1956 Chevrolet 3600: Farm Truck Fender Repair

Some years ago, Lewie’s truck lost a skirmish with tree, which became apparent when we had the truck sandblasted from bumper to bumper. The repair resulted in some wrinkles and a knife edged front fender, above the headlight.

Fender damage to 1956 Chevy 3600 truck.
The damaged fender and the old fix, lurking under the body filler that was sandblasted off.

The fender should have a flattened face as it curves around the upper part of the headlight. The original repair obviously involved a dent puller, as evidenced by the numerous holes.

1956 Chevy 3600 undamaged front fender sandblasted
Passenger side fender.

We considered replacing the fender with an after market item, but at a cost of $3-400 plus quite a few hours of removal and installation time, we decided to repair it.

1956 Chevy 3600 truck fender repair
Arrows indicate three of the nine spot welds that were drilled out.

The first order of business was gaining access to the inside of the fender under the damaged area so that we could apply some brute force. We drilled out the spot welds and removed the sheet metal section that was blocking our access.  Then, four cuts were made so that we could bend the flange forward and open the damaged area for some hammering.

1956 Chevy truck fender repair
With access gained, we hammered and bent the fender into shape.
1956 Chevy truck fender repair test fit
And then lined up the holes and clamped the removed sheet metal back into place for re-welding.
1956 Chevy truck fender repair profile view
Not perfect but much closer to the original shape.

After re-attaching the inner section by welding the cuts and the drilled-out spot welds, we mixed up some body filler to begin final shaping of the repair.

1956 Chevy truck fender with body filler applied.
Filler applied, ready for sculpting.
1956 Chevy truck fender after body filler and sanding
Taking shape after some sanding.
1956 Chevy truck fender repair head-on view after sanding.
Head-on view of the repair before primer was applied.

Each of our trucks ends up with a phrase that describes our pass-fail level. With the farm truck that phrase is “Not Barrett-Jackson” (NBJ for short). This truck is being built for Lewie’s enjoyment, not for the show circuit or resale.

1956 Chevy truck fender repair after primer applied.
Primer applied and ready for a closer inspection.

The owner’s grade after taking a look at the result of about one day’s work?  “It passes… NBJ.” The repair versus replacement decision worked out great in this case and we saved Lewie a few hundred bucks.

This fender was the most difficult of the body repairs, other than the rusted out bottom of the passenger side door. That has been addressed and will be the subject of another article. With the dings and dents all repaired, now it is time for sanding in preparation for paint.

Mounting the GM 235 Six on an Engine Stand

One of the peculiarities of the 235 c.i. six from our 1956 3/4 ton “Farm Truck” is that the bell housing is installed before the flywheel. Couple that with our desire to clean up, paint, and re-install the oil pan, and it became obvious that we should put the monster on an engine stand so we could rotate it.

All dressed up, the six weighs around 630 pounds, and it’s longer and taller than the Chevy small block V8. So we had concerns about putting it on a stand. We didn’t trust our own stand so a friend’s more stout-looking stand (1000 lb. rating) was borrowed.

Two inch square tube extension added to engine stand.
Two inch square tube extension with wheels, added for stability.

Still, we had concerns about the length of the engine with bell housing installed, and could imagine it tipping over as we rotated it or moved it around the shop. To ease our minds, we added a 2 inch square tube “T” extension, with wheels, to the front of the stand for stability. We had the wheels in the shop, and the 5 foot long square tube set us back $6.50, so it was cheap insurance.

Fixture attached so axis is near vertical center of gravity.
Fixture attached so axis is near vertical center of gravity

Since the bell housing sits considerably below the vertical center of gravity of the six, we attached the stand’s fixture such that round tube axis was much higher than bolts attaching it to the bell housing. It looked odd, but with grade 8 bolts holding it all together, there was no problem. We also backed up the upper bell housing bolts with nuts instead of relying on the bell housing’s internal threads.

Fixture attachment to bell housing, up close.
Engine stand attachment, up close.

We employed a four-foot long bar to rotate the engine once it was mounted to the stand, and we left the chain hoist attached for the first 90 degrees of rotation until we felt the balance was, indeed, going to be acceptable. With the long bar helping matters, it was easy for one person to rotate the engine with complete control. We pinned our “T” addition to the original stand with a spare bolt so that it would stay in place as we moved the engine around the shop.

Chevrolet 235 six on our engine stand.
Chevrolet 235 six mounted on our engine stand, ready for final assembly.

All in all, it turned out to be no problem at all mounting the 235 six to our stand.