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Old 11-19-2021, 01:14 AM   #1
chev-obsession
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A grandpa’s camper truck resurrection

Over the summer while driving around at work, I spotted this blue camper truck back on a piece of property tucked behind some weeds and a couple of other vehicles. That weekend I had convinced myself to go knock on the people’s door and ask if it were for sale. I figured for sure this truck wasn’t for sale and was “going to get fixed up some day” or “that’s my brother in laws truck” etc... type of story. I get to the people’s house, knock on the door and an elderly lady answers the door, introduce myself and told her I had noticed the truck and curious if they had ever considered selling it. To my surprise the lady replies “Yes I think he wants to sell it, let me go ask him”, comes back a couple minutes later, “he said he’ll sell it for $1,500” at this point I can hardly contain myself and also thinking no this is too good to be true, it doesn’t happen this easy, there’s got to be a catch. I tell the lady I was going to go tromp through the weeds and look at the truck before commuting to it.

From the road I was thinking it was a ‘72 for some reason, turns out it was a SUPER clean ‘69, despite the years of dirt, grime and cob webs. No (cancer) rust anywhere on the truck and very complete truck that was well taken care of. I haven’t pulled the seat cover off yet but it looks like the original upholstery underneath.

So I go back to the people’s house, talk to them for a while and agreed to buy the truck. I talked with them for a couple hours and they told stories about the old truck. It was the ladies dads truck, he bought it in the mid 70’s with the camper on it and they would take trips up to the “pot holes reservoir” to go camping and fishing in the summer, and that was it. After going through the camper you could almost relive the memories. I found that they were prepared for anything, a couple sets of tool, several jacks, any tool that you think you might need and several cases of oil and trans fluid.

Anyway…. I get the truck back to my house and there it sat since mid July. Fast forward until today, I got the camper off and pulled some of it apart to clean and inspect this weekend.

My goal with the truck is to keep it as original as possible, but to add disc brakes. At some point I’d like to add some better heads to the motor and replace the old smog heads. The trans leaked fluid out of the gear selector shaft just from sitting at my house, I’m assuming it will need rebuilt since the truck had a camper on it most of its life. Im going to get it running and cleaned up and reevaluate what it really needs.

So far I pulled the carburetor off and a friend is rebuilding it for me, I bought an HEI distributor and plug wires to get it going. I took the radiator, took it to a shop to have cleaned and tested, turns out it was leaking in a few spots and they didn’t want to mess with it, so I ordered a new aluminum radiator and it should be here by the weekend. Enough of the boring stuff, here comes the pics.
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Old 11-19-2021, 01:18 AM   #2
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The trucks grille is super nice, luckily from the preservation stand point the spare tire up front saved the grille from damage.
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Old 11-19-2021, 01:24 AM   #3
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So there’s a pic of the carb at the end, super dirty and greasy. A friend is rebuilding it for me. I figure it’s mandatory since the truck has sat a while.

Also, one thing that I’ve learned from this truck is that if you see something you just have to ask!

I found those hub caps on the Denver Craigslist. I called the guy and asked if there was any way that he would consider shipping them since they would be perfect for this blue truck. He chuckled a little, and then told me that wasn’t a problem.
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Old 11-19-2021, 01:30 AM   #4
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I found this tailgate on Craigslist for $100, not the exact color and it was backed into and missing the inner working mechanisms. But they are getting more and more difficult to find in decent shape.

Then this brings us to yesterday, I used a car dolly to tow the truck down the street a couple houses to my mom and dads where the work will take place. The car dolly wasn’t bad but I didn’t go far either and I definitely would not recommend using a dolly for these trucks. One of the tire straps came off on the trip. My brother in law helped me pull the truck out from under the camper today.
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Old 11-19-2021, 01:37 AM   #5
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As you can tell we are a Chevy family

Got the camper, it preserved the truck very well. The interior is still in great shape and probably partly why there is no rust.

I took those dog ugly mirrors off first thing after the camper. This truck almost sits like a 3/4 ton.
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Old 11-19-2021, 01:43 AM   #6
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Last picture for the night…. Total hack job on the saddle tank hole. I started to drain the saddle tank and nearly 15 gallons in it. My goal is to drain both tanks this weekend and drop the saddle tank completely so that when I pull the truck into the shop I’m not Messing with that nasty crap inside.

Also this weekend going to pull the cowling off and clean down in there and steam clean the engine bay and chassis too. Probably all I’m going to be able to accomplish, if I have more time I’ll pull it into the shop and start cleaning the inside.
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Old 11-19-2021, 02:19 AM   #7
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Re: A grandpa’s camper truck resurrection

S U B SC R I B E D ! !

Thoroughly enjoying this so far. My favorite kind of thread. Great find!
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Old 11-19-2021, 09:38 AM   #8
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Re: A grandpa’s camper truck resurrection

Nice truck, that looks like a heavy camper!
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Old 11-19-2021, 10:22 PM   #9
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Re: A grandpa’s camper truck resurrection

That thing is in great condition. Im in for these project.
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Old 11-20-2021, 06:11 AM   #10
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Re: A grandpa’s camper truck resurrection

You going to keep the spare on the front like that?

Honestly kind of surprised a half ton had a camper like that in the back of it.
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Old 11-20-2021, 09:33 AM   #11
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Re: A grandpa’s camper truck resurrection

My Grandpa's truck had a camper that looked just like that.
Outriggers and interior, I wish I had pictures of it

I am subbed for the project.
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Old 11-20-2021, 10:57 PM   #12
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Re: A grandpa’s camper truck resurrection

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Originally Posted by 68bowtie View Post
S U B SC R I B E D ! !

Thoroughly enjoying this so far. My favorite kind of thread. Great find!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Katrina/10 View Post
Nice truck, that looks like a heavy camper!
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That thing is in great condition. Im in for these project.
Thanks for the compliments guys
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Old 11-20-2021, 11:02 PM   #13
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Re: A grandpa’s camper truck resurrection

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You going to keep the spare on the front like that?

Honestly kind of surprised a half ton had a camper like that in the back of it.
Right now my plan is to leave the spare tire off the front, and to get a spare tire carrier for the bed. I know where one is in a little truck honey hole, I’d like to snag it, and color match it to the truck. That way I’m fully prepared if I do get a flat. As for the camper I have a friend that wants it and I told him he could have it, it must be fairly heavy as the truck lived on the overloads.

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My Grandpa's truck had a camper that looked just like that.
Outriggers and interior, I wish I had pictures of it

I am subbed for the project.
Very cool, if this were a C20/Custom Camper I probably would have kept the camper. Feel free to post them if you come across pictures of your grandpas truck
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Old 11-20-2021, 11:19 PM   #14
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Re: A grandpa’s camper truck resurrection

Nice truck! Looking forward to your progress.
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Old 11-20-2021, 11:21 PM   #15
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Re: A grandpa’s camper truck resurrection

First I must say, this 1/2” cordless impact is the best tool I’ve ever bought!

Ok, as for progress today I got less done than I was hoping but it’s all I could find time for. Some how I didn’t get a pic of the engine bay after I stripped everything, so that’ll be a priority for tomorrow morning (Before & After). I removed the water pump so that I could thoroughly flush the block clean. Good thing I removed the W/P as it was difficult to spin, brown crud came out, and it squeaked. I added a new fuel and water pump to my Napa list. I also pulled the inner fenders off so that I could steam clean the front end parts, engine bay, motor and what can be gotten to on the trans. This truck is COVERED in oil/grease.

I removed the cowl panel so that the cowling could also be thoroughly cleaned as well. I pulled out a fair amount of dirt and leaves but not terribly bad. I’m thinking the overhang on the camper was helpful in keeping some of the garbage out. I was also able to fully drain the saddle tank, but unable to remove the tank as the “nuts” stripped out on me. So now to plan “B”

I did get some parts today, my replacement radiator, spark knocker wires and wire looms. The radiator shop wanted $600 to re core my old one. I would have loved to give them my business, but for $275 shipped to my door I couldn’t pass up this aluminum beauty.

Also with the inner fenders removed I’d like to comet wash them to bring the shine out. I’m open to ideas on “how to” or “what to do”
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Old 11-20-2021, 11:22 PM   #16
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Re: A grandpa’s camper truck resurrection

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Nice truck! Looking forward to your progress.
Thanks! I’ll keep up the progress
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Old 11-21-2021, 10:24 AM   #17
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Re: A grandpa’s camper truck resurrection

When I was working at a Chevy dearlership in the early 70's, I sat on those spare tires to tune up the engines.
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Old 11-22-2021, 12:00 AM   #18
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Re: A grandpa’s camper truck resurrection

So today I was able to get the entire truck pressure washed (steam cleaned) and cleaned up good enough to pull into the shop and start disassembling the front end and start working on getting it back to road worthy. I was also able to drop the saddle tank, ended up slicing and dicing the bolt heads, but it’s out now and not too much spilt fuel.

I also stuffed the pressure washer wand down the side of the cowling and blew the rest of the dirt and crap out. While I was there I hit the door jambs and hinges since I feel like there was some garbage in there too. I’ll post some before and after pictures, you couldn’t even see the ball joints or castle nuts on the ball joints from the amount of grease, oil and dirt caked on.

Also found out that the motor has been rebuilt, the casting number on the block is 3970014.I was just glad to see that it wasn’t a 305 or 307

Overal I feel very very accomplished, there is something very satisfying about steam cleaning all of that grease and crap off. I’m very eager to start in on the work ahead of me
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Old 11-22-2021, 12:06 AM   #19
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Re: A grandpa’s camper truck resurrection

Here’s the after pics, what a difference. Kinda erked that some of the paint came off on the valve covers, but that can all be fixed. I did stuff the pressure washer wand into the water pump holes and washed out most of the old crap.
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Old 11-22-2021, 09:49 AM   #20
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Re: A grandpa’s camper truck resurrection

On the inner fenders, I would scrub them with a scotch-brite pad and dawn dishwashing liquid. Them spray them with a can of Krylon or other SATIN black, not gloss.
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Old 11-22-2021, 10:17 AM   #21
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Re: A grandpa’s camper truck resurrection

What a difference that hot water pressure washer made! I bet that was a mess, but rewarding.
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Old 11-22-2021, 12:15 PM   #22
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Re: A grandpa’s camper truck resurrection

Nice find!

You may be way ahead of me already, but after changing the coolant and t-stat, I'd change the oil & filter, shoot an ounce of oil in each spark plug hole, and turn the engine over by hand. If all feels good, then check cylinder cranking pressure. If that looks OK, then fire her up to see if she runs. Probably would be good to pre-lube the engine since the distributor will be out anyway.

Speaking of the distributor, don't forget to bypass the ignition ballast resistor when you connect the HEI.

Also, I wouldn't worry about the heads initially. What are the casting numbers? If it's 3932454 they should be 76cc chambers with either 1.72" or 1.94" intake valves. I'd suspect 1.94" for a 350 and 1.72" for a 307. But hopefully they are not crack-prone like later smog castings. When you do go to modern heads, you probably shouldn't go smaller that 70cc chambers unless they're aluminum, or pre-ignition could be a problem.

Have fun bringing her back to life!
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Old 11-22-2021, 12:57 PM   #23
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Re: A grandpa’s camper truck resurrection

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I was just glad to see that it wasn’t a 305 or 307


Looking good.

What’s your plan for the exterior paint?
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Old 11-22-2021, 01:16 PM   #24
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Re: A grandpa’s camper truck resurrection

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On the inner fenders, I would scrub them with a scotch-brite pad and dawn dishwashing liquid. Them spray them with a can of Krylon or other SATIN black, not gloss.
Thanks for the suggestion.

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What a difference that hot water pressure washer made! I bet that was a mess, but rewarding.
Yes it made a huge mess! It was about 38* yesterday when I pressure washed the truck so it made for a COLD day. And the steam made it difficult to see what I was doing since it was so cold out. As for the mess… I did all of the washing in the dirt where it’s ok to be messy. It made a huge puddle, should have taken a picture of it, but didn’t think about it at the time.

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Nice find!

You may be way ahead of me already, but after changing the coolant and t-stat, I'd change the oil & filter, shoot an ounce of oil in each spark plug hole, and turn the engine over by hand. If all feels good, then check cylinder cranking pressure. If that looks OK, then fire her up to see if she runs. Probably would be good to pre-lube the engine since the distributor will be out anyway.

Speaking of the distributor, don't forget to bypass the ignition ballast resistor when you connect the HEI.

Also, I wouldn't worry about the heads initially. What are the casting numbers? If it's 3932454 they should be 76cc chambers with either 1.72" or 1.94" intake valves. I'd suspect 1.94" for a 350 and 1.72" for a 307. But hopefully they are not crack-prone like later smog castings. When you do go to modern heads, you probably shouldn't go smaller that 70cc chambers unless they're aluminum, or pre-ignition could be a problem.

Have fun bringing her back to life!
Yes I was planing to do all of that. I was planning to change all of the fluids, spark plugs, wires, etc… tube up type stuff. I need to get an oil priming tool, I have a friend that has one, I’ll have to reach out to him. I have already turned it over by hand and it seems to feel good but haven’t turned it over with the starter. I have a few items to sort out before I do that.

As for the engine/heads, I had pulled a valve cover when I pulled the carb. The casting number I can’t remember but they are the later, lighter castings that crack easily. And they’re made in Mexico, so I have a friend looking for a better set of heads.

Thanks for all of the encouragement, I’ll keep you guys posted!
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Old 11-22-2021, 01:18 PM   #25
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Re: A grandpa’s camper truck resurrection

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Looking good.

What’s your plan for the exterior paint?
Thanks man!

My plan is to wash it, and then do a comet or CLR type of scrubbing. Then wax it. I want to leave it as original as possible. I think it will shine up nicely with what I have to work with.
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