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1934-46 Chevy and GMC Door Latch

Tuesday, January 30th, 2018

Ever seen the inside of a 1934-46 Chevy truck door latch? When heating and straightening the 4 small prongs that secure the steel cover over the working mechanism, it is surprising to see how simple GM made the contents.

Basically it is an enclosed ½“diameter x 2” long coil spring that pushes the pointer into the door striker plate on the cab post. This spring pushes this pointer back into this neutral position when the handle is released on either the inside or outside of the door. Quite simple in design and it usually does what is necessary for the life of the truck.

Of course, GM did not expect the latch to survive 80 years but so many still operate with their factory lubrication dried to be of no value.

Too bad, because even after only 30 years the latch moving parts should have received some light oil (a little thicker than WD-40). This almost never happened because the latch is unseen behind the door panel.

1939-46 Sagging Door Handles

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

Drooping outside door handle? Repairs are available. A small broken spring in the hidden latch assembly is the problem.

Probably most were never repaired by prior owners! If requires removing the inner door panel and then the latch assembly. This latch is usually placed in a vise for replacing the small inner spring. Right and left are different.

It is not a difficult procedure, however a big concern is damaging the paint on the large inner door panel. The many small screws must be removed to gain access to the latch.

Good News! Both the right and left side spring have recently been reproduced. They are available from Jim Carter Truck Parts and other full stocking dealers of older GM truck restoration parts.

Good spring in latch

The spring is broken!

Good working spring

1936 High Cab Doors

Monday, October 24th, 2016

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This subject came to the surface recently by a customer, Jake LaRose of Maynard, Iowa. He had purchased an outer door skin for his 1936 Chevy ½ ton however the fit was just not quite correct, close but not right! Jake was at a loss! We immediately began to research for an answer to his dilemma.

The answer was discovered after so much research and locating people with these pre-war trucks.
The answer was that 1936 is a split year between the low and high cab designs. The doors did look the same, however, we found a fraction of an inch prevents a high cab door sheet metal patch panel from fitting on a low cab door frame!

With this unusual data discovered, it only seems appropriate to place the findings in writing for the few that may be stumped with this part of their 80 year old Chevy truck restoration.

The 1934 through mid-1936 Chevy truck doors were equipped with three hinges. The difference here is that the 1934-35 years had doors supported by a wood frame. The outer sheet metal skin was tacked to the wood. As long as the wood held up from deterioration, they closed very well. (This door construction was the method used even on Chevrolet’s first trucks in 1918)

Problem: The wood in most trucks setting outside was effected by morning dew and many rains each year. As time went on, door sagging and thus worn hinges and latches, became common.

GM designers in 1934 and 1935 were aware of what would usually occur to the current doors on new trucks based on those of prior years. Therefore, the decision was made not to wait for the coming late 1936 high cab design to improve on the wood frame design. The Great Depression was underway and new truck and car sales were very slow. GM improvements like eliminating wood frames in door construction for longer life was hoped to add more sales by hesitant buyers of these large high ticket items.

Thus, an unusual change (near the end of the high cab era) was introduced at the beginning of the 1936 year. Though the actual cab construction remained the older wood frame with a metal skin tacked over. Doors in early 1936 changed with sides and interior supports made of stamped sheet metal.

Their three door hinges required a slight modification. The hinge half that attached to the front cab door post were unchanged (this vertical door support remained wood) however the hinge half that attached the new metal door frame used holes designed for fasteners that secured to metal.

In summary: If you are under a major restoration of an early 1936 Chevrolet truck, be sure you do not purchase late 1936 door sheet metal repair skins. They will not fit!
As of this writing, early 1936 door skins are not available, however bids are currently being requested from several skilled metal workers to create a limited number of these handmade skins!


What is so unique about the above text? The dimensions of the new metal door skins on the 1936 high cab with metal frames remained the same as the 1934-35 with wood frames.


High cab – early 1936                    Low cab – late 1936

1939-46 Panel Truck Rear Windows

Friday, October 11th, 2013

General Motors made it very simple to replace the two small windows in the rear doors of these early panel trucks.  It made it especially fast on the factory assembly line.

Simply place the rubber seal (now available from full stocking early GM Truck Dealers) around the pre-cut glass.  Press into the inside window opening. Three special clips secure it in place. It could not be easier! See Photos.

Oops, one big problem. If you don’t have the special clips, Good Luck!
This 1941 Chevrolet Panel Truck owned & totally restored by Jim Winters, Rochester, Minnesota.

Outside of door

Inside of Door

1939-1946 Door Windows

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

During 1939-40 Door window breakage on truck cabs became a problem. As the cloth fabric in the door window channel became worn, the large and now loose fitting side windows were susceptible to cracking when the door was slammed. Complaints from dealers resulted in an improvement on 1941-46 doors. A one piece metal frame was placed around the edges of the top and sides of the glass and the breakage was greatly reduced. To make room for these new metal frames, the glass on the 1941-46 doors was now slightly smaller.

Therefore, the 1939-40 door glass and 1941-46 with metal frame will interchange in total in all 1939-46 doors. The smaller 1941-46 door glass can not be used without it’s frame or it will not seal into the cloth channel at the top of the window opening.

1939 door window

WWII Door Handles

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Shortages during this major war was the reason for many modifications of Chevrolet and GMC door handles. War demands for die cast material changed handle designs on military trucks as well as the few commercial vehicles bought by civilians.

The attached photos show these war time designs. The exterior handles have a stamped steel outer cover. Their inner liner is thinner metal and much more susceptible to rust. The entire assembly at times holds moisture resulting in damage during below freezing temperatures.

Both the inside doors and window handles were made with flat steel. This was covered with a Bakelite or plastic type material in a mold. It prevented rust and gave the shape of the earlier die cast handles. Unfortunately, years of heat and cold caused shrinkage and cracks. Pieces broke away and finally the internal metal strip is all that remains of the original handle.

The door handles usually had a short life but did serve the purpose during a time when better material was not available. Most were exchanged, with the chrome die cast style, after the war.

WWII Door Handle 1

Exterior handles; Side view with one ferrule still attached.

WWII Door Handles 2

GMC Exterior handles; Side view of metal stamping.

WWII Door Handles 3

Interior handles; The full set. Middle windshield handle not used by military.

WWII Door Handles 4

Interior handles; Close up of a pair for a door.

1939-1946 Suburban and Panel Doors

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

The unusual side doors on these Suburban and Panel trucks will fit on the more common pickup cab, however, their looks will tell the observer that something is not correct. Across the top of the outer skin is a horizontal stamping or groove. This groove is a continuation of the stamping that runs the length of the body to help strengthening the long sheet metal sides.

The pictures below should help you in obtaining the correct used door for your panel or Suburban restoration project. Tip: Even a badly damaged door from a Suburban or panel truck is of value. This will perfectly graft on a pickup or large truck door to make the rare item you need.

Suburban and Panel Door 1

Suburban and Panel Door 2

1939-1946 Inside Door Handle Mystery

Thursday, February 11th, 2010


Two different designs of inside door handles are seen when looking at 1939-46 Chevrolet and GMC trucks. This photo shows the attaching portion is the same. However, the opposite ends are much different.

Door Handle Mystery 1

1939-40 ‘ Small Ends only GM produced this 1939-40 handle design until NOW. NOTE: Even GM later replaced these with only the later design.

Available August 2015, Jim Carter Truck Parts will have them in stock as part # DPH101.

1941-46 ‘ Large Ends. This allows the palm of a hand to better push the handle down and open the door. (A later aftermarket company also produced this 1941-46 style).

1934-1946 Door Hidden Bumper Cushions

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

The mystery of where to find and replace the rubber door bumper cushions on 1934-46 GM trucks is solved by the following data:

During many restorations these bumpers are neglected or the owner doesn’t even know where these small units are hidden. They can not be seen unless the inner cab sheet metal panel at the rear door post is removed.

The purpose of these rubber bumpers are to cushion the door dove tail that has entered the receiver on the body post. (The dove tail is attached to the door and supports it when in the closed position.)

These bumpers are paired with small protective cups. The bumper gives the cushion to the door and the metal cups take the wear as the dove tail enters the cab post.

The old saying ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ certainly applies here. The left cab rear door post in our example was removed from a very tired truck, however the dove tail mechanism was still good. Even the original Export Blue is still showing. The parts were carefully removed and some even cleaned of rust for better pictures.

Check the following data and pictures. They should help one even better understand GM’s heavy duty door support system.

Door Bumper Cushions 1

Removable components of the door cushion system. The Metal cups will cover the smaller part of the rubber cushion.

Door Bumper Cushion 2

The assembly as it sets in the cab post.

Door Bumper Cushion 3

The inside of the cab post. Much of the assembly fits inside the small box which is welded in place. Note how the ears on the cups connect to the larger bracket. This is not visible in an assembled truck.

Door Bumper Cushion 4

What you see on this cab post. These screws have been loosened prior to removal. Only the back side of the metal cups are visible.

Door Bumper Cushions 5

The back side of the cab post. The inner sheet metal has been removed exposing the retaining screws. Several very small screw holes ( about 5″ apart) are visible where the sheet metal panel is secured.

1934-1946 Door Handles

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

The two series of exterior door handles on GM trucks between 1934-46 are certainly different yet they share a few similar features of interest.

One characteristic which seems strange today is that the handles lock the right doors only, not on the left. This occurs on GM trucks from the early 1920’s to about 1959. At this time, we have no reason for this feature. Maybe it kept the driver from standing too near traffic as he locked the door!

The 1934-38 handles are the same. The left has no cylinder key but the right handles are the locking style. Yes, the right and left handle will interchange but this is not the way it was done by GM. Switching handles would prevent the right door from being locked. There is no inside lock on the right!

With the introduction of the new body style in 1939, the handle design also changed, however the locking and non-locking handles remained in the same position. The big change started in 1942.

GM decided that rough roads plus freezing in the North caused too much lock breakage. The die cast lock parts inside the handle were too easy to break. During that year, the lock was moved down into the door skin. Both right and left handles became the same non locking design. The following photos show this big change in door locking on Chevrolet and GMC trucks.

Door Handle Trivia

The locking key cylinder used between 1934 to 1941 is the same despite visual changes in the handle body. Of course, if the truck is right hand drive, all is reversed!

1934-1938 Right

1934-1938 Right Door Handle

1939-1941 Right Door Handle

1939-1941 Right Door Handle

1939-1946 Left and 1942-1946 Right

1939-1946 Left and 1942-1946 Right Door Handle

1942-1946 Right

1942-1946 Right Door Handle (lock in door skin)

Buy Parts for 1934 to 1946 Trucks