Gizmoness – James Crosby’s 1956 Peterbilt Conventional, or What’s Left of It

May 13th, 2010

When some people look at this incredible hot rod truck, they see nothing but polished and painted perfection. James Crosby looks at his truck and sees sleep deprivation and a smattering of the Peterbilt cab that he started with. Then he looks at the seam in the roof and all of his frustration melts away, leaving him with a sense of accomplishment. That is because the seam in the center of the seldom seen original Peterbilt roof was what James fell in love with. He couldn’t get over how those perfectly domed pieces of aluminum came together to form a precise seam flanked by rivets right down the center of the roof on that early Pete’ cab. He liked it so much that before he even had a plan, he bought the sad looking cab.

He dragged the cab back to his Ontario, California, shop and the wheels started turning. He grabbed his tape measure and a sketchpad, closed the door to his shop, and started taking measurements and notes. Now when some people lock themselves in a concrete building, it’s time to worry, but for James that’s when he gets most of his thinking done. He locked himself in when he invented the Shockwave, the Air Scissor (an air ride rear suspension for Harley-Davidson Softails), and the Touring XR engine and transmission stabilizer for Harley touring models. So locking himself in his shop is a pretty common occurrence for James.

After taking measurements to make sure it would work, he whipped out his drill and removed all of the factory rivets from the entire cab. I don’t know if you have ever counted the rivets in a 1956 Peterbilt cab, but it wouldn’t surprise me if James went through a couple dozen drill bits before it was all said and done. He took all of the panels down the street to Danny Davis’ shop, and together they began to cut down the pieces and rivet it all back together.

With the cab taking shape, James turned to another company right down the street, Total Cost Involved Engineering, for one of their 1932 Ford frames, front four-bar and rear four-bar. Everything was looking so simple that he figured SEMA would be an easy deadline, so he called his buddies at Firestone and pitched his Peterbilt for their show booth. The people from Firestone were keen on the idea, so the pressure was on.

The average day at that point was 16 hours, and there were a couple of all-nighters a week. Every day a new load of hot rod truck parts would show up, and the Peterbilt was starting to take shape. As the days were marked off the calendar, James began to get nervous that he wasn’t going to make it to the SEMA show on time after all. He basically delivered the finished truck—minus the interior—to Ron Mangus to have the interior done on the Monday before the show at 10:00 a.m. James pretty much slept the entire time the truck was at the interior shop. Ron called James to pick up the finished truck at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday morning, 24 hours before he had to roll the Pete’ into the show in Vegas—talk about cutting it close!

James wants to thank Ron Mangus, Tim McColgan, Rob MacGregor from No Limit Engineering, metal man extraordinaire Danny Davis, as well as Ed, Sal, Evan, and everybody from Total Cost Involved Engineering for all of their help getting his truck done for the SEMA show in Las Vegas.

World of RODS
Tech Block

Chassis
Frame/Manufacturer: Heavily Modified Total Cost Involved
Wheelbase: 114 inches
Rearend: Speedway quick change 3.70:1 and 4.56:1
Rear Suspension: Three-link with Firestone sleeve ‘bags
Rear Brakes: Wilwood 12-inch rotors and four-piston calipers
Front Suspension: Superbell aluminum axle, Total Cost four-bar, Crosby cantilever air ride
Front Brakes: Wilwood 12-inch rotors, six-piston calipers
Master Cylinder: Total Cost Involved
Steering Linkage: Schroeder
Steering Box: Schroeder Sprint Car (cowl mount)
Steering Column: Schroeder
Front Wheel Make/Size: 21 x 3.5 Performance Machine (modified for Wilwood hub)
Rear Wheel Make/Size: 22 x 10 Intro smoothies
Front Tires: 120 x 21 Bridgestone
Rear Tires: 305/40/22
Fuel Tank: Mooneyes

Engine
Make/Displacement: GM Performance 350 ZZ4 crate motor
Machining/Assembly: GM
Alternator: Chrome-plated GM 1 wire
Manifold/Induction: Edelbrock intake/Holley carburetor
Valve Covers: Polished GM
Ignition: Pertronix
Exhaust: Custom headers by Danny Davis
Transmission: Tremec T56 six-speed
Clutch: McLeod
Shifter: B&M

Body
Body Style/Manufacturer: Cut down 1956 Peterbilt Conventional
Hood: None
Radiator: Aluminum
Grille: Owner and Danny Davis
Bodywork By: Owner and Danny Davis
Paint Type/Color: PPG Dark Red on frame
Painted By: Doug Starbuck
Headlights: Todd’s Cycle
Taillights: Todd’s Cycle
Other Body Modification: Where do we start?

Interior
Dash: None
Gauges: Mooneyes in pods on roll cage
Stereo: Alpine
Wiring: Owner
Steering Wheel: Schroeder
Upholstery By: Ron Mangus
Fabric/Leather Color: Black leather
Seat Manufacturer: Glide seat backs

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