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Posts Tagged ‘1954’

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

1954 Chevrolet Deluxe

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Owner:  Pat Jackson

It’s mid 1954 and there is a growing segment of the US that for the first time has some disposable income.

This was part of a post Korean War boom that had never been seen before. General Motors recognized this. More automotive options that were available were selling well!

Thus, a relative inexpensive gamble was made by the Chevrolet truck division of GM. Just maybe some light truck buyers would prefer a pickup with most accessories as standard equipment. For an extra cost you could receive a package of accessories even though they had nothing to do with the work ability of the pickup.

This gave birth to Chevrolet’s Deluxe pickup truck in mid-year 1954. On this pickup, you didn’t order specific accessories. The appearance items all came standard for one price! The new Deluxe pickups are not shown in most 1954 Chevrolet truck brochures. They were introduced in mid-year, long after the dealer brochures were printed for the beginning of the 1954 truck year.

Pat Jackson of Johnstown, Ohio found one of these Deluxe 1954 pickups in a central Texas ad about 2004. He trailered it back over 1,000 miles and thought it would be great to totally restore a pure 1954 Deluxe. Most all was there. It just had been exposed to almost 60 years of weather and regular use. It would be like assembling a big model kit but each part would be carefully restored to be just like it come from the factory. No exceptions. It would even have the correct black painted bedwood. Unfortunately, he later discovered much rust and bondo in the cab but was too late to turn back. Patch panels would be needed.

Chevrolet and Pat Jackson’s Deluxe 1954 pickup includes item that were usually extra cost such as; a chrome grill, stainless steel windshield and side window trim, a right side sunvisor , right taillight, chrome bumpers, and right arm rest.

Only the Deluxe package included the following and are now on this 1954: cloth seat inserts, lower body color on the running boards, a different color interior, matching door panels and headliner, interior color steering wheel and column. One very difficult to find item in this Deluxe package is the colored floor mat. It has not been found. This will be a long hunt but Pat is always on the lookout!

Several Chevrolet options on this truck (not part of the Deluxe package) you could order from the factory during production include side mount spare tire, Shell White cab top, and 4 speed transmission.

Pat was also able to find a few additional accessories that were still extra cost beyond the Deluxe package. Included are the dealer installed fresh air heater, eagle hood ornament, wheel rings, bumper guards, and dash mounted clock.

The photos show the finished product. Pat has a new nearly 60 year old Chevrolet Ocean Green Deluxe ½ ton. Of course, they always take much longer to restore that we expect. This took six years of evenings (2,200 hours) to complete!

His feeling of self satisfaction and pride has made it all seem worthwhile. Pat has begun taking it to various auto and truck shows!  If you’d like to contact Pat, please send an email to red38@embarqmail.com.

Photos by Steve Stoll.

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

Split Rim Wheels

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Article courtesy of Rob English (rob@oldgmctrucks.com)


The issue of multiple piece rims and safety comes up frequently. There seems to be a quick rush to judgment about any rim that has more than one piece, and while certain types of multiple piece rims have indeed been outlawed and are no longer made, many others are not only still in service, they are still made new.

1947-1954 light duty trucks offered split rims in 1/2 ton (optional only) up to 1 ton trucks. Many people are unaware that there was a 1/2 ton two piece 15″ six lug rim option available in GMCs and I presume Chevy too. More often than not, we run into eight lug two and three piece rims on 3/4 ton and one ton trucks and these are the subject of most of the misinformation.

There were two types of split rims offered originally a 3/4 ton GMC; 15″ TWO piece split rims (Kelsey-Hayes type WK-3), and optional 17″ THREE piece split rims (Kelsey-Hayes type WK-4)

The two piece split rim uses a lock ring that is fixed and is one solid piece. There’s a notch in the rim where you can remove and reinstall the bead retainer ring while mounting and breaking down tires. To remove, you tip the ring at an angle and then slip it by the notch. To mount, do the opposite. This type DOES NOT require prying apart the ring and if you try to pry it off, you’ll ruin ix

The 17″ split rims originally would have been the Kelsey-Hayes type WK-4 and are three pieces; the rim, the bead ring, and the lock ring. They are put together pretty much the same way they do now-a-days on big truck rims. The tire goes on the rim, then the ring slips on and then the third ring is “zipped” on/off using a sledge hammer and pry bar.

The safety of these rims is directly dependent upon their overall condition. I have split rims on all three of my vintage GMCs. You will find knowledgeable truck tire places will work on them without hesitation and car tire places will go screaming in circles with their hair on fire spewing misinformation about “suicide” rims which may or may not be applicable, but does more to spook people than inform them with facts.

I have many many miles on my original split rims and find them to be great for my purposes. Others may have different views of what works for them. See the illustration below to understand the three basic types of original stock rims you’ll find on the old GMC trucks.

View PDF Chart of 1947-1954 Split Rims Click Here

Jim Carter follow- up on this article by Rob English:

I have three 1 to 1 ½ ton Chevy’s that were restored at least 10 years ago.  They all have the correct split rim wheels.  There has been absolutely no problem with any of them.

The tire quality in today’s world is so superior to that of 50 years ago!  In the 1950’s I would see someone on the road changing a flat tire almost every two weeks.  Now, it has changed to about once in 6 months.

Suggestion:  To improve the appearance of your split rims, zinc plate (like GM did when new) or paint the small lock ring silver.  This will nicely contrast with the painted wheel.  You might say they even look a little like white walls!  It really helps the appearance!  See photos.

1 ½ and 2 Ton ¾ and 1 Ton

1954 GM Transition Year

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

This was one of the most unique years for Chevrolet trucks. The Korean War and some resulting material shortages were now history. The economy was growing and the average worker brought home more wages than ever before. Sales of luxury options on automobiles were showing definite increases.

To capitalize on this trend for transportation improvements, GM was fast working on total new automobile and truck models for the coming year. When introduced, the result would be record sales which put General Motors even further above it’s competitors.

But what about the 1954 year for GM trucks? Waiting buyers had the demand for a new updated truck but the tooling was not yet complete. Other competitive truck manufacturers were beginning to offer many deluxe features.

Therefore, General Motor’s 1954 answer to temporarily satisfy new truck buyers was a major facelift of the prior models. To keep costs down, GM continued to use the basic cab introduced in mid-1947. To update this seven year old design, an enterprising engineering department added items such as a modern one piece curved windshield, completely redesigned dash board, and created a totally different grill. All this while keeping almost identical hood, fenders, bumpers, running boards, seats, doors, etc.

Another big first for 1954 Chevrolet truck cabs was the optional color coordinated interior and the two tone exterior. This had never been offered before by GM on truck cabs. Advertisements defined it as “The Bold New Look”. For an extra cost (only on cabs with rear quarter windows), the customer could order interior color combinations including two tone blue, gray and maroon, two tone green, plus dark and light brown. Each of these four base color combinations were harmonized with the headliner, floor mat, door panels, windlace, arm rest, and interior sheet metal. Pearl beige was the standard color on non optioned cabs.

This deluxe two tone interior package was introduced in mid year. Therefore, it is not shown in early 1954 Chevrolet truck brochures and many perfectionists do not know it was available later.

The above mentioned colored floor mats also added little to GM’s investment when they produced quantities.  These have never been reproduced.  Note:  For the perfectionist that requires all extras for the 1954 deluxe pickup, we have heard that a restorer spray painted his new black floor mat with flexible rubberized paint used on newer automobile exterior front and rear bumpers.

Here is another very exclusive item on the 1954-55 deluxe pickup were their armrests: These were not found on other GM vehicles. The more basic pickup still used the arm rest introduced in 1947. See our tech article & photos on these arm rests. They came in the four door panel colors so both could be correctly coordinated.

The two tone exterior paint option included a white top only (shell white) and only on the deluxe cab. For the short run in 1955 of this body design (first series), the two tone was still with only a white top but the shade was changed to Bombay Ivory.

Another very unusual feature, that cost GM no extra, was colored running boards.  They matched the lower body color.  On standard and prior years, the boards were black.

With fears of Korean War shortages now over, chrome and stainless steel could now be offered again as part of a long option list. On the deluxe model this included stainless exterior window trim plus chrome hub caps, grill and bumpers.

The option list also increased greatly for the 1954 year with new items available not offered during previous years. Examples were full wheel covers, electric wiper motor, automatic 4 speed transmission, ride control seat, day-night inside rear view mirror, etc.

It is also important to remember that for 1954, Chevrolet chose to introduce two major items and not wait for the totally new later 1955 models. This was the high pressure insert bearing six cylinder engines and the deeper restructured pickup bed. Thus, the 1954 shares both the early and late features and is a true “transition truck”.

At present, the 1954 GM light pickups, particularly the deluxe models are showing a fast increase in popularity among restorers. They stand out as a unique transition truck having various characteristics not associated in total with any GM commercial vehicle. It is felt their future pricing will also stay higher than either 1947 to 1953 or the 1955 to 1959 models in equal condition. Of course, all older GM trucks are on their way to the top in popularity and value. They are to restorers “the Model A’s of a New Generation”.

1954 gm transition

1947-1954 Rear Spring Alignment

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Tech Tip from Ron Hansen
Wakefield, Massachusetts

Jim Carter Truck Parts

Alignment Solution for Installing a Late Model Rear End in a 1947-1954 Pick Up

On the original rear end, the spring centerbolt is offset to the front of the spring by 2″to 3″. If you install a modern rear end (with an open driveshaft) and retain the original springs, the wheels will end up offset forward (inside) of the original wheel openings in the fenders. To correct this problem, remove the original springs and reverse them end to end (front to back) as they are the same on both ends. This will bring the spring centerbolt to the rear of the axle and place the new rear end in the center of the fender wheel openings.

Click to enlarge

Jim Carter Truck Parts

Advanced Design Lighter

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

To keep the 1947-1955 GM trucks base price low, their 6 volt cigarette lighter was a dealer accessory. The vehicle always came from the factory with a round blank out plug at the lower center of the dash.

To save tooling costs both the Chevrolet and GMC truck divisions used the same lighter as was found in Chevrolet’s passenger car. It did not match other knobs in the cab. Its double ring chrome head is exclusive to General Motors though it does not carry their logo. They are often seen at swap meets and flea markets mixed with lighter accumulations from all makes. The chrome head is easily unscrewed when a replacement heating element is needed. It will attach to either a 6 or 12 volt element. The in dash receiver also must be changed. GM made a slight difference in element diameters so 6 and 12 volt units. An owner in later years could not accidentally mix the two different voltage types.

advance lighter 1

advance lighter 2

1954-1955 Example (above)

1954-1955 GMC Spring Wind Clock

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

In contrast to 1954-1955 Chevrolet trucks, the same year GMC had a position in the dash for an optional gauge. It was here that larger GMC’s had a tachometer or vacuum gauge installed. The 1/2, 3/4 and 1 ton GMC’s usually did not require these engine gauges and a blank-out plate is normally found there. An option here in these smaller trucks is a spring wind clock. It was produced by General Motors and installed at their GMC dealerships.

1954 spring wind clock 1

1954 GMC dash with clock installed (above)

To save production costs, GMC used the clock that was already on the 1953-1954

Chevrolet car. In this way, their investment was limited to a chrome adapter ring that fit in the opening that held the blank-out plate.

This chrome ring has recently been reproduced and is available from most full stocking dealers including Jim Carters Truck Parts. Restorable 1953-1954 Chevrolet car clocks are found at most any medium size automotive swap meet.

1954 GMC spring wind clock 2

The following is from a 1954 GMC accessories catalog. Their wording tells the 1954 story in a full page ad.

test

1953-1955 Fresh Air Heater

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

With the introduction of the Advance Design Cab in 1947, a new dealer installed heater also became available. When used together this new body was referred to as The Cab That Breathes.

All U.S. manufactured Advance Design Cabs had a row of louvers on the right outer cowl which allowed air to enter the cab interior with the help of the new optional fresh air heater. It was a great improvement over prior years!

As air was brought in from the outside it passed through the heater core. This warmed air usually held less humidity than air inside the cab due to the breath of passengers. The fresh, dryer, air helped prevent the inside of the windows from fogging during very cold days, thus GM said the cab breathed.

This excellent heating system was made even better in 1953 with the introduction of the revised airflow heater. By pulling a knob, at the left of the steering column, a door inside the heater would cover the outside air intake. Now the heater was of the recirculator design. It pulled air from inside the cab so that inside air was re-warmed. Yes, humidity did accumulate quicker and windows could fog but heating the air inside was faster on a cold morning.

Note these pictures of the improved 1953-55 fresh air heater. The driver operated cable was pulled and a door inside the heater shut off outside air. At the same time, a one inch wide door on the case opened to allow recirculation of air to occur. A non-related lever on the case directs the heated air to the floor or above through the defroster ducts.

This ingenious idea by GM engineers now allowed the driver to have a cab that breathed or one that did not.

1953-1955 Fresh Air Heater 1

Hand operated defroster lever, cable for intake door, and the water flow adjusting knob (above)

1953-1955 Fresh Air Heater 2

The knob at the left of the steering column for pulling the cable (above)

1953-1955 Fresh Air Heater 3

The main heater attached to the right inner cowl panel (above)

1953-1955 Fresh Air Heater 4

Side view of heater with water control rod in foreground (above)

1953-1955 Fresh Air Heater 5

A close up of the one inch intake cable operated door on the heater case (above)

1954-1955 Accessory Clock

Thursday, February 11th, 2010
1954 accessory clock
Marty Bozek, Lutz FL.eng261@aol.com
1954-1955 Chevy Accessory Clock
Pat Jackson, Johnstown, OHredchevy38@embarqmail.com

By the mid 1950’s extra income in the U.S. was creating an increased demand for accessories on both cars and trucks. To take advantage of this, the Chevrolet Truck Division introduced one item as a first. It would not appear again on Chevrolet trucks until the mid 1970’s.

The new accessory was the 1954-55 dash mounted clock. To offer the most with the least investment, only the die cast housing was new. The clock was already an accessory on the 1953-1954 Chevrolet car. By combining the two, dealers could market a clock accessory to new Chevrolet truck buyers. The housing was even painted pearl beige to match the 1954-1955 Chevrolet truck interior color.

It fit between the two dash bezels. A paper template was in the box so the dealer’s mechanic or the owner would drill the mounting holes in just the right place.

The housings are not being reproduced. They are in high demand among 1954-1955 Chevrolet truck restorers so the retail prices just keep rising. If you do locate this housing, the correct clock is not difficult to locate. They were on most 1953-1954 Chevrolet cars.

The Forgotten 261 6 Cylinder Engine

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Between 1954-1962, Chevrolet produced their famous full oil pressure 235 cubic inch six cylinder in trucks and it soon proved to be one of the greats among engines. However, at the same time a lesser known “big brother” to this base engine was being used. This was the quality built 261 cubic inch six cylinder! The 261 was available in 2 ton (5000 or 6000 series) trucks and school buses. During it’s early years (1954-1957) it was an extra cost option above the standard 235 six cylinder.

In 1958-6192 (the 261 now had a full flow remote oil filter) it became standard in the 2 ton chassis up to 19,000 pounds gross weight. Above that Chevrolet substituted a V-8.

This larger six was not offered in US cars, however there was an exception in Canadian built full size Pontiacs. Their base engine, also produced only in Canada, was the 261 not the V-8 as in the US. This provided basic power, great dependability, and better gas mileage.

Basically, this larger engine was a 235 with the same crankshaft but GM engineers made various modifications to give it extra strength and horsepower. It’s standard bore diameter increased from 3-9/16 inches to 3-3/4 inches. The connecting rods were heavier and attached to increased diameter piston wrist pins.

Its higher lift cam shaft, for better breathing, was shared only with the early 235 six cylinder Corvette. A modified larger Rochester carburetor was also a 261 only feature. Unfortunately most of these larger sixes have long since had their original Rochesters replaced with 235’s and therefore do not perform to their full potential.

In pure big truck form the 261 has a larger thermostat housing holding a double acting thermostat. This is designed to circulate water through the block and head before the thermostat opens to allow hot water into the radiator. Thus, no internal steam hot spots during warm ups, especially in winter. This is particularly important with very cold coolant. Vital engine spots can become very hot before the total coolant becomes hot enough to open a normal thermostat on the front of the block.

 

261 engine 1

 

6 Cylinder Engines Jobmaster Thriftmaster
Displacement 261 Cu.In. 235.5 Cu. In.
Bore 3 3/4″ 3 9/16″
Stroke 3 15/16″ 3 15/16″
Firing Order 1-5-3-6-2-4 1-5-3-6-2-4
Compression Ratio 7.8 to 1 8 to 1
Horsepower 33.7 (AMA) 148 (Rated) 30.4 (AMA) 140 (Rated)
No.of Main Bearings 4 4
Wrist Pin Diameter .927 inches .875 inches
Rod Shaft Thickness Front to Back .595 inches .595 inches
Rod Shaft Thickness Side to Side .975 inches .760 inches
Crankshaft Journel Diameter 2.435 2.435
Engine Color in trucks Green -some later Yellow Gray

 

The block and head surface have three pair of matching small “steam holes” that allow any steam hot pockets to vent away from the open water cooled areas between the cylinders that are not solid metal. Of course, this means the 261 must have its own specialized head gasket.

261 engine 2

 

After four years into production, the major quality feature was added to the 261 engine. For the first time a Chevrolet inline six cylinder came standard with a full flow oil filter system. This improvement, used only with the later 261, forced oil through a remote filter cartridge before it reached the engine. It was not like the optional by-pass oil filter system as found on 216 and 235 Chevrolet sixes. This extra helped insure longer life to this larger six cylinder that was often subjected to heavy commercial use.

A full flow oil system has been a characteristic of almost all automotive engines for over 40 years but it was just beginning in the mid 1950’s. With the 261, the disposable filter is remote and not built in as with later engines. It still resulted in a major design improvement.

As with the 235 light truck engine, the 261 came standard with solid valve lifters and an aluminum camshaft timing gear. The passenger car’s 235 was equipped with hydraulic valve lifters and a fiber timing gear for quieter operation.

During the 1955-1962 Canadian Pontiac application the lifters were the hydraulic type, the cam gear was fiber not aluminum, and it did not have the full flow oil filter. These Canadian made 261’s did not add the full flow filter in 1958 as in the U.S.

Visually the 261 looks almost identical to the 235. It perfectly replaces the smaller engine and in stock condition increases horsepower from 140 to 148.

Those planning on a major rebuild or adding performance options to their Chevrolet inline six should seriously consider locating a 261. Often there is no extra cost in purchasing a re-buildable unit, and the results will be rewarding. If you plan on adding additional carburetion, a higher lift cam, or just want additional performance and more lower end strength in your daily driver, the 261 is for you!

Locating and Identifying a 261

Though last placed in larger Chevrolet trucks almost 40 years ago, this now scarce engine can still be located and often at a price no higher than for the smaller 235. Many still remain in the original Chevrolet trucks and are now setting in salvage yards or behind farm buildings. In Canada, the big Pontiac cars are sometimes in the back rows of more isolated older wrecking yards.

Don’t overlook the wrecked and badly rusted Chevrolet cars of the 1940’s and 1950’s, particularly those showing signs of some past exterior customizing changes. The Chevrolet enthusiasts of that era knew about the 261 and its potential for added performance. Some of these will already have had extras added such as a higher lift cam shaft, extra carburetion, or dual exhausts.

When you have found what you suspect might be a 261, check a few specifies to verify you have the real thing and not the visual almost identical 235. Casting numbers, not stamped numbers, on the 261 head are very visible beside the rocker arm cover. A different set of numbers relate to the 261 block. These seven digits are located on the right side between the fuel pump and starter except for 1954 where it is located forward of the fuel pump. See chart below.

YEAR ENGINE SIZE BLOCK NUMBER HEAD NUMBER
54-55 261 3703414 3733950 3703570 3836850
55-57 261 3733340 3837012 3703570 3836850
58-62 261 3739365 3769717 3769925 3836850

 

Watch for the “Captain’s Bars!” The 261 has two pairs of parallel raised 3/4 inch long bars cast in the block. This is not seen on a 235 except 1954. One pair is above the starter and the second pair is at the top middle of the left side of the block very close to the head. See photos below. The one exception is the early 261 produced in 1954 to mid 1955. It has only one “Captain Bar” above the starter but keeps the pair on the left side.

261 engine 3

261 engine 4

261 engine 5

261 engine 6

 

Most used 261 blocks are rebuildable, however often their cylinder heads will have a few very small cracks in the combustion chamber. This is typical due to occasional abuse of over heating in past years. If you choose not to add to your expense by having the cracks repaired, an alternative exists. The more common 235 head is the same except for the three pair of internal steam holes. These can be manually drilled to make the water flow just like in the 261! Sorry, but some 235 heads can be cracked even more than the 261 because they lack heat releasing steam holes.

“Warning” When Installing a 261!

The stock remote filter system has two very visible 3/4″ lines threaded into the block. One is from the pump to the filter and the other from the filter back to the block. Oil must leave and return to the engine by these lines (even if the filter is eliminated) or the engine will fail from lack of lubricant. Many 261 engines have been quickly seized after persons plugged the two oil line holes. They had many years experience on Chevrolet engines without the full flow oil system. Some thought it was an easy fix to just remove the 3/4″ lines if one was leaking and cap the holes. This procedure was acceptable on the older 216 and 235 but never on the 1958-1962 261 truck engine.

Buy Parts for 1947 to 1955 Trucks

 

1954-1955 GMC Bed Reflector

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

By 1954, the Korean War shortages were history. More trim and chrome plating began to show up in trucks and cars. The Chevrolet and GMC truck divisions both introduced a deluxe model for their pickups during mid-year 1954. Hopes were to appeal to the emerging buyers with more disposable income.

The deluxe model of these two trucks shared most of the same sheet metal, however special unique items kept each individual! One of these exclusive items was used only on the top of the line GMC pickup. This was the bed-roll reflector. It was never placed on Chevrolets or the basic GMC pickup.

In today’s world this extra is almost impossible to locate. Not only was it on the deluxe GMC’s but few of these top of the line models found buyers. Most still thought of trucks as workers and ordered the basic vehicle. This reflector is on the very end of the bed roll and it is exposed to being damaged while backing.

To save tooling costs, GMC designers borrowed the red reflector lens from the 1953 Buick taillight. Unfortunately, the stainless ring (riveted to the bed roll) is exclusive only to the rare deluxe GMC pickup.

1954 gmc bed reflector 1

1954 gmc bed reflector 2

1954 gmc bed reflector 3

1954 gmc bed reflector 4

1954 First Chevrolet Truck Wheel Cover

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

1954 wheel cover 1

It’s 1954 and the Korean War is now history. The wholesale price of non-ferrous metal such as chrome, stainless steel, nickel and copper are dropping. American have more disposable income and are beginning to ask for deluxe accessories on their trucks instead of just for the family sedan.

Of the many accessories introduced in 1954, the full wheel cover was a first for any Chevrolet pickup. These stainless steel covers were not borrowed from Chevrolet cars. They were exclusive for the 1/2 ton pickup 16′ wheel. These were Chevrolet dealer installed accessories and not added on the assembly line.

Today, locating a restorable set of these unusual accessories is very difficult. Many sets that were left over in dealer stock probably found their way to the used car lot to dress up a trade in.

Note: Don’t confuse these covers with the 1947-48 Chevrolet car, deluxe 16′ wheel covers. They have red centers and a different stamping in this area.

1954 wheel cover 2

1954 Speedometer

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

1954 speedometer 1

When looking closely at the black 1954 Chevrolet speedometer face, a small 1/8 inch diameter round hole will be noticed at the top and bottom.

Owners of 1954 trucks will always be acquainted with the top hole. This emits red light to notify the driver that the high beams are on.

Most are not even aware of the existence of this lower hole. Look closely. It’s always on the 1954! It is placed there to emit a flashing green light when the optional turn signals are added. Prior to this model, the GM trucks add-on turn signal head was clamped to the steering column. With the turn signal on, a small light would blink in the head.

In 1954, the optional turn signals became ‘built-in’ the column below the steering wheel. The blinker light became a part of the dash like later vehicles.

When the factory or the dealer added optional 1954 turn signals, the little hole with green tape inside was ready for the new dash bulb. This one flasher light would blink if the signal was to the right or left.

1954 speedometer 2

1954 Bed Side

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

 

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

The unique feature of the 1954 through 1955 mid series bed sides is the flowing grooves that fit the edges of the rear fenders. These apparently gave a better seal the older design fenders were bolted to the new 1954 sides. It prevented mud and dust from passing up from the wheel well area.

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

1954 Rear Bumper

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

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

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

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

1954 bumper 1

Earlier incorrect bumper on a 1954 (above)

1954 bumper 2

Earlier incorrect bumper on a 1954 (above)

1954 earlier bumper 3

Correct 1954 Bumper (above)

New 1954 Radio

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

In upgrading the Advance Design 1947-1953 cab for 1954, GM engineers created a totally different dash assembly. It required that the radio be much smaller. With better electronic technology and no push buttons, the new 6 volt radio could be placed into the smaller space. They even placed a cardboard sheet above the ’54 radio to protect it from settling dust over the years.

Yes, the 1954 Chevrolet and GMC had different designed dashes but each of their radios were similar and fit the smaller area. In the follow photos you can see the major differences between the 1947-1953 and the new 1954!

new 1954 radio 1

1947-1953 Radio/Weight 14.75 lbs (above)

new 1954 radio 2

1954 Radio/Weight 10.75 lbs (above)

new 1954 radio 3

1954 Radio, Side View (above)

1954-1955 Radio Blank Out

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

All 1954-1955 Chevrolet/GMC trucks came from the factory with a blank-out plate to cover where the radio would be installed. As this accessory was dealer installed the plate could be removed (probably thrown away) and the new radio added.

This blank-out plate and its two special clips has become very rare in recent years. They are not being reproduced. The enclosed photos show an original painted plate. The Chevrolet unit is the interior cab pearl beige color with a stamped bow-tie in black. GMC chose to not add their logo. These plates are just like Chevrolet except have a smooth surface with no trade letters.

1954 1955 radio blank out 1
Chevrolet (installed)

1954 1955 radio blank out 1

Chevrolet (above)

1954 1955 radio blank out 2

GMC (above)

1954 1955 radio blank out 3

Back View (above)

1954 Chevrolet Willys Radio

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

As more restorers become interested in the 1954-1955 Chevrolet truck, the demand for the correct factory accessories has increased demand. Trucks during these early years were used mostly for work and many owners ordered no accessories. Even the heater was often added later.

Though locating a restored or restorable factory radio is a difficult task, there is another source that might make the project more successful. The factory 1956 Willys radio #694866 is almost identical to the one in the 1954-55 Chevolet truck and both are 6 volt. The following does not affect fit and the appearance differences can be easily modified.

The Willys radio uses 1951-1953 Kiaser tuning knobs. These can be exchanged for excellent reproduction black knobs now made just for the truck radio.

The dial face does not have the current bow tie displayed on the glass. New glass dials are now available for the 1954-1955 Chevy truck radios.

The Willys radio does not have the speaker attached to its top. A small bracket can easily be fabricated to put the speaker in the correct spot for a Chevrolet. None of this is seen when positioned behind the dash on the truck.

And now the sad fact. If you thought the 1954-1955 Chevrolet truck radio was rare, imagine locating one from a 1956 Willys!

1954 chevrolet willys radio

1954 Chevrolet

Saturday, March 1st, 2008

Owner: Angus McDougald & Linda Challand

1954 chevrolet truck

Our 54 Chevy truck was won in a raffle in July, 1997. We were en-route to Cherokee, N.C. and saw a sign for a car show in Maggie Valley. So we went to the car show. Linda saw this truck and bought two tickets. They had one more show to attend and would announce the winner in August. Sure enough, in August they called and said Linda had won the truck.

The truck is a 1954, 3100, 5 window, 1/2ton pickup. It has the 235cid engine with three speed column shift. The only added option was factory turn signals. The body is really good and straight and the engine runs strong. The clutch and transmission will get some attention some day.

The truck had a really bad rear seal leak and I could find no one interesting in replacing the old felt seal. So we put it up for almost six years.

One day I happened on your website. Since I am a shade tree mechanic and you have the parts lets put the truck in at least a useable condition. It is just too nice not to be on the road. So that is where I am repairing one thing at a time. Immediate attention will be given to the steering box and tie rods. I now drive it almost daily and enjoy every minute.

Thanks,

Angus McDougald/Linda Challand

Addendum:
Our truck was being restored by a young man in the Morganton, N.C. area. He was a student at Haywood College in Waynesville, N. C. and a volunteer fireman. In the early 1990,s he and a group from Western N. C. went our West to assist in major fires they were having. During a major back fire, he and several others were killed. His Father made the decision to raffle the truck and have the proceeds fund a scholarship in the young man,s name at Haywood College. The young man had done a wonderful job on the truck. Linda is extremely proud to be the owner that does appreciates the truck.

Thanks Angus

1954 chevrolet truck 1954 chevrolet truck 1954 chevrolet truck

1954 chevrolet truck

1955 Chevrolet Deluxe

Wednesday, March 1st, 2006

Owner: Travis Goggans

1955 chevrolet deluxe pick up truck

A few months after the introduction of their 1954 trucks, GM announced a new model with more deluxe features. Korean was shortages were over and the average American had more disposable income. Buyers were already ordering the many options on automobiles, so General Motors knew at least a small market existed for a well appointed pickup truck. With the limited investment of color changes, different seat fabric, added chrome, and a few options becoming standard, Chevrolet had their deluxe model.

After fifty years few true deluxe 1954-55s survived but our feature truck of the month is one of these. The owner is Travis Goggans of Norman, Oklahoma. It recently received a ground-up restoration and Travis has replaced or repaired most all of those special features.

The following pictures show Travis’s 1955 deluxe in Mariner Blue with Bombay Ivory top. The matching upgraded two tone interior is just like it came from the factory.

This truck is a work of art. Probably even higher in quality than when new!

A few other 1954 accessories that are installed by the dealer are the full wheel covers, heater, radio, front bumper guards, clock, eagle hood ornament, and cigarette lighter.

The whitewall tires would have been provided by a non-Chevrolet supplier.

1955 chevrolet deluxe pick up truck 1955 chevrolet deluxe pick up truck 1955 chevrolet deluxe pick up truck

1955 chevrolet deluxe pick up truck 1955 chevrolet deluxe pick up truck 1955 chevrolet deluxe pick up truck

1955 chevrolet deluxe pick up truck

Buy Parts for 1947 to 1955 Trucks

 

1954 Chevrolet

Tuesday, March 1st, 2005

Owner: Dale Current

1954 chevrolet pick up truck

When I started this truck in 2000 the first thing I did was send for a Jim Carter catalog, after seeing the ad in Hemmings. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with the truck when I started. This was the second 1954. The first one had been wrecked and had a pieced together frame so it became a parts truck. After going through the catalog, parts availability told me I could make a new truck out of this one because it was complete and not too much rust. This one is a ¾ ton with a 6900 GVW. It has a 4 speed with a 4.57 rear axle.

The engine has been bored and rebuilt with all new parts by a local race car engine builder. I kept the 6 volt system. The accessories are re-circulating heater, chrome grill, bumpers, grill guards, right side mirror, arm rests, turn signals, oil filter, oil bath air cleaner and running board step plates. The interior is original paint color and the seats are black cloth and black carpet. The exterior is juniper green, the original color of the truck. The fenders and running boards are black. The wheels are the original 15 inch two piece 8 lug and the tires are 700-15 tube type.

I worked at the Van Nuys General Motors plant for 33 years before retiring in 1986.

Dale Current

1954 chevrolet pick up truck 1954 chevrolet pick up truck 1954 chevrolet pick up truck

1954 chevrolet pick up truck 1954 chevrolet pick up truck

1954 Chevrolet 3100

Monday, November 1st, 2004

Owner: Chuck Sanchez

1954 chevrolet 3100

I bought this very clean truck from a fellow in Spring, Texas who told me he had it in his garage for nine years. He tinkered with it until he got bored and it started taking up space. He said he bought it from a man in Alvin, Texas.

The engine, transmission, driveline and brakes were completed by them. The gas tank has no gas in it and there is no water or battery.

I purchased it from him with the intention of completing the restoration and selling it. I have had the truck repainted to look as original as possible. The boards in the bed have been painted black and as you can see the exterior is green with white bumpers. The interior paint is grey. I had to replace the right window because it had a vertical crack top to bottom. I was lucky enough to find a glass shop right here in Byron that has the old laminated glass for older cars. I removed the wheels to find brand new brake shoes already installed so all I did was adjust the brakes, service the new master cylinder and bleed the brakes. I am still working on replacing window and door seals and door trim then converting from 6 volts to 12 volts system.

The pictures below are a variety from the time I picked the truck up in Texas to shortly after the paint job.

Thanks for your interest.
Chuck Sanchez
Byron, GA

1954 chevrolet 3100 1954 chevrolet 3100 1954 chevrolet 3100

1954 chevrolet 3100 1954 chevrolet 3100 1954 chevrolet 3100

1954 chevrolet 3100 1954 chevrolet 3100 1954 chevrolet 3100

1954 chevrolet 3100

1954 Chevrolet

Monday, March 1st, 2004

Owner: Steve Daily

1954 chevrolet pick up truck

Dear Friends

I hope this truck meets your approval. It is a 1954 model that is totally original. I know these trucks did not have white walls on them when they came out of the factory, but these are the original brand (B.F. Goodrich). This is actually my second 1954 Chevy pickup. I restored one back in my college days, and my wife and I dated in that old truck. So, this one brings back a lot of wonderful memories for us. Some of the parts I have used to restore this truck were acquired through Jim Carter’s Antique Truck Parts.

I especially want you to know that I appreciate your website. It has been a wonderful resource for me as I have sought to determine what is actually original on these old trucks. I learned, for example, that the original color was most likely Juniper Green and the interior color was most likely pearl beige. I also learned how to obtain a restoration guide from General Motors which has given me some invaluable information. This is how I learned that 15 inch wheels were an R.P.O. (Regular Production Option) in 1954. Your website truly enhances my interests in these beautiful and appreciating vehicles.

Steve Daily
Pearland, Texas

1954 chevrolet pick up truck 1954 chevrolet pick up truck 1954 chevrolet pick up truck

1954 Chevrolet

Wednesday, May 1st, 2002

Owner: Rudy Parmenter

This month, a 1954 1/2 ton Chevrolet truck is featured.This truck, owned and restored by Rudy Parmenter, is a life goal. Rudy says, ‘My 54 was bought from a Texas owner and we are the second owners. The truck was dismantled and a ground-up restoration was completed in several years to restore it to its original condition back in 1954’.

This truck has 51,000 original miles and original paint. The truck sat for over 25 years unused. The only addition to the truck from the dealer is side-mounted tires. The white wall tires are a dealer option. It has a deluxe two-tone paint job inside, and original factory radio that operates. It also has a fresh air heater and a right tail light. This truck has original Chevrolet running board protectors, factory turn signals, stainless front and rear bumpers, stainless steel beauty rings and hubcaps.

It has a 235, 6 cylinder engine, 3-speed on the column (all have been gone through and restored to original condition). All window tracks and door locking parts have been rebuilt and/or replaced. The truck also has a dealer installed oil filter.

‘We cannot say enough praise for all of the staff at Jim Carter’s Antique Truck Parts. They have all been very patient and supportive in helping us restore this vehicle. They are very knowledgeable with their technical support. Parts for a 54 Chevrolet are few and far between. All of the staff has been very supportive during the time it has taken to find all of its many ‘one of a kind’ parts. We have also been able to find a few things through e-bay and have met new antique Chevy truck owners’.

Part of the fun of restoring this truck has been trying to find additional accessories that add to the over all display when at car shows. During the past several years, we have found a 1954 truck data book used by salesmen, a 40 page 1954 sales catalog, an old tissue container that still had a box of tissues with Perry Como on the outside and a magazine ad from May 1954 with a picture of three 1954 trucks.

My family and I have had it in several shows in Southwest Missouri. Many folks visit with us about the 54 and share their stories. Most folks remember their 54 truck as the workhorse around the farm or in business. Although this truck design was only manufactured for one year, it holds a special place in the hearts of those who drove her.

1954 chevrolet pick up truck 1954 chevrolet pick up truck

1954 Chevrolet

Tuesday, January 1st, 2002

Owner:J. A. Ceschin Miami, Florida

1954 chevy pick up truck

I have a 1954 Chevy Pick-Up Truck which I bought and restored in Brazil, using a lot of parts I imported there, from Jim Carter Antique Truck Parts. This was about 5 years ago. Today this truck is in Miami, where I have moved from Brazil. It is my everyday car and everybody loves it.

1954 chevy pick up truck 1954 chevy pick up truck 1954 chevy pick up truck

1954 chevy pick up truck