Work Truck Rebuild

Yes, it’s true. We live in a throwaway society. Even when it comes to work vehicles, it is simply too easy to buy new than take the time to mend or rebuild.

But this month’s Truck Of The Month isn’t the latest model with the highest-technology under the hood. It’s, in fact, a renovation of a 1986 Chevy Scottsdale.

The owner, Chris Morgan of Chris Morgan Plumbing (Penn Valley, Calif.), is a one-man shop who does most of his work within a 45-minute drive. He acquired the 3/4-ton truck in 1998 - when it wouldn’t pass emissions tests, leaked oil all over the place, and was sporting a smashed-in truck bed.

However, it did come with a pipe rack, and Morgan figured, with its size, he could haul a lot of plumbing stuff with it - cast-iron bathtubs, pipe-threading machines, etc. So in 2000, after weighing the difference between buying new or restoring the truck he had, Morgan took the old beater and turned it into a fine-running work truck.

“With the help of my brother-in-law Gary Norman, I installed a new 350 Chevy motor, replaced the transmission, radiator, a/c compressor and shocks,” Morgan rattles off. “New seats, paint, new utility bed with additional pipe rack, and new rims and tires.”

He admits the main reason he decided to restore rather than buy new is that the ’86 Scottsdale was about $30,000 cheaper than a new one he had his sights on. But he took a practical approach. “Nowadays it’s pretty tough to work on your own car or truck with all the computer stuff,” he says. “I can replace mostly anything on my truck myself.”

He already has replaced the starter in front of a customer’s home. (He spent $50 in parts, took him 20 minutes to replace, and he was down the road off to the next job.) “If I had a newer truck, my day would have been over.”

As for professional appearance, Morgan knows that while driving through Penn Valley (a small town of about 12,000 people), people recognize “Old Blue.”

“I do get compliments every once in a while; that makes my day,” he says. “I think people see that I take care of what I have, and they relate it to the kind of work that I do.”

Morgan has customized his truck to fit his personal work needs, and he’s saved some money early on in his business. “I guess I just took a junker and turned it into a money maker.”

His rebuilding process definitely didn’t happen over night; it took some patience and thought. But he does trust this truck.

“It’s never left me stuck on the side of the road. And I know it from the inside out. Maybe that’s why I love to re-plumb old homes, kind of the same theory - why buy new when you can rebuild?”

Show Us What You're Driving!

Think you have a vehicle worthy of PM's Truck Of The Month? Let us hear about it! Send us photos of your service fleet electronically by e-mailing Katie Rotella (, or mail us your prints to:
PM - Truck Of The Month
1050 IL route 83, suite 200
Bensenville, IL 60106
PM's Truck Of The Month is sponsored by General Pipe Cleaners.