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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!

GMC 1/2 Ton Long Bed

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Of the many differences between the Chevrolet and GMC 1/2 ton during the early years (1936-54), the GMC offering of a long bed pickup box was one of the more noticeable. Only GMC provided this option. To obtain this extra bed length on a Chevrolet, the buyer ordered a 3/4 ton.

This difference existed with the first GMC pickup in 1936 and continued through the end of the Advance Design series in 1955. Possibly the reasoning for this was the horsepower difference between these two marquis. The base 216 six cylinder Chevrolet engine provided 92 hp. The standard 228 GMC six boasted 100 hp.

To get the approximately nine inch extra GMC chassis length not only were the two frame rails longer but the drive shaft was extended. GMC engineers did this by developing an extension which was the connecting length between the standard short bed closed drive shaft and the rear of the transmission. None of this interchanges with a Chevrolet and both makes use a totally different drive shaft design on their 3/4 ton series.

The adjacent photo shows this unique connector link installed in its GMC. A 7 3/8 inch steel jack-shaft is surrounded by a cast iron housing (it is still a closed drive shaft) and includes an extra u-joint, bearing, and seal. Though, a strongly built drive shaft system, this portion becomes the long bed 1/2 ton’s weak link after 50 years of use and abuse. Without a doubt this link has performed almost flawlessly beyond the miles expected by its designers. However, it does have its long term limitations. The many prior miles, lack of regular maintenance, and occasionally overloading the truck makes the failure of an original in today’s world a definite possibility. Watch for sources for the rare replacement parts in this connector link just in case. Otherwise surprise damage in this area can keep your GMC 1/2 ton long bed out of service for quite some time.

long bed 1

long bed 2

long bed 3

1954 Bed Side

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

1954 bed side

From 1941 through 1953 the GM pickup bed sides are the same, however, a major design change began in 1954. This new style with very few modifications continued to the end of the true step beds in 1987.

The unique feature of the 1954 through 1954 mid series bed sides is the flowing grooves that fit the edges of the rear fenders. These apparently gave a better seal the older design fenders were bolted to the new sides. It prevented mud and dust from passing up from the wheel well area.

For the perfectionist: These sides will probably never be reproduced. The expense of tooling for a step bed side that was only used less than 16 months is not practical. Originals will remain the only source for the correct restoration.

Stainless Corner Bed Strips

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Stainless steel bedstrips are always a nice extra when you give your bedwood a clear finish. Not only do the strips look good but they retain this attractive appearance despite long term bad weather conditions.

However, a problem occurs when the owner wants corner bed strips in stainless. The original steel corners were welded in place to add bed strength where they joined the bed planks. Unfortunately, welding replacement stainless strips onto the bedsides will always have burn marks. It is just the way it is! Originally, cold rolled steel strips were welded in place at the factory and painted with the bedside.

Stainless does not successfully bond to paint, so the weld spots will always show on the new stainless strips.

The attached pictures show one of the most professional stainless corner welding jobs we have seen. The photos were taken a few days after attachment and before the bed sides were painted. They came by our shop that day for viewing. The owner, Howard Gillis of Stockton, MO is the proud owner of this excellent, evenly spaced welding project. Because they were spot welded in place, only stainless steel metal is on the surface of the welds.

Howard will soon go over these corner strips with a polishing wheel on an electric drill. This will not only put a shine on the welds but will quickly remove the brown burn spots as seen in the photos. The result should be show quality!

You can contact Howard Gillis at hcgillis@alltel.net

stainless bed strip 1

stainless bed strip 2

stainless bed strip 3

stainless bed strip 4

1953-1955 Side Mount Spare

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

side mount spare 1

During the Advance Design truck era, 1947-1955, most all spare tire assemblies were under the bed. Though not always convenient, this kept the extra tire away from the bed box and out of the way.

With encouragement to provide a more easy to reach spare tire, General Motors began offering a side mount unit in 1953. This continued, as an option, even through the later years of the GM step bed trucks.

This new option was added at the factory (not by the dealer) and included a steel frame attached to the left bed side. On the 1/2 ton, not the longer bed 3/4 ton, it was necessary to also have the rear fender with an indention at its front. This indention allowed the tire to be away from the cab and fit parallel to the bedside.

The indention on the 1/2 ton left fender was made no larger than necessary to allow for the mounting of the 6.00 x 16″ original tire. This spacing is so close that the current replacement 6.50 x 16″eplacement tire will sometimes not fit without touching either the cab or fender indention. This contact of the tire against the metal body and fender is not acceptable. The rubbing of a larger tire against the body or fender results in a squeaking noise and finally will wear through the paint. To prevent this, using a 6.00×16 tire may be necessary.

After the 1953 introductory year, it was discovered, the weight of the tire and mount could cause bed side and front bed panel separation (metal fatigue) on rough terrain. Therefore, in 1954 with the introduction of a redesigned stepbed, a small factory bracket was included with the spare tire option. This better held the left front of the bed side to the front bed panel.

An additional item of interest is found in the 1954 Chevrolet truck factory assembly manual. Due to the extra pounds of the added side spare tire and carrier weight, GM added a spacer (left side only) below the rear spring assembly. This helped keep the bed level even though the truck weighed more on the left. See the following Tire Carrier Instructions sheets.

side mount spare 2

side mount spare 3

Bedside Bracket (above)

side mount spare 4

Bedside Bracket Top (above)

side mount spare 5

Bedside Bracket in Place (above)

side mount spare 6

side mount spare 7

Rear Spring spacers for 1954-1959 side mount (above)

We also have two PDF files showing details of the side mounted wheel carrier.

Sheet 2 Model 3104 Click Here for PDF

Sheet 3 Models 3204, 3604, 3804 Click Here for PDF

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

truck bed Truck Bed truck bed
truck bed truck bed