcase my abilities. I thought a good bit about what I wanted to build prior to jumping into the project. Something like this can easily consume several thousand hours of labor and an unspeakable amount of money. I wanted to make sure I chose something that really talked to my soul and that I would maintain my momentum throughout the project because of that.

As far as old Chevy trucks go, in 1960, General Motors made some significant changes to the truck. This was the year they introduced independent front suspension. This suspension more closely resembles a car suspension and less a dump truck suspension. The advantage is much better ride quality and more pleasuable day-to-day driving experience.

From 1960-1962, GM trucks used what is known as torsion bar front springs. This is a long, spring steel, bar that twists throughout it's length, allowing the front wheels to move in response to undulations in the road. The name is derived from the torsional stress that is applied to the bars during operation. This is a good system, but it does have limitations that I will touch on later.

In 1963, GM replaced the torsion bar suspension with coil spring suspension. When you think of a coil spring, think of a ball point pen spring. This suspension configuration was a significant step forward in several areas. In fact, this design was so well concieved that Chevy used this setup on their trucks all the way though 1987, which offers advantages to a guy building a truck like myself, parts interchangability.

The next big change in the trucks was in 1964, when the curved windshield was introduced. The curved windshield necessitated a completely new design of the truck cab, which in my opinion made it far less attractive to my eyes. Previously, the windshield had been known as a "wraparound" or "knee knocker " type as it wrapped completely around the front of the truck cab. This caused the doors to have an unusal shape, which you are prone to whacking your knee against when entering and exiting the truck. Notice in the interior picture below that the front of the door opening, near the dash, greatly protrudes rearward into the door opening. Ye olde knee knocker...

After much agony I ultimately decided to build a 63 model. this is a one year only truck, as it gets me both the suave wrap around windhshield and the newer style of coil spring front suspension. Anything older than 63 would have the torsion bar suspension, and anything newer than 63 would have had the lesser sexy curved windshield (too modern...booo...hisss....)

After a bit of looking, I found a guy in Comanche Texas selling a 63 truck for a decent price. The truck is rough and needs some work, nothing beyond my skills or desire. the worst feature of the truck is that a previous owner painted it an awful pink color.

1 comment:

  1. crazy attention to detail. you got drive my friend. the intake, the handmade aircleaner, detail to the unseen, I can only imagine how sweet this rides gonna be when your done. I've got 2 66's and I only hope I can come close to level your playing at. I will definately keep an eye on this webpage. thanks for sharing, it can't be easy.