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Technical Articles [unsorted]

SIX VOLT TRUCK AND CAR OWNERS. A MUST READ!

Monday, June 8th, 2015

One of the more common reasons for slow engine turnover using an original six volt system is under size battery cables. Most of today’s auto parts stores only stock the smaller diameter 12 volt design. Unknowing owners mistakenly replace their original worn cables with shinny new ones that are as much as half the diameter as needed. In Addition the owner does not know he needs two. Ground cables: One from the battery to the frame and one from a starter mounting bolt to the frame.

Six volt starters require twice the electrical flow to operate properly. Don’t blame your six volt system for slow unacceptable starter motor speed! Many restorers go to the expense of changing their 6 volt system to 12 volts. They feel their original system was inferior and believe what they did was necessary. The problem could have been corrected with just adding the three proper cables.

Remember: Millions of cars and trucks were made with 6 volt electrical systems each year. If they had not operated correctly they would have come with 12 volt systems!

Battery Cables 6 Volt

Buy Parts for 1934 to 1946 Trucks

Engine Vacuum Leaks

Thursday, June 4th, 2015

Even the smallest vacuum leak on an internal combustion engine can prevent it operating to the level of its capability.

No matter how well you rebuild the carburetor, adjust the timing, or clean the gas tank, the engine will continue to operate below what it should even with a small vacuum leak.

On older engines a quick, easy way to check for leaks near the cast iron manifold will often uncover the problem.

    1. Place a large piece of cardboard behind the radiator cooling fan. See photo. This stops fan air flow in the area of the meeting point of the manifold, carburetor and engine head.1
    2. Use a spray can of starting fluid (available at auto parts stores). Let engine idle, and lightly spray in areas of where air flow will let into the carburetor through.2
    3. If you have even a small vacuum leak the starting fluid will be pulled incorrectly into the engine combustion chamber. The engine RPM will instantly increase. Your engine problem has been found! A new gasket or insulator plate will usually make all well.3

1947-48 1/2 Ton Under-bed Gas Tank – Poor Location

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

With the beginning of the Advance Design trucks in 1947, GM introduces the first major gas tank location change since 1936! It was taken out of the cab on ½ tons and placed under the bed.

To save costs, GM designed one gas tank to fit a ½ ton pickup, panel truck, Suburban, and Canopy Express (not the same on ¾ ton). In theory it was a good money saving decision, however in the real world it was not successful. The tank was placed back in pickup cabs in 1949!

GM engineers appear to have not considered the abuse and overloading given the American pickup truck. On the farm and in construction use, the pickup was often used beyond its rated capacity.

It took little time for GM to discover their ½ ton under bed gas tank was positioned to receive major rock damage. Tanks often became punctured when the truck was in deep ruts of poor roads or used in the farm fields.

With the many dirt and gravel roads deep grooves from the tires could develop during rains or a spring thaw. This was often the case beside fields where trucks and farm tractors created deep ruts. Driving in these groves lowered the truck and the under bed gas tank became closer to the road center. An increased exposure occurred when the pickup was heavily loaded. The tank became even closer to the road center and was more of a target for protruding rocks. Just overloading a 1947-48 ½ ton pickup in a high grassy pasture was exposing the tank to contact by hidden objects.

Truck owners complained to the dealers and GM’s quality control department finally recognized the problem. By 1949, pickups were introduced with their gas tanks placed back in the cab. They remained there until the new body style of 1973.

Because the single unit body (Suburban, Panel Trucks, and Canopy Express) usually received less use in the field, their gas tank location was kept the same through the end of the series in mid-year 1955. Thus, the 1947-48 ½ ton gas tank is the same as on 1947-55 single unit bodies.

By placing them back under the 1973 pickup bed (this was a strong safety requirement by the US Government) GM created even a more dangerous problem because they were attached to the outside of the frame rail! Of all dangerous places, it was only protected by the lower section of the sheet metal bedside. If being hit broadside collision, in the correct place, gasoline could be forced out in all directions. Are sparks created in a broad side collision? Hmm!

The “Real” 1947-52 Brush and Contact

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015


Six volt horn without a factory relay doesn’t sound? If you use the original 6 volt system, you “cannot” use the gray plastic incased brush and contact that also slips into the steering wheel hub on the 1947-52 First series Chevrolet/GMC Trucks. It is continually advertised for the 6 or 12 volt system. This is made only for the 12 volt second series 1955-1966 trucks. (Or can be used with 1947-55 with a 12 volt system)

Unfortunately for the 6 volt people this incased brush and contact also fits the 1947-55 steering wheel. It burns out instantly when their horn button is pressed if you have on original 6 volt system! With a complaint to their supplier, the owner may receive a replacement but it is ruined just as fast. NOW both buyer and seller are lost!

ANSWER: The 6 volt brush and contact has a heavy woven wire inside that carries the extra electric flow needed for the original system. It is not incased in plastic as is necessary to protect the single fine gauge internal wire of the 12 unit. The 6 volt brush and contact fits into a non-metal black cylinder which is separately pressed into the steering wheel hub. This cylinder should be found in the hub even without the brush and contact. They are two separate parts. See Photo.

BEWARE: If your supplier tells you the horn brush and contact is the same on 6 and 12 volts during 1947-55 he is a “lost ball in high weeds”. Don’t buy it if you have a 6 volt system!!

The correct 6 volt replacement is now available from Jim Carter Truck Parts and a few other full stocking dealers. Pricing about $7.50 to $9.50. Our part # EL520.

Non-Metal Cylinder


1947-55 NOTE: Heavy Copper Internal Cable 6 Volt


1955-66 Fine Gauge Wire Incased, for protection 12 Volt(only)

Re-circular Heaters and Rubber Defrost Fan Blades

Friday, February 20th, 2015


When you purchase the base Re-circular heater in the 1940’s and 1950’s most did not come with the defroster outlet. This standard heater usually forced air to the floor (not on the windshield) to keep your feet warm and gradually warm the cab interior. It worked fairly well and to the driver it was so much better that a generation before when heaters were almost nonexistent.

The problem with these heaters: They warm the humid interior air from passenger breathing and did not use the dry outside air. On a very cold day with one to three people in the cab, the windows soon fogged from the breath of the passengers. The fog might even freeze on the glass.

Standard equipment for many was a rag on the seat to keep portions of the windshield clear for driving. Opening the window to get in dry air was not a consideration. It was cold outside!

General Motors and a few auto part suppliers soon realized there would be a demand for an accessory steering column mounted electric fan that blew more warm air on the driver’s part of the windshield. A good idea when all was operating correctly, however probably never worked well in very cold climates.

The attached photos shows a General Motors fan with rubber blades. This material was to either protect the blades or keep driver from cutting fingers on metal blades.

NOTE: There was even an aftermarket fan that did not use power from the 6 volt battery. It operated from the air vacuum created from a hose to the intake manifold. What a unique idea especially for the car or truck owner having little power left in his older battery!

Yes, we have come a long way in heater design!

Re-circulator Heater (No defroster outlet)

Steering Column Mounted Fan

1954 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Brake Lines

Thursday, February 12th, 2015

On the ½ ton only of this one year of pickup, the hydraulic line coming from the master cylinder to the tee connection block on the right frame rail and the two rear axle cross lines, have a larger diameter than the lines in the remainder of the system. This can create some confusion when replacing the total system.
Enclosed is a paragraph from the 1954 Chevrolet shop manual explaining this change and a rough drawing that helps show the differences. It is important these dimensions are correct on the new lines when the instillations begin to save loss of time, money, and confusion when they do not fit the two tee connection blocks.

1954 gm transition

Front wheel lines bend back 180*

Front Rear

The Death of the Panel Truck

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

After a life of hauling merchandise, those taken to salvage yards often found a final use. They set on the ground and stored the yard’s generators, starters, radios, heaters, and other unique items removed of vehicles going to the crusher. OR They might be left too close to a stream that floods in the spring. See Photo.

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Blazer Top Facts

Monday, September 15th, 2014

At a recent truck show a 1972 GMC Blazer was so original that several special points should be shown on the vehicle’s unaltered fiber glass top.

Two dome lights are on the left interior side. This allows light for passengers on the front and rear seat. These are the same as in the pickup and big trucks above their rear window.

As this fiber glass top is made to be removed, GM installed 2 plug and warning plate. This was to remind the owner that when removing the top you must pull the plug. This connected the main wiring harness to the wires in the top that lead to the two dome lights.

A clothes hanger hook is behind the front dome light

These fiberglass tops have survived very well over the years. Of course, they are not made for a person’s weight but when used correctly they will last many years beyond their current 42 years!

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Top in Place

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Both Dome Lights

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Front Dome Light

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Rear Dome Light

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Clothes Hanger Behind Front Door

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Warning Plate for Plug

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More Distance View of Warning Plate

Blazer Spare Tire Mount

Friday, September 12th, 2014

A rarely seen view of the Blazer spare tire mount. When you preferred to keep you spare inside for security or just to lower the cost over an outside swing bracket, GM provided this special two foot mount behind the rear seat. It is secured by fasteners to the metal Blazer floor.

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1969-72 Chevrolet Standard/Deluxe Grills

Friday, September 12th, 2014

During these years there were no difference between grill in the base lower price model (Custom) and the top of the line Super Cheyenne.
The reason is simple! High volume reduces high prices! Most Chevrolet trucks in these years used an anodized aluminum grill housing with a plastic insert. In proportion to the mid series and top of the line Chevy Cheyenne, General Motors could not produce a custom grill at a lower price.
Therefore, when you purchased a custom truck in these years the difference in the front was receiving a non-plated white bumper.

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Custom

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Cheyenne

Advanced Design Safety Treads, Dimensions 9″ x 21″

Thursday, August 28th, 2014


About 15 years ago, Jim Carter Truck Parts decided to reproduce the “real” GM step plates used in the years of 1947-55. Though there were hundreds of step plate designs available during the early years, only one is pure Chevrolet/GMC and was made available by the GM dealers.
No lettering exists so they will fit both Chevrolet and GMC. They are stamped steel with black exterior paint. In the center between the outer raised edges are a non-slip adhesive sheet. This attractive accessory prevents visual scratches when people step on restored boards.
MOST IMPORTANT: GM referred to these accessories as “Safety Treads”. It was discovered from dealer feedback that on occasions a wet metal running board used to enter or exit a truck with smooth shoe soles caused a major fall from slipping. Broken bones sometimes were the results. Thus, the creation of “Safety Treads”.

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Just like GM made them!

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Taken from an Advance Design Salesman’s Data Book

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1960-62 Over-Load Springs

Monday, August 18th, 2014


When you owned GM ½ ton in the early years and occasionally need to carry a load above the manufactures suggested limits, over-load rear springs were the answer. They were GM installed or aftermarket.
When installed they were not part of the rear suspension until the stock springs were overloaded. When the bed lowered due to additional weight, the auxiliary springs were contacted and helped support the extra pounds. With rear leaf springs, the different over-load springs companies made them all on the same principal.
A big change was required in this ½ ton over-load system in 1960. A totally different ½ ton now had rear coil springs as standard equipment. A redesigned ½ ton over-load system was now needed.
We recently found this complete revised system attached to a 1960-62 ½ ton. How unusual!
Because the ½ ton differential is the same on 1955-62 and only the new 1960-62 has coil springs, a very unusual overload system was created. The following photos show a used system still attached to a 1960-62 differential. It was such an eye catcher in comparison to the leaf spring system we had to take these digital photos.

Note: It is assumed it will not attach correctly to the 1963-66 as this uses a different differential with their coil rear springs.

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Upside down in truck. Thus reversed camera photo.

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Unique “wrap around” Differential System.

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Ground Hogs and Dirt Floors

Monday, August 18th, 2014

We assume the increase population of these little 12 to 15 pound rodents in the past 20 years is due to stricter in-city zoning that does not allow dogs outside without some type of restraint.
Beware! Ground hogs (woodchuck) are on the hunt for a dry place out of the rain to call home. They love a dry dirt floor barn or related storage building. These rodents continually dig their tunnels throughout which is protection from possibly any predators. They have keen eye sight, even can see you 200 feet away, and run for a tunnel!
Look at this 1959 Chevrolet Napco 4×4 stored out of sight about 5 years. Ground hogs placed one of their tunnels under the front wheels. The trucks weight soon dropped it into a tunnel and the straight front axle is on in the dirt!

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But it’s my home!

1971 Disc Brake Decal

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

 

It’s 1971 and what we all knew was coming it arrived with this new model year. For the first time Chevrolet and GMC light trucks were equipped with front disc brakes (several years after certain models of Chevy cars).
To show the world this new addition was available, a special decal was on the left side of the tail gates. This was not added the following year.

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1960 – 1961 Chevrolet Grills

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

To help recover from high tooling costs, all car and truck manufacturers attempt to make items that can be used as long as possible. This is a great way for reducing costs per part.

Examples of automotive leaders in this field are:
The original Volkswagen Beetle bodies were basically the same about 20 years.
The longest run metal body is said to be the Divco neighborhood dairy and bakery delivery truck. Used the same sheet metal tooling over 30 years. Of course, more modern engine updates were added as the years passed.

Of the many General Motors sheet metal items that were repeated, a good example (maybe not the best) are the 1960 and 1961 Chevrolet light trucks. Between the two years few items changed. Yes, their ½ ton 6 bolt wheels and hub caps were very different, but this was the beginning and the end of the same item in that series. It is the grills and parking light housings that were one year only items. As grills are considered by General Motors as the vehicle’s front focal point, GM wanted to make the “change conscious” public realize they were buying a pickup that would show to others it was really a new model.

On the front of the 1960 and 1961 light trucks, there are almost no changes except for the grill and parking light housings. Therefore, these items can be perfectly inter-changed with even the same fasteners.

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1960

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1961

1937-38 GMC Lower Grill Bar Support

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014


Did GM make a mistake in designing the rubber grill bar support? The six vertical grill bars are each held in a slot in a lower rubber V-block. It keeps the bars in proper position and protects them from damage when driving over very rough terrain.
The problem: Almost all (now 76 year old grills) have their vertical bars ends rusted away due to water seeping into these slots securing the bars. Should General Motors have added a water drain hole in each slot to stop standing water? An enclosed photo shows the extra thoughts by a customer a few weeks ago. A small drain hole was cut in the bottom of each slot in the V-block. He was attempting to stop grill bar rust!
We suspect General Motors would say: “We do not build trucks to last 50 to 75 years. That is just the way it is.”

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Grill Bars – Rusted Away

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Close-up. Grill Bar ends gone

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With Bar Slots

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Aftermarket Drain Holes on Bottom

COE Shift Lever

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

As vehicle owners begin to use their truck (cars as well) they report to local dealers of developing problems. Many things show up in long field use and not during short laboratory tests.
An excellent example is the 4 speed shift lever on the 1947-55 Chevrolet and GMC Cab over Engine “COE”. It was found that wear in the lower end of the vertical lever would develop. Even a little wear moved the top end of the lever closer to the dash until finally a drivers knuckle could actually touch the dash!
By 1950, a factory correction was made. The lever was shortened and moved away from the dash. Photos by Kent Zimmerman – Mesa, Arizona
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1947 – 50
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1951 – 55

Photos by Kent Zimmerman, Mesa, Arizona

The 20 Year Chevrolet Horn

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

This new horn design was introduced in 1934. It is attached direct to the 207 six cylinder engine and was so successful there was almost no changes through 1952.
As shown in these photos this 1934-36 horn was attached to a flat foot that secured it to the center of the intake manifold. A long nose directs the sound to the area very close to the radiator cooling fan.
A slight change to the exterior appearance occurred with the new 1937 216 cubic inch engine. Possibly to keep it away from the high temperatures of the exhaust manifold, the horn was relocated. It now was attached to the forward leg of the intake away from engine heat.
The “bell” part of the horn was shortened to keep it the same distance from the fan. There, it remained on cars and trucks with the 216 engine through late 1952.
It was so well designed it rarely required attention. A single screw secures the rear half circle cover. When removed the inner workings are exposed for an occasional tone adjustment.
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1934 – 36
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1937 – 52

1960-1961 Parking Lights

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

The most unique feature of the 1960-1961 Chevy / GMC Truck is the design of their hood. It is not in any way similar to the year before. Whether you like it or not, there is no other vehicle with an appearance like this Chevy and GMC Truck. As GM was known for saving on tooling costs (especially with trucks) this is a perfect example. The large sheet metal hood is the same on GMC and Chevrolet trucks but the parking light housings are different!
Look at the attached photos. You will see how GM gave each of their two brands a different look while keeping the same hood.

1960-61 Parking Lights -1 1960-61 Parking Lights

Chevrolet                                                                                 GMC

 

Short Shaft Water Pump Discussion

Monday, March 17th, 2014

The revised Chevrolet 235 and 261 high pressure inline six cylinder engine (1955 through 1962) was given a much better cooling system than prior years. This was due to a big change in the water pump and how it attached the front of the engine block.
The prior 216 and early 235 design pulled coolant out of the engine block through two quarter size holes, into an exterior pump, then forced it through the lower radiator hose and back into the engine block. This system worked well for millions of Chevrolet cars and trucks for at least 16 years.
One of the difficulties began to develop as these vehicles became older and were exposed to faster speeds of more modern roads and radiator coolant water contained a high calcium content.
Calcium started to slowly accumulate inside the block but even more in the radiator cooling tubes. The coolant temperature would rise in the block due to slower water circulation.
This was first noticed in the low geared 1 ½ and 2 tons, even with their extra row of radiator cooling tubes. Local radiator shops would remove the top radiator tank and “rod out” the cooling tubes to restore most of the original radiators ability.
With the introduction of 2 new Chevy six cylinder in 1955, General Motors made a change in the water pump that would at least postpone this over-heating problem for many more years than the earlier engines.
Now, the water pump propeller actually was inside a 4” hole in the front of the block. It could move a higher volume of coolant through the block. Chevrolet cars and trucks could now be used so many more miles before this rodding of the tubes was necessary.
With General Motors wisdom, they designed their new high pressure 235 and 261 engine to easily fit in the place of a failing earlier 216 engine. The main problem with this engine exchange was the longer length of the new water pump shaft.
Local mechanics would then either cut some metal from the upper and lower air dam to move this radiator forward a few inches or shorten the pump shaft to provide radiator clearance for the fan on a new 7” pulley.

The word spread quickly that the shaft could be cut and the 4” diameter pulley from a 1953-1954 would press in the proper position. (Most shops could find one of these pulleys on a nearby used engine)
All fit well but the rotating RPM speed of this small 4” pulley turned the fan and pump 20% faster at the same vehicle speed. Because of the low engine gearing of the larger 1 ½ – 2 ton trucks we have heard owners feel their water pump experienced “cavitation” (the fan is turning so fast water flow will almost come to a stop). It may not boil the coolant but it just might! At slower road speeds the water temperature returns close to normal. A small 18” fan from an early 216 donor engine was also required to prevent contacting the lower radiator tank.

NOW enters another modified water pump that has a much flatter 7” diameter pulley. This lowers the fan speed to the correct RPM that GM intended to be used on ½ ton up to the 2 tons. It was a one size fits all!
It is the other short shaft pump design! You can easily install this modified 235 and 261 engine in the 1953 and older truck (and cars). It is strongly recommended that you use this pulley pump for Chevy trucks rated over ½ tons!
It requires the correct wider four blade 235 fan, however the blades must be bent slightly forward to miss the lower radiator tank.

Therefore, if you want to operate your 235 and 261 engines water pump at a slower speed as GM intended, the 7 inch pulley design is the way to proceed. It will cool ¾ to 2 tons with lower differential gearing at high speeds with no boiling, just as the vehicles were designed. Yes, Jim Carter Truck Parts has the new updated pump assemblies available at a price of $159.00 (a used original wide blade fan is by another order).
A small 4 inch diameter pulley water pump have been placed on a 235 or 261 engine since they were first introduced. They usually work well with vehicles with clean radiators on cars and ½ ton light vehicles that have been given a higher speed differential. Not recommended for larger trucks as water temperature will raise at higher speeds! We have these that operate well (without add-on air conditioning) at our company at $130.00.
As the owner of Jim Carters Truck Parts, I can assure you we have sold over 500 short shaft water pumps with 4 inch pulleys in the last 10 years. Return rate is about 4%. I suspect it is rarely due to an inefficient pump but rather the new customer not aware of the difference between a 216 and later 235 six cylinder. Maybe a few were using them on a low differential ratio ¾ to 2 ton truck.
Does the 4 inch pulley cool as well as the 7 inch design? Probably not on larger trucks! In some situations, if your radiator has calcium build-up, the coolant flow can be so restricted, your temperature gauge will show an increase at highway speeds. The 4 inch pulley turns the water pump much faster than GM intended!
With the low differential gearing (as in the ¾ ton to a 2 ton) plus driving higher speeds, the increase engine RPM will definitely cause temperature increase. It can go so far at very high speeds causing the water to cavitate and the coolant circulation will almost come to a stop! It may not boil the coolant but it just might!

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4 inch pulley

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7 inch pulley

1955-59 GMC Front Motor Mount

Friday, January 24th, 2014

1937 Chevrolet Lower Bar
1937 Chevrolet Lower Bar

 

1954 GMC Deluxe Pickup

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

The Korean War has ended and copper used in quality chrome plating is now readily available at an acceptable price to commercial buyers. General Motors loses no time introducing a deluxe pickup in both their Chevrolet and GMC lines. Quality chrome plating was required for this project and was now in stock. Other metals have also dropped in price including stainless steel.

The new deluxe GMC pickup was far above the appearance of earlier years even though the mechanics were virtually unchanged. With more disposable income in the US, General Motors gambled that many buyers would purchase a new upscale truck even if they did not have immediate hauling needs.

Actually GM invested very little to make their top of the line pickup stand out above the crowd. Using their base model, the following made up much of this special pickup:

  • Grille, bumper, grille surround and hub caps are chrome plated.
  • The exterior side window and new one piece “panoramic” windshield is surrounded with high polished stainless steel.
  • Wing vents assemblies are combination chrome and polished stainless.
  • The end of the rolls in the bed sides have plastic reflectors (actually from a 1953 Buick) and held in place with a GMC only stainless ring. A small screw hole was in only the deluxe pickup bed side to secure this assembly. Not on Chevrolet.
  • Chrome tail light ring.
  • The interior upholstery consisted of cloth covered cushions rather than traditional vinyl material on trucks of all prior years.
  • The pleated door panels matched the material in the seats.
  • The unusual metal interior was painted the reverse of the deluxe Chevrolet colors. Thus, dark being the primary color. A lighter shade was the dash, steering column and steering wheel.
  • Driver’s side are rest.
  • Yes, like the deluxe Chevrolet, the running boards were the lower body color.M
  • A different contrasting color, not necessarily the body, is placed on the wheels.

A few items in the attached GMC advertisement, placed in a major magazine. Were extra cost factory options:

  • Hydra-Matic transmission.
  • White top, to reflect sun.
  • Jet plane hood ornament.
  • Factory Clock.

Note: A rear bumper was always an option in 1954. Their problem: They prevented a pickup from backing close to a loading dock. When carrying merchandise or walking livestock into the pickup the gap caused dangerous falling problems for some owners. The beginning attached factory photo of this article shows the tailgate totally open and thus down vertically to eliminate the gap. This can only happen with no rear bumper.

1940-46 Map Lights, All Trucks Had Them!

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

Within 10 to 15 years the delicate factory three position light switch under dash usually broke.  Replacing this switch on a working truck in the 1940’s was usually not an option.  Now almost 70 years later few owners of these early GM trucks even know the light switch existed.  In most cases the little single filament light bulb and socket still remains hidden behind the middle of the dash panel.  A horizontal slot in the dash once allowed light to be emitted into the cab area.  Just right for reading a map!

NOW, they are once again available.   Various tooling was made so all parts of the switch would fit together.  One side illuminates the dash cluster, one side is for the map light and the middle position is off. Just like GM did it!  All 1940-46 Chevrolet and GMC trucks have the factory under dash holes for installation.  Contact Jim Carters Truck Parts at 1-800-842-1913 or check on line at www.oldchevytrucks.com. Mention item # EL157.  Price $29.50

 

Accessory GM Reflector

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

To add better night visibility to all trucks, Suburbans and panel trucks, General Motors offered a 4 inch diameter reflector as a dealer installed accessory.   With the single small factory taillight, seeing of these vehicles on the road could be difficult especially if their one bulb burned out.  To help correct this problem GM offered a larger reflector that could be attached to the rear license plate bracket.  It greatly improved visibility to others at the rear during night driving.

This was a time when town street lights were limited.  Of course, on the open road these were no lighting along the highways!  This simple GM reflector was offered by the dealers to prevent rear end accidents.  The customer could buy this dealer accessory from about 1940 through 1953. One of the attached photos is taken from a 1949 Chevrolet Truck Data Book. The 4 inch lens is a Stimsonite # 24 and the metal Guide ring has a stamping of X-19.

Jim Winters of Rochester, Minnesota has both a restored 1946 panel truck and ½ ton pickup.  He found these reflectors for both his vehicles at local swap meets.  Few people recognize what these reflectors were used for.   Jim found his in a box of miscellaneous unmarked parts.

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1964-66 Optional Air Filter

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

What an unusual and almost forgotten Chevrolet Truck option. Most 1964-66 truck enthusiasts have no idea this option was ever available.

Paul Bremer of Seward, Nebraska recently discovered a 1964 Chevy ¾ ton in a back row of a salvage yard with the remnants of an option air filter. This was Paul’s first encounter with this option after over 30 years researching older salvage yards in the mid-west. He took the attached photos and then began looking through 45 year old Chevrolet option books. Two drawings were found in a Chevrolet truck assembly instructions manual. They show this extra air filter was a correct option on 1/2 through 2 ton trucks. The actual primary filter in the salvage yard had been lost but the piping remained.

An interesting discovery: This optional air filter attaches to and pulls air from the driver’s side inner top cowl. However, the photo from a different truck shows no opening for this special air filter. Possible the factory made the cut in the cowl when it was special ordered. This inlet must have reduced dust into the air intake system. The original air filter on top of the carburetor pulls in dust direct from the radiator fan air that adds more dusty air direct from the outside.

Therefore, did the dealer cut out the hole in the customer’s truck to install the heavy duty air filter or was it factory installed only?

With ideas contact Jim at: jcarter@oldchevytrucks.com


With Optional Air Filter (in salvage yard)

Without Optional Air Filter

With Optional Air Filter (in salvage yard)

Interior Paint, GMC 1936-40

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

Early GMC’s carried the same texture of interior paint as the Chevrolet trucks. However, to keep the two companies looking different, GMC used a dark gray wrinkle instead of the dark brown used on Chevrolet Trucks. GMC used the wrinkle style paint through 1940 but Chevrolet stopped this type of texture paint at the end of 1938.

This unusual texture finish was on all removable parts on the interior, including dash, door panels, header panel, windshield, headliner rear panel, post covers, etc. These pre-painted panels could be attached on the assembly line to the cab that had been painted a smooth exterior enamel of various GMC colors.

The interior photos are from an untouched original 1939 GMC belonging to Rob English of Franklin Mass.

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

Radio Blank-Out

Friday, October 11th, 2013

So unusual in today’s world!  When you did not order a radio in your new 1967-72 GM truck, here is what you received.

A simple metal plate that pressed into the two holes that usually secured the tuner knobs.  Certainly a very rare item, as later owners have found at least a used radio to place in the dash.

1939-40 GMC Grill Bars

Friday, September 13th, 2013

An interesting fact! Their eleven horizontal grill bars are all the same.  Just a subtle way General Motors saved tooling cost on their smaller trucks.  Now you know a total grill can be created from miscellaneous damaged assembles.

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

Economical Gas Tank Cleaning

Friday, July 19th, 2013

We recently had a local radiator repair shop clean the rust from an older used gas tank.  They submerged it in a cleaning acid tank overnight.  The price was $65.00.  WOW!   Several months later we discovered an “old school” method that would have cost about $1.00.  Oh well, we live and learn.

Back in the days of the Great Depression money was a scarce commodity and economical methods in life were used or otherwise things probably did not get done.  It was discovered that agricultural molasses (not what you buy in the grocery store) mixed with four parts water removed rust.  Fill your tank with this combination and wait about a week.  Surprise!  Your gas tank is shiny clean inside.

You can even put a lid on a five gallon bucket from a hardware store and small parts covered with this formula will have all the rust removed in less than a week.

Agricultural molasses is used to mix with livestock feed.  It causes farm animals to eat otherwise less desirable feeds because of its attractive sweet taste.

Retail price at a livestock feed store is about $2.00 for 10 pounds.

This data is provided by MIKE RUSSELL of COLUMBIA, MISSOURI.

Another cleaning Technique!

Several years ago, we heard of a gas tank cleaning method that cleans most tanks every time and its FREE!

Attach the gas tank to a farm tractor large rear wheel before a day in the field.  Add about a pint of ¼” gravel.  The slow rotation of the large wheel will move the gravel continually inside the old tank.  Sometimes even by noon, the rust is all removed as the gravel continually moves inside the tanks. Just pour out all contents and the tank is cleaned!

1946 Chevrolet 2 Ton with Thornton Drive

Monday, July 8th, 2013

Owner: Howard Jones

During the recent annual convention of the American Truck Historical Society in Yakama, Washington we noticed that among the 813 registered trucks there was a Chevrolet that may be the only survivor of this design.

The vehicle was a 1946 Chevrolet 2 ton with a Thornton dual rear drive. How unusual! This non-General Motors accessory allowed all four rear wheels to give pulling power. There is no disconnecting two wheels when on a highway!

This was featured in the 1946 “Chevrolet Silver Book” which has pages of accessories that were not dealer or manufacturer’s products. Sorry, the pages from this book are so small in the Thornton photos. A few other photos taken at the convention are also included.

The owner had made an opening in the new bed so there was a good view of the differential by the general public.

This particular Chevy with Thornton drive is said to have carried a D-6 Caterpillar dozer off road in the 1950’s to clear the right of ways for local power lines. It also had a large water tank mounted to the front of the bed.

The odometer reads 15,775 miles. It will reach a speed of 40mph on level ground.

More details on the Thornton Drive and its current owner will be with our August 2013 Feature Truck of the Month.

A Real 4 X 4!

–>

1939-46 3/4 Ton Rear Bumper Braces

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

Yes, they are different than 1/2 ton!  Though the “C” shaped brace that attaches to the bumper is like the 1/2 ton, the brace from there to the frame is much different.  A curved single heavy brace connects to the frame rail in place of the pair on the 1/2 ton.  Of course, all are of spring steel to prevent distortions when occasionally hit in daily use.

1954 Chevrolet Hydramatic Transmission

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

The first year of the Chevrolet pickup with a Hydramatic transmission was 1954.  Though it did not find a large percentage of buyers, this truck did open the door for an increasing number of this transmission in the coming years.

When sitting in the 1954 Chevrolet truck cab with this new option, some changes are immediately noted. To operate the starter motor on the original six cylinder, a button is pushed with the driver’s thumb just above the headlight switch.  The ignition switch still has 2 positions as earlier years.


The truck with a Hydramatic has an automatic choke on the carburetor, there is no need for manual pull choke.  Thus, GM installed a small blank out plug in the hole where the choke lever is usually found (at the left of the radio position).  At the right is another plugged hole which is usually for a throttle lever.

Of course, the main focal point is the Hydramatic shift selector attached on the column below the steering wheel.


For the new owner not acquainted with a Hydramatic, a paper sheet is slid over the sunvisor pad.  It lists the instructions for successfully operating those types of transmissions.


An interesting feature on the Hydramatic:  Turn off the engine while stopped in reverse and the transmission is in park!

1947 Suburban

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

If you like non-original suburbans, you will love this 1947. Seen in a recent advertisement at $115,000. Look at the large quarter panel window!

1954 Chevrolet Grille Guard

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

A nice dealer installed accessory in 1954 was the grille guard. It was easily installed by using the pre-existing bumper bolts.

A problem when installed was that it lessened the visibility of the front license plate. Therefore, another change was made during the installation. The license was moved to the center of the front splash apron from the factory position on the right side. In the kit were two small rubber plugs. These filled the factory license bracket holes that existed when the factory license bracket was removed.

Before Dual Filament Headlights

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

During the early years of automotive history, the invention of the dual filament light bulb had not emerged.  Therefore, there was no high and low beam headlight bulb on cars and trucks.  Only one beam existed for night driving.

This created a problem with the headlight beam from an on-coming vehicle on the narrow roads in town and country driving.  It was not until the late 1920’s that the two filament headlight bulbs came from the factory on new vehicles.

The attached photos show a great example of American Ingenuity sold in some vehicle parts stores during the 1920’s.  It is an electrical rheostat that allowed the driver to lessen the amount of light from the headlight.  This accessory was mounted on the steering column.  By moving the long lever with a finger, the driver could regulate bulb lighting.  How ingenious!  This very attractive assembly was recently found in an old trunk.   The unit is nickel plated as chrome was not yet available during these early years.  It is a very high quality part.

The price was $7.50, very expensive considering most workers made less than $1.00 per hour.   The sales company is shown to be the Universal Distributing Company of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

No doubt, the sales were limited due to the price but also because of a human trait.  Yes, the vehicle owner could lessen his light on the road but chances are good, the on-coming vehicle did not have one of these inventions.  The person that had spent the money on this accessory still received just as much light in his eyes from on-coming vehicles while he suddenly had less lighting from his vehicle!

1955-1958 Cameo and Suburban Carrier Overview

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

The world famous Chevrolet Cameo and GMC Suburban Carrier are known by most early truck enthusiasts. They were created due to US citizens having more disposable income after World War II. Demand for houses, appliances, and vehicles were at times more than some factories could produce in a timely manner. In regards to vehicles, General Motors realized that options (offered by the factory) and accessories (offered by the dealer) were selling well on both cars and pickups. After a slight slowdown during the Korean War years, auto and truck extras were again available and good sellers. GM sales just kept getting better!

To help draw attention to their new soon to be introduced 1955 commercial line, the Task Force trucks, GM would announce a special deluxe ½ ton pickup. It would not be like their well known stepside pickup. The retail price would be almost 25% above the regular ½ ton. Often referred to as a “Boulevard Pickup”, it was too deluxe and expensive for most to be used in its beginning years for just hauling merchandise. It would be seen beside homes in newer suburban neighborhoods that had developed so fast after World War II. Those using a ½ ton for city work or farming were not GM’s targeted buyer on this model.

To sell this truck the best, the sales marketing experts of the Chevrolet Division of General Motors made a smart decision to not introduce them or any new Task Force trucks until Mid-1955. The marketing at the first of the year was totally devoted to advertising their new completely redesigned Chevrolet automobile. Only when these cars had been marketed for about six months did the ads begin again introducing the new trucks that would be in dealerships in mid-year. Thus, the Chevrolet dealers made two large hits in one year to attract new buyers. No doubt, the dealers couldn’t have been happier!

Actually the Chevrolet Cameo and GMC Suburban Carrier were a gamble. GM hoped to attract the customer that wanted a truck more for looks than for hauling. These helped draw customers into the showroom and made a statement about the buyer. They cost more but hauled the same cargo. If you looked close these trucks were mechanically the same as the base pickup. The full trim package that could be added to the standard pickup was included. Therefore GM already had most of this trim in stock. It was the redesigned fiberglass bedsides and tailgate that really stopped traffic among the truck enthusiasts. From a distance these special ½ tons looked somewhat like a Fleetside bed that would follow a few years later. The traditional rear stepside fenders were eliminated! Yes, whitewall tires even came on most when new. The extra cost was not only in the cab trim, a more deluxe interior, chrome grille and front bumpers but on the large fiberglass outer bed sides, their attaching parts, a special rear chrome bumper and a different way to store the under bed spare tire and wheel.

A strong advertising campaign in early 1955 often featured the new Cameo’s and Suburban’s as leading the pack of GM’s redesigned trucks. The mid-year introduction of these new task force trucks took off strong. It had been 7 years since GM had changed their truck body style.


1955 Cameo Factory Photo

1955 Cameo Factory Photo

Only 5,220 Cameo’s were sold in this half sales year. They were offered only in the combination of Cardinal Red and Bombay Ivory with specialized red and white interior. The GMC Suburban Carriers were said to have sold about 15% of this number. Not necessarily great by GM standards but a good solid start and it pulled truck buyers into the showroom.

The problem was the sales drop in 1956 even with offering most all truck colors. Only 1,450 Cameo’s found new buyers during a full 12 month year. It appears those wanting this unusual more expensive pickup had bought the year before.


1956 Suburban Carrier

1956 Cameo

1956 Suburban Carrier

It was obvious GM needed to do something to boost sales for the 1957 year. The Chevrolet Divisions Cameo not GMC, added very attractive bed side trim with a contrasting color between a pair of horizontal stainless strips. It certainly gave it a more updated appearance. Unfortunately, it did little to increase sales. The Cameo sales in 1957 only reached 2244 units!


1957 Cameo

1957 Suburban Carrier

1957 Cameo

General Motors, or any company concerned with their bottom line, do not like products that are losing or have no serious future. Thus a decision was made to stop production of these special vehicles in 1957. The new Fleetside pickup with 50% more hauling capacity was scheduled for 1958. Why not offer a very deluxe pickup with most all options on this new Fleetside and replace the Cameo and Suburban? This would cost GM much less but yet the finished product should attract attention like the earlier Cameo and Suburban. They could add horizontal trim to their standard Fleetside bed and not increase the cost like the Cameo bedsides with related spare tire components.

For General Motors this would be a winning decision, however what to do with the near 1,500 Cameo and Suburban Carrier beds at the end of 1957? Because of their large fiberglass sides, these complete beds, stored by most assembly plants in different states, had been made and assembled at the Corvette factory in St. Louis, Missouri. Dumping 1500 beds at the end of 1957 into a landfill would be a big financial loss even for General Motors!


1958 Suburban Carrier

1958 Cameo

To prevent such a loss, it was decided to continue selling the Cameos and Suburban’s until the supply of GM’s completed beds was eliminated. To protect the dealers from overstock of Cameo’s and Suburban’s the introduction of the most deluxe Fleetside pickup that was to have the attractive side trim would be postponed until 1959. The hope was this would keep most dealers from still having 1958 Cameos and Suburban’s in stock when the full trim Fleetside came out in 1959. Of course, this postponing of the full trim Fleetside until 1959 insured the dealer he could buy a remaining Cameo or Suburban Carrier and still sell them in 1958 to customers wanting a total deluxe pickup. If a buyer knew about the coming Fleetside pickup, he would probably pass over the 1958 Cameo and wait to purchase the totally new deluxe full trim Fleetside in 1959! Dealers would take a big loss on their remaining 1958 Cameo’s and Suburban Carriers in stock. It would also be bad public relations for those that had paid the larger price one or two years ago and now see the new 1958 models being dumped at a low price. They would see what they had thought was a Boulevard pickup being bought and worked. It would now become a low price ½ ton.

Note: The GMC “Suburban” was given that name to appeal to those extra income people that were moving to the fast growing suburban areas at the edge of many cities.

This 1959 Deluxe replaced the Cameo

1953 Chevrolet Radiator Cover

Monday, March 4th, 2013

One of the rarest Chevrolet dealer installed truck accessories of the 1950’s.  Charles Callis of Union City, Tennessee recently found this original radiator cover that he installs for shows on his 1953 1/2 ton.

Note the Chevrolet logo on the lower right side to prove it’s the real thing!

It is pictured in the 1949 Chevrolet Salesman’s Data Book on the Truck Accessory page.  Chevrolet describes it as:

“For all models of trucks.  Adjustable; constructed of Fabrikold.  Aids engine warm-up.
Protects engine from cold blasts.  Improves efficiency in stop-and-go operations.”

The thin oil cloth type material did not last long either on the truck or during off season in storage.  No doubt the dealer discarded his unsold stock in a few years.

You can contact Charles by email at:  charlespcallis@juno.com

Change-over to Sealed Beam Headlights in 1940

Friday, March 1st, 2013

In 1939 US auto and truck manufacturers realized the following year would be the introduction of the revolutionary new we call them “almost” sealed beam headlight bulbs.  These first “almost” seal beams were very unique by the newer standards 15 years later that most of us are acquainted with.  This early sealed beam assembly was much like the later design except it had a much smaller 2 filament light bulb inside.  Yes, the inside reflective plating was sealed inside with a glass fluted large lens that was now part of the total assembly.  This reflective coating was sealed from outside air and oxidizing did not occur.  There was no loss of shine with age.  It was one of the best improvements in safety since the introduction of bulb headlights.

A very interesting characteristic of these first “almost” seal beams:  A small hole from a flying rock did not burn out the unit.  The argon gas that protected the glowing filaments from quick burn-out was still inside the small internal bulb.

Red seal beam bulbs introduced in the mid 1950’s were different.  They were one large argon filled assembly.  When cracked by a flying rock, they instantly burned out.  Imagine the number of new designed sealed beam bulbs that were lost by vehicles driving at high speeds on gravel roads behind other vehicles!  There must have been a run on the old style obsolete units in rural areas.

The 12 volt sealed beams were not made with the early design “small in the reflector” design.

For most car and truck manufacturers it was too late to do a major redesign of the headlight assemblies for the 1940 year.  Chevrolet and GMC trucks reshaped the metal edge on the 1939 bucket so the new seal beam bulbs fit perfectly.  For those not having a detailed eye for auto and truck changes, it would probably never be noticed.

For those buying a new 1940 vehicle after driving with the old style reflector bulb design, it would be the most significant change in years.  The gradual diming of their lights over the years as the silver reflector tarnished was now history.  Yes, the owner could have removed the glass lens from his older vehicle, polished the silver plate, and reassemble; however it would be like today; most drivers would not take the effort.

Below are photos of the earlier 1937-39 headlight and the new 1940 redesigned for the new seal beam.  The visible part of the buckets is identical including the chrome rings.  It’s only the hidden edge for the “almost” sealed beam bucket that is different.

 


1940 Sealbeam bucket

1937-39 and older headlight-reflector bucket

1940 “Almost” Seal beam Headlight

1937-1939 and older Headlight

“Almost” Seal Beam front

“Almost Seal Beam side

“Almost Seal Beam metal back

1936-38 GMC Grille Centers

Monday, February 4th, 2013

What a rare occurrence! At the 2011 America Truck Historical Society Convention in South Bend, Indiana, we found both a 1936 and a 1937 restored GMC truck with the correct grill — each at different booths. You can go to every truck show for many years and never see even one. Therefore, we just had to get a few photos and make some comments. After all, this may never happen again.

Though at quick glance, the GMC grilles of these two years may seem the same, however, look close. The die cast assembly at the top of the 1936 and 1937 grille center gives the impression that the vertical grille bars extend through the emblem. They don’t! It’s an illusion; the tops are die cast and give the appearance that the verticals extend to the top.  A hood ornament above repeats the GMC letters.

The 1936 grille center assembly consists of seven vertical 3” wide hollow chrome bars all the same size. The length is 25 1/4″. The notches in the receiving die cast housing (hold these verticals in place) at the top and bottom are the same for each bar.

By 1937-38 the center vertical bar became wider. It increased from .3” in 1936 to .625”. It tapered back to align with the positioning of the other six side bars. The overall length was shortened to 24”.

These notches in the die cast top and bottom receiving housings are therefore different due to the width change in the center bar. The 1936 and 1937 may look the same on the outside but are not where they attach to the vertical bars. See photo. Chrome was not used to add to the appearance.  These bars were painted silver.

By 1938, the upper grille bar housing was modified.  It doesn’t have the upper die cast vertical bars. They even eliminated the GMC letters on the hood ornament above the grille.

Note:  All these upper GMC emblems are also extremely rare. If off the truck, they usually find a hobbyist’s collection. If they don’t have the GMC letters, such as on 1938 hood emblem, most people don’t know what they came from.  Once separated from the truck in a salvage yard they go to the iron pile.


1936 GMC Grille

1936 GMC Grille Center Bars

1937 Grille Center Bars

1938 Upper Grille Bar Housing

1936 GMC Grille Center

1937 GMC Grille Center

1937 upper grill bar extension front view

1937-38 Upper on bottom side

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”.

1957-62 GM Tool Bag

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

One of our good customers, Scott Phaneuf of Hatfield, MA recently purchased a NOS (New Old Stock) GM tool bag with all the correct tools. It was found in a San Diego dealership back storeroom. Somehow it had not been thrown away over these many years.

In earlier years canvas tool bags were with the vehicle when new at no extra charge. Later they became an extra cost option and this design is our feature item. As the quality of clear vinyl improved, they could now use this material as part of the tool bags.

Photos show the pouch, the enclosed tools, and the original cardboard box that kept the total package. The part number 987322 was for customers that had bought most all General Motors cars and trucks between 1957 through 1962.

Suburban Rear Quarter Panel Holes

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

The full rear quarter panels for the 1947-55 Chevy/GMC Suburban were made all the same at the metal stamping manufacturer.  To save money these panels were not made different if the Suburban was to have the double doors or the tailgate style opening in the rear.

Thus, when the Suburban was provided with a lift and tailgate combination the 4 holes for the “double barn door” hinges in the quarter panels were filled with rectangular rubber plugs.  This was not just for appearance but prevent rain water from reaching the body interior.

These photos show the plugs painted in body color; however it is questioned if this is correct.  By 1950, Suburban buyers had the choice of the 12 pickup colors.  It would have been more economical for all to have black rubber plugs instead of 12 boxes with the optional color prepainted plugs on the assembly line.

The other thought:  These plugs were painted when the full body was given its final color.  This would mean GM planned on the enamel body paint being of the quality that would successfully adhere to rubber over the years.  We don’t usually see this combination in other GM vehicles.  Special paint for rubber only is used!

Comments on how it really occurred:  Email us at jcarter@oldchevytrucks.com

$100.00 Paint Job — Really Nice!

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

On an early Monday morning a customer, Mike Riley of Kansas City stopped by our shop to obtain some older Chevy truck parts needed during the past weekend. As I followed him to his mid-1980’s Chevrolet pickup he brought my attention to his new white paint job. He read about a home garage procedure on the internet and decided to try it.

He certainly was proud of how nice the paint looked. The project began with the usual fine sanding, taping trim, and covering windows. Next came the surprise that has generated this article. Mike bought 2 ½ quarts of industrial grade Rustoleum paint from a local hardware store. He also purchase 2 ½ quarts of Acetone to be used as the thinner.

Spraying the 1 to 1 mixture with his small home compressor was adequate. If the small compressor needed to occasionally build up pressure, no problem. It takes 20 minutes for the paint to dry to the touch, so it easily blends together. One coat does it all!

I was amazed at how nice it looked in our driveway that morning. Mike said the rules were to not polish the drying paint for 60 days. He had just polished the two month old paint on the nose of the hood that morning and I must admit it had a great smooth shine.

This procedure is probably not for the show truck but for the fun daily driver it may be just the way to go for the “do- it yourself” restorer. Mike says the industrial Rustoleum colors are limited so you must pick a more common choice when deciding.

Another important tip while using this painting method; Mike didn’t want to get paint overspray throughout his garage so he did the procedure outside in his driveway. A garden hose used by a friend kept the concrete wet during the spraying. This helped eliminate dust in the painted surface but equally important stopped overspray from settling on his driveway.

Rear Axle Bumper Change

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

Before 1954 on 1/2 tons, the frame rails were given a large arch as they passed over the rear axle housing. With a broken leaf spring or overloading the bed with too much weight, the frame rails will lower many inches before contacting an axle bumper. It was a system that worked for over 20 years on 1/2 tons when the frame rails were forced down toward the rear axle. A hard rubber axle bumper was placed under the hump in the frame to prevent metal to metal contact when this occurred.

For 1954 a totally redesigned pickup bed resulted in a three inch increased depth of the bed for more load volume. Some of this increase required a lower arch in the frame rail over the axle. There would be less space here so the rubber axle bumper was changed in length and was moved to the side of the frame. See photo!

Therefore, this prevents a correct interchange between the 1949-53 1/2 ton frame and the 1954 and newer frame. If this is done the beds will not have the correct relationship to the height of the cab.


1947 to 1953

1947 to 1953

1954 to 1955

1954 to 1955

Firewall Identification

Monday, August 20th, 2012

When finding a 1946 and older Chevy/GMC truck cab, identification may be difficult. Here is a quick way to come very close to the correct year.

The stamped stiffeners on the firewall tell the story.

1936-38
No Stiffeners
1939-40
Two Vertical Stiffeners
1941-46
Cross Design Stiffeners

1936 – 1938 Rear End Update

Friday, August 17th, 2012

A customer recently came to our shop with a big smile about his discovery on the changeover for his 1937 Chevy 1/2 ton. He had changed his engine to either a V8 or a 235 six-cylinder. The closed drive shaft system had to be removed!

After researching the local salvage yards, he discovered the perfect replacement. On a 2005 Chevrolet Colorado pickup, he found a rear end with 6 bolt drums to match his front originals. The leaf spring saddles were in the correct position. The backing plate to backing plate was only one inch wider (1/2 inch per side).

It worked for him, it should be correct for you if you update your driveline.

Installing an Updated Duel Chambered Master Cylinder

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

Warning:  When installing an updated duel chambered master cylinder under the floor of an older GM truck, a brake line modification may be necessary.

It is not acceptable to allow the modified brake line to touch or be very close to the exhaust pipe.  During long trips, the exhaust heat can cause a rise in the brake fluid temperature to near boiling level.  Modern master cylinders do not have a vented cap to release line pressure so fluid will be forced out through wheel cylinders.  The early single chambered caps are vented to prevent this.

Check your brake lines on non-original trucks.  Do not allow a safer system to leave you without brakes.

1939 – 1946 Grilles

Friday, August 10th, 2012

To keep General Motors truck costs down, Chevrolet and GMC ½ through 2 ton shared many components during the late 1930’s through the 1950’s. However, when it came to the grille, the focal point of the truck, changes had to be very noticeable.

The truck designers were limited in creating a new grille as both makes would still have the same front fenders and hood. For these limitations, the designers actually did quite well. They almost made them able to be exchanged from one make to another. On the 1941-46, only the small filler panel between the grille and fender top had to be slightly modified.

The attached photos show how two grilles can be different and yet fit in almost identical sheet metal areas of the trucks.


1939-40 GMC

1939 Chevrolet

1940 Chevrolet

1941-46 GMC

1941-46 Chevrolet

1947-1955 GM panel truck seats

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

Attached are some pictures of the correct 1947-1955 GM panel truck seats. The right side was a factory option. This would be special ordered if the owner was planning on two passengers. Though they have been recovered with cloth instead of factory “leatherette”, they are correct in all other ways. What is interesting is how GM made the optional right side seat to fold up against the dash. This was necessary to allow easier access to merchandise up front. No need to unload freight to get to the front storage area. It appears the seat frame and floor is painted the original grey color. A thin sheet of insulation is placed between each of the body supports. This was to lessen road noise and slow some heat from entering the cab on hot days. Another interesting feature on panel trucks; the single horizontal oak board on each side of the interior helps prevent damage to the exterior sheet metal walls. If a stack of transported items tipped while the panel truck was making a corner, there was less chance of dents being placed on the sides. Note the long metal lid over the floor box which is under the factory optional right seat. This is only provided in the panel truck and canopy express bodies.  It kept the driver’s papers in a neat compartment so they did not slide or blow across the floor.

1947-1955 GM panel truck seats 1947-1955 GM panel truck seats

1960-66 GMC V-12 Engine

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

1960-66 GMC V-12 Engine

Forgotten by most is the gasoline V-12 engine made by the GMC Division of General Motors in the mid 1960’s. This very large one piece engine block was made for GMC’s largest trucks. Examples of these vehicles were water carrying fire trucks and off road vehicles such as quarry trucks, which hauled tons of rock. As can be imagined, the pulling power of these trucks must have been at the top of GMC’s fleet.

Unfortunately, due to the weight of the truck and engine, most were sold to metal recyclers when their working days were over. Most of the few remaining V-12 engines are in fire trucks that have been used only during fires or fire training.

The attached photos show a ½ ton 1964 GMC with one of these V-12’s made to fit for display at shows. Owner unknown. What a mechanical project to fit it into a small ½ ton.

As far as gas mileage, we suspect they almost have to pull a gasoline trailer to keep the engine supplied!

1960-66 GMC V-12 Engine 1960-66 GMC V-12 Engine
1960-66 GMC V-12 Engine 1960-66 GMC V-12 Engine

1936-46 GMC Taillights & Brackets

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

1936-46 GMC Taillights

Though things were shared between GMC and Chevrolet trucks, General Motors made sure many items remained very different during the early years.  GMC preferred very few things to be similar to Chevrolet. Their customers needed to see an almost stand-alone truck with the higher price of the GMC.

One very obvious difference is the change in taillight and bracket. There is no comparison to Chevrolet. The massive GMC stamped steel one piece bracket combined with a redesigned 4 inch taillight makes the pair a “one of a kind”.  They do not interchange with Chevrolet during these years.

Finding any of these parts during a total 1936-46 GMC pickup restoration has become almost impossible. It is said a shop is attempting to remake the bracket, however, if that happens the taillight will be almost as big of a project to get. The light is not being reproduced.

Hint: This taillight was also used on Chevrolet, Buick, Oldsmobile station wagon tailgates from about 1949 through 1952.  Therefore, you will see more lights than GMC brackets at swap meets.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The 1936-46 GMC taillight brackets are now available for this 1936-46 pickup truck.

1936-46 GMC Taillights

 

 

 

 

 

Rear before restoration

 

 

 

 

 

Front after restoration

1936-46 GMC Taillights 1936-46 GMC Taillights

Same tail lights on early GM Wagons!

1947-55 Suburban/Canopy Express Tail Light

Monday, June 25th, 2012

What an ingenious way to keep a tail light in view! General Motors realized that with the tail gate in the lowered position the center tail light still had to be seen by the following traffic. At times the gate will stay lowered when longer freight is carried.

Therefore, the 5” round light is attached to a swing bracket. This bracket is moved by a ¼” vertical rod inside the tailgate. As the gate is lowered, the rod is moved by a hidden attachment on the edge of the body. Thus, the light is always visible!

These photos are of a 1953 Canopy Express owned by John Dunkirk of Southaven, New York.

1947-55 Suburban/Canopy Express Tail Light 1947-55 Suburban/Canopy Express Tail Light

1961 Chevrolet Truck Assembled in Brazil

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

During 2012 National Convention of the American Truck Historical Society, we met some real truck enthusiasts that had traveled to the show from Brazil. One was, Antonio Sergio Hurtago, an owner of an older American truck museum in San Paulo.

I was given a very interesting current 12 month calendar from this museum. The most surprising page featured a 1961 Chevrolet truck assembled in Brazil. Study the attached images carefully of the cab on this larger work truck. It can be immediately recognized as a United States 1947-55. So that’s where GM sent some tooling for their famous Advance Design body! The GM factory in Brazil continued with this popular cab for additional years!

Look closely again. GM in the US did not continue to produce Advance Design gauges, so look at the photo of the 1961 dash. Yes, the 1955-1959 Chevrolet dash gauges were the ones of choice in the Brazilian factory during at least 1961.

This new Brazilian Chevrolet truck is so different from the US models, yet there is just enough prior parts, it makes it an excellent candidate for study.

1955-59 GMC Heater Control Panels

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

For the first time in truck manufacturing General Motors made a heater available at the factory for Task Force trucks in the 1955-59 years. Yes, the dealer could still add a heater if you requested after the new truck purchase.

Here, we feature the GMC heater dash panel for these years. In the photo, the deluxe fresh air controls have chrome die cast housing, temperature control and defroster levers plus the fan speed switch. You could even adjust for inside or outside air intake.

The recirculator heater control also has a very interesting control panel installation. A hole is punched in the heater blank-out plate. A double switch is pulled to allow more water flow into the heater core. The same knob can be turned to operate the fan motor speed. See the photos with the remaining screen printed lettering on the plate. Very ingenious.

Another interesting photo is a GMC blank-out plate with the round heat knob. Here, the owner used the punched hole and an aftermarket switch. Of course, this is for fan speed and the water in the core is not regulated.

Note: The shape of the two heater inserts in the photo look as though they have a different bend, however this is only the angle of the photo!

1938 GMC 1/2 Ton Engine

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

It’s 1938 and the GMC division of General Motors is entering its third year of small truck production.  Prior to 1936, the GMC line consisted of only larger trucks normally bought by businesses and government agencies for heavy hauling.  The Great Depression was in full swing and GMC needed more sales to add to their financial bottom line.  To help sales and even save some of their dealers from bankruptcy, GMC began to market light trucks in 1936.

When GMC developed their first 1/2 and 3/4 ton pickups (T14 and T16), they had no smaller engines that would fit these light weight trucks.  They wanted no part of using the low oil pressure six cylinder engine in the Chevrolet trucks.  Knowing their own small light weight full oil pressure six cylinder was under development (to be introduced in 1939) they had to find a temporary engine.

The answer was in the Oldsmobile Division.  Their strong inline six cylinder flat head engine was just what GMC needed.  It was used for the three years prior to the introduction of GMC’s own overhead valve full pressure engine in 1939.

One exception to this rule was in the 1/2 ton 1938 pickup.  Possibly for economic reasons, the Pontiac inline six cylinder flat head engine was used in the small 1/2 ton during 1938.  It was hoped this would lower the retail price on the 1/2 ton just enough to help GMC dealers better compete with the small pickup competition that were all fighting for the limited sales during the depression years.

The following two photos show a rebuilt 1938 GMC engine owned by Ron Loos of Redding, California.  This Pontiac engine will soon be returned to his 1938 GMC.  The most interesting part of this engine block is the Pontiac Indian head crest cast in the right side.  GMC used it just as they bought it from the Pontiac Division of General Motors in 1938!

Photos by Ron Loos, Redding, CA

1938 GMC 1/2 Ton Engine 1938 GMC 1/2 Ton Engine

1968-1972 Blazer Passenger Seat

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Though most of the first design Blazers came with a passenger seat, it was still an extra cost factory option. Originally created by GM with encouragement from the US Postal Service, it was felt they would be just right for mail delivery in a 2-wheel drive version. Most, but not all, other buyers wanted this right side seat and paid the extra cost!

Pictured is an all original seat in a position that allowed an extra passenger to reach another option, the rear seat. This non-folding passenger seat moves forward something like the two door Suburbans of the 1940’s through mid 1960’s.

1968-1972 Blazer   1968-1972 Blazer

1941 – 1946 Chevy / GMC Steering Wheel

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

We have received so many requests over the years for the 1940 – 1946 Chevrolet / GMC steering wheels, we decided to make an exact replica. They are now finished and soon to be shipped from the factory. These steering wheels are complete with correct metal internal parts, non-metal exterior with ridges, and even the two proper colors available 65 years ago.

The result is a show quality copy of the GM original steering wheels. We already have complete the horn parts that fit in the steering wheel hubs.

To go directly to the steering wheel on our website, please click the buy parts now button.

1949 – 1955 GMC Grille

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

Surprise!  The well known GMC grilles from 1949 through early 1955 use the same bars.  This includes the more popular ½ ton through the very large over the road and quarry trucks.  Chrome or painted, the four horizontal stamped metal bars are identical.  Look at the following photos.  The grille bars interchange!

1949 - 1955 GMC Grille

1949 - 1955 GMC Grille

1949 - 1955 GMC Grille

1949 - 1955 GMC Grille

1949 - 1955 GMC Grille

1949 - 1955 GMC Grille

Chevrolet Engine Oil Pump Screens

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

In the days when car and truck owners as well as mechanics did maintenance, GM made these responsibilities much less complicated.  An excellent example was the screen below the engine oil pump.

Due to no oil filters and no detergent additive in the motor oil (to keep dirt in suspension), the oil pump screen was necessary.  Tiny dirt particles settled to the bottom of the oil pan as was expected.  The small dirt particles finally became dirt chunks stuck to the bottom of the oil pan.

GM wanted no chance that a chunk or clot of dirt might be drawn to the pump.  Thus, oil pulled into the pump had to pass through this screen.

These photos show several early screens used by various Chevrolet six cylinder engines.  Note the used screen on the 1937-53  216 engine.  Its rounded screen is held in place by a single wire.  The wire can easily be unhooked from the housing.  The screen then drops out for easy cleaning.

Chevrolet Engine Oil Pump Screens
1929-36
Chevrolet Engine Oil Pump Screens Chevrolet Engine Oil Pump Screens
1937-53 wire holding screen 1937-53 wire unhooked to remove screen

An Inner-Line Oil Filter

Monday, October 10th, 2011

An Inner-Line oil filter from Long Island, New York!  Rarely seen today but a popular early aftermarket option.  It secures to the engine block after removing the oil distribution cover.  No oil lines.  No moving the horn forward to make room for the intake manifold mounted oil canister.

Inner-Line Oil Filter Inner-Line Oil Filter
Inner-Line Oil Filter

1937 to Early 1938 Chevrolet /GMC Gas Tank and Seat Cushions

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

 

So unusual to place a gas tank under the seat with no fill pipe outside the cab! To engineer this big change for 1937 was expensive and very different from earlier years when it was under the bed. Why was this done? What advantages could this have been over an outside fill spout? Was gasoline theft during the depression years a big problem?

To add gasoline on a 1937, the right lower cushion half was raised up toward the back which exposed the threaded ‘bung’ on the surface of the tank. It meant a person stood outside by the right side of the cab, raised the cushion half and added fuel. This is how it was done! If it was raining or snowing, the driver or the attendant stood there fueling. Maybe you kept an umbrella stored in this small cab for emergencies. Maybe gas station employees knew that when a 1937 Chevrolet or GMC truck drove in to get gas in the rain, a raincoat was needed. If some gasoline was spilled while filling, the vapor was smelled throughout the cab. If you were a cigarette smoker, well—–!!!

We were fortunate to recently obtain a set of 1937 original seat cushions. Even the upholstery on the two lower halves was still intact. The non-spout gas tank from the same truck came in the set.

Before they were requested by a serious collector, pictures had to be taken. Finding a pure set again in one place would probably be impossible.

An interesting feature is the plywood bottom on the right side removable cushion. The rectangular hole in the plywood prevented the springs from ever sagging and touching the electric gas sending unit. This must have been placed there to also protect the gas tank and bung from contact with a passenger’s weight on the seat. Engineers knew that a spark from an electric short near gas vapor would be a disaster!

We think these photos will be very interesting to the 1937 GM truck enthusiast. This way of tank filling continued into early 1938. Probably during the depression years, the manufacturer used their extra bodies and tanks that were left over from 1937 until supplies were depleted. Of course, this changeover would vary depending on the assembly plant.

The in- cab gas tank is also unique. It lies neatly inside the seat riser. The twist cap (bung) hole for adding fuel is at least 10′ away from the sending unit (protection from a gasoline pump add nozzle). For some reason the tank is built with two drain holes. One is always plugged and therefore the tank can be used in two type cabs. Maybe the gasoline outlet is different for right or left hand drive trucks!

Both Cushions have original upholstery Easily removable wood bottom half cushion. Note: the 2 small blocks to keep cushion secure on the seat riser.
Open spring half cushion for driver Both cushions raised above gas tank.
Plywood notch fits above gasoline sending unit. Sending unit in place.
Gasoline add bung and adjacent air vent. Open bung during refueling.
Top of tank. Note: Sending unit, bung, and air vent. Bottom of tank. Note: 2 Gas outlets.

Amendment to 1937 to Early 38 Chevrolet / GMC Gas Tank and Seat Cushions:

Several years after the above article was posted, a pair of original bottom cushions appeared at our shop. The owner stated they were from a 1937 pickup that had been in the family since it was a year old.

As the underside is covered with a sheet of rusted thin metal, it would appear it is original GM. We now wonder if the wood plywood bottom in the first article is factory installed or the result of a very skilled carpenter attempting to add additional years to a deteriorated set of original cushions. You be the judge!

SURPRISE:  As of December 2016, new 1937 gas tanks are in stock.  Just like GM made them 8 years ago!

Speedometers to Go…

Monday, August 15th, 2011

Rebuilt Speedometers for Chevy Trucks & GMC Trucks

When your older truck needs a rebuilt speedometer, think of us! Our company, in combination with a local specialized shop, provides a quality product that you will be proud to place in your vehicle.

With most new repair parts, no longer available, we obtain used speedometers from across the country. Only the best parts are removed. These are combined with available new components to create a quality finished product. The following photos show various stages in the repair process.

Speedometers

Work Bench

Parts Inventory

1954-1955 GMC Gauge Panel

Monday, August 15th, 2011

It is very unusual that we are asked to create a 1954-55 GMC gauge panel.  Our customer had lost his due to an un-professional rebuilder and was in a panic.  We finally were able to create this set after an involved hunt in our various storage locations.  What a job!  All needed complete rebuilding and appearance upgrading.

We thought this should be on our Tech page to show their original new appearance.  After all, we may never find parts to rebuild another.

1954-1955 GMC Gauge Panel
1954-1955 GMC Gauge Panel

1941-1946 Park light and Headlight Assemblies

Monday, June 20th, 2011

At the beginning of the 1941 Chevrolet and GMC truck body style, the parking light assembly was placed on top of the headlight bucket.  This was the first time both were placed on the fender as a pair.  All worked well together.  To save tooling costs, GM chose to add a pre-existing assembly from the year before on the 1940 Pontiac car.  No changes were made from this Pontiac park light assembly except its long sheet metal top was now painted and not chromed.

Overseas during World War II, when civilian front fenders were used on GM military trucks (instead of the more famous flat fender ‘army truck’ style) General Motors created a parking light that emitted a small strip of light to be seen at a shorter distance.

Beginning in 1942 and continuing through mid 1947 (when this body design was discontinued), GM used a much less expensive park light housing on civilian trucks.  A one piece stamped metal cover was attached to the headlight bucket for a fraction of the cost as in 1941.  This also used a smaller less expensive glass lens.

Therefore during this 6 ½ year truck production (1941-Mid 1947) the same headlight buckets were on Chevrolet and GMC trucks.  The difference was their hole punching which adapted to changes in parking light assemblies.

1942-45 Military

1942-45 Military

NOTE:   THE 1941 PHOTO WILL FOLLOW SOON

1936-37 GMC Grills

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

What a rare occurrence! At the 2011 America Truck Historical Society Convention in South Bend, Indiana, we found both a 1936 and a 1937 restored GMC truck with the correct grill — each at different booths. You can go to every truck show for many years and never see even one. Therefore, we just had to get a few photos and make some comments. After all, this may never happen again.

The 1936 grill consists of seven vertical .3′ wide hollow chrome bars all the same size. The length is 25 1/4′. The notches in the receiving die cast pieces (hold the verticals in place) in the top and bottom are the same for each bar.

By 1937-38 there was a change in the center vertical bar. It became wider. It changed from .3′ in 1936 to .625′. It was also tapered back to align with the positioning of the other side bars. The overall length was shortened to 24′.

The notches in the die cast top and bottom receiving pieces are therefore different due to the width change in the center bar. They may look the same on the outside but are not where they attach to the vertical bars. See photo. Chrome was not used to add to the appearance. These bars were painted silver.


1936 GMC Grill

1937 GMC Grill

1937 upper grill bar extension front view

1937-38 bottom view

Aftermarket Dual Rear Wheels

Monday, April 18th, 2011

What a unique invention. When you have a 1947 through 1959 single rear wheel 3/4 or 1 ton GM truck and need more pulling power, this is the answer. American ingenuity at its best!

This new steel center hub extension includes eight long bolts to reach the original wheel studs. This holds the factory wheel in place and then provides a threaded end for the original eight lug nuts which are holding another matching wheel.

The buyer of this aftermarket kit just had to be sure his new outer tire was the same height as the original inner tire.

Pictures and data from Scott Golding, Stratton, NE.
email: scottandbetty@hotmail.com

1947-54 Radio Antenna Installation Warning

Friday, April 15th, 2011

It is very important where to drill the hole for the new radio antenna. The results of making a slight mistake will stay in your mind for many years to come!

Radios during these 1947-54 Advance Design years were never installed at the factory. This was done by the authorized GM Dealer. In the box that contained the new radio was a paper template that prevented mistakes when drilling the antenna hole. This hole in the cowl was so close to the belt line that the body to the antenna seal gasket even lacked an edge where it touched this body belt. Even with GM moving the antenna so close to the belt line there is still only about 1/2″ clearance to the hood when it is open. See photo.

The sad realization occurs later when a new radio antenna is installed by an amateur. He drills the hole in the cowl (correctly on the driver’s side) about another 3/4′ forward. He smiles as the radio works great. He doesn’t smile a week later when he tries to raise the hood to check the oil. It won’t raise! The rear hood edge hits the antenna. A rubber plug later put in the new hole is always a reminder of what a 1/2′ can do.

Hood Closed Hood Open Hood Open

1936 1/2 Ton Wheels

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011


General Motors was coming out of the wire wheel era by 1936. This as well as wood spokes had been a standard with most cars and light trucks since the beginning at the turn of the century. The new stamped steel wheels on Chevrolet 1/2 tons were easier to produce, and was less susceptible to side damage on rough terrain or in an accident.

We find that both 17′ design 1/2 ton wheels were available in 1936, the transition year. In 1935 all 1/2 ton used wires and all 1937’s had stamped steel wheels.

The two attached photos are Chevrolet promotional pictures from 1936. These 1/2 tons are the same except for the wheels.

NOTE: GMC’s first entry into the 1/2 ton market was 1936. These used the new stamped steel artillery wheels like the later 1936 Chevrolet.

Technical Articles

Friday, March 18th, 2011

Over the many years we have collected a wealth of knowledge working with Chevrolet and GMC trucks from the years 1934 – 1972. We have gathered our Tech Articles, write-ups and how to’s and divided them into categories. You will find a list of helpful Articles that will help you get your old truck looking and running like new again.

1934, 1946 Chevy, GMC Trucks 1947, 1955 Chevy & GMC Trucks 1955, 1966 Chevy & GMC Trucks 1967, 1972 Chevy & GMC Trucks

Jim Carter Truck Parts….

Your #1 Source for 1934 – 1972 Chevy & GMC Truck Parts!

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

 

1934-1936 Side Mount Spare Tire Mounting

Friday, December 17th, 2010



During the early years, most roads were not paved and the quality of tires was far from that of today. Thus, tire repair was very big business. It was necessary for vehicle manufacturers to provide the easiest access to the often needed spare tire. Part of driving a car or truck was knowing how to change a tire.

On the 1936 and older pickups, the tire storage space was limited. GM chose to place a dip in the front fender and a 29″ vertical rod from the frame rail to the cowl for the tire and wheel support clamp. A long nut is threaded to the top of the rod and tightens a curved metal over the tire.  No the pickup did not use the chrome “T” handle on the car.

In viewing restored ½ ton pickups at shows it is amazing that most use the chrome die-cast “T” handle that came new on passenger cars. Not correct!  The pickup uses a hexagon securing nut.  It is designed to be turned by the lug nut tire tool usually stored under the seat cushion.

Why the difference is unknown. We assume the “T” handle nut is more convenience to turn.  The car driver would get less dirt or grease on clothes or hands during a tire change, plus the car was usually on smoother roads, not on the rough surfaces of a farm field or back roads that might loosen the securing nut.

Replacement hard parts for most of this side mount system are not being reproduced. Originals usually must be restored. The rubber grommet that protects the cowl and fender metal from the side mount hardware the securing nut and 29″ support rod are available from Jim Carter Truck Parts along with a few other older GM truck full stocking dealers.

INTERESTING: The Chevrolet 1/2 ton (1934-1936) placed the support well in the right front fender. The 1936 GMC (first year for their 1/2 ton) it was in the left front fender. The support hardware is the same. Just another way of the two marquis showing their individuality with limited expense.

1934 1936 side mount spare tire
Pickup inside view. Not quite like a Chevy car.

1934 1936 side mount spare tire

1934 1936 side mount spare tire
The 29″ vertical rod is at an angle, too far through the cab mounted support.  Shown is the top dark threads where this retaining nut fits.

1934-1936 Vacuum Wiper Motor

Friday, December 17th, 2010



This little vacuum wiper motor has such a unique appearance! They have become quite rare in recent years.

Manufactured by Trico for just this truck, it fits above the windshield frame on the left side of cab. A dealer accessory for the right side.

They have sometimes been called a “sweetheart” wiper motor due to their strange appearance.

1934-1936 vacuum wiper motor

1934-1936 vacuum wiper motor

Spring Noise

Thursday, February 11th, 2010



The 1967-1972 – What’s That Noise? Gaining speed after you turn onto the highway, your GM truck (1967-1972), moves toward a cruising speed equal to the surrounding traffic. As your engine reaches about 2,000 rpm you suddenly hear a low hum up front. It does not stop as the truck speed increases. If you lower the windows, play the radio, or turn up the fan blower, this hum is not so noticeable but it is still there. How will you locate this noise source when the truck is stopped?

No problem. Others have researched this mystery noise, discovered the source, and stopped it. Who would have thought the culprit is the hood springs? It appears that on many GM trucks of this body style, the two coil hood springs develop this hum (like a tuning fork) as surrounding air speed increases. The sound becomes magnified as it transfers to the large sheet metal hood.

This noise is easily stopped by filling the coils of the hood springs with a towel or carved piece of foam. To produce what a difference this makes, tap your hood spring with a hand tool and listen to the echo. It does not occur when the coil is filled with material.

Who said automotive engineers walk on water?

spring noise

Birth of the Blazer

Thursday, February 11th, 2010



The debut of the famous 4×4 Chevrolet Blazer was in 1969. It had little competition and stood alone as a combination off-road and daily driver utility vehicle. Chevrolet truck dealers were taken by surprise! Waiting lines soon occurred requesting this new and unique car/truck vehicle.

By 1970, production was in full swing. GMC also entered the project this second year by replacing the Chevrolet and Blazer insignias with GMC letters and a “Jimmy” emblem. A major addition in 1970 was the introduction of the two wheel drive Blazer and Jimmy. This was partially due to commitments by the U.S. Postal Service. Fewer than 1,000 of these were produced or less than 10% of overall production. Most government orders were in six cylinders though some V-8 two wheel drive models found buyers in the private sector.

Sales of this unique vehicle spiraled. By 1972, production had increased the volume of the introduction year. It was named, Motor Trend’s “Utility Vehicle of the Year.” In the April 1970 issue of Car and Driver magazine, they said “The drivetrain pieces are well designed, rugged, and long proved by use in Chevy’s light trucks.” GM referred to it as their do anything, go anywhere vehicle.

The demand for these car/truck vehicles today is stronger than ever. Its short 107″ wheel base, ease of handling, and many parts interchanging with pickups, make it an excellent investment vehicle to drive daily or keep in storage.

birth of the blazer 1

birth of the blazer 2

 

1972 Suburban Highlander

Thursday, February 11th, 2010


During the late 1970’s, trucks accelerated their change from a more commercial work vehicle to one desired by the family as their everyday transportation. During 1967-1972, Chevrolet and GMC introduced names such as CST, Cheyenne and Sierra Grande to show buyers that their trucks were no longer just for work. Options that rivaled cars could now be ordered for their vehicles.

Surprisingly, the Suburban was held back as the trend toward very deluxe trucks continued. This vehicle was not given the top of the line appointments as the trucks. The middle series in the pickup line was the ‘best’ in the Suburban. Though this was changed in the new 1973 body style, the 1972 Suburban lacked wood grain trim, bucket seats, and the more deluxe door panels. The rubber floor mats were colored to match the interior but carpet was not an option.

The following pictures are of a totally original 1971 deluxe Suburban. Note the door panels. They are almost identical to the Cheyenne pickup but lack the horizontal wood grain strip at the top. Outside lower moldings have satin black inserts, not wood grain. The seat covering is the Custom Deluxe style found on middle series pickups. The blue floor mats are rubber, not carpet. There is, however, a unique upper trim molding used only on Suburbans when you ordered the more deluxe unit.

To get the most sales from the special Scottish Tweed used in the 1972 Highlander, GM used it in one other application. The special Highlander seat covering could be obtained with the 1972 Suburban. It, like the Highlander truck, had lower side trim with satin black inserts. The special wheel covers were not used on this Suburban body.

1972 Suburban Highlander

1972 Suburban Highlander

Mr. Lynes also furnished the two photos of the Hawaiian blue Suburban showing a great color view of the Scottish Tweed. (Frederick Lynes can be contacted at stingrayl82@comcast.net)

The enclosed pictures are from Frederick Lynes who has these pictures of his 1972 avocado green and white Suburban the day it was bought new. Note the Highlander seat coverings.

1972 Suburban Highlander

1972 Suburban Highlander