The auto stage was the third and final step in bringing Flatbed Felix, our 1927 Chevrolet Flatbed project truck, back to his former glory. Being a replica of one of our delivery trucks from the 1930s we wanted to ensure that Felix not only looked the part but was also reliable — as many cars from this period can be quite testy!
Our Master Builder, Sean Hegarty from OG Customs
set to work in salvaging what he could and making improvements throughout the truck to get it roadworthy, whilst still maintaining its 1920s charm.
We had to overhaul the entire ignition set up on Felix. The truck wasn’t running so that required the changing of the coil, condenser, points, the rotor button, the distributor cap as well as the ignition leads. We also had to replace the wiring harness as well as the generator, upgrading it from a 6v to a 12v. Doing this allowed us to keep the nostalgic look of the engine and make some other improvements — which you’ll find out about later on in this article!
The dashboard only had two gauges, one for speed and one for oil pressure, unlike cars of today. As they were still in great condition all we needed to do was give them a good clean.
We also installed headlight switches, and to make Felix roadworthy, we added signal indicator lights — as the original truck didn’t have them in the first place.
Sean commented “The biggest surprise with Felix was that the original engine still showed good compression when we tested it. They built things to last back then. For an engine that’s over 90 years old, you would expect it to be blowing a lot of smoke, but it was actually a pretty good base point to start from.”
Over the years, oil, dirt and grime had built up inside the motor resulting in the bottom sump being covered in sludge, so we needed to clean all of that out. We replaced the engine oils and all other fluids, and replaced the front timing cover gasket as it was leaking oil — this was made in the OG Customs workshop. The linkage in the gearbox had to also be repaired as it wouldn’t shift into 3rd gear.
The Fuel Side of Things
The original fuel tank had to be changed as it had far too many holes in it. We replaced it with a fuel cell and were able to place it in the same spot where the original fuel tank was, under the driver’s seat.
The original truck didn’t have a fuel gauge so we added one. Originally, the only way to find out how much fuel was left would be to dip a stick in the fuel tank and based on the height of the mark on the stick when you pulled it out, you could guess how many KMs you had left!
The original fuel pump ran off a vacuum system which was unreliable and difficult to find parts for, so we swapped it out and replaced it with a 12v electric fuel pump. Upgrading the generator we mentioned earlier paid off!
The original carburetor was an updraft style and it didn’t have an accelerator pump. This made the engine unreliable, so to ensure better and more consistent performance we swapped it out and used a carburetor off a 179 Holden Red Motor. To enable us to fit this new downdraft carby, we had to turn the original manifold upside down and cut it to suit.
Other Parts of Felix
● Brake drum: As Felix’s previous owner had already started some restoration work on him, when it came to the brake drum all we had to do was sandblast it and clean it up.
● Tyres: We replaced the tyres with Goodrich Silvertown tyres — period tyres that were correct to the year of the truck.
● Oil bath: We added an oil bath from a 40s model Chevy, to ensure the motor would be more reliable. We had to cut it in half to make it fit under the bonnet, welding the pieces back together once positioned correctly. We also added a standard paper air filter. Although we didn’t use the original carburetor and added in some extra elements, we aimed to make it look like it was a modification done to upgrade the truck not long after it was purchased in the 1920s.
● Steering wheel: Felix still had his original wooden steering wheel which we kept. To help refine his look a bit more, we decided to wrap it in leather, hand-stitching it on.
● Driver’s seat: We used ox blood red vinyl for the upholstery to give it a nice contrast against the cream cab.
Once Felix was ready we sent him off to our painter, celebrated modern-day pinstriper Kyle Smith of Smith Concepts.
All black elements on Felix were painted in a jet black base coat and finished with a PPG deltron clear coat. We went with the gloss coating to refine Felix’s look so he presented as more of a show car.
For all the cream coloured sections on the rear of the tray, we used a sealer to seal up the wood, and then painted the pieces to match the cream colour of the cab.
From there, Kyle recreated the lettering that was on the original delivery truck, using a chalk pounce, which was a traditional way of sign writing back in the 1920s. With dark maroon paint, he free-hand brushed on the lettering, trying to match the layout that was on the original delivery truck. Why did we go with the colour maroon? It was a common colour used in that time period, and it contrasted nicely with the black and cream colours on the truck.
Kyle added extra body line pinstripes and accent lines around the windows, on the wheels, as well as truck scrolling, all of which was brushed on free hand.
The auto stage of Flatbed Felix took around two weeks to complete.
Soon we’ll be doing the big reveal of what Flatbed Felix looks like now, so be sure to give us a follow on Instagram
to know when we publish our next article!
The Hare & Forbes MachineryHouse tools used in the auto stage of Flatbed Felix restoration project
APW-140 - Auto Parts Washer
ARMAS5000R - Professional Vehicle Axle Stands
ARMM901QL - Professional Quick Lift Hydraulic Trolley Jack - Steel
HC-1T - Hydraulic Engine Crane
General machinery tools