1953 Chevrolet 3100
Back in 2005 I bought a 1953 Chevy truck from a good friend of our family, whose father bought it slightly used in the 50's and then used it on the farm. I saw it tooling around my home town while I was growing up, usually in second gear. I would venture to say that it has rarely been driven in the winter - I know it sat in the garage in most of those winters in the 70's, and it was last registered around 1982. After that it sat in a shed in Austin, MN, until the lucky day I hauled it away.
The 1/2 ton truck was in pretty good original shape, original paint, original floor in the bed, original motor, about 65,000 miles. After I bought it I parked it in my brother-in-law's extra garage (what a tolerant soul) and went through the brakes and had the head overhauled. I also put in a new radiator, shocks, tires, and recovered the seat. Then I shipped it to our home in Sweden. There is a huge interest here for American cars from the 50's, but these old trucks are still a novelty.
I've been driving it around our area over the years, hauling wood, yard scrap, junk, tools, even an organ on its way to an installation. Except for some pesky electrical problems it has been dependable and usually has run very smoothly. Unfortunately the block has a small crack that I have attempted to repair several times. The cold winters have not been kind to JB-weld.
So last winter I replaced the old 216 with a 235 I had acquired in trade. I spruced up the 235, pulled out the old 216 as well as the steering mast and the wiring, fixed the leaky steering and put in a new wiring harness as well as that "new" 235. I cleaned up the engine compartment but otherwise just bolted the fenders back on again. The 235 doesn't run nearly as smoothly as the old cracked 216, but it sure has more pep and the newer Rochester B carb seems better adjusted than the old one. I have some vibrations to hunt down, what a relief that I am not about to run out of repairs to make.
I prefer keeping this truck in its unrestored condition. It has always been a working truck and it looks the part. It has an honest collection of scratches and dings. I don't have to worry about leaving it out in the rain or getting it dirty or messing up the bed.
Check out the contribution of our friend, the previous owner!
Written by Dwight, 9 May 2011
Now there is a story of a farm truck, while we are on the subject of 1953. It was a 1953 quarter-ton, green, wood box, wood floor, six cylinder, two door, split windshield, no seat-belts, spare tire mounted on driver’s side above running board, no signals but mounted later to conform to new road laws, with wooden knob for steering wheel. The tires contained rubber inner tubes, the size would be 600 x 16 rims.
This truck was owned by James Herrick in Andyville north of Austin, my dad bought the truck from Herrick in 1959, with about 30,000 miles on it. In 1960 my brother Alan turned 16 and was able to drive it to school.
One Halloween, in about 1960, Alan had about five guys inside the pickup truck box, and dragging the strip in Austin on Main Street was the thing to do. Crowds of people in those days would arm themselves with eggs and tomatoes from that time of the year and spat any vehicle on mainstreet with their ammo. A pickup truck would make a pretty good target. Alan had to go to a friend’s house for a wash job to clean the truck.
Dad had other uses for the truck, he would buy young calves at the Ramsey sale barn and feed them for six weeks, and off the calves would go in the pickup truck to the Hormel packing house. Straw and hay and fire wood was also hauled in the box many times. One big trip was to Uncle Roy’s cabin north of Nashwauk about 35 miles with a load of lumber for Rusty Retreat, his cabin, up north where he would hunt deer for 25 years.
Then one day in 1973 I was hinting to my dad that I would like to buy a truck. His reply was “you can have this one.” The rest is history. I drove the 1953 Chevrolet pickup from the farm in Austin to our home in St. Peter sometime in the early spring of 1973. This would be the first year that Roger Nelson and I started gardening out at Weber’s farm. It was on the river bottom that our garden site was located good loose soil. We would load up our truck with water during dry times in the summer, and Herb would say “What are you watering the garden for?” We didn’t realize the river bottom would supply the water.
The truck would stall after running awhile. It stalled on the way from Steinberg’s farm (near Elysian) to Faribault. I was all alone on a hot July Saturday afternoon at Morristown on Highway 60. So I walked about a mile into Morristown to the closest air-conditioned bar. The rest of our family were in Faribault at Gramma Kruse’s house. So they came out to retrieve me with the 1972 Torino and a log chain. In those days one always carried a log chain, it kept down towing fees. The pickup sat in Gramma K’s backyard for two weeks until we could get back and install a new coil. This really stopped the stalling of the truck.
One other time before I had the truck Alan took it from the farm to the duck shack on Buffalo Lake with a wood shed, and it stalled there, too. I did take short trips with it to the duck shack, also. One night at about dark I had to change a tire halfway home. There was a field driveway to pull into, and with the help of a weak flashlight and tire jack I got the job done. One other trip on the way home I had all the hunting gear from the duck shack, and a push pole fell out along the way. After getting home I went back from St. Peter and found two push poles a few blocks west of the Belle Church north of Elysian someone drove over them with a vehicle.
During the winter months I would drive the kids to school in the pickup. It would be -30 and that truck would start right off, standing outside at night. It not only went to school, but to the bank, the garden, the duck shack, to Austin, Faribault, and Rusty Retreat, Uncle Roy’s cabin.
The pickup is now enjoying retirement in Sweden with Karl Nelson. He keeps it running and has a good time with it. So much for the 1953 Chev pickup truck.
Click a picture to zoom in.