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Old 09-27-2018, 09:07 AM   #1
Phungki
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New guy looking for a project

Hello all,
As the title states, Iím new here. I have always loved the look of the55-59 Chevy step sides. Iíve finally decide to jump off and buy one. Before I do I want to ask the experts what I should be looking for and what I should avoid. Personally I am not looking for the mint showroom truck. I can appreciate the amount of work and skill it takes to get them there but I really like that old farm truck look, surface rust and faded paint. My goal would be to make it a reliable vehicle while preserving the original look. I have been looking for over a year now and canít seem to settle on anything in particular. I did find this one post on cl that has a few trucks available. I have not seen them in person but they do seem like they are a bit over priced. If I could get some opinions I would very much appreciate it.
Thank you all
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Old 09-27-2018, 09:53 AM   #2
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Re: New guy looking for a project

welcome aboard ...

give is some time for the experts to fill you on the detail(s) regarding your current search for a project

also depends on your skill level at what you are comfortable with in doing, as in, body, metal, and mechanic work. these factor(s) will help the costs down, imo
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Old 09-27-2018, 10:11 AM   #3
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Re: New guy looking for a project

buy the best body you can afford. a lot of guys will buy a rotted body with a good drivetrain but rust repair is as much fun as a pineapple enema. engine replacement/repair and suspension refurbishing will cost an order of magnitude less than repairing rust too
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Old 09-27-2018, 11:20 AM   #4
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Re: New guy looking for a project

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buy the best body you can afford. a lot of guys will buy a rotted body with a good drivetrain but rust repair is as much fun as a pineapple enema. engine replacement/repair and suspension refurbishing will cost an order of magnitude less than repairing rust too
I agree. Iím more familiar with mechanical work than body work anyway. I canít seem to get that Craigslist post to attach. Itís a 58 stepside. I did get the pics to load. Itís in Pittsburgh if someone wants to look it up. He has 7 old trucks lining the road. Perfect yard art if you ask me. He is asking $5900 which does seem high but Iím a newb here.
Thanks again
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Old 09-27-2018, 12:42 PM   #5
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Re: New guy looking for a project

Welcome....
I echo what joedoh says...buy the best you can afford...even if you spend more than you want if it's a solid truck itll be cheaper in the end...it'll also be cheaper to buy a truck thats already built or as close to what you want....5900 wouldn't be bad if it's solid...the one in your pics has some serious problems that I can see already....go look at it if possible...look at floorboards,window tracks,door bottoms,sills and such...
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Old 09-27-2018, 12:53 PM   #6
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Re: New guy looking for a project

As said, find something in your budget. As the same time, look for something someone has put a ton of money into and is letting go cheap. Lots of guys start projects and can't finish it. Nice spot to step in and finish up on a budget.
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Old 09-27-2018, 01:10 PM   #7
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Re: New guy looking for a project

the only thing nice about that truck is that it is an original v8 truck
other than that it is a worthless rust bucket, worthless as in $250 or scrap price
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Old 09-27-2018, 01:39 PM   #8
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Re: New guy looking for a project

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Originally Posted by mongocanfly View Post
Welcome....
I echo what joedoh says...buy the best you can afford...even if you spend more than you want if it's a solid truck itll be cheaper in the end...it'll also be cheaper to buy a truck thats already built or as close to what you want....5900 wouldn't be bad if it's solid...the one in your pics has some serious problems that I can see already....go look at it if possible...look at floorboards,window tracks,door bottoms,sills and such...
Thank you for the advice. What is it that you see thatís a serious problem? Iím just trying to learn here and not make any costly mistakes.
Thank you
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Old 09-27-2018, 02:54 PM   #9
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Re: New guy looking for a project

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Originally Posted by Phungki View Post
Thank you for the advice. What is it that you see that’s a serious problem? I’m just trying to learn here and not make any costly mistakes.
Thank you
The truck in the photos has a list.
Fenders rusted, I would bet the floors are rusted out, doors rusted out, firewall possibly rusted out, missing wiper arms, missing plug wires and I would personally re-wire the entire truck, I would bet the vacuum wiper motor is shot, Bench seat is bad, prolly has stock wheel bearing (Not bad, but in need of repair) New tail lights needed, all the window and windshield rubbers are shot, Brakes I bet dont work and your going to have to rebuild or replace them. The list could drag out.
Engine is really unknow, but its cool that its a V8 truck. Thing would look sweet sitting in the yard.

Secondly, If you like it buy it.

Last edited by mikebte; 09-27-2018 at 02:55 PM. Reason: Terrible spelling
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Old 09-27-2018, 05:33 PM   #10
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Re: New guy looking for a project

Yeah ...what Mikebte said...and more...there's always the stuff you can't see...
You mentioned Pittsburgh...that's not the area I would start searching for a truck...you'll have to travel outside the salt belt to find a good one I'm betting...
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Old 09-27-2018, 05:47 PM   #11
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Re: New guy looking for a project

things to look for in a 55-59 chevy truck
consider this, then look into these area.
the vent in front of the windshield feeds a plenum that goes to the footwell vents and eventually drains out the bottom of the side "cowls". the cowls have a small vent hole for the size of the area and when these trucks sit around they tend to collect leaves and pine needles etc that plug off the drain holes. when it rains fast enough or the area collects enough snow over the winter, these areas can fill up with melt water or collection water and they tend to drain through the footwell vents onto the floor inside the truck. when this happens enough over time the floor will rot out along with the hinge pillar and front lower fender mount. a tell tale of a problem is when the door is initially opened and it sags right away like the hinges are worn out, then when you look inside under the carpet or rubber floor mat you will see there is some rusty spots. some are so bad the floor has holes, some are bad enough so the floor doesn't seem to be flat like you would expect.
check
-the floor
-the front cab mount supports under the floor
-the front fender lower rear mount areas
-hinge pillars
-cab corners
-steps and panels around the steps
-area under fuel tank, these were spots where previous drivers would store rags etc which collect and hold water and cause rust
-the area around the roof drip rail, they get soft spots which are really just spots that haven't rusted through yet
-the eyebrow area above the windshield can collect mouse nests etc and rust from the inside out
-the doors in the lower hinge area because the inner sheet metal cracks and rusts so the hinge becomes impossible to adjust even if the hinge is new
-the door underneath for rust etc. the skin folds under and around and collects moisture so causes rust
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Old 09-27-2018, 06:14 PM   #12
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Re: New guy looking for a project

cont...
-floor area around the rear cab mounts. a sandwich affair that collects field dust/dirt, stays wet and rusts out
-floor area around the trans bump
-the area around the rear window for soft spots, again, soft spots are just places that haven't rusted through yet but are not far away from it
-front fenders behind the wheel arch, near door. the lower rear fender mount attaches to a vertical channel at the rear of the fender, this area collects dirt that has a hard time escaping so it can stay wet and cause rust.
-front fender around the headlights. this area collects dirt which can sit on top of the headlight bucket and cause rust
-rad support, rust and cracks at stress points/spot welds
-grille, lower valance, hood latch cross support etc. all prone to rust and spot weld damage due to vibration and body flex over the life of the truck
-rear fenders, common to rust in the area near the step and also the area where the fender bolts to the box

remember these trucks were not built by todays truck standards. if the door closed it was all good. the gaps were not really considered. when trying to fit parts later, to todays standards, quite a bit of work can be done to get things looking uniform. if you can start with a good solid body the rest will be cheap if you count your time for anything. in most cases the engine will be gone through anyway so, like said by others, try to get as good of a body as you can afford. the mechanicals will likely be a personal preference anyway and whatever comes with the truck will likely need some work, no matter what the previous owner says.

most of the parts to rebuild these trucks are available aftermarket but will require purchase and weld in. this may seem like something that you can do yourself but the cost adds up. if I was to do it again the cost of a new complete cab, with doors, is not that big anymore compared to the cost of repair parts and the time lost to install. it isn't simply a cut the old and weld the new parts in, it is clean, sandblast, prime, measure, cross brace, cut, clean up, match the new "not really well formed to match" part, weld, grind, prime remove bracing etc. if, say, you simply gut the cab and remove the doors etc, blast it and start welding in a new hinge pillar you could end up with a really nice looking hinge pillar BUT, when you go to install the door you will realize the door doesn't fit because the cab was out of alignment when the new part was welded in so now you have a problem.
just a few thoughts. good luck in your search. hopefully you will find something you can afford and have the skill level and shop space to repair.I suggest you spend some time online and price out some of the normal repair panels for these trucks.
-right and left inner cowl
-right and left lower hinge pillar parts (more than one part here)
right and left rear lower front fender mount bracket
-right and left rocker panel comes with step
-right and left door pillar-rear
-right and left floor repair panels
-right and left front cab mount supports
-right and left rear cab corners-outer
-right and left rear cab corners-inner
-right and left door shell-or-
-right and left door lower panel
-right and left lower door skin
-right and left front fender -or-
-right and left fender rear section
-right and left front fender vertical brace (may only find for 58-59, not sure if there would be a difference because the rear part of the fender fits against the cab, which is the same for all years)
-right and left fender headlight repair panel
this is just a good start, there would be lots of stuff that is missed on this list
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Old 09-27-2018, 07:21 PM   #13
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Re: New guy looking for a project

I think the OP may want to establish a few things such as price range, 1/2, 3/4 or 1 ton, longbed or shortbed, 2 or 4 headlights. Personally, I prefer the 55-57 look.
Also where do you want to buy or where are you? I see a Blissfield in MI which is the part of the country where the worst rust is. I'm in TX and you can get a lot of truck for little money because so many were sold here and in the south generally. TX, OK, AZ, NM, NV, etc. are dry areas. I've seen amazingly solid trucks from OK at swapmeets.
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Old 09-27-2018, 09:18 PM   #14
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Re: New guy looking for a project

I suggest to figure out what it is you want in a truck and then ask questions from there. if looking for a numbers matching truck or a truck that is at least as stock as possible without the numbers match then you may have a little more trouble finding an unmolested truck. not impossible though. if you are looking for a fairly stock truck that may have been converted to a v8 at some point then you will have better luck. the thing is, it doesn't matter what you buy if it is a runner, because you will likely be going through the whole thing anyway sooner or later. if you just want to get into a truck and drive it then look for that. if it is a project you want, but sort of a light project, then look for that. by "light" I mean, it runs, it drives, maybe it needs a few tweaks but essentially you could get in and safely drive a few hours without any problems and not have to fix it before driving again. if it is a full body off frame rebuild then you need to decide what it is you want it to do. a truck with independent front suspension, power steering and brakes, seat belts that have shoulder restraints, doors that close and latch properly, wipers that work properly, a heater that works (a/c would be nice depending on where you live) and a gearing set up that allows highway speeds is sort of a good start. disc brakes up front would be good as well. there are some decent prices on stuff if you follow along with the sales and aren't in a hurry to buy. you kinda need to know what you want first though. are you outfitted for a shop and tools? welder, grinders, jacks, stands, hand tools etc?
go through some of the build threads or look on google images for the look you like, decide on the power you like, decide on the options you like and how you will drive it, then ask again for what may be involved to build something like that. show quality, primer quality, daily driver?
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Old 09-27-2018, 09:41 PM   #15
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Re: New guy looking for a project

Quote:
Originally Posted by mikebte View Post
The truck in the photos has a list.
Fenders rusted, I would bet the floors are rusted out, doors rusted out, firewall possibly rusted out, missing wiper arms, missing plug wires and I would personally re-wire the entire truck, I would bet the vacuum wiper motor is shot, Bench seat is bad, prolly has stock wheel bearing (Not bad, but in need of repair) New tail lights needed, all the window and windshield rubbers are shot, Brakes I bet dont work and your going to have to rebuild or replace them. The list could drag out.
Engine is really unknow, but its cool that its a V8 truck. Thing would look sweet sitting in the yard.

Secondly, If you like it buy it.
Yes most of this I expected to have to do.
Thank you
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Old 09-27-2018, 09:47 PM   #16
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Re: New guy looking for a project

Quote:
Originally Posted by dsraven View Post
things to look for in a 55-59 chevy truck
consider this, then look into these area.
the vent in front of the windshield feeds a plenum that goes to the footwell vents and eventually drains out the bottom of the side "cowls". the cowls have a small vent hole for the size of the area and when these trucks sit around they tend to collect leaves and pine needles etc that plug off the drain holes. when it rains fast enough or the area collects enough snow over the winter, these areas can fill up with melt water or collection water and they tend to drain through the footwell vents onto the floor inside the truck. when this happens enough over time the floor will rot out along with the hinge pillar and front lower fender mount. a tell tale of a problem is when the door is initially opened and it sags right away like the hinges are worn out, then when you look inside under the carpet or rubber floor mat you will see there is some rusty spots. some are so bad the floor has holes, some are bad enough so the floor doesn't seem to be flat like you would expect.
check
-the floor
-the front cab mount supports under the floor
-the front fender lower rear mount areas
-hinge pillars
-cab corners
-steps and panels around the steps
-area under fuel tank, these were spots where previous drivers would store rags etc which collect and hold water and cause rust
-the area around the roof drip rail, they get soft spots which are really just spots that haven't rusted through yet
-the eyebrow area above the windshield can collect mouse nests etc and rust from the inside out
-the doors in the lower hinge area because the inner sheet metal cracks and rusts so the hinge becomes impossible to adjust even if the hinge is new
-the door underneath for rust etc. the skin folds under and around and collects moisture so causes rust
This is what Iím looking for. Thank you. I have an old Jeep Wrangler and Iím familiar with what areas to look for issues in those. This is a totally different animal and I assumed they would have their own problem areas to look for.

Thanks again
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Old 09-27-2018, 10:03 PM   #17
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Re: New guy looking for a project

Quote:
Originally Posted by dsraven View Post
I suggest to figure out what it is you want in a truck and then ask questions from there. if looking for a numbers matching truck or a truck that is at least as stock as possible without the numbers match then you may have a little more trouble finding an unmolested truck. not impossible though. if you are looking for a fairly stock truck that may have been converted to a v8 at some point then you will have better luck. the thing is, it doesn't matter what you buy if it is a runner, because you will likely be going through the whole thing anyway sooner or later. if you just want to get into a truck and drive it then look for that. if it is a project you want, but sort of a light project, then look for that. by "light" I mean, it runs, it drives, maybe it needs a few tweaks but essentially you could get in and safely drive a few hours without any problems and not have to fix it before driving again. if it is a full body off frame rebuild then you need to decide what it is you want it to do. a truck with independent front suspension, power steering and brakes, seat belts that have shoulder restraints, doors that close and latch properly, wipers that work properly, a heater that works (a/c would be nice depending on where you live) and a gearing set up that allows highway speeds is sort of a good start. disc brakes up front would be good as well. there are some decent prices on stuff if you follow along with the sales and aren't in a hurry to buy. you kinda need to know what you want first though. are you outfitted for a shop and tools? welder, grinders, jacks, stands, hand tools etc?
go through some of the build threads or look on google images for the look you like, decide on the power you like, decide on the options you like and how you will drive it, then ask again for what may be involved to build something like that. show quality, primer quality, daily driver?
Thank you for the response. Iím not pigeon holed into anything but minimal rust. Surface rust doesnít bother me. I donít care if numbers match or not. If it runs and drives thatís great. If it doesnít but the body and frame isnít too bad than thatís cool too. I have or have access too everything one could need to work on vehicles except a lift. I
I love the look of the Chevy/gmc from 55-59. I donít have a problem going thru it from top to bottom and replacing everything if need be. Itís not going to be a daily driver. I have those already. This is just going to be a toy to tinker with.
I know vehicles that have spent their life in the salt belt have the most rust. Thatís why I bought my TJ from Florida.
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Old 09-27-2018, 10:17 PM   #18
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Re: New guy looking for a project

Quote:
Originally Posted by franken View Post
I think the OP may want to establish a few things such as price range, 1/2, 3/4 or 1 ton, longbed or shortbed, 2 or 4 headlights. Personally, I prefer the 55-57 look.
Also where do you want to buy or where are you? I see a Blissfield in MI which is the part of the country where the worst rust is. I'm in TX and you can get a lot of truck for little money because so many were sold here and in the south generally. TX, OK, AZ, NM, NV, etc. are dry areas. I've seen amazingly solid trucks from OK at swapmeets.
Yes itís Michigan. Rust is an issue here for sure. Thatís why I bought my TJ from Florida. 18 yrs old and zero rust anywhere.
I donít have a huge preference as far 2 or 4 headlights. Iím not looking to ďshowĒ it or drive it on the highway. I prefer the stepsides but honestly the condition of the vehicle is the biggest thing Iím looking for. Any Chevy/gmc between 55-59 with minimal body work needed would be considered. Iím not interested in cutting out floor boards or doing any major rust repair at all. Mechanical work is much more fun for me than body work.
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Old 09-27-2018, 10:45 PM   #19
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Re: New guy looking for a project

You might want to lean more to the Chevy than the gmc..unless you buy one thats complete the external gmc parts are hard to find and not cheap when you do...
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Old 09-27-2018, 11:01 PM   #20
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Re: New guy looking for a project

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phungki View Post
<snip> the condition of the vehicle is the biggest thing I’m looking for. <snip>
If what you say is true, this is not your truck. If the fender has rust THROUGH 2' up, the rest of the truck has serious issues. It looks like the back of the cab is gone too, but the owner has carefully made sure his pictures didn't show us the damage. No pix of the floors either. The doors have probably come from another truck, or have been re-worked. My current project was similar to this one. The wife paid $1500, and she should have left it sit where it was. I've been on it for 6 years.
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Old 09-27-2018, 11:03 PM   #21
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Re: New guy looking for a project

I'm with mono on that one. gmc has a different dash completely so if you need parts you basically start over with aftermarket stuff. it seems like the aftermarket reproduction stuff is all chevy. cab, doors, are the same. front fenders are a little different, depending on the year, due to the grille surround "mustache" mounts, signal lenses different, hood latch different, hood different due to hole in hood for gmc emblem. anyway, if all that stuff is good it wont matter.
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Old 09-27-2018, 11:04 PM   #22
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Re: New guy looking for a project

first of all, you came to the right place. some have more experience than I do, but I'll add my .02 worth. I'd be looking into the crevices for rust and or holes, take a rubber magnet if you happen to find one that is painted, ask the owner if he/she doesn't mind you checking for metal or bondo. Are you planning on keeping the drive train that the truck comes with, if not then concentrate on the body. the first one I looked the body sat crooked and I didn't notice it right away. stand back and check it out. look under neath at the frame, check on rust/holes in that. pull the seat forward and look behind it for again rust/holes. look under the dash at the wiring, see if it's original or a hornet's nest of red to blue to black wiring. Since others have given you so much good advice (dsraven, ogre and others) look hard under the hood. Take a lot of pictures and take them home with you or request as many as the owner will provide. Lastly, ask the owner for any receipts he/she has as to the work that has been performed. Remember this, don't let the current owner tell you, "don't worry about the fenders, doors, body panels, you can buy them online". Repo parts cost you more money and more time to fit. Best of luck.
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Old 09-27-2018, 11:07 PM   #23
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Re: New guy looking for a project

how about the other one further up in the line? any better shape?
if youre a mechanical but not body guy, maybe a non runner is better. one with a good body. swap in an LS engine, auto trans, steering column, bolt in IFS with power discs, some nice seats and you have a good reliable runner that starts easy, is good on gas and you don't need a dentist after the first month of driving. lol.
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Old 09-28-2018, 01:39 PM   #24
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Re: New guy looking for a project

Quote:
Originally Posted by dsraven View Post
how about the other one further up in the line? any better shape?
if youre a mechanical but not body guy, maybe a non runner is better. one with a good body. swap in an LS engine, auto trans, steering column, bolt in IFS with power discs, some nice seats and you have a good reliable runner that starts easy, is good on gas and you don't need a dentist after the first month of driving. lol.
Yeah I agree. I havenít seem any of them up close. Itís 3 1/2 hrs from my house. To me, they all seem at least 2k over priced. if I find one in one of those dry states previously mentioned I will be tying up some cash taking off work and hauling it back or having it shipped. Not to mention taking a real leap of faith that itís in decent shape to make the trip out or buying it site unseen. Why do I live in this state anyway? Lol
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Old 09-28-2018, 03:13 PM   #25
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Location: Lebanon, Ohio
Posts: 902
Re: New guy looking for a project

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phungki View Post
Yeah I agree. I haven’t seem any of them up close. It’s 3 1/2 hrs from my house. To me, they all seem at least 2k over priced. if I find one in one of those dry states previously mentioned I will be tying up some cash taking off work and hauling it back or having it shipped. Not to mention taking a real leap of faith that it’s in decent shape to make the trip out or buying it site unseen. Why do I live in this state anyway? Lol
It's often been said that folks can ask what they want. Don't be shy about throwing out the number you feel is right, less a nice percentage for wiggle room. That said, one time a seller, after agreement, told me the item was sold after I made the trip, so be sure to leave your firearms at home.

Very few of us other than you know that Blissfield is in Michigan. You might consider adding "MI" to your location.
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