BUILD­ING BLOCKS

Tips for Tak­ing the Mad­ness out of Your Truck Build

Street Trucks - - CONTENTS - IN­TER­VIEW BY MIKE SELF PHO­TOS BY KEVIN AGUILAR & SQUAREBODY SPE­CIAL­ISTS

Tips for Tak­ing the Mad­ness out of Your Truck Build

ONE OF THE MOST DAUNT­ING THINGS ABOUT BUILD­ING A TRUCK IS THE SHEER NUM­BER OF PARTS THAT CAN AC­CU­MU­LATE DUR­ING THE PROJECT. Tear­ing things apart can seem easy enough, but then all of a sud­den you don’t have a truck so much as you do a garage full of con­fu­sion, and pos­si­bly re­gret. Don’t fear! We’ve brought help in the form of Eric Miller. Eric is the main dude be­hind Squarebody Spe­cial­ists, but he’s had his hand in all types of clas­sic trucks, and newer trucks for that mat­ter. Squarebody Spe­cial­ists has been build­ing trucks for many years and has it down to a science, so we knew Eric would be the per­fect per­son to talk to about what we, the av­er­age garage builder, can do to make our lives eas­ier. Af­ter spend­ing some qual­ity time with Eric, we learned some use­ful nuggets of in­for­ma­tion, and we hope you will too.

Hey, Eric, thanks for chat­ting with us about cus­tom trucks. With the grow­ing num­ber of restora­tion and af­ter­mar­ket parts avail­able for all gen­er­a­tions of trucks th­ese days, a lot of us are tack­ling builds in our garages. Is there any­thing fun­da­men­tal that the av­er­age truck owner should con­sider when start­ing a project?

When mod­ern ve­hi­cles are as­sem­bled on the line, they are of­ten done in sub­assem­blies. For ex­am­ple, an en­tire dash­board is placed into a car as a com­pleted unit, rather than try­ing to fit ev­ery nut and bolt while it’s in­side the space. Clas­sic trucks are rel­a­tively sim­ple, but can still be thought of in “sys­tems” and not just [a bunch of] nuts and bolts. Core sup­port, con­trol arms/ spin­dles/brakes, HVAC box, rear axle, engine, etc., they’re all sub-as­sem­blies of many smaller parts.

So, work on every­thing in groups? Is that right?

If eat­ing an ele­phant is eas­ier one bite at a time, build­ing a truck is eas­ier one sys­tem or sub-as­sem­bly at a time. Dur­ing dis­as­sem­bly, it’s tempt­ing to break down ev­ery nut and bolt. The trou­ble is, it might be a month or a year (or more) un­til you at­tempt to put all those nuts and bolts back to­gether. And it al­ways takes longer than you think. So tak­ing things off the truck in the largest pos­si­ble chunk is ben­e­fi­cial. Many of the smaller bits and pieces will stay in their rel­a­tive po­si­tion.

When it’s time to work on a project, take one chunk at a time. You’re less likely to for­get how things go back to­gether or lose small pieces. Plus, it feels like a win when you get to check things off as com­pleted.

We see a lot of projects that are com­pletely blown apart and stored in boxes, and they seem to be fine for the most part. Would you con­sider your method truly the best way, or is just the way you hap­pen to work at your shop?

Well, when you blow every­thing apart all at once it’s harder to feel those small vic­to­ries, those mile­stones that keep you mo­ti­vated to carry on. Lots of projects stall when it’s over­whelm­ing, and you don’t see light at the end of the tun­nel.

Touché! Okay, so how should some­one or­ga­nize their project?

Take a ton of pho­tos. There’s no rea­son not to. Cam­eras are re­ally cheap to­day, and chances are you have a pretty good one in your phone. Snap away. Take mul­ti­ple an­gles, and pho­tos you’d never think you’d need. You will need them. Up­load them to a com­puter that has a larger screen, and or­ga­nize them in fold­ers that help you ref­er­ence them when you need to. Don’t just leave them in ran­dom or­der, that won’t help. Ref­er­ence my ear­lier state­ment: It al­ways takes longer than you think. Use good light­ing. Make sure they’re in fo­cus. Get close-ups of every­thing. Take way more pho­tos than you can imag­ine you’d use. All it takes is one or two times on a large project for the dili­gence to all be worth it. If noth­ing else, pho­tos doc­u­ment­ing the process are fun to look at and share when it’s all done.

How do you rec­om­mend some­one set up their work area, or does that re­ally mat­ter?

Keep your parts clean and or­ga­nized. Sim­ple com­mon sense, but we know that isn’t al­ways so com­mon—great in

ABOVE. WHEN YOU’RE DEAL­ING WITH A FULLON PROJECT, OR­GA­NI­ZA­TION IS KEY. KEEP­ING THINGS IN OR­DER WILL STREAM­LINE THE BUILD PROCESS. ERIC REC­OM­MENDS WORK­ING ON THINGS IN CHUNKS, OR SUB-SYS­TEMS, TO KEEP PROGRESS ON TRACK AND MAN­AGE­ABLE.

SQUAREBODY SPE­CIAL­ISTS’ SYSTEMIZED WAY OF BUILD­ING TRUCKS AL­LOWS THE COM­PANY TO STAY ON TOP OF EV­ERY AS­PECT OF CUS­TOMER PROJECTS, SUCH AS THE FUEL SYS­TEM BE­ING WORKED ON HERE.

AS YOU CAN SEE, THIS BAG FULL OF GRILLE AND HEADLIGHT HARD­WARE HAS BEEN AROUND FOR A WHILE, DUE TO A PROJECT TAK­ING A BACK SEAT TO AN­OTHER. HAD IT NOT BEEN LA­BELED FIVE OR SO YEARS AGO, WE LIKELY WOULDN’T KNOW WHAT THE HECK THIS STUFF WAS.

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