Truck bits acquired, part 2

As I noted before, my grille panel looks like this:


I was dreading trying to fix that, and I was also looking for a GMC dual-headlight grille. A solution for both these problems came in the form of a grille & panel together that a guy on the truck forum I hang out on was selling.


For $235 shipped form AZ I got a rust free & fairly straight assembly that is cheaper than a new grille panel alone. It will need some cleanup & dings fixed, but it is miles better than what I had.



The only real issues are the missing outer buckets, a dent above the right headlamps, and a bullet hole next to the right outer headlamp. Honestly the bullet hole may stay, as it is pretty cool looking.


I’m not sure yet what will replace the GMC letters. I have seen some people use a Buick grille piece there, but I would really love to find a set of Chevrolet letters that are the right size so it looks kind of stock.

DSC_2869Also, when I bought the grille I asked if he could send me the mounting hardware, and offered to kick in some extra $$. He said he didn’t have the original bolts but would throw in some spares for free. What showed up was 30+ original style bolts already stripped of rust & paint. This should be more than enough to replace all the snapped/busted ones. Hell of a nice guy.


The day after the grille arrived I went to the first Swap Meet of the season at Stafford Speedway. Spent 3.5 hours wandering around looking at other people’s junk. I always intend to take lots of pictures, but it is so busy & exhausting that always falls by the wayside.


I did pick up this fender for $60. Why did I buy a badly dented fender? It has absolutely zero rot, and the dent is in the only place my fender doesn’t have rot. So I’m hoping I can combine the two into one good fender.


More welding work


In the continuing adventures of my rotted out ’64 Chevy truck. Today’s plan was to get the front of the passenger inner fender repaired enough that I no longer need the core-support in for reference. As a reminder, this is what I started with.

DSC_2816First patch went in.










Second patch went in






DSC_2826Third & fourth patches went in.








Then I started fabricating the end of the fender mounting flange.

The corner all welded up. As before, once the radiator support comes off I’ll be finishing up the grinding and re-doing some of the crappier welds as I’ll be able to reach them easier.

The beginning of the welding work


This year’s project with the ’64 pickup is to get the rust fixed so I can get some paint on it. To that end, the front end was stripped down so I can start start in on the incredibly crusty mess.

DSC_2757The first target is the inner fenders. The front edge has a bracket on the underside from the factory that traps muck thrown up by the tires and always rusts out. The ones on this truck were previously “fixed” with super thin sheet metal pop-riveted on and covered in roofing tar. This worked so well the patches had rusted through as well.

DSC_2792I started in on the driver’s side by cutting out the rot until I reached good metal. I’m doing this with the radiator support still in place so I can use it as a guideline to make sure everything lines up. Once I have both sides done the rad support will come out so I can finish the patches & so I can fix the massive rot on the support.

DSC_2793 I set up my metal bender in a convenient location, then it was just the tedious process of cutting, bending & fitting patches. I am using 18ga steel for strength, so my flanging tool doesn’t make the flange deep enough to be flush. I’m not too worried as this area is not visible with the hood down.

DSC_2794One patch in…






DSC_2797Two patches in…






DSC_2809And patches 3-6 in.






DSC_2811 Then two more patches to replace the fender mounting flange.





It is far from perfect, and there is a lot of grinding still to do(as well as re-doing some of the uglier welds), but it seems solid. Once the radiator support is out I will need to add one more patch to the front edge of the raised portion, and drill out the various bolt holes.

Getting started on this year’s plans for the truck.


My plan now that the weather is warmed up is to start in on the rust repair on the truck. My hope is to get the bodywork done so I can get paint on it before the end of the season. At a minimum though I want to get the cab & inner structure repaired so even if I don’t finish all the bodywork this season, I’ll know the underlying structure is solid.

Step one was the pull the front end apart. That turned out to be easier said than done, everything is so rusty nearly every bolt was a challenge. I averaged 1 snapped bolt for every 3-4 that came out normally. The front-most fender bolt was particularly difficult as you can see.


In addition to looking ridiculous, this actually was really helpful. I could see what I was doing, and therefore could figure out what tools would fit and let me get the bolt off.



Once the fenders & grille were off and the front grille panel was loosened(it won’t come off completely until the front bumper or radiator support come off), I could see the degree of the problem.
















AS you can see there is a lot of work here. However since one of the reasons I bought this truck was to practice welding and fabrication, this is not as terrible as it might be to someone else. My plan is to see how much I can fix/fabricate myself before buying any more parts.

Ongoing Beat(er) Box work.

(pics/work is from mid-december)

Pulling the wheels off, I started getting a more detailed look at the condition of the beater box. There was a lot of dirt & sand all over the undercarriage, when I pulled the fender liners, I found a large supply of compost stuck in the fender wells. Fortunately some quality time with the pressure washer returned the driver’s side to factory condition.






I wasn’t so lucky on the passenger side, there was a lot more dirt & mud on this side, and is was wet, which is a bad sign. The bottom corner of the fender was also bashed pretty good, exposing the metal, which had rusted. The pressure washer didn’t help, exposing surface rust on the inside panel.







The rocker in this area  on the passenger side was similarly sketchy, with a lot of rust under the paint. At this point I started getting really nervous, as the car had been free of rust except for some surface rust prior to finding this. So I broken out the angle grinder and got started stripping the paint.


What I found wasn’t good at all. The rocker was barely there, with a big chunk being nothing but lacy rust. The fender bottom was also rotted out. The fender is a lot cause, given the other dents all over it, so I sealed the rust and will be looking for a good replacement fender. The rocker however would need significant rust repair.

So the beater box was moved into the garage and propped up so I could get at the rocker. About this time the temperature plummeted, so the work ended up being stretched out over the next month a few hours at time on evenings when it was warm enough that by heater could keep up and the garage could get up into the 30s or 40s.

I was lucky in that the rust wasn’t in the torque boxes, so I started cutting out the rotted sections in preparation for welding in patches. I welded in a patch, only to have the edges blow out because the surrounding metal was thin & rusted. I kept cutting out more sections and welding in more patches and every time the edge would blow out again.

I finally gave up and cut the entire next section out of the rocker so I new I was back to good metal. This turned out to to be a very good idea, as the metal that looked solid was actually pretty perforated. I then welded up the new hole, which went far better with good metal to weld to.


The patches went in ok, though they are a bit ugly due to my hap-hazard repairs. Fortunately they will be hidden once the rocker molding is back on.


Truck bits acquired

Since there is a bit more money in the truck fund, I’ve started acquiring the bits to do the rust repair the longbed needs. To that end I found someone on Craigslist selling a lot of ’66 Chevy truck parts left over from a project he got rid of.


I was able to pick up every bit I need to fix the rockers on both sides, including some I probably won’t need. It was about $400 of metal for $200. This includes inner & outer rockers, front floors, floor braces, cab corners & front footwells.



I was also able to get a less rusty hood, and a complete(if somewhat rusty) roof section to fix the dents & damaged roof drip rails. It looks like the sections I most need are in good shape.




I was also able to get a set of good sunvisors to replace the one destroyed one in the truck, a spare set of wheel cylinders, and a free 1966 shop manual supplement(wrong year, but close enough to be useful).

Box hauled it all home easily, with the new metal pieces inside & the hood & roof sections strapped onto Box’s roof.

Now I just need the weather to warm up, and I’ll be able to start working on the truck again.

And now the fleet is down to 5 vehicles.

Sold the shortbed ’64 pickup today.

I’d been asking $6500, and had been hoping to get at least $5000. I ended up taking $4500 cash because someone finally showed up with cash in hand, instead of with lots of stupid trade offers(No I don’t want you 15 year old Harley, no I didn’t want your 18 year old ford ranger) or with vague promises to come by later in the week with a deposit.

Can’t really complain about the final selling price as I bought it for $500 and had about $200 into towing it home, a battery, an alternator and other small stuff to get it running.

I’d been trying to figure out what to do with it, as I didn’t have the money to get it running, and couldn’t rationalize parting it out for the other truck. Plus I never got the paperwork I needed to register it. It ended up that the easiest option was to sell it and make some money that I can use for other projects.

Project Beat(er) Box, getting a better look.

In my first installment of the $1000 Scion xB, we’d driven driven 5 hours round trip and bought Project Beat(er) Box in the dark & rain. Saturday I got a chance to really get a good look at it. Fortunately the harsh light of day didn’t reveal and new horrors I wasn’t aware of.

The car was owned by a college kid in New Hampshire who was into skate & snow boarding, and you can definitely tell, especially from the back. In addition to a lot of sticker removal, the lower bumper lip is missing, fortunately I have a spare set in silver. But the big deal back here is the hatch handle.


These are prone to breaking, so the whole handle area is covered in fossilized duct tape residue from trying to keep it on. Their final fix was to badly epoxy it together before being re-attached with sheetrock screws randomly punched through the handle & hatch. The Goo-Gone is going to get a workout here before I do a better job of fixing the handle & finding a nicer way to re-attach it.

The front bumper is missing most of the lower lip, the lower grill and all the underbody plastic. I have a ratty lip that will work, and a spare grill, so that should be a simple fix. The underbody plastics will likely get replaced with some sheet chloroplast.



Both front fenders have some significant dents, I’m hoping I can pop most of this out so it’ll look better until I can do some serious bodywork.


The wheels are nasty, and are going to be a whole project in themselves. I will probably just wire-brush the loose paint and hit them with some silver to hold them until spring when I can do a proper job.


The driver’s rocker molding is torn off and the rocker is crunched near the front. Fortunately nearly all of this is hidden when the molding is on. It came wit the molding, but the mount holes are a mess. I may try and fix it, or I may just throw on the spares I have. The passenger side is partially loose, but looks to be a quick fix. There are a bunch of other minor dents & dings, and a lot of deep paint scratches. But no rot and no sign of any major accident damage.


Aside from a half-assed radio install & worn driver’s floor mat, the interior is in decent shape and only needs a good cleaning.

Next step will be getting it in the garage and getting dug into the brakes & drivetrain, but that will have to wait for temps above freezing.

Introducing project Beat(er) Box, the $1000 Scion xB

The ever-patient girlfriend recently decided she wanted to sell her two cars and get one all-around car. She likes my xB, so I decided to start looking there. I immediately lucked into a 2004 5-speed model about 2.5 hours away going for $1200. The ad said the check engine light was on and it needed some work, but since xBs book for around $4500 I figured it was worth a look.

Drove up through sleet & rain to find a somewhat ratty looking xB that a college kid was selling as he bought a newer Golf. Despite having 237K miles and having sat all summer, it started & ran fine. I pulled the code, which turned out to be an evap leak code that usually results from not tightening the gas cap all the way.

Took it for a test drive and other than slightly mushy brakes and noise from the front pads having rusted to the rotors it drove & handled fine. The body was rough, but didn’t have any real rust, and everything seemed to work as it should.

Talked him down to $1000, cleared the check engine light(hasn’t come back on), and headed home in a 2 xB convoy. The weather had shifted to combined rain & thick wet snow, but our new box trucked home without missing a beat.

The plan is to do some maintenance & clean it up some so she can start using it. Then over time make some aesthetic & mechanical improvements.

Alternator upgrade

The alternator in the new truck was DOA when I bought it. I was just going replace it, but a quick bit of research showed me that an upgraded 63 amp alternator would cost the same as the original 37 amp alternator.



I used this website to figure out that the correct alternator to fit the truck is the one from a 1979 Buick Regal, with the 8 cylinder 4.9L engine, & air conditioning.

The big difference(besides amperage) between the two is the new one is internally regulated, removing the need for an external voltage regulator in the engine compartment.

I was able to use this thread’s wiring info, as even though it is for a 12SI alternator and I’m using a 10SI the wiring is the same. The brown wire from the dash light gets connected to the white connector wire, the thick red power wire is re-used and all the other stock wiring harness wiring is removed. Then a new wire is run from the red wire on the connector to the battery.

It only took a short while to cut out the unneeded wiring, solder in the new wire & connector and bolt in the alternator.

Started the truck up and the new alternator was charging perfectly. Not a bad upgrade since the only added cost over just replacing the bad alternator was the $4 electrical connector.