Since Christmas I’ve had to think pretty carefully about what I want to do with Green. There are lots of options for what to do with an old truck and I have to make some decisions before launching into the process.
The idea of turning him into a show vehicle is reprehensible. Green doesn’t need a small-block V-8 engine and a racing transmission and chrome all over everything. Once upon a long time ago that might have been attractive, but I have grown up and don’t want to make a hot rod out of a family memory. Similarly, keeping the skin and dressing him up into a “rat rod” seems fundamentally dishonest. No thanks. A frame-off OEM (original-equipment manufacturer) restoration is an attractive option but way beyond my means, and the end result is that I’d no longer really have the Green Truck, I’d just have something that looked like him. I’ll admit, however, that this is an option. Maybe after I retire.
Call it nostalgia, but I’ve decided that I want to drive the truck I remember. He rattled a bit, doesn’t have a radio or air conditioning (other than the windows), and steers like a battleship–but those qualities are part and parcel of the truck I recall. That means I’ll bring Green back into running order, leaving as many original pieces in place as can be safely used. Not all the dents will come out. Though the paint has rusted away from neglect, I’ll keep the remaining original paint and newly original patina. The bed will need new wood, but the original rails and bolts will stay in place, and I’ll probably throw back in the piece of sheet steel that flopped around in the bed that grandpa added. The pipe vise behind the right rear fender will stay too; it may not be original equipment but I’ve never known the truck without it.
Oh sure, there will have to be some compromises. I don’t have adequate space or tools, and there is a pay-as-you-go budget involved. Will need to figure out how to add tail lights while keeping it looking reasonably original. I’ll have to add turn signals (sticking one’s arm out the window simply isn’t safe any more). I’m still trying to decide what to do about wheel bearings, whether to maintain the original ball bearing or upgrade them to more modern roller bearings. He won’t look great, but he’ll drive and I plan to use him for no more than an around-town vehicle anyway–and when I’m all done I’ll still have the Green Truck.