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Big Truck Front Bumpers

Monday, June 15th, 2015

Shortly after WWII the Chevrolet Truck Division introduced a heavier truck with a maximum gross weight of 16,000 pounds and was rated as a 2 ton. Up to this time their top rated truck had been 1 ½ tons with a gross weight of 14,000 pounds.

With this increase, a major change occurred in the front bumper. No longer was this bumper little more than a heavy duty ½ ton. They now used a totally different design. A top and bottom horizontal ridge and additional thickness did much to prevent bending when pushing another vehicle or by an accident.

The 1 ½ and 2 ton bumper, introduced in 1946 was not continued through the next series of trucks, 1947 through 1953. The next series no longer had the bolt heads in the middle. Now the bumper center extended out (even wider) and the recessed bolt heads were on the top and bottom. This gave more pushing surface without damage to the bolts.

1941 front bumper
1941 Front Bumper

1946 front bumper
1946 Front Bumper

1947-53 Front Bumper
(COE and Conventional the same)

Rear Bumper Options

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Ever wonder why GM pickup rear bumpers have been an option for so many years?

Beginning in 1951 these bumpers became an extra cost option and have remained this way ever since on most pickup models.

The reason relates to trucks being mostly for work. Though protecting the bed from minor rear damage, a bumper also kept the driver from backing up against a loading dock. GM found that many farmers and construction workers had been removing the rear bumper to get the truck flush against a dock. This eliminated most of the gap between the truck and dock. Broken legs of livestock and employees during loading were also greatly reduced.

The following picture is an example of a 1955 and newer GM step bed pickup. Its owner went against the current trend of adding the optional rear bumper during its restoration and kept his truck basic. It is important to note, that to protect the license plate bracket without a bumper, GM placed it on the left side. Holes are in the middle of the rear cross sill from the factory to make it easier for the dealer to install the rear center license plate bracket while adding the optional bumper.

Note the rear spare tire arm is at an angle to also protect it from damage if backing or being even lightly bumped in traffic.

This picture shows an optional right taillight. From the assembly line this truck would have only the left light with attached license bracket.

rear bumper options 1

Without optional bumper. Owner has added a right tail light. (above)

rear bumper option 2

Factory installed optional bumper including correct tail lights and license bracket (above)

Overload Rear Bumpers

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

To help prevent metal to metal contact when 1/2 and 3/4 tons are overloaded or have weak shock absorbers, truck manufacturers used a rubber devise. This cushion prevents the axle from making direct contact with the frame rails.

On the rear of the 1947-1953 GM pickups, it attaches directly to the underside of the hump in the frame. It is not meant to be removed during the life of the truck.

In 1954 a change in the overload bumper location was necessary. This was the first year for a redesigned step bed which was three inches deeper. To keep the top edge of this new bed the same as earlier years, the hump in the frame was lowered. It was necessary to place a bracket on the side of the frame rail and add this bumper. The attached photo shows this repositioning of the overload bumper.

overload rear bumpers 1

1947-1953 (above)

overload rear bumpers 2

1954-1955 (above)

Buy Parts for 1947 to 1955 Trucks

1947-1948 GMC Grille and Bumper

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Used only the first 1 1/2 years into this body style, these GMC grilles stand out for their different shape and very heavy duty construction. Because of it’s weight this assembly, it sets on the frame and is given extra support by a pair of steel rods extended at an angle to the frame rail.  See photo.

The grille has three horizontal bars and uses a heavier gauge metal than the four bar grille introduced in 1949. This same unit is found during 1947 and 1948 in all 1/2 ton through 2 ton GMC trucks.

On these early 1/2, 3/4, and 1 ton trucks the splash apron from the grill to the bumper is even different. The front bumper is the most unusual. It is rounded much like an automobile and has three bumper bolts on each side.  They all have the small grill guard on the 1/2 and 3/4 ton.

Some suppliers of 1947 – Early 1955 bumpers and grilles state they are all the same.  But, they are not.  The 1947-1948 stands alone!

1947 1948 gmc grill 1

1947-1948 “3” Bar (above)

1947 1948 gmc grill

Note the 3 bumper bolts.  The center secures the front splash apron and securing braces.  The other two are used by the dealers to attach GMC accessory larger grille guards to the bumper.

1947 1948 gmc grill 2

1947-1948 “3” Bar (above)

1947 1948 gmc grill 3

1947-1948 Angle Grille Support (above)

1947 1948 gmc grill 4

1949-1955 “4” Bar (above)

1947 1948 gmc grill 4

Rear Axle Bumpers

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

The placement of rear axle bumpers by GM on 1/2 tons proved to be an important feature. Owners can often load cargo over recommended weights, their shock absorbers may lose their resistance, and there is the existence of uneven road surfaces. All this can make axle bumpers very important.

During the hauling of freight, these bumpers occasionally stop metal to metal contact between the frame rails and the axle housing. GM placed them just above the rear axle.
See photos.

rear axle bumper

1947-1953 1/2 ton (above)

In 1954 GM increased the depth of the 1/2 ton pickup bed from 15″ to 18″. To do this they lowered the frame rail arch above the rear axle. This shortage of space caused the bumper to be placed at the side of the frame but still above the axle.

rear axle bumper

1954 1/2 ton (above)

1947-1955 Rear Bumper Braces

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

During the Advance Design years the rear bumper braces on the 1/2 ton pickup are the same. Their cross section height is 1.75′ and thickness is .35′. These units are designed with a rolling drop angle to lower the bumper to the proper level below the tailgate and rear cross sill.

The 3/4 ton pickup rear braces accomplish the same purpose as the 1/2 ton but must have different angles due to the change in the two side frame rails width. They are closer together on a 3/4 ton. In addition, these braces are heavier than the 1/2 tons with 1/4″ additional cross section height. Their thickness remains at the .35′ as a 1/2 ton.

The 1/2 and 1 ton advance design panel truck (3/4 panel in these years were not produced) rear braces are slightly different from those on the same size pickup. These are dropped less because of the different level of the rear doors or lower gate.

These panel and suburban braces are very rare today and reproductions are not being made.

rear bumper braces 1

1/2 ton left | 3/4 ton right (above)

rear bumper braces 2

3/4 ton left | 1/2 ton right (above)

Advanced Design Spare Tire Assembly

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

During the early years of the Advance Design trucks there were many complaints by new owners about the rear bumper. They didn’t want it as standard equipment. Farmers and businesses could not get close to a dock with a bumper and they removed them soon after the truck purchase. Dock workers and live stock could step in the open slot created between the dock and truck bed. No doubt sprained and broken legs were, at times, a result.

Thus, in 1951 GM ceased placing a rear bumper on pickups as standard equipment. Before this, the rear bumper had nicely protected the under bed spare tire hanger from minor collisions.

Without a bumper the manufacturer was forced to redesign the spare tire assembly. It became suspended from the frame of the truck at an angle. The truck could now receive at least a parking lot collision without damage to the spare tire assembly even without a bumper.

An item of interest: The ½ inch hole in the middle of the rear cross sill that holds the spare tire hook on the 1950 and older pickups was no longer used beginning in 1951. However, the manufacturer continued to place this small hole in the sill through the 1953 year! (In this 1951-1955 photo the eyebolt in this hole is an owner installed add on.)

The two cross chains in this photo are securing the truck to the trailer and are not part of the spare tire assembly.

advance design spare tire 1

1951-1955 (above)

advance design spare tire 2

1947-1950 (above)

Advanced Design Bumper

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

During the 1947-1955 years, pickup’s front and rear bumpers are different due to the shape of the body. Unfortunately, the front can be fit on the rear during restorations.

More of this occurs on trucks between 1951 to 1955 when rear bumpers became a factory option. Years later when the rear bumper is wanted, some people locate a more plentiful front and place it on the rear – and it fits.

Once the front is placed on the rear, it is so rounded that it hits the license plate position. Now the license get relocated so it can be seen. (One problem leads to another.)

advance design bumper 1

Correct Rear Bumper (above)

advance design bumper 2

Correct Rear Bumper (above)

advance design bumper 3

Rounded Front (above)

1954 Rear Bumper

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

In 1954, GM introduced their new deeper improved stepbed. With this design the optional rear bumper required the license to be moved to the center. This eliminated clearance problems between the bumper and the left side mounted license plate.

To save the creation of a totally new rear bumper, GM placed a dip in their pre-existing 1947-1953 unit. This was necessary to allow for complete viewing of the license in its new position.

The following picture shows the correct bumper with a good view of the license plate. The other pictures are of the earlier bumper on a 1954. Only a portion of the license is visible.

1954 bumper 1

Earlier incorrect bumper on a 1954 (above)

1954 bumper 2

Earlier incorrect bumper on a 1954 (above)

1954 earlier bumper 3

Correct 1954 Bumper (above)