Chuck the Truck's 52 Chevy - ROAD TEST!!!!

Two years, four months of constant work and it is finally on the road. Those that have followed my "Do it again" comedy routine are probably quite surprised that I would ever get this truck on the road. You may recall from our last Bat episode that I was surprised when I pulled the oil pan. The crank felt good with no bearings squirming out the sides (that's how bad it sounded.) I found chips of iron in the pan so I started looking. The cam looked a little odd - the lifters weren't centered front to back - but the lifters looked good. Except one. It was badly rounded, worn away, and I thought I had trashed it by letting the engine sit too long before starting.

Ordered a new cam and lifters, then started pulling it apart. When I got the distributor out and saw the trashed gear the light went on. The cam gear had come off, the cam slid back in the block, trashing the distributor gear, and the fuel pump eccentric on the cam trashed the adjacent lifter. When the front cover came off, my theory was validated. The worst part of this do over was R&Ring the grille, and most frustrating was having to pull the trans, clutch, and flywheel to install a new 25 cent cam plug, since the old one had been pushed nearly out of the block.

So in went the new cam, lifters, timing gears, and distributor. The new Crane 260 cam was threaded so I got clever and put a bolt in for insurance. The timing cover needed to be dimpled to clear the bolt head, and I was smart enough to check that the pulleys would clear the dimple. The first pic shows the dimple. However, I was NOT smart enough to check that the belt would clear the dimple. Realized that as it went together, cogitated on the problem, and found a nice,easy solution. I ordered a Mr. Gasket double groove WP pulley from a short water pump, small block Chevy and got a double alternator pulley. A little relief grinding on the back of the Made in China pulley and I was in business. Used the outer grooves and it works just fine. Fired it up 11/30/02 and drove 40 miles, with tuning still to be done. Hooray!!! It works, it runs, it drives!!!

1/6/03 1000 miles now in snow (a little), salt, and gravel roads.

My road test report for those doing or contemplating modifications:
I can vouch for the Progressive Automotive MII front end and Proslip leafs out back. Not too soft as I had feared - it feels like a taut truck ride, but not too harsh. A little more jounce than my 138" WB Ford, but that's to be expected at 116". With P225-70-15 Goodyear Eagles, it corners ALMOST as good as my daughter's Corvair. It tracks straight, hands free, so my Sears angle finder must have the alignment close.

I had it aligned 12/28 and it made a world of difference. I was out by a degree or two on all the angles. Having it right is really nice.

I hit the railroad tracks fast, didn't bottom out, and my amateur welding held. The non-power rack is no problem with the leverage offered by the stock steering wheel. The Camaro brakes bring it down straight and smooth and short, and the bumper doesn't kiss the pavement on a hard stop.
The NP A833 four speed is great. I cruise in town in 2nd without having to shift every five seconds (real handy with the morning coffee). At 70MPH in OD it's loafing. First is plenty low, and the Powertrax diff doesn't clunk or chatter like a Detroit locker. It's too soon yet to try to light 'em up.

It works slick! Trying to find a vibration I discovered a bent axle shaft and had to replace it. The Powertrax comes apart and goes back together easily. 11/04 Now that it is all broken in, that 2nd gear driving is now 3rd gear - I can run 3rd from 25mph on up if I'm gentle. Normal shift points getting up to 60mph are 20 for 2nd, 35 for 3rd, and 50 for 4th.

The triple B's on the 250 need dialing in, but it idled smooth and made lots of power. I was hoping for it to perform as well as my 87F150 300 MPFI, but it outpulls it, even with similar rear gears. I may switch to a 4 barrel if that B whistle gets too annoying. The temp gauge stayed steady at 170 F (granted it's 30F out), the oil pressure a comfy 50 PSI while cruising. Plenty of torque down low - never felt like I was lugging it.

I did swithc to a four barrel. I just want to drive it and didn't want to mess with tuning. Kinda burnt-out, if you know what I mean. Picked up an Edelbrock and an Offy 4 barrel manifold on Ebay, droppped it on. Ran great, no whistle. Doesn't pull as strong full throttle, but I can live with that til I feel like tuning it.

Langdons cast iron headers are nice - no header ring, and with stock Caprice mufflers on the duals, it still has a throaty sound. I didn't want it too loud, since I head to work @ 4AM. It's ready to cruise in winter. I put neoprene liners into the front wheel wells so mud, salt, and slush don't cake the inner to outer cowl area. All along I've planned on this being a driver and that's the one part of my plan that hasn't changed. I'll get some dialing in done tomorrow and drive it to work on Monday, snow, salt and all. It lasted 50 years with no rust protection, it'll make another 50 easy.

The stock heater core with a hi-output motor gives gobs of heat. Enough to overcome the drafts from those doors I still don't have aligned right and still blister your toes.

I improved the defroster and corrected the blistering toes after three years.

I really wanted to install the Fulton sunvisor, but I'm just too tall. I use the upper third of the windshield while driving, and didn't want to hunch over just to have the visor. I sold it on Ebay.

I am having a blast driving it. It is my daily driver and glorious in its coating of road grime. Most folks are oblivious and have no clue when they see it. Others give thumbs up or get whiplash with the fast head turn - "Wow didja see that??!!" I'm still grinning while I drive. You experts can laugh at my handiwork, but I did it all myself and it is running, rolling, and doing just what I planned. A neighbor has a cherry 57 Chevy in his garage that sees the light of day half a dozen times a year. Not my cup of tea. If you don't drive it, it's just junk in the gargage.

I'll add more pics as I get them developed, and more tales of the open road. This'll be my fishin' truck. Are you up for "America's Toughest Sportfish For 100,000,000 Years!©"?

And now the hard part - cleaning up. The basement workshop is just as bad.

On the way home from work in 4PM rush hour traffic, I decided to stop and snap a few pics. Turned around and took a few of the other side too. Now don't get the wrong idea and think this is Nirvana, because 1/2 mile away they're dropping in new subdivisions. I love the open fields and gravel roads - time to move farther away.