Dieselpunks

Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

I have my Smart Car, which I use for 99% of my driving. I love my Smart, and commuting an hour and a half one way is definitely made easier on my pocketbook by this car. When I was using my Dodge truck, I was getting less than half of the miles per gallon that I get now. My truck now gets driven maybe once every two weeks, when I have more than two people to haul (and when the wife's car isn't available for that purpose), or when I actually need a truck. That's for flea markets, usually, but I helped some friends move recently, and the truck came in handy.

And therein lies my problem. I can't get rid of the truck completely, as I am a man, and a truck does come in handy from time to time. So, I have an ugly '98 Dakota sitting on the street in front of my house, taking up valuable space. What to do?

A few weeks ago, I bought a 1936 Chevy Truck, which I intend to rat rod, and use as my truck. I figure, if I have to have a truck that sits around most of the time, why not make it an awesome looking one, with lots of style? Here are a few pics of the truck right after I picked it up.

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It's pretty much complete, though ultimately all I'll be using is the body, bed, and frame. I'll be replacing the engine and transmission, axles and suspension system, the glass and any interior work, wheels, and wiring. All on a small budget. My friend Kevin and I will be doing all of the work, even fabricating the suspension system ourselves (which Kevin has done several times, for his racing trucks). Plus, as I buy parts, I'll be able to sell the old ones to make some of the money back, since it's fairly complete, as I said. I'll even be selling parts I just don't plan on using, such as the fenders and running boards. Here are a couple of pics of the truck when we first got it to Kevin's shop;

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Today, a couple of weeks later, my wife and I met Kev at his shop, where we put in a few hours of work, stripping the front end down a bit, and unbolting the bed from the frame.

As long as I'm working out of town, this will be a slow process of only a few hours a month. Once I get laid off, however, I want to put in a couple of full work days a week on it. My goal is to have it running, functioning, titled, and registered in one year. Too bold a goal? Maybe, but you've got to set your goals high, sometimes.

The plan is to slam it to the ground with a custom airbag suspension. All I'll have to do is put air in to raise it up and haul a load, or empty it, and ride it low. We're going to put in a modern fuel injected Chevy motor, so that it'll get better gas milage than my current truck does. We might have to do a C-notch in the back in order to get it as low as possible. I will keep the cool grill and hood, but the fenders are not going to be used.

Here it is as it sits today:

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I still plan on building bicycles. I've even got plans to go a bit bigger with a dieselpunk bike. This will just be a bigger project to juggle in with the rest.

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Replies to This Discussion

Why make it into a hot-rod???

The original engine can propel it at good highway speed. The original engine, gearbox and rear axle will handle any load you care to use the truck for. You would be preserving something worth preserving, rather than making it into something else!

Deven, that's a diamond in the rough that simply needs some TLC from a Dieselpunk like you. I agree strongly with Roverdriver. Restoring it to its original glory is the best choice.

PS: Great images, Roverdriver.

That looks beautiful, alright. But it would cost tens of thousands of dollars to restore this rough steel back into a diamond, whereas a few thousand will get me a fun rat. 

I'm sorry, but I happen to really like rat rods. Besides, the more important point is that this 76 year old machine will be getting used again for the first time in decades.

Deven, before you get too far, I strongly advise investigate, investigate, investigate.

In my experience it costs a lot less to restore a vehicle than to hot-rod it. When creating a hodge-podge car you have to alter and adapt what you have to accept the parts from other vehicles. You will no longer have a 76 year old machine, but a mish-mash of parts that you think is a 76 year old machine.

A properly restored car will be more reliable, more of a head turner, and in the end more valuable that a hot-rod or rat-rod.

Having said that, it is your vehicle to do with as you wish.

Good luck in any strategy you choose, Deven.

I believe this discussion is a nice example of misunderstandings between "punks" and "reenactors" in our community.

I generally don't want to take an original item of history and modify the artifact. I usually prefer to try to retain the beauty of the original. To me, a Dieselpunk item is a new creation that incorporates a quality of 'decodence' within it.

I admit that I'm not consistent in my application of this preference. I like Moroder's idea of using of a modern soundtrack to Metropolis, for example.

So, I wouldn't call myself a reenactor simply because I prefer in most cases not modifying the original artifact. I just think historical preservation is part of Dieselpunk as much as the creation of the new. One can be "punk" and preserve history at the same time.

Komissar Hass said:

I believe this discussion is a nice example of misunderstandings between "punks" and "reenactors" in our community.

I see absolutely no contradictions in this:) I believe this subject must be discussed separately.

Larry said:

I generally don't want to take an original item of history and modify the artifact. I usually prefer to try to retain the beauty of the original. To me, a Dieselpunk item is a new creation that incorporates a quality of 'decodence' within it.

I admit that I'm not consistent in my application of this preference. I like Moroder's idea of using of a modern soundtrack to Metropolis, for example.

So, I wouldn't call myself a reenactor simply because I prefer in most cases not modifying the original artifact. I just think historical preservation is part of Dieselpunk as much as the creation of the new. One can be "punk" and preserve history at the same time.

Komissar Hass said:

I believe this discussion is a nice example of misunderstandings between "punks" and "reenactors" in our community.

If it's a factor, it does not have the original engine. It's a '64 straight 6. It was just sitting in the frame, not mounted, not even properly fitting in the engine compartment (it was slightly sideways). So, there is no original engine to use. My friend is trying to encourage me to use the fenders and running boards, but they're so rough, and I've always loved the look of these old cars without them. 

Roverdriver said:

Deven, before you get too far, I strongly advise investigate, investigate, investigate.

In my experience it costs a lot less to restore a vehicle than to hot-rod it. When creating a hodge-podge car you have to alter and adapt what you have to accept the parts from other vehicles. You will no longer have a 76 year old machine, but a mish-mash of parts that you think is a 76 year old machine.

A properly restored car will be more reliable, more of a head turner, and in the end more valuable that a hot-rod or rat-rod.

Having said that, it is your vehicle to do with as you wish.

How's the project coming along, Deven?

It's going well, if slow, with me working so many hours. It's stripped down to the cab and frame right now. 

To be honest with you, with the negative vibe towards my plan to rat it, I had decided not to update this project on this site. I was just going to update it on my own blog, where the response has been positive. 

It's not like I've stopped visiting this site, I just see that the rat thing rubs the wrong way here. 

Regardless of how I build it, my thought is that getting this machine back on the road and being enjoyed is better than allowing it to sit in a barn rusting away.

NOTE: Re-reading this reply makes me sound like a big drama queen, I realize, but I just thought I'd be honest. I myself think that rat rods (which I love, being a subscriber to Rebel Rodz magazine, and trying to get to car shows to look at them when I can) are very Dieselpunk, focusing on the "punk" just as much as the "diesel" era from which these cool rides come from. I was caught off guard by the comments asking me not to do that. Heck, I bought the truck, after searching for quite some time, specifically to build a rat rod. I've been wanting one for years, and my financial situation saw me in a position to finally act on it.


Tome Wilson said:

How's the project coming along, Deven?

Do what you love, brother, and you'll live a life with no regrets.

I think some of the people on this sight have lost the original spirit of DieselPunk,and that is to have FUN with it.A Rat Rod is as Dieselpunk as any other creation.Have they ever heard of the phrase "cut off your nose to spite your face"?If we start excluding people on minor nuances, we will end up with a sight with 4 people reading each others articles.As talented as you are anything you come up with will be a valued addition.

Bandnerd51

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