Owner: Jim Brallier
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.