Have you ever started something with the greatest intention of finishing it quickly, but when you actually dive in head-first the project ends up overwhelming you and all you can do is stare at it? I can’t pinpoint why all my projects seem to get harder as I go but if I were to guess, I would say that paying more attention to detail and craftsmanship might have something to do with it. Most of the time the small details take the longest to perform, and for that matter, will anyone ever see them? We like to hope so.
The above holds true for Ray Tapley and his ’55 first-series Chevy pickup. Ray is a fabricator by trade and has been in the business for 40-plus years. Ray had been spending his extra time repairing his ’31 two-door sedan and somewhere in the mix a ’75 Chevelle as well. Then on top of ’em his Mother and Father surprised him with a Christmas gift, a ’55 Chevy Truck. J.R. Tapley, Ray’s father, bails hay for a living and one day he spotted a truck in a barn close to where he was working. When J.R. got home late that night he mentioned to Mary Lou (Ray’s Mother) that he wanted to see if he could purchase the truck to surprise Ray for Christmas. A deal was struck and all had a happy Christmas.
Once he got a hold of his new project, first thing Ray did was strip the cab from the chassis and had it media blasted. The frame was then stripped and primed so it wouldn’t rust. A Total Cost Involved stainless steel frontend was then installed to replace the old straight-axle and the rear suspension was upgraded using a ’64 Nova 10-bolt rear axle and Total Cost Involved parallel four-bar/coilover setup. At that point Ray lost interest in the project and took a breather from it for several years. Like I stated earlier the truck was not his only project, plus being a fabricator he couldn’t simply let the truck back on the road without completing his skilled craftsmanship on the vehicle. When Ray regained interest in the truck again, he decided to fabricate a new dash using sheetmetal and his trusty TIG welder. Ray fabricated a rear bumper butt-ended up not liking it so he cut it out and re-made it three times before he was satisfied with the result. By that time the cab had rusted again and was in need of media blasting for the second time, but as Ray would put it, he lost interest because his ’31 was running and on the road. Ray attended a few cars shows with the ’31 until one day someone made him an offer that he could not refuse, so he sold the Model A and moved back onto the truck project. At this point the truck had been sitting for a few more months and it rusted yet again, oops. Back to the media blaster it went and straight to the body shop to get a coat of primer. The only hard part Ray had to do now was pick the color of the truck. Luckily, he had one of his grandsons Jaden Thomas help him with the paint choice, Corvette Atomic Orange. The truck was then completed and on the road for the whole family to enjoy. CT