Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ultimate Dream: Turning Foose Loose

I picked up on the Internet pretty fast, but other than that I've always been a little behind the curve when it comes to utilizing new technology. Must be because I'm an old school guy at heart. I only recently discovered that I could watch past television episodes through Netflix. And the first thing I did after making this momentous discovery? A search for "Overhaulin," of course. I just finished viewing the entire series, which ran on TLC for five seasons from 2004 through 2008. I had only seen a few of the shows on the first run.

For those not familiar with the premise, each episode (except for a few where they did custom makeovers of new cars) featured an old junker that was "stolen" from its owner with the help of an insider, usually the wife or husband, and completely restored from the ground up in seven days. No small effort, as you might imagine. It required a crew of a dozen or so people, each an expert in their respective field, working around the clock to meet the deadline. The "A Team," as they were known on the show, was led by master designer Chip Foose, whose credentials speak for themselves. The end result was never anything short of amazing, especially when you consider the truly desperate condition most of these vehicles were in when Chip and his crew got their hands on them, and that they got it all done in a week.

I enjoyed every episode, especially the one that featured a '52 GMC truck, which is the same body style as my '49 Chevy. If I had to pick a favorite, however, the hands down winner would be when the crew turned the tables on Chip, "stealing" his own '56 Ford truck (along with the "Foose" sign from the side of the building - to make it look like the work of a crazed fan) and turning it into an absolute masterpiece. The work was done over several months, while filming for Overhaulin' continued simultaneously. Somehow they managed to keep their little side project a secret from Chip, who was genuinely moved when the finished truck was revealed to him at the annual SEMA show in Las Vegas. Anyone who might harbor doubt that the guy is for real needs to see that episode. Here was the great Chip Foose, master designer, known, respected and honored far and wide in the automotive industry before the first episode of Overhaulin' ever hit the air, with tears flowing freely at the sight of the truck he thought was gone forever. That kind of unbridled emotion cannot be faked. It proves that at the heart of all the attention and accomplishment, Chip Foose is really just a regular guy, just like the rest of us, who genuinely loves employing his expertise to help others realize their dreams.

And now hopefully you understand why I would like nothing more than to sit down with Chip, give him a general vision of my truck if it were to be completely restored, and turn him and his crew loose. Of course, it's far more likely that I'll be cruisin' around with six cylinders, three on the tree and a mix of primer and old green paint until my cruisin' days are over. And that's okay, because I know I'll have just as much fun. But I'll keep dreaming, because if nobody did it, nothing great would ever happen.

Chip Foose Biography


Monday, October 17, 2011

Let There be Blinking Light!

My friend Jim (who you can see in The Old Truck Runs Again! video) came by over the weekend, to help me get the turn signals/emergency flashers and horn working. The turn signals are an aftermarket system my brother installed after he bought the truck (which was built without them) in the early 80's. I don't think they were added at the factory until '51 or '52. Not sure.

Jim replaced some wiring, and we had to disconnect the blinkers on the front fenders so I could get to the underside and clean the surface so we once again had a good ground. Of course, I forgot about the greasy spindles (still don't have the drums I need) until the grease was all over the back of my sweatshirt...

So we're one more step toward finally takin' 'er down the road once again. Slowly but surely!

Just a reminder that you can get shirts, hats and a bunch of other stuff with a picture of my truck on them at The Old Truck Shop. You can choose your items with one of several captions under the picture of the truck, or just the truck itself with no caption. Some great gift ideas for old truck enthusiasts! I hope you'll check it out.

Thanks again to my friend Jim, whose help has been and will continue to be invaluable. You da man, Jim!


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Almost Ready to Roll

We're really close, and with a little luck we'll be going for a drive soon. A little setback with the brake drums last week. I sent them to be turned and two of them were bad. So I'm on the hunt for one good front drum and one good rear drum. I know I should probably be looking for four all new, but I'm on a super-tight budget and at this point I just want to get the truck on the road before it snows again. Going to check on another possible source today.

A quick shout out to some new friends:

Hilton lives in Canada, and has his own custom/restoration shop. He says he'll have a website up for his business before long, and I will definitely share it here. His work wins awards regularly. You definitely need to check it out. He responded to a post I made in one of the truck forums regarding my broken floor starter mechanism. I couldn't find one anywhere. It's probably the one thing that none of my catalogs offers. Hilton went out to one of his parts trucks, pulled off the part, boxed it up and sent it to me free of charge. Even paid the shipping. I couldn't believe it. As a thank you I sent him a shirt and mug from The Old Truck Shop. Check out the link for shirts, hats, mugs and a bunch of other stuff with a picture of my truck. Such kindness and generosity really helps to restore your faith in what can sometimes seem like a pretty cold world. Thanks again my friend!

Thanks also to Jonathan, Ross and everybody at Premier Street Rods, who left a nice comment on my first blog post, and have offered advice for this restoration rank amateur whenever I need it. Check out their site and some of the amazing work they do.

And Michael and Tyler from MyRod.Com, who also do some awesome stuff. I sent Michael an email to ask a couple of questions, and as busy as he is he took the time to write back with a detailed response.

It's one of the great aspects of being involved with restoring a classic. There are always plenty of nice people willing to help. Very cool!


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Classic Roars Back to Life

We've all seen our share of old junkers, sitting in that same spot on the side of the road or maybe out on Grandpa's farm, sinking into the ground a little more with each passing year, maybe a tree growing up through the bed. They become local landmarks - "Yeah, hang a left by the old truck and we're a half mile down on the right"... Sad site to be sure. There was a time when every one of these old things still had potential. We joked about my truck becoming one of those sad stories when we finally had to bring it here to the house and park it out on the edge of the driveway, saying we'd fill the bed with dirt, plant flowers and put a scarecrow in the driver's seat. As you know if you read the previous post, however, this truck means far too much for me to ever let that happen.

By October 2010 I had done everything necessary to take a shot at getting it running. It wouldn't be ready to drive since the entire brake system needed to be re-done, but getting it fired up once again would certainly be a major step toward "takin' 'er down the road." Here's how it all went down:

The project has been proceeding in sort of a herky-jerky motion, since unemployment means there is rarely any money to spare. But finally today the drums went to the machine shop to be turned (hopefully - if they're in good enough shape), and I ordered the shoes, which should be here Friday. If that happens, we just might see this truck roll under its own power this weekend, for the first time since 1984. Stay tuned!