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Dirt school, old school, new school take on Truck Norris
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Grandpa, son and grandson tackle truck restoration project
By Leigh Ann Rutledge
Three men + Chevy pick up = Truck Norris.
Three generations of Stackhouse men are rebuilding a 1987 Chevy square body 4×4 straight cab truck to its original glory, and then some. It will be dubbed “Truck Norris.” Chatting with the trio, you realize instantly automobiles are more than a means of transportation or a way to earn a paycheck. Cars and trucks are a passion they share.
Mason, 18, is the son of Randy, Jr. and Kelly, and the grandson of Randy, Sr. and Liz, all of Carrollton. Randy, Jr. is the body man. Randy, Sr. is the mechanic. Mason is enrolled in the Auto Collision class at Buckeye Career Center (BCC) in New Philadelphia.
Randy, Jr. attended Buckeye Joint Vocational School (as it was known then) in the Auto Body class. His instructors were Lynn Anderson and Jim Galligher. Why didn’t he choose the mechanical route? “Auto body clicked with me,” he stated. “I don’t have the patience for the mechanical side.”
Randy, Jr. has worked for Deluxe Auto for 18 years and worked on vehicles in his garage. Mason hung out with his dad and began helping him. During his sophomore year of school, Mason started thinking what trade he wanted to study and decided to followed in his dad’s footsteps.
Randy took possession of the truck in 2005 and drove it for 10 years. Mason decided he wanted to “fix it up” around three years ago. The three talked and decided on a total frame-off restoration.
Mason began stripping the fenders down to the metal and sandblasting the frame. Every piece was taken apart and redone. The frame was painted black, along with the cab and doors.
Randy, Sr. built the engine, transmission and rear-end. “Everything is brand new,” he explained, “every nut and bolt.” He wanted a new motor to go with the new brakes, gears, gas tank, etc. Randy, Sr. said the engine is nothing major, but chuckles adding, “It’s healthy. My job is to make it run. Theirs is to make it pretty.”
All three admit Truck Norris has been a major project and they thank all the friends and neighbors who helped with lifting while they have been putting the truck back together.
At BCC, Mason is learning newer technology, but also learning how to work on classic cars from instructor Jeff Newsome. One of the biggest differences between new models and older ones is the weight due to some vehicles have aluminum. In the past, each part of the vehicle was built and then assembled. Now the parts are built on the car.
“Body work is a lost art and fading. The trades are struggling,” noted Randy, Jr. “It’s cool to pass it on.”
The engine had been bolted on the frame and they are getting the front end ready and putting the wiring harness in. When they fire the engine the first time, Randy, Sr. will be there to adjust the carburetor, valves, etc.
Mason is learning all aspects of restoring a vehicle. He’s learned how the seats are reupholstered, to changing brakes and fuel lines, electrical, everything from the ground up.
“Mason polished the original wheels. He worked eight to 10 hours on them,” Randy, Jr. said. “I like his determination. The truck was really rusted up.”
Randy, Jr. enjoys going to swap meets with Mason, hanging out and looking for parts. They took a road trip to Pennsylvania to look at a bed for the truck.
When the truck is completed, they will move it outside to put the wheels and tires on. The goal is to have it on the road before his senior year.
After Mason graduates, he plans to go into the workforce in the auto body field. He works at Guess Ford washing cars two days a week in the same bay his grandfather worked in.
While Mason is working on the truck, Randy, Jr. has been working part-time on his dad’s 1969 Camaro. He has the “hand-me down” ready to paint. Randy, Sr. recently found a 1966 Mustang with a six-cylinder, just like the one Liz drove in high school that he will tackle.
The interest in vehicles and motors goes back another generation in the Stackhouse family. Randy’s dad, Robert, was a mechanic and taught Randy, Sr. how to “wrench”. Randy, Sr.’s first job was in the Carrollton Schools bus garage. Speaking of buses, the first “ride” Randy rebuilt was a 1956 school bus they used to haul horses.
“I drove it to school and parked it out front,” he said. “I cruised town in it.”
Mason laughs, adding, “I told Grandpa I ‘m going to take the truck mudding when it’s done.”
“I am keeping some rights to the truck, too,” added Randy, Jr.
“Dirt School, Old School, New School” is how Randy, Sr. describes the three of them. He admits today’s technology takes the fun out of working on cars, using a lap top to fix the problem instead of wrench.
All three admit it has been fun working together and it has been a joint effort, but they want to finish the truck and Camaro so they can enjoy them. Randy, Sr. wants to cruise with Mason in his 1971 El Camino.
Mason jokes he’d out run his grandpa. “I can take you. Remember I built the engine,” Randy, Sr. said, while laughing. “I know what it has.”
The Stackhouse men plan to take all three vehicles to car shows and spend time cruising on local highways.
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