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"Snowzilla": A Comprehensive Tucker 1643 Project...

Blackfoot Tucker

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The Thanksgiving holiday shortened our workweek to a measly two days. Meanwhile, SV 2022 is now seven days closer. That relationship is not good when you have a whole lot of work to get done.

I mentioned in my last post that we had installed 17 of the 28 carpet pieces that go on the roof, side walls, kick panels and end walls. We installed ten of the remaining eleven and then set about working on the rear seat area and the foot well. We first installed sound deadening mat on the sides of the footwell, and then on the seam where the footwell sides meet the rear seat area horizontal floor we installed adhesive backed aluminum tape. Next, we covered the foot well’s floor with sound deadening material. To try and minimize waste, lots of smaller pieces of the sound deadening mat were utilized.

Full coverage of sound deadening material in the rear of the cab.


A close-up of the taped seam I described.


We discussed different options for rear upholstery coverage. Certainly we wanted the black rubber for the foot well’s floor and we considered both rubber and carpet options for the foot well sides. Choosing rubber would almost guarantee an ugly seem at the same top location we used the aluminum tape on, but we were facing the same issue if we did the top and sides in separate pieces of carpet. Overlapping the carpet would solve that, but due to the shape and geometric relationship it would be impossible to do one side with only one piece of carpet. However we thought most of the seam would be covered by the seat bottom cushion, and that was our best option.

This is the right side front piece all glued in position. The carpet followed the sharp corner surprisingly well, and... no seam on the top corner!


The rear pieces will be the challenging ones...

Blackfoot Tucker

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I assure you I am doing everything I can to move this project along as quickly as I can. Scott is so busy with work, life and a new “love interest”, it’s difficult to get/keep him focused on Putri-Zilla. The term “herding cats” is fair, and that would make me… The Cat Wrangler!

Pontoon Princess

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I assure you I am doing everything I can to move this project along as quickly as I can. Scott is so busy with work, life and a new “love interest”, it’s difficult to get/keep him focused on Putri-Zilla. The term “herding cats” is fair, and that would make me… The Cat Wrangler!
Hee Haw, head them up, move them out, rawhide, cat wrangler...
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Blackfoot Tucker

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This week we got in almost five nights of work! Friday was a short night... as Scott got in trouble for working even a few hours. But we did get a fair bit done this week.

As I alluded to earlier, the rear pieces of carpet were a challenge. The top of the rear seat floor area is shaped like a trapezoid and the vertical side of the foot well extends perpendicularly from the diagonal side of the trapezoid. To make it just a bit more difficult, the foot well stops short of the end of the trapezoid. Lots of careful measuring, then drawing the shape out on paper with dimensions helps visualize what exactly needs to be cut. That’s followed by still more careful measuring using straight edges and a framing square, before cutting; all the while thinking “I hope I don’t screw this up”. And... the result was two pieces that fit almost perfectly with just a little trimming required. This was one of those project victories when you think “Maybe I do know what I’m doing”…


If you’re curious as to how Tucker did it, here are some pics. The rear seat bottom cushions extend from close to the sidewall over the edge and into the foot well area, almost completely covering what I’ve been referring to as the “rear seat floor area”.


The seat bottom cushions stop short of the rear end of the cab and Tucker installed some carpet at the back of the rear seat floor area. They dealt with the seam issue with some aluminum trim.


With the rear complete except for the floor of the foot well, we moved up to the front floor area. Neither Scott nor I are the least bit impressed with Tucker’s floor panel design, or execution. But as I mentioned earlier, time constraints preclude a proper solution which would be throwing the Tucker factory’s efforts on the scrap heap and starting over. Therefore, we limited the scope of our work to making minor improvements to Tucker’s panels.

Before installing the front floor we needed to run the lines to and from the transmission cooler, and incorporate a transmission temperature sender as well. While we would prefer to use custom hoses with crimped-on fittings, those are much more costly than the more typical rubber hoses with worm drive hose clamps, and we are trying to minimize expenses for WBJ1, so that’s what we went with. There wasn’t much room to work with and it took three separate trips to hydraulic shops to get the combination of fittings that would work. We believe the place to measure the transmission temperature is where the fluid leaves the transmission enroute to the cooler. That will be a higher temperature than measuring the cooled fluid, and since heat damages the transmission components, you want to know how hot the fluid is. The fittings that thread into the transmission are an O-Ring Boss style and the one that the temperature sender got plumbed into was a challenge. The transmission has a breather cap and we had to remove that pressed-in fitting, thread in our new O-Ring Boss 90º elbow, and then reinstall the breather fitting. (There is such a thing as an extended height elbow, but that wouldn’t fit underneath the transmission tunnel cover.)

While making the multiple trips to get the right parts for the transmission cooler plumbing, we re-configured the transmission shifter and then installed that in the dash panel. More careful measuring to ensure it would fit properly over the heater’s fan motor, then cutting into the dash panel for the shifter mechanism installation. Our 1544 project came from the factory with an Allison AT 545 and we thought Tucker’s shifter setup with an optional mounting wedge worked well, so we used the same setup. Yes, some credit to Tucker!


Note how I refrained from making a remark about the ugly green color… (Oops, I guess I snuck that in.)

Another view.


Here’s pic of the Tucker factory floor panels where the transmission tunnel meets the right side front floor. I’ve owned three 1980 model Tuckers and all three have been the same. (Note: the brass fitting you see through the hole is for the transmission cooler supply line hose.)


Many companies who manufacture products make changes during production to improve product quality or to lower costs of manufacturing. Albert Einstein defined idiocy as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. I think making the same mistake over and over, and being okay with a very obvious flaw is an even greater offense. Another Einstein quote “Two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe”. I wonder what he’d say about Tucker?

We then installed sound deadening mat over the front floor. The piece that fits around the steering column is cut to shape but is not glued down as we’re waiting for a part that must be installed before the sound deadening mat can be glued down.


In theory, it should be possible to cover the mat with two pieces of rubber, but that’s a heck of a challenge as there is no cheating with the rubber, and the shape is very complex, which means lots of opportunities to make a mistake. Of course, in theory Tucker could have made the front floor in three pieces… and they didn’t even try. They used seven.

Blackfoot Tucker

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"Sweet Gorilla” was/is as fantastical as "Sweet WBJ1”, or that Scott was “pure, white and innocent”. However, "Lovestruck Gorilla" seems very accurate based on current behavior.

I mentioned the new name last night (of course with proper attribution as to the source) and he protested only mildly. Then he announced he was told he “can’t” work on Friday nights anymore….

The Sweet Wbj1

Active member
"Sweet Gorilla” was/is as fantastical as "Sweet WBJ1”, or that Scott was “pure, white and innocent”. However, "Lovestruck Gorilla" seems very accurate based on current behavior.

I mentioned the new name last night (of course with proper attribution as to the source) and he protested only mildly. Then he announced he was told he “can’t” work on Friday nights anymore….
So I was reading off these last few posts to Jenn and she asked a great question!! Will we get to meet The Lovestruck Gorilla's new lady at SV22???

Blackfoot Tucker

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There’s been a long delay since the last update. I wish I could say we were feverishly working and making lots of progress. Unfortunately, some medical issues on my part and some Lovestruck Gorilla lifestyle “constraints” put a serious crimp on our progress. And of course the ever-present typical project setbacks just made it that much worse.

We started the process of cutting and fitting the carpet section for under the front seats and glued that down, then started on the front floor rubber floor pieces. Scott and I talked about different options for how we’d divide up the floor, and how many individual pieces would make for the optimal installation. In my previous post I said it’s possible to do it in two pieces, but it would be challenging. We decided on three; not because two would be too difficult, but because where the panels would meet on the top front of the transmission tunnel would not look as good as if that piece was full length.

With Thundercat we made patterns for each piece and checked the fit before cutting rubber. It yields a great result, but it’s also hugely time consuming. We thought we would sacrifice a little of that precision for the sake of expediency and decided to omit the pattern making step of the process. Sure enough, the first piece I cut …was scrap. Scott had been working on the new battery mounting brackets and I decided to wait until he was done. Then we’d work together and simultaneously cross check the measuring and cutting methodology to create the correct cut shape. Much better results! But we had to wait for the steering column’s grommet to arrive to complete the floor installation process. In my experience some vendors deserve mention when they deliver consistently good service. When it comes to rubber grommets, my go-to supplier is Rubber Feet Warehouse in South Carolina. They have an excellent selection, great pricing, a reasonable minimum order size and shipping charges aren’t outrageous.

Backing up just a bit, here’s a pic of the panel Tucker uses around the steering column. In the photo the panel is backwards, the square side is actually on the left and it “fits” around the steering column’s horn wiring connection. In our opinion the steering wheel was too high, and we lowered it by moving the steering column down a few inches. That also meant the horn’s wiring connection was below the floor. We don’t care for the "cut loosely and gob some sealer around it” concept that describes the factory’s methods, so this panel was ripe for improvement.


Part of our earlier front floor panel design improvement resulted in cutting six inches from the panel that makes up the transmission tunnel. That provided a six inch wide length of BSG painted aluminum to work with! Scott squared one end in his “stomp shear” (a fairly light gauge metal shear that you actuate by forcefully pressing down on a large bar with your foot). Next he drilled a 1 3/4” hole in the panel with a hole saw. Then he carefully marked a line through the center of the hole from side-to-side and then he sheared the panel along the line. We’ll install a rubber grommet that meets our dimensional requirements to create a panel that seals well and looks good. Here’s the thing: this wasn’t time consuming, or difficult. It just took a little bit of thought and effort (heavy emphasis on little).


Side by side. Note the top of Tucker’s panel (on the left) isn’t even cut straight.


Here’s the installed panel with rubber grommet.


For comparison, this is factory. How well will flooring fit around the built up sealer? And how well will it adhere to it?


Also while waiting for the new grommet we spent some time on the transmission’s valve body. The Allison AT 545 was offered in either a single or double neutral shift pattern. This transmission had with a double neutral valve body and in the snowcat application we think the single neutral design is preferable. Some time ago I contacted a truck salvage yard and they told me they had a used single neutral valve body, and the price wasn’t bad, so I went to get it. But it turns out that transmission was installed behind a Diesel engine and there are some differences in the way the valve body is set up as compared to one installed with a gasoline engine. I was assured it wasn’t a big deal to make the changes, and that’s what we finally set about doing.

The valve body has several internal valves with springs as well as adjusting collars for tension. I was told we needed to swap the springs and adjust the collars to match. The springs are color coded so we carefully noted what came from where, and made the changes accordingly.

Here’s a pic showing some of the adjusting collars.


Then we ran into a wall. After reinstalling the valve body along with a new filter. Scott tried to bolt up a shallow transmission pan, also obtained from the salvage yard…but it wouldn’t fit. Huh? It turns out the shallow pan uses a different design short length of steel tube between the valve body and the transmission than is used on the deep pan. So we intrepidly made a trip to the local Allison dealer to get the short length of tube. Nope. Didn’t have it, and the parts guy thought it was unobtanium from Allison. He suggested we try Weller Transmission, which is a nationwide supplier of rebuilt Allison transmissions.

Before going any further, here’s a pic of an exploded view diagram. Part number 10 is the tube for the deep style transmission pan and part 11 is the design for the shallow pan.


If anything, it looks like the shallow design is simpler, and nothing looks particularly cosmic about it. I was thinking roughly $30, or so. Yeah… NO JOKE the price is just north of…wait for it… $320. Plus tax, plus shipping. HOLY CR*P! I don’t like the feeling of being taken advantage of, so note that there is no endorsement of Weller Transmission….

We’re pursuing other alternatives that are more cost effective…

Meanwhile, we’re back working on the floor. Here’s the left front floor with the sound deadening mat installed.


And with the rubber floor cut to fit, and glued down.


The center section of the floor was by far the most difficult as it required quite a bit of careful trimming to get the fit to an acceptable standard. The transmission tunnel sides were particularly challenging and we had to stick the rubber material down and then add weight on top of the rubber to secure it in position while the glue dried. We used pieces of steel scrap Scott had, as well as gallon sized plastic Ziploc bags filled with sand. As I’m writing this, the various weights are still in position, so I don't have any pics of the finished front floor.

The rear floor was frustrating as well. We carefully cut the rubber to shape and glued it down…except the rubber would unstick and “bubble up” in places. So we’d press it back into place and it would bubble up again. This got old... fast, so I grabbed some more pieces of steel scrap to place on top of the areas that were bubbling up. No sooner than I’d get one area fixed, another would pop up, and it basically became a game of whack-a-mole with the recalcitrant rubber floor material. Hopefully, I got 'em all.