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1952 Chevrolet Tanker Truck

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Seeing a small tanker vehicle like our feature truck this month brings back memories from another era in our country’s history. It was a time of smaller family farms that dotted the country by the millions. Usually one medium size tractor was adequate for the planting and harvesting of the numerous crops these farms produced.

Suppliers of petroleum products in the towns soon realized the opportunities that existed when they delivered fuel and oil to small farms. Most farmers had no time or the hauling equipment to drive to town and get fuel and lubricant.

Thus, when horses were replaced with tractors, a whole new industry emerged. The smaller farms delivery tanks trucks became a common site in farming communities and in the country. Their tanks were usually divided into three compartments for fuel oil, gasoline, and motor oil. At the small farm was usually a few 55 gallon drums the farmer used to fill his tractor. The tanker truck from town added the amount of fuel and oil as the farmer requested either by phone or during the shopping day in the nearby community. Even many homes were heated with fuel oil. This gave the petroleum dealers more income with in-town deliveries.

Our December feature truck is just one of these vehicles. Now small tanker trucks are almost non-existent! The owner and restorer of this unusual truck is Charles Shook of North Richland Hills, Texas. His 1952 Chevrolet ¾ ton carries an 8 foot long 390 gallon capacity tank with three chambers.

NOTE: The long tool box on the left side. Every small farm delivery tanker had to have one. It held all basic wrenches and related tools the driver needed to transfer petroleum products through a hose to the farmer’s small tanks. Charles copied the original but used very attractive pecan wood.

This tank was made in 1937 by the Columbian Steel Tank Company in K.C. Mo. (still in business) This older tank would have been correct on a 1952 truck as they outlasted their first vehicle and would be moved to a different chassis over the years. It still fills the farmer’s smaller drums by gravity. No need for a pump if their drums were lower than the delivery tank.

Charles made a hidden change during the tank restoration. The inter dividing walls between the compartments were removed. By opening the two rear doors this exposes the interior of the chambers and allows for carrying lawn chairs and a cooler. These really come in handy during the hours at the car shows!

Charles bought the unrestored tank at a swap meet over 3 years ago and it fit his newly acquired ¾ ton. He suspects it might have originally been on about a 1 ½ ton but being for display it is just right for his small truck.

Charles has spent 3 ½ years making his truck and tank 100% like new. Completion was September 2015 It was disassembled to the frame and then the complete restoration began. During the truck restoration, Charles made it as close to new in 1952 as possible.

Every part was perfectly restored or replaced. It even has the correct Forester Green paint. The original 216 inline six cylinder engine was rebuilt about as GM made it. The exception was using bearing connecting rods to eliminate the softer babbit bearings.

He is the third owner of the ¾ ton. It began its life as a farm pickup near Bridgeport, Texas were it was bought new. He has most all past records including a copy of the original title and the early service data through 1963.

The second owner bought the truck with a restoration in mind however the lack of time and money prevented any of this to materialize. When Charles bought it about 4 years ago a serious restoration began. His grandfather drove a delivery truck for a Sinclair wholesaler in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Already a restorer of farm tractors and stationary engines, having a restored tanker truck fit into his life history. Of course, the Sinclair signage on the “New” tanker goes along with his grandfather’s early days.

The restoration was completed in September 2015. Two local shows were then attended and Charles received Best of Class in both! This is proof of a good restoration by judges and the general public. Hopefully, it will be seen much more in Texas shows in the spring.

You can contact Charles Shook by emailing him at xr25r@yahoo.com.

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Sitting at a car show. Note New tool box!

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A real attention getter!

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Accessory oil bath air cleaner and oil filter are just right.

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Ground up rebuilt 216 engine.

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Measuring wheel shows sale amount.

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