Posted on June 23 2016
My 1951 GMC truck - "Project Nemesis"
This project started off like most. A friend started it with grand visions of a dream hot rod. Hours of researching, asking questions and making lists of all the "little mods" that would need to be done. The searching for parts and creative engineering to make them work was the distraction needed from a busy life building his small business - an outlet for the daily grind played out in the garage. And like most projects - the initial enthusiasm and flurry of activity gave way to the reality of a busy life and his project stalled. This is where i stepped in. 1998. Seeing the potential of this former Saskatchewan farm hauler turned street menace was a challenge I needed. The bones were there, a Ford 9" swap, a sad little V8 massaged in and some fancy rims... I am in! Cash exchanged and a handshake to seal the deal, I climbed in my new Nemesis and drove home. Crap - what did I do!
Now my turn for the research, endless magazine hunting, (pre-internet) and happily amassing shiny new tools and tips on customizing whenever and wherever possible. I had the fun of driving this crazy rig for a year to college. In sun, rain and even snow. Zero traction in wet, never mind snow, large holes in the floor that would always let in the rain and snow to soak the shoes. Heat - not even a hint of it. The wipers only worked when you let off the gas and the passenger door had a habit of opening randomly, at speed, in left hand turns. I was always amused. My passengers - not so much. It rattled, leaked and always had a little cloud of rust following it. But, the occasional thumbs up from a passerby was all I needed. Game on!
And so down the rabbit hole we go.. Tools in hand and in the back yard, I started cutting away the rust, learning to weld as i went. Well, not really welding, just kinda sticking metal together and hoping it would stay, and stripping the truck down. A motor, it needed a new motor! The best, most fun part of any build. The junkyard 283 smoker was not going to do - and the transmission - tired and sloppy. Gone. A stout 350 4 bolt main with nice cam, high end internal components and trick heads, was built from my skills learned in High School shop class. Thanks Mr. Moore! A bullet proof TH350 added to the pile and left to be added to the truck later. More Power!
So, the old frame was not looking so great - rusty and thin in spots. Definitely would not take on the new horsepower. OK, lets replace it. Easy right? A buddy offered to swap in a frame from a donor half ton - "easy" and off it goes for a 14 month "simple swap" back to Saskatchewan. When it finally returns - mismatched tires protruding from the fenders, sitting 6' taller than when it left and not able go over a bump with the steering in any other position than forward - I was a little disappointed to say the least.
Over the next 12 yrs, I stripped it down to cab and frame, and slowly started chopping out the rust. Handy Dremel in hand and with a lifetime supply of cutting disks, I started the surgery. Most of the floor, rocker panels, cowl panels and cab corners were cut out and replaced. All along, not really understanding why the replacement panels never would quite line up. Ahh, weld in some cab cross braces - wish I had heard that one earlier. Cut, weld grind, grind grind, and more grind. Slowly it was coming back together. Lots of creative language, creative metal sticking, and little successes turned into big ones and the enthusiasm was kept up.
Cab finished. Engine goes in, new wiring, exhaust, gears, custom white walls and rims, and a fresh coat of candy orange in the cab - looking awesome. Well now it needs a cool stance. Drop spindles ordered and installed. Wow, looks killer dropped and skinny tires tucked in the fenders. Oh wait, I will need to make turns right??! ARRGGHH, spindles won't work. The front tires can't turn in the front fenders and I think corners are important. Ok - Air Ride - 10 x's the cost and I can turn. Sold. Notched the rear frame, added the 4 link, new A arms and bags up front - even cooler and lower. Yup that works.
The next couple years - to my neighbor's dismay, were hours upon hours of grinding, sanding and priming in my very cramped and stuffed to the rafters single garage. a flurry of trips to the powdercoater with loads of parts to be blasted, cleaned and coated (got real tired of hand sanding) kept the pace up. Custom upholstery and headliner were hand made and added to the mix.
At this point - 2010, I decided to pack up and move to a new province. Nemesis needed to be kicked into high gear. It went up and down, started, didn't really stop and had a good selection of parts on it but needed to be able to drive on a car trailer on it own and survive the trip over the Rockies with nothing falling off and no snow or rain inside it. All while packing up a house, doing renovations and the busiest period my business has ever had, the truck had to get assembled. Doors on, glass in, box kinda bolted on. hood on and fenders mounted - sorta. OK, tied on and bungied down but it worked. On to the hauler, chained up and across the mountains to the coast. Where it sat for 4yrs. In a storage unit. No garage, no yard and no time.
Finally, this year, 2016, time, space and enthusiasm all aligned and Nemesis is back on track. Some solid prep, gentle coaxing, selective English words and fresh gas and it roared to life. WHEW! Next, find all the hundreds of little parts in the dozen or so bins and start sorting out and try to remember where they all go. The air suspension plumbed in and wired up properly, trans tunnel built, cab finished and ready for carpet, and box leveled out - A true Canadian truck - Hockey pucks from Canadian Tire are the choice of spacers for cab mounts and box alike. If a hockey game breaks out at the next car show - I am covered. And the progress is continuing now - any free moment sees more progress, more parts bolted on and more like a running streatable hot rod each week.
Now if only I could figure out where these 2 brackets go. They do look important. Look great in the smooth powder coat..
Oh Well, those are just extra parts I guess. It should go faster without them right?