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1942 Chevrolet ½ Ton

Friday, February 2nd, 2018

Owner: Bill Sanders

1942 Chevrolet ½ Ton

Buy Parts Now @ Jim Carter's OldChevyTrucks.com

If you like the 70 year old body designs with the “creature comforts” of a modern vehicle, our feature truck this month might really catch you attention. It may appear very old but on a freeway it can reach a speed far above the legal limits!

This eye catching stand out in a crowd 1942 Chevy pickup is owned by Bill Sanders of Crossville, Tennessee. What a creation!  After 2 ½ years of building it has just been on the road only a month to check for little problems that need corrections.  So far, nothing has shown up that cannot be easily repaired.

Bill has been involved in other vehicle restorations but this is the first time using a late model drive train. His brother had stored this cab, bed, and front sheet metal for many years with no steps taken to restore it.  So, one day, Bill got the opportunity to buy it.  It was soon brought to his home but in pieces.  No frame or related suspension, motor, transmission or differential.  So what now?  Either gather original parts and create a “frame off” original or do what he has sometimes seen at local car shows.

A VINTAGE LOOK WITH LATE MODEL MECHANICALS

After much research and talking to others. Bill’s discovered a US Company that manufactures conversion kits designed to attach a 1939-46 Chevrolet ½ ton body to a Chevy S-10 pickup chassis. Why an S-10?

They are almost the correct wheel base as Bills 1942 and have a full frame to secure the older sheet metal and extra weight that may be hauled. S-10’s have repair parts readily available and they come from the factory with options like automatic transmission, independent front suspension, power steering, power brakes and air conditioning.

The company “Code 504” will even get involved to help you adapt your S-10 Chassis to hold a late model Chevrolet V-8 or most any tech question during the installation.

Bill was hooked! This is what he wanted.  A good friend with experience in this type work was retired but decided being off work was not for him.   Bill found him at just the right time.  Thus, John Leech, also of Crossville, Tennessee and Bill Sanders became partners.

Together Bill and John with 2 ½ years created the finished product. John did the chassis rebuilding on a 1979 S-10, adding the “Code 504” kit, and restored much of the 1942 body.  Bill says he became John’s assistant.  John’s so many years in mechanical repair business made him a natural on what needed to be done.

The easy part was replacing the worn out ½ ton bed. Fortunately, all bed parts are available and they fit and took just like the originals.  No repair panels required.  Mostly a light sanding, paint and the detailed assembly was needed.

The 1942 sheet metal was another story. It had been so abused over the many years!  Few, items are being reproduced and it became a hunt to locate better used replacement parts.  Thank goodness for John Leech!

The updated modern mechanicals from the radiator to the differential were not difficult to obtain. You just need some deep money pockets to take position and then get them to all line up together.

A few of the major items were a 350 Chevy V-8, 400 turbo transmission, (both from a 1975 Corvette) GM power steering and brakes, air conditioning, plus tilt steering column. Of course, the extra chrome and polished aluminum made the engine compartment a real standout.

Owners of special interest older vehicles are never completely done. Bill has some ideas that may take place in the future.

For sure, he plans on this to be a tribute to US Army Special Forces that include:

Delta Force * Green Berets * Army Rangers
(Bill’s son-in-law is a Green Beret and this had made a deep impression on his feelings for our US military).

He might even install an exact copy of a 50 caliber machine gun and mount it in the bed for local parades. What a parade eye catcher!  A non-military vehicle with a large machine gun!

Bill is even thinking of calling it his Hillbilly Humvee.

Special bed side boards will announce this fact during parades!

You can contact Bill at wildbillsanders@comcast.net.

1942 Chevrolet ½ Ton

Coming down the road

Side View

Nice Bed – Small Tubs Required

Satin Sheen in Red

View from a step ladder

Centerline 5 bolt wheels

Extra Bright work is just right

The kit installed on a restored chassis ”before the body”.

The Proud Owner, Bill Sanders

American Ingenuity

Friday, August 10th, 2012

Needed are some logs without bark and a table saw. Cut in half and add tongue and groove. You have a truck flat bed!

1953 Advanced Design Canopy Express

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Owners: John and Michele Dunkirk


1953 Advanced Design Canopy Express

We have always assumed that less than 100 Advance Design Canopy Express trucks remain. If you ever see one restored or not restored, you should stop and take note. They are a part of our nation’s history. They carried groceries in neighborhoods with one car families during the years they were built. The husbands drove the family car to work and the ladies were housewives. Grocers knew if they were to stay in business they must drive their Canopy Express to housing areas displaying and delivering food. Our feature truck is probably the most complete and perfect restored example in existence!

It is owned and has been restored by John and Michele Dunkirk of Southampton, New York. His desire to have a Canopy Express was because his first vehicle was this body style. In the 1960’s few people had an interest in this unique older body design as a used vehicle! Thus, it was the least expensive vehicle John could buy during his later high school years. After 2 years of use he sold it to an auto junk yard for $15.00.

After completing restoration on a beautiful 1954 Chevrolet ½ ton about 15 years ago, (they still have it) John continued to think about his first vehicle in high school. The restoration bug had now bitten John and he wanted to do another Advance Design truck. Yes, he decided it had to be a 1947-53 Canopy Express. The problem, there were none! They were built for work and a first owner wanted them to look their very best doing neighborhood grocery marketing. Sad but true, there was almost no interest in a second hand Canopy Express. Within 5 years the wood and canvas side curtains began deteriorating. The wooden rear floor now stayed wet from rain and snow and mechanical maintenance requirements were beginning. The Canopy Express had reached the end of a short life.

John’s several year hunt ended in Florida from a small magazine advertisement. The way the owner described it, made the truck sound like a real one! He drove almost 800 miles one way to see it. A great surprise, it was the real thing and a 1953. As he looked at the total package, it seemed so deteriorated! It would need it all and a little more. At the time, John thought this must be about the only one left in the world so the damage from age and abuse was overlooked.

The restoration went “full steam ahead”. No nut or bolt would be left untouched. It was like building a large model kit after the parts were restored. They soon realized what a big project they were into, however there was no turning back. Otherwise only a pile of parts would remain for salvage.

After almost 5 years including 500 hours in bodywork and painting plus another 1,000 hours in all the other parts of the restoration, the 1953 Canopy is now a “Work of Art”. It is one of the top attractions at all shows! The finished vehicle is now basically as it was when new. A great inline six cylinder motor is just broke in. Of course, the 4 speed transmission was a necessity on a Canopy Express. The low speed first gear was for slow moving through the neighborhood while displaying grocery products. The paint is a correct 1953-55 Chevrolet truck color, Transport Blue. John added one change to the restoration, it originally had a single bucket seat. He used a full pickup seat, so he and Michele could attend distant shows together. The white wall tires were a non-GM accessory but local tire shops could have installed them after the canopy was bought. This would make the truck more of an attention getter when selling merchandise in the neighborhoods.

There are several large expenses “not” mentioned that aren’t included in the 1,500 hours restoration time. The most costly expense was the acquisition of a Canopy Express tailgate. John’s Canopy Express came with the tailgate missing! How could he spend so much time and money on this project and then be stopped without a tailgate? He had no idea this part would be so difficult to locate. He continued with the restoration assuming the gate would be found by the end of the project. It wasn’t. The Dunkirk’s hauled it to New England shows for 2 years after completion with no tailgate! No matter how hard he researched, there was no gate to be found. They even took it to Stowe, Vermont twice for the most attended antique car and truck show of the summer. It received second place in the commercial class for both years. Still no tailgate!

On one summer weekend it was taken to the large monthly Hemming’s Car Show in Bennington, Vermont were it was placed in the top ten vehicles.

Numerous local shows on Long Island, NY also saw this little canopy for the evening. Actually, part of the reason for many of the shows was to try to get a lead on a tailgate.

Finally, a few years later another small magazine advertisement led to a tailgate. An un-restored complete Canopy Express with a tailgate was for sale in Southern California. The problem: John and his wife, Michele were in Southampton, New York. There was no choice. They flew across the country to see it! It was found to be well worn as John’s had been but it had a tailgate. As they arranged commercial transportation to New York, we assume John remembered he sold his first canopy to a salvage yard for $15.00. When it reached New York a few weeks later, John and his body man finally agreed and accepted the bad news. The inner tailgate panel had been beat so bad that the dings, tears, and holes made it un-restorable. Without this inner panel, there could be no tailgate. What a disappointment! What happens next?

One day a lucky thing happened! With research John discovered the tailgate from a 1947-55 Suburban is the same in the lower 2/3 as a Canopy Express. With almost as much effort as finding the Canopy gate, John finally traded for a damaged Suburban tailgate. A restorable inner panel was now in his possession. He could cut it shorter and make a new inside gate panel for his Canopy. The truck could be completed!

Next project; Finding the artificial fruit and vegetables to display were the easy part. Locating mint condition grocery boxes of the 1950’s was another story. John and Michele attended many flea markets and garage sales. The boxes had to be of wood of the 1950’s and their colorful paper labels perfect. They soon found the best sources were estate sales. Most wood boxes and labels had survived because they had been put in attics and basements 50 years and used for storing merchandise. At these sales, John and Michele bought the boxes when they could and not the miscellaneous items they contained.

Now that the total restoration is completed a big appreciation for help go to Trevor and Stephanie Mercer that worked side by side with the Dunkirk’s during the 500 hours spent. Gene “The Tool Guy”, handmade the many panels (body, tailgate repairs, and floor) to replace those so badly rusted. Reproductions were not available.

During the 3 years it has been totally restored the Dunkirk’s are occasionally asked “What does it take to build a truck like this”. They quickly say “Just the money invested is over $50,000. This does not include the tailgate trip to California with return truck line freight, the drive to Florida to find the Suburban,  plus finding the many distant flea markets while on a “grocery box hunt”. Then we come to the value of their time in the 5 year ground up restoration. Just make a guess of the investment! It all started with John’s first truck in high school.

You can contact John and Michele at : micheleant@hotmail.com

1953 Advanced Design Canopy Express 1953 Advanced Design Canopy Express 1953 Advanced Design Canopy Express
1953 Advanced Design Canopy Express 1953 Advanced Design Canopy Express 1953 Advanced Design Canopy Express

1936-46 GMC Taillights

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 taillights. 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.

1936-46 GMC Taillights 1936-46 GMC Taillights
1936-46 GMC Taillights 1936-46 GMC Taillights

Same tail lights on early GM Wagons!

A Pair That Stops Traffic!

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012


1956 GMC 1/2 ton

My 1955 GMC 100 was locally purchased in 1995 immediately after buying the ’62 Airstream which resided for decades in a Minnesota field. As these trucks were designed, developed, and built to be work trucks, this one would continue to be so. A few months were spent designing the Jimmy so that it could be a strong, safe, and reliable hauler to pull the Airstream, a kind of Wanderlust Hotel, anywhere in North America at anytime, weather permitting.

The Jimmy’s frame was excellent, the body mostly good, but all the external and much of the internal trim had been stripped and was gone. My other vehicles at the time were working GMC pickups as were their predecessors, but the ’55 would be a special work truck capable of safely running with the big dogs while towing. All sheet metal but the cab came off, and all electrics were replaced as was every moving and non-moving part (except the nylon odometer worm gear which just broke…who knew?).

The Blue Chip GMC pickups were low volume production and very, very few reproduction parts are available. Most of the difficult to find original replacement parts were scored from Old Chevy Trucks with Jim Carter personally pulling trim items from one of his Missouri yards (it is a rare circumstance to work directly with a company’s owner for help, not once but many times). One of the key and very tricky safety items is the telescoping side view mirrors which came from a Chevy/GMC tractor of the same generation (1955-59). These were cut down and chromed so that vehicles behind the Airstream could easily be seen while using the original door mounting holes.

The rebuild took two years before undergoing a flawless 1300 mile test drive to MN to retrieve the Airstream, another two year project. Since 1999, the GMC has averaged 13,000 miles/year, a testament to a great working truck.

Hunt Jones, Mountain Lakes, New Jersey

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.

1939 GMC Panel Truck

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

Owner: Paul Flammang

It’s another era in our country. We were just coming out of the Great Depression. Employment was on the upswing and car sales were better than since the 1920’s. Families with a little more income began to move away from the downtown centers and new neighborhoods were developing at the edge of cities.

Public transportation began serving some of these new housing areas; however it was often not convenient for the new residents to walk to the bus line. They would need to ride to the original mid-town, return home with a supply of groceries, clothing, hardware items, etc. There was only so much a person could carry on a bus or street car.

Thus, the large numbers of small family-owned and operated neighborhood stores began to emerge. These quickly became important to the woman of the house. The husband would drive the family car or take the bus to work. The housewife remained at home, usually with the children, and was the purchaser of groceries and related needs. Neighborhood stores soon realized to be successful, they needed to take groceries, and laundry items to the customer.

With the above being said, the following describes one of the best examples of an all original grocery delivery truck of the last century. This little 1939 GMC panel truck was discovered over 16 years ago by the present owner, Paul Flammang.

He found it in a small garage behind what was once the Laura’s Family Grocery Store in Jewell City, Connecticut. The store was typical for the times, a two-story building on the corner. The shopping area was on the first floor and the owner and his family lived upstairs. Over 50 years ago this building was converted to an upper and lower duplex as the growth of large supermarkets put an end to the family-owned grocery stores.

The delivery truck, used by this grocer was locked in a back garage and had remained there over the years. The family still owned the property.

Paul, a local resident and old car enthusiast, had only heard rumors of the stored delivery panel truck. One day he found a family member with access to the garage and he asked if he could see the panel truck. He could not believe his eyes! It was just like when parked there in the 1950’s. The store logos were still readable on the sides and a few unopened grocery items remained inside undelivered. The log book in the glove box showed the last delivery in 1951 as well as addresses of many regular customers in the neighborhood.

A small ice box was still in the back by the double doors. It held meat on customer deliveries. The water from the melting ice ran through a drain hose in the factory hole for the spare tire clamp and then onto the street. Adjacent to this ice box was a small chopping block and scale.

To Paul, it was love at first sight! He owned a handmade furniture business and wanted the panel truck to add to the character of his company. Negotiations were successful and other than removing the ice box equipment, the panel truck was left as is. Our photos taken in 2012 show how it was found 16 years ago and after it was placed in storage in the 1950’s.

Paul immediately used it to deliver his furniture to New York and Boston twice each month, about 100 miles away for many, many years. Yes, a few motor changes occurred but the exterior has never changed.

We recently met Paul Flammang at our Midwest store with his 1939 GMC panel on a drive from Connecticut to Arizona. He is now retired and will spend his winters near Phoenix. It will be his daily driver there.

The current engine is a Chevrolet 216 six cylinder. Who says low oil pressure babbitt bearing engines can’t stand up to long hours of use?

If you wish to contact Paul Flammang by email: flammangwoodwork@gmail.com

 

1948 Chevy Truck – Heartbeat of America

Thursday, December 29th, 2011


1948 Chevy Truck –“ Heartbeat of America”
Owner: Luke Stefanovsky
1948 Chevy Truck
This was my 1st project of this sort after dreaming about it for years. I did not start the restoration, but have finished the interior, exterior, the engine bay, and performed some undercarriage work. Once starting the restoration, I was “all in”! It became a great stress-reliever from the daily responsibilities of being a middle school principal in a state hard-hit by the Recession. I spent more time in my waking hours thinking about the truck that I should; it occupied my dreams as well! The truck was back on the road August 2009, and it now has approximately 1600 miles on the completely rebuilt 235 c.i. 6 cylinder engine pulled from a 1955 Chevy. It has a 4-speed stick (floor) with a 4:11 rear. The truck is now my summer daily driver in West Branch, Michigan (approximately 90 miles from my home in Alma, Michigan).

The truck was in the service fleet for the Road Department in Mineral County, Nevada (county seat is in Hawthorne) sometime until the mid/late 1960s. I have corresponded with the man who purchased it from them; it has had multiple owners since then. The truck was originally purchased by the Road Department from the Chevy dealership in Hawthorne, which is no longer in existence. The Mineral County seals on the door sides were compliments of the current Road Department supervisor. I purchased the amber Federal service light and mounted it on a pole in the front-left of the truck bed; the switch is now under the dash. The patched holes from a roof-mounted service light were clearly visible before the headliner was replaced. I’d love to find a rare 1948 Nevada “highway exempt truck” license plate to mount on the front of the truck, which would replace the standard 1948 Nevada truck plate.

Evidence of the truck’s past includes “cleats” of some sort, which can be seen below the tailgate area and the various holes on the side-rails. Holes in various other locations around the truck where unknown items were mounted can be seen. One such set of holes on the upper left of the dashboard were for a small rubber-bladed electric fan. I found a rare N.O.S. Casco rubber-bladed fan and installed it in that very same location! Another hole on the dashboard was where the wiring for the vintage N.O.S. illuminated Hull compass is now located. I completely restored the original Harrison heater that came with the truck, which must have come in handy on cold Nevada mornings/evenings out on the Mineral County roads. IF THESE OLD TRUCKS COULD ONLY TALK!

Amongst a very long list of things done to this truck, I’ve added vintage Guide turn signals, a horn, amber Guide 5-3/4” fog lights, a rear passenger tail light, Guide back-up lights, the side-mounted spare tire, decorative hood ornament, a restored radio/antennae, under hood lamp (a rare accessory), refinished the bed, and added seatbelts (the only way my wife and son were going to ride with me!). A N.O.S. Casco cigar lighter was installed. New wheels were painted/striped and mated to a new set of tires, along with new hubcaps. The cab was striped. The driver’s side inner door panel, the driver’s side upper hinge detents, hinge pins, and the passenger side door latch were replaced. I had to also replace the driver’s side stainless steel window trim. Original “high dome” bumper bolts, along with Marsden nuts, were restored and used on the bumpers. An original jack/handle and complete tool set were also placed under the bench seat. A finishing touch was finding and mounting a GM accessory chrome grille guard. The truck was completely rewired, maintaining the original 6 volt electrical service. Instrument gauges were also restored.

New friends have been made through the project the past few years—some over the phone, others via the Internet, and many in person. The information, help received, and locating miscellaneous parts from the Stovebolt, H.A.M.B., V.C.C.A., and Chevy Bomb forums has been much appreciated. I also found eBay a good place to find parts.

Younger brothers Joe and John were a big help on the project. Joe was a huge help on the electrical side of the project, as well as the body finish. John completed the restoration by building a set of bed racks/rails out of red oak left behind by our deceased Grandpa K.—“the Judge”—who ironically retired from the Bay County, Michigan Road Department.

Driving the “Heartbeat of America” on a regular basis and attending classic car shows has validated for me that completing this restoration was a very worthwhile project to others as well. Attending the 50th V.C.C.A. Anniversary meet in Flint, Michigan July 2011 sure was quite an event! The truck has appeared in two calendars and has been featured in the V.C.C.A.’s Generator and Distributor monthly magazine. A newspaper article was also written on it in the Mineral County Independent-News. The “Heartbeat of America” has come back to life and lives again, 63 years after its creation in Oakland, California. At age 50, I see this restored ’48 Chevy truck as a tribute to the rich auto heritage of our great state of Michigan—which has fallen on hard times recently. Like this truck, we will survive to thrive once more some day again.

1948 Chevy Truck 1948 Chevy Truck
1948 Chevy Truck

If you wish to contact Luke, please send him an email at: lstefanovsky@mtpleasant.edzone.net

1936 Chevy Half Ton

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

Owner: Pat O’Brien

 

 

 


This rare little ½ ton survived its 75 years mostly because it stayed with one family; it probably never ventured beyond the city limits, and was used mostly by a mechanic that lived in an area of dry air that discouraged metal rust. For the trucks first two years, it was driven by Virginia Swaim to high school each day in Prescott, Arizona.  After graduation her father used it as a shop truck in his auto repair business until he retired. Then, Virginia kept it mostly stored in a backyard garage until she passed away in 2002.

The new owner and restorer is Pat O’Brien also of Prescott, Arizona. He discovered it in the same closed garage where it had spent all of its later years. Virginia sold it to Pat several years after he discovered it by accident as he drove by the garage door that was open for a few minutes. Maybe this second ownership was meant to be! Pat was even given the pickups entire history in receipts from the day it was purchased. A box of so many receipts; from tires, gasoline, batteries, radiator hoses, and any other little repairs that needed during so many years.

Of course after all those years as a shop truck and many more sitting in the daughters garage, it was in need of so much more than a surface cleanup. Pat was ready for this challenge. His goal was to have his 1936 look bone stock on the outside with a change to most of the running gears that only the more knowledgeable truck person would recognize. Keeping an inline six cylinder was a must! He added a 292, the larger of the 1963 through 1972 design. The 4 speed was replaced with a Chevy car full synchronized floor shift 4 speed from the 1960’s. This floor shift system was almost a natural for the 1936 pickup.

The differential rear end was a great find. Removed from a 4 x 4 S-10 pickup, it matches the original 6 bolt wheel pattern and the distance between the rear wheels is just right for this 1936 ½ ton. Pat only moved the axle saddles slightly to the side and the original 1 ¾  wide rear leaf springs connected perfectly!

Keeping the 1936 front axle was important. He wanted it to keep the non-lowered original appearance. The front end difference is the hidden 6 bolt disc brake system fitted to his 1936 axle. Yes, the original 1936 lever action shock absorbers were rebuilt. They really are an excellent shock – just expensive!

The real creation was keeping the new dual chambered master cylinder under the floor between the original clutch and brake pedals.  Most people give up here on 1936-46 brake modifications and attach swing pedals to the firewall. Not Pat! He did it like the 1936 design. A bracket to support the pedals was attached to the transmission case much like GM did it. The opposite bracket on the original frame rail could then be utilized with the pedal shaft as from the factory.  Even the hand brake lever is attached to the newer 4 speed transmission like it was in 1936.  It comes through the floor in the correct position.

The 6 hole wire wheels are another eye catcher. To keep it like GM made it, Pat found these new US handmade wires to look original. Not cheap! They really help it keep its 1936 look and hold the radial tires well at any speed.

Pat O’Brien has created a total package that is one of a kind. We call it his little original speed machine!  No, we didn’t say inexpensive.  People are drawn to it at car shows or just moving in traffic. Virginia Swaim and her father would be proud!!

To contact Pat, email at: professorpat@hotmail.com

1939-46 1/2 Ton Canopy Express “Barn Fresh 1942”

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

Owners: Scott and Betty Golding of Stratton, Nebraska

Is this the rare of the rare?

Just when you think they were all gone, up comes a real Canopy Express of the 1939-46 body design.

Our ‘Feature Truck of the Month’ section usually shows restored GM trucks, but we just had to show this almost forgotten body style even though it is not restored. We might call this 1/2 ton Canopy Express a ‘Barn Fresh 1942’

It is owned by Scott and Betty Golding of Stratton, Nebraska.  They found it near Scott City, Kansas, a small town in the far northwest part of the state.   Here the ground is flat and the air is dry.  Thus, body rust is usually not a problem and metal is preserved with the low humidity.  It has saved this 65 year old and it will now be seen by future generations.

Scott states that there were 182 Canopy Express trucks built in 1942.  Therefore, we suspect the survival rate of this year is less than five.  The limited production in 1942 was due to most assembly plants starting to be used to make war materials after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.  The Canopy Express had a limited market and with the factories stopping production early, the 182 production number is understandable.  Scott and Betty’s Canopy Express still has a chrome grill which relates to the time before the war shortages.

Though the original black paint is mostly gone from the summer sun, the metal condition shows a very restorable vehicle.  Even the full wood divider is still behind the front seat.  This divider with window was necessary for rear vision as well as to allow passengers more comfort in cold weather when the small dealer installed heater was used.  The wood planks in the bed are tired, but still remain in place.  The roll up canvas curtains were usually gone before the tenth year.  Of course, there is no evidence now they even existed.

The Golding’s should have some good luck with a future restoration as the rare body sets on a 1/2 ton pickup frame.  The parts from the door forward are also the same as a pickup truck.  It is the body restoration that might give some problems because the tailgate is lost.  That will take a real search.

Why did the Canopy Express exist?

In another era of our country’s history (1920’s through 1950’s) extra money was limited.  Those with some disposable income bought one family car.   The man of the house drove it to work and the wife stayed at home with the children.  During World War II, the husbands were often in the military overseas. Therefore, retail stores realized to keep sales or even stay in business; they had to bring their products to the neighborhoods.  The Canopy Express filled that need. They were excellent for carrying and displaying produce and related groceries.  Display trays of food products were taken to the neighborhoods.  Probably a bell told home owners that the grocery truck was coming. Even a scale for weighing produce could be attached to an arm extending from the body.  The Canopy Express canvas sides were easily raised or lowered depending on the weather or when back at the store at the end of the day.  Of course, laundry, bakery and dairy products were also delivered to neighborhoods but this required a different size vehicle.  That is another story!

Scott and Betty’s Canopy Express still has the 216 six cylinder engine.  Most important is its 4 speed transmission.  This allowed the Canopy Express to move very slowly in crowded apartment neighborhoods while ringing the hand-pulled bell.

If you would like to contact Scott and Betty, send email to scottandbetty@hotmail.com.

Can anyone help Scott and Betty find a 1939-46 Canopy Express tailgate?

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

Nuts Molded from Epoxy Cement

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011


The next time you can’t find a nut to fit a special bolt, try making your own by filling an oversized nut with epoxy cement and molding the threads. Seat the nut in modeling clay before pouring in the epoxy. Grease the bolt, then screw it down through the epoxy into the clay. Wait a day, unscrew the bolt from the hardened epoxy, and you will have a perfect fitting nut for moderate duty.

1945 Chevrolet House of Magic

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

Owner: Dirk Spence
1953 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton

A magic show unlike anything you’ve ever seen! Equally important to GM truck people is that all of this has been totally transformed on a 1945 Chevrolet 1 1/2 ton truck.

The truck owner and professional magician is Dirk Spence of Tinley, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago). It all began in 1980 when Dirk was given a dilapidated 1945 Chevy truck with a ruined engine, broken glass, and four flat tires. Since his youth, Dan had a strong interest in magic and with this truck, he quickly envisioned a traveling magic show that would set him apart from all others.

Once completed, this unique, self-contained 1945 Chevrolet ˜Magic House™ contains sound, lights, and a one-of-a-kind museum. Dirk has even rigged his truck to spit flames when he fires up the engine- just for added effect. His one hour magic show has been in the Chicago area for many years.

This has been quite a project considering the truck only has a 134″ wheel-base. Audiences love Dirk’s magic wagon because it is a touch of old Vaudeville with a splash of 1990’s humor. Dirk has definitely found a niche that draws “oohs and ahhs” when he arrives in his in his gypsy green truck with wood shingle sides at festivals, corporate picnics, and schools.

If you would like to contact Dirk or experience “Mr. D’s Magic and Illusion Show”, please call 708.532.0827 or visit his website at www.mrdsmagicshow.com.

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.

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

 

1953 Chevrolet

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Year/Make 1953 Chevrolet
Owner: Richard & Lorie Baranek



1953 Chevrolet

On my side of the story! from “Broadway Bob” at Auto Rehab. It was a project that took almost 1 1/2 years to complete. I started working on it from in a small 20×20 garage attached to my house . I was in the process of building a new 40×50 garage ! Most of the first few months were doing the work on it in my driveway, including disassembly, paint stripping, metal finishing, some bodywork and painting parts, etc. Due to no room in garage for the whole truck, it was quite a juggling show. The truck was in good restorable condition and thanks to Jim Carter parts! the job was possible to complete with new replacement parts. It was a complete frame off restoration. I reconditioned most of the parts that were in good shape and replaced everything that wasn’t. I made parts that weren’t available yet !! Every nut, bolt, screw, was reconditioned or replaced if bad ! I think it was my most enjoyable restoration in the past 5 years. Everything was taken apart, refinished and reassembled back to new. I was amazed at the quality of the vehicle construction when new . GM did an excellent job on design of this model truck. I think “that made it a thrill to work on”!! it was simple and effective, not cluttered like cars today!!

This truck was bought back in 1955 by the Baranek family in Crivitz Wis. This is the third generation of Baranek’s to own it and it has been in the family for 50 years along with the history and war stories told by son, grandson & great grandson, The truck was in good restorable condition considering it spent all its life in Wisconsin. I have had it for 1 1/2 years doing an extensive restoration of the vehicle and it was a pure joy to work on. It is currently owned by Richard & Lorie Baranek of Crivitz, Wisconsin, who are the 3rd generation owners of this restored 1953 Chevrolet 3600.

Submitted by Bob Thompson
Auto Rehab & Restoration
Wabeno, Wisconsin.
Additional comments from the owners:

Sorry we haven’t gotten back to you in so long. We have a daughter getting married tomorrow so things have been a little hectic. Our truck is a 53 Chevy I remember riding in it with my grandfather as a chilled. When my grandfather passed away the truck was handed down to my uncle who took over the farm . I thought he sold the truck until one day I discovered it in his barn and there it was sitting for 45 years. Now my uncle is 80 years old and it took me a whole year to try to convince him to let me buy it from him. I bought the truck for 100.00 dollars we got it running and used it just to bomb around in the back 40. After we were all done having fun the truck sat in the shed for 3 years and we finally found Bob to restore it. He worked on that truck for 2 years, then we went to see it. It was immaculate we’ve never seen something more beautiful. Bob did a great job on the truck!!!!!

Rich and Lorie written by son (Brad)

1953 chevrolet pick up truck 1953 chevrolet pick up truck 1953 chevrolet pick up truck
1953 chevrolet pick up truck 1953 chevrolet pick up truck 1953 chevrolet pick up truck
1953 chevrolet pick up truck 1953 chevrolet pick up truck 1953 chevrolet pick up truck

1936 Chevrolet 1/2 ton Pickup

Monday, February 14th, 2011

WILLY THE 36 CHEVY


I found my 36 Chevy pickup in the 1980’s on highway 41 somewhere south of Chicago. It was running but had a big crack in the block, so to drive it I had to carry a bucket of water with me.
1936 Chevrolet 1/2 ton Pickup
My love of the 36 pickup goes back to 1948 when I was four and my dad (just home from the Navy and WW2) was working as a tenant farmer in east central Illinois. The owner of the farm had a 1936 Chevy pickup which my dad was allowed to drive back and forth from our house to the main farm. It was the “first” pickup I remember riding in and the fascination I had for that old truck stayed with me. Needles to say, when I saw old “Willy” (named after my dad) sitting ‘for sale’ along Hwy 41 many years later, I had to have him.

At that time I lived in Terre Haute, Indiana and had a concrete block company and an excavating business. My intention from the beginning was to restore old “Willy”. However as some of you “old timers” might remember, the early 80’s were tough years for the building industry and a lot of old “Willy” projects got delayed.

In 1986 I packed up my family, a few pieces of equipment, old “Willy” and moved to the Charlotte, NC area. The economy was much better there and by 1988 I started an auto detail and wreck recovery business. Old “Willy” finally was getting some attention. When the work crew had some extra time, we took old “Willy” to the frame.

Another hick-up in the 1989 economy put the project back on hold and old “Willy” was destined to become a “pile of parts”. We had to shut the shop down. A sluggish economy, a divorce and two daughters in college paved the way for old “Willy” to remain a pile of parts for several years.

Not until 1999 did I seriously get back on the project. All the chassis parts were examined and many were rebuilt. New brake lines were installed, king pins, bushings, spring pins; any part worn was replaced. The passing of time and moving things around caused a number of parts to get lost. We found a parts truck in Wisconsin and had it shipped to North Carolina. This provided an engine, transmission and a few other needed chassis parts.

In 2005 I contracted with a small paint and body shop to start painting the sheet metal and body parts. There were some real challenges to return a fairly rough and rugged bed, cab, fenders, doors, hood, etc. to “like new” condition.

In 2009 I was finally able to again open my own shop and begin the reassembly of old “Willy”. After all those years “Willy” was about to be complete. I thank our crew, Chuck (manager), Whit (mechanic) and Steven (painter) for doing a super job getting our beautiful ’36 in show condition.

We also want to thank Jim Carter’s Old Chevy Trucks for helping us with several technical questions we had in the reassembly. We were able to get a number of new and used parts from the Jim Carter catalog.

PS: Over all these years, old “Willy” has finally successfully evolved from a truck in a box to a beauty back on the highway of pride.

1936 Chevrolet 1/2 ton pickup 1936 Chevrolet 1/2 ton pickup 1936 Chevrolet 1/2 ton pickup
1936 Chevrolet 1/2 ton pickup 1936 Chevrolet 1/2 ton pickup

1950 Chevrolet Deluxe 1/2 ton

Monday, February 14th, 2011

Owner: Jim Brallier
1953 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton
1950 Chevrolet Truckstell Overdrive

The total restoration of this 1950 Chevrolet Deluxe 1/2 ton came to be because of a “match made in heaven”. Jim Brallier of Clearville, PA has this special truck because several things came together just right. He always had a desire to restore an older truck. He was retired after a full career specializing in vehicle mechanical repair and welding. His son is a professional auto body repairman and painter. There was now extra time to peruse his long dream and all came together at the right time.

Jim discovered this factory deluxe pickup (with all the trim) only 60 miles away in the rolling hills of South central Pennsylvania. This was known for coal mining many years ago and for some reason the little truck had been stored in a garage 30 years ago and appeared related to the coal mining business in this area. The garage saved it from years of bad weather however the first 20 years of being in the past coal mining area was not kind to the truck and 65 years of summer humidity, even in storage, added to major body rust. But was a more rare deluxe pickup with the extra rear corner windows!

It took Jim Brallier no time to know this was to be the truck he had planned for during his many past working years. It was too deteriorated not to be disassembled down to the frame rails. The motor was locked after its 30 year storage and most body panels were showing rust holes.Jim knew this would be a challenge but he refused to stop when all the pieces were removed. It would have then only been salvage scrap metal! He was retired so this 1 1/2 year project was his challenge. His years as a mechanic and welder could now be placed again to good use on this otherwise total loss rusted little pickup (he even replaced the outer door skins where he discovered an interesting ink pen stored inside*). The attached photos verify the pure deluxe features of this top of the line 5 window model. The Cape Maroon color is correct for 1950. Stainless window trim, chrome grill and bumpers. Jim added chrome mirror arms and taillights. The deeper 6 bolt wheels are about 1969 Blazer that allow for radial tires. Polished stainless steel strips greatly add to the appearance of the 6 foot bed. The results are now appreciated by all that see it. Two local car shows and two trophies!

AND THEN IT HAPPENED! Jim heard about a distant 1952 1/2 ton at the right price. Maybe his experience with his 1950 would make this a much easier second project to be a daily driver. (don’t these old Chevy trucks get in our blood!) The price was so good. It was in an old storage garage and deeply covered with everything on the cab top and along and in the bed. Without seeing little more than the truck front and no accessibility to the side or cab, Jim still bought it. The next week he was back with his trailer and removing the storage to gain access and then hauled it home. Once in his garage the overall condition check was made. What is that? What’s that box in the drive line behind the three speed transmission? It certainly was not like his 1950. He cleaned the grease and dirt from a sheet metal plate on the case. It was a Truckstell Overdrive! Even the operating cable under the dash was there. What a find! Almost unheard of in today’s world and Jim now owned one. Of course, he had to have it in his 1950.

This changeover project was the most exciting in all his restoration. To have this aftermarket option in his show truck would be the ultimate accessory. He totally disassembled the unit and it required only new grease seals. Its problem had been a frozen under dash control cable. The outer metal wire covering and non-metal insulation tube were replaced. The actual inter cable was still ok. The total drive shaft assembly was exchanged with his 1950. It was always necessary to shorten the closed drive shaft torque tube system in the early years to make room for the over-drive gear box. The differential ring and pinion gears came out together but no trade was needed in axle housing, axles or brake system. Jim totally restored the overdrive including cleaning the Truckstell ID plate and painting the case the original orange color found in a few spots.

This overdrive has changed his 1950’s total driving personality! The little 216 engine now cruises 60 MPH on the highway instead of 45 MPH on the slower country roads. The overdrive can be used in all 3 gears and has a “hill holding” feature. It doesn’t roll backwards when starting on a slope at stop signs. Jim feels this is the best thing one can add to a 1/2 ton. Why did GM never offer this option in the early years? It appears the Truckstell Overdrive #101 was available for the Chevrolet passenger cars and 3 speed 1/2 ton pickups from about 1946 through 1955. By then Chevrolet offered their own optional Borg-Warner overdrive with the introduction of the open-drive shaft system. Click below to see the original sales literature offered by Truckstell in the late 1940’s Truckstell Brochure.

When Jim removed the door skin for replacement, he found an ink pen in the bottom. It was lettered U.A.W. United Auto Workers. No doubt, it was placed in the door by an assembly worker during assembly in 1950. this is his souvenir of the restoration. NOTE: If you have an interest in Truckstells, we found another person with a collection and most related literature. Contact KB at his email address telekenfun@ak.net.

1950 Chevrolet Truckstell Overdrive 1950 Chevrolet Truckstell Overdrive 1950 Chevrolet Truckstell Overdrive
1950 Chevrolet Truckstell Overdrive 1950 Chevrolet Truckstell Overdrive 1950 Chevrolet Truckstell Overdrive
1950 Chevrolet Truckstell Overdrive


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

Forgotten 1972 Highlander

Thursday, February 11th, 2010


1972 Highlander

During 1972, a unique Chevrolet promotional pickup was introduced for a limited time in 1/2 , 3/4, and 1 ton models. This truck was designated the ‘Highlander’. Unfortunately, it did not have side emblems or related name plates that would cause people to remember this special model. On the actual truck the word Highlander was only listed on the glove box door inside ID sheet.

This vehicle was actually a modified middle series ‘Custom Deluxe’. The horizontal lower side trim has black inserts, not wood grain. The usual ‘Custom Deluxe’ chrome emblems are displayed on the front fenders. As with most of the 1972 GM trucks the dash housing, glove box lid, and door panels do not have the wood grain inserts as on the top of the line Cheyenne Super.

It is the cloth seat inserts that stand out on the Highlander interior. This feature was the special Scottish plaid nylon cloth seat insert material. Four plaid colors were available, depending on the exterior color.

GM used the top of the line 1972 Cheyenne Super seat covering but instead of the hounds tooth inserts substituted this unique Tartan plaid material. The vinyl seat edging, door panels, and seat belts were all parchment no matter the seat or exterior color.

1972 Highlander

The exterior feature of the Highlander is the attractive stainless wheel covers on the ½ ton. They have no emblem or letters and are specific for this particular model truck. (These actually had been used several years before as the stock 15 inch cover on the 1970 Chevrolet Monte Carlo.) The 3/4 and 1 ton Highlander used hub caps, not wheel covers, that were stampings from the standard base truck.

Actually, the more advertised feature of the Highlander was three pre installed option packages. Chevrolet put together several popular factory options in a base package and reduced the total regular price as much as $260.00. Original equipment (standard on the Highlander package A) were chrome front bumper, upper body moldings, door edge guards, and Below-Eye-Line door mounted mirrors.

Package B included the above items plus turbo hydramatic transmission, power steering and tilt steering column. Package C added the above plus air conditioning and Soft-Ray tinted windows.

In today’s world, Highlanders have been mostly forgotten. Unless you bought one new or located an original piece of sales literature, it is likely that even GM truck lovers were not aware they existed.

1972 Highlander

Comment

Another example of General Motors saving production costs: On the 1972 GMC only, the Chevrolet Highlander seat material was an option on their Wide-Side (fleetside) and Suburban. To give this seat insert a different appearance, than the Highlander, it appears the material was turned 90o so the stripes ran the opposite direction.

1972 Highlander

1972 GMC (optional) (above)

To get the most sales from the special Scottish plaid 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, was a custom Deluxe series with lower side trim having satin black inserts. The special wheel covers were not used on this Suburban body.

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

Mr. Lynes also furnished the two photos of the 72 Hawaiian blue vehicle showing a great color view of the Scottish plaid. Frederic Lynes can be contacted at stingrayl82@comcast.net.

1972 Highlander

1972 Highlander

1972 Highlander

1972 Highlander

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

First Series Chevrolet

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

The 1955 year put Chevrolet on top! All stops were removed in announcing and continual advertising of the totally redesigned passenger car and their first V-8 engine. Television, radio, news papers and dealers regularly told the public that Chevrolets best year had arrived.

It was not good timing to also begin an equal advertising campaign for the totally new truck that was ready for manufacturing. A good business decision by GM was to wait about six months until the car ads had slowed, then advertising could begin again for their redesigned trucks. This would hit the customers twice in one year on major changes in the Chevrolet market.

It was unheard of for GM to not introduce a new Chevy vehicle each year, therefore at least something had to happen with trucks at the beginning of the 1955 model year. The answer was later called a “First Series 1955”. Chevrolet would introduce the 1955 truck by making several changes to their pre-existing 1954. With the new “Second Series” only months away, little investment was made to the early 1955 trucks.

First Open Drive Shaft

First Open Drive Shaft

The most noticeable change on the popular 1/2 ton was the first open drive shaft in Chevy’s truck history. This was actually created for the later 1955 trucks but with dealer demand it was moved up to be in the early body style. This major drive line change required a different 3 speed transmission, rear leaf springs, shift linkage and shift box.

1955 Hood Side Emblem

1955 Hood Side Emblem

The outside visual changes were minimum. During the about 5 months production, the 1955 early truck was given totally different hood side emblems. However, to reduce costs the number portion of the emblem could be changed depending on the size of trucks. Example: 3100 on 1/2 ton, 3600 on 3/4 ton and 3800 on the 1 ton.

Vertical Stripes

Vertical Stripes

A no cost difference was changing the vertical stripes on the front hood emblem from red on the 1954 to white on the 1955

Non-Chrome Grill

Non-Chrome Grill

The paint arrangement on the non-chrome grill was also a non cost change for Chevrolet. The grill bars were changed from body color to white.

Dash Color

Dash Color

Interior paint (again a no cost change) was slightly modified from a pearl beige color 1954 to a light metallic brown.

Thus, with little extra investment Chevrolet had a new truck for the beginning of 1955. This was the final offering of this body style that began in 1947. GM referred to it as the “Advance Design”. It has become one of Chevrolet’s all time greats. It’s popularity today is as strong with hobbyists as it was with new buyers 50 years ago.

Then came the totally re-designed trucks in mid-year 1955. That will be another story!

First GMC Light Duty Pick Up Truck

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Prior to the mid-1930’s, the two truck divisions of General Motors, Chevrolet and GMC, were mostly independent companies. If you wanted a 1-1/2 ton and smaller truck, Chevrolet (since 1918) could provide the model just right for your needs. If you needed a 2-ton and larger, GMC was the division to contact. They had been a large truck specialist even before 1920.

A gradual overlap began in mid-1936 with the introduction of the new “low cab” body. GMC brought out a line of light trucks in direct competition with Chevrolet. They were to give their struggling GMC dealerships additional sales during the Great Depression by fulfilling their customer’s light duty hauling needs. These new trucks shared most sheet metal with Chevrolet as well as transmissions, front suspension, wheels and differentials. A few minor changes were the grille, hood sides, lettered tailgate and hubcaps; however, the major difference was the engine.

We have heard from several sources that this first GMC 1/2 ton pickup was always a long bed of 126”. The short bed 112” was not available until 1937.

At that time GMC did not produce a small engine that could fit their new light duty trucks. Their totally new small six-cylinder overhead valve power plant was still three years away. The solution was to use a pre-existing engine from one of the General Motors other divisions. They adopted the 213 cubic inch six-cylinder flat head (valves in the block) engine from Oldsmobile. Its power, size and reliability in cars made it the best choice and replacement parts were already available from the Oldsmobile division.

This proven engine in combination with the new low cab body proved successful and allowed GMC to begin gaining ground in the small truck market.

This 213 full oil pressure insert bearing engine (updated by Oldsmobile in 1937 to 230) was main source of power during the early years of smaller GMC trucks, 1936-38. One exception was in the half-ton pickup in 1938. For this model and year only, GMC now used a different smaller flat head six-cylinder. It came from the Pontiac car division and it even has the Pontiac Indian head symbol cast in the right side of the engine block. It had 223 cubic inches. The 230 was retained on GMCs larger than 1/2-tons.

Few of these light duty GMC survive today. They not only experienced the usual heavy work jobs as trucks, but with World War II new truck shortages meant few GMCs were set idle in storage.  After the war, most were worn down to where it cost more to repair them than using them to make a down payment on a new truck.  Thus, the majority were lost to the crusher.

first gmc light duty 1

1937 GMC, Drawing by Bryant Stewart, Farley, MA.

first gmc light duty 2

1936 GMC T-14
(Photo compliments of Patrick Kroeger at pkroeger@tampabay.rr.com)
Not to be used without written permission.

Demise of the GM Panel Truck

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Even before the 1920’s, light commercial hauling using panel trucks had found a loyal growing customer base. With increasing numbers of small businesses and the population gradually moving to the cities, the panel truck found a place in our society. By the 1930’s, most all truck manufacturers had designed a panel body to fit on their existing pickup truck chassis.

Advantages of the panel over other trucks for small business are numerous. Their weather-tight body protects cargo from rain, snow, driving wind and summer sun. Very important is the security feature. Merchandise is out of sight and can be locked. They are economical over big trucks and much more maneuverable than the larger commercial vehicles. Panel trucks are just right for moving in crowded streets and narrow alleys.

demise panel truck 1

Retired panel trucks used for storage (above)

Even at the end of the panel truck’s life, auto wrecking yards often kept a few for storage. The bodies were excellent for protecting used parts (starters, generators, bearings, clutches, etc.) from the weather.

During the mid 1960’s, a major drop in panel truck popularity began. The vehicle that was once wanted by most every business in America was now being overlooked because of a ‘new kid on the block.’ The General Motors G-series van had arrived! This new van with short nose, had better turning radius, more cargo space on a like wheelbase, and a side freight door. It was the truck to buy. On most models the price was even lower.

The panel truck could not compete! It’s sales began dropping almost every year. Their popularity became so low that GM discontinued the vehicle even before the end of the 1967-1972 body style. This tells how the sales had dropped. Production was stopped even though the assembly line was operating and the tooling was able to continue stamping the body panels. In 1970, General Motors called it quits. The panel truck was history!

demise panel truck 2

1970 G Series Van (above)

With the major sales decline during the final years, you will see less of the 1967-70 units than of the earlier designs.

Even finding a rough final series panel is a rare occurrence. The newest is now over 30 years old. They were built for work responsibilities. Few were kept out of the weather. Most were owned by companies and driven by their employees.

demise panel truck 3

1936-1942 Coupe Pick Up

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

1936-1942 Chevy Coupe Pick Up

During the great depression of the 1930’s, almost half of the automakers ceased business forever. Most remaining manufacturers modified their vehicles and advertising techniques to appeal to a very conservative buyer. With limited disposable income the few people willing to purchase a car or truck were very careful.

To help boost or at least hold sales steady, the Chevrolet Division introduced a new model in 1936. It was referred to as the Coupe Pickup. With a small corporate investment a dual purpose vehicle was created to appeal to the buyer with a need for both a car and a pickup.

The new model was a standard coupe with a miniature pickup truck bed placed in the trunk area. This small new bed included wood planks, metal strips, sides, and tailgate much like larger ½ ton pickups. It extended out of the trunk about the distance of the rear bumper. To keep out dust and rain water, a custom made canvas snapped in place between the small bed sides and the coupe trunk edges.

To appeal to the conservative new car buyer during the depression years this vehicle even included a painted coupe deck lid wrapped in several coverings of butcher paper. In this way if the mini-bed was removed, the deck lid could be attached and the owner then had a car.

A popular use was by neighborhood grocery stores.  The coupe express was excellent to deliver grocery items in the neighborhood.  The owner could also use it as his personal car!

This unique model was available each year from 1936 through early 1942 when World War II stopped domestic car production. There is almost no survival of the original coupe pickups. The few that made it even to the 1950’s were almost always given their deck lid to transform them to a pure coupe. Few people wanted an older pickup with such limited hauling capacity when they could have a coupe with a somewhat youthful sporty appearance.

No doubt the major weakness of this model was the canvas between the bed and body. It soon deteriorated when the vehicle set outside leaving the trunk area exposed to rain and snow. This was just the beginning of major rust problems which in time totaled the trunk area and maybe even the complete vehicle!

Today, if one of these beds would appear at an antique auto swap meet, almost no one would remember it’s original application. When the Chevrolet lettering was not on the gate, most would pass by thinking it is probably home made for a forgotten use.

1936-1942 coupe puick up 1

1936-1942 coupe pick up 2

1936-1942 coupe pick up

1936-1942 coupe pick up

Below is an example of an excellent used insert that made the standard coupe a coupe express. Found in Montana in 2013, it is about as pure as one can find of an almost 75 year old Chevrolet accessory. Almost no rust damage and some original paint! It had to be placed in a storage building when the car was made back into a standard coupe.

1936 Oil Tanker

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

1936 Oil Tanker

1936 Chevy

The truck (a 1936 1/2 Chevy high cab) was the very first truck that Mr. Hess himself drove around Woodbridge, NJ in the early days. In those days it was not gasoline he hauled, it was primarily heating fuel oil. The truck remained in service up into the early fifties at which time it underwent a partial overhaul. When I met the truck it had spent the last twenty something years in the HOVIC (Hess Oil Virgin Islands Corp) plant in the US Virgin Islands being used as a prop. The unit, as a result of being subjected to years of salt air and a hurricane or two (one being Hurricane Hugo), was in EXTREME disrepair to say the least. The engine would run, however the poured rod bearings were knocking very bad. When we pulled the truck into the shop for disassembly the windshield and part of the cab just fell into pieces. This was a complete overhaul right down to cutting the rivets, splitting the frame rails, and hand riveting them back together. I feel this is one of the finest restoration jobs I have ever been involved with and I am very proud of it. The truck (fully functional) is now destined to be displayed at the Hess headquarters in Woodbridge, N.J. and could haul fuel today.

Bill Tabbert

1936 Chevy Oil Tanker 1936 Chevy Oil Tanker
1936 Oil Tanker 1936 Chevy Oil Tanker
1936 Chevy Oil Tanker 1936 Oil Tanker
1936 Chevy Oil Tanker 1936 Chevy Oil Tanker
1936 Chevy Oil Tanker 1936 Chevy Oil Tanker
1936 Oil Tanker 1936 Oil Tanker
1936 Oil Tanker 1936 Oil Tanker
1936 Oil Tanker 1936 Oil Tanker
1936 Oil Tanker
1936 Oil Tanker

1946 Chevrolet Dually 1 1/2 ton

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

1946 Chverolet 1 1/2 Ton
Owner: Jim Carter

1946 Chevrolet Dually 1 1/2 ton

1946 chevrolet 1 1/2 ton

1955-1957 Radiator Shroud

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

1955-1957

With the introduction of the new small block V-8’s in 1955 Chevrolet trucks, modified sheet metal was created to help in cooling. The new truck design came standard with the proven 235 inline six cylinder but when an optional V-8 was added, cooling modifications were necessary.

The short length V-8’s cooling fan was too far from the radiator and could pull air from above and below the engine and less through the core. To prevent this, all V-8 trucks came with an upper and lower metal baffle plate to help better pull air through the radiator.

These metal plates have become very difficult to locate in recent years. The lack of these two plates on (restored?) V-8 trucks are usually a strong indication the vehicle has been converted from an original six cylinder. The mechanic was either not aware these plates existed or had no idea of where to locate them.

During 1958-1959 the shroud was redesigned. It became a more traditional metal circle as is found on more modern vehicles. This allowed even more air to be pulled through the radiator core.

The following photos show original Chevrolet radiator cooling sheet metal from 1955-1957 V-8 trucks. The dark lines on the drawing relates to how these plates fit in the original vehicle.

1955-1957 Chevrolet Radiator Shroud

1936 Chevrolet Open Express

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Owner: Lee Hobold

1936 chevrolet open express

1936 Chevrolet

Just imagine a truck designed strictly for work duties that has survived almost 70 years! In 1936, our country was still feeling the effects of the “Great Depression”. When you spent your money for a 1 1/2 ton truck, it had to pay it’s way. Therefore, few big trucks like this 1936 have survived. They were worked from the first day of delivery!

Lee Hobold of Carson City, Nevada, found this special Chevrolet truck a few years ago about 60 miles from his home. It had been setting outside almost 20 years. Not only was it basically complete but the truck had an unusual look. It’s factory bed was 9 foot long and there were small wood covered “tubs” attached to the inner bed sides.

The original tailgate was hinged with three unusual metal straps. It was a pickup yet it had 20″ wheels. Certainly this was not an ordinary truck. Lee became so intrigued with this vehicle that he soon had it bought and in his garage. Later research found this truck in a 1936 Chevrolet Sales Brochure. It was referred to as an “Open Express”.

He has been able to trace it’s history to just after World War II. It was used by the L. Pristone and Sons Plastering Co. of Reno, Nevada. This type truck would have been just right for a plastering contractor. Several thousand pounds of bagged plaster plus necessary tools and equipment could be taken to a job site at one time.

This body style was created by modifying a 1 1/2 ton chassis using two rear 20″ wheels instead of the usual four. Dual rear wheels will not fit below the narrow pickup fenders of the Open Express. Note the long rear axles due to no outer dual wheels.

Because the inner tires are too close to the bedsides, inner tubs were necessary. Maybe it was to save tooling costs that GM used oak wood to fill the gap in the arch of the bedside tubs. See Photo.

Owner Lee Hobold and his 1936 Chevrolet Open Express have been a match made in heaven. Lee is a perfectionist in restoration and he realizes just how rare the Open Express has become. Thus, he decided to rebuild this truck with the quality equal or better than when it was sold new at the dealership. No doubt it will be the only restored Open Express in existence! The main difference from it’s 1936 beginning is a later model 235 engine. This extra horsepower will help overcome the low geared differential of a 1 1/2 ton.

The first attached photos are of the truck when it was found near Yerinton, Nevada. The remaining pictures show various steps in the current restoration. Lee has now taken it down to the frame and it is going together like a big model kit. The difference is each part must be rebuilt. Locating new old stock parts for the 70 year old 1 1/2 to truck is almost impossible.

Look at the workmanship. Even the interior sheet metal has been baked in a drying oven after painting to give the surface the correct brown wrinkle texture. The Apple Green exterior color is authentic for 1936 Chevrolet trucks. The truck’s dash gauges probably look better than in 1936.

The original covered securing wire has been correctly placed down the center of the seat just like Chevrolet did in 1936.

Note the new leather door hold open straps. This was the last year GM trucks used this method of containing the open doors.

For questions or comments, Lee may be contacted at olhobo@charter.net

The completed product ready for occasional shows in 2006. Truly a work of art!

1936 chevrolet open express

1936 chevrolet open express

1936 chevrolet open express

1936 chevrolet open express

1936 chevrolet open express

1936 chevrolet open express

1936 chevrolet open express

1936 chevrolet open express

1936 chevrolet open express

1936 chevrolet open express

1936 chevrolet open express

1936 chevrolet open express

1934 Chevrolet Panel Truck

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Owner: Richard Leier

1934 Chevrolet

1934 chevrolet panel truck

What a rare panel truck! This little 1934 Chevrolet is almost a “one of a kind”. With it being under construction, we just had to share these pictures.

You can see it was originally assembled from metal sections. A wood framework secured the metal panels to make a solid usable vehicle. As long as the wood remained strong, it served it’s purpose. Unfortunately, the enemy was leaking canvas top plus rust and wood rot on the lower level. The cost of replacing the canvas top was probably close to the panel truck’s value in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Thus, this panel truck is one of the last of thousands sold that year.

1934 chevrolet panel truck 1934 chevrolet panel truck 1934 chevrolet panel truck

(left-right) Leaning against the left side | The four doors | Hood not yet removed

1934 chevrolet panel truck 1934 chevrolet panel truck 1934 chevrolet panel truck

(left-right) New wood door parts and top support | Wood makes left door complete | The rear floor is started

1957 Chevrolet from David Cross

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Owner: David Cross

1957 chevrolet pick up truck

1957 Chevrolet

Have you ever crawled under a pickup for sale looking for damage? You then turned it down because some rust was coming through the floor. Well, check this! David Cross of Stillwater, Minnesota found this 1957 Chevrolet 1/2 ton and ignored the signs of major rust. What is now a show quality truck would normally have been crushed by a recycler.

This 1957’s life began with the highway department of the state of Iowa. When it was retired many years later it was sold to a local farmer who used it only on his property and never titled it. Thus, David can honestly say he is the second owner of record.

When the farmer used up what life was left in the pickup, it wound up in a ravine with occasional flooding and an infestation of mice, snakes and other varmints.

A used car dealer pulled it out of the mud in 2000. His later ad said “The truck is all there and runs”. David, a new person to the truck hobby, drove it home five miles with no brakes, a leaking gas tank, and water running from the radiator. It’s little 235 engine was struggling. We wonder why!

It is now restoration time. David refused to yield to its many problems. Admitting to a mistake was out of the question. David and this body and paint person took the truck apart. They found it much worse than they ever imagined. The small rust holes grew gigantic when even taped with a little hammer.

David’s body and paint person is Kevin O’Brian from O’Brian’s Paint and Body Works in Afton, Minnesota. He did all the metal work and paint. David provided most of the mechanicals and assembly. Kevin is one of the best body persons in the state but he admitted this project stretched him into new territory. David and Kevin saved the frame, running gear, cab, and hood. The rest of the 1957 just was not repairable!

Saving the body was major since the front body mounts were gone. Kevin built a jig to align the cab with the frame. This was necessary while the floor and cab mounts were constructed. The strip across the windshield top was rusted out. New metal had to be shaped and welded in, a major task. To fit the new windshield, the cab had to be just right. No errors allowed. The metal body steps would not hold a person without bending. This total area was taken out from the remainder of the cab.

The following pictures will show the finished product plus what David and Kevin had to work with. The restoration of this derelict 1957 pickup is clear evidence that given time, money, talent, and loving care anything is possible.

You can contact David at davidlcross@yahoo.com.

1957 chevrolet pick up truck

What we started with. Looks much better than it really is.

1957 chevrolet pick up truck

Bed intact but ultimately useless; fenders creased and serious rust everywhere

1957 chevrolet pick up truck

Really ugly rust thru inner and outer cab top, big concern about windshield opening.

1957 chevrolet pick up truck

Cab bottom. ugh! lower hinges not attached to anything solid. door pockets gone, floor boards rusted through. Front cab mount badly deteriorated. Cab corners, inner and outer rusted through.

1957 chevrolet pick up truck

End panel rusted through but note spare bracket in good shape

1957 chevrolet pick up truck

Another view of cab doors useless and discarded

1957 chevrolet pick up truck

Alignment frame to position what’s left of cab on frame. Now the welding can begin.

1957 chevrolet pick up truck

New cab corners welded in place

1957 chevrolet pick up truck

Sandblasted and repainted frame before spring and axle assemblies were removed and rebuilt.

1957 chevrolet pick up truck

Cab bottom with new floor and steps in place. Saturated with POR-15 and seam sealed

1957 chevrolet pick up truck

Rebuilt cab in primer. Door step and quarter panel is double thickness to stiffen cab

1957 chevrolet pick up truck

Engine reassembly paint and detail

1957 chevrolet pick up truck

Engine accessories installed. All hookups done and wiring completed

1957 chevrolet pick up truck

Out of the paint booth

1957 chevrolet pick up truck

Bed wood during installation.

1957 chevrolet pick up truck

Painted. Assembled and ready to push out of shop

1957 chevrolet pick up truck

Interior installed

Speed Up 1948-1959 GM Pick Up

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

1948-1959 GM Pick Up

We often get requests for a formula to make the Advance Design pickups more freeway friendly. Their original ring and pinion gears were created to make the truck’s six cylinder work well with a load and also keep up with the 1950’s traffic on gravel roads and two lane paved highways.

Though a higher speed reproduction ring and pinion was introduced several years ago, some owners still ask for another alternative to get in the “fast lane”. One method has been used successfully for several years and requires most parts from local salvage yards. Obtain the Borg-Warner 5 speed overdrive transmission from an S-10 pickup. It must come from an earlier model with a mechanical speed sensor (on the side of the case). It can not have the more high tech electronic speed sensor as used on the later S-10 pickups with computers.

This transmission will bolt against the original bellhousing of a 1948 and newer (a nice surprise). The clutch shaft which extends out of the front of the transmission is usually too long to allow the ears to bolt flat and secure to the bellhousing face. Therefore, if this occurs, shorten the tip of the shaft about a half inch and all will fit together. This is a must. Otherwise you can even break off a transmission ear when you begin tightening the four attaching bolts.

The ears that attach the transmission to the bellhousing are usually drilled for a metric bolt. They will need to be enlarged for a standard 1/2 inch bolt as is threaded into the bellhousing.

The V-8 Camaro 5 speed transmission is also similar to the S-10. It is said to not be as low geared and this makes it more desirable. The Camaro shift lever is too far back for the 1948-59 pickup. The bench seat is in the way. To correct this, use the S-10 tail shaft housing and case top cover. This will allow the vertical lever to come through the original floor in the correct position.

The input shaft of the 5 speed will have either 14 or 26 splines. Therefore, the clutch disc must match the transmission and not the 10 splines from the original 1948-1959 truck.

The attractive S-10 boot is still available from GM and the shift knob of choice is from a late model 5-speed Jeep. It screws on perfectly and looks great! The S-10 shifter clears the seat cushion and looks like it was installed by GM.

The next step is the differential. An open drive shaft style will be necessary to match up with the 5-speed but this is a subject for an totally different technical article.

The result of this change is lower RPM’s and speed to keep up with traffic flow on most modern highways.

1937 Chevrolet from Tim Koch

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Owner: Tim Koch

1937 Chevrolet

This mid-Missouri 1937 Chevrolet 1/2 ton is owned by Tim Koch of Jefferson City. He chose this restoration shop to do the total project because of their reputation for quality as one of the best! The name Herrons Customs Paint is mentioned at so many local shows, it was worth Tim Koch talking to the owner and viewing his shop. The vehicles under rebuilding convinced Tim this was the company to do the restoration of his 1937 Chevy truck.

The following pictures show an excellent step by step procedure from the frame up! You can contact the shop at www.herroncustompaint.com or the truck owner at 573-636-5678, cell 573-619-3104.

1937 chevrolet pick up truck

1937 chevrolet pick up truck

1937 chevrolet pick up truck

1937 chevrolet pick up truck

1937 chevrolet pick up truck

1937 chevrolet pick up truck

1937 chevrolet pick up truck

1937 chevrolet pick up truck

1937 chevrolet pick up truck

1937 chevrolet pick up truck

1937 chevrolet pick up truck

1937 chevrolet pick up truck

1937 chevrolet pick up truck

1937 chevrolet pick up truck

1937 chevrolet pick up truck

1937 chevrolet pick up truck

1937 chevrolet pick up truck

1937 chevrolet pick up truck

1937 chevrolet pick up truck

1937 chevrolet pick up truck

1937 chevrolet pick up truck

1951 Chevrolet from The Mense Family

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Owner: The Mense Family

Here is a great example of a ground up restoration of a 1951 Chevrolet 3/4 ton. The project is being done by Line Creek Restorations in Northmoor, Missouri near Kansas City, 1-816-946-6000. When the project is finished, it will be a new truck!

The shop is doing this project at the request of the three sons of the owner. (It was actually bought new, by the grandfather, for the farm in 1951.) The completed project will be a gift from the three sons to their father who learned to drive on this ¾ ton. They hope to have it complete for their home town 4th of July parade in Lenzberg, IL. Few vehicles have stayed in the family for three generations.

This 1951 had normal abuse for a truck on the farm 50 years ago. Few repairs were done if it still was able to haul a load. On one occasion during a very rainy season, Mr. Mense was driving the truck to town. His wife was the passenger. The truck got off the concrete highway and the soft soil on the shoulder gave way. The little 1951 with it’s cargo laid over on it’s side. No passenger injuries! When it was pulled back on the road, it still ran excellent but always carried a damaged door and running board plus two flattened right fenders.

The enclosed photos show areas during disassembly. There is typical dirt, grease and rust build up during it’s over 55 years in Southern Illinois. All parts will be totally cleaned and checked for wear. It will be reassembled like an over sized model kit after the parts are restored or replaced.

Future additions to this article will show the ¾ ton as it begins being placed back together.

Photos by Dan Hall of Line Creek Restorations

1951 chevrolet pick up truck

1951 chevrolet pick up truck

1951 chevrolet pick up truck

1951 chevrolet pick up truck

Progress Addendum One

Progress on the total restoration of this 1951 Chevy continues as scheduled. The bare frame was recently returned from a local company that did the sand blasting and then given a professional black powder coating. This is the ‘back bone’ of the truck, so now assembly can begin. Also sand blasted and sprayed with black enamel are the leaf springs, rear axle housing, front suspension and radiator support. Each item looks equal or better than new. The correct 216 six cylinder has just returned from a rebuilder and now Line Creek Restorations is giving it some assembly and the proper gray engine enamel. The attached photos show several of these items as they are setting in the shop after restoration and await assembly.

1951 chevrolet pick up truck

1951 chevrolet pick up truck

1951 chevrolet pick up truck

1951 chevrolet pick up truck

1951 chevrolet pick up truck

1951 chevrolet pick up truck

Progress Addendum Two

Items restored at other locations are mostly back in the Line Creek Restoration Shop. Assembly now continues at a faster pace. The project is beginning to look like a truck!

1951 chevrolet pick up truck

1951 chevrolet pick up truck

1951 chevrolet pick up truck

1951 chevrolet pick up truck

1951 chevrolet pick up truck

1951 chevrolet pick up truck

GMC 302 Install in Old Chevrolet

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

The Trials and Tribulations of Installing a GMC 302 engine into a 1950 3/4 ton Chevrolet Pick Up

by Joel Baumbaugh

Background: About 5 years ago I “upgraded” the engine in my truck from a 216 to a 235. Lately I have felt that I wanted/needed a little more torque (especially while the bed is full of something heavy) and while one option was to rebuild and re-cam my 235 and another was to install a Chevy 350/400 (or 700R), the “popular” literature said that I could also install a GMC 270 or 302. Just to be “different”, I decided to go the latter route.

The Source: I wanted a “running” engine that I could just drop in with a minimum of trouble. The engine I found for my project was a 1959-1962 GMC engine from a School Bus. The bus had been converted into a “camper” and had then caught on fire and burned beyond repair. At first glance, the outside of the engine looked kind of rough. I checked the compression (all cyls. were at 160 lbs./sq.in), looked at the plugs (all light brown), listened to it run (no strange noises) ‘ the oil pressure was 55-60 lbs./sq.in. at idle and the rocker arms/valve area was pretty clean of sludge. Short of pulling the pan, this was as far as I could go. I bought it, brought it home and cleaned it up.

Problems/Solutions: The engine had a LOT of bus-type accessories that I did not want/need. The “massive” front Crank Pulley (the damper pulley assay) had a three-groove pulley ‘ “way” too long! After careful measurement I found that I was able to replace it with a single groove pulley off of a 235 (I replaced the front seal at this time). The water pump shaft was “very” long as well and sported a 2-groove pulley. I removed the pulley and ground/cut the pulley shaft back. The water pump on this engine did not seal against the block and/or head. This one was bolted to a thick steel plate which held a tensioner (for a double groove pulley) which weighed about 30 lbs. (weight I did NOT want) and was bolted to the front of the block. I found a rear plate (and gaskets) for the water pump from a place here in town that rebuilds water pumps. Bolting the water pump directly to the block saved me another ½ inch in engine length. The owner also sold me a flange to press on to the shaft so that I could bolt a new water pump pulley onto the pump (the original Chevy is shaft diameter is ½ inches and the 302 is 3/l8 inches). To find a pulley which would align with the bottom crankshaft pulley required a number of trips to local junk/wrecking yards. I finally found one that was the perfect depth (I’m not sure if it was originally from a Chevy or not). I had to enlarge the center hole to make it fit the GMC shaft.

The 302’s “bus” generator weighed about 80 lbs. I found that the 235’s generator mounting flange’s bolt-holes fit perfectly! However, I “did” need to reverse it and then elongate the mounting holes so that I could slide it forward to align the generator pulley groove with the crank and water pump pulleys.

The carburetor that came with the engine was a joke. It even had a governor on it. I had the option to purchase a better 2-barrel carburetor or to step up a little bit and buy a 4-barrel manifold. I did the latter. I had a (gasp) Ford ‘Autolite’ carburetor in my garage (about 400 CFM) from a ‘289’ which I bolted up to the manifold and it works GREAT! – Especially with the stock low-performance camshaft. I also at this time “upgraded” my carburetor linkage. I went to an off-road dune buggy place and purchased a new accelerator pedal and a push-pull cable. Configuring the carburetor linkage from the stock pedal to the new manifold/carburetor would have been a nightmare otherwise.

Radiator: The 302 engine “is” 1 1/2 to two inches longer than the 325 (which is longer than the 216). This means that the radiator no longer fits into its original location. I tried to modify the radiator mount to put the radiator inside. Don’t even try. The radiator needs to mount on the front of the mount. This means that you will have to borrow your neighbor’s “Saws-All” with a metal cutting blade and cut away the top and front cross bracing on the radiator support, the lower front wind deflecting metalwork at the bottom (behind the grill) and drill 6 new holes in the mount for the radiator. The upper support that contains the hood latch will need to have a rectangle cut in it to fit the top of the radiator in it as well. I now have about 2 inches clearance between my water pump pulley and the radiator. I use an electric thermostatically controlled (pusher) fan in front of my radiator. It’s quieter, doesn’t rob the engine of power (better mileage) and the water pump may last longer without the fan blades. Note: My friend and neighbor has a 1951 GMC. I have measured his engine compartment. From his bellhousing to the radiator flange he had 4 more inches to play with, so I’d bet that he originally had a longer GMC engine (he runs a Chevy 235 now), and that he could make the conversion to a 270 or 302 without any cutting being necessary.

Front Mount Yes the 302 engine “is” 1 1/2 to 2 inches longer than the 235. The front mount on the Bus’ 302 was a weird set-up which caused the engine to sit at an angle (like a Chrysler slant 6). This saved some height in the bus’ engine compartment. However, after removing the bus setup spacers, I found that the two bolt holes on the mount (on the bottom of the timing cover/block) were at right angles to the block and aligned perfectly with my truck’s original 216 mount so I was able to exchange them and everything was level ‘ no oil pan removal required! I then drilled two (new) holes through the truck’s cross member, put in longer frame-mounting bolts and added some extra rubber padding (cut from a truck mud-flap) to keep the mount from rubbing on the frame and so far its worked ok.

Rear: The bus engine I purchased was coupled to an automatic transmission. That meant that it had a flex plate (that the converter bolted to) instead of a flywheel. The flex-plate (with the old ring-gear) was MUCH larger than the flywheel I would need. I found a flywheel from a GMC 270 that fit. Although the flywheel’s diameter and the number of teeth are the same as the 1955-1959 Chevrolet, the crankshaft bolt pattern is different between the GMC’s and the Chevrolet’s. The flywheel bolts are different as well (1/2 inch dia. instead of 3/8’s”). Although I tried using an impact wrench, a gorilla on steroids must have put on the old flywheel bolts. I broke a socket and finally had to remove 3 of them with a chisel. The 3/8″ GMC flywheel bolts are not available ANYWHERE. I went to an industrial bolt supply place and bought six more grade 10 bolts. I had the heads machined thinner (like the originals) as otherwise they protrude into the pressure plate/clutch plate area and will cause binding problems. I then carefully shortened the bolts (watch those threads ‘ I put a tap on the inside of the bolt and then backed it off to remove the burrs) to match the original length as they otherwise hit the block behind the flywheel (close tolerances here…).

The pressure and clutch plates and throw-out bearing match those of a Chevy 1955-1959 10- inch set. The 302 had a roller bearing pilot bearing instead of a oillite bronze bushing. I replaced it with another roller bearing and the transmission (its a Saginaw off of a 1969 Camaro) fit in just fine.

I used my original bellhousing off of the 1950 Chevy. The old GMC one was slanted to match the front motor mount. The starter location in the GMC bellhousing was for a larger diameter flexplate and would not work. The GMC starter had the wrong number of teeth to work on the 10″ flywheel. The starter which (I found) works, was a 12 volt 9 tooth (for a 164 tooth flywheel) from a 1955 Chevrolet and works great.

Oil and Water lines: There is an oil line on the front of the block up to the head. This supplies the oil to the rocker arms. Leave it alone. I tied (T’d) into it and put on a 100 PSI oil pressure gage as my Chevy gage only goes to 30 lbs. This engine NEEDS an oil filter. If you block off the oil supply line on the driver’s side of the block you will not get ANY oil pressure in the engine. I “T’d” into the pressure side and connected up my original oil pressure gage (it’s a stretch, but it reaches). Yes, it’s always pegged on 30 lbs., but gives me a warm fuzzy feeling when I look down. The head has an external water line that goes to the thermostat housing. Leave it alone. You can put a “T” in and hook up your temperature gage (with an adapter), but I put mine further down on the block (there’s a fitting there), because it was always showing “cold” on the gage. Be careful of that temperature gage line. It cost me close to $50.00 the last time I had to replace it. The radiator hoses clamped right up although the GMC diameter on the lower radiator hose is one step smaller.

The 302’s distributor had a governor on it and was centrifugal advance only. The bottom of the distributor was different than the Chevy, but my Chevy distributor “guts” bolted right in. I was able to put in a spring kit (the GMC centrifugal advance springs were so thick that they could have been used for front struts on a Honda) and I now have vacuum advance as well.

The GMC fuel pump leaked so I replaced it with a Pep Boys electric fuel pump. I couldn’t find a replacement anywhere locally, so I guess I’ll have this one rebuilt for a “spare”.

I had a split cast-iron exhaust manifold on the Chevy 235. I “may” get a header for this motor in the future, but in the mean time I had the muffler shop split the 302’s three-inch header pipe into the two existing exhaust pipes.

And, how is it?

Well, pretty good. I have a LOT more torque. This means that I can get up to freeway speeds without wishing for bike-pedals for a little more push. I have 36″ tires on 6″ Chevy rims on the back so I’m only turning 2,800 RPM at 60 mph. The larger tires had made the truck a little “logy” getting started with the 235 ‘ now it “steps right out” from a light. I haven’t checked the gas mileage yet. I was getting 17 mpg City and 20 mpg highway with the old 235. I’d guess that I’ve lost about 2 mpg with this engine/carburetor combination.

Future When this old engine is due for a rebuild, I’ll probably buy some “lighter” pistons and a little hotter (than stock) cam. The pistons will help the engine “rev” faster, be easier on the bottom end and will probably result in higher gas mileage due to their weight difference and the higher compression. The cam will help volumetric efficiency and give me a little more torque and higher end. Of course I’ll have everything balanced ‘ IMHO it’s worth the extra money.

I hope that this story helps someone else. Remember the 270 and 302 are “basically” the same engine so I imagine that your situation will be pretty similar to mine no matter what you find. It took “6 hours” using hand tools to remove the old engine and 4 days to put back in the new.

Joel

UPDATE

Since the project above, I decided to rebuild the 302 as it was burning a little oil. I bored the cylinders out .125 thousands (it’s now 320 cubic inches), put in a “Patrick’s” M4F camshaft, and put in “Venolia” 10.5×1 forged pistons. I had everything balanced of course. I had to find and purchase another head as the old one had a crack in it (hence the oil burning). When I got the new (used) head, I pulled out the valves and cleaned/smoothed up the intake and exhaust ports/passages which were pretty rough castings, and then put in new late-model exhaust valves (I went to 1.5″) and hardened seats for unleaded gas, and I’m using Chrysler “440” valve springs. I’m now running a “Holley” 600 CFM carburetor (vacuum secondaries) with “Fenton” cast-iron headers. When first started up on a dyno (and not really broken in yet) it recorded 286 hp and 362 ft/lbs torque; not bad for a “street” engine; At this time I also put in a T-5 GM transmission from a ’91 V-8 Camaro (the V-8 transmission has better bearings to handle the torque) with a tail-shaft from a S-10 Pick-up (the shifter was almost in the same place) – so now I have a 0.74 overdrive. At 75mph (a fender-slapping speed for the old pick-up) I’m only turning 2,100 RPM; I had a new driveshaft made as the transmission yoke splines on my old one looked worn.

So far, I’m pretty happy with my set-up. Happy “wrenching” everyone;. ..jb

Joel Baumbaugh

1937 GMC from Eddie McElrath

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Owner: Eddie McElrath

1937 GMC

This is my latest project a 1937 GMC 1/2 ton pickup. Not exactly original but a personal preference. The previous owner had owned the truck for over 30 years and finally parted with it. It had been restored many years ago but was in need of a lot of repair to shoddy bodywork and I have added many upgrades. So far the frame and drive line are in place and currently doing the body work. I plan on doing all the work myself. Have not selected a color as of yet. Leaning to either black or a metallic red . The truck has a 350 chevy with a B & M blower with 2-4 barrels (and it all fits under the hood) , 350 turbo trannie, 12 bolt rear, mustang II front suspension and a 4 link in the rear. Should be an head turner when finished.

1937 gmc pick up truck

1937 gmc pick up truck

1937 gmc pick up truck

1937 gmc pick up truck

1937 gmc pick up truck

1937 gmc pick up truck

1937 gmc pick up truck

1937 gmc pick up truck

1937 gmc pick up truck

1946 Chevrolet from Tommie Jones

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Owner: Tommie Jones

1946 chevrolet pick up truck

1946 Chevrolet

I am glad that you have shown an interest in my pickup. It was purchased from a local theater in 1964 they used it to carry a billboard in the back. After purchase it was used to carry feed and seed on the farm. After purchase of a newer pickup my Dad’s employee used it to carry fuel and supplies to a bull dozer until the engine was beginning to fail. At that time it was parked on blocks with wheels removed in about 1970. Had thought about working on it on and off occasionally, but never did. I retired from the Texas Department of Transportation in 2007 after 26 years. Did some fence building, built a hay barn and added a room on my shop which was useful when I started on the project.

On the first of November last year put two of the tires that had been originally on it when parked and brought it to the shop. Spent about a week taking it apart and checking the condition of the parts. Saw that all the brakes and drums would need replacing. Had read it was best to get the frame and body worked first so removed everything from the frame and started sand blasting. After sand blasting everything was treated with Ospho and primed and stored inside. The battery box was replaced and the front springs which were broken. After this was together and painted checked the engine out. It had frozen where it couldn’t be repaired so decided to go with a 235. Didn’t find one, but did find a useable 261 from an old truck. Carried the head to the machine shop to be worked. Ordered parts and did the other motor work myself. The head was the only thing that I didn’t do myself. Had worked on the farm and Highway Department so experience on mechanical work. Now started on the body, had to replace windows, door handles, fuel tank and floor board. Only rusted out places were where varmints had piled dirt between front fender and cab. This was my first major body work and painting so that was a learning experience. Fenders were rather rough so had to do quite a bit of work on them. Looked at bed kits, but was in Home Depot one day and saw some wood I liked so bought. Cut to fit and grooved for bed strips. Had joined a local car club the first of this year and they were having a car show the last of September. Was close, but was able take it to it. Wanted to use original Chevy colors so checked paint chips and found the Suburban colors I liked. Left the grille painted because it was originally and chrome was so expensive. The colors are top Airedale brown and bottom Cireassian brown and interior the hammered tan. Again want to thank you for your interest for it was a very interesting project. All parts were purchased from Jim Carter except a few on e-bay.

Tommie Jones
401 CR 115
Comanche, TX 76442
254-842-5863

1946 chevrolet pick up truck

1946 chevrolet pick up truck

1946 chevrolet pick up truck

1946 chevrolet pick up truck

1946 chevrolet pick up truck

1946 chevrolet pick up truck

1946 chevrolet pick up truck

1946 chevrolet pick up truck

1946 chevrolet pick up truck

1946 chevrolet pick up truck

1946 chevrolet pick up truck

1946 chevrolet pick up truck

1946 chevrolet pick up truck

1946 chevrolet pick up truck

1946 chevrolet pick up truck

1946 chevrolet pick up truck

1946 chevrolet pick up truck

1946 chevrolet pick up truck

Swing Out Military Windshield, 1936-1946 Chevrolet and GMC

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

During the early years of auto and truck design, most vehicles came with their windshields capable of tipping outward. This helped poorly insulated cabs to be more bearable during hot weather. Extra outside air would be forced into the cab and replaced some of the hot air radiating from the bare sheet metal firewall.

This idea was good but not without a few problems. Unfortunately, air movement depended on the speed of the vehicle. The faster the driving, the more air circulation. Too bad for the driver in stop and go city traffic during a hot summer day.

In GM trucks, water leaks into the cab developed as the rubber edge seal began to age. The under dash crank-out gear assembly (1936-46) was not easily reached and therefore almost never received lubrication. The gear would wear and later most became non-usable. It was then necessary to close the windshield frame permanently and the cab lost a major method of getting air flow on hot days.

The system was expensive to produce! A pair of swing hinges, a crank-out assembly, and two windshield halves added to production costs.

This windshield vent system was stopped with the introduction of the 1947 Advance Design cab. The two piece windshield now became permanently sealed. An insulated interior fire wall pad was standard. A left side cowl vent intake door forced outside air over the drivers feet and lower legs. (Of course, this was also when the truck was moving.)

A top cowl vent door (also on earlier trucks) now had a screen to prevent entry of insects. Thus, this was the end of the swing-out windshield. They were a great help on hot days when the vehicle was moving, but inevitable gear wear began a new set of problems for later years.

NOTE: During World War II, the military using civilian cabs on their larger trucks had no patience for this crank-out assembly. They wanted no malfunction in the open position while being in a Russian or German winter. They even placed the windshield hinges on the roof for less complicated repairs in the field.

Therefore, the military went back to the swing out windshield frame design that opened manually by the driver. This system was used on all 1936 and older High Cab Chevrolet trucks, Model A Fords, and so many other early automobiles that needed more ventilation. See Photos.

WWII Cab 9

WWII Cab 5

WWII Cab3

Chevrolet Cameo GMC Suburban Wheel Trim

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

With the introduction of the new Cameo in 1955, GM added their most deluxe features as standard equipment. This “Boulevard Pickup” was to stand out above all others.

The wheel covers were not like that on the more standard pickup. To save tooling costs on this limited production model, GM used the wheel cover on the 1955 Chevrolet Belair car. Both vehicles had 15″ wheels so the top of the line car wheel cover was chosen for the new Cameo.

cameo wheel 1

1955 Wheel Cover (above)


The same procedure occurred in 1956. The Cameo carried the 1956 Chevrolet Belair full wheel cover, not the same design as 1955.

cameo wheel 1

1956 Wheel Cover (above)


The big change in Cameo wheel trim occurred with the 1957 model. This was the first year for the 14″ wheels on the passenger car. The Belair cover was no longer a fit for the Cameo 15″ wheels. GM’s answer was to chrome the standard white 1/2 ton hub cap. To add more to the appearance, a Cameo trim ring was created to cover the outer edge of the wheel.

cameo wheel 1

1957 1958 Hub Cap and Trim Ring (above)


With the limited Cameo production in 1958, the same wheel trim was used this final year.

The 1955 year was the first for factory installed whitewall tires. It made an excellent combination with the wheel trim. This is another major change in the GM deluxe 1/2 tons looking less than work trucks. The 15″ wheels remained the same during the four years of the Suburban Carrier. GM just chromed the small standard hub cap.  No wheel ring was used as standard equipment, however the wheel was given a contrasting light color.

cameo wheel 1

Updating 1955-1959 Seats

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

For those not requiring the original seat cushions on their 1955-59 Task Force truck, a roomy comfortable substitute is available. This unit is from a 1988 body style Chevrolet or GMC truck and is almost a bolt-in.

The legs or side brackets on this newer seat comes attached to the cushions from a used truck and sets nicely by the floor edge of the 1955-1959 cab. It almost looks factory installed! Yes, the cushion edge will slightly touch the doors but cause no closing problems.

The result is a much softer seat and a definite increase in distance between your “middle” and the stock steering wheel. Almost no interference with the in cab fuel tank.

1939-1946 Replacement Seat Cushions

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Locating a pair of seat cushions for the 1939-46 truck has become very difficult in recent years. These early trucks increased popularity is the main reason for the shortage. Even when a pair of cushions are located the asking price often does not justify the purchase because of the age damage to the springs and frame of the lower cushion.

It is this lower cushion that has received the most wear in its 60 years. In a salvage yard the door or window left open for even a year allows rain water to soak the seat padding and hasten the damage.

As your hunt continues, here is a practical substitute that fits the cab well and gives the appearance of a re-upholstered original. Locate the common rear seat (not the middle) in a 1984-90 Dodge Caravan or Plymouth Voyager mini-van. You can even pull the factory levers on the back and the seat is quickly removed. Most salvage yards have many extras and their pricing should be under $50.00. You will even get the seat belts!

With less use of this rear seat in the van, you can find one with no tears or permanent stains.

The next step is cleaning. Simply place it in the bed of your late model pickup and find a coin operated wand car wash. The hot soapy water will make the cloth covered cushion like new for less than $5.00. Leave it in your truck for a few hours until the water drip stops. Then place the cushion where it can dry. In about 24 hours, the job is done! The padding is closed cell foam and does not absorb water.

You won’t need most of the lower metal attaching brackets. Remove them and attach the remaining metal and cushions to your trucks original seat riser. Here is where you can be creative but it is done and the remaining metal will not be visible.

For the perfectionist, the cab tapers inward as it reaches the cowl. Thus, the two doors are slightly closer to each other at the front in a standard cab. This new van cushion will touch the front of the doors because of this taper. If you don’t like this contact with the door, an upholstery shop can place a taper in the lower cushion to parallel the inside door panel. A small portion of the foam edge can be removed from the front sides of the lower cushion.

Continue to search for the original 1939-46 seat cushions. In the meantime, you have very comfortable clean cushions with seat belts. Most people will think you had your originals reupholstered.

The following article and pictures were received from Brett Courcier. He personally used this type seat and is very satisfied.

My name is Brett Courcier. I live in Fremont Nebraska. I own a 1946 Chevy pickup street rod. I wanted to take a few pictures of how my seat fit in my truck. I was trying to find a seat for my truck. I found a Plymouth Caravan minivan rear seat. It fit great. I cut off the latching pieces that go in the minivan floor and welded on a piece of 2″ square tubing to the front legs and a piece of 1″ square tubing to the rear legs. The pictures show them. My upholsterer added lumbar support to the lower back area and also added 2″ in heigth to the back of the seat. The seat comes with three seat belts and folds forward from the back of the cab. We added a full length pouch across the back of the cab for storage. I hope the pictures show enough for you. If you have any questions please contact me.

Brett Courcier

402-727-7127 or e-mail baccourcier@team-national.com

NEWS FLASH!

We just had an email showing another excellent seat for a 1939-46 Chevy / GMC cab. This photo is of a rear seat cushion from a 1990 Ford mini van. Nice fit. This person found a top of the line leather seat in a local salvage yard. A good cleaning made it a very nice inexpensive seat that fit really well!

seat 1 seat 2 seat 3

1984-1990 Dodge Caravan or Plymouth Voyager

test

1990 Ford Mini Van

1960-1961 Chevrolet V8 Emblem

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

By the 1960-61 years, the V-8 emblems on Chevrolet were not placed on the truck’s doors or fender but were only on the nose of the hood. They were shaped different when the truck came with a 283 V-8 instead of the standard 235 six cylinder. The V-8 front emblems have become very difficult to locate. Most remaining trucks show much pitting on the chrome V-8.

1960 1961 chevrolet v8 emblem

1956 Hydromatic Trim

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

One of the rarest emblems of the mid-1950’s is the 1956 Chevrolet Hydramatic front fender trim. A small percentage of ’56 Chevrolet pickups were equipped with the Hydramatic, so many enthusiasts have never seen this item.

At a glance it looks like the one used with the non-automatic and thus it is often over-looked. This is a very in demand part as even restorers adding newer modern automatic transmissions are joining in the hunt.

1956 hydromatic trim

Hood Ornament, 1947 – Early 1955

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

During the 1947-1955 years, no less than four different front hood emblems were used during regular production on the Chevrolet 3000 series trucks. Though all can be made to interchange during this 7 1/2 year series; for the perfectionist, there are only certain types for certain years.

hood ornaments 1a

In 1947, the 1/2, 3/4, and 1 ton Chevrolet trucks began production by displaying a chrome plated die cast emblem with dimensions of 3-3/8″ x 19″. The Chevrolet letters across the center are red and a small royal blue “BOWTIE” is above. On the back side their four attaching points (part of the casting) are threaded and extend outward to better provide metal to hold the securing screws. Because of the length of these four extensions, the hood must be provided with appropriate dimples. These dimples are necessary so the emblem can be pulled snug against the hood front.

Sometime in late 1948 and early 1949, depending on the assembly plant, this emblem changed to chrome plated stamped steel. Visually, it has the same dimensions and painting as the earlier style but is much less in weight.

In late 1952, the front of this emblem was again changed. It was now stainless steel. The four hood attaching clips (welded to the front stainless) and the threaded studs remained plain steel as in the prior style. The dimensions were as in past years. This design was carried through all of 1953. Forty five years later this stainless steel emblem is often seen at flea markets with the front skin in excellent condition but the four welded-in clips either gone or rusted beyond repair. These clips, hidden between the stainless emblem skin and the hood front, did not dry quickly between rains and the morning dew.

Because the hoods are larger on the 4000 and 6000 series 1-1/2 and 2 top Chevrolet trucks, the front emblem was formed to conform to their bigger size. Width and length dimensions are the same as the smaller 3000 series trucks and will interchange. However, to help compensate for the larger hood size, these big truck emblems are almost 1/4″ thicker at their widest point in comparison to the smaller 3000 series. Their construction materials changed during this series as did the smaller 3000 series trucks.

The 5000 series Chevrolet COE bodies (CAB OVER ENGINE) did not change their initial die cast hood emblem. It continued identical from it’s 1947 introduction through 1953. The dimensions 3-1/2″ x 26-1/2″ were much longer than the conventional cabs due to the COE’s massive one piece hood.

The 1954-1955 hood emblem was a different design and better related with the totally new grille. As Chevrolet was now stamped on the top grille bar, these letters were no longer on the emblem. The “BOWTIE” trademark became larger and the overall emblem continued with a stainless skin and plain steel inside attachments overall dimensions on the 3000 series trucks is 3-7/8″ x 21″. With this new design, the clips did not extend back as in prior years. Therefore, the dimples were not stamped in the hood. This is a quick way to tell the 1954-1955 from the earlier 1947-1953 hoods.

On the 4000 and 6000 series the 1954-55 Chevrolet emblem has an overall increase in size of approximately 20% or 4-1/8″ x 24″. This was necessary to better conform with the larger truck hood. The emblem remained a stainless steel stamping with the same appearance as the smaller trucks.

General Motors designed the 5000 series or COE emblems on the 1954-55 the same in size and style as those on the conventional cab large truck hoods with two exceptions. This COE emblem is chrome plated die cast and lacks the notches for the bullnose strip. The unique one piece size of the COE hood eliminated the need for a center divider strip and thus no center notches were in the emblem.

Early 1955 COE

All the truck “BOWTIE” emblems in 1954-1955 were Chevrolet royal blue however the valleys between the twenty four vertical ridges were painted red in 1954 and white on the early 1955 series. The GMC trucks between 1947-55 did not have a front hood emblem. Die cast GMC letters were attached to an upper grille housing.

Hood ornaments were an important part of automotive styling in the 1940’s through 50’s. However, as trucks were basically for work GM created specific ornaments for these vehicles but made them a dealer accessory. They are rare and in demand today as hobbyists now look for General Motors accessories to add to their restored trucks.

To help the dealer install the 1947-1953 Chevrolet accessory ornament correctly, the factory placed a small hole between the hood halves 33″ from their rear edge. This is for positioning the rear threaded stud of the ornament. The dealer would then drill two pair of holes on either side of the hood divider strip and the result was a perfect fit.

On the 1954-1955 Chevrolets, the accessory ornament was totally changed in design. A chrome eagle with low wings was attached to a die cast base. To save expenses GM used the same eagle that was also an accessory on 1953-54 Chevrolet passenger cars. The mounting base was not the same partially due to the difference in the width of car and truck hood bullnose strips. Between 1947-55, the dealer installed GMC accessory hood ornament did not change. It had a very narrow die cast mounting base attaching directly to the bullnose strip. This supports an attractive streamlined jet plane. It does not resemble the Chevrolet ornament.

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

Tailgate Trim

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

It was during these years that General Motors began offering more style to their pickup truck line. Though most still considered a truck as a work vehicle, a growing segment of pickup buyers were being strongly influenced by trim and accessories that even rivaled many automobiles.

For the first time on GM fleetside pickups, decorative trim became available on the tailgate of their middle and upper level models. Even on the basic gate that had no trim, the stamped letters were given a contrasting color. During all of 1967-1972, the middle and more deluxe series gates carried three upper strips making one line running the width of the gate. These three strips were the only tailgate trim offered for 1967-1968. During 1969-1972, an additional horizontal strip (66 3/4′ long) was attached to the lower gate edge but only on the middle series fleetsides.

It was on the top of the line 1969-1972 pickup that Chevrolet went all out in tailgate appearance. On the 1969-70 CST and 1971-1972 Cheyenne, the lower trim strip was replaced with a very attractive wood grained horizontal band at the center. Though it covered the basic Chevrolet and GMC stamped gate letters, the band carried its own chrome die cast letters over the wood (vinyl) decal.

The following photos show both the three styles of trim on the 1967-1972 fleetsides. Note the lower narrow strip is not placed on the gate with the wood band. Tail light rings or bezels are designed to harmonize with the tailgate trim. The 1967-1968 CST light trim is different than the later design.

tailgate trim 1

1969-1972 Middle Series (above)

tailgate trim 2

1969-1972 Cheyenne (above)

tailgate trim 3

1967-1972 Chevrolet (above)

tailgate trim 4

1967-1968 Chevrolet CST (above)

Splash Aprons

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Due to the abuse given trucks when they once considered only for work, many body components today are damaged beyond repair. During the restoration of your 1947-1955, if you would rather not use a running board splash apron from a parts supplier, there is an alternative.

Locate a piece of new flat metal the correct gauge and size of your original splash apron. Gradually begin curving the sheet by bending it over a six inch diameter pipe. Secure the pipe in a table vise or equivalent. This will result in the curve you need without unsightly bends on the surface.

The next step takes more patience but you can be successful. Borrow or otherwise locate a small metal break and bend the original angle on the perimeter. You will need to trim the edges to the approximately 3/4″‘ width as original.

Some hand bending where the apron fits against the ridge of the rear fenders will be necessary. This can require some pliers to begin the rounding. Use a round hedge hammer to continue the curving process. Take your time here!

Slight mistakes on the edges will not show from the outside of the pickup. Making your own running board splash apron is especially a good consideration on a 1 ton pickup. These very long aprons are not available from aftermarket suppliers.

This Tech Tip comes from Richard Pasauage of Wilks Barrie, PA. He personally made his 1950 Chevrolet 1 ton running board splash aprons.

1954 Bed Side

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

1954 bed side

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

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

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

1936 Fender Change

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

It is quite surprising to realize that for 20 years auto and truck makers did not make a simple needed change to their vehicle front fenders.

Somehow major car and truck companies picked 1936 as the year it would be introduced. Did they all get together and make the decision, was it government encouragement, or ____?

The addition was side extensions or skirts. Prior to this pedestrians, side walks, pets, and building fronts received more than their share of mud and water from passing vehicles. With more and faster vehicles on the road, the problem must have been very annoying. The greater the speed when you hit mud or a puddle, the further the slop was thrown. No doubt many diaries had a page that described the results of this while walking to church in the Sunday best.

The modification in 1936 was not a cure-all but it did help the problem. The following pictures show the open sided fenders on a 1934-35 Chevrolet truck and the 1936 with the change.

1936 fender change 1

1935 and Older (above)

1936 fender change 2

1936 Fender Change (above)

Fender Mistake

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

How did this happen? Strange but true. The 1971-1972 right front Chevrolet pickup fender has one of its two 350 emblem holes punched incorrectly. This causes the horizontal emblem to slope down at the rear. The left fender is correct.

The person that owns this all original 1972 truck states that all 1971-1972 Chevrolet trucks have this unusual feature. You can always recognize an aftermarket replacement fender. Their holes are correctly placed.

fender mistake 1

Right side with slope or 350 Emblem (above)

fender mistake 2

Left side parallel to marker light (above)

Advanced Design Bumper

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

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

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

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

advance design bumper 1

Correct Rear Bumper (above)

advance design bumper 2

Correct Rear Bumper (above)

advance design bumper 3

Rounded Front (above)

Fleet Side Steps

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

fleet side steps 1

The convenience of reaching cargo is ideal in a step bed pickup. The step between the cab and rear fender provides a place for the loader’s feet while reaching into the bed. Thus, this pickup is referred to as a ‘step bed.’

With the introduction of the fleetside box in the late 1950’s, there was no step. Placing cargo in the bed became much more difficult if added from the side of the bed. With some complaints, GM realized there was an opportunity to market a unique dealer installed accessory for this newer truck. A cast aluminum step was designed to actually fit into the fleetside sheet metal. Once the correct hole was cut in the bedside, the new step made access to cargo almost as easy as with the stepside. These were introduced in the mid or late 1960’s. They are a very rare item!

fleet side steps 2

fleet side steps 3

Safety Treads

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Without the rubber covering over the metal running boards like GM cars, trucks immediately show scratches from the driver’s shoes. This is frustrating to the restorer who has placed so much effort in repairing and painting these boards to pristine condition.

Fortunately, a solution exists! The original running board safety treads have been reproduced. These treads were a GM accessory and available from the dealers. They were marketed to help prevent a person from sliding off the running board if their shoe or the metal surface was wet. No doubt legs and arms were occasionally broken in this hazardous area.

Today, these safety treads still help prevent falls but also stop the unsightly scratches that occur during normal use. Most all full stocking dealers have them including Jim Carters Truck Parts.

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

test

1947-1955 Running Boards

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

During the 1947-1955 Advance Design years three different stock running boards on pickups and panel trucks were produced. Features such as width, number of ribs, thickness of metal, and length of under-braces are the same. When placed together, a difference in length is obvious.

The longest unit was used on the 1 ton pickup and panel trucks with 134′ wheelbase. The pickup bedside has four stake pockets and bed wood length of 107′.

A middle length running board is seen on the ¾ ton pickup (no panel trucks were that length) with 125 wheelbase. The bed side has three stake pockets and bed wood length of 85 3/4′.

The short running board is seen on 1/2 ton pickups, Suburbans, and panel trucks with 116′ wheelbase. The pickup bed side has two stake pockets and bed wood length is 76 7/8′.

When found off a truck at swap meets or in salvage yards, the running boards can be distinguished quickly by observing the number of holes where bolts connect the filler splash aprons. The 1 tons have 5, 3/4 tons have 4, and 1/2 tons have 3.

The adjacent photos are of un-restored running boards with no alterations.

1947 1955 running boards 1

1947 1955 running boards 2

1947 1955 running boards 3

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

Blazer and Jimmy Speakers

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

One of the most unusual features of the 1967-1972 series of trucks is the unique placement of the 1969-1972 Chevrolet Blazer and GMC Jimmy radio speaker. Unlike the pickup, Suburban, and large trucks; the radio speaker is not under the top of the dash. In fact, the dash does not even have grille slots to allow sound to come from a speaker.

Because of the Blazer and Jimmy’s removable top, GM knew that some would occasionally be caught in the rain. This would quickly ruin a speaker that was in the traditional location. Thus, on the 1969-1972 Blazer and Jimmy only, the factory radio speaker is in the right side interior quarter upholstery panel behind the front seat. If the vehicle did not come with interior rear panels, the speaker was out of sight at the bottom edge of the dash.

blazer speakers 1

blazer speakers 2

1940 Tailgate Hinge

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

In 1940, GM began offering a slightly wider bed on their Chevrolet pickups. This width increased from about 46 3/8″ to 48 1/2″.

Of course, the tailgate also required a width change. For some reason GM added a much larger horizontal tailgate roll on the top and bottom. Possibly for added strength. This caused the two hinges to also change. They were now much larger in diameter than the 1939, but this resulted in a new problem! Heavy weight on an open tailgate caused the oversize hinges to bend and split.

In 1941, the tailgate roll and hinge was reduced in diameter, though still larger than the 1939 and earlier design. This new size hinge remained through 1953.

1940 Tailgate Hinges

Solution to a problem: Pure 1940 tailgate hinges are not being reproduced. Even if you have a rare 1940 Chevrolet or GMC pickup with restorable original tailgate, your large hinges may be in very poor condition and not restorable. The solution is now on the market! A non-metal bushing is now available that fits over a 1941 hinge. This builds up the horizontal surface to equal that of a 1940.

Suburban Paint Colors

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

During the beginning of the Advance Design years (1947-1949) new Chevrolet Suburbans were sold in one color combination; Channel Green (light) on the lower body and Fathom green (dark) on the upper.

Unless the customer paid extra for a specific paint such as for school bus use or a commercial paint color for a company, the two tone green was the color your received.

Beginning in 1950 this changed. Chevrolet began also offering 12 colors as on pickups and large trucks.

suburban paint colors 1

The following is from a 1950 Chevrolet announcement pamphlet showing changes in trucks that year

suburban paint colors 1

Advance Design Paint Colors

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

When observing un-restored GM trucks of the 1947-1955 era, one will notice the majority of these vehicles were originally dark green. An explanation is simple. Green was their standard color! If you did not specify one of the other approximately eleven non-extra cost colors, your truck would be delivered green.

The standard color of trucks had been though of as green since the late 1920’s on many brands. Though yellow, red, and orange was part of the non-extra cost GM paint options, they were mostly ordered by businesses that wished to gain attention or follow their company logos.

In the Advance Design years, conservative colors were the norm. The standard dark green was followed mostly by dark blue and black. Even maroon was seen on a limited number of GM trucks.

Conservative Paint Early Trucks

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

In evaluating the available paint colors on 1946 and older GM commercial vehicles, one should keep in mind the general attitude toward pickups and large trucks during that era. Unlike today, customers bought and owned trucks for work! After five o’clock and on weekends most trucks were parked and the family sedan became the driver.

This relates not only to the lack of available GM truck options but also the very basic paint schemes. In fact, the standard color for General Motors trucks was a dark Brewster Green. They were sold this way unless you ordered one of the few non-extra cost optional colors. These were of special interest to commercial customers wanting a more visible truck or one that would fit in with their company’s color scheme. A few examples were: Swifts Red, Omaha Orange, Black, and Armour Yellow.

On the assembly line GM cabs and doors were painted bare (before any parts were added). This allowed all later attached interior sheet metal to be a separate color. This sheet metal such as the dash board, header panel , door panels, windshield post covers, and rear cab liner were even painted in a separate building and added to the cab on the line.

As a little extra touch, the interior metal was given a hammered appearance. This fish eye type paint is still seen today on new metal merchandise such as some brands of office equipment, etc.

Therefore, when you open the door of a correct 1946 and older truck, the seat riser plus floor edge and door frame are body color (painted with the cab). The removable sheet metal is the interior color.

The 1940-46 pickups and most all larger trucks were given a silver brown hammered appearance on inside to harmonize with all the factory exterior colors.

1936 Grille Housing

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

1936 grill housing

After seventy years, authentic car and truck restorations are very difficult. With the limited survival of the 1936 GMC (the year of the company’s first ½ ton) this truck is especially difficult to restore just right.

Some literature has survived but what we see is usually in black and white. The question is the grill housing color of this rare truck. Chevrolet trucks and cars in those years have the housing painted body and hood color. We have found more than one GMC with this housing painted fender color. Very unusual! This was not even done on other non Chevrolet cars that are made by General Motors.

At this point we strongly suspect that the 1936 GMC had their shroud painted the color of their fenders. Only if the fenders were body color, would the shroud match the body and hood.

See the beautiful example in the photo above. It belongs to Pat Kroeger in Florida. During the recent restoration he attempted to paint the truck just right.

We hope to hear from you with comments on this difference in paint schemes. Contact us at info@oldchevytrucks.com or Pat Kroeger at du200@aol.com.

Interior Colors, Chevrolet 1940-46

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Serious early truck restorers often ask ‘What is the interior color of the original cab sheet metal parts, versus the exterior color?’ The answer for the 1934-46 trucks is simple.

The removable panels from the cab interior were always the inside color. If a component was welded in as part of the cab structure, it was sprayed the exterior color during the total cab painting.

This allowed successful coating of interior panels. As they could be placed flat during painting, there was a better guarantee of success for their specialty coatings. Wrinkle surface was placed on 1936-38 and a hammered appearance was used on most 1940-46 models.

Examples of these removable panels are the dash, rear interior corners, wiper covers, interior door panels, the above windshield cover, and upper door frames.

The outer cab color will also cover the seat riser and firewall as these were part of the total assembly. One exception is the rocker panels below the door. They are attached to the cab with screws but are the exterior color.

The two removable floor sections (covered with the floor mat) appear to be their own color, a black primer.

It is interesting that the interior colors in the finished new cab could have been painted even in different states and then the parts shipped to the assembly plant.

The following photos are of an all original 1941 Chevrolet truck interior.

exterior color 1
Removable dash, Interior color

exterior color 2
Removable rear panels. Interior color.

rxterior color 3
Welded in panels at factory. Exterior color.

exterior color 4
All of door exterior color, except inter removable panel which is interior color.

Paint Color Attitudes -The Early Years

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

When observing un-restored GM trucks of the 1930-55 era, one will notice the majority of these vehicles were originally dark green. An explanation is simple. Green was their standard color! If you did not specify one of the other approximately eleven non-extra cost colors, your truck would be delivered green.

The standard color of truck had been thought of as green since the late 1920’s on many brands. Though yellow, red, and orange was part of the non-extra cost GM paint options, they were mostly offered by businesses that wished to gain attention or follow their company logos. Individuals usually did not order bright colors.

In the Advance Design years, 1947-55, conservative colors were the norm. The standard dark green was followed mostly by dark blue and black. Even maroon was seen on a limited number of GM trucks.

Buy Parts for 1934 to 1946 Trucks

Two Tone Panel

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

During the 1955-1959 Chevrolet Task-Force truck years, the panel body style remained very popular. To help sales continue to grow, a two tone paint scheme was offered. This option was used for the business customer that planned on having their logo applied to the panel.

A wide band on the sides and back was painted Bombay Ivory*. This two tone paint looked very attractive, as is, when leaving the factory but it also provided the correct background for most company logos. The baked on factory ivory paint would hold up better and did not require sanding and painting by a body shop. Only a sign painter was needed to add the company logo.

two tone panel 1

The above drawing is from a page in the 1959 Chevrolet salesman’s data book. The two-tone paint is Dawn Blue with Bombay Ivory inserts.

The photos are of a local 25,000 mile 1959 panel truck also in Dawn Blue. Note how the white comes to a point at the top and bottom of the side door window opening.

* The Bombay Ivory inset was not offered on panels painted white.

two tone panel 2

two tone panel 3

two tone panel 4

two tone panel 5

two tone panel 6

The King

Monday, February 8th, 2010
The King ATHS Logo
Its the annual convention of the American Truck Historical Society. This year, 2010, it is in Pleasanton, California. Over 700 trucks of all sizes and makes gather at the Alameda County Fairgrounds.In a far grassy corner is a  sub group of local early GMC owners. Most seem to be acquainted and use this show as a reason to renew old friendships. There are few “trailer queen” trucks in this group, just dependable daily drivers. Most owners know how to repair the occasional problems that are a part of driving a 50 year old truck.

A crowd begins to gather late afternoon on the second day of the convention in this GMC truck cluster. The attention is not so much on the 1958 GMC stepside 1/2 ton with its Pontiac V-8 plus three factory two barrel Rochester carbs and correct large air filter. The interest is on the contents of the bed.

Here, only heard of by most GMC enthusiasts, is a real inline 302 cubic inch six cylinder engine from the late 1950’s! It has all the aftermarket high performance options of 50 years ago. It sits on a special frame with no body panels obstructing the view. All is there to touch and feel.

The owner is John Christ of San Francisco, CA. He has built this 302 just like it would be for racing in the late 1950’s. John located a new engine about 5 years ago and since has been hunting GMC speed parts so he could build it just like the race track engines of 50 years ago.

This is the first time the 302 has been seen by the general public and almost never had John tried to make it start. He had planned for this moment at the ATHS convention for a long time.

As the crowd grew and watched, the battery beside the engine was connected. The small nearby temporary gas tank was attached to the fuel line. The foot start linkage was pressed by hand and engine began to turn. It does not start and fuel drips from line connections. Yes, John has a good size fire extinguisher.

A water pump drip is not repairable at the show but John climbs into the truck bed with the engine to stop fuel drips at joints and makes several other adjustments. He tries again.

The engine belches flames from the human skulls covering the Stromberg 97’s. Still no action. More adjustments are needed.Now the engine fires a few times. With no exhaust pipes this may get loud!!. John has a friend push the starter linkage while he turns more screws and then off it goes. It is running on all six and the sound is probably heard through most of the convention. Its almost like it is saying, “Where’s the race track?” Applause was heard from many in the crowd when they are not covering their ears. The King
A few of the items John has collected over the years makes this 302 just right:- Venolia Pistons, These very light weight aluminum racing pistons raise the compression ratio to 9.5 to 1. John had them custom made for this engine. Yes, premium fuel is a requirement.

– Howard intake manifold. Allows the use of five Stromberg 97 carburetors. The progressive linkage uses number 2 and 4 carbs when driving normally. Carb. 1, 3, and 5 are waiting to operate when speed is necessary. Fuel economy, are you kidding!

– The engine was totally balanced to prevent any vibration at higher RPM.

– The bee-hive oil filter beside the block cools the oil as much as it cleans it.

– A 40 year old Wayne valve cover and side plate are almost impossible to find. They  have never been reproduced for the GMC engine.

– The special high volume aluminum oil pan is a necessity when racing on the track.- Fenton headers. These lessen back pressure. Exhaust gases leave the engine much quicker under acceleration.

– A highly modified camshaft is a must! Getting more fuel and air into the combustion chamber adds to the available horse power.

A stock 302 GMC six cylinder with this equipment is why so many small town dirt tracks had to ban vehicles using truck engines in the 1950’s.

The local hobbyist racing a car engine couldn’t win a race against a built up 302. They wouldn’t spend the money to register if a high performance GMC was allowed. To keep the dirt track’s popularity, a sign was often posted “No Truck Engines” but secretly it meant no 302s.

The King
The King
John Christs’ future plans for his 302 is placing it in a recently purchased 1940 GMC pickup. It may be an easy drop-in but this little truck will have a real awakening when its time for performance! John can be contacted on the club website at www.oldgmctrucks.com under the name Big bad swing daddy.
The King The King The King

1946 Chevrolet

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

Owner: Tommie Jones

1946 chevrolet

I am glad that you have shown an interest in my pickup. It was purchased from a local theater in 1964 they used it to carry a billboard in the back. After purchase it was used to carry feed and seed on the farm. After purchase of a newer pickup my Dad’s employee used it to carry fuel and supplies to a bull dozer until the engine was beginning to fail. At that time it was parked on blocks with wheels removed in about 1970. Had thought about working on it on and off occasionally, but never did. I retired from the Texas Department of Transportation in 2007 after 26 years. Did some fence building, built a hay barn and added a room on my shop which was useful when I started on the project.

On the first of November last year put two of the tires that had been originally on it when parked and brought it to the shop. Spent about a week taking it apart and checking the condition of the parts. Saw that all the brakes and drums would need replacing. Had read it was best to get the frame and body worked first so removed everything from the frame and started sand blasting. After sand blasting everything was treated with Ospho and primed and stored inside. The battery box was replaced and the front springs which were broken. After this was together and painted checked the engine out. It had frozen where it couldn’t be repaired so decided to go with a 235. Didn’t find one, but did find a useable 261 from an old truck. Carried the head to the machine shop to be worked. Ordered parts and did the other motor work myself. The head was the only thing that I didn’t do myself. Had worked on the farm and Highway Department so experience on mechanical work. Now started on the body, had to replace windows, door handles, fuel tank and floor board. Only rusted out places were where varmints had piled dirt between front fender and cab. This was my first major body work and painting so that was a learning experience. Fenders were rather rough so had to do quite a bit of work on them. Looked at bed kits, but was in Home Depot one day and saw some wood I liked so bought. Cut to fit and grooved for bed strips. Had joined a local car club the first of this year and they were having a car show the last of September. Was close, but was able take it to it. Wanted to use original Chevy colors so checked paint chips and found the Suburban colors I liked. Left the grille painted because it was originally and chrome was so expensive. The colors are top Airedale brown and bottom Cireas