How we made this decrepit Chevrolet 3600 pickup throw fireworks

The 1950 Chevrolet 3600 pickup set to donate its heart to the Redline Rebuild garage put up a fight simply to leave the spot where it was slowly returning to the earth. So you might be surprised to hear that Davin immediately wants to see if the straight-six will run, with minimal time investment. It’s in the shop—so why not, right?

“This series of engine is known to be durable as all heck,” says Davin. “It looked pretty complete and nothing I saw on first glance said it shouldn’t run. Seemed like a fun thing to try.”

Luckily, he takes us along for the adventure of getting the long-decaying engine turning again. After creating some space by removing the radiator and hood, Davin pops the hood off. With a fresh six-volt battery in the battery box, a push of the start button actually brings motion.

Fresh plugs replace the tractor plugs in the cylinder head, and, while the plugs are out, the cylinders get a quick shot of PB Blaster to break up any accumulated rust. Of course, to find out whether the electrical system is healthy enough to throw a hot spark, Davin connects the coil while cranking the engine. Unfortunately, the first time he connects the power to the coil, he uses his right arm as a conductor. Ouch.

“I don’t know what’s worse about shocking myself then—that I did it, or that I know it’ll happen again at some point in the future. I even know better!” declares Davin when I ask him about the zap.

With a smooth rumble the trusty engine thrums to life, if only because of the raw gas Davin’s pouring down the carb throat like a sad automotive version of foie gras. The Chevy rejects just enough with a backfire that it spits a flame right over the roof. Let’s just say the straight-six was celebrating its new life with some fireworks.

Once the engine fires off and avoids burning down, it’s off to the races to get the 216 pulled from the truck. A few bolts required the heat of a torch, something to be expected with any truck that has been used as a workhorse at some point in its life.

A quick cleanup in the parking lot shows an engine with some real potential. Will it be as nice inside as out? We’ll find out on the next Redline Update, because Davin will be breaking out the wrenches to prep this engine for the machine shop.

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