Max and Margaret own a Chevrolet / GMC truck restoration business in Columbia, TN. It is know by Possum Holler Garage. Their Latest project is a ground-up restoration on a 1953 Chevrolet Deluxe 1/2 Ton Panel Truck.
This will be one of their premier projects for 2016 and will be for a local restaurant, Larry’s Country Diner. The custom colors have been picked by the panel truck owner to bring the most attention to the logo on the sides to advertise their restaurant.
Attached is the two before photos before it was disassembled to the bare frame.
Stay Tuned! Many great photos will follow of the gradual rebuilding through the mid-summer of 2016.
You can contact Possum Hollar Garage at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Just imagine a truck designed strictly for work duties that has survived almost 70 years! In 1936, our country was still feeling the effects of the “Great Depression”. When you spent your money for a 1 1/2 ton truck, it had to pay it’s way. Therefore, few big trucks like this 1936 have survived. They were worked from the first day of delivery!
Lee Hobold of Carson City, Nevada, found this special Chevrolet truck a few years ago about 60 miles from his home. It had been setting outside almost 20 years. Not only was it basically complete but the truck had an unusual look. It’s factory bed was 9 foot long and there were small wood covered “tubs” attached to the inner bed sides.
The original tailgate was hinged with three unusual metal straps. It was a pickup yet it had 20″ wheels. Certainly this was not an ordinary truck. Lee became so intrigued with this vehicle that he soon had it bought and in his garage. Later research found this truck in a 1936 Chevrolet Sales Brochure. It was referred to as an “Open Express”.
He has been able to trace it’s history to just after World War II. It was used by the L. Pristone and Sons Plastering Co. of Reno, Nevada. This type truck would have been just right for a plastering contractor. Several thousand pounds of bagged plaster plus necessary tools and equipment could be taken to a job site at one time.
This body style was created by modifying a 1 1/2 ton chassis using two rear 20″ wheels instead of the usual four. Dual rear wheels will not fit below the narrow pickup fenders of the Open Express. Note the long rear axles due to no outer dual wheels.
Because the inner tires are too close to the bedsides, inner tubs were necessary. Maybe it was to save tooling costs that GM used oak wood to fill the gap in the arch of the bedside tubs. See Photo.
Owner Lee Hobold and his 1936 Chevrolet Open Express have been a match made in heaven. Lee is a perfectionist in restoration and he realizes just how rare the Open Express has become. Thus, he decided to rebuild this truck with the quality equal or better than when it was sold new at the dealership. No doubt it will be the only restored Open Express in existence! The main difference from it’s 1936 beginning is a later model 235 engine. This extra horsepower will help overcome the low geared differential of a 1 1/2 ton.
The first attached photos are of the truck when it was found near Yerinton, Nevada. The remaining pictures show various steps in the current restoration. Lee has now taken it down to the frame and it is going together like a big model kit. The difference is each part must be rebuilt. Locating new old stock parts for the 70 year old 1 1/2 to truck is almost impossible.
Look at the workmanship. Even the interior sheet metal has been baked in a drying oven after painting to give the surface the correct brown wrinkle texture. The Apple Green exterior color is authentic for 1936 Chevrolet trucks. The truck’s dash gauges probably look better than in 1936.
The original covered securing wire has been correctly placed down the center of the seat just like Chevrolet did in 1936.
Note the new leather door hold open straps. This was the last year GM trucks used this method of containing the open doors.
What a rare panel truck! This little 1934 Chevrolet is almost a “one of a kind”. With it being under construction, we just had to share these pictures.
You can see it was originally assembled from metal sections. A wood framework secured the metal panels to make a solid usable vehicle. As long as the wood remained strong, it served it’s purpose. Unfortunately, the enemy was leaking canvas top plus rust and wood rot on the lower level. The cost of replacing the canvas top was probably close to the panel truck’s value in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Thus, this panel truck is one of the last of thousands sold that year.
(left-right) Leaning against the left side | The four doors | Hood not yet removed
(left-right) New wood door parts and top support | Wood makes left door complete | The rear floor is started
Have you ever crawled under a pickup for sale looking for damage? You then turned it down because some rust was coming through the floor. Well, check this! David Cross of Stillwater, Minnesota found this 1957 Chevrolet 1/2 ton and ignored the signs of major rust. What is now a show quality truck would normally have been crushed by a recycler.
This 1957’s life began with the highway department of the state of Iowa. When it was retired many years later it was sold to a local farmer who used it only on his property and never titled it. Thus, David can honestly say he is the second owner of record.
When the farmer used up what life was left in the pickup, it wound up in a ravine with occasional flooding and an infestation of mice, snakes and other varmints.
A used car dealer pulled it out of the mud in 2000. His later ad said “The truck is all there and runs”. David, a new person to the truck hobby, drove it home five miles with no brakes, a leaking gas tank, and water running from the radiator. It’s little 235 engine was struggling. We wonder why!
It is now restoration time. David refused to yield to its many problems. Admitting to a mistake was out of the question. David and this body and paint person took the truck apart. They found it much worse than they ever imagined. The small rust holes grew gigantic when even taped with a little hammer.
David’s body and paint person is Kevin O’Brian from O’Brian’s Paint and Body Works in Afton, Minnesota. He did all the metal work and paint. David provided most of the mechanicals and assembly. Kevin is one of the best body persons in the state but he admitted this project stretched him into new territory. David and Kevin saved the frame, running gear, cab, and hood. The rest of the 1957 just was not repairable!
Saving the body was major since the front body mounts were gone. Kevin built a jig to align the cab with the frame. This was necessary while the floor and cab mounts were constructed. The strip across the windshield top was rusted out. New metal had to be shaped and welded in, a major task. To fit the new windshield, the cab had to be just right. No errors allowed. The metal body steps would not hold a person without bending. This total area was taken out from the remainder of the cab.
The following pictures will show the finished product plus what David and Kevin had to work with. The restoration of this derelict 1957 pickup is clear evidence that given time, money, talent, and loving care anything is possible.
This mid-Missouri 1937 Chevrolet 1/2 ton is owned by Tim Koch of Jefferson City. He chose this restoration shop to do the total project because of their reputation for quality as one of the best! The name Herrons Customs Paint is mentioned at so many local shows, it was worth Tim Koch talking to the owner and viewing his shop. The vehicles under rebuilding convinced Tim this was the company to do the restoration of his 1937 Chevy truck.
The following pictures show an excellent step by step procedure from the frame up! You can contact the shop at www.herroncustompaint.com or the truck owner at 573-636-5678, cell 573-619-3104.
Here is a great example of a ground up restoration of a 1951 Chevrolet 3/4 ton. The project is being done by Line Creek Restorations in Northmoor, Missouri near Kansas City, 1-816-946-6000. When the project is finished, it will be a new truck!
The shop is doing this project at the request of the three sons of the owner. (It was actually bought new, by the grandfather, for the farm in 1951.) The completed project will be a gift from the three sons to their father who learned to drive on this ¾ ton. They hope to have it complete for their home town 4th of July parade in Lenzberg, IL. Few vehicles have stayed in the family for three generations.
This 1951 had normal abuse for a truck on the farm 50 years ago. Few repairs were done if it still was able to haul a load. On one occasion during a very rainy season, Mr. Mense was driving the truck to town. His wife was the passenger. The truck got off the concrete highway and the soft soil on the shoulder gave way. The little 1951 with it’s cargo laid over on it’s side. No passenger injuries! When it was pulled back on the road, it still ran excellent but always carried a damaged door and running board plus two flattened right fenders.
The enclosed photos show areas during disassembly. There is typical dirt, grease and rust build up during it’s over 55 years in Southern Illinois. All parts will be totally cleaned and checked for wear. It will be reassembled like an over sized model kit after the parts are restored or replaced.
Future additions to this article will show the ¾ ton as it begins being placed back together.
Photos by Dan Hall of Line Creek Restorations
Progress Addendum One
Progress on the total restoration of this 1951 Chevy continues as scheduled. The bare frame was recently returned from a local company that did the sand blasting and then given a professional black powder coating. This is the ‘back bone’ of the truck, so now assembly can begin. Also sand blasted and sprayed with black enamel are the leaf springs, rear axle housing, front suspension and radiator support. Each item looks equal or better than new. The correct 216 six cylinder has just returned from a rebuilder and now Line Creek Restorations is giving it some assembly and the proper gray engine enamel. The attached photos show several of these items as they are setting in the shop after restoration and await assembly.
Progress Addendum Two
Items restored at other locations are mostly back in the Line Creek Restoration Shop. Assembly now continues at a faster pace. The project is beginning to look like a truck!
This is my latest project a 1937 GMC 1/2 ton pickup. Not exactly original but a personal preference. The previous owner had owned the truck for over 30 years and finally parted with it. It had been restored many years ago but was in need of a lot of repair to shoddy bodywork and I have added many upgrades. So far the frame and drive line are in place and currently doing the body work. I plan on doing all the work myself. Have not selected a color as of yet. Leaning to either black or a metallic red . The truck has a 350 chevy with a B & M blower with 2-4 barrels (and it all fits under the hood) , 350 turbo trannie, 12 bolt rear, mustang II front suspension and a 4 link in the rear. Should be an head turner when finished.
I am glad that you have shown an interest in my pickup. It was purchased from a local theater in 1964 they used it to carry a billboard in the back. After purchase it was used to carry feed and seed on the farm. After purchase of a newer pickup my Dad’s employee used it to carry fuel and supplies to a bull dozer until the engine was beginning to fail. At that time it was parked on blocks with wheels removed in about 1970. Had thought about working on it on and off occasionally, but never did. I retired from the Texas Department of Transportation in 2007 after 26 years. Did some fence building, built a hay barn and added a room on my shop which was useful when I started on the project.
On the first of November last year put two of the tires that had been originally on it when parked and brought it to the shop. Spent about a week taking it apart and checking the condition of the parts. Saw that all the brakes and drums would need replacing. Had read it was best to get the frame and body worked first so removed everything from the frame and started sand blasting. After sand blasting everything was treated with Ospho and primed and stored inside. The battery box was replaced and the front springs which were broken. After this was together and painted checked the engine out. It had frozen where it couldn’t be repaired so decided to go with a 235. Didn’t find one, but did find a useable 261 from an old truck. Carried the head to the machine shop to be worked. Ordered parts and did the other motor work myself. The head was the only thing that I didn’t do myself. Had worked on the farm and Highway Department so experience on mechanical work. Now started on the body, had to replace windows, door handles, fuel tank and floor board. Only rusted out places were where varmints had piled dirt between front fender and cab. This was my first major body work and painting so that was a learning experience. Fenders were rather rough so had to do quite a bit of work on them. Looked at bed kits, but was in Home Depot one day and saw some wood I liked so bought. Cut to fit and grooved for bed strips. Had joined a local car club the first of this year and they were having a car show the last of September. Was close, but was able take it to it. Wanted to use original Chevy colors so checked paint chips and found the Suburban colors I liked. Left the grille painted because it was originally and chrome was so expensive. The colors are top Airedale brown and bottom Cireassian brown and interior the hammered tan. Again want to thank you for your interest for it was a very interesting project. All parts were purchased from Jim Carter except a few on e-bay.
401 CR 115
Comanche, TX 76442
This is a very informative section for those that enjoy hands-on re-building and find interest in the work that goes into a full ground-up restoration. Pictures will usually show the vehicle prior to disassembly and then various views of the rebuilding procedure. Sometimes, if the truck is being currently rebuilt, we will add pictures to show the progress.
We hope this will give those encouragement that are in our will be involved in the restoration process. Maybe it will just provide fun memories of when you were in a major rebuilding.
All we need is a few paragraphs about your experience, along with color photos of your truck. Try to keep it at 500 words or less. We can check spelling and grammar. The information may be sent by regular mail or you can use e-mail. If you wish to have your photo returned, please include a postage paid, self-addressed envelope. If we are to receive your photo by e-mail, send it as a jpeg (.jpg) file.
Please send your photo and information to our web master: