Thursday, March 31, 2005

Aww Hail

After getting the last of the seatbelts removed from the truck, I left the windows open to let the truck air out. Just like I have done almost every day for the past week. And after we ended up with a melted crayon in the minivan yesterday, I decided to open those windows, too.

While the kids and I were out for a late afternoon walk, we almost got drenched in a thunderstorm. And then the hail came. So we went inside a neighbor's houses to wait out the weather. And then I remembered the windows.

Too late to do anything about it, so we waited for dry skies and then we darted home. Or as darting as we could go with a three year old splashing his way home, barefooted, in the over-flowing gutters.

Seatbelt Free

After letting the stuck seatbelt retainer bolt soak in PB Blaster for a few days, I was able to remove it this afternoon, while the kids were napping. After I got it out, I ran the shop vac hose into the space behind the seatbelt retainer. 37 years of accumulated oily dirt and crud can really choke a vacuum hose.

Once done, I celebrated by mowing the front yard. PAR-TEE!

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Cleaning day

This evening, I pulled the front wheels off of the truck. I was going to check out the brakes. But I decided not to open the drums right now. So I started scraping 37 years of gunk off of anything that I could reach. An old flathead screwdriver seemed the best tool to do the trick. And what a pile of gunk it was. I'll try the rear wheel wells some other time.

I fought a little more with the driver's seatbelt bolt. But I gave up quickly. That bolt is stuck and still installed. Once again, I gave up quickly. Maybe another night.

A little more

Last night I installed a battery in the truck, so that I could check out the lights. Most of the exterior lights are working. Except that I could not get the reverse lights or license plate light to burn. Especially now that I know the sidemarkers are just reflectors, NOT lights. D'oh!

The cab and cluster lights don't seem to be working. The high beam indicator was working for a while, but he gave into peer pressure and quit, after about 10 minutes.

I also got the retractor end of the passenger seat belt removed. But the bolt holding the driver's belt won the fight. I'll have to mess with it another time.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Cleaning the cab floor

While I was outside yesterday, I cleaned a little more on the bed floor. Most of the glue from the old sound deadening pad is gone. I think I'll have to hit the last of it with a wire wheel. I also hit the underside of the bed with the waterhose. It is amazing, the amount of red clay that has stuck to this truck over the last 37 years. Of course, It really got there during the first 25 of those years and has just been stuck in place for the past dozen years.

I seriously considered pulling out the gas tank yesterday. But I will have to do something with it, once I get it out of the truck. So installed, it stays. I also thought about opening up the carb, but I got some advice recently. The idea is that I should do the entire rebuild at one time, from disassembly, to completion. Much less chance of losing parts. I think that is good advice. Now I have to hit up NAPA and get a rebuild kit.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Odd Things, #s 2 and 3

This picture shows a sticker that is on the inside of the glovebox. It lists every factory installed option on the truck. Actually only two entries are options, the Heavy Duty Rear Springs, and the Ammeter/Oil gauge.

The other lines tell the model#, the interior color and the paint color.

This is one of the reasons I was assuming the truck had a 307cid engine in it. Because no optional, larger motor is noted.

And here, you can see the rear step on the outer edge of the bumper. Here , is a view from a different angle.

This step is actually just a cap, welded over the end of the dealer installed bumper. I don't know if I will try to save the steps, but I would love to save the bumper. Across the bumper, stamped into the steel, is the name of the dealership where my grandfather bought this truck in 1968. It reads "Miller Chevrolet/Buick Rockdale,Texas".

You might notice that the taillight lenses, sidemarker reflectors and reverse light lenses are not installed on the truck. I have almost all of the parts, but I pulled them off to clean them up and to check out the wiring and fixtures. A few of the lenses will have to be replaced, but most are in OK shape.

The Easter Bunny brought me a 307

I have been searching for the front engine code stamp on the 68. It is supposed to be on the right front of the block, lower on the block than the head cover. Confused? Yeah, so was I.

Guess where it was. Right where it was supposed to be.

I got out there while the family napped, and hit the entire area with some WD40 and super fine steel wool. 37 years of gunk comes off pretty easily this way. And after 10 minutes of scrubbing and doubting, there it was. Shining back at me.


And after some searching on the net, the code evidently breaks down like this...

The build location
V= A V8 Engine, made in Flint, Michigan

The build date
07= Seventh month of the year (July)
02= 2nd day of the month

The engine CID
WA= 307 Cubic Inch Displacement.

Now commonly known as a 5.0 liter V8

Cool! I have been wondering since I first decided to bring the truck home. After chatting with people on the net, who know everything about these old trucks, I assumed it had a 307 in it, but it is great to now know for certain.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Odd Thing about the truck, Number 1

The truck has no rear view mirror. In 1968, it should be screwed to the cab ceiling, between the visors. Not there. Never was. It would have been glued to the window, if it had been a 1972 or later model.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Making Progress and a Big Mess!

The Boss Lady is off work today, so I spent most of the day out in the driveway. I actually got a lot accomplished, though it might be hard to see.

This morning I ran to the auto parts store. I picked up new points and a condenser, and a new rotor for the distributor. Also, I bought a new thermostat and gasket. These were items that I have done in the past, on other cars, so I was confident all would go well.

I got all of these thing installed pretty quickly. Getting the points set to the proper gap proved more challenging than I remembered from my 69 Volkswagen Beetle that I had in High School. The thermostat was not leaking when I started. Now it is. I think I'll have to get another gasket and try again. I noticed the leak when I tried to start her up. So, we never ran today.

And we won't tomorrow, either. After getting all of the parts back in place, I took the carburetor off. I have not decided if I am going to rebuild it with a kit, or if I am going to replace it with a remanufactured carb. The $100 price difference might make the decision easier. But the fact that I want this truck to eventually run, might cause me to spend that cash.

Feeling brave, I took the seat out, and got the last of the old sound deadening off of the cab floor. I vacuumed up at least fifty dirt dobber nests. Luckily none of the little buggers were home. I scraped as much sand and gunk out of the cab as possible. Looks pretty good in there, now. Though I still have a lot of the adhesive to scrape away.. I cleaned the windows, inside and out and called it a day.

Pics later. I am too tired to mess with them now.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Little Steps.

This afternoon, I was able to clean a little more on the truck. I pulled out the old sound deadening floor pad. Most of it anyways. It was a self stick product and the glue has mostly dried up. So it just crumbled into pieces. The areas that would not come out easily, I left alone. I'll have to revisit this eventually.

I ran the shop vacuum through the cab and got about 10 pound of sand out of there. It looks a lot better after I washed the seat and dash with a soapy rag. Just a little bit of cleaning really helps.

I also ran the vac around the perimeter of the bed, trying to pick up loose bits of steel that have fallen into the seams between the floor and the bed sides. I am a little worried about one of the neighborhood kids cutting themselves on the jagged edges, so I'll be doing this often.

I also pulled the points and rotor out. In the morning I may pull the starter. I want to get it tested to see if it is good. The points and rotor are burned a crapped out, so they are gone. I may also work on getting the seat taken out. I want to get a good look at the gas tank, soon.

Treasure Hunt, Part 1

A list of the things that I have found while cleaning the old girl out.

Lots and lots of mud wasp nests. Some as big as my fist.
One old tennis ball
Two tractor spark plugs
One bird's nest
One radiator hose under the seat.
One skeleton of a rat or small lizard. I did not look real close.
Several corncobs sitting on the intake manifold. I've got pics.
Several pieces of foam that Papa had used to fashion a battery box.
A bathroom sink. It was in the bed but it stayed at the farm.
30 gallons of paint. See note above.
Several miscellaneous seat belt parts and pieces. Some green, some blue, some brown, most not attached to the truck.
About a mile of bailing wire. Some of it structural.

Cleaning Up

Yesterday afternoon I was able to get the truck bed swept out. Lots of loose steel pieces and rust came out of there. I also pulled out the leaf blower and blew out the cab and the engine compartment again. I also borrowed a grinder to cut off a particularly menacing looking piece of the replacement steel bedfloor that wsa sitcking up three or four inches, just looking to bite a three year old's hand or face.

My current plan for the weekend: Pulling the seat and more cleaning the cab. I want to see how bad the rust really is in there. Also, I want to see about yanking the gas tank. I want drain it and take the old gas to the hazardous chemicals reclamation center. I might have to siphon it into gas cans, though. And take it in a little at a time, because I am thinking that it is pretty full.

After I get these done, I am going to read up on rebuilding the carburetor. That might come next. Or maybe new door handles and a door lock/ ignition key set.

Or maybe new plugs, points and wires and trying to figure out the starter system is on tap. The possibilities are endless.

Alas, the budget is not.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Our's is the 5th house on the left, with the cool old Chevy truck in the driveway

The Head Mechanic approves.

Here are a couple of other shots:

From the side

Head on

Exciting day. More details later.

In route today

My Uncle is helping me out with the truck by bringing it to town on a flatbed trailer. He wants to get it done this afternoon. He already has it loaded and is in route. I am supposed to meet him this afternoon to show him how to get to the house.

So I think I'll snap a picture of the front of the house today. It might be the last one without a truck in the frame, for a long time.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Moving day approaches

I got a call from my uncle, who is living at the farm. He has decided to bring the truck to town for me. He has a trailer and a 1 ton truck. I have my doubts about the capacity of the trailer but I don't think I can change his mind.

He may show up Friday with Marge. Hopefully he will call first, so that I can help get her loaded. And so I can witness the show. It should be an exciting trip. A 3500 pound, 37 year old truck loaded onto a questionable trailer, being pulled by a 15 year old welding truck. Plus, he might show up at 6 am or at 11:30 pm. I hope to get a little advanced notice. Just so I can make sure The Boss Lady is prepared.

Oh the stories I'll have to tell. Or deny.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Engine Ovehaul Manual

Saturday morning, The AtHomeFamily was out running errands when we decided to detour across town to the newest location of our favorite Half Price Books.

While there I scored a copy of Chevrolet V8 Engine Overhaul Manual. And even better, I got is for even less than half price!

This book does not offer any transmission help, but it has a great section on tune-ups that I plan to put to use this Friday, when I am planning to go out to the farm again.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Tranny Fun

I drove out this afternoon to see if I could get the truck into gear. I spent the better part of a couple of hours trying to lube anything I could get to, gear shift linkages, manual choke, gear shift lever, steering linkages... Anything that looked like it could use a shot of silicone or lithium grease.

The good news of the day: The truck started and ran again today. And the new keys worked like a charm.

The great news of the day: I was able to get it into at least 3 of the 4 gears, 1st, 2nd and reverse.

The bad news: The truck never actually moved. I knew it was in gear because it would choke down and try to stall out. After a couple of trys like this, I finally did stall the engine, and I could not get it restarted

The worst news of the day: The carburetor was leaking like crazy. Right onto the intake manifold. Where I am assuming it gets pretty warm. But not warm enough to ignite gasoline. At least not today! I wanted to take the carb off and bring it home and clean it while checking for any obvious cracks, but I thought better of that plan. So the carb stayed safely attached to the truck.

Hopefully the next time the truck runs, it will only be for a couple of minutes, when I drive it right onto a flatbed trailer.

I brought home the hubcaps tonight. I was thinking that they could be cleaned, and repainted. Now that I looked closer at them , I think they will make fine filler for my trashcan.

Friday, March 18, 2005

New Keys

While messing with the truck yesterday, I realized that the only usable key is a little tweaked and cracked. I went to a locksmith today to see if they could copy the key before it bent worse or broke, like the other two surviving truck keys.

They pressed the key in a vise to straighten it and then they copied it easily. The copies look great, but I'll have to make sure they work on my next trip out to the farm.

Once the truck is home, I plan to install a new ignition switch and door locks. But until then, I need a decent key so I can start her up again. Maybe Saturday.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Casting Numbers and Wooden Beds

Over at The Dirt Forum, I was able to learn a little more about the truck.

While I was tinkering this afternoon, I was looking for the block casting numbers. I did not get that far, but I found the Intake Manifold casting numbers. 3927183 is listed as a 1969 2BBL Rochester Cast Iron Manifold that was used on either a 307 engine or a 327. I am not any closer to learning the displacement of this engine. But now I wonder why this is not the 1968 2BBL Rochester, stamped 3919801.

Could it be this truck was made late in the production year?

I also found out that the truck did indeed have an original wooden bed. Some of it is still there, hiding under a replacement steel floor that was put in no telling when.

Marge Lives!

The AtHomeFam spent the afternoon out at the farm. We soaked up the sun and fed the catfish. I had to run out there to replace the tire and get the truck off of blocks.

Since I was driving out, I decided to put some good-sounding advice to use. So I made myself a check list and headed out to complete as many items as I could.

I mainly did fluid and filter checks and tried to get some oil into the valves. After a couple of hours of tinkering, something amazing happened. No, not me locking my keys in the van while it was running. That was annoying, not amazing.

The amazing part... She started. And once I figured out the manual choke, I was able to keep her idling at a decent sounding RPM. I was also watching the oil pressure gauge sit right in the middle of the safe range. The temp gauge never gave a reading, nor did the fuel guage.

But she started and ran. Never moved. But she ran.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Or not... Again

My dad did not come down in his truck. So the 68 is still sitting at the farm. I stopped by the tool store and picked up a 4 ton come-a-long, and some other stuff. Plus, I got a tire mounted on the 68 wheel. At least I am good to go, when another opportunity arises.

Hopefully soon.

Or I could tinker around when I go out to reinstall the tire. Maybe I can just drive the @#*( thing back to town. Of course, after consulting the wife, I seriously doubt that will happen.

I would have to commit several misdemeanors to get it here. The license plates are 12 years old. It has not been registered or inspected in 12 years, either. The cost of the tickets would quickly surpass the cost of a rented truck and trailer. Plus, I don't want to cause anymore damage to the engine or brakes. And I seriously doubt it would start for me, anyways.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Another moving plan?

My dad needs to come down in a couple of days. If he drives down in his truck, I might take a stab at picking up the 68 Chevy.

I'll have to equip his truck for towing. He does not have a tow ball or trailer lights wiring, but buying that stuff will be cheaper than renting a truck. I can rent a car trailer and we might run out there Wednesday.

I still have to get a tire mounted and replaced on the 68, too. I have a tire that might fit on the 68 wheel I pulled off last week. It was supposed to be used for The Talker's Tire swing, but it is almost brand new. I would much rather see that tire on the truck than on the swingset.

I would love to get the truck here, even though I won't be doing any real work to it for a while. I could at least start getting it cleaned up and get a better idea of where to start. And maybe even get it into the garage.

If I don't use dad's truck, then the 68 will be sitting for a while.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Keeping the truck at home

Everything is now settled with The Big White Dog. And therefore, we will be leaving the truck out at the farm for a while. I think I still want to try to get it back on the road, but it is going to stay at the farm for the near future. And maybe longer.

Maybe I'll go out and tinker with it once in a while. I definitely need to get out there and get another tire on it. I don't want it sinking back into the mud while it is sitting on a jackstand. Plus, it is my jackstand and I might need it for other stuff.

I don't know how much I'll update this blog. Probably not as often, now that I won't be actively trying to get the truck home.

I guess come back and see once in a while. Or don't. Whatever.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Or not...

We aren't doing anything with the truck until The Big White Dog's health problems are resolved. I may want a dirty ol' truck, but I already have a dirty ol' dog. And I like The Big White Dog way more than I'll ever like some smelly old rust bucket.

Besides that, Emergency Vet Clinics don't often work for free, or cheap if you wanna know the truth. The budget for moving the truck is blown. Oh well, maybe some other time.

Moving plans are progressing

I was able to make some calls today, looking for a tow bar to rent or buy. The best I could find locally was a $130 setup that I would have to drill holes into the 68's bumper to attach. Racecar Man found a $90 set-up that I could have shipped to the house in a week.

But the final answer may be a truck and trailer. I found a place that rents car trailers for $35 a day. That is cheaper than any of the front wheel car dollys that I priced for rent. I will have to rent a truck to pull the 18' trailer, but it will still be cheaper than buying a tow bar for one time use.

So Monday or Wednesday I may be heading out to the farm to pick up my pickup. Yipeee!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

TruckDate 3.10.05 - (AKA The Truck Update)

The kids and I headed out to the farm this morning, to begin the rescue of the truck. We brought a couple more pieces back, including one wheel and one hubcap. I need to get a flat fixed before I can tow The Blue Beast/Marge home. I may head out there again soon, to replace the other front tire. It holds air and I think it will make the 45 miles home, but better safe than stuck in the middle of nowhere with a 3600lb truck attached to your rear bumper.

And in casual conversation last night, The Boss Lady called the truck "a rust bucket". I tried to explain the difference between a rust bucket and a classic, but she decided it would make a lousy bucket anyways. Based on the fact that a quality bucket only has one hole in it. The Blue Beast/Marge/Rust Bucket has many holes in it, in lots of interesting and exciting locations...

While at the farm, I was able to pick up the title and verify the VIN number. So based on the VIN Decoder at, I know these things about the truck (some are different than I previously thought):

Model Number- CE10904 (from the glove box sticker)

Bought new on 09/30/68 from Miller Chevy in Rockdale, Texas (per the title)

It is a 4x2, two wheel drive

It has a V8 engine

It is a 1/2 ton truck, with a 5000 GVW (from the door plate)

It is a 1968 Stepside pickup

It was built in St. Louis - not Baltimore (the glove box plate is hard to read)

It was one of the first 215,000 1968 Chevrolet trucks to roll off of the line.

It weighs approximately 3600lbs (per the title)

And here are a couple of more things I learned online, taken from the Standard Catalog of American Light-Duty Trucks, 3rd edition:

The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSPR) on this truck was $2468

It weighed 3477lbs, when new (less now, thanks to the rust holes)

There were 18632 made in 1968 (Longbed, Stepside, 1/2 ton).

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


Thanks to Rick for finding a way for me to use up the last of my spare time. I think I am addicted to The 1947 - 1998 Chevrolet & GMC Pickup Message Board Network . I am going through and reading old threads on the 67-72 forums. I have 40 pages down of like 1250 pages that have been posted.

But I am learning a lot!

Monday, March 07, 2005

Original Manuals

Last week I won a couple of bids on eBay. I am getting original prints of the 1968 Chassis Service Manual and the 1968 Chassis Overhaul Manual (That I have not seen in available in reprint). I got one of them for $1.99 and the other for about $10. Shipping was too high, but since they both came from the same seller, he knocked $5 off of Priority Mail. The reprinted service manual sells for about $30, new. I should have my new books in another couple of days.

And since I will have plenty to read, once I get them, I am swearing off library books for a while. Including the stack I was currently working through. They are all going back tonight, mostly unread.

I have the original owner's manual that came with the truck. I found it, and the manual to a 1948 Chevy truck that is still stuck in the mud, out at the farm. I think I have already read through them a hundred times.


Well, scratch that part about waiting a few more days for the truck books. The USPS website showed that my books were still waiting to be mailed. But they just arrived on my doorstep 5 minutes ago!

License Plates

Here in Texas, a classic vehicle can be licensed with license plates from the vehicle's year of manufacture. The 1968 Texas Truck Tags have a black background with white lettering. I am currently looking for a decent set for the truck. When the truck is back on the road, I want it registered with classic plates.

The 1968 car plates are even cooler, though. That was the year of the San Antonio Hemisfair. So the 1968 Texas car plates have HEMISFAIR on them. These old plates are cool, because they were single year plates.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Made a quick trip to my hometown this weekend. That place is a hotbed of 1967-72 Chevy's. I must have seen a dozen during the 36 hours I was in town. Only two of them were parked in yards. Plus, I saw at least two trailers made out of the beds of 1967-72 Chevy trucks!

The best was a Yellow and White long bed at Bartlett Park, down the street from Rick's old house. An aside, the dirtbike trails by the park are covered in houses - one of which is owned by KB.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

And the deluge begins

Got another catalog today. This one from LMC, in Kansas. I bet I have a huge stack of these things and lots of extra junkmail, when they sell my info to other advertisers,in the near future.

The Boss Lady may not love it, though. Because now, when I am telling her something about the truck, I can show her a picture, too.

I have started getting a few ideas together for what I ultimately want on the truck. Right now, it is a short list. I want it to go and stop safely, first. I want to deal with the rust problems. I want to replace the seatbelts with shoulder belts, so that The Talker can ride along in his booster seat. And I want to swap out the rear window for one that opens.

Along with the catalogs, I am trying to pick up a couple of 1968 Service Manuals off of Ebay. There are a couple of original ones available now, but it seems like the reproductions are always selling for about $25. Most of the catalogs and other websites list these at around $35. Believe me, I'll need more than just one manual, so I'll buy them wherever I can save a few bucks.