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Posts Tagged ‘1941’

1941 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton

Friday, August 4th, 2017

When light trucks appeared on the scene about 100 years ago, they were created for only one reason: WORK. This remained their primary use through at least the 1960’s.

Move up another 55 years and today we find the majority of light trucks purchased for another reason: FUN, PLEASURE, and TRANSPORTING PEOPLE. Even the traditional 8 foot ½ ton bed has been mostly replaced with a 5 passenger cab in front of a 6 foot bed. Hauling is less important than carrying friends and family.

Now enter a related newer segment of this trend. It is a spin-off of our current love for trucks and probably why you are reading this article. Of course, it is the enjoyment of owning and rebuilding an old hauler that once was parked and forgotten on a Friday evening when work duties were finished. Then the family sedan or even a sporty coupe or convertible became the weekend transportation.

In regards to his enjoyment of older trucks, few early pickup enthusiasts can be a better example of our country’s new love affair than Jim Shaw of Marshfield, Wisconsin. When you first see Jim’s 1941 ½ ton you think “It all flows together just right but is still very different. Pickup was a limited production or experimental model that General Motors had considered for production!” Here is Jim’s story:

He purchased this ½ ton about 14 years ago in central Wisconsin. It had spent most of its life totally on a local farm. In fact for its last 20 years it had not been even licensed. The title was lost, probably because the farmer never needed it beyond his property use.

Jim immediately decided to keep its attractive 1941 appearance but add some mechanical modifications that would give it a better cruising speed on modern highways, stop quickly and safer, plus be more comfortable to drive. Though the updates were kept hidden, the most eye-catching feature is the all metal bed.

He was just the right person to create this special pickup. Researching, attending auto shows and swap meets allowed him to be so successful putting this project together.

When it came to replacing the very poor condition pickup bed it was the cost that made this unique ½ ton bed come into being. Jim added the new bed price plus shipping and all came to a stop. He is a metal worker by trade. Some left over metal was free at his company after some jobs were completed. His imagination began to put together plans for a special metal bed. It would look much like a private company might have offered it in the 1940’s.

We think he got it just right. It is all hand built by Jim Shaw personally! It was sure an attention getter in the very recent Iola, WI swap meet in July 2017.

The following are some of the modern updates that make this ½ ton his daily driver.


Jim found the ultimate in horsepower from a drop-in 261 six cylinder to replace the original 216 low oil pressure engine. The 261 was used in 2 ton trucks and school buses during the late 1950’s. What a difference!


A 5 speed overdrive transmission makes all the difference in highway speed. The big surprise here is Jim installed this unit from a 1985 Ford pickup! He had this tranny and he felt sure he could make it fit. What a project! As you might suspect it became a complicated project to get a later Ford transmission to fit against a 45 year old Chevrolet bellhousing. The amount of re-drilling, building special shims and spacers is difficult for one’s imagination. Our hats go off to Jim Shay, a professional metal worker with patience and talents far above most restorers.

It gets even more complicated. The original bellhousing was used because in these early years the horizontal shaft that secures the clutch and brake pedals also support the under floor master cylinder. This shaft extends from the left frame rail to the left side of the bellhousing. In this way Jim could place a new duel chamber master cylinder (for safety) out of sight and position it just like GM did it.

We wonder if this configuration exists anywhere but on Jim Shay’s special ½ ton. This is so unusual, we would be interested to hear from anyone that has completed this project.


A higher speed ring and pinion replaces the original. Lower engine RPM at the same speed is the reward. An open drive shaft now connects to the later differential and the overdrive transmission. All are out of sight unless you get down under.


Front late model disc brakes, not seen unless you look at the underside. Extra money was spent during this modification to keep all the original 6 bolt wheels.


A Show Stopper ½ ton that cruises at 70 mph and Jim Shay, made it all fit together!

He drives it daily to his work and on weekends. He keeps it in storage during the Wisconsin winters but still has driven it 2,700 miles in the last 5 months.


Rear View






A Little Extra


From the Driver’s Seat


Passenger View


261 Engine with Full Flow Oil Filter

1941 Chevrolet COE

Friday, October 31st, 2014

It was show time at the 2014 American Truck Historical Society national convention. This year it was held in Springfield, Missouri. The Ozark 4-State Chapter was the host. Over 713 large and small trucks from across the US and Canada were registered and on display! So many more were in the parking lot outside of the gates.

Of all these examples of trucking history, several stood out just a bit higher in popularity with not only the crowd but by the officers of the ATHS as well as the local chapter.

Our feature truck of the month is one of those vehicles that was special even before the show began.

This “one of a kind” show stopping small big truck is a 1941 Chevrolet Cab Over Engine (COE) with optional dump bed. The shortest COE offered that year, its wheel base is only 109”. It can fit comfortable in a parking spot at a shopping mall! After all, its massive size extends vertically not in width or length.

The proud owners are Earl and Karen Burk of Ozark, Missouri. It has been their family’s prize position for many years. When they bought it 21 years ago their three young children quickly bonded with it. Karen made decorations for the truck to fit the holiday’s shows and parades such as Christmas, St. Patrick’s Day, and Independence Day.

While the children were young, they would ride on the dump bed extension over the cab during parades with decorations of gifts and Santa and Mrs. Clause likenesses in Christmas local parades.

During these parades when onlookers are admiring this special COE they get a double surprise! It was Karen’s idea to decorate their son Trevor’s toy dump truck also with seasonal trim. It is now towed by the big guy! What a pair and a crowd pleaser of the parade! From 1 to 95 the looks of delight and hilarity come across their faces.

The COE appeared on the official poster announcing the ATHS Convention so it received so much press coverage over the country. The small brass souvenir plate, given to all show entries, is made from Burk’s COE. It was found on a few very large banners used to advertise the convention in earlier local shows. The compliment of all was it being on the cover of the ATHS Showtime Magazine sent to club members around the world. It shows data and photos of all convention truck participants. See photos.

NOTE: If you want to know even more about the details of the Burk’s COE check out this part of our Feature Truck of the Month.

The wheels began turning several years before Earl purchased this COE. A nice article on this truck appeared in the Wheels of Time, the official magazine of the American Truck Historical Society (ATHS). The article showed this blue COE at its best and described it as a very special truck. To Earl’s surprise about a year later in this same magazine there was a small classified ad offering this identical truck for sale.

At that time it was owned by Joe Fuller in New Cumberland, West Virginia. Joe is known for building quality early large trucks. Earl made several calls and Joe sent some photos showing more details. Earl became convinced, this will probably be the type of truck he had hoped to find. Its short wheel base and tall height would be great fun for his young growing family.

He purchased a ticket on an Express Greyhound bus in Springfield, Missouri and in about 18 hours arrived in Pittsburg, PA. Joe picked him up at the bus station and they were off to New Cumberland.

When Earl saw this beautifully restored blue 1941 COE, he knew the long bus trip was worth every hour! Joe had personally restored this special COE in 1986 with the help of two parts trucks. The best of these three trucks made this COE one of a kind.

When Joe built this COE in 1986, he kept it mostly original with a few exceptions. This was adding a Chevy small block V-8 engine, a 1948-66 synchronized 4 speed transmission, a “Brownie” auxiliary 3 speed attached to the rear of this transmission (to add extra highway speed), and a 2 speed electric operated differential from the 1950’s. Also added were extra leafs in all springs to raise the truck 4 inches. It is now equipped with 9.00 x 20 tires and heavy duty more deluxe non-original split rim wheels. The gas tank on the left has been cut in half horizontally and now serves as a tool box. Creative idea!!

So the sale was made with Earl having no hesitations. He filled the tank and headed west out of West Virginia, through Ohio, and spent the night in a motel in Indiana. On the road again the next morning and back home in Springfield that evening. Total drive was 800 miles with no mechanical problems.

At every stop for gas it was the focal point and would draw a crowd. It was equipped with a CB radio and Earl grinned all the way home as truckers talked about this COE driving down the highway.

Earl and Karen Burk. Great examples of using a special truck for helping bond their family together. What a major change from the “work only” use this truck was designed for! We salute the two of you for being great parents as well as keeping your special truck before the public. Your interest in early trucks will encourage others to follow in your footsteps.

This is in your rear view mirror


Left gas tank opens as the tool box

Class Act

Radiator Repair Day

Grab Handle and Step to get Inside

Show Banner still used after the ATHS Show

Two Dump Trucks in the Parade

Bed Tipped Up

Levers for the 4 Speed, Brownie and PTO.

Nicely Done!


Brass Souvenir Plate given to entries at the ATHS Show

An artist admirer recently sent the Burk’s this pin and ink drawing. Titled “Old Trucks are Fun”.
Very Impressive!

You can contact Earl and Karen on their email at: erlburk@yahoo.com

1941-1946 1 1/2 Ton Front Bumper

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

A major change in large truck Chevrolet front bumpers occurred during there years. Prior to 1946 the 1 1/2 ton bumpers and braces were little more that a heavier guage design of the smaller 1/2 ton.

The big bumper change was in 1946. (Possibly this was because Chevrolet introduced its first 2 ton model that year.) Now it was nothing like those on the 1/2 and 3/4 ton.

This new heavier, stronger bumper design continues on GM’s larger trucks to this day.

1941 front bumper

1941 Front Bumper (above)

1946 front bumper

1946 Front Bumper (above)

Frame Horns

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

During 1941-46 a unique device was used in the front of both frame rails of Chevrolet/GMC trucks. It was designed to serve two purposes. This forged steel ‘horn’ was a spring hanger as well as a connection for front bumper braces.

These horns are securely riveted into the end of the frame and were designed to last for the life of the truck. Only more serious front-end wrecks will damage them. Usually the whole frame can bend before the cast iron horn breaks. Most were damaged due to lack of lubrication of the shackle pin and bushing. Finally, the pins wear through the bushing and then work on the casting. Finding usable frame horns in recent years have been very difficult. None are being reproduced.

Frame Horn 1
Left side with Frame Horn
Frame Horn 2
Right side with Frame Horn removed
Photos are by Judy and Dave Gaudet email: cohortva@shaw.ca


1941-1946 Horn Parts

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

One of the more asked questions on the 1941-46 GM trucks is regarding horn contact parts. Most have been damaged over the years and new owners are unsure how they were originally assembled.

Below, is a diagram from a 1940’s GM Master Parts Catalog and gives an excellent view of the parts used in the assembly.

Most items are currently reproduced, including the upper bearing, rubber bumper, cap assembly, steering wheel, mast jacket, 3 finger horn cap retainer, and internal cap spring.

Note: Added are the available part numbers from the Jim Carter Parts Catalog.

Horn Contact Parts

1941 Chevrolet

Friday, February 1st, 2008

Owner: Jeff Lewis

1941 chevrolet truck

When I purchased the truck 3 years ago the engine had been rebuilt ( a 1960 235 inline 6) and installed and a feeble attempt had been made on the body work. The interior had to be completely de-rusted. The bed sides that came with the truck were not usable in my estimation so I purchased new bedsides, bed front and tailgate from Jim Carter.

The bed wood came from Jim Carter and is yellow pine stained with lampblack and linseed oil as the originals were. I did use stainless bed strips which are not original to the truck. I painted the truck myself and quickly found out that there is a steep learning curve on the painting but I stuck it out and it came out pretty good. I bought a used HVLP system but if the truth be known, other than the cab and the bedsides everything else was painted using the disposable PreVal sprayers!! They work great.

I worked three winters on the truck. I had to replace the brakes and lines and opted for the stainless steel brake lines. I purchased a few items on eBay but the majority from Jim Carter. I was fortunate in that I live about an hour from Jim Carter and was able to make several trips there and develop a relationship with Mike Taylor. Mike would let me roam around in the basement where all the used parts are, and there were times when I would spend practically the whole day there. Mike went out of his way to help me find difficult to find parts that are not available reproduction. Most people don’t realize the Jim Carter has much more than what is shown in his catalog. They have a huge basement and several yards filled with cabs and used parts. People should check with him first before bidding on eBay for used parts!

1941 chevrolet truck 1941 chevrolet truck 1941 chevrolet truck

1941 chevrolet truck 1941 chevrolet truck 1941 chevrolet truck

1941 Chevrolet

Saturday, July 1st, 2006

Owner: Jim Arrabito

1941 chevrolet pick up truck

In Feb 2005 I purchased my 1941 Chevrolet pickup off web site DealsonWheels.com. The truck was located in Sacramento, California. I live north of Seattle so I purchased a one way plane ticket to California. Upon arrival, two days later, I finally get to see the 41, stuffed in a small garage with boxes all around. Oil checks good, fill up low front tire, shake hands & turn over $$$. The previous owner shows me what is what. I’m now sitting in the seat, asking myself ” what just happened ? Oh yea, drive me home. I’ve got AAA”.

On the road in California I couldn’t ask for a better ‘ American Graffiti ‘ weekend. I got the value of the purchase price in that 1st Road Trip, plus the bed was filled with spare parts and boxes of parts. 1200 miles NO Problem, except that 80 mph speeding ticket ( “80 in a 41 ‘ really means something). back home I’ve spent the last year, fixing everything, from re-welding suspension, new bushings, shocks, radiator rebuild, ADDING wipers, bumpers, Cragar wheels, relocating battery, gas tank and Painting.

1941 chevrolet pick up truck 1941 chevrolet pick up truck 1941 chevrolet pick up truck

1941 chevrolet pick up truck

1941 Chevrolet

Friday, March 1st, 2002

Owner: Tom Bollinger

1941 chevrolet pick up truck

I have begun to restore my 41 Chevy 1/2 ton with parts from Jim Carter Classic Truck Parts, An oldie but a goodie, I worry that I will do harm to the value by changing things too much, The shop manual I ordered from Jim Carter has proven to be a valuable asset to the restoration of this truck. The sale of this truck will be applied to the mortgage of my house. Then again by the time I finish the truck I may have the house paid for and have to take a second mortgage to pay the truck bills. All is well that ends well, and a shinny 1941 Chevy Truck will be on the road again and cruising down the highways of Americas Heartland.