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1951 Chevy 3800 Pickup Project  (Photos below)





























Bertha is a 1951 Chevrolet 3800 one-ton pickup with a nine foot bed. As you can see in the image above, Bertha is on the right, originally bought to be used as a work truck for Rogers Machinery, fitted with a boom for pulling wells. Bertha was bought from Ken of Ken's Well Drilling in Chehalis (pictured leaning on the truck just to the left of Bertha) who bought it from Rogers in the early 70's and had garaged her for several years. As you will see in the images below, Bertha was a total tear down, frame up restoration upgrade.

Anthony fell in love with Bertha at first sight and drooled over her for about an hour before asking Ken if he wanted to sell her. Ken offered Bertha to Anthony at a very reasonable price and delivered her to Anthony's shop.


Bertha still ran and was actually drivable. After fixing the brakes, replacing the gas tank and door glass, Anthony drove her around for a few months as his interest grew in a full restoration to her former glory.


Initially, there were a few issues - Bertha is a one-ton truck and was originally equipped with eight-lug wheels for which there are no known brake upgrades available. Also, the original 216 cid, 6 cylinder engine didn't deliver the kind of power needed to get the truck up over 50 mph. With this in mind, a few upgrades were decided upon. First, a burned '78 Blazer was located at the salvage auction to be used as a donor truck. Anthony's brothers (also mechanics) gave Anthony a fresh 400 cid small block, Rupp's Ruff Rides had a set of heads that Barry's Quality Machine rebuilt.


The tear down to the frame began. The front axle was mocked-up and mounts were fabricated. The rear differential bolted straight onto the factory leaf springs. As soon as the frame was rolling, the engine mounts were installed, the transmission cross-member was fitted and the rear driveshaft was sized and fit.


Onto the body. The body had several dents and dings and the passenger side of the roof was mostly caved in from a well pipe - it was a work truck after all. The roof was pounded out with the help of a friend, then Anthony's brother Carlo came for a visit and helped rough out the remainder of the body work. Anthony then finished what was left on the cab and doors. The cab was then painted with DuPont Chromabase™ basecoat and finished with DuPont Premium Appearance™ clear coat - nothing but the best for Bertha!


After installing the cab on the frame and then the engine and drivetrain, Bertha was taken home from the shop and the next several months were spent working out all the dents and dings in the front/rear fenders and then work on the box was started. At first, a wood floor was considered (like the original) but it was decided that it would be more practical to have a metal bed. Two box beds were purchased from the local yard, but since Bertha has a nine foot bed, the two beds needed to be spliced together and Anthony's 87 year old neighbor Vince helped make that happen. Next came the running boards. Anthony didn't want the paint stepped on so the idea of diamond plate strips on the running boards turned out to be not only functional, but looked great too. Steve helped Anthony with what turned out to be a several day's project. Now the running boards were painted with a DuPont Imron™ polyurethane finish.


A new wiring harness was installed front to back and Bertha was reborn with a 12 volt system. Big Guy Upholstery recovered the original seat with a great looking pattern, and the gauges were replaced with new quad's from TPI Tech that fit beautifully. The original four speed tranny and shifter were retained from the Blazer and Anthony made the factory emergency brake handle work with the new transmission and axle combination.


Since the front 4x4 axle was wider than stock, the front tires stuck out past the fenders, so the search began for new offset wheels that would compensate. As the Blazer was a 1/2 ton frame, a set of 1951 factory 1/2 ton rims fit perfectly after a set of 3/8" spacers were fabricated and installed to make room for the disc brakes. The factory rims gave Bertha a more original look and fit. An under-dash air conditioning unit was installed and it fit perfectly. The compressor and bracket for the small block were obtained from I-5 auto wrecking where the 4 speed was obtained as well.


After everything was assembled, it was time for the finishing touch. A yellow pinstripe was painted around the cab. When sanding the original paint, a faded pinstripe was found and since Anthony wanted the truck to look as original as possible (considering the upgrades) the pinstripe was added around the cab and on the tailgate. As you can see, Bertha is a tribute to her owner.



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Chehalis 1963 - Bertha when at work
This is Bertha when we first brought her home.

The roof was caved in.