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Posts Tagged ‘wheels’

Wider Wheels on 3/4 Tons 1946-59

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

When you need more room for wider 8 bolt non-split rim wheels on your stock 1946-1959 Chevrolet or GMC ¾ ton, there is a solution. (The long tie rod ends prevent the use of wheels much wider than the original split rims.) Customers have given us an answer! It is not difficult and uses all original GM parts.

After the left and right tie rod ends from a 1 or 1-1/2 ton. They are about one inch shorter. As their threads are reversed from the ¾ ton design (these replacement ends have male ends), you will need a tie rod from a 1 or 1-1/2 ton with female ends. Yes, they fit into the original arms beside the ¾ ton backing plates.

The tie rod ends are still available new, however, the long tie rod will need to be from a used truck. If you are lucky, the tie rod with ends will come together from the older truck. There is even a good chance the ends will be in great shape and won’t need replacing. If so, mark the position of the ends on the tie rod if you remove them. Another end can be replaced in the exact prior position. In this way your front suspension should stay in alignment and save you money and time in an alignment shop.

Note: If the used tie rod ends are good, remove the old grease. It probably contains road grit and will cause premature wear. Put some heat on the ends before adding new grease through the zirk fitting. This will soften the old grease. It will then come out when new lubricant is added under pressure.

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

1957-1960 Hubcaps

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

During the early years of GM truck production, many examples exist which relate to their vehicles being designed more for work. Changing a trim part for appearance reasons was usually secondary if it resulted in unnecessary expense. Often parts were used that had already been on GM automobiles. This eliminated expensive new tooling costs and kept GM truck prices in line with the competition.

An excellent example of this type thinking is shown with the 1957-1960 hubcaps. Even though the 1960 pickup was a totally redesigned vehicle, GM carried their older hub cap on this new pickup. The reasoning goes back to keeping truck prices low. The 1960 1/2 ton wheel was to be the last carrying the inside spring clips to secure the hub caps. As truck hub caps were used several years, it was not likely a new 1960 design would be created for only one year. GM held off from using a redesigned hub cap until 1961 so that it would fit on the new non-clip wheel. To stay with tradition, this new 1/2 ton cap was then used three years.

To keep the 1960 3/4 and 1 ton hub cap appearances similar to the 1/2 ton, GM again retained the earlier style. This occurred even though the larger truck inside clip split rim wheel design was basically unchanged between 1946 and the late 1960’s.

Chevrolet and GMC each had their own different hub cab design during this time, however, they both changed styles at the same time. A full Chevrolet or GMC wheel cover was unavailable for the deluxe 1957-59 truck models. GM simply chromed their standard caps that were otherwise painted white. An optional chromed GM wheel ring could be added on the 1/2 ton series in 1957-1959 Chevrolet but not during 1960. These trim rings were stock on the 1957-1958 Cameo but dealer installed on other 1/2 tons.

In 1960, a full wheel cover was introduced on the Deluxe 1/2 Ton Package. Actually, it was from a 1956 Chevrolet Belair car and 1956 Chevrolet Cameo. Once again, GM used this stamping from five year old tooling and saved production costs.

1957 1960 hubcaps 1

1960 Wheel Covers (above)

Stainless Steel on the Deluxe 1/2 Ton Pickup. 15″ Wheels only.


1957 1960 hubcaps 2

1957-1959 Wheel Rings (above)

Chromed steel wheel rings that blend with optional chrome hub caps to give appearance of full-chrome wheels. 15″ wheels only.


1957 1960 hubcaps 3

Wheel Striping

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

During the 1940’s through 1950’s placing pin stripes on automobile wheels occurred on most all brands. It was an inexpensive touch that added a little flair to the appearance of a new wheel. The stripe could be added quickly with a machine on a rotating wheel. The factory didn’t need a human as on the body stripes.

GM was no exception. They had been striping most new car wheels for almost 10 years. Beginning with the 1947 Advance Design trucks, this striping even was used on ½ tons that had the deluxe package (not the standard models). This extra was continued through the 1947-1955 body style.

The attached photo shows a used original never repainted 16″ 1/2 ton deluxe wheel. Note how perfect the 3/4″ stripes are applied. With the addition of the small chrome hub cap, the wheel drew attention

wheel striping 1

wheel striping 2

Artillery Wheels

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

The term artillery wheel is a nickname adapted from a scalloped type wheel often seen on US military vehicles in World War I. The similar appearance at a distance to GM’s scalloped steel wheels quickly gave them the name artillery.

On GM trucks, this style was first used during 1934-36 as a stock six bolt 1/2 ton 17 inch wheel. It was much stronger than the existing wire style wheels due to it being less susceptible to bending when hitting a large pot hole or sliding against a curb.

Though this 17 inch unit was discontinued on 1/2 tons for 1937, a redesigned 15 inch artillery began as GM’s stock wheel on that year’s 3/4 ton truck. It was stronger and wider but was still a non-split rim design. This remained the GM 3/4 ton wheel through 1945. By 1946, six bolt wheels on trucks were limited to 1/2 tons. The 3/4 ton would now have 15 inch 8 bolt split rims which remained stock into the 1960’s.

Today, we sometimes see 1947-59 GM 1/2 tons equipped with these early 15 inch artillery 3/4 ton wheels even though they were not placed on factory trucks after 1945. To many, they provide a unique appearance on the later 1/2 tons and will still hold the trucks current hub cap.

atrillery wheel 1

Regular 16″ Wheel (above)

artillery wheel 2

1934-1936 17″ Artillery Wheel (above)

artillery wheel 3

1937-1945 15″ Artillery Wheel (above)

After Market Wheels for Older GM Trucks

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

From 1934 to 1959 GM 1/2 tons came from the factory with a tie rod assembly that extended side to side to almost touch the front wheels. With everything stock, the tie rod sits about 3/4 inch from the inside of both original six hole wheels and all fits just right.

A problem exists when someone attempts to add a more modern wheel. For example, the mid 60’s and newer 4×4 wheels have this 6 hole bolt pattern but their width causes them to contact the end of original long tie rod. Changing from the approximate 4-1/2 inch original to at least a 6 inch width just won’t work.

Solutions for adding a more sporty wheel are very limited with the original suspension. One almost unknown method is to replace the original GM multi-piece tie rod ends with the more modern knuckle ends introduced in the 1960’s. There are currently available and are 3/8 inch shorter on the outer end giving that much extra room for a slightly wider wheel. (It is not recommended that flat washers be placed over the stud between the wheel and drum as this can cause breakage.)

This GM six bolt pattern is also shared with several Japanese pickups. Some very attractive more narrow aftermarket wheels have been produced for their imports in past years.