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  • squirrel's 55 Chevy step van/bread truck

    A guy on the HAMB was giving away his vehicles...I ended up with the step van. It's a 1955 Chevy (second series) chassis, with an American Body Works body. The body is fiberglass on the front, has steel ribs covered with aluminum for the top and sides, and a wood floor in back.

    I first looked at it in March, when I was in Phoenix for a robot competition. I drove about 200 miles to look at it, thru the mountains and hills. Here's what I found
    Attached Files
    My fabulous web page

    "If it don't go, chrome it!" --Stroker McGurk

  • #2

    Re: squirrel's 55 Chevy step van/bread truck

    Are you going to be an ice cream man, or sell groceries from it?
    BS'er formally known as Rebeldryver

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    • #3

      Re: squirrel's 55 Chevy step van/bread truck

      Nice! Excellent to know it is with someone who will do something with it, but I have to ask... how do you add / graft the campler to the Cheech and Chong ride?!
      .

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      • #4

        Re: squirrel's 55 Chevy step van/bread truck

        NICE UPGRADE!

        LOL seriously tho I like it!
        Attached Files

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        • #5

          Re: squirrel's 55 Chevy step van/bread truck

          what, Candy is in jail again?

          Seriously...I haven't figured out for sure what I'm going to do with the van yet. But here is more of the story.

          My friend Dan (who went with me on Drag Week last year) offered to help me fetch the van. It was about 340 miles from home, and we planned on doing it in one day. I knew it was going to be a long day, but didn't really figure we'd be on the road from 6am till 10pm. The drive to St Johns AZ is through the mountains, no matter how you get there from Sierra Vista. We decided to try route 180 through New Mexico on the way there, and then decide which way to come back after seeing how the trip was. We'd both driven the other route through Globe and the Salt River Canyon several times, so we were aware how fun that was.

          The weather had been nice the week before the trip, but that Monday a storm blew through Arizona. When we stopped for lunch in Alpine, it was snowing pretty well. We decided to go back the western route, so we would hopefully avoid the storm, which my wife said was moving east.

          Anyways, we got to St Johns, and installed the rear hub I had borrowed from the friend who got the original rear out of my 57 truck. We swapped normal 3/4 ton wheels on the back of the van, and put one of the right rear tires on the left front, to make the van sit up a bit higher. I had measured the van and the trailer, and knew it would be a tight squeeze. We started winching the van onto the trailer, and I put some 2x4s down so the front tires could ride on them to lift the van above the fenders. Not quite enough...I had to pop off a clearance light that hit the trailer fender...but we managed to get the van on, the rub rails were resting on the trailer fenders, and it was hanging pretty far off the back, but everything seemed to be ok.

          We stopped at a nearby gas station, filled up the truck, and headed off into the wild blue yonder. By this time it was around 2pm or so, and we had a long drive ahead of us through some really steep two lane roads. And the truck was handling a bit loosely, since I never did any work on the front suspension or steering, and the new tires seem to have some tread squirm when they're filled up with enough air to hold a lot of weight.

          The trip back was long and tiring, but we didn't have any mishaps. Dan didn't feel like driving, hopefully I didn't scare him too much....on top of the other features of my 57 truck, it doesn't have any seat belts. At least the truck and trailer brakes were all working pretty well, and the transmission only popped out of 3rd twice on the steep downhill sections.
          Attached Files
          My fabulous web page

          "If it don't go, chrome it!" --Stroker McGurk

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          • #6

            Re: squirrel's 55 Chevy step van/bread truck

            would be a killer food truck...or storage unit....
            If you can leave two black stripes from the exit of one corner to the braking zone of the next, you have enough horsepower. - Mark Donohue

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            • #7

              Re: squirrel's 55 Chevy step van/bread truck

              After getting it home, I did some cleaning up. I removed all the stuff that previous owners had added, such as the modern seat, plywood flooring, miscellaneous brackets and boards and whatnot. I also set a seat in it, from a 31 Chevy vicky. I haven't gotten it running or messed with the brakes yet, but plans are to get a modern axle for the back, put single wheel hubs on the front, and get the 305 running. I did buy an axle from a 55 3/4 ton pickup, so I have the front hubs and drums.
              Attached Files
              My fabulous web page

              "If it don't go, chrome it!" --Stroker McGurk

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              • #8

                Re: squirrel's 55 Chevy step van/bread truck

                I also figured out the PARISIAN name...it was a brand of bread that was sold in southern California (maybe elsewhere?). The Bread Trucks group on flickr has a bunch of pictures of bread trucks...and a few of them are kind of like this truck. And a few of them show PARISIAN lettering, and some have descriptions that tell about the different bread companies in the area (Barbara Ann, Weber's, Langendorf, etc). I found pictures of about ten different trucks with bodies by the same company that made mine. The nose is very distinctive, although there were changes over the years. The early trucks had a separate top piece at the front, and later ones had a really ugly grille (so ugly it makes the early versions with the 48-50 Dodge truck grille look nice!) Here they are hopefully in chronological order.
                Attached Files
                My fabulous web page

                "If it don't go, chrome it!" --Stroker McGurk

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                • #9

                  Re: squirrel's 55 Chevy step van/bread truck

                  Sensing you'd dial the Way-Back machine to the 1950's?
                  Michael from Hampton Roads

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                  • #10

                    Re: squirrel's 55 Chevy step van/bread truck

                    van looks to be in excellent shape
                    says a lot about your truck to tow that monster 300 miles with it
                    Last edited by ogre; April 17th, 2012, 07:47 PM.

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                    • #11

                      Re: squirrel's 55 Chevy step van/bread truck

                      Cool truck! That'll make a nice service truck. The original "Sprinter"!
                      Last edited by Huskinhano; July 12th, 2012, 08:02 PM.
                      Tom
                      Overdrive is overrated


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                      • #12

                        Re: squirrel's 55 Chevy step van/bread truck

                        I missed out on one a couple yrs older at an estate sale for $500. Dont know what Ida done with it but it was kool. This has potential for alot of uses but any of them will be badass. Keep it goin!

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                        • #13

                          Re: squirrel's 55 Chevy step van/bread truck

                          I came across two late 60s chevy one ton trucks, one I can get pretty reasonable, the other I can get some parts off. I've been looking at the rearend issue, one possibility is to put duals back on it. These later trucks both have the same 16" two piece wheels, one has a decent set of 7 bias ply tires, the other has 6 old radials. Looks like the rear ends would fit, with some spring perch work, and give me 4.57 gears. Which might be ok, with a 350 and not trying to go faster than 60-65 mph. One potential problem is the front tires hitting the tie rods, it's pretty tight.

                          I did some work on the front already that I didn't show here, I swapped the non-dual type hubs and drums on it, and found a set of trailer wheels/tires that fits on it. They just clear the tie rods.

                          I also got the 305 running, and drove it around the yard.
                          My fabulous web page

                          "If it don't go, chrome it!" --Stroker McGurk

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                          • #14

                            Re: squirrel's 55 Chevy step van/bread truck

                            I always thought one of these would be a cool way to pull a trailer. But you'd need a bit more oomph!
                            I'm still learning

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                            • #15

                              Re: squirrel's 55 Chevy step van/bread truck

                              I put the van in the shop...it just barely squeezed in, the door is 9' and the van is well over 8' tall. Less than an inch to spare.

                              I also pulled the rearend...I got a free 67 chevy one ton rear, from a friend who's rebuilding an old motorhome, he upgraded to 70s stuff, so I can upgrade to 60s stuff. Interesting how that works. I need to move the spring perches and brake hose stuff, other than that it should be a bolt in. He also gave me a set of 7 wheels and tires, the tires are bias but in pretty good condition, split rim dually stuff, but they are 16" which is nice.

                              The rear with the mismatched brakes is the 55, the one with white ends is the 67.
                              Attached Files
                              My fabulous web page

                              "If it don't go, chrome it!" --Stroker McGurk

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                              • #16

                                Re: squirrel's 55 Chevy step van/bread truck

                                I decided I might as well git r done, so I cut some perches off an old 9" rear, and welded them on the "new" rear. I also swapped over the brake lines. Then I installed it...kind of a pain, I didn't measure the spring bolts right and had to drop it down and drill the holes in the perches out a little bigger. But it's back together, mostly. still need to connect the brake hose and driveshaft, and bleed the brakes. I also need to get some wiring on it, because I"ve been hot wiring the engine to drive it around.
                                Attached Files
                                My fabulous web page

                                "If it don't go, chrome it!" --Stroker McGurk

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                                • #17

                                  Re: squirrel's 55 Chevy step van/bread truck

                                  long time no update.

                                  Today I fired up the old 305, and moved the bread truck back in front of the shop, for it's last drive with an 8. That was short lived, it drove around a couple of yards with this engine, now the engine is out, and destined to go in a 1980 C20 I just bought.

                                  I was thinking about the perfect motor for the bread truck, and somehow I decided 292. I have two of them, in pieces, mostly (I need to get the crank back from Randal if I want to build both of them). The engine would be bigger than the stocker, and most importantly it would fit in the truck properly. The PO hacked the floor and engine cover to fit the 305 in it, and there just isn't any room there for the driver's right foot.
                                  My fabulous web page

                                  "If it don't go, chrome it!" --Stroker McGurk

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                                  • #18

                                    Re: squirrel's 55 Chevy step van/bread truck

                                    I bet the 292 would get that brick moving easier than the 305. They had incredible torque at low rpms.
                                    BS'er formally known as Rebeldryver

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                                    • #19

                                      Re: squirrel's 55 Chevy step van/bread truck

                                      Maybe so.

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                                      Attached Files
                                      My fabulous web page

                                      "If it don't go, chrome it!" --Stroker McGurk

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                                      • #20

                                        Re: squirrel's 55 Chevy step van/bread truck

                                        Another day at the Squirrel ranch.
                                        Escaped on a technicality.

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