UPDATE! | Dermie Close’s 1955 Chevy COE 7500 series known as Project Sledster

Here is the latest vision and challenge for the Dermie Close

Dermie found two of these trucks as donor trucks. The first is a bit of a rust bucket out of Missouri, the second he found in Phoenix after he sold hid 48 Chevy at Barrett Jackson. We featured that one on the cover of Street Trucks. He just couldn’t of found a better truck, no rust!
That’s a 5 1/2″ chop so far. If. You look at the model it looks like the earlier body style, split window but the body lines lean more towards the 55 COE.
Dermie stretched the running boards so he can stretch the doors, which he has to build almost from scratch.


“I had to have help from a friend of mine to get in and out of that truck, the seats a little rickety but it felt decent”
Dermie found this picture of a seat on Pinterest and saved it. “So I’m getting ready to start building it and I’ll take pictures step by step as I go”

“That’s the home-built Heaven winner award jacket that Good Guys gave me when I won it on my green 48”

“Here I’m working on a piece of stainless for the back of the base of the seat. My buddy Cedric shoots these pictures for me while I’m working”
When he finishes the back section he will move to the other seat so they are even. “I don’t want to finish one then it feels like in starting all over on the second one.”
Dermie has started doing the final riveting on the first seat
This is where the seatbelts will travel through brass rivets to hold the pieces together
Bolting the sheetmetal to the back temporarily next I’ll rivet them in with brass rivets

Dermie riveted the back on the second seat the dimple died all those holes you see in the first one.
Here he is welding in the stainless steel quarter inch rods for the mesh bottom





Dermie built a Fitech throttle body to mock up
Dermie bought these retro LS to small block Chevrolet valve covers from Holly, they were a lot more affordable, but he felt that they were still pretty visible so he cut out half inch all the way around to drop the valve cover down even lower. He had to weld up the inside to add some more bulk, now they’re a lot less visible and with a few more little tricks they’ll be hardly noticeable

Engine and transmission are mocked up in the frame now I’m going to attack the firewall next



Test fitting the engine, after that the front end comes off and he will start building a new firewall and new floor .

Okay back to work on the cab, I decided I can drop the floor at least 2 in. which would give me a lot more headroom inside, I figured it’d be smarter to do the floor first build a good foundation and then the firewall would be a lot easier to do
I used the laser level and cut off about 3-inches off of four of the body mounts on the temporary frame. Then I weld in a flat plate on each.
I made up these 14 gauge hat channels that I can use as the cross members under the floor, here I’m welding up attachment flange at each end

Ok ,got the floor ready to cut out. Here’s the first piece, it’s heavy and ugly.


Most of the floor is gone now,  you can see the new hat channel, cross-member in place,next I’ll install another cross-member just over the transmission area. I was able to move the floor down 2 1/2″, that should make it a lot easier to get in and out of the cab
Got the second floor cross-member in

This is a rough rendering done by a young guy that works for me part time his name is Daniel Lopez, we need to tweak a few more things the top of the windshield is a little too flat but it’s looking pretty good, color.
This picture gives you an idea of the 2 1/2 floor drop.
Because I dropped the floor I had to add to the inner fender walls, I’ll probably bead roll that pattern that I’ve drawn on it. It gives it a much better look
Years ago somebody asked me if I had enough vice grips when they looked in my tool drawer, the answer was yes and this is not even half of them
Much Better!

This afternoon I trimmed the edge of that inner fender so it was a level with the floor then welded the flange on the edge all the way around the level with the rest of the floor, next is the driver’s inner fender.
Installed one more beaded rolled panel on the left inner wheel tub, one more to go.
This Wishbone shaped plate of steel going around the engine is made of 1/4 inch steel, we plasma cut this piece on a CNC machine, it’ll be drilled and tapped every inch and a half to bolt the engine cover to underneath the floor.
Here I’m tapping the 30 1/4″ holes I’ve drilled in this whishbone shaped backing plate for the doghouse.
Okay got the wishbone welded into the floor.
This is the driver’s side sheet metal for the floor, got a very good fit, need to figure out where the seat will go and the center console before I do a bead design on the floor.
Now I got to get my big butt in that seat figure out what kind of elevation I need to build for the pedestals underneath the seat, I’m going to need help, I’ll call my buddy
I’m working on mounting the seat guides, and the standoffs to the frame of the seat, this is extremely tedious work getting all four of these corners right
Well 150 plug welds three body mounts and 36in of edge welding list of the floors in, I need an ibuprofen for my back??

Ok I did it, old firewall is gone.
Here I’m roughing out the new replacement firewall piece I’m slowly cutting small chunks off at a time and putting it back on multiple times, don’t want to make any mistakes.
It actually lays a little flatter after I bead rolled it, amazing, these are much deeper bead rolls looks really good for the firewall
Now that the firewall is all welded up, which turned out very nice very strong, it’s time to start the doghouse the engine cover, I’m going to be making some heavy bolt plates it’ll be welded to the inside of the firewall which I’ll show you later
Okay the firewall is completely welded up in finished, I had to rework those inside radius around the air cleaner the margins weren’t consistent but it turned out really nice
Yesterday I built the flange, which is removable all the way around that doghouse area if you look closely, now I can start doing the sheet metal work to cover up that engine
Here’s the start of the engine cover these pieces are just tacked in so far.

Last piece is all tack welded in, now finish welding all the seams up and grinding them smooth


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