During the early years of Chevrolet and GMC truck production, the franchised dealers sold and added extras. These are referred to as accessories. One of the most popular items in the group was the fresh air and re-circulater heaters.
Both pre-boxed heater designs included a pair of defroster ducts. Both were connected to the body of the main heater box by air transfer flexible hoses.
A mechanical switch would change air direction from floor to the defroster ducts. Their long narrow openings forced heated air to most of the windshield inside surface. Thus, the name “Defroster Duct”. They quickly removed the condensation from human breathing on a cold day, and usually would, in time, melt ice so the wiper blades could do their job on the outside of the glass.
Back to the ducts! The GM trucks always came from the assembly line with defroster connectors under the dash. The dealer’s mechanic would have no major problem permanently attaching the ducts. He could not make a mistake or they would not fit. Of course this could only happen once the mechanic was lying on his back on the truck cab floor with a shop light and screw driver in hand. It is always dark under the dash.
NOTE: The more experienced heater installer always wore goggles. He never forgot the time when attaching defroster ducts, dirt that was once dust accumulation, dropped into his eyes as he bumped into a nearby part. That greatly lengthened the time on this job!
With the introduction of the new 1955 GMC Blue Chip trucks. (Chevrolet used the name “Task Force.”) The GMC Truck Division made their statement with changes that were different in many ways than their Chevy competitor. Much of the sheet metal was identical to Chevrolet but there was just enough changes that allowed them to be a market and stand alone!
The new 1955 GMC trucks sometimes had their own independent dealers but more often their pickup line was marketed by GM car dealers such as Pontiac or Buick.
The stepside pickup beds were almost identical to Chevrolet but the tailgate displayed the famous GMC logo. (A nice advertising touch to show the follower, the pickup in front was a pure GMC.) To standout even more, the hood, grill, hubcaps and dash were much different than Chevrolet. The seat springs and frame were the same but the appearance of the cloth and vinyl gave a different appearance. Even the 6 cylinder and V-8 engines were different than Chevy! The GMC Truck Division would say “Our pickups are certainly a step above the competition.”
Through the transmissions, differentials, and brake systems were mostly the same as the Chevrolet, their engines were very different. It appears that GMC would not share this most important part from their competition.
The 1955 six cylinder was 270 cubic inch. This was the same engine that had been optional in their first series 1955 trucks. (One of GMC’s greatest in the engine category.)
In regards to a V-8 engine it appears GMC was not prepared when they discovered Chevrolet had developed a small V-8 engine. (Yes, GM had a V-8 but it was 2 very large unit used in off road equipment and commercial highway vehicles. Too large for ½ to 2 ton trucks.)
Now what? GMC did what they had done in 1938 with a similar situation. The borrowed Pontiac’s engine! They could now boast, they had the largest V-8 in a pickup truck.
General Motors was well aware of the disposable income increasing in the American working class in the 1950’s. The Chevrolet Motor Division offered more dealer accessories than ever before to take advantage of this economic growth.
One of the more unusual was a pair of hood ornaments created for the two ridges of the 1957 Chevy trucks (Some would say they were a take-off from those of the 1957 cars).
Created for the more deluxe 1957 Chevy ½ ton, however, they would fit perfectly on the larger truck hoods. The enclosed drawing is removed from a 1957 Chevy Accessory book of that year plus three color photos of the ornaments installed.
Soon to be available from Jim Carter Truck Parts
There are two electric wires to the intake manifold mounted horn in the mid-1930’s. They are protected by a zinc plated conduit between the two horn contacts and where they connect to the main wiring harness beside the six cylinder Chevy engine.
The 1936 and earlier 207 engine manifold does not have a connection for the conduct from the horn. Therefore, it leaves the horn and runs beside the engine valve cover forward and down to the main wiring harness. A clip stabilizes the conduit by using a bolt on the water pump.
The first two years of the 216 engine [1937-38], this conduit also extends between the horn and wiring harness. It lays over the intake and then vertically down to the main wiring harness. A clip now secures the conduit to the new manifold horn extension bracket.
If it seems confusing, these photos should make it much easier to understand. In summary, the two different ways the horn mounts to the intake manifold results in the 7/16th conduit protecting the two wires from accidental damage over the years.
During 1936 through 1938 the horizontal pin stripe on the Chevrolet truck cab and hood (on the more standard Brewster Green color) was referred to as Gigolo Green. Strange! Our suspicions were correct. The 1994 Webster’s Dictionary gives two different meanings of the word Gigolo –
⦁ A man who is paid as a dancing partner or escort for women.
⦁ A man who is a lover of a woman and is supported by her.
Why did Chevrolet pick this word for their green pin stripe? This is lost in history.
In 1940, the word was changed to Apple, a little more understanding to most new truck buyers.
After about 30 years of the horn being secured to the engine intake manifold, it was moved to the radiator core support in 1954. This was also the same year the 235 six cylinder engine was introduced in trucks.
The actual body of the horn was used for the first time in 216 engine trucks in 1953. This horn used a different mounting bracket so it would still secure (for the last year of the 216 engine) to the intake manifold.
The radiator core support in 1954 had two holes on each side. One for the standard low note horn on the left side and on the right side the accessory high note horn. The attached photo will show the factory installed horn on the left side paired with the accessory right side horn. The HI and the LO is molded on the die-cast of either horn.
For the Real Perfectionist! In only the first year of the 235 engine installed in 1954 on the intake manifold, the cast iron horn extension was continued as the 216 engine but the two attaching holes were not drilled or used.
They are NOT all the same! Actually, there are three different designs. Only the 1955-57 will interchange. The 1958-59 grille pods will not fit on a 1955-57 GMC. The shape of their back is not the same because of their different position on the front bumper.
Even the 1955-56 is different from the 1957. The earlier grille pods do not have the center dimple. See Photo. Therefore, to the real perfectionist, ONLY the 1957 has been reproduced.
BEWARE: The current reproduction GMC grille pods are advertised as 1955-59. Not correct for reasons mentioned above! Somehow the person providing a sample to a fabrication shop, must not have known his product would not fit a 1958-59. Too bad!
Just in case, you have an interest in the Advance Design original brake system, this might catch your attention.
For ½ and ¾ tons, in the left corner of the cab floor, is the foot operated park brake. Here, the lever extends vertically up through the floor so the driver’s foot can lock the rear brakes when keeping the truck in a stopped position.
To prevent outside air from entering the cab GM used a rectangle boot cover preventing any leaks. To secure the boot, a metal plate with a long center slot attaches to the floor. The attached photo shows this as GM installed it.
A different metal plate is required when there is no foot brake. On 1 through 2 ton trucks the total hole is covered with the same plate but no center hole. Interesting! It actually then becomes a just blank-out plate to cover the now unused hole.
Unlike earlier years, the 1960-66 Suburban and Panel Truck rear bumper is not the same as the front on this single body unit.
Two items separate them from the front.
Why the dimple exists is not known. The only reason we have heard: It helps employees on the assembly line from from mixing them and slowing production!
The seats on this 1964-1966 Chevrolet Suburban are pure factory original.
Their shape is designed for only the Suburban body.
They allow for access to the rear seat.
Horizontal white vinyl in the back rest is characteristic of many GM vehicles during this era.
It was an extra touch that added a little extra flair to the deluxe models
Split rim wheels were used over 30 years on larger trucks with inner tubes. They were the only method of keeping the tube within the tire under air pressure and to allow for easy removal of the tire from the rim by tire repair shops and individuals in home garages.
An over view of tire removal was to remove the air pressure, push the top bead of the tire down to release pressure from the small circular lock ring. This ring must be rotated several degrees until it can easily be removed from the wheel. This allowed easy access to the tire and tube to be removed.
The big danger is when a more unskilled person replaces the lock ring without fully turning it to its correct position. Unfortunatly, the tube will still take in air pressure when the lock ring is not fully secured into the proper position. It is then when what happens that has given split rim wheels such a bad reputation of permanently damaging a tire repair person, so many did not live to see the next day!
General Motors was well aware of dangers of not completely turning the lock ring into the required position. Thjis recommendation applies today just as it did in the early years.
The following shows a diagram from a 1959 GMC operation manual. To prevent a major accident, simply place 4 chains around the tire and rim and fastener. In case the worst happens while adding air, the lock ring stays within the retainer chains! (How many small shops and farm owners took this precaution?)
Jerry Rivers in Independence, MO corrected this problem. He redesigned GM’s method of gaining access to the inside.
Check these photos. He steps up to the edge of the body with limited reaching for the items inside.
You can contact Jerry at firstname.lastname@example.org
A Cameo leads the Chevy Truck “six pack” on the Alcan highway in 1957. For this one time General Motors used this 1,520 miles between Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Canada to Fairbanks, Alaska (two years before Alaska was made a U.S. state).
Their engines were never shut off during the 45 hour run! It was all a dirt and gravel road except for a short strip south of Fairbanks. The U.S. had built this road so our military could have access to Alaska during WW II in case of any invasion by Japan.
The Chevrolet Cameo was kept in front all the way with an almost bullet-proof 235 inline six cylinder engine. For a 1957 GM video of this dramatic run through the wilderness with blinding dust, rain,hail and treacherous washouts in between, check the video section of our website at –
The Task Force champs took it all in stride with no break-downs.
NOTE: It is assumed the Chevrolet dealer in Fairbanks, Alaska was given – or sold at a very low price – these six trucks. General Motors had no interest in doing a return back down the Alcan. Lucky Chevrolet dealer!
NOTE: This was only half the journey for these six Chevy trucks with each assigned two drivers. Yes, it happened all over again! After several days in Fairbanks, including a real bed in a hotel for the drivers, the fleet did the RETURN to Dawson Creek under the close observation by American Automobile Association (AAA). Soon after that they all continued again as a convoy to the GM Proving Grounds near Detroit for vehicle checks. Total distance in 1957, over 8,000 miles round trip!
America rightfully looks to its basic industries for renewal of prosperity. Its colossal utitilies are employing thousands of GMC trucks in the construction of giant power dams and in weaving a network of wire and pipelines that project electrical and gas services even to the remotest outposts. This is a job that must be done mostly on wheels! Typical is the latest GMC innovation, the new 5-man line service cab, designed for the safety, comfort and efficiency of a vast army of utility workers!
This term usually refers to a vehicle manufacture (in this case General Motors) that markets different marques by just changing emblems and some easily swapped trim items. In many ways, the Cameo and Suburban Carrier can be placed in this category.
The cab and bed of these two brands are almost identical. The dash board is shaped differently along their top horizontal edge, but it is welded in place during cab production.
The complete bed with spare tire assembly has absolutely no changes except for the tailgate emblem and later Cameo side trim.
These six fiberglass parts were the main items used to create the Chevrolet Cameo and GMC Suburban Carrier. They were made to attach to the existing 6 foot step side bed.
GM’s design department created this deluxe pickup with very limited investment. A deluxe cab, the pre-existing mechanicals, and a short step side bed were already in production. The additions to make the Cameo and Suburban Carrier that became so famous were in these NEW fiberglass parts!
When you check your truck odometer for a replacement, note the gear taper that turns the five numbered mileage wheels. Some have straight gears and others tapered. Each have 15 teeth.
The rule on Chevrolet, GMC and other GM vehicles is as follows:
If the odometer gear teeth are straight cut, the unit fits below the speedometer needle shaft.
If the odometer gear teeth have a tapered cut, the odometer assembly fits above the speedometer needle shaft. The different teeth “cannot” be interchanged.
Here are a few examples:
The attached page was taken from an original sales brochure. The overall sheet is shown about 10% darker than in the Chevrolet brochure.
Of the many stand out features of these two special trucks, none is more unique than the spare tire position. So much designing and tooling was required to make this hidden from view. A salesman in a dealer’s showroom would be sure and praise this hidden, yet not difficult to remove, spare tire.
By using the lug nut wrench two stainless steel securing nuts could be removed. The spare tire “door” could then be swung down to allow the horizontal stored spare tire to be removed.
Normal Position Door Open
Tire Coming Out
The 1957 Chevrolet side trim unfortunately had the threaded holes that connect it to the fenders in the same position on the right and left sides. This creates a problem for many after painting. The right and left interchange! Therefore, body shops often attach them to the wrong side after painting the two fenders.
These emblems were made to look like a rocket with red-orange exhaust. Installing them incorrectly points this rocket in the wrong direction. The new paint lines created by tightening the emblems on the fenders prevent them from being reversed. The damage in the paint surface has been done!
Actually the emblems have “RH” or “LH” cast on their back side. If the shop would only look, the mistake would not happen! Here is a close up (with patent numbers) on an original. The current reproductions also have the letters as to what side each is for!
Correct Trim Incorrect Trim (Backwards)
Patent Numbers on Back Side
So rare to have been on the large number of GMC pickups produced during these 10 years! Most GMC truck enthusiasts have never seen one or even have any idea what they look like if they see one not labeled at a swap meet.
This heavy metal one piece stamped bracket is secured to the left rear stake pocket and holds the same 4 “ round light used all 10 years.
This photo is of the “real thing’. It is correct for the left side as pickups did not come with right side taillights.
For those of you that want this took, here is what they should be like when the job is complete
On this early under seat gas tank there is no sending unit with float being reproduced! Therefore, with a little American ingenuity there is a way to nicely solve this problem.
Obtain a now reproduced sending unit from a 1939-46 GM truck. The float rubs the tank inside so something must be done.
Turn the top 5 hole disc so that it’s humps (where the electric wire attaches) so that it is pointed to the 10:30 position on a clock.
The two top holes in the disc line up perfectly with the hole in the truck’s tank.
The more bottom three holes are now just slightly out of position.
With the side of an electric drill bit or “rat tail” file three holes to make them slightly oval.
Now just tighten these three screws into the tanks original holes with the gasket in between. What a nice not seen modification!
When you are buying a 1941-46 front fender and you see it cut-in at the front: as in this photo, it is correct for the 1 ½ and 2 ton trucks! The factory cut-ins allows the big truck 20 inch tires to turn without touching the fenders.
Yes, it will fit the ½ ton through 1 ton but will look incorrect.
On rare occasion you will see a pickup that has a pair of original design front bumper guards installed on the rear bumper. Big Mistake! This is a recipe for tailgate damage.
One slip of the hand while raising or lowering the gate will allow it to swing down until it hits these bumper guards. The result is evenly spaced dimples when it hits the top of the guards. What is worse: the dimples on a Chevrolet will be in the stamped letters. It’s more expensive by a body shop to repair this perfectly.
Moral: Don’t place bumper guards on the rear. That is not what GM intended. The attached winter photo may be of a pickup with an owner that wanted more accessories than were correct.
Since the first inline six cylinder Chevrolet engines were introduced in 1929, they had been attached to the front cross member of the car and truck frame. There were no actual rear engine mounts. The engine was secured to the bellhousing at the rear which was attached to the frame rails.
For the Chevrolet “car only” this changed in 1952. A side mounting system was on the car however, the truck continued with the front mounting system. Beginning in 1952 three threaded holes were then placed on each side of all 216 cubic inch engines to secure the new mount. To keep it simple, trucks used this same engine block but no side mounts were attached. Therefore, the last two years of the truck 216 engine has three unused side mount holes on each side of the block.
Resulting Fuel Pump Changes: The new side mounts created a change in the car fuel pump construction. The car fuel lines could no longer run parallel to the engine block as the year before and on trucks. The new side mount became an obstacle. The fuel line to and from the fuel pump had to be modified to run around the newly introduced side mount!
To save money, GM was able to continue with the same fuel pump by removing the six fasteners that connect the top and bottom halves, twist the top one bolt position, and re-secure the evenly spaced fasteners. An easy fix!
Part’s Store Error: Some aftermarket part books list the 1952-53 Chevrolet fuel pumps with a different part number than the 1951 and earlier but, this is only partly correct. The trucks still required the earlier pump as they have no side mounts and should carry the older part number.
Imagine the owner of a 1952-53 truck who needs a fuel pump. He is sold a car unit at his local parts store (because they show only one part number.) The pump mounts to the block perfectly but his fuel lines with not connect. He does not realize he can remove the six bolts and reposition the top half. Even if he realizes this might fix the problem, he will not change it for fear of voiding any pump warrantee. The store counter man has no idea! Too bad for the 1952-53 truck owner! He will now need to buy different fuel lines and bend them to fit the incorrect fuel pump.
The source that wrote the fuel pump catalog had no idea. This can be a big problem for the owners of 1952-53 Chevy truck. The do it yourself mechanic then buys store brand straight fuel lines, bends them to fit and flairs the ends like the originals. Yes, he is back on the road but with ugly home-made fuel lines and lots of extra money spent.
With most local radiator repair shops now out of business (you can buy new radiators for modern vehicles much less than repairing the originals) finding repairs for original brass radiators is very difficult. Shop repairing large commercial truck radiators still are needed but usually in only larger cities.
If your older GM original truck radiator does not leak but is cooling capacity has become limited (coolant boils on most uphill drives) there is a successful home repair.
This old school method has been a proven success over the years and it is very inexpensive. Check your local grocery store. Price is about $2.50/Gallon
Radiator shops usually use long small diameter brushes to “rod out” the calcium build up in the tubes. If they puncture a cooling tube with fins, they block it off with solder, and also solder the upper and lower damaged tanks back in place. You will never know how many have been soldered shut. The new black paint covering the radiator.
Save your cooling tubes with fins. White vinegar or other liquids may be the way to go!
An Extra bonus: If you place is solution in your drained radiator and let it set, it will also remove calcium build up in your engine block. Thus, the block has more flowing water and operates at a cooler temperature.
From 1955 through 1957 on trucks (their V-8’s all were 265 cubic inch during the first years) Chevrolet added engine cooling differently.
The radiator was moved further to the rear due to the V-8 shorter length over the 235 inline six cylinder. To force more air into the radiator core Chevrolet added an upper and lower metal spacer plate. These were attached to the grill and radiator support to fill in the created space. The enclosed drawing is from a 1955-1959 Chevrolet Truck Assembly Manual.
In recent years these plates have become very difficult to locate. Over many years, replacement V-8 engines (1958 and newer) were given the more traditional round shroud to help radiator cooling. Unfortunately, once these two parts become separated from the trunk, new-comers that were not there when the plates were removed, have no clue of their purpose.
More landfill material!
There is no evidence that Chevrolet (the jury is out on GMC) ever offered chrome headlight rings the year they introduced dual sealed beam headlights.
The attached photo is of a 1958 Cameo (the most deluxe truck in this line-up) with 1.4 miles on the odometer. The Pierce, Nebraska Chevrolet Dealer closed his doors in the late 1950’s with several new untitled vehicles brought inside where they remained for 55 years! It now sits in a private museum in New Hampshire with the U.S. lowest mileage vehicles of the 1950’s.
This ’58 Cameo is untouched with “no” chrome headlight rings. These rings are GM’s Bombay Ivory, the color that was used on places or as a total Cameo color.
Assume the occurrence of 1958 Chevrolet trucks with chrome rings in recent years is all from an overseas manufacturer that suspects Americans will only buy chrome!
It must be a correct assumption or the perfectionist restorers would repaint their originals or they just do not know or it is quicker and easier to add new incorrect chromed rings.
As an aid to delivery drivers working after dark, GM provided an overhead “reading light” on the headliner bow between the front seats. (Same place with or without the accessory right side seat) Its on-off switch is on the wood plank sheet panel metal protector at the left of the driver’s shoulder.
CARGO LIGHT: Because only some panel truck owners made deliveries in the dark, GM made their rear interior cargo light; a dealer installed accessory. Jim Winters of Rochester, MN, found one of these very rear Guide Cargo Lights at a local swap meet and installed it in his show quality 1941 Chevrolet ½ ton panel truck. It was in the original Chevrolet box with a one foot square instruction sheet and the wiring harness that would reach to the headlight switch.
LEFT REAR DOOR POST LIGHT SWITCH: The switch button at the bottom in the photo comes with all panel trucks through at least 1955. It was GM’s idea that the original single left door taillight would not operate when the door was open. Thus, the “spring buttons”.
The almost matching “spring button” plate on the top of the two and it was in the cargo light kit. This harness reaches the park light switch. GM designed this light just right for panel truck making deliveries! The harness connects to the parking light terminal on the headlight switch. In this way when the driver needs the cargo light on at night during a delivery, the park lights are also on, to be better seen when it is parked beside the road.
SURPRISE: To make it easier to install for the Chevrolet dealer’s employee, Jim discovered the mounting hole was in his rear top bow ready for the included self-taping attaching screw. Its light is activated by a wire from the accessory harness in this kit. When the headlight switch knob is pulled to park position, the cargo light is activated.
This pre-war body design was sold through about May 1946. Then the 1947-53 was introduced. Thus, we have a split year with an early and late 1947.
READ ON if you have an interest in why the panel truck was so popular.
BACK IN THE DAY, seeing the interior merchandise in a panel truck at night was a necessity. Most of these trucks were purchased for transporting merchandise from retail stores to residential homes. In the time of one-family cars, (or no vehicle) and as the days became shorter in winter, the panel truck was important. Merchants realized that company profits would be increased if their products were taken direct to the consumer. With a phone call the buyer made arrangements for a delivery. The panel truck was used so much for delivering groceries plus pickup and drop off laundry and dry-cleaning. The stay at home mom needed this type of service and the panel truck brought merchandise right to the door. Some delivery people even carried it into the home as an extra service.
Of course, the wide metal panel on the panel truck sides was a perfect place for advertising the store name. The light truck manufacturers picked up on this need very quickly. During World War II, with the lady of the house working in war production plants, she had limited time for shopping, and clothes cleaning, plus the children needed attention.
For most people, placing pin stripes on wheels is very difficult. It comes at the end for most detailed restorations so having it done less than perfect is not acceptable. So what is the option? Here are some suggestions for a “do-it-yourself” method. It is forgiving if you make a mistake and must try again.
During the 1947-55 series, the five window cab often referred to as the Deluxe cab, was available as an extra cost option.
Their two corner windows helped in visibility especially when backing. Cabs made during the same year are identical except for these corner window options. Some buyers in the southern states rejected this option. They felt the corner windows made the cab interior much hotter during the summer months.
Beginning in 1953, tinted windows became a factory option. Though today’s glass shops can easily add replacement tinted windows to most of the cab, it is as it can be cut from sheets of flat glass. The corner glass that must be found at specialized suppliers have connections with a manufacturer. These tinted corners have recently been made available!
Accessories and Options
Cameo Carrier/Suburban Pickup
Frame and Chassis
Speedometer and Gauges
Suburban / Panel Truck
Wheels and Covers
Speedometer and Gauges
Accessories and Options
Frame and Chassis
Speedometer and Gauges
Wheels and Covers
Accessories and Options
Brake Cables, Drum Wear and System Changes
Cabs, Heaters, Dash Panels and More
Door Handles, Panels and More
Electrical, Horns, Ignitions, and 6 Volt Starting
Frame and Chassis
Lighting, Switches and Bulbs
Mechanical, Engines, Timing Gear and More
Miscellaneous, Headers, Long Beds and More
Paint Colors and More
Interior GMC Paint
Sheet Metal, Fenders and More
Side Mount Spares
Speedometer and Gauges
Suspension, Shocks, Axle and More
Trim, Hub Caps, and More
Upholstery, Seat Covers and More
Wheels and More
Windows and More
Over 75 years ago the Chevrolet Motor Division offered an accessory in 1940 to help prevent work trucks from overheating during higher temperature days. The 1942 Chevrolet Master Parts Catalog shows it still available for the dealers to purchase and install.
It was referred to as a “Bafffle” and was attached to the inside of the upper radiator core and was combined with the larger 18” fan (if it was not already on the truck.) Smaller ½ and ¾ ton pickups would usually have their original 15” fan. The larger blade fan for more cooling capacity was expected to be paired with this new baffle.
The attached shows a New Old Stock 1940 baffle with an 18” factory fan. Its rounded center is to fit around the existing upper radiator hose. The purpose was to force more outside air through the top of the radiator core which received the hottest water as it leaves the engine head.
It appears to be a very practical accessory during very hot summer days with the trucks moving show, an example (for sure on a 1 ½ ton carrying a heavy load) would be:
We recently noticed this very unusual method of supplying motor oil to an era accessory filter. It was so different photos were taken for your enjoyment.
If you have not seen an original, the owner has replaced the original factory black rubber hoses with these copper lines. How unusual!
During the early years there were three occasions when General Motors decided it was in their interest to make truck cab changes in mid-year. Thus, in today’s world, when these years are mentioned, one must always be sure which of the two trucks are being discussed. The following will mention these years and why the unusual timing occurred in one year.
The “Great Depression” was in full swing. To encourage truck sales and save some struggling dealers, it was felt a new cab should be introduced as soon as possible. This new entry would later be referred to as “the low cab”. It had a more modern body and it was hoped potential buyers would be impressed to own a newer truck for the same retail price.
It cost General Motors only a little more to produce. The cab would set on the same frame rails and the total chassis was almost unchanged including motor, transmission, differential and radiator assembly remained the same.
The difference was in the cab and the hood with different side panel louvering position. For the first time GM offered a truck cab with an actual glove box in the dash. Instead of many small cab pieces making a wood frame with sheet metal tacked on, there were only four large cab wood supports. They made part of the cowl and supported the weight of the doors and windshield assembly. The low cab roof was formed sheet metal and was welded, not bolted to the remainder of the body. The window and door handles, wood floor, seats, hydraulic brakes, and steering wheel were almost unchanged. The same ½ ton bed was used.
This total new package gave the dealers something to tell their customers that an almost new truck was available for about the same cost.
During the first half of 1947, dealers had marketed the trucks offered before the war years. There was often a six month wait for trucks (as well as cars) when factories opened for domestic vehicle production for the first time in 5 years.
General Motors could not produce the older pre-war body style trucks fast enough! Therefore, GM decided to wait until sales demand began to slow before the new body style. Good Marketing!
If they had waiting lines for pre-world war II trucks, why stop production to make the factories ready for a more modern truck? The 1947 year was half over before what GM called “the Advance Design” trucks were in the dealers showrooms. This new redesigned truck had been developed during WWII in anticipation of a later sales demand. They were introduced on Saturday June 26, 1947.
This sales technique was quite successful. The many truck dealers in the USA couldn’t have been happier with GM’s strategy! Truck buyers with money or at least good credit wanted to be the owner of this modern design vehicle. The prewar body design was “old time”.
Therefore, once again there was a long line to have a new truck. GM engineers that were not enlisted or drafted into World War II had many years to get ready for this new model. However, it was the skilled GM advertising department that arranged the timing to get the “best bang for the buck”.
The totally redesigned Chevrolet automobile was introduced in late 1954. So much advertising on television, in local newspapers and by dealerships built up buyer anticipation throughout the country. The Chevrolet advertising department in Detroit knew not to take any wind out of the excitement in the unveiling of this totally new car.
Therefore, GM wisely made a decision to not introduce the new redesigned 1955 Task Force truck line at the same time as the car. They would wait at least 6 months until the car excitement slowed. Then with the experience of building up potential new 1955 car buyers, the Chevrolet Truck Division would do it all over again!
Just imagine how successful the Chevy dealers were to have two new 1955 vehicles in one year. It was about the biggest sales year in Chevrolet history.
Note: Because the new Chevrolet Task Force was not introduced until about May 1955 and the 1956 models came in November, this would certainly have been the shortest for any Chevrolet model year. Once again, so many waiting orders were received by dealers. Customers had seen the same body design for eight years and were ready for this new truck line. For the first time Chevrolet offered some new major optional features to increase sales:
V-8 engine, 3 speed overdrive transmission, the Cameo “Boulevard” pickup, white wall tires, power steering, all new paint color etc. A new standard feature was a 12 volt electrical system and wrap-around windshield.
A few other new no extra cost features were redesigned pickup bed with “grain tight” tailgate, a higher ½ ton differential ratio of 3.55, additional padding in seat cushion, and more convenient gas tank fill on driver’s side. A very important change was the first time was an open drive line on their ½ ton (also on the short lived 1955 First Series).
A real attention getter was for the first time in the history of GM pickup trucks there were no cab outside running boards! Overall, the new truck gave a very different appearance. Suddenly, all the buyer’s friends immediately knew that he had a different truck! It was certainly not the “almost same” truck with maybe a different color as during the Advance Design truck years.
The enclosed page from the Chevrolet Factory Assembly Manual is dated July 23, 1955. It appears to be announcing the new full flow oil filter that attaches to the lower left rear side of the 265 V-8 engine block.
For the early 1955 year- after the introduction of their first small block V-8 – the oil filter had been a dealer installed by-pass unit attached to the front of the intake manifold. See tech article under 1955-66, then click on accessories.
As per the attached drawing, this new mid 1955 filter was not a spin-on design. The cartridge was inside a round housing that Chevrolet calls an “oil filter assembly”. One long center bolt was removed to replace the inner throw-away cartridge. This system was used on Chevrolet small block V-8 s for about 10 years while some other vehicle manufacturers used the spin-on filter as used today.
Surprise to many, the first Chevrolet V-8’s had a lower end draft tube just like the six cylinders of the same years. The V-8’s are hidden between the distributor and the firewall and not in easy view.
The Chevrolet parts catalog for 1957 shows this “tube assembly” number 3726641 available by the dealer from 1955 through 1957.
From almost the beginning of the internal combustion engine, some type of venting of the lower crank case was needed. It was not until the early 1960’s that many vehicle engines were designed to pull the vapor from below the piston rings to be burned in the engines combustion chamber. Thus, much air pollution was eliminated particularly from well-worn engines, often referred to as lower end blow-by.
Very Important Cam Shaft and Valve Data
Occasionally when purchasing a used 235 high oil pressure engine, it may have been originally in a Chevy car with a Power Glide transmission. This will have a different cam shaft due to the Power Glide engine having hydraulic lifters. The lobes on the cam shaft must be a different height because of the lifters. In fact, hydraulic and solid lifters cannot be interchanged with non-related cam shafts!
To be absolutely sure if your 235 engine was originally from a Power Glide car do the following:
1. Remove the short side plate on the right side of the block.
2. Remove valve cover.
3. Loosen a rocker arm enough so one push rod can be removed.
4. Raise a valve lifter out of its resting place.
5. Place your finger in the valve lifter hole you have just created and feel for a
3/8” diameter hole on either side. Holes allow motor oil to lubricate and fill
the hydraulic valve lifter.
Engines with factory solid lifters will not have these 3/8” holes.
FYI: You can place a set of truck solid lifters with matching cam shaft in a 235 that originally came with hydraulic lifters. However, the reverse will never work! Without the 3/8” holes beside the hydraulics the lifters will not oil.
Its 1955 and Chevrolet trucks and cars offer their first small block V-8, a light weight with 265 cubic inches. (Not counting their short lived V-8 in 1917-18).
This series of V-8’s, along with the high pressure inline 235 six cylinder (1954-62), are probably the most successful engines in the General Motor’s history up to that time. With proper maintenance they were long lasting and repairs were possible even by medium skilled “shade tree” mechanics.
As with their 235 six cylinders through 1962, the first V-8 did not come with an oil filter. It was a Chevrolet dealer accessory. Adding an oil filter was usually done by the dealer from a GM kit. There was no place on the side of the engine block to receive a filter! To create this V-8 filter assembly the Chevrolet Division used a canister from a 235 six cylinder and welded a right angle lip on the bottom. Here, this unit was secured under the thermostat housing on top of the intake manifold. Quite unique!
The big change was in 1956.
It was this second year of the 265 V-8 that GM added a position in the engine block casting for the oil filter on the lower side. This was not a spin-on filter but was in a canister held to the block by a large center bolt. Now for the first time the new truck or car had a factory installed “full flow” oil filter like vehicles today. Motor oil goes through the filter before it reaches the engine!
Accessory Oil Filter Installed
Oil fill pipe on side of canister
Close up. Lip under water outlet
265 V-8 without option oil filter
If you really like learning about old Chevy truck six cylinder history, this article is for you.
We recently visited Jerry’s Chevy Restorations in Independence, Missouri and noticed an interesting display on a side wall of his shop. Jerry has the complete series of Chevrolet “Stovebolt” six cylinder valve covers used on cars and trucks between 1937 and 1962. This 25 year display is even painted the correct gray color for trucks.
No doubt it took much time cleaning, repairing, and painting to make them ready for their place in his restoration shop. Here is the order they were used in Chevrolet vehicles.
The two mounting stud grommets fit in a pocket below the surface of the cover. The valve cover must be removed to replace them. See the backside where the small metal strip secures the rubber grommet. (Not on 1940 and newer) Three necessary venting slots are on the top to allow the engine to breathe.
Redesigned with two larger attaching holes in cover so it is not removed to replace the mounting stud grommets.
New Idea: For the first time the add-oil hole is on the top of the valve cover. Now the mechanic did not add oil through the side engine draft tube. Good change! Less chance of some oil spilling as the oil container was placed down to the draft tube on the side of engine.
1949-53 – COE Trucks
This different valve cover is used on the cab-over-engine “COE” trucks. Because the engine is under the cab, oil cannot be added through the top of the valve cover as with a conventional cab. Therefore, add oil hole is not punched but the spot remains where it is placed in a conventional cab of the same years. GM wanted no part of a gradual oil leak from a capped hole and it being so difficult to reach. The continual oil seeping would not be good for the truck owner or repeat new COE sales.
NOTE: The Chevrolet Master Parts Catalog for April 1, 1950 shows the buyer of a COE valve cover must purchase one for a conventional cab. The manual states it will be necessary to seal the oil filter hole with a thin sheet metal disc to provide clearance. Therefore, the photo in this article is of a pure factory GMC valve cover, not a modified unit altered by a dealer.
Of course, the Chevrolet Motor Division knew the chance of a protected valve cover under the COE cab would probably never need replacing. This pure COE valve cover was probably never not available!
The new high oil pressure 235 engine is introduced in trucks! Oil cap continues to be sealed as 4 small breathing slots are in a different position and are front to back on the top. This gives a place for the Chevrolet script lettering to be stamped on top. Good advertising.
Now, instead of 2 vertical studs with nuts for keeping the cover attached to the engine head, an overdue improvement is introduced. Four short machine screws press directly down on the new perimeter lip surrounding the valve cover. This presses on the valve cover gasket and stops oil leaks that occurred on the earlier design when the two studs were over tightened.
More technology! To stop engines from sometimes leaking oil out of the 4 breathing holes on top of the cover they were removed! Breathing now occurred through a redesigned add-oil cap. It was used through the end of the series in 1962.
The add-oil cap is moved from the front to the middle. Because this 235 engine is tapered in its mounts to the rear and the new 1958 cars have a lower hood, GM moved it. This gave just a little more space and prevented hood contact with the oil cap.
NOTE: Because of the new center location of the add-oil hole, the Chevrolet script must be “half the size” on the valve cover top.
Ever seen the inside of a 1934-46 Chevy truck door latch? When heating and straightening the 4 small prongs that secure the steel cover over the working mechanism, it is surprising to see how simple GM made the contents.
Basically it is an enclosed ½“diameter x 2” long coil spring that pushes the pointer into the door striker plate on the cab post. This spring pushes this pointer back into this neutral position when the handle is released on either the inside or outside of the door. Quite simple in design and it usually does what is necessary for the life of the truck.
Of course, GM did not expect the latch to survive 80 years but so many still operate with their factory lubrication dried to be of no value.
Too bad, because even after only 30 years the latch moving parts should have received some light oil (a little thicker than WD-40). This almost never happened because the latch is unseen behind the door panel.
Additional Points of Interest on Early GM Wiring
1. Six volt systems MUST have 2 woven wire cables as a ground to allow plenty of current flow.
a. One from the battery to the frame rail. See drawing.
b. One from the ear of the starter attaching bolt to the frame rail.
2. The insulated cable from the battery to the starter switch, see drawing, MUST be a heavy one gauge thickness. NEVER use a small diameter 12 volt cable. It cannot carry the extra current flow required
by the starter. A small cable will cause the starter to turn slow!
3. As much as 75% of all electrical troubles are traceable to poor connections in the circuits.
4. An old timer way of tracing down an electric drain in your truck:
a. Touch a removed battery cable end against its battery post. If you have a short, you will see a tiny spark due to current flow. Sometimes dim outside light is necessary.
b. Disconnect suspected areas where a short may exist. When you no longer have the tiny spark, you have found the electric drain.
WD-40 Who Knew?
What is the Main Ingredient of WD-40?
Before you read to the end, does anybody know what the main ingredient of WD-40? No Cheating WD-40 ~ Who knew!
I had a neighbor who bought a new pickup. I got up very early one Sunday morning and saw that someone had spray painted red all around the sides of this beige truck (for some unknown reason). I went over, woke him up, and told him the bad news. He was very upset and was trying to figure out what to do. .. probably nothing until Monday morning, since nothing was open. Another neighbor came out and told him to get his WD-40 and clean it off. It removed the unwanted paint beautifully and did not harm his paint job that was on the truck. I was impressed!
WD -40 who knew? “Water Displacement #40”. The product began from a search for a rust preventative solvent and de-greaser to protect missile parts. WD-40 was created in 1953, by three technicians at the San Diego Rocket Chemical Company. Its name comes from the project that was to find a ‘Water Displacement’ Compound. They were finally successful for a formulation, with their fortieth at-tempt, thus WD-40. The ‘Convair Company’ bought it in bulk to protect their atlas missile parts. Ken East (one of the original founders) says there is nothing in WD-40 that would hurt you.
When you read the ‘shower door’ part, try it. It’s the first thing that has ever cleaned that spotty shower door. If yours is plastic, it works just as well as on glass. It’s a miracle! Then try it on your stove-top. It’s now shinier than it’s ever been. You’ll be amazed.
1. Protects silver from tarnishing.
2. Removes road tar and grime from cars.
3. Cleans and lubricates guitar strings.
4. Gives floor that ‘just-waxed’ sheen without making them slippery.
5. Keeps the flies off of Cows, Horses, and other Farm Critters, as well. (Ya gotta love this one!!!)
6. Restores and cleans chalkboards.
7. Removes lipstick stains.
8. Loosens stubborn zippers.
9. Untangles jewelry chains.
10. Removes stains from stainless steel sinks.
11. Removes dirt and grime from the barbecue grill.
12. Keeps ceramic/terracotta garden pots from oxidizing.
13. Removes tomato stains from clothing.
14. Keeps glass shower doors free of water spots.
15. Camouflages scratches on ceramic and marble floors.
16. Keeps scissors working smoothly.
17. Lubricates noisy door hinges on both home and vehicles doors.
18. It removes that nasty tar and scuff marks from the kitchen flooring. It doesn’t seem to harm the finish and you won’t have to scrub nearly as hard to get them off.
Just remember to open some windows, for ventilation, if you have a lot of marks.
19. Remove those nasty bug guts that will eat away the finish on your car if not removed quickly!
20. Gives a children’s playground gym slide a shine for a super fast slide.
21. Lubricates gearshift and mower deck lever for ease of handling on riding mowers.
22. Rids kids rocking chair and swings free of squeaky noises.
23. Lubricates tracks in sticking home windows and makes them easier to open.
24. Spraying an umbrella stem makes it easier to open and close.
25. Restores and cleans padded leather dashboards in vehicles, as well as vinyl bumpers.
26. Restores and cleans roof racks on vehicles.
27. Lubricates and stops squeaks in electric fans.
28. Lubricates wheel sprockets on tricycles, wagons, and bicycles for easy handling.
29. Lubricates fan belts on washers and dryers and keeps them running smoothly.
30. Keeps rust from forming on saws and saw blades, and other tools.
31. Removes grease splatters from stove-tops.
32. Keeps bathroom mirror from fogging.
33. Lubricates prosthetic limbs.
34. Keeps pigeons off the balcony (they hate the smell).
35. Removes all traces of duct tape.
36. Folks even spray it on their arms, hands, and knees to relieve arthritis pain.
37. Florida’s favorite use is: ‘cleans and removes love bugs from grills and bumpers.’
38. The favorite use in the state of New York, it protects the Statue of Liberty from the elements.
39. WD-40 attracts fish. Spray a little on live bait or lures and you will be catching the big one in no time. Also, it’s a lot cheaper than the chemical attractants
that are made for just that purpose. Keep in mind though, using some chemical laced baits or lures for fishing are not allowed in some states.
40. Use it for fire ant bites. It takes the sting away immediately and stops the itch.
41. It is great for removing crayon from walls. Spray it on the marks and wipe with a clean rag.
42. Also, if you’ve discovered that your teenage daughter has washed and dried a tube of lipstick with a load of laundry, saturate the lipstick spots with WD-40 and re-wash.
Presto! The lipstick is gone!
43. If you spray it inside a wet distributor cap, it will displace the moisture, allowing the engine to start.
P.S. As for that Basic, Main Ingredient
Well…. it’s FISH OIL!!!
One of the most important factors in successful engine operation is to keep the water at far below the boiling temperature. This is best done by matching the radiator with the fan blade.
On 1939-53 Chevrolet trucks there was a change in cooling fans depending on the demands the truck might have. The following three fan blade assemblies were as follows:
15“ Diameter 4 Blades
Standard equipment on ½, ¾, and one ton. Matched with 3 core radiators.
18” Diameter 4 Blades
Placed on most 1 ½ and 2 tons. Matched with 4 core radiators.
18” Diameter Heavy Duty 6 Blade – Optional
The Chevrolet Master Parts Catalog defines this fan “for use in low speed operations”. It was available on 1 ½ and 2 ton that would require slow moving or much of their RPM’s at idle speed.
Examples: A fire truck setting at idle speed while running the pumps to furnish water through their long hoses.
A flat bed farm truck during hot summer days. It slowly moves in a field while hay bales are loaded at almost idle speed.
No doubt at higher RPM’s this 6 blade fan would create extra wind noise under the hood but, after all, it was the price you paid to have a non-boiling radiator. (And it did the job successfully)
Overheating ½ or ¾ ton? As calcium builds up over the years in engine and radiator, heating problems may surface. As a “Band-Aid” to get by for a while, some owners install the larger 18” fan. With more air passing through the radiator core, major repairs can sometimes be postponed.
Accurate front end alignment on any straight axle can be done in your home garage. Stop unnecessary tire wear and pulling side to side.
This basic blue-print shows it all. It’s a no-brainer! The two small notches on each end of the alignment plate are a suggested place to secure your measuring tape.
There appears to be a rumor being spread that the 1960-72 behind the seat gas tank (in a carburetor engine) should be relocated. The major reasons said is “gas fumes or safety”. Here is the other side of the argument.
General Motors was not stupid! Do some people today really think GM would have sold millions of unsafe trucks in those years? Even then, there was a large supply of lawsuits if accidents occurred due to a deliberate sale of improperly engineer trucks.
The most negative comment heard from some gas tank relocating companies is “a gasoline smell might develop in the cab at any time”. Almost impossible!
Beginning in 1960 the gas tank and the fill spout were welded together as one unit. The very slight possibility of any gas fumes would be from under the sending unit gasket in the middle top of the tank. There is no place to store merchandise there. Then this gasket or seal is never disturbed and its five machine screws in the attaching plate are not moved.
The gas spout (part of the tank assembly) has the filler hole outside the cab. A tight gas grommet in the opening where the spout exits the cab prevents gasoline or rain water from ever entering the inside.
It goes even further. There is no fuel exiting the bottom of the tank. Gasoline leaves the top of the tank by being pulled by the fuel pump on the engine.
Here is a comment of safety in a vehicle collision in a front or rear hit or the truck gets a major side on its cab. What is the chance gasoline will leak unless the tank is ruptured. Very unlikely!
Compare this with someone placing the gas tank behind the rear axle below the bed versus it being mounted in the cab as General Motors did it.
Remember the 1973 Ford Pinto car parked on the roadside in 1978 that was rammed from behind at about 30 miles per hour? The gas tank was behind the rear axle. It burst into flames and Pinto occupants were all burned to death.
Reports range from 27 to 180 deaths as a result of rear impact related fuel tank fires in the Pinto. For additional data: Check Google and type in “Ford Pinto Gas Tank Explosion”.
Though 1937 GMC pickups were made in both Canada and the US, there is one major difference between them. They have very different engines. Here are some facts:
The 1937 US made GMC ½ tons used a flat head six cylinder engine from an Oldsmobile and in 1938 a flat head from Pontiac. These automobile engines were dependable with a proven record. This saved the egos of the US GMC dealers from trying to explain to customers why these “high-end” pickups were using the competitor’s engine.
In the US, the first year for the GMC ½ ton was 1936. They were all the longer 125 inch wheel base. The following year the GMC pickup was introduced in Canada and were made in the GM assembly plant in Oshawa, Ontario Canada. Just like GMC in the US in 1937, Canada offered a short wheel base 112” and optional long bed 125” wheel base. The Canadian Pontiac dealers were given this pickup to market alongside their car line. Unlike the US, there were no stand-alone dealerships for these new GMC pickups!
The long awaited introduction of the 216 six cylinder overhead valve engine was in 1937. It was used in Chevrolet cars and trucks in Canada and the US. This engine was quite successful for the existing roads in both countries. It was used in production Chevrolet vehicles 16 years.
When the GMC pickup first came on the market in Canada, it was given more horsepower than Chevys ½ ton. GM did this by adding a 216 Chevrolet engine with bored cylinders to create 224 cubic inches. This bore sizes increased from 3 ½” to 3 9/16”. Aluminum pistons also added more power over the Chevy cast iron units.
It appears the engineers designing the GMC pickup in the US wanted no part of using a Chevy engine for their first introduction into the pickup truck market. (GMC had previously been the big truck arm of General Motors). Because the Great Depression of the mid 1930’s GM needed to make emergency changes. Big truck sales in the US had reached such low numbers that something (a small pickup truck) had to happen quickly. Many US GMC dealers had gone out of business. Some were surviving only by repair work or selling additional products such as farm equipment, used cars and laying off employees.
In Canada financial disaster was not as imminent as there were no dealerships that sold only large GMC trucks. The newly introduced 1937 GMC pickup would not be marketed in a one marque location. GM of Canada used the new GMC to help the Pontiac dealers that were also feeling low sales. These dealers would probably be required to stock only a few GMC pickups and a basic supply of repair parts. After all, the Canadian Chevrolet car and truck dealer would also have a supply of new mechanical parts that covered all the items that the GMC pickup needed, except for aluminum pistons. Many of the Pontiac / GMC dealers would probably obtain the mechanical parts from local Chevy dealer and not wait for an order from Oshawa, Ontario of a week or more.
The big engine change for GMC in the USA was in 1939. Now GMC had developed their own six cylinder engine. All GMC pickups came with a 228 cubic inch power plant had overhead valves in the head.
It appears the GMC Division of General Motors in the United States wanted no part of using a Chevrolet low oil pressure engine for their 1936 introduction into the pickup truck market. GMC had previously been GM’s big truck provider however the Great Depression of the 1930’s required emergency changes. Quickly.
Large GMC truck sales in the US had reached such low numbers that something (a small pickup) had to be introduced immediately. Many US GMC big truck dealers had gone out of business and others were surviving only by repair work or equipment selling, marketing used cars, and laying off employees.
In Canada the GMC financial disaster was not the same as there were no “stand alone GMC dealers”. A ½ ton GMC pickup would be good in Canada but no one would be required to have a “GMC Only” franchise. GM of Canada used Pontiac Buick car dealers to market the GMC pickups for many years. Each of the dealers were probably required to stock at least one pickup at the beginning and a supply of new very basic repair parts that would be needed. (In Canada, the new GMC pickup was introduced in 1937, not 1936 as in the US). Canadian sales were slow in the beginning, mostly because of the Great Depression years. Only about 800 found owners throughout Canada that year.
The Canadian Chevrolet car and truck dealer would also have a supply of new parts that covered everything that the GMC pickup needed mechanically except the aluminum pistons. Many Pontiac Buick dealers would probably obtain their mechanical parts in their town from the local Chevrolet dealer rather than wait for an order from the main GM supplier in Oshawa, Ontario of a week or more.
There was not a GMC with larger gross weight produced in the factory at Oshawa, Ontario. If you wanted a large General Motors truck made in Canada, you bought it from a Chevrolet dealer under the name Maple Leaf. Most all came with 20” tires as did the US made GMC 1 ½ ton. The Maple Leaf was available and assembled only in Canada from 1931 through 1951. Most all was like the US Chevrolets except for the grill, front fenders, bumper and related attachments. We assume GM of Canada gave it a more patriotic name to encourage sales as well as the front sheet metal looking much different than the US Chevrolet large trucks.
The new 1937 Canadian GMC ½ ton was to be (by tradition) a truck that provided more power than Chevrolet. Therefore, the total Canadian ½ ton truck would cost a bit more with a totally different front grill and bumper but lowered some production costs by not using an Oldsmobile engine that was in the US GMC at the beginning.
The new Canadian GMC powered pickup used a 216 Chevy engine with larger diameter cylinders to create 224 cubic inches. Bore size increased from 3 ½ to 3 9/16. Aluminum pistons also added more power over the 216 Chevy six cylinder engines with their heavy cast iron design. Note: This extra horsepower 224 sic cylinder (modified 216) was continued in the GMC pickup through 1939. It was in 1940 that GM of Canada began the traditional 216 as was in all Chevrolets. (The oversized aluminum pistons were no longer used). This 216 continue to be the GMC pickup power until the end of 1952.
There is sometimes a discussion among early Chevy truck owners if their trucks came with a crank-hole cover in their grille. Here is the scoop!
All of their original 1939-1940 Chevrolet grilles came with this cover! Without it they would look incomplete. A very unattractive hole is visible when the cover is removed. The cover must be in place to have a smooth center vertical bar.
Important: Replacement 1939-40 grilles (not made by General Motors) have no cover produced. In place of a cover is a decorative round outer hole attached to the inner hole that is usually not provided. The two items attached together allow the necessary opening to enable a hand crank to rotate the engine by a person standing in front of the truck. Thus, there is no need to remove anything to crank the 216 engine manually as there was when the truck was new.
FYI: There was originally a removable crank hole cover on original Chevrolet truck grilles from 1946 back to at least the early 1930’s.
This was the end of the series! It is said the 1957 year would have ended production for this “Boulevard” pickup. Their unique bed was why they continued about 6 months into the next production year.
GM either had too many complete beds in stock or they were locked into a contract with the outside bed producer. Either way, GM did not want to send most of their expensive beds to the land fill or be sued by the bed factory for not buying the agreed number.
Thus we have a 1958 Cameo to help dispose of the oversupply of complete beds. The result was a total 1958 Cameo production of 1,405 units produced in just a few factories, not the six assembly lines during the other three years. This was not enough Cameos to supply one to each dealer!
All this occurred because there were too many beds. It even caused GM to postpone the plans to introduce their new deluxe full trim fleetside pick up until 1959!
To help the Chevrolet dealers from having two designs of half ton deluxe pickups in 1958, the new trim design was held back until the next year. Without GM doing this, the 1958 Cameo would really have been difficult to sell. For about the same money the style conscious retail buyer would not look twice at a 1958 Cameo when a new updated deluxe Fleetside ½ ton was available.
In this way dealers were given time to reduce their inventory rather than GM giving the dealers a percent off the unsold Cameos. This helped sales of the new last year Cameos. This would not have been good for the three years of previous Cameo owners that had paid the full retail price. All this, because these- too many- remaining beds postponed the plans to introduce the new Deluxe Fleetside pickup.
What is an unrestored 1958 Cameo price in today’s market? It’s like most any limited survival item. It is what the market will bare at any particular time.
Look at the attached photos of Scott Phaneuf’s recent 1958 Cameo purchase. To most it would be a total loss other than maybe the bed. This will be Scott’s 6th ground-up restoration of a 1958 Cameo (he still has them all) and an expert in his field; he knows what he can do to make it a show quality restoration. Saved from the landfill!
Another item of interest about Scott’s Cameo Fleet: How do you get your four best 1958 Cameos to a car show? It’s easy! You restore a 1959 Chevrolet Spartan 100 tractor and a 1964 four vehicle carrier and all arrives at the same time. Photos to follow!
Note: If you really like very rare GM trucks, watch for a 1958 GMC Suburban Carrier. It has the same bed, cab, and differential. Less than 500 found new owners 60 years ago.
The early GM ½ tons roll along relatively well on today’s highways considering the roads they were designed for 50 to 60 years ago. As highways became better Chevrolet and GMC added extra horse power six cylinder engines (each model had its own inline six cylinder) to satisfy the demands of many buyers.
Even with this improvement the ½ tons could still not keep up with the higher speed limits on the open road. American ingenuity comes to the rescue! In recent years many owners that love their early GM ½ ton pickup and want no major changes, have develop methods to overcome this lower speed handicap. Just when enthusiast think they know why your ½ ton rolls along with traffic, they become shocked when they see what looks like an all original drive train. They thought it had a small block V-8 but appears to be a ½ ton just like it came from the factory! The following describes one method to create a ½ ton that is a pleasure to drive for the enthusiast.
Enter Bill Miles of Ashland, Massachusetts with a near show quality 1953 GMC ½ ton. He really enjoyed driving his pickup however, on even the flat flat smooth highways he was held back in the slow lane. He thought “there must be (maybe a combination of things) that can increase speed and less the engine RPM”.
Here was Bill’s formula to increase speed, reduce engine RPM’s, and make even many experts say “I cannot believe what I am seeing”.
He replaced his original 4.11 ratio ring and pinion for the recently introduced 3.55 ratio. All is hidden inside the differential housing. This alone gives almost a 20% increase in extra top end speed.
TIRES AND WHEELS:
Bill removed his aftermarket 15” 6 bolt wheels. Their radial tires were 27” in diameter.
He went back to the original GM 16” wheels that increased the size to 30.5. The tires added were 215/85 R 16 radials. This 3.5” increase in diameter made a noticeable difference!
In fact, Bill states the improvement with the differential gearing and tire diameter increase dropped the RPM 800 at 65 mph.
SIX CYLINDER ENGINE EXCHANGE:
For the maximum speed increase using the factory “big brother” engine in place of the standard ½ ton engine was the adding the larger six cylinders used by GM on the 2 tons, cab-over-engine bodies, and most school buses. Most use almost the same overhaul gaskets, so they are almost identical in appearance.
CHEVROLET: The engine of choice is the 261 cubic inch full oil pressure in line six. It will really wake up your early GM ½ ton! See our very detailed article on this engine on our website tech article series at www.oldchevytrucks.com.
GMC: The 228, 248 and small port 270 original GMC six cylinders are good solid engines but when you really get serious on extra horse power it is the 302 that is on the top of the list. GMC even use a 2 barrel carb to get the most from these extra cubic inches. It also was in the 2 ton, cab-over-engine and school bus from about 1956 to 1959.
For Bill Miles, his 1953 GMC ½ ton has become a pleasure to drive. He has driven through the USA on vacation about 40,000 miles in the last 15 years. It is a nice cruiser at 65mph. Yes, once he tried it at 80 mph but he noticed strange body sounds occurring so he decided to keep it at its best speed of 65 to 70 mph!
What a surprise! After 35 years in the old GM truck business we discover there was a custom trailer hitch made just for the 1955-58 Chevrolet Cameo and GMC Suburban Carrier. Installs with no damage to these rare classic GM trucks.
The assembly is secured by placing only two approximately ¾ inch bolt holes in the frame rail under the bed. The two rear chrome bumperettes are removed. Their securing holes become the rear support for this hitch. No damage to the truck. Very impressive.
This is not a home-made one of a kind hitch. Scott Phaneuf in Massachusetts with six Cameos says he has seen three of these exact hitches on unrestored Cameos in the past 30 years. However, he can find no GM data showing these were available. He can only assume these were marketed by a private hitch manufacturer and sold by non GM installers.
Two photos are when the 1958 Cameo was first bought with the hitch in place. The second photo is the horizontal bar removed and placed on the white tailgate.
Several months later the hitch has been sand blasted and painted. The four plates are the later pictures.
This will soon be marketed by Jim Carter Truck Parts.
Hitch in place
Bar Removed and on a tailgate
This large grommet is so hidden, most owners have no idea it exists. It is exclusive to the 1947-55 (Advance Design) Suburban, panel truck and Canopy Express.
Because the body is so much wider than a step side pickup the full add pipe must be longer. The body also has an inner as well as outer panel. The inner panel protects the outer sheet metal from accidental damage when merchandise with sharp corners is hauled.
To prevent metal to metal contact from the gas spout touching the inner panel, GM provided a different grommet for inner and outer metal panel. It is the unseen inner panel that has the seldom seen grommet.
Check these photos. They show the inner grommet in position as well as on a table for photos.
Above data made possible by allowing US a close view of this 1948 Suburban. The owner Jerry’s Chevy Restoration Shop in Independence, Mo.
Drooping outside door handle? Repairs are available. A small broken spring in the hidden latch assembly is the problem.
Probably most were never repaired by prior owners! If requires removing the inner door panel and then the latch assembly. This latch is usually placed in a vise for replacing the small inner spring. Right and left are different.
It is not a difficult procedure, however a big concern is damaging the paint on the large inner door panel. The many small screws must be removed to gain access to the latch.
Good News! Both the right and left side spring have recently been reproduced. They are available from Jim Carter Truck Parts and other full stocking dealers of older GM truck restoration parts.
Good spring in latch
The spring is broken!
Good working spring
Bet you didn’t know!
The two electric wires extending from the main harness run vertically beside the intake or exhaust manifold to the horn, depending on the year.
Here is the way Chevrolet did it on trucks and cars: From 1938 and older trucks and cars the two horn wires run vertically up to the horn between the exhaust manifold and the intake manifold. When looking at the rear of the intake manifold mounted horn (on the early six cylinder) the two wire attaching posts are on a 4 o’clock position. This results in the two wires being close to the heat of the exhaust manifold. To better protect these wires from heat damage, the factory harness includes a 14 inch corrugated metal loom as part of their complete harness assembly. This metal loom was on all early Chevrolet inline six cylinder vehicles as well as on factory replacement harnesses.
Even with this loom protection, there was still occasional heat damage to the two wires! To solve the problem beginning in 1939, the vertical horn connecting wires changed position. Now, the wire was found on the exterior side of the intake manifold. The two connecting posts were rotated to be at the 8 o’clock position. This made it possible to keep the wires away from the manifold beyond heat. Thus, the protective metal loom was no longer necessary.
Surprise: The mechanical part of the 1934 to 1953 horn can be rotated by the hobbyist. Remove the six securing fasteners, on the perimeter rotate it to the new position, and retighten the securing nuts. Therefore, the horn is easily changed from the early to the later years design. This replacement loom is now available from Jim Carter Truck Parts and other full stocking dealers.
1934-36 horn. Connecting points at the 4 O’clock position
1937-38 horn with wires in metal vertical loom (beside exhaust)
1939 and newer on left. 1934-36 on right (connecting post on opposite sides)
1939 and newer. (Mounted on intake) 8 O’clock position. No metal loom required
This data may be of interest to those restoring a 1938 Chevy truck or car grill to look very authentic.
After the chrome plating was added at the factory additional appearance steps were necessary. The extended metal on the horizontal bars were given a satin black paint. The two outer verticals were also given this satin black coating on their visible inners.
How was the color added after plating? It is suspected the total grill was painted. Then a person could quickly wipe the black from the outer edge of the horizontal bars with a solvent. This would not require a high paid skilled painter, just a person with moderate talent and a good wiping cloth.
The single indentation in the six wider horizontal bars were given a red stripe. The attached photos of a New Old Stock, never installed grill, shows the red strip was probably added by a painter in the plant not using a stencil. There is an inconsistent look in how the red was added on this near 80 year old new grill. Trimming this total paint package results in a very nice appearance. The GM designers had a good eye!
Photos by: Nancy Russell, Columbia, Missouri
Currently only one factory in the world reproduces the 1937 Chevrolet ½ ton bumper. Basically a very nice chrome reproduction that will satisfy most all restorers.
Only one error in its production stands out. Sometimes perfectionist make comments but this is all there is! Either use it as is or straighten and re-chrome or re-chrome an 80 year old original.
The enclosed photo shows the extra rolling bend close to each end. We can only assume it was placed there to save some tooling cost by using the existing metal press in some factory.
Slight extra roll about 10” from each end
Suggestion: The 1937 Chevy passenger car uses the same bumper as the pickup and they were not exposed to abuse during regular work duties. There is a good chance a used car bumper will be better to start with for a successful restoration. The problem here is a nice used car bumper is usually still on the car and no one will allow it to be removed.
For the perfectionist that wants his 1938 (and 1937) just right, here is an original page from an 80 year old sales booklet. It shows the eleven colors that could be requested when a new Chevrolet truck was ordered. Because of the page’s age, it might be 10% off in color even if it was in the dark among stored papers.
General Motor’s method of saving tooling cost on commercial vehicles shows up in the production of these tail light assemblies. By the mid 50’s years the increase demand for turn signals, two taillights were required on the panel truck and Suburban’s. GM built them right and left, installed in the body, at the factory for the first time.
These were made so one light fit the right and left side. They were turned 180 degree and they would interchange. The red lens was also turned in the housing at 180 degrees. It got the job done with half the tooling.
Surprise! These are now produced new in pairs at Jim Carter Truck Parts and other full stocking early GM truck dealers.
This is for those that consider originality very important! We recently received a photo of a “real” truck headliner still in place after over 80 years. Amazing!
We just could not trash this photo of one of probably the only example in existence. Most people today were not alive when it came off the assembly line. It appears to have been held in place with the two parallel metal strips that run between the doors. They still have some of their black paint.
One addition added years later are the four metal rusty “c” shaped strips that extend from the horizontal wood support above the rear window to behind the original rear long strip. It is assumed this was added later to stop the sagging of the aged headliner material.
Interesting: The headliner is a dark olive color, not the expected brown or black. Mike Russell of Fulton, Missouri recently received these photos from a truck customer that had asked some technical questions. He also knew it was probably the only one in existence!
A very rare Chevrolet dealer installed accessory would have been a radio. Placing this more luxury item in a work truck was very unusual. Most people had limited incomes and a radio would be a big extra even for the family car.
To save tooling money on a new 1940 radio creation for the Chevy truck, General Motors used the base AM radio made for their 1940 passenger car. In the factory GM box delivered to Chevrolet dealers, a pair of right angle brackets were included. They attached to the front side of the radio head for mounting to the dash and could fasten to the radio at a 90 degree difference depending if it was attached to a car or truck.
On the car the radio it fit in a pre-made hole in the dash. On the truck it was secured to the underside of the dash to the left side of the steering column. The attached photos show the attached right angle brackets attached to the radio and set up for the truck.
Warning: Most all radios of this design have the dial made of a round rolling thin white “plastic” cylinder with red numbers. Shown in photo. When it is allowed to be exposed for many years in direct sunlight, this plastic in the window becomes very dark. It is as if it is burned! If you find a used unit for sale, be sure you turn the roller dial to see if the burned red numbers have not been rolled out of site.
This burned window portion of the plastic roller is not repairable and to date no reproductions are available. Yes, the radio may play with good sound but there will always be a black window on a certain radio station!
Many truck owners have chosen to leave their vehicle’s old paint or rusty surface just as they found it setting in a back lot or farm field. Then the mechanicals are restored to new condition for safety and dependability. They now are called a “RAT-ROD”.
Enter now a great way to protect the aged metal surface and keep that old look. At a recent swap meet we met Dave Allder in Nebraska. He introduced us to a process that keeps the old appearance with an added dull shine. The appearance of his 1929 Ford Model AA big truck really draws attention and trophies at local special interest car shows. Of course, this is done at a fraction of the cost of patching, preparation, and painting the metal surface. Here are some steps that will make the rusty exterior metal surface a real eye catcher.
These photos show why Dave’s truck gets so much attention at local shows. Also attached is a headlight bucket from a 1941-46 Chevy truck. The close-up shows 50% hot waxed and the remainder as it was found in a lot behind a barn. Not a great picture due to a poor camera but it does show the small panel before and after.
You can contact Dave Allder @ email@example.com
Before – As Dave found it.
After – The total waxing is completed
Left side: As most find older untreated bare metal
Right side: After the hot wax process
General Motors realized that after larger work trucks left the factory some owners would want to lengthen or shorten the side frame rails. Replacement beds would sometime require a different wheel base.
Therefore, as a warning GM painted or etched letters to tell owners the importance of a good, safe connection after the frame is cut. The attached photo shows a 1936 Chevrolet still showing this lettering on the inner frame rail. It is understood a similar warning is also on more modern trucks. Note: Even in the mid-1930’s the attorneys of General Motors were suggesting these warnings be visible to lessen laws suits!
1936 1 ½ ton from a farm in Western Kansas. Still displays the warning after 80 years! Seen just after the cut. Sorry photo does not help seeing the letters!
An unusual gas tank venting system was on 1934 – Early 1936 Chevrolet 1 1/2 ton trucks and 1937 to early 1938 1/2 tons. This was necessary because their under seat gas tanks did not have a fill spout. They were filled directly into the top of the tank. (A few late 1936 Chevrolet low cabs 1 1/2 tons did have a short fill spout which extended through the right side of the seat riser. However, the passenger door needed to be open to reach the filler cap). See tech article titled “1934-36 Chevrolet Gas Tank Changes”. Why General Motors did this is unknown however it surely created a big inconvenience as gasoline could only be added to the tank by raising the passenger side lower seat cushion. On cold or rainy days a passenger would need to stand out of the cab while the station attendant also stood outside to make the fill.
Because air must enter the tank to take the place of gasoline used by the engine, somewhere it must be vented. If there is a cap on a filler spout it is not a problem. A small hole in the cap allows air into the tank. Placing a fuel tank under the cab seat in a truck without a spout brings up a problem. How do we vent the tank without having fuel vapor enter the cab while the engine is not running or how does it vent to the inside when the engine is running?
General Motors created an ingenious method of solving this problem. The attached photo shows a 1937 fuel tank cut in two halves. A hidden vent tube is installed vertically inside the tank.
IT SOLVES TWO PURPOSES
1. While setting without the engine running, vapors reach the 6 holes in the inside vent plate. If a light vapor pressure develops on a warm day (or in a warm garage) it is easily released under the tank through the vertical pipe.
2. When the engine is running, air enters the tank through this vent in a reverse flow as gasoline is pulled out by the fuel pump.
Vertical Vent Tube (tank baffle in background)
Close up of inside 6 hole vent plate.
Vent tube ending on tank bottom. (also see shut off valve and line connection to fuel pump)
Top of 6 hole vent plate assembly (also nearby, the opening for adding gasoline)
For the many people that have not seen a gas tank baffle, this should be of interest. These are usually flat metal dividers welded inside a fuel tank. They slow the side to side movement of the fuel. Numerous openings between the welded dividers cause a slower movement of fuel. See Photo.
1. All tanks in a vehicle that moves must have baffles so a sudden sharp turn or stop does not cause all the liquid contents to instantly surge to one side of the tank.
2. The surge of fuel can even uncover the low filled fuel tank’s pickup inlet so the engine hesitates or stops.
3. Noise of fuel moving from side to side can create an annoying sound if near the passenger area.
4. On early vehicles the fuel can be forced out of the fill inlet to drip on exterior paint or running boards.
5. Example of a non-baffle moving tank with liquid inside: Ever been behind a yard spraying truck moving in a neighborhood? The liquid fertilizer or insecticide freely moves from side to side
as the translucent plastic storage tank is moved on the side streets.
1937 Chevy truck tank cut in half showing one baffle
For those that have not looked under the differential of an early Chevy / GMC truck, the following may be of interest.
Protection of the metal rear brake lines are shown in the attached photos from a 1939 Chevrolet ½ ton. They are separated by a brass division block (gray in photos) which is on the right side of the differential.
The result is a much shorter brake line section on the right side that connects to the wheel cylinder. It is interesting to see how GM protected the lines from stumps and rocks in the field. The line reaches from the top of the axle housing down to the wheel cylinder it is run behind and above the shock attachment arm and spring attaching bracket. It is kept away from incoming materials as the truck is driven in very rough terrain.
GM always made sure the taillight wires were protected from unexpected damage! Because vinyl covered wires were not yet invented, the cloth covered wires required extra protection. This is certainly true for wires in the wheel well area that are continually hit by road debris.
This was done by a 5/16 diameter inch galvanized metal flexible conduit. The length was different between the ½ ton and 1 ½ ton which depended on the distance from the back of the taillight to the factory hole in the frame rail. See Photo. All made in the USA.
Good News: This kit is available especially made with flexible conduit crimped on brass ferrules on ends and the curved metal connector that secures it to the oval taillight. This connector must be used to correctly attach the wires to the original oval taillight.
Different length on 1 1/2 ton.
An unusual accessory from a pre-World War II era. When you bought a 1936 Chevrolet 1 ½ ton short or long bed truck, they all came with a round hole in the center of the rear cross sill.
This allowed the dealer to easily add a tow ring with threaded attaching rod. This rod was simple inserted in the hole with a nut and washer securing it to the center of the cross sill.
This extra allowed for a quick connection when the 1936 was needed to tow a disabled vehicle.
This subject came to the surface recently by a customer, Jake LaRose of Maynard, Iowa. He had purchased an outer door skin for his 1936 Chevy ½ ton however the fit was just not quite correct, close but not right! Jake was at a loss! We immediately began to research for an answer to his dilemma.
The answer was discovered after so much research and locating people with these pre-war trucks.
The answer was that 1936 is a split year between the low and high cab designs. The doors did look the same, however, we found a fraction of an inch prevents a high cab door sheet metal patch panel from fitting on a low cab door frame!
With this unusual data discovered, it only seems appropriate to place the findings in writing for the few that may be stumped with this part of their 80 year old Chevy truck restoration.
The 1934 through mid-1936 Chevy truck doors were equipped with three hinges. The difference here is that the 1934-35 years had doors supported by a wood frame. The outer sheet metal skin was tacked to the wood. As long as the wood held up from deterioration, they closed very well. (This door construction was the method used even on Chevrolet’s first trucks in 1918)
Problem: The wood in most trucks setting outside was effected by morning dew and many rains each year. As time went on, door sagging and thus worn hinges and latches, became common.
GM designers in 1934 and 1935 were aware of what would usually occur to the current doors on new trucks based on those of prior years. Therefore, the decision was made not to wait for the coming late 1936 high cab design to improve on the wood frame design. The Great Depression was underway and new truck and car sales were very slow. GM improvements like eliminating wood frames in door construction for longer life was hoped to add more sales by hesitant buyers of these large high ticket items.
Thus, an unusual change (near the end of the high cab era) was introduced at the beginning of the 1936 year. Though the actual cab construction remained the older wood frame with a metal skin tacked over. Doors in early 1936 changed with sides and interior supports made of stamped sheet metal.
Their three door hinges required a slight modification. The hinge half that attached to the front cab door post were unchanged (this vertical door support remained wood) however the hinge half that attached the new metal door frame used holes designed for fasteners that secured to metal.
In summary: If you are under a major restoration of an early 1936 Chevrolet truck, be sure you do not purchase late 1936 door sheet metal repair skins. They will not fit!
As of this writing, early 1936 door skins are not available, however bids are currently being requested from several skilled metal workers to create a limited number of these handmade skins!
What is so unique about the above text? The dimensions of the new metal door skins on the 1936 high cab with metal frames remained the same as the 1934-35 with wood frames.
High cab – early 1936 Low cab – late 1936
As some owners now replace their original electric generators with a modern alternator, here is an important warning that must be considered.
This is in regards to the in-dash original amp gauge used on most all vehicles. This gauge was made for a lower amperage flow provided by the early factory generator, usually a max of about 35 amps (sometimes 45 amp if factory air conditioning) on most 1950’s vehicles.
When a modern alternator is added, sometimes they have the ability to create a current as much as 75 amps. Sometimes this is not good! The original dash amp gauges were not made to carry this high charging level and they could be permanently ruined if one thing happens.
If your alternator equipped older vehicle has a totally drained battery (lights left on, small electrical short, etc.) there may be trouble.
The alternator charging the dead battery starts operating to its full capacity when the engine begins running. Remember during this charging period, if it’s a 60 to 75 amp alternator, it may ruin the original amp gauge with the “catch-up” to reach full battery charge. If the battery is almost at full charge, no damage will occur. The older amp gauge is not made to withstand this high current flow.
The older gauge can be identified by the two posts on the back side (positive and negative post). All current created from the alternator passes through the amp gauge. If this is a concern, running the current through an add on volt meter below the dash will be the option or use an alternator with not over 50 amp charging capacity. A 50 amp alternator will provide the service most require on older vehicles.
If you have a NAPCO 4 wheel drive ½ ton, the following might be of interest. Owners sometimes wonder if their NAPCO 4 x 4 was installed at a franchise NAPCO shop that were in most medium size towns or was it installed on a Chevrolet GMC factory assembly line when GM began offering them in 1957. (NOTE: GM first offered 4 wheel drive trucks in 1957 and used the pre-existing NAPCO system) Of course, the letters NAPCO were never printed in GM literature and the NAPCO fender emblems were not attached as they would be by a franchised dealer.
If you have a 1957-59 Chevrolet or GMC, you can always tell if it is a NAPCO system by looking at the front of the axle housing. The N-A-P-C-O letters will be in full view!
Another quick way to tell the source is the leaf springs. From a NAPCO installed kit the ½ ton front springs are not changed but have 6 leaves on the front. The GM assembly line used 7 leaves. On the rear NAPCO installed kit they used the original 7 leaves. GM used an 8 leaf spring.
Of the limited number of dealer accessories available for the 1941-46 Chevrolet pickups, one was made more for appearance rather than practicality. This was defined as a “grill guard”.
This chromed u-shaped guard was said to protect the grill from accidental damage. (The sheet metal grill was of a thin metal gauge that could be easily damaged by most outside contacts) It would be most important to protect it from parking lot bumps. Here chances increased to have another vehicle park too close and make contact with the grill.
Note the attractive simplicity of this grill guard. The u-shape bar is bent to allow a “hand crank” to have access to the engine. As per the photo all 1941-46 Chevy grills also had an opening for the hand crank access.
The 1931-1932 Chevrolet cars were equipped with chrome plated oval taillights. Their attractive design added to the overall appearance of the new passenger car. This was to help attract potential customers that were experiencing some of the worst years of the Great Depression.
We find that GM reused parts of these car lights again on the 1934-1939 Chevrolet Trucks. This was the housing or bucket and some internal connection parts to secure the light bulbs. This saved GM much rather than designing new tooling for a work truck.
As repeats they were not noticeable to most because the buckets were now painted black and only the painted outer ring and lens were different.
Just another way GM saved much tooling money by passing on earlier car parts to their trucks a few years later. After all: Trucks were for work. Their appearance was secondary.
1931-32 Car Taillight
1934-39 Truck Taillight
For many years we have heard rumors about the 1934 Chevrolet Master Car Grill. Some have said they came with alternate chrome and black vertical grill bars. Others say they did not. A large piece to this debate was seen at the Vintage Chevrolet Club of America 2016 Convention in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. Here, we saw two 1934 Chevy Masters with this grill paint design being judged.
One owner said without a doubt his is correct. His 40 years as an early Chevrolet car enthusiast made him very sure he restored his 1934 grill correctly. He had seen it in various 1934 brochures and it had to be correct.
The attached photos show the two chrome and black 1934 grills on Chevy Masters in the judging row at the Lake Tahoe Convention.
1934 Master Sedan – Red Body
1934 Master Roadster – Blue Body
Editor’s note: One of the 1934 owners describes the process to get the alternate vertical bar appearance in his restoration. A very skilled auto painter gave the total grill a coat of semi-flat black. Then very skillfully wiped every other vertical bar to expose the chrome. A solvent such as lacquer thinner is used. No mistakes allowed or the painting must be started again. What a nice appearance that was not expensive for GM and might have helped sales during the height of the Great Depression! Or did these restorers get their proof on this grill painting from drawings in sales brochures? Therefore, in reality did this alternate grill bar painting actually come on Chevy Masters cars on the assembly line?
As this article section is actually meant to be about GM trucks, the big question is: If the alternate painting actually existed, was it also on trucks?
In early 1934 only two sizes of Chevrolet trucks were marketed, the ½ and 1 ½ ton size. The larger 1 ½ ton had all black grills. The only debate may be on the ½ ton pickup. We stand by our opinion that GM never took the extra step to create alternative vertical grill bars on trucks. They were made for work and appearance details were secondary. The manufacturers would not add extra expense to a work truck while they were attempting to get the lowest price to encourage sales. The economic future of the US was the major concern to General Motors during the Great Depression. Keeping their dealer network in business was a must. The lowest price to make a sale was the goal.
With the headlight ring and reflectors now being reproduced for the 1937-1939 Chevrolet truck, we are occasionally asked, “Will these parts also fit that year of Chevy passenger car?”
Sorry they will not on US made trucks! The passenger cars have a slightly smaller lens and reflector. The car reflector has a diameter of 7 inches while the same year of truck is 7 5/8 inches.
To give the car headlight a more streamlined appearance the bucket (without the ring) is 11 ½ inches long. The trucks have a length of 8 inches.
Just a note: We discover that these three years of trucks in New Zealand and Australia were given car headlights! (In those years their trucks were imported from Canada). No doubt this extra length on these trucks requires extra care in raising the hood. Otherwise the back of the headlight bucket will receive continual scrapes on the paint due to the extra length.
1937-39 Passenger Car Headlight Bucket. Plus Chevy trucks in New Zealand and Australia
1937-39 Truck Headlight, US Production
The early Chevrolet side mount bracket on the 1936 & older ½ ton and passenger car are almost identical. However, there is a part that is so different that this article needed to be posted.
The securing fastener that holds the tire clamp in place on top is totally different on the two vehicles. The passenger car uses a chrome plated die-cast T-handle that blends nicely with the chrome plated steel tire clamp. It’s an attractive pair that adds to the cars appearance. This T-handle is made to be turned by hand to begin the removal of the tire and wheel from the wheel well in the front fender.
On the other hand, the ½ ton (designed as a work vehicle) does it different. The tire clamp is painted black, not chromed, but most unique is the securing fastener. A long hexagon nut with internal threads holds all together on the ½ ton. It is designed to be turned with the vehicle’s lug nut wrench in the tool kit. It is so rare to see the correct hexagon nut on an early truck!
During the 2016 Vintage Chevrolet Club of America in Lake Tahoe, Nevada no early pickups had the correct fastener. They either had a car t-handle or hardware store nut.
Good news: Bids are currently being sent out by Jim Carter Truck Parts to have these special nuts made in quantities.
It seems the Chevrolet Motor Division, to save money, would have used the same side mount hardware in both the ½ ton and passenger car during the 1934-36 years. They did not! The attached photos show quite a difference in the cowl gasket and the horizontal support rod that is between the cowl and the long vertical support rod. Even during the Great Depression, they chose to make several changes in this area between the passenger cars and ½ tons.
Passenger Car T-handle and cowl attaching grommet
1/2 Ton Pickup Hexagon Nut and cowl attaching grommet
Hardware store nut if original is lost. (Yes, you can still use the lug wrench)
Almost all of the headlights during at least the mid to late 1930’s had double filament bulbs. They were 32cp (candle power) on either the low or high beam setting. This made replacing the burned out bulb a “no brainer”. You just pushed the bulb in the receiving socket and gave it a slight turn. This locked the bulb in place.
Even if you were 180 degrees different each time the bulb was added, it made no difference. Both high and low beam filament in bulb was 32cp.
NOW ENTERS A NEW VARIABLE. An aftermarket company later introduces a new bulb with a brighter high beam! It is rated 32cp low and 50cp high. Better roads allowing faster driving needed a brighter high beam.
Because the original bulb receiving sockets remain the same, this new 32cp / 50cp bulb must be placed in the socket just right! In other words, the high beam 50cp contact of this modern light bulb must contact the high beam wire in the harness. The bulb being added can only fit one of two ways. If incorrect you will have the 50cp as the low beam. Not good!
To prevent this low-high beam problem from occurring on the assembly line or at least at the dealership, a different bulb base was introduced. In 1937 on new vehicles and continued until the sealed beam began in 1940. The different holes in the flat ring around the bulb base prevented a mistake. The bulb could only be attached in one way. Most all vehicles by then were 32cp/50cp.
1934-36 Duel Filament Bulb
1937-39 Duel Filament Bulb
The Earliest Sealed Beam Bulbs
Two major changes have occurred in General Motors sealed beam bulbs. The early version are actually not sealed beams as we buy them today. They were first installed on vehicle assembly lines in 1940. The perfectionist restoring his truck to exact original specifications must have the correct headlights for his year. In very competitive judging, it’s these details that can make a difference. No doubt, replacement bulbs from a small GM dealership could sometimes be placed on newer vehicles a few years after the units were discontinued, however this article is based on bulbs you would have bought new from the factory during that particular year.
From 1940 through about 1955 seal beams had a double filament small bulb built inside. The large glass reflector in the back was sealed from the elements. It stayed bright even after the inside bulb burned out. It was not like earlier open reflectors that could tarnish with age due to the silver plating. The assembly comes with a metal black back attached for support. If the outer glass gets a rock hole, the light continues to work well. The filament is still encased in the smaller argon gas filled glass bulb through in the photo it is hidden behind the large glass cover.
1940 through about 1955 (above)
More Modern Seal Beam Bulb
The first truly sealed beam bulbs, as are in auto part stores today, were introduced about 1955. Between the reflector and the outer glass covering is the open unprotected filament (no small internal bulb). The total interior is filled with argon gas to protect the filament from air which causes instant burn out when a rock places a small hole in the glass.
It is suspected rural car and truck owners quickly learned to stay their distance from the vehicle ahead with these new design seal beam. A flying rock causing a small hole in the glass can total the new sealed beam instantly.
1955 and newer (above)
Beginning in 1955 both the 6 and 12 volt sealed beams have the three glass aiming bumps molded in the edges of the lens. The bumps were needed by new light aiming equipment provided to most all dealerships. These early second series GM bulbs with aiming bumps have the letters T-3 molded in the center of the glass lens. Most sold by the GM dealerships will also have the word Guide at the top of the lens.
Note: These modern bumps will interfere with properly attaching the chrome factory bezel on a 1940 Chevy/GMC headlight bucket as well if a 1937-1939 bulb light that has been converted to sealed beams. The bezels were not designed for the bulb still 15 years in the future. The 1940 GM vehicle owners will have a long hunt to find sealed beam bulbs without the three bumps.
It is interesting to note that the small two filament bulbs before 1940 had only a pair of contacts on their base. The bulbs were grounded by the metal reflector and the through the light housing.
A three wire plug was pressed to the seal beam in 1940 and newer. In this way the lighting had a ground wire which would carry the current to a solid metal part of the chassis. This gave less chance of a dimming light from rust or related corrosion at connection points.
You think you have seen most of the characteristics of the 216 inline six cylinder of the early Chevrolet years then up pops something that you have never seen. What was the reason for an identical engine number stamped on the same block, on the same side, about 9 “apart?
While visiting Jerry’s Early Chevy Repair Shop in Independence, Missouri (816-833-4414) we noticed this double stamping. The 216 six cylinder had just been returned from a degreasing and reboring of the cylinders. Thus, this 1946 block was perfectly clean so the numbers were all exposed.
NOTE: The normal engine number, as we have seen, was on early Chevrolet six cylinder blocks beside the hole for the distributor. However, this engine also has the same number under the side plate gasket! It is not seen until the gasket is removed. See photo.
Why would a Chevrolet engine factory take the extra effort to stamp this number behind the side cover gasket? So unusual. Any suggestions are appreciated.
Yes, we thought a law enforcement person could see if the original numbers by the distributor had been ground off and re-stamped. However, certainly much extra effort taking a full side plate off a 216 engine block to see a factory number was not for a roadside check!
The usual place for a 216 and 235 stamped engine number
A surprise find. The same number on this block was behind the side plate gasket.
In mid-1955 General Motors introduced their long awaited new trucks, often referred to as the Second Series. The first half of the year 1955 (the first series)) GM continued to market the 1954 body style. They remained with the 6 volt system.
Though Chevrolet trucks made a complete change-over from a 6 to 12 volt electrical system, GMC did it different. Only the newly introduced V-8 (actually borrowed from Pontiac) was given the 12 volt system. It was the expected thing for GMC to do as the adopted Pontiac V-8 was equipped with a 12 volt flywheel, starter and generator.
GMC’s almost bullet proof 270 six cylinder was another story. They continued through the end of 1955 with their proven 6 volt positive ground electrical system that they had provided for over 40 years! After all, the main two electrical accessories were a radio and heater, so a 6 volt system continued to be adequate.
Just another area that divided the two marquis, GMC and Chevrolet, into different trucks even though they shared their cabs, beds, transmissions, wheels, suspensions, and most differentials.
Prior to the pre WWII era, the quality of rubber was not advanced as would be later years. Real quality rubber was yet to be introduced. One big example is the hood lace on the GM trucks up to about 1941.
The hood on 1941 (and some larger trucks built during the war years) continued to be in protected by woven cloth to prevent metal to metal hood contact with the cab. This protective material was woven water treated cloth lacing rather than rubber in following years. The unique feature used by GM to secure the cloth hood lace, was a thin hidden wire in the hood lace full length so it could be tightened on each end.
To secure this hood lace to the truck, special slots were stamped by GM in the metal panels to allow it to “thread” in place and do its job for the many years ahead. See Photos.
Surprise! This cloth and wire combination hood lace was recently made available after 70 years. It is equal or better than the pre-war original cloth hood lace.
Longer Hood Lace attached to cowl 1939-41
More distance view. Left side view shows the front filler panel with slotted holes
to secure the shorter front cloth hood lace.
Close up of 1946 on right should have 2 rubber bumpers toward the front of hood.
Photo even shows one original still intact on the bottom of the right panel.
Older panel on left side has slots for fabric hood lace and two securing screws.
About 1945 & older has two slots (top and bottom) for holding the 5 ½” length
of cloth hood lace to cushion the front of the hood. Thus, no metal to metal
hood contact. The screw heads, deep in the fabric hold the hood lace ends to the back side.
The ends of the early hood lace show an extended middle wire which is tightened with a special hook.
Worn front hoodlace where it wraps to reach the long stamped hole.
The long stamped hole after worn hoodlace is removed.
A big mistake! We can think of no better example of mistakes in producing older Chevy / GMC truck parts than this offering of a reproduction shift knuckle that is described “for the 1947-53 GM ½ and ¾ ton”.
Not only were they produced for the wrong year, but they continue to be sold in this way after over 15 years being manufactured! Strange but true. Could this be all about money?
A main wholesale supplier (furnishes to most local dealers) does not want to throw their mistake into the dumpster so they just keep selling them to the dealers.
This shift knuckle (GM refers to it as a “support”) appears to have been given to an overseas factory by someone to make it in quantities. Unfortunately, the US supplier did not do his homework to realize his 1947-55 description was very incorrect. This shift knuckle was 1954-59 only! It is now being marketed as 1947-55. That is even double wrong. (There was no column shift 3 speed in any of 1947. They were still floor shift top loaders!) The unit they wanted it to be only reaches 1954. Therefore, the new shift knuckle, out about 15 years, it actually 1954-59 as per the 1955 Chevrolet Master Parts Catalog. No wonder we at Jim Carter Truck parts kept getting them returned!
The good thing for the serious parts supplier: They are correct for 1954-59.
What can be done to correct this unprofessional mistake? We at Jim Carter Truck Parts has sent 1948-53 samples to several factories for quotes. Stay tuned!
NOTE: the difference in these photos. Being “similar” in size and appearance does not make one fit all. Here are the differences:
|Length||1.63″ – (1 5/8″)||1.53″ – (1 19/32″)|
|Widest distance of far edge of knuckle where it attaches to the mast jacket||1.77″||1.70″|
|Inside thread length||5/8″||1 1/16″|
The New Knuckle in Question.
Photo of the earlier years to give the placement.
1948-1953 on left side and 1954-1959 on right side.
After 35 years in business, a walk-in customer told us why so many car and truck horns have miscellaneous dents. They are on the surface sheet metal in no particular place.
To our customer, it was easy to understand. He told us: “If the horn fails to operate the vehicle owner hit it with a wrench or hammer to start it working again”.
We went a step further. If the first few hits does not get the horn to make noise, then you hit it harder!
With the introduction of Halogen headlights, night driving is a little safer due to more illumination. However, this improvement comes with a negative for those still using a generator for their electrical charging system.
To get the extra lighting from Halogen bulbs, the available amperage should be about 60. This will come from an alternator systems which has a charging ability of at least 75. If you are still using your original 6 or 12 volt generator, as was on most pre 1963 vehicles, the available amperage is approximately 45 at normal driving speed.
Therefore, with a generator charging system, there is not the amperage created to get the proper Halogen lighting. When at engine idle speed the lights dim much like the generator lighting systems. When at faster RPM, the advantage of Halogens is not reached.
Suggestion: Keep your original headlights when you have a 6 or 12 volt generator.
When sending in your early GM truck pressure plate for rebuilding it is important to check the center of the spring diaphragm. It is amazing how many have been damaged beyond repair.
WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?
The sealed throw-out bearing is pressed against the center of the spring diaphragm each time the driver presses down on the clutch pedal. All operates just right as per the GM design until the throw-out bearing seizes internally. Now the face of the bearing cannot spin internally. The bearing face starts turning when it is pressed against the diaphragm. NOT GOOD! This metal to metal rubbing wears down the pressure plate. It can just go so long before even breaking a few of the 18 tips on the diaphragm. It the diaphragm tips wear unevenly, the total unit is a loss.
Check your diaphragm for damage in this area when it is removed from the vehicle. The attached photos show a worn diaphragm where the shiny metal is exposed. The shine is usually not a problem if created by a good throw-out bearing. This diaphragm was never made to be rubbed by a seized bearing. We suggest you always replace the throw-out bearing during clutch replacing. The older bearing may be ready to seize and begin ruining your pressure plate!!
IMPORTANT: The opening on the ends of a used diaphragm pressure plate will always have a shine. This is caused when the stopped throw out bearing makes contact with the fast rotating pressure plate diaphragm. For a split second the bearing is rubbing the diaphragm as “total contact” is made. If the bearing never seizes, there will be little more than a shine on the opening at the hole with diaphragm. It is the cut curve in the diaphragm tip that warns of a possible totaled assembly.
Close up of the spring diaphragm
“Shine” where bearing has rubbed diaphragm
FYI: The diaphragm out of the assembly
Referred to by General Motors as the “Advance Design” trucks, these mid 1947 through early 1955 Chevrolet GMC trucks have become GM’s most long lasting popular pickups and big trucks this company ever built.
They continue to appear at early car and truck shows, in television advertisements, and just driving down the road. The 1947 through 1955 Chevrolet GMC Advance Design trucks are less difficult to repair than most of their competition, easily receive a later model engine, parts are readily available, and a starter truck is affordable for most medium budgets.
To many at least the 1947 through 1953 Chevy GMC Advance Design trucks look very similar, however there are very subtle differences that occur each year. Sometimes these are even changes during mid-years. Our Jim Carter Truck Parts website at www.oldchevytrucks.com has so many technical articles that relate to these annual changes. For the 1947-55 perfectionist, these are a “must” read.
Probably the most unique Chevrolet GMC Advance Design years are 1954 through mid-1955. To slightly update the Advance Design trucks, GM made a change in the design of the grill and its supports, cab dash, and adding the famous 235 full oil pressure six cylinder engine or Chevrolet. The step bed box was given a total make over that continued through 1987. These years are detailed on our website: www.oldchevytrucks.com then check tech articles. The detailed articles are from 35 years of hands-on contact with customers, having swap meet booths almost monthly somewhere in the US (sometimes Canada) and personally restoring several early GM trucks.
We at Jim Carter Truck Parts are one of the leaders in supplying parts for the 1947 through 1955 Chevrolet Advance Design Truck. With 35 years’ experience and the growth of home computers, we continue to add tech articles to record our growing Advance Design truck knowledge. Yes, we like sharing our discoveries to all that have an interest in early GM truck history.
Most are badly rusted and are not usable! A small metal plate was once used to secure the red taillight lens and clear back up light lens against the long gasket that fits inside the taillight housing. A machine screw pulls this plate against the two plastic lenses behind the reflector to stop inside water leaks.
When the metal plate deteriorates, water seeps inside the lens (particularly the lower clear back-up light lens) keeping the gasket always wet and in colder climate freezing any water accumulation.
We recently received an excellent original used plate from Scott Phaneuf of Hatfield, MA and we are having them reproduced just like GM’s.
NOTE: Check your Chevrolet Cameo or GMC Suburban carrier taillights. This metal plate is important to prevent lens and gasket deterioration!
We will soon offer these plates and machine screw. This screw threads into the large housing behind the red reflector. Available in late May 2016. Call and order now with no money down. When they arrive you will be invoiced! Cost per pair $6.90 + postage, Part # MS527
From the front cover of a dealer sales brochure that was given to potential buyers by the dealers during the tough years of the “Great Depression”.
Notice they are appealing to the farm buyer where most of our population lived. This little ½ ton can even carry a cow!
A hidden lens retaining bracket was originally on all 1941 Chevrolet / GMC trucks. It holds the glass frosted lens firmly against the front of the park light housing.
After it’s over 70 plus years, the lens gasket has deteriorated, water has entered the housing, and the stamped steel bracket is rusted beyond use. Thus, so many 1941 truck owners are not aware that they existed.
General Motors made this sheet metal retaining bracket with no concern of it being rusted beyond use in 70 years!
The attached photos show a rusty but usable bracket in place still holding the lens in position. In this case, there are just a few pieces of the lens gasket still in position. The hole in the bracket allows for the threaded die-cast extensions to hold a screw that secures the top of the park light assembly.
Trivia: To save tooling money on the new 1941 truck, GM used the total park light assembly from the year before on the 1940 Pontiac car! Just another example of the GM truck division often given “pass-me-downs” from their cars of prior years. After all, trucks were for work and they did not need to be totally new each year to haul merchandise.
Surprise: Jim Carter Truck Parts is having this bracket reproduced. It will not be a money maker, however it seems it should be available for the 1941 owners.
The Support Clip
The Support Clip in Place
What a useful dealer installed GM accessory! This takes advantage of the lost space above the gas tank, behind the seat back cushion.
The attached page came in the box with the parts. It greatly helps in installation for the dealer’s mechanic or a customer buying it across the counter.
It was quite practical to keep stored items off the floor and the seat cushion.
What a rare accessory! In our 35 years of experience, we have never seen a pair of ½ ton rear spring overloads like these. Normally, we see overload springs as a GM dealer accessory which is a short version of the main multi leaf rear original springs.
These particular half circle overloads would have been less expensive aftermarkets. These still have some of their red paint remaining. (The overloads sold by GM dealers would have been painted black).
Why were they used on this truck? Our opinion have come from the overworked poor condition of this ½ ton. We suspect the breaks in the main rear springs (probably from many overweight loads) had caused the truck to be able to carry less and less weight as the spring brakes continued.
Thus, the least expensive way to make repairs without main spring’s replacement was to install these aftermarket overloads. This took less money than GM originals and could be installed in a few hours.
This truck was so broken down, the bed probably was overloaded with about 4000 pounds instead of the ½ ton rated 1,000 pounds.
Now the owner could continue to use it to at least its ½ ton weight limit. We call this pure “Field Engineering”!
The pure sealed beam headlight bulb, as most know them, were not introduced until about 1954. Prior to this, a similar design was used on new cars and trucks beginning in 1940. It looked like a modern sealed beam but it was not. Unless you look close, these appear to be the later modern sealed beam. Actually there is a duel filament small bulb inside the assembly. Both nicely interchanged in most vehicles from 1941 and newer. Only 1940 first year is an exception in this design, at least on GM trucks.
The 1940’s headlight eliminated the more complicated light design from 1939 and older. These older units had a silver plated reflector that tarnished, a head light lens, a socket that secured the light bulb, and a non -metal seal to prevent air from entering the silver plated interior. In today’s world we often see this in domestic hand held flashlights that have a removable light bulb.
Almost all of the light bulbs during at least the early 1930’s had double filament headlight bulbs. They were 32cp (candle power) on either the low or high beam setting. This made replacing the burned out bulb a “no brainer”. You just pushed the bulb in the receiving socket and gave it a slight turn. This locked the bulb in place.
Even if you were 180 degrees different each time the bulb was added, it made no difference. Both high and low beam filament in bulb were 32cp.
NOW ENTERS A NEW VARIABLE. An aftermarket company introduces a new bulb with a brighter high beam! It is rated 32cp low and 50cp high. Better roads allowing faster driving needed a brighter high beam.
Because the original bulb receiving sockets remain the same, this new 32cp / 50cp bulb must be placed in the socket just right! The 50cp filament in the bulb MUST be aligned with wires from the main wiring harness. In other words, the high beam 50cp end of a modern light bulb must contact the high beam wire in the harness. (The bulb can only fit one of two ways) If incorrect you will have the 50cp as the low beam. Not good!
1934-36 Duel Filament Bulb
1937-39 Duel Filament Bulb
6 Volt “Almost” Sealed Beam Bulb, 1940-1955
The famous 1947-55 Advance Design Trucks were so popular in the US that GM just could not let them go. Overseas factories used this basic US tooling for their version of the Advance Design trucks. This continued for many years after they had been discontinued on US assembly lines. Look at some of these trucks in other countries using GM’s older tooling. Doesn’t this cab tooling stand out as was used in the US during 1947-55? How interesting that these new trucks were still found new over the planet for at least another 10 years!
The mechanicals may be different but the cab is so familiar!
1956 Opel – German 1962 Bedford – India
1961 Assembled in Brazil 1957 Bedford – England
1956 Bedford – Australia 1959 Bedford – Scotland
1956 Bedford for Shows! 1961 Bedford Restored in England
1962 Bedford “House Truck” 1960 Bedford Bed. A little different.
Nice 1959 1 1/2 ton – New Zealand