Chuck the Truck's 52 Chevy - Cruise Install; Defroster Upgrade; Folding Seatback; Four Years

Cruise Control Installation, Defroster Upgrade, Folding Seat Back, and 4-Year Update

Cruise Control Installation

Baby brudder dearest mentioned it first when I gave him the opportunity to drive my truck on a fishing trip,
"My right leg is cramping up!"
Well, after he mentioned it, I couldn't forget it. The angle between the seat and the throttle combined with the lack of a hump to brace my foot against made long drives painful. I was blaming my old joints, but if brudder complained there must be something to it. To remedy the situation, I purchased a Dakota Digital Electronic Cruise Control from Summit. I wanted the electronic over vacuum for consistancy, and I picked the Dakota unit because it included a Vehicle Speed Sensor instead of the pain-in-the-dupa magnets.

This is the kit that turned out to be a Rostra cruise, but Dakota added the VSS, and include a bit of extra "hot rod" instructions. A visit to the Rostra site reveals that they have no desire to acknowledge pre-1996 vehicles, so I was OK with it. Summit sent the wrong switch, a turn signal stalk rather than the dash switch I asked for, but more than compensated me when I complained. I used my own switches.

The first step and an easy one was to install the VSS. Disconnect the speedo cable and mount the VSS inline.

Next I ciphered out where to mount the box and where I was going to attach the cable. The box works well on the firewall. I realized that with my bellcrank for the TV cable, my connection had to be on the pedal side of the bellcrank or the trans wouldn't necessarily "see" the throttle opening because of the cable between the bellcrank and carb. I'm amazed I figured that out before burning up a trans!

The Rostra instructions are a tad fuzzy. After determining that my throttle travel was less than 1-5/8" and I would have to add three beads to lengthen the cruise cable (it does seem backwards), I didn't know if I could add MORE than three beads. A little ciphering told me it should be fine - it just pulls. Another thing they didn't mention is where the cruise cable should be anchored - with slack at idle or full throttle. Again, I ciphered and reciphered, and anchored the cable so that there is just enough slack at idle for the throttle to completetly close. It works.

The installed cruise. Most of the wiring is simple and straightforward per the Dakota instructions - hot, ground, coil, speed sensor, and switches. If I had their switch pack, the switches just plug in with no ciphering necessary. For switches, I used an on-off toggle under the dash, and a "momentary on-off-momentary on" toggle on on the dash. If you do like I did or have trouble with the unit operating, be advised that the Rostra wiring diagrams have "Off" and "On" reversed in the Normally Open switch diagram. The truth table for which switch wires are hot at the various switch/key combos is all fubar. They do have an improved table online.

Once installed you have to set the programming switches on the box. Mine is working well with 1,3,4,8, and 11 on, the rest off. I have no clue what "SetUp Timer" means, but I tried all the six cylinder combos and it's smoothest at "low". It is a real pleasure to be able to stretch out and relax that right leg on a trip. Worth every penny. (06/06/06)

Defroster Upgrade for a Fresh Air Heater

Last winter, the blower fan was making a racket, so now that it's warm I pulled it apart. The hub had separated from the wheel so I got a new fan from American Classic. During my trial fit and test, I realized I could get more air out of the defroster with a bit of tin work (they must've had really cold toes 50 years ago). This picture shows the lever in the full defrost position and the defrost blade nearly kisses the new "diverter". You can see that without the diverter a lot of air still comes out the "foot warmer" section. I had already blocked the passenger side of the "foot warmer" since it was toasting my passenger's toes (yes, dear).

With the lever in full "foot" position I still get plenty of airflow out the bottom. The louvers right of center are still always open. The cab stays plenty warm.

For maximum heat be sure to use Arizona license plates. The diverter is simple to make with just a pair of tinsnips and I bent it by hand. I used the existing hole for bolting it in place. Now all I need is a good frost to see how much difference it makes.

Well heck! I heard some of y'all saying,
"Dadgummit Chuck, how can I do it in situ?"
You've got a point. If the heater is working fine, why pull it all apart for this? So I measured where the tip of that blade I installed was, then removed the Arizona deflector. I grabbed another plate (Illinois this time, but it'll still work - easy to cut, great rust resistant coating) and started cutting. The opening is 2-7/8" wide so I cut a strip 3-7/8" wide to allow for 1/2" flanges. I folded it back, then notched it 4-3/4", the length of he main leg.

It is a nice snug fit in the housing, and my deflector tip is just to the fan side of the factory stop and a hair shy of the factory deflector. The flanges add stiffness so it doesn't flop in the breeze and they provide a spot for a retaining screw.

A bit later I realized the flanges on the short leg had to go the opposite way. This is the finished deflector, 4-3/4" on the long leg, 3-1/4" on the short leg, with about a 60 degree angle. The corners are chamfered. On the short leg, the flanges are cut back about an inch, then chamfered. You want to perfume the pig? Use real sheet metal and a brake, prime it, and paint it it to match the heater unit. I don't care - it'll never show.

Slide the deflector into place, check that everything clears, then clamp the long leg deflector flange. Drill a pilot hole and install a sheet metal screw. If you need/want to, you can go through the heater opening to get one into the front flange, but mine didn't need it. The short leg is trapped between the screen and the shell and doesn't need a fastener.

Installed, with defrost on full. All the flow heads out the defroster tubes. It really works well and I noticed that on mine, the flow is decidedly better on the motor side tube so that one will go to the driver's side.

With the defroster full off, there is plenty of flow out the heater outlet.

Done. This one you can do on your back with the heater box installed. I didn't touch the louver opening, so that gets a constant flow. If you were still six volt and weak and wanted more defrost a little block-off plate is easy. Me? I hope I don't blow the windshield out. (06/10/06)

Folding Seat Back

It was a post on Stovebolt that started me on this idea. It worked great, but I had a problem with the thumbscrews in short order - dropping them behind the tank. Linch pins, safety wired to prevent them from dropping, worked but the ring was ugly and a dead giveaway that the seatback folded. I came up with a hidden retainer with no loose parts to drop.

Just in case that post disappears, these are the "hinges". 1"x1/8" stock, 8" long. The existing "V"s at the bottom I snapped off with a Vise Grip. They broke right at the spot weld like the post said.

A gentle curve with a right angle hook (hidden) at the bottom as a stop. The hook, about 3/8", points toward the tank. The holes are drilled to match the two existing holes in each upright. Because of the hook, I installed the hinges in the seat base then bolted them to the back. The angle of the seat was fine for me, so I didn't add an offset at the mounting screws.

The retainer is made from 1/8"x3/4" stock, 43" long for the relay bar and 5" long for each of the "latches". The holes in the relay bar are spaced to match the hook on the seat back.

Two 1/4" holes in each latch, 1-5/8" apart. The offset where the relay bar attaches shoul be just enough for the bolt heads to clear when assembled. I tweaked it a little flatter after this pic. The top is bent to kiss the hoop on the seat base. The washers make for smooth operation; the nylock nuts so the fit can be adjusted.

I tapped the upper holes in the seat back to 1/4-20, used 1-1/2" long screws, and nylocks on the inside to keep the fit right.

Installed, in the release position. The weight of the relay bar, below the pivot, keeps them in the closed position. Friction holds it released.

Installed,in the closed position. I was going to a bolt as a handle, but it is easy enough to operate by just moving one of the latches.

Installed - no thumbscrew to drop, no glaring rings, no need to undo each one separately. I've thought about epoxying screw heads to the hook, so it looks like stock.

Four Years on the Road

I drive it every day and I still love this truck. Recall that pic where I was washing it? That was the only time I did. The seasons, gravel, and dings are showing. Come spring, I may just do a repaint.

Let this be a lesson - if it isn't right, fix it before going on. That primer that didn't stick very well? I painted over it, in a hurry, rather than fix it. It's been peeling for a couple years, and is the driving force behind the repaint. This door will have to come all the way down to metal. Great matching touch up paint, huh? Patina!