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Bob's 1959 Single Cab Pickup — "Otto"
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bobrk
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 2020 11:10 pm    Post subject: Bob's 1959 Single Cab Pickup — "Otto" Reply with quote

In 1993, I got a crazy idea to get a pickup truck, somewhat because I was working on an old house and only had a Miata and imagined that I needed a truck. But I wanted something interesting, and had always thought the VW buses were cool. My friend Al (ach60) and I did some searching around and looked at a couple of trucks. We went to see one that was sitting in front of a house that was a junk yard and they were looking for $1000 for it. My friend, who is from Illinois, noticed that it had virtually no rust, and he said, "Buy it!" They took $800 for it, and somehow we drove it back to my house.

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And I named him "Otto der Pritschenwagen"

I've owned this truck for 27 years and thought it was about time to document my adventures in getting it to run. So, in installments, I'll present the history of this truck and it's initial mechanical restoration, and current work that I'm doing.
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1959 VW Pickup
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 2020 11:15 pm    Post subject: Re: Bob's 1959 Single Cab Pickup — "Otto" Reply with quote

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 2020 11:54 pm    Post subject: Re: Bob's 1959 Single Cab Pickup — "Otto" Reply with quote

Popcorn
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 13, 2020 12:39 pm    Post subject: Re: Bob's 1959 Single Cab Pickup — "Otto" Reply with quote

Otto sounds like an interesting fella.
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 13, 2020 12:52 pm    Post subject: Re: Bob's 1959 Single Cab Pickup — "Otto" Reply with quote

Looks like a great project! Very Happy
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 13, 2020 1:09 pm    Post subject: Re: Bob's 1959 Single Cab Pickup — "Otto" Reply with quote

You didin't drove it during theses 27 years?
You did better than me, I own mine since 23 years... I began the works seriously this year... Embarassed
Cool a pick-up. A good friend owns one. Cool
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 13, 2020 3:34 pm    Post subject: Re: Bob's 1959 Single Cab Pickup — "Otto" Reply with quote

Popcorn Popcorn Popcorn Get on It excited to see the build.
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bobrk
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 13, 2020 5:17 pm    Post subject: Re: Bob's 1959 Single Cab Pickup — "Otto" Reply with quote

The history of Otto

(Apologies for the crappy pictures, but we didn't have digital back then, and also we didn't take pictures of everything, so this post will be more text than pics. And these are all from the webpage I've had up on my site for years, so other than the text, not much is new.)

Otto was built in 1959 in Hannover Germany and imported to the US via Los Angeles, according to a break down of his M-plate.

The truck spent part of its life as a parts runner for a local foreign auto parts and repair shop in Downtown San Jose near San Jose state. It was covered in hand painted lettering covered in rattle can red. Found several ads for the business on the internet. I'll be featuring these in a future post.

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It spent some time back then on jack stands.

Sometime in the 1970's, it was reregistered with the current gold on blue California license plate 25003S.

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I believe we removed some lovely trailer taillights from those holes in back.

At some point, the entire drivetrain had been replaced, changing out the original 36 (40?) HP engine, transmission, axles, and brakes with the same from a one-year 1963 1500 drive train. This changed the rear drums to a larger brake drum, but the same 36mm small nut axle nut.

At some point, possibly also in the 70's, the gas tank was replaced with a homemade steel gas tank that took up every inch of the gas tank area behind the cubby. Calculations indicate that it was probably about 40 gallons, instead of the stock 11 gallons. The original fuel petcock was retained. The main issue with it was that the gas tank had no filler cap and a rag was stuck in the filler pipe. Needless to say, we replaced that gas tank with a Brazilian gas tank.

The single port 1500 (?) engine was unremarkable. Looks like we did replace the oil pressure sender, spark plugs, wires, condenser, rotor, cap, fuel pump, air cleaner, fuel hoses, fuel filter, and thermostat. We also removed and cleaned the carb.

I vaguely remember having to have the transmission rebuilt or fixed in some way, but I don't remember precisely.

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My friend Al did most of the heavy lifting on the project, scaring up parts and pointing at things and telling me to loosen them. It was a lot of fun for two bachelors.
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bobrk
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 13, 2020 5:19 pm    Post subject: Re: Bob's 1959 Single Cab Pickup — "Otto" Reply with quote

ippocamp wrote:
You didin't drove it during theses 27 years?
Very Happy We had it running pretty good by 1994, and I drove it a lot between then and probably about 1999 which was just after I got married. Then kids came and it didn't start, so we put it in the garage until now, where I have a bit more time for it.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 15, 2020 10:37 am    Post subject: Re: Bob's 1959 Single Cab Pickup — "Otto" Reply with quote

(I expect two more posts on history before we get into real life)

Servicing the brakes was interesting. Most of the brakes were fine, but we had some issues removing the drum on the passenger rear wheel. Someone had smashed it on with a hammer, so the drum was distorted and unable to be slipped off the spline. After many efforts of trying to smack it off, the entire assembly of reduction box, axel and drum was removed and taking to a machinist to have the drum drilled off. The machinist drilled straight down the drum parallel to the spline, nicking it slightly but successfully was able to remove the drum. After that, the seals in the reduction boxes were renewed and the brakes rebuilt with new cylinders and rubber hoses. The only anomaly remaining was a lack of a steel adjuster clicker on one side. I believe the thought was that keeping the adjuster unlubricated would be sufficient to keep it from backing off. Unfortunately at some point, the adjuster did back out and render the brakes useless during at least one stopping adventure.

Servicing the front brakes was unremarkable. The brakes did suffer from vibration, though, which we suspect was due to the drums themselves being somewhat worn out.

Noticed a lot of slop in the steering so we replaced the draglink (swing lever?) bushings. The steering box itself was ok, not great.

Lots of other things were fixed, including rewiring part of the electrical harness, replacing the speedometer with something from a newer bus so that the shift points and top speed would reflect the installed drivetrain.

Proper bus wheels were located and replaced the bug wheels that were on it. Unfortunately we sourced Pirelli P3 tires that were bug sized (165-15), and they were never very good for load capacity.

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Al and I took it down to Red Rocks Canyon (over 300 miles!) for a bus camping trip. It was a long journey, but the bus did great except for one point when the fuel filter clogged up.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 15, 2020 10:55 am    Post subject: Re: Bob's 1959 Single Cab Pickup — "Otto" Reply with quote

After that, the bus spent most of its time roaming around town, running errands and just being cool.

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Here's the bus in 1998:

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One of the last errands it ran was to pick up some scaffolding to use for the painting project in the living room of the house we lived in at the time. This was around 2000-2002.

Then I had one kid, moved, and had another!

Here's an old school cellphone shot of putting the car in the garage at the new house in 2005:

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In 2010, I pulled the car out of the garage and took some pics with them...

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My daughter seemed to like the truck a lot!

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Here we are 18 years later and the truck has been in out of garages, just sitting around. Not many preventative measures were taken for storage, so there will probably be some problems related to that.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 15, 2020 11:09 am    Post subject: Re: Bob's 1959 Single Cab Pickup — "Otto" Reply with quote

Ain't it funny how we get a hold of some vehicle and for whatever reason it becomes such a part of "us" that a history builds around/within it that we just cannot let go fo it? Cool
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 15, 2020 11:36 am    Post subject: Re: Bob's 1959 Single Cab Pickup — "Otto" Reply with quote

pyrOman wrote:
Ain't it funny how we get a hold of some vehicle and for whatever reason it becomes such a part of "us" that a history builds around/within it that we just cannot let go fo it? Cool
Indeed. I also feel like a custodian of something special. I've gone through 14 amazing vehicles in the time I've owned this one! All of them were awesome, but this dumpy relic of WWII rebuilding in Germany is the one I'm hanging on to.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 15, 2020 11:54 am    Post subject: Re: Bob's 1959 Single Cab Pickup — "Otto" Reply with quote

(You guys are lucky that it's still a little too cold and wet to go work on my truck, so you get more updates to this topic)

So here we are. I want to get the truck back on the road, and drive it. What are the priorities?

1. Brakes. The brakes were always a pain in the butt. 50s technology, even with the awesome double leading shoe front brakes, but so many other things were wrong. Single circuit master cylinder, missing adjustment clickers on the rear brakes, worn out drums. So even if I got all that fixed, I'd still have 1950's brakes.

2. Tires. Pirelli P3's are not truck tires, and they're also nearly 30 years old! Original 6.40-15's aren't really available in anything modern. So the issue is what size light truck tire will fit a truck that is 1959 in front but 1963 in back?

3. Seat. The seat was splitting when I bought it, and it's only gotten worse. An ill-advised application of duct tape (it fixes everything, right?) made the seat into a sticky mess.

4. Engine. I was having trouble starting it when I put it away. I didn't drain anything, so I'm sure this is going to be a mustie1 level project to get it running again.

5. Body. When I first got the truck, I'd entertained ideas of cherrying out the body, making it into a perfect specimen of the breed. I've since decided that I will celebrate its history by just leaving it the way it is. There's not a lot of rust, so I'm lucky I don't have to do much. I do need to fix all the rubber on the doors.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 15, 2020 12:56 pm    Post subject: Re: Bob's 1959 Single Cab Pickup — "Otto" Reply with quote

Check out the "Split Bus FAQ and How Tos - *Read before posting always first*" up at the top of the forum. That way you get the full story, of what has been found and written about already.

If no luck there then do try the search feature. Huge help to check mark the "Titles Only" box so that the results that come back are focused on just what you are looking for, instead of just anytime those words are mentioned in threads. If you do not get any results, then uncheck that box and see what pops up.

Definitely recommend getting the seat upholstery (a lot of folks call them seat covers, but they are not that) that only a few years ago started to be produced in small batches as a cottage industry. The material being almost exact to the factory and a heck of a lot more durable than the materials used by the large manufactures of seat upholstery for VW and many other makes of automobiles. Plus the large manufactures often use materials that do not even look close to the originals.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 15, 2020 1:16 pm    Post subject: Re: Bob's 1959 Single Cab Pickup — "Otto" Reply with quote

Eric&Barb wrote:
Check out the "Split Bus FAQ and How Tos - *Read before posting always first*" up at the top of the forum. That way you get the full story, of what has been found and written about already.

If no luck there then do try the search feature. Huge help to check mark the "Titles Only" box so that the results that come back are focused on just what you are looking for, instead of just anytime those words are mentioned in threads. If you do not get any results, then uncheck that box and see what pops up.

Definitely recommend getting the seat upholstery (a lot of folks call them seat covers, but they are not that) that only a few years ago started to be produced in small batches as a cottage industry. The material being almost exact to the factory and a heck of a lot more durable than the materials used by the large manufactures of seat upholstery for VW and many other makes of automobiles. Plus the large manufactures often use materials that do not even look close to the originals.

Thank you!

Indeed, I've been on the site for many years, mostly in lurker mode, and looking through the forums have been invaluable for me to make the decisions I've made that you will see in upcoming posts. My exercise currently is documenting how I've gotten here, not asking questions yet. Wink

I'm not really a mechanic except under a shade tree (literally because my garage is unsuitable) but I'm not afraid to work on things and get dirty.

I'm also deeply indebted to an old friend of mine, Al (ach60), who taught me a lot about both being a mechanic, and about these beasts during the first incarnation of working on this truck.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 15, 2020 1:44 pm    Post subject: Re: Bob's 1959 Single Cab Pickup — "Otto" Reply with quote

Glad to help! Have met online many a long time lurker that had not found out about those yet...

Suggest you look into dual master cylinder and DOT 5 brake fluid. Since you need a full rebuild of the brake system anyway.

As for bigger brakes it all depends if you want to do a lot of highway driving or not. If you do you might want to gear the transaxle up for the higher speeds so the engine is not running screaming high RPMs which do reduce engine longevity.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 15, 2020 2:56 pm    Post subject: Re: Bob's 1959 Single Cab Pickup — "Otto" Reply with quote

Eric&Barb wrote:
Glad to help! Have met online many a long time lurker that had not found out about those yet...

Suggest you look into dual master cylinder and DOT 5 brake fluid. Since you need a full rebuild of the brake system anyway.

As for bigger brakes it all depends if you want to do a lot of highway driving or not. If you do you might want to gear the transaxle up for the higher speeds so the engine is not running screaming high RPMs which do reduce engine longevity.
You will enjoy my brake post which will probably be next, unless I decide to go on about tires first.

And I’ve already made a financial commitment on the upholstery front as well.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 16, 2020 3:19 pm    Post subject: Re: Bob's 1959 Single Cab Pickup — "Otto" Reply with quote

Otto seems like a truck I need to have a beer with. What a good read and congrats.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 16, 2020 7:32 pm    Post subject: Re: Bob's 1959 Single Cab Pickup — "Otto" Reply with quote

1970PAKombi wrote:
Otto seems like a truck I need to have a beer with. What a good read and congrats.
Cheers! 🍻
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