Sunday, October 4, 2009

Bart comes home

I've gotten a few questions about wildlife in the area. I can say with 100% certainty that there are deer. :D I've been seeing fresh scat every time I've been out there, but this is the first time I was there when they came down. I was actually driving some screws with a power drill when I turned around and saw them. Even when I was looking at them and pulling out my camera, they didn't spook. These are Black-tail deer.

I was able to get pretty close to them before they trotted off. Especially given that they didn't spook when I was using power tools, I think they consider people a part of the landscape as long as they don't get too close. It appears to be a doe and a couple of yearling fawns. They came back twice more before I left. I don't think they ever moved too far off. Their bed-down area is probably back in the trees on my place.

I'm sure there is a law somewhere that says if you have acreage, you have to own an old flatbed to help with chores and drive to town occasionally. It will also be nice to have a 2nd vehicle. If my other truck is in the shop, or I have one of those "oh @#@#$" moments and realize I need another tool/part while working on it myself - I've got something to drive to work or the autoparts store.

Everyone, meet Bart. Bart, meet everyone. Bart is a 1978 Chevrolet C30 1-ton dually. The rear axle is a full-floating 14-bolt GM corporate with the huge (and very desirable) 10.5in ring gear. While he was originally born with a 454ci (7.4L) V8 engine, a life-saving transplant was performed at some time in the past with a 350ci (5.7L) V8. The transmission is an SM465 4-speed manual with granny-low. The body is in decent shape, but a little rough.

Beyond the imminently practical uses and reasons for buying it, this is a big truck of the same age range as my first cars when I was a teenager. It is from a time when you could still work on vehicles and engines without needing $10K in computerized test equipment, a degree in plastics technology, or an earlier life is a midget acrobat to reach anything. It will just be fun to work on.

The biggest body issue is the wood in the flatbed. You can see it very well in the closeup. The good part is that there isn't anything particularly special about the wood in the bed. Most likely, I'll replace the wood with pressure-treated 2x8s while I decide what to do as a more permanent solution. I'm debating between 2 layers or 3/4in plywood sealed up with CPES and Elastuff120 (more RotDoctor stuff) and a topcoat of bed liner -OR- using some salvaged 4x12s with a stained/sealed topcoat. It is rough-and-ready vs. beautiful. The 2nd option would be stronger and beautiful, but a lot more work. I'd have to lightly sand the varnish each year and reapply a couple of topcoats. I'm not sure how dinged up the varnish would get in a year. I'm open to thoughts and suggestions. Please free to leave comments.

Earlier, I mentioned the lifesaving transplant of a 350ci V8 in place of the original 454ci V8. A 350 is a great engine. Probably the most common Chevy V8 produced through the years. However, the good Lord did not intend a C30 dually 1-ton to be powered by a 350. A 1/2-ton pickup or a 4-door sedan are much more common and acceptable applications for a 350.

So, Bart and I went for a little drive today. I found a 454 on Craigslist that ran before it was pulled yesterday. The same seller also had a TH400 (heavy-duty 3 speed automatic) transmission for sale. I bought the two together as a package. Since I was buying them both together, the guy cut the frame crossmembers of the motohome (being scrapped) with the engine and transmission still attached. That gave me a pair of good solid rails to rest the whole thing on the flatbed. Otherwise, they would have been resting on their oil pans. It made it easier for the seller and definitely easier for me. A win-win for all! :D

You'll also notice the tires and wheels on the flatbed. Bart currently has 16.5in wheels shod with old bias-ply tires. There is a bit of dryrot already starting on the sidewalls of the inner rear tires. 16.5in is an old wheel size and only a few manufacturers make radials for that size. The selection and availability is thus highly limited. The most common solution is to change over to 16in wheels. The LT235/85/R16 is an almost exact size match in width and overall height to the existing bias-ply tires. That is a tire size that is much more common and available in a wide variety of styles. Given that it is most often used on dually trucks, the most common load-range is E. That is exactly what I need. The seller, his brother, and I were discussing the truck and the tires/wheels in particular. The seller pointed out that he had a full set of 6 from the motorhome. I paid a grand total of $60 for the set. The best price I'd found online for a set of 6 used 16in wheels for a dually was $200-250. I consider that another big win!

Here is a closeup of the engine. The AC hardware will be making a very quick exit as soon as I get it on the engine stand. The distributor itself isn't damaged, just the cap. It got cracked as it was being removed. I'd replace the cap anyway so it isn't a big deal. This is the size of engine that is required for this size truck. Well, "required" by me at least. The guy I bought the truck from used it to deliver firewood. I'd hate to drive it with a 350/4-spd trying to deliver 3 cords of firewood.

I can't do a lot of construction here in the winter. Rebuilding the engine and transmission will be one of my winter indoor projects. Not only books, but also instructional DVDs are available for both the engine and transmission. I've never done it before, but it should be a good challenge to wrap my head around and get me off the computer for a bit.

That is about it for this update. Hopefully, there will be painting, installing of water tanks, and other more construction-related stuff next time.


No comments:

Post a Comment