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Pickup truck with Valley roots undergoes full rebuild and restoration

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Back in 2017, we reported on a 1947 Studebaker M5 pickup truck that had been purchased by Clayton Gessner from Lloydminster, Alta., who found it on a farm in Nipawin, Sask.. That vehicle that he picked up along with a truckload of other materials had a curious inscription that indicated it came from Swan River. With a little research, he was able to determine that it was likely purchased in Swan River more than 25 
years ago.
Since Gessner purchased it, he has been diligently working to fix it up to a state that honours the original design, but add some modern conveniences. “This truck was very challenging due to the condition it was in,” said Gessner. “I started with the 1947 pickup and an extra cab. Parts for these trucks are very  limited, so you have to make your own for the most part. 
“This was the only truck that I know of that the front and back fenders are the same. I bought fibreglass replicas from the USA, but they are poor quality so I had to reinforce with additional fibreglass.” The rear fenders had to be widened four inches to accommodate the 50s series rear tires. The running boards also
had to be fibreglass replicas. Gessner also had to put in an all new floor and cab corners, new box bottom, make a grill out of the two that he had and rebuild the tail gate completely. “Fortunately, you can
get new body rubber for this ‘47 truck, so that and all new glass was installed,” he said. “I spent many hours fixing antique door hardware and working on fitment.” The chassis of the truck is now a 2002 Dodge Dakota Super Crew V8 Sport that was shortened and modified for improved handling. The drivetrain is a 2012 Dodge Ram 1500 Laramie with a 5.7 L Hemi, six-speed automatic that has about
60,000 km on it. The differential is the large posi-track with 3:55 gearing that comes in the Dakota V8 Super Crew.
“The ‘47 Studebaker has all the options the 2012 (Dodge Ram) had: remote start, backup camera, navigation, Bluetooth, air, cruise, tilt,” said Gessner. “The challenges of getting the computerized features
all working was a real head-scratcher as the Dakota had a different speed sensor and the 2012 had four-wheel speed sensors and no air bags.
“I was a mechanic in my younger years then took Mechanical Engineering Technology later in life and I owe a huge thank you to my knowledgeable friends for teaching me body work, electronic wizardry,
interior design and more.” In addition, the interior of the Studebaker was sound proofed and had custom panels made from puck board and stitched with an industrial sewing machine. 
The seats ended up coming from a recovered 2010 Ford Escape, the console from a 2008 Chrysler 300 and the sun visors from a 2015 Cadillac. “I have friends that own salvage yards and they let me measure up and acquire parts to help with projects,” said Gessner. “The wood planks for the box rails are black walnut, which can only be bought as rough lumber, so you have to true it up and plane it before  assembly.”
Additional all the lights are LED, the grill had to be brazed and ground as it was powder coated and wouldn’t work with body filler, and the running boards and inside of the box are box lined.
“Installing the hood louvers was like welding tin foil and it all had to be reinforced,” Gessner added.
The truck is primed and painted with Endura, and the under carriage is under coated. The colour is medium silver gun metal metallic. “The original truck was only designed to go 50 mph downhill,” said
Gessner. “This unit will now easily do 120 mph, at least I think so. “It drives very well and has very low road noise. I know I’ve had parts of this truck together, apart and back together again at least 10 times. I’m happy with the result and it’s my daily summer driver.” Since he’s got the truck back on the road, it has been to Tobin Lake, Sask., Estevan, Sask., and been up through Banff, Alta. and up the golden highway through to Jasper. Alta., and back to Lloydminster. “I’ve put about 8,000 km on it and had a few
things to solve, but running very well so far,” said Gessner. I’ve never seen one driving down the road in any condition. 
“This is my hobby and with all the work required, I only do the rare ones and I think I got it right this time.” Gessner’s first project was a 1949 International KB1 on an S10 chassis, 425 hp Vortec, and a 700R4 automatic overdrive.
“My new project is to build perhaps the world’s first 1937 Hudson Terraplane Super Crew, short box pickup out of a 2018 Dodge 1500 Rebel with all the options, including air adjust suspension,” said Gessner. “I acquired the 1939 from Alaska and a four-door sedan from Turtle Lake, Sask..”

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Jeremy Bergen
REPORTER
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