Chevy Chronicles: Part 1

This past week a line from the Jethro Tull song Aqualung came to mind citing “Greasy fingers smearing shabby clothes.” In my case this was not about a destitute and homeless, street-wise existence but a labor of love as I have initiated the task of returning my father’s ’63 Chevy pickup to working order.

I will refrain from calling it a restoration as time and money will keep me from tearing the entire vehicle down to its bare bones for a full makeover. Instead it will get careful and caring attention to what needs to be done to make it road worthy.

It must be acknowledged right at the outset that I am not alone in this endeavor. My good and trusted friend, Dave Lee, has the mechanical skills needed to make the transformation possible. My value is doing the messy part of cleaning the grease, grime and rust off of frame and various components of the underside of a truck’s existence. Hence the reference to greasy fingers smearing my shabby work clothes.

To-date the truck is up on jacks. All for wheels have been removed as have the brake drums, brake assemblies and backing plates, leaving me with the less than glamorous parts that have accumulated the oil and dirt of decades. Their removal is my mission.

The tools of the trade include a putty knife, wire brush and an ample supply of mineral spirits as my attack weapons against the evils of filth. I have emerged victorious with only a few cuts from metal parts seeing the light of day for the first time in ages. My badge of success is the grime beneath my fingernails, which I proudly wear since they are harder to clean than the truck parts. One’s fingertips are just too sensitive to endure the onslaught of wire brushing.

My lack of mechanical skills should make it evident that I am not into this in order to drive a vintage vehicle for the fun of it. This is a matter of keeping faith with family and friends, especially dad, who have driven or ridden in this priceless artifact of family history. Just seeing it run again after more than twenty years of sitting idle will provide a fine sense of accomplishment for me. Maybe someday, though, when time and funds allow, it will receive the blessings of the full restoration I think it deserves for bearing a priceless cargo over many a mile.    

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