Bruce's Welding, Inc.
302 S. Third Street
Girard, IL  62640
office
(217) 627-2241
cell
(217) 971-8582
email:  bruce@brucesweldinginc.com

 

I MADE MY MOM CRY

My grandfather, Raymond Anderson, purchased a new Chevy Truck in 1954. Over the years, he drove the vehicle around the Girard, Illinois area. In 1978, the '54 was put into storage with the original tires and 35,993 on the odometer.  It was placed in the care of my parents, Ralph and Carolyn Barnes. My parents realized how much this truck meant to me and it was given to me in 1994. I was unable to restore it at the time and it remained in storage.

I feel a special connection to my Granddad that has made this truck very important to me. Raymond was a bulldozer operator in town. I have fond memories of hopping in the Chevy to go work on the bulldozer with Granddad .I opened a welding/machine business in 1985.

The journey toward restoration was a long one for Granddad's truck. It moved from place to place before I was able to restore it. Each move was an arduous reminder off my hopes of restoration. First, it was placed on my parents' farm for several years. When they retired, I moved it to a friend's machine shed. He ran out of room and requested that I move it. Granddad's truck moved again to my sister-in-laws farm. After several years I moved it to my own garage. Finally, I placed it in my welding shop in hopes of beginning the restoration.

Restoration of the 1954 Chevy truck began in 2006. My dream had finally begun.The day we began it looked like a bomb had gone off. I knew it would take years to complete and planned accordingly. I took countless pictures and labeled every part. I bought several assembly manuals that really helped putting it back together. I wanted everything to be 100% original. The 6 volt system and all would remain original. I even found the bias tires made from original Firestone molds. The bumpers were painted and not chromed. I found pictures of Granddad and the truck that showed me what it looked like brand new.

Ben Walls, the young man that works for me, would spend Friday's and work on the truck. We would often argue about how to reassemble the truck. He would often laugh and tell me that I couldn't fire him because he knew how to put it back together.

This restoration of the body was all about the details. I put in cab corners, both inner and outer cowls, and some of the floor pans and the fenders. I spent forty hours just on the rear fenders. There were no inner body components so everything mattered. What you see on the outside is what you see on the inside. I had to weld and grind everything to perfection with no filler. I called the local body shop guy, Mike Cowden to help finish. He said the sheet metal work was better than most body shop guys do. Mike sent Mark Taylor to me to help finish with the body work. He would have me sand and sand until I had no fingerprints left. Finally, on a Sunday morning, we took it down to Mike's shop and began to paint.

When it came time to begin of the engine I went to another local guy, Morris Gray. He is a retired mechanic. He knew everything about the engine and the tranny. Morris did a magnificent job right down to the engine paint and decals. We replaced or rebuilt every part of this truck. Brake lines, wheel cylinders, brakes, springs were individual sandblasted and put back together. We boiled out the radiator, heater core, and gas tank. All rubber gaskets, wiring harness, and dash gauges were rebuilt. The rear end was also rebuilt with new gears. Make sure you put oil in a rear end. That was a well learned lesson.

During the restoration we put in a new wiring harness. We had made a few changes to the turn signals. Originally, the truck did not come with turn signals. My dad and granddad had put on some extra lights to make turn signals when the law changed and signals were required. I came up with a different way to wire the lights that utilized the new double element bulbs. The manufacturer liked the idea and changed the production of wiring harness.

I learned a lot from this labor of love. I discovered how parts guys from across the country were willing to help find original parts. I found talented members in a small town that were invaluable to restoring Granddad's truck. I learned that it's not a drive shaft it's a torque tube. I learned how to polarize the generator. The shackle bolts for the spring are an 11/16 thread diameter. I've been in the machine business for almost 30 years and didn't know there was a 11/16 thread dia. For some reason I had an 11/16 tap lying around the shop. Sometimes things just come together.

It was an intense labor of love and it was well worth the time and effort. We had spent three years on the frame off restoration. Every nut and bolt had been taken out, sand blasted, painted and put back into place. I am sure my granddad would be pleased to know it was back on the road in our hometown. Well, as long as he didn't know what it cost.

My parents were unaware of the trucks restoration. I decided to surprise my parents by driving the truck in a homecoming parade. My mother had talked for years about living long enough to see it restored. She longed to see it back on the road. She began to cry as I drove past her in the parade. I had placed a sign on the side that read R E Anderson just like it used to be. The expression on her face was worth all of the hours we had spent restoring Granddad's truck.

I have only put the truck in two shows since it was restored. I received 1st place for original and 1st place, people's choice. The best award of all is seeing people look at it and smile. They all have memories of my granddad driving it around. Locals comment on how original it looks.

The best part of the whole project was making my mom cry.

 

 

 

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Certifications:  Steel - Aluminum - Stainless - 6G Pipe Welding
Fully Insured - In Business Over 25 Years

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