Chuck the Truck's 52 Chevy - Silence!

April 2011

Y'all thought I was AWOL? Nahh, just driving it every day. The exhaust system was rotting once again, and my patch last fall got me through til Spring. Doing it again, I decided I wanted stainless and quiet. Enough with the noisy kid stuff. Perhaps the leaky exhaust made me overly sensitive to the noise, but once I made the decision I was really looking forward to a quiet truck. Once I started pricing stainless and considering the extra work of runing duals, I decided that single was the way to go. It's a 250, and I drive it for gas mileage. I can build a single system that will flow just fine. I considered paying someone to do it. A local shop, after a lot of head scratching over 'quiet' and 'single' gave me a double high price quote. I think they wanted me to go away. OK - I can do it myself.

No one had all the parts I wanted, so I got the pipes from Columbia River Mandrel Bending, the Magnaflow Y pipe from Summit, and the muffler and clamps from Rock Auto. The muffler is a Walker QuietFlowSS from an 88 Chev 350, 2-1/2 in and out (PN 22514). Finding the muffler was a pain; I asked Rock Auto to post all the Buyers Guides for those of us that buy parts by size rather than application. You bug 'em too and maybe we'll get somewhere.

Summit had some cool band clamps for welding, but I made my own from hose clamps and cut up bits from the old exhaust. Worked great, allowing adjustment during fitting and locking up just fine for welding. A hose clamp also worked great for marking a straight cutoff line.

The dual 2-1/4" head pipes were the most work. My clamp system worked great to define the little wedge piece I needed.

The 2-1/4 IN, 2-1/2 OUT Magnaflow Y worked fine. One tactical error I made was to weld the head pipes to the Y. I should have clamped them. During welding they moved ever so slightly, but it made a tight seal at the manifold donuts a pain. I got it with careful tweaking and snugging, but a little movement at the Y would have made it a breeze. My welding was worse than rusty - it was the worst welding ever. I didn't understand why it was so crummy, but I perservered and made up for skill with enthusiasm and LOTS of wire. Halfway through the job at 4PM on a Saturday afternoon, after all the welding shops were closed, my cheap welder gave up the ghost. Great. I need my truck for work on Monday. A quick search revealed that Lowe's had one so that was my choice. I would have liked more choices, but one beats none. After I hooked it up and started welding I was thrilled to learn I WASN'T the worst welder ever. These welds were great! Thanks Lincoln Electric! I should have bought a good one from the start. The new lens in my helmet improved my aim too. Not perfect, some of my best welds were an inch away from the joint, but better. Someday I should get an auto-darkening helmet. Add the price of the new welder to the price of parts and I'm still several hundred dollars ahead of the shop quote. Plus I get to keep the welder!

I put a flex joint in to save stress on my head pipe. The rest of the system was a breeze. After I welded up the over axle and was hanging it for real, I realized I could hang it tighter to the body than I did in mock up. Rather than cut and reweld, I just rolled the over axle pipe to the side.

An old truck mudflap I found on the side of the road and picked up because it might come in handy, came in handy for hangers. The universal swivel hangers were way to long. A simple turndown on the end and we're good. Ahhhh, silence! Quiet and no decrease in gas mileage. A good thing - up to $3.95/gal again.

December 2013

Still driving it daily, and the new made in China tailgate was rotting more than any of patches. We could have bought a new, good one, but we had a couple slabs of Osage Orange, a naturally rot-resistant wood, that we could make into a new tailgate. Never found any plans or photos of such, so we ciphered it out and started cutting. We are not woodworkers, but are gettng interested in trying, so it is imperfect. But hey - so is everything else on the truck.

We decided to use the old tailgate ends to keep the pivots and chain hooks. Sam and I ripped one 1-3/4" slab to form the 1-3/4 x 1-1/2 frame members. Too short for the ~48-1/2" needed to span the gap, we put a blind doweled half lap joint in the center on the long members. The uprights were also connected with the same joint. The bottom rail was rounded over to clear the rear of the bed while opening. The end uprights were relieved for the chain hooks. We resawed the other slab to 1/4" to form the panels, with just minimal sanding for the appropriate rustic look. Before gluing up the frame, we routed a rabbet for the panels. No router, we used an old end mill in the drill press. Light cuts and patience made up for lack of equipment. We remeasured everything up one more time before drilling the spot welds and knocking the ends out of the old tailgate. The bottom rail needed an 1/8" relief for the hinge pivot. The ends were cleaned up, drilled for attaching screws, and painted. The osage was given 2 coats of spar urethane just for insurance. It bolted up like it was made for it and looks just right!