These Texas Shop Students Are Learning to Weld on an Abandoned 1951 Studebaker Ranch Truck
Bridging welding with car culture, Southern Careers Institute instructor James Gosselin is building new enthusiasts with skills.
Often schools that offer automotive restoration training receive a donation car to help young gearheads develop their skills. At Southern Careers Institute in Austin, one welding instructor rescued his own project vehicle: a 1951 Studebaker 2R10 3/4-ton ranch truck he spotted in a Texas field. James Gosselin, called “Sarge” by his students, got permission to take the truck off the hands of the property owner. From there, he brought it to the SCI Austin campus to give the welding students a new project and training tool.
There are certainly worse things to look at than a Studie. Built in South Bend, Indiana, Studebaker 2R10s had an 8-foot box and six-cylinder powerplant that made 85 horsepower. It has been weather-beaten and neglected, and Gosselin and his students are aiming to restore it to its potential rat rod glory.
Plans for the truck include a three-inch roof chop, a small block race-ready motor, new air bag slammed suspension, a tubular flat bed with custom wood inserts, old-school skinny drag racing tires up front and street-legal drag racing slicks in the back, and an open straight pipe exhaust. Gosselin says “his favorite color is clear coat” and plans to use that on the exterior to maintain the original patina in the paint.
The instructor himself is committed to the project, driving 80 miles each way to get to the classroom. Gosselin learned how to weld at nine years old and has been doing it ever since, including working on the 50-plus cars he has in his own collection. Now he wants to pass on his knowledge to a new generation of enthusiasts and stresses to them that welders are essential employees who can work in a variety of industries.
“I love being able to teach,” he says. “What this program has done for student morale and their thoughts about the welding world has been amazing.”
Students will hone their welding skills in the process, gaining the satisfaction of seeing it all the way through to fruition. They’ll have the chance to sign the glovebox door and clear coat the signatures to seal them in, leaving their mark on this vintage truck. When it’s finished, the truck will be used for hauling welding parts and will be on display as a showcase piece for car shows, complete with photos cataloging the process.
SCI’s welding program has an incredible 79 percent job placement rate among program grads, and these students are gaining insight to car culture and different ways they might use their welding skills that goes beyond the oil fields in Texas. Gosselin says that most students are typical college age (18-22), but all ages are welcome.
As he’s talking to me, Gosselin pulls up a cherished text from one of his students thanking him for helping him find a job. It’s easy to see that Gosselin thrives on helping people, and this idea of his is going to build a bridge between welding and car culture these young adults might not have thought of before.
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