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Old 04-18-2011, 02:32 PM   #1
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Year: 1946
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'46 Chevy Shorty

Hello All --- Well, I finally got a look at this darlin' up close & personal. And I am very happy to say, it is in better shape than I had even hoped for! Sure, , it needs a ton (or in this case...a ton & a half, since that's the chassis it's on) of work, but it is a great little starter platform. Very little rust with only a couple of small replacement patches needed next to the front fenders and one "wrinkle" next to the entry door. The latex house paint is peeling, but that's coming off anyway. Mechanically it is surprisingly solid. Recent brake rebuild, working parking brake (a big deal, actually) and a snazzy new custom, aluminum radiator. The 1980's vintage 350 motor runs great but will be (hopefully) replaced with a Cummins 4BTAA. The original 4-speed tranny sounds good but hoping for an Allison auto with 5 speeds. And speaking of speed, as with nearly all these old hill climbers and house movers, tops is maybe 55. If the Allison gears won't bring that up enough, then a new rearend will be in order.

And BTW...I am in the process of looking for a reliable transport service to get it from Utah to Houston, so if anyone here has any recommendations, experience, horror stories...please...pass them along. That business is so BS intensive that it's as scary as it is annoying, so a personal reference will go a long ways with me.

I have just started laying out the interior as well as a couple of exterior mods. As you can see in the pix, it has already undergone some degree of conversion so I have a bit of a head-start there. Not much space to work with, but hey, not that much to build out either! If I can figure out how to do the drawings in Google Sketch, I'll post as I go.


Grill is straight & ready for chrome. Even has near perfect stainless side trim on the hood.


A new door is definitely in order (damn Hippies). And that smoke stack is indeed hooked to a wood stove.


The shortest body Wayne ever made...21 feet bumper-to-bumper.


A study in the "KISS" principal. And yep...that handle on the left rolls down the driver's window! Cool.


Just a couple of benches and some carpet to tear out.


At 7-1/2' across inside, it's almost as wide as it is long.

I figure this project will easily take a year or two, but I'd like to get the engine/tranny worked out asap. If anyone has experience with 4BT swaps, I'll buy the coffee to chat.

Many, many thanks to the Skoolie Board Builders and all the wonderful folks here who make this site so great. You all played a big part in my decision to go ahead with this little fantasy. And as most of you already know...Dreams are far more important than reality.

More (much more) to follow. Onward!
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Old 04-18-2011, 03:23 PM   #2
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Re: '46 Chevy Shorty

I like it...

Good luck with transport...
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Old 04-18-2011, 08:45 PM   #3
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Re: '46 Chevy Shorty

What a cool old bus! Great project you got there.
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Old 04-18-2011, 10:46 PM   #4
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Re: '46 Chevy Shorty

.. awesome .. awesome .. awesome .. looking forward to following your conversion/upgrade .. what a great find to build on ..
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Old 04-19-2011, 07:00 AM   #5
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Re: '46 Chevy Shorty

Has to be the coolest looking classic shorty I've seen yet.
Don't know any transport but you might try calling the local (where you bought it) bus and fleet shops and sales lots and ask them for a few numbers.
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Old 04-19-2011, 11:37 AM   #6
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Re: '46 Chevy Shorty

Awww...dude, find the original engine for that thing!
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Old 04-19-2011, 05:51 PM   #7
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Year: 1946
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Re: '46 Chevy Shorty

Keep the engine you have! The original 235 oil dipper's these came with are slow, have little power, and are a royal pain to maintain. The 4 speed trany has to bo double clutched in every gear(it is an old truck). On the bright side mine has a disk brake on the shaft; it's nice to have an emergency brake that really works. Stovebolt forums are good information sites.

Good luck, looks like a really cool bus

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Old 04-20-2011, 11:43 AM   #8
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Re: '46 Chevy Shorty

Thanks for the support and feed back. And yeah, it does seem to have a bit of a "Brinks Truck" look around the windshield, doesn't it. But probably one that would be more attractive to Bonnie & Clyde than any present day outlaws. The entry door is a home made wooden affair that is about to come apart and is the first thing that will get replaced. Mostly for security reasons. The floor plan will include a small living area in the front with a minimal kitchen (cook-top, sink, fridge), a bed and a toilet/shower combo. The rear will be left pretty much open to serve as a mobile shop and storage area. An almost full-length roof rack is also being considered.

I used to have a 21' Toyota-based Odyssey camper that was about the same interior size and realized that the shower took up a lot of otherwise valuable space when not being used, so for this unit, I plan to put it to work. I have designed a shower door that when closed has drawers and shelving that will occupy all that open space inside the shower and swings out to form a privacy door when in the open position. Frankly, I'm surprised that I haven't seen such an arrangement before since coach makers work so hard at using every other square inch.

As for power, the Chevy is a great running engine, but barely gets 8 mpg. I need something that will take me further on less fuel. The stock 6 just doesn't have the grunt to pull much of a load and really isn't all that great on fuel either. I started out looking at the 5-cylinder Mercedes diesels in the new Sprinter vans that get about 22, but a little homework exposed a lot of problems with such a transplant. They require a couple of dozen computers and even more sensors all working in harmony to pull it off and are a nightmare to try and reprogram to any other vehicle. Turns out, the tried & true Cummins 4B series are about as bullet-proof as engines get and can be tuned not only to pull a house with torque to spare, but get 24 to 30 mpg doing it with just 2 wires to connect and not a single computer anywhere. Funny thing is, with a little tweaking, the same little engine can be set up to produce anything from 80 to as much as 600 horsepower. I'm planning on the 130 hp tune. And because there are so many of them around, parts and service are easily available just about anywhere. The only electronics issues involved may be those associated with mating it to a 5 or 6 speed Allison automatic, but at least there are kits available that make it doable. The combination should be one that will provide plenty of pull, outstanding mileage, long life and ease of maintenance. At least, that's what I'm shooting for.

I'm working out some floor plans and will post some sketches as soon as I am close to something workable.
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Old 04-20-2011, 12:02 PM   #9
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Re: '46 Chevy Shorty

I was thinking the original engine just for the coolness factor. Sure, it wont get the mileage but I wasnt sure how much traveling you would do. How about a 5.9 or would it be too long? You could buy a whole wrecked truck and take the whole drivetrain.

You'll probably have $6k into the Cummins job, I would guess. Lots of power options for you.
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Old 04-20-2011, 02:37 PM   #10
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Re: '46 Chevy Shorty

There is a similar looking bus not far from here. Looks like it was converted at one time. It's at a Bee Chama Honey farm in Lemitar. I keep meaning to get a pic as we barrel down the interstate. Perhaps I can get one today when we drive up (yet again) to Albuquerque.
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