Building Tonkas 70th Anniversary Truck

47 TONKA TRUCK

P  R  E  S  S     R  E  L  E  A  S  E

 

Date:          March 1, 2017

Subject:     Tonka Truck Build

 

It all started with an e-mail from Kevin Bloomfield from Funrise Toys back in May of 2014, it outlined a 70th Anniversary truck they wanted to build along with a rendering of what they had in mind.  After a couple of conversations with Kevin it became apparent he was looking for a shop with some vision.  As we talked about the scope of the project we came up with some ideas that at the time seemed a little wild, floating almost-full-wrap rear fenders, diesel powered, stuff like that.

The truck arrived at the shop and was in surprisingly poor condition.  It came with a huge winch and tower for pulling wells out of the ground, would not run, and was pretty much Ag-mechanic-ed together for years.  It had an old crusty flat bed and the cab was tweaked from something falling on it at some point in its hard life.  So, with the truck in hand and a plan for its construction we got underway. Funrise went to work rounding up partners for the build starting with Cummins for the power train, TCI for a custom one off chassis, and Fleming Metals for all the flat bed needs. 

Once parts started arriving we got started.  We sat the cab on the chassis, then we discovered exactly how physically big a Cummins 6.7 diesel engine really is.  At this point we cut the complete firewall and floor out of the cab just so we could get it all on the same chassis. 

We built a new custom sheet metal firewall with a giant notch in it so the engine to encroach into the cab about 16”. We then built the floor around the engine and transmission and built a custom center console to cover it all. Extensive body and metal work on the cab took forever, straightening the cab so the doors would close involved a lot of stretching and shrinking and then more stretching.  Once the cab was back in shape we built and welded the Fleming flat together.  Fleming also built us two custom boxes, one to go under the bed and one to go at the front of the bed to hold the batteries and electronic systems.

Since we knew the truck was going to be on display for the 70th anniversery of Tonka we installed internal battery charging capability, along with having the option to run the electrical systems on house power or internal truck power. 

Once everything was first assembled, the first of the problems reared its head. That Cummings engine weighs about 1300 lb. and created some suspension and brake problems for the front end.  Then we realized the Ford 9” that came with the chassis wasn’t going to last very long behind that Cummins power train either, so a complete suspension and brake rework was in order.  Now the truck sports a ¾-ton Chevy front suspension and brakes, and 1 ton Chevy rear end on coil-overs all the way around.  To keep the firewall clear of obstacles we put in a transverse pedal system, and mounted the booster, master cylinder, and hydraulic clutch all under the dash.

 

Once the suspension issues where worked out, the cab and sheet metal painted,  and the engine, transmission and rear end where coupled up we loaded the whole thing up and shipped to Columbus, Indiana where Cummins turned it into a runner.  At this point I can’t even explain how incredible the Cummins guys where through this entire
project.  From checking in to make sure we were on task, to sending techs to our shop to assist with the assembly of the Cummins power package.  Then what would a diesel truck be without chrome stacks?  We took 4” stainless and made the stacks then added a 6” stainless heat shield to make it even beefier.

After we got the truck back from Cummins in late July 2016, came the push to have it completed and at the SEMA show as promised.  This is about where LMC Trucks got involved and basically sent us everything in their catalog that pertains to a 1947 Chevy Truck.  These guys where great getting us an unbelievable catalog of parts that all fit and worked well from the LED headlights to the tail lights.

Building the rear floating fenders wasn’t as hard as you’d think.  Once I found someone to make the actual fenders, mounting them was fairly easy.  The rear fenders almost completely wrap the white wall tires to within a couple of inches from the ground on the front and rear.  Then the entire thing stays indexed to the tire and moves up into the bed area along with the suspension; a cool look and still functional. 

The final assembly was brutal, installing air conditioning, tons of sound deadening and heat protection, painting all the components and putting them together. 

Here’s where another problem developed.  Because of the front and rear-end we put in the truck, there was nobody, and I mean nobody, that made a wheel that would fit what we had.  But, we finally found someone to make us custom billet artillery wheels and the clock on these was so tight that the maker came to the SEMA show on the day it opened with the hub caps and installed them there.

Roadwire provided the leather for the custom Ron Mangus interior, Ron and his team built this complete interior (including leather floors) in just over a week finishing days before the SEMA Show.

All-in-all, the experience of building our first SEMA truck along with the relationship we have developed with Funrise, Cummins, and all the partners that worked with us on this project has been great.  Those of you that know me know I don’t like deadlines.  Will we build another SEMA truck?  Probably not, but we do look forward to building more trucks and cars and what have you for our many friends.

In wrapping this up, we did not build a 1947 Chevy truck for Tonka, we built a TONKA TRUCK, 6.7 liter Cummins Diesel Powered, one off custom, the best of everything.  I hope you get a chance to see it in person somewhere on its 2017 tour, the two-tone paint and the minimal use of chrome really makes this a show stopper.