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1941-46 Bedside Improvements

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

A subtle improvement to Chevy and GMC pickup bedsides occurred in 1941.  Prior to this, truck owners that overloaded their pickup bed would sometime cause them to bend outward.  Heavy freight such as sand, gravel or a load of lumber placed substantial side pressure on the rear of the bedsides.  The sides were sometimes bent in outward and they could not easily be returned to their vertical position.

To help lessen this problem GM engineers in 1941-46 added a large rear wooden bed block.  It sat on the frame rail near the tailgate and as in prior years helped support the bed.  However, two holes were added horizontally.  Two bolts went through the bedside and pulled it tight against the large wood block.  The result was not a perfect fix but was a help to eliminate bent bedsides.

Rear block with 2 holes

Matching 2 holes in bedside

Wood Bed Strips

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

What an unusual idea!  If you have clear coated your bedwood, replace the metal bed strips with dark stained wood.


Of course, this is for a pickup not used for hauling, however as the owner said “If you clear coated your bedwood instead of painting it as original, you were not planning to work with it anyway”.

American Ingenuity

Friday, August 10th, 2012

Needed are some logs without bark and a table saw. Cut in half and add tongue and groove. You have a truck flat bed!

1938 Complete Wood Bed

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

In the Chevrolet truck assembly plant in Petone, New Zealand near the capital city of Wellington, a bed was not part of the pickup. This was in the 1930’s through mid 1940’s. The reason was to keep cost lower and to sell more trucks. The two rear fenders were wired flat to the frame for the new owner’s future use. This new owner could then have a deck or bed of his choice made locally. Most were made as a flat platform.

Robert O’Keeffe of Wanganui, New Zealand decided he wanted a bed on the 1938 pickup he was restoring like those seen on US trucks. He went a little further than many restorers. As a woodworker, he decided to make a ‘total’ wood bed and even use an exotic wood!

Check these photos. Rob is obviously a woodworking artist. The truck is a ‘head turner’ at any show.

What a project!

With the interest he received from the recent article on our website, he is considering offering these wood beds to others. The price in US dollars will be about $4,000.00 but this depends on the year and length.

Rob even knows a special freight company that sends merchandise weekly from only New Zealand to Los Angeles by ship. They arrange all truck line connections. The low price is surprising!

You can contact Rob @ okjoiner@xtra.co.nz

1938 complete wood bed 1938 complete wood bed 1938 complete wood bed 1938 complete wood bed 1938 complete wood bed 1938 complete wood bed 1938 complete wood bed 1938 complete wood bed 1938 complete wood bed 1938 complete wood bed 1938 complete wood bed 1938 complete wood bed 1938 complete wood bed


1940 Tailgate Hinge

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

In 1940, GM began offering a slightly wider bed on their Chevrolet pickups. This width increased from about 46 3/8″ to 48 1/2″.

Of course, the tailgate also required a width change. For some reason GM added a much larger horizontal tailgate roll on the top and bottom. Possibly for added strength. This caused the two hinges to also change. They were now much larger in diameter than the 1939, but this resulted in a new problem! Heavy weight on an open tailgate caused the oversize hinges to bend and split.

In 1941, the tailgate roll and hinge was reduced in diameter, though still larger than the 1939 and earlier design. This new size hinge remained through 1953.

1940 Tailgate Hinges

Solution to a problem: Pure 1940 tailgate hinges are not being reproduced. Even if you have a rare 1940 Chevrolet or GMC pickup with restorable original tailgate, your large hinges may be in very poor condition and not restorable. The solution is now on the market! A non-metal bushing is now available that fits over a 1941 hinge. This builds up the horizontal surface to equal that of a 1940.

1940-1946 GMC Metal Bed Bottom

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Though Chevrolet and GMC were usually close in their construction during the 1940’s, they were far apart in a few areas. GMC in particular advertised some of their major differences as being steps above the competition. One unique feature for GMC only is the corrugated metal bed bottom on their ½ ton and ¾ ton pickups between 1940 and 1946. Wood planks were not available during these years on their pickups.

Metal Bed 1

Metal Bed 2

The enclosed photos were taken during the bed bottom replacement of a 1946 GMC ¾ ton about 1990. The owner is Ed O’Reilly of Norwalk, N.Y. Ed would not compromise on the originality and thus a new bed bottom is shown being installed. He states it is not any more difficult than adding wood planks and strips. The right angle edge of the bottom welds to the bed sides just like the more conventional corner bed strips of a wood bed.

Metal Bed 3

Metal Bed 4

Metal Bed 5

Truck Beds…Black Wood

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Prior to 1941 in GM pickups, the bed wood of choice was oak. The change to yellow pine occurred at this time and it was used until the end of the wood bed floors in 1987. This southern yellow pine is a hard wood and should not be confused with softer white pine. It’s attractive pronounced grain stains and clear coats well. It’s planks, like oak, tends to warp when exposed to dampness, however, once secured in a pickup with bed strips it is there to stay!

For the perfectionist: originally, bed wood planks were not sanded smooth and varnished. Trucks were for work and the idea of bed wood with a furniture quality appearance was out of the question. Prior to 1955, bed wood planks were covered with black paint (excellent protection from water and sun). Beginning with the 1955 second series, they were given a protective weather seal and often sprayed body color over this.

Bed Images

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