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Project Pete, 61 Peterbilt 281

Posted By Skipped_Link 2 Years Ago
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Skipped_Link
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Fourth Gear

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Just a warning, this is not a restoration, & some things that are done may be considered by some as sacrilege, for that I appologize, but it is what it is, & this one will be more of a "restomod" :D

My Primary hobby is off road 4 wheel drive, The less maintained the trail is the more we like it, I currently run an all tube chassis buggy,



A few times a year we will travel several hundred miles to wheel some of the more "popular trails", like The Rubicon, Fordyce, & the Moab area, Also a coupe times a year we will travel & compete in closed course competition,

On a couple of these trips we have tinkered with hauling more than one rig, but with the size vehicles some of us are running the loads are getting up there for a standard pick up,



So I've decided to go with a bigger truck, More power, better braking & a rig designed to handle this load seems like a good direction to go,

I already have 2 diesel powered pickups that work great for tow rigs, & I really don't have to justify the Peterbilt, I just want one.:)

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I'm hoping this will not be a long drawn out build, but we'll see how it goes,

What got me looking was a truck sitting local, it is a 1971 Peterbilt 359, 335 cummins & 13 spd, I almost bought this truck a couple different times,



When I finally decided that a HDT was going to be the next project for myself I started looking around, A craigslist find over by Redding CA caught my eye,
The add said,
1961 Peterbilt, 350 small cam cummins, 10 spd trans, single rear, newer water tank & pump,
So the wife made a day trip of it & went over for a look, & here is where it all really started,






Looking at the truck in person you could see it was well used, the drivers side was a little beat in the upper cab corner, door, & front fender,
The passenger side looked good other than the upper cab corner,

But the engine sounded good, & the truck appeared to be fairley solid,
So I put down some money to hold it while I figured out how to get it home,
A couple weeks later I had the wife take me back with the rest of the money, a bag of sapre parts & a co-driver,
And we drove it 375 miles back to the shop, The trip turned out to be quite the adventure, but we made it in one peice, & the truck was proven, :laughing:

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Fourth Gear

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The Plan,
Enough room for 2 people comfortably, 3 if needed
Replacing the water tank will be a flat bed that will fit a large wheeling rig,
Rear springs & diff will be replaced with an air rid setup,

This truck is a 281 model, & even though I have seen more than a few of them fixed up really nice that is not really the goal here,
The 359 & 379 look really good slammed & shiny,
But with the 281/351 model, I think they look best, sitting a little taller & having that well used look to them,
Not the "rat rod" look, & not quite as used looking as the Dual truck,
But I have a strong feeling this one is going to get a flat finish paint & not much trucker bling bling.

Anyway, I found out the trans is an Eaton RTF-910, so no overdrive, also the current rear diff is 4.10 gears so 55-60 was top speed on the trip home,
So first thing was finding the air ride setup & taller gears,
I got with a freind who has some truck parts around & told him what I was looking for, & for $600.00 he hooked me up with this,



Rockwell, 3.07:1 gears, & an Airliner suspension,

I washed it up & took it to the sandblaster to get that god awful orange paint knocked off of it.

Next the tank came off, & took it to the scales, 11180 lbs as it sits here




Out came the steam cleaner & washed 2 different colors of paint off,



Had to use paint stripper to get the last layer of paint/primer off,
I also started removing more body parts as I went along,





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So here it sits, after nearly 4 days of disassembly, stripping, & washing,



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Ther rear diff came back really clean.


Speaking of clean, I did a little more stripping & steam cleaning on the back section of the frame, that way it would be fairly clean for the installation of the new diff & suspension,


While in the cab prepping for some repairs I found this thing tucked up in the visor area,


The origianal wig-wag,
After a little tweaking & straitening I got it to move freely & tested it, turns out it works, I'll be keeping that in there.

After I finally decided I had done enough cleaning, I move the truck over closer to the TIG & got busy fixing a few things,
First was this mess,

A section of the hood rests here against the cowl, & over the years has rubbed that flange area paper thin & as you can see also wore a hole right through the cowl into the cab.
After cutting the entire area out, I cut a new piece & welded it in,

After a little filing & sanding here is what I ended up with,



Pretty much the same story on the top side of the cowl, where the center section of the hood bolts, stress & vibration caused a small section to fall out, so it was repaired the same way.




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All of you are probably tired of seeing aluminum goobered togeather & sanded down, but that's about all I could do for a while, so here's another spot, passenger side, lower section of the cowl,
Worn Paper thin & cracked,


New piece cut & tacked in place,


Welded


Ready for body work.


And here is the Passenger side of the cowl, repaired for the most part.


While cleaning last week I found the front spring hanger on the passenger side was broken,


So since the truck was pulled in with that side close to the welder I dropped the pin & spring out,


Then prepped the broken area, & used the pin to hold everything while I tacked it in place,


After welding.


After clean up


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And finally back together,


Once that was back together I got the clutch adjusted so now the clutch brake actually works,

So after turning the truck around I only had one broke/missing piece on the drivers side, I got that welded in,


Then it was on to bigger potatoes,
It appears that the drivers side has taken quite a hit at one time,
The thresh hold, & cab corner skin have both been replaced, One of the rear cab spars has been replaced with something a little different style & the B-pillar was both tweeked & had another peice goobered onto the back of it,

Here is the weld at the front of the thresh hold, cracked & falling appart,


Here it is after grinding it out & rewelding the entire corner,


The B-pillar was a little more involved, origionally it was a single extruded piece of aluminum, it looks like the flange the skin rivets to must have been damaged, & rather than replace the whole part, they cut off the flange & welded a peice of channel to replace the flange,
I wish they would have taken more care to do the job, turnes out the B-pillar was still bent, & the new "flange" was not set out far enough for the corner skin to rest in the proper place, in short, the back of the drives door stuck out farther than the corner of the cab,
Oh & they used little headed 3/16 pop rivets to put the new corner skin on,

Anyway, after removing most of the rivets you can see the mess they had going on,


Here the bottom of the B-pillar is sperated from the thresh hold, & flange,


Then the B-pillar was pulled back & in, & welded in place,


Here is the end result after shiming the corner skin out with some 1/8" aluminum flat bar between the skin & the flange,


This is replacing the rivets on the back side of the cab corner,


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Next up was the doors,
The drivers door is pretty much junk, I knew that when I bought the truck so I put the feelers out for another door shortly after getting the truck home,
Fortunately my dad drug one home for me that is in pretty decent shap,

Here is what they look like inside,


Like most vehicles of this era this Peterbilt used the flat bar type door latch, not only do they kind of suck, they are also pretty pricey for replacements if you can find them.

So it was time to upgrade to a "bear claw" style latch.
Here is the factory latch,



I had to do a fair amount of cutting, notching, & drilling, to get the new latches to fit, but they look like they should work,

This little hole is where the new latches needed to go, that piece taking up realestate in that area is the external door latch, so I had to work around that.


After figuring where I wanted the latches I marked & drilled the mounting holes.


Then marked & drilled holes for the striker bolt to pass through.


Then cut, grind, file,


And repeat until everything fit.





The second door was easy once the first was done. Linkage should be pretty simple, & an adjustable strinker bolt in the B-pillar should pretty much finish up that part, but I'm out of time this week,

I'm hoping to have the aluminum work on the cab done by mid month, a freind is going to help with the body work & he's planning on getting started about that time.

RICKY352PETES
Posted 2 Years Ago
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Skipped link that buggy is pretty cool. But did you buy the 71 359 to? That truck is cleen.

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RICKY352PETES (13/07/2012)
Skipped link that buggy is pretty cool. But did you buy the 71 359 to? That truck is cleen.


No, The 359 is still sitting where it has for the last 15 years or so, I'm not even 100% sure I can reach the owner, I have a number that is supposed to be his, but I never tried contacting him,



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