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Dan in Pasadena 05-10-2011 01:17 AM

Danny Boy is BAACK! w/ '55 Big Window
Ok you guys, I posted last week about a non-running LWB '56 in the local mountains. Endd up passing buuut...

Tonight I bought a running '55 SWB w/ NEAR zero rust for $4800. Tell me how I did:


Truck was on non-op and supposedly garaged until last 6 months since 1991.
Prior (original!) owner had rebuilt the engine in '89 - 283 w/ 327 camel hump heads and mild cam, headers, 350TH trans and 10 bolt rearend.

Recently brought back to life w/ a rebuilt carb (Holley on Holley intake). I will immediately change all fluids, filters, belts, hoses of course.

Comes w/ new rear taillights, spare big rear window, rear window rubber, all chrome emblems are usable and with truck. Windows roll up and down freely. All electrical works including wipers and heater. Truck has 15x8 slotted mags I will sell later. I have 15x7 original Torque Thrusts for it. Bed and tailgate are arrow straight incredibly.

The BAD:

After claiming it had ZERO rust-through, I found a small - maybe 1-2" diameter rust through on passenger side kick panel with lots of dirt/leaves behind it & pass side cab corner has clearly been Bondo'd over and is now cracking. Driver door front corner is holed-through about 1/2". Yeah, I know, whatever you see there's 3x more you don't see...if you're lucky!
Poked everywhere else with knife and screwdriver - nothing. Floors are solid, above windshield, over headlights, rain gutters. Has a MASSIVE rear diamond plate bumper. A thin metal plate is tacked down over the original wood bed but it appears to be all there from below.

Pic's coming tomorrow when I pick it up.

Dan in Pasadena 05-10-2011 12:41 PM

Re: Danny Boy is BAACK! w/ '55 Big Window
Gee, I'm SO hurt...nobody cares enough about my "new" truck to even make a comment?:lol:

Okay, here are the first pictures of the ugly old beast. Check out that rear bumper huh? Truck will turn 10's after I take that off.

As I wrote above, the engine was rebuilt in '89 and the truck sat after about '91 (the last year it was registered before 2011). It starts right up and idles with a mild lope. Wipers, horn, lights all work. Even a working heater!

I pick it up today and first thing is replace all the fluids and filters. What tranny fluid do you guys recommend for a TH350 like this in unknown condition? Shifts well as is though.

Since its been sitting a loong time, should I swap the fluid (do anything else to it?), run "X" miles and change it again? Any advice appreciated. Hoses and belt appear to be newish.

Obviously it needs an alternator to bring it into the LAST century. Too bad the first owner let all that rust accumulate after spending the money to buy the (cheap) chrome bits.

Oh well, feel free to comment. I won't mind
"As Purchased" last night. Came with a lot of good stuff including a spare rear window!:metal:

PO removing junk stored in bed.

'283 Rebuilt in '89. Sat after '91 - too bad. All that (cheap) chrome went to hell but it once looked better. Think an alternator would be a good idea?:lol:

New Battery, Rebuilt Holley barely visible. Heads have "327" and "2.02" in yellow marker on front of them. I'm assuming these are the desireable camel hump heads with 2.02 intake valves? Any other way to tell for certain - advice appreciated.

slugo10 05-10-2011 12:53 PM

Re: Danny Boy is BAACK! w/ '55 Big Window
Looks like a good start!

MrTucker 05-10-2011 03:14 PM

Re: Danny Boy is BAACK! w/ '55 Big Window
sorry, but $4800 seems steep to me...

sgtusmc 05-10-2011 03:34 PM

Re: Danny Boy is BAACK! w/ '55 Big Window
Good looking truck Dan. I noticed it has the ol black & yellow plate in the front (can't tell if it has one in the rear). Good luck on the build & keep the pics flow'n.

ed69 05-10-2011 03:38 PM

Re: Danny Boy is BAACK! w/ '55 Big Window
Looks like a great start to me! Looks liek a pretty straight truck.

Dan in Pasadena 05-10-2011 03:55 PM

Re: Danny Boy is BAACK! w/ '55 Big Window
Hi Mr. Tucker,
I don't mind the opinion on price at all. In L.A. big window shortbeds that run at all get scooped up fast and IF they are running it is typically with the original six cylinder and granny four speed. This having a rebuilt 283; much less one with some decent mods to it) plus the automatic, ten bolt and five lug conversion all with minimal rust makes it a deal out here. As soon as i throw the Torque Thrusts on it and re-primer it, it will actually be worth quite a bit more out here.

Thanks guys for the encouragement - I'll need it! Anyone have any experience with the "Calyx" or other Eastwood paint on products for those headers? I'm thinking of blasting them and painting them...with something...they're probably too old and maybe thin to bother with ceramic coating.

Jonboy 05-10-2011 04:00 PM

Re: Danny Boy is BAACK! w/ '55 Big Window
I don't know, Dan. I think it is asking for a matching set of slots for the front, too.

pipty6 05-10-2011 04:54 PM

Re: Danny Boy is BAACK! w/ '55 Big Window

Originally Posted by MrTucker (Post 4672872)
sorry, but $4800 seems steep to me...

Sorry MrTucker Dan in Pasadena is right, Big window and running, Dont forget we are in California! Looks like a good start.

STEVE60 05-10-2011 04:56 PM

Re: Danny Boy is BAACK! w/ '55 Big Window
Nice looking truck!
Build it, drive it like it was yours.

01spirit750 05-10-2011 05:04 PM

Re: Danny Boy is BAACK! w/ '55 Big Window
Decent price for a running truck. Back in the early 90's I had my eye on a nice 57' that was a good driver. The guy knew what he had and wanted $7k, too high for me. I just wish I would have made him a cash offer.

I purchased mine for $1,100 in 94'. I was happy with the deal until I picked up the truck and the owner start pulling out box after box of newly chromed parts (grille, etc). Then I was very happy.

chevyrestoguy 05-10-2011 06:10 PM

Re: Danny Boy is BAACK! w/ '55 Big Window
I think the price is right in line, Dan.

Because it seems to run well, I would do a full flush (trans, radiator, gas, oil, rear end oil), change the belts and hoses (yours are probably dried out), trans pan gasket, valve cover gaskets, rear end cover gasket, and thermostat. I think you might have such a good time driving it that you won't want to tear it down for a full rebuild for a long time.

Kim57 05-10-2011 07:06 PM

Re: Danny Boy is BAACK! w/ '55 Big Window
I was just waiting for pics before I commented.
Looks like a nice clean truck.
You may want to prime the oiling system before you start it for the first time.

ChuckDriver 05-10-2011 09:53 PM

Re: Danny Boy is BAACK! w/ '55 Big Window
Great find! Looks like a very good start!

Dan in Pasadena 05-10-2011 09:53 PM

Re: Danny Boy is BAACK! w/ '55 Big Window
Thanks all you guys for the encouragement.

I drove her home on the freeway 8-10 miles probably making 55 mph just fine. Brakes were excellent but I've got to get in there and see for myself or I'll not be comfortable. I'll flush the fluid at minimum but the old single master cylinder also makes me nervous. Does CPP (others?) make a direct replacement frame mount that is idiot-simple for me to install? Safety first is my motto so the mismatched lousy front rollers will go soon. I'm looking for a deal on 235/70's for the TT's I mentioned above. Truck actually has a fairly aggressive lope at idle. The gas guage (he put a new tank sensor in), oil pressure (good & solid on the idiot factory guage) and ammeter work fine. PO said the temp did but he broke something reaching behind dash - I'll take a look.

Chevyrestoguy - Yes, I agree completely. When you say "flush" do you mean drain/refill or are you suggesting something more positive to flush debris? PO said he pulled the valve covers and there was zero sludge and he felt the original owner was not BS'ing when he said it was a "recent" rebuild when he parked it in '91. PO admits he never changed the oil (WTF?!). I blew out a TON of crap from the cancer hole, under seat - which is loose & I suspect not original - how to tell? Windshield is fairly pitted and has a couple bad deep scrapes from wiper arms. I've got additional pic's but the cord to download them is in my office. I'll update tomorrow. Planning on using Valvoline or Castrol GTX - Weight for this oldie assuming it is rebuilt? What trans fluid is the right one? Same for rearend?

Dan in Pasadena 05-10-2011 09:55 PM

Re: Danny Boy is BAACK! w/ '55 Big Window
Ahhh, Chuckdriver. You posted while i was babbling on. I'm still looking for your rear leaf spring relocation kit but barring that, any recommendations to get this thing down out of the clouds in the rear?

Number 9 05-10-2011 10:16 PM

Re: Danny Boy is BAACK! w/ '55 Big Window
I like it as it looks better then most i have seen. Great with the big back window.

meter swinger 05-11-2011 12:11 AM

Re: Danny Boy is BAACK! w/ '55 Big Window
Not bad money at all for a short bed v8 big window with minimal rust. Nice score.
Posted via Mobile Device

Dan in Pasadena 05-11-2011 12:20 AM

Re: Danny Boy is BAACK! w/ '55 Big Window
Thanks guys. Any of you that may have experience with keeping the straight axle (I'm likely going to a dropped axle), rebuilding the king pins, adding power steering to the straight axle, I'd love to hear your advice or post a link if you know of good advice already out there.

OrrieG 05-11-2011 12:44 AM

Re: Danny Boy is BAACK! w/ '55 Big Window
Go with standard 10w-40 weight oil. I run Dextron II in my TH350 with no problem. Old trick was to run Ford fluid it supposedly tightened up the shift a little but I never noticed any difference. If it is going to see a lot of highway use and higher temperatures you might switch to 20w-50 in the summer. If you are lucky the guy had the valve seats changed when it was rebuilt. If not I would not sweat it, I have ran 283's on unleaded fuel up to 150K miles with no valve problems. Have fun with it, 283 is my favorite engine. Will rev like crazy and nice clean heads visually.

Dan in Pasadena 05-11-2011 02:24 PM

Re: Danny Boy is BAACK! w/ '55 Big Window
Thanks so much Orrie for the input. Its already been 90 degrees here a few days so I'm planning on putting 20w-50 in it right away. It's neverf going to see highway or a lot of use. This will be a weekend Home Depot-run driver and play toy. I have a soft spot for 283's too because I helped my Dad install his in place of the original six on his '59 when I was probably 10 years old. Later he replaced it with a 348 and though very powerful it nevr ran as nicely as the 283. Mine has a bit of a cam in it so I'll be running premium in it. No idea if the valve seats were changed out of not. Guess I'll find out!

For all the work I've done to cars I sheepishly admit I've never change tranny fluid before. I know I drain, drop the pan and clean the screen. Any trick to that other than make sure it's totally clean? Any particular gasket or gasket sealant recommended? Tranny has an old Hurst shifter that too short on it. I'll eventually put a Lokar on it, in the mean time I need to take the cover off and clean and lube it. White moly grease okay for this?

I'm also looking for pix of clean PAINTED small blocks as I'm gonna clean this thing up (Krylon rebuild!:lol:) and NOT spend money for finned valve covers, etc like I want to in the short term.

Dan in Pasadena 05-11-2011 03:48 PM

Re: Danny Boy is BAACK! w/ '55 Big Window
So, 'ya want pictures do 'ya? Be careful what you ask for - I'm so "in love" with this stupid thing I take pictures before I leave for the office in the morning. What an idiot, huh?:lol:

In her new home driveway this morning. I cleaned up one corner of the front bumper just to see if it was as good as I thought it might be.

Compare to the as-purchased condition above. I thought the rear window was etched and ruined but it came out clean. Now I truly have a spare big rear window! Another reason the price was reasonable (to me!)

Original owner tack welded this plate on 3 sides-ugh, what a water trap. Got about 6 spot welds ground off before my El Cheapo Harbor Freight grinder started getting too hot to hold. Bed below isn't as bad as I thought it would be. One board missing, others fall apart if you touch the wood with a scraper.

Closer up:

The worst (and only so far EDIT - opps, forgot passenger side cab corner) rust through:

Door steps are clean as are floors except for light surface rust:

Advice on how to repair this? I want to KEEP the original radio & knob holes but fix the drilled spot. Anyone make a patch panel or I've got to fab two tiny patches?

kgmunro 05-11-2011 05:56 PM

Re: Danny Boy is BAACK! w/ '55 Big Window
I think you started with a pretty good truck....way to go!

MrTucker 05-11-2011 07:20 PM

Re: Danny Boy is BAACK! w/ '55 Big Window
you can get a patch panel for that from several places...LMC, Brothers, Classic...

ChuckDriver 05-11-2011 08:10 PM

Re: Danny Boy is BAACK! w/ '55 Big Window
Dan, the more I see of it the more I like it! Lots of ways to lower the rear, it's just how much do you want to spend. I think the easiest way would be to go with a different spring on the rear, maybe a monoleaf. I'm not sure but you may be able to do a flip and put the rear above the springs. One of the Truck Mags did a complete lowering job on one using the stock suspension, just swapped the springs and it turned out nice. Maybe, CPP, Posie's or Brothers might have what you need.

The dash, I think I would get a patch panel and cut out what you need. But a good metal man may be able to fab up the patches.

Defeinetly pull the steel from the bed and replace the boards, but try to leave it rustic looking.

It sure is fun isn't it!

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