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