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Posts Tagged ‘accessories’

1941-1946 Park light and Headlight Assemblies

Monday, June 20th, 2011

At the beginning of the 1941 Chevrolet and GMC truck body style, the parking light assembly was placed on top of the headlight bucket.  This was the first time both were placed on the fender as a pair.  All worked well together.  To save tooling costs, GM chose to add a pre-existing assembly from the year before on the 1940 Pontiac car.  No changes were made from this Pontiac park light assembly except its long sheet metal top was now painted and not chromed.

Overseas during World War II, when civilian front fenders were used on GM military trucks (instead of the more famous flat fender ‘army truck’ style) General Motors created a parking light that emitted a small strip of light to be seen at a shorter distance.

Beginning in 1942 and continuing through mid 1947 (when this body design was discontinued), GM used a much less expensive park light housing on civilian trucks.  A one piece stamped metal cover was attached to the headlight bucket for a fraction of the cost as in 1941.  This also used a smaller less expensive glass lens.

Therefore during this 6 ½ year truck production (1941-Mid 1947) the same headlight buckets were on Chevrolet and GMC trucks.  The difference was their hole punching which adapted to changes in parking light assemblies.

1942-45 Military

1942-45 Military


Accessories vs Options

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

As per GM, accessories during the 1930’s through mid 1960’s were the extra cost items sold and installed by the approved dealer. The truck was prepared for these during production so the dealership could later add them with less effort.

As much as possible GM would punch holes, attach removable plates, press in dimples, etc. to help the dealership in placing the accessory in just the right position. Several accessories using the pre-placed holes or dimples in these early Chevrolet and GMC trucks are the right side taillight bracket, fresh air heater, radio, front bumper guards, cigarette lighter, arm rest, glovebox light, and windshield washer.

Options were added at the factory. They were more difficult to install by individual dealerships and were therefore placed on the vehicle during production. This included items such as a chrome grille, 4 speed transmission on 1/2 and 3/4 ton chassis, double action shocks, tinted windows on 1953-55, two speed rear axle on larger trucks, double action fuel pump, hydrovac power brake, etc.

Advanced Design Lighter

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

To keep the 1947-1955 GM trucks base price low, their 6 volt cigarette lighter was a dealer accessory. The vehicle always came from the factory with a round blank out plug at the lower center of the dash.

To save tooling costs both the Chevrolet and GMC truck divisions used the same lighter as was found in Chevrolet’s passenger car. It did not match other knobs in the cab. Its double ring chrome head is exclusive to General Motors though it does not carry their logo. They are often seen at swap meets and flea markets mixed with lighter accumulations from all makes. The chrome head is easily unscrewed when a replacement heating element is needed. It will attach to either a 6 or 12 volt element. The in dash receiver also must be changed. GM made a slight difference in element diameters so 6 and 12 volt units. An owner in later years could not accidentally mix the two different voltage types.

advance lighter 1

advance lighter 2

1954-1955 Example (above)

1954-1955 GMC Spring Wind Clock

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

In contrast to 1954-1955 Chevrolet trucks, the same year GMC had a position in the dash for an optional gauge. It was here that larger GMC’s had a tachometer or vacuum gauge installed. The 1/2, 3/4 and 1 ton GMC’s usually did not require these engine gauges and a blank-out plate is normally found there. An option here in these smaller trucks is a spring wind clock. It was produced by General Motors and installed at their GMC dealerships.

1954 spring wind clock 1

1954 GMC dash with clock installed (above)

To save production costs, GMC used the clock that was already on the 1953-1954

Chevrolet car. In this way, their investment was limited to a chrome adapter ring that fit in the opening that held the blank-out plate.

This chrome ring has recently been reproduced and is available from most full stocking dealers including Jim Carters Truck Parts. Restorable 1953-1954 Chevrolet car clocks are found at most any medium size automotive swap meet.

1954 GMC spring wind clock 2

The following is from a 1954 GMC accessories catalog. Their wording tells the 1954 story in a full page ad.


1953-1955 Fresh Air Heater

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

With the introduction of the Advance Design Cab in 1947, a new dealer installed heater also became available. When used together this new body was referred to as The Cab That Breathes.

All U.S. manufactured Advance Design Cabs had a row of louvers on the right outer cowl which allowed air to enter the cab interior with the help of the new optional fresh air heater. It was a great improvement over prior years!

As air was brought in from the outside it passed through the heater core. This warmed air usually held less humidity than air inside the cab due to the breath of passengers. The fresh, dryer, air helped prevent the inside of the windows from fogging during very cold days, thus GM said the cab breathed.

This excellent heating system was made even better in 1953 with the introduction of the revised airflow heater. By pulling a knob, at the left of the steering column, a door inside the heater would cover the outside air intake. Now the heater was of the recirculator design. It pulled air from inside the cab so that inside air was re-warmed. Yes, humidity did accumulate quicker and windows could fog but heating the air inside was faster on a cold morning.

Note these pictures of the improved 1953-55 fresh air heater. The driver operated cable was pulled and a door inside the heater shut off outside air. At the same time, a one inch wide door on the case opened to allow recirculation of air to occur. A non-related lever on the case directs the heated air to the floor or above through the defroster ducts.

This ingenious idea by GM engineers now allowed the driver to have a cab that breathed or one that did not.

1953-1955 Fresh Air Heater 1

Hand operated defroster lever, cable for intake door, and the water flow adjusting knob (above)

1953-1955 Fresh Air Heater 2

The knob at the left of the steering column for pulling the cable (above)

1953-1955 Fresh Air Heater 3

The main heater attached to the right inner cowl panel (above)

1953-1955 Fresh Air Heater 4

Side view of heater with water control rod in foreground (above)

1953-1955 Fresh Air Heater 5

A close up of the one inch intake cable operated door on the heater case (above)

1954-1955 Accessory Clock

Thursday, February 11th, 2010
1954 accessory clock
Marty Bozek, Lutz FL.eng261@aol.com
1954-1955 Chevy Accessory Clock
Pat Jackson, Johnstown, OHredchevy38@embarqmail.com

By the mid 1950’s extra income in the U.S. was creating an increased demand for accessories on both cars and trucks. To take advantage of this, the Chevrolet Truck Division introduced one item as a first. It would not appear again on Chevrolet trucks until the mid 1970’s.

The new accessory was the 1954-55 dash mounted clock. To offer the most with the least investment, only the die cast housing was new. The clock was already an accessory on the 1953-1954 Chevrolet car. By combining the two, dealers could market a clock accessory to new Chevrolet truck buyers. The housing was even painted pearl beige to match the 1954-1955 Chevrolet truck interior color.

It fit between the two dash bezels. A paper template was in the box so the dealer’s mechanic or the owner would drill the mounting holes in just the right place.

The housings are not being reproduced. They are in high demand among 1954-1955 Chevrolet truck restorers so the retail prices just keep rising. If you do locate this housing, the correct clock is not difficult to locate. They were on most 1953-1954 Chevrolet cars.

1947-1948 Recirculator Heater

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

The Chevrolet and GMC dealer installed recirculator heater was much different in 1947-48. In 1946 and older plus in 1949 through 1957, they sold the traditional round core design but for 1947 and 1948 it was all different.

The attached photos show the 1947-48 GM recirculator heater. Its rectangular core and vertical mounting studs are reserved for just these two years.  Except for the logo plate they are the same for GMC and Chevrolet. To be sure the dealers mechanic installed these accessory heaters correctly, holes were placed in the firewall during the trucks construction.

In this photo of a 1948 firewall, arrows point to the factory holes to make sure the heater is installed just right.

An additional point of interest on this 1947-48 heater:

The defroster appears to be an extra cost item. Note the picture of the truck with the side mounted defroster. Also see the separate heater with a round factory plate covering the defroster position. It appears you could order a style of recirculator heater depending on the climate in your area.

1947 heater 1
1947 heater 2
1947 heater 3
1947 heater 4
1947 heater 5

1955-1959 GMC Heater Control Panel

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

heater control

Chevrolet and GMC cabs are basically the same during 1955-1959, however their dash boards differ. Thus, removable dash items such as guages, glove box doors, and radios will not interchange with Chevrolet. It seems it was a way GM divided the two marques using limited expense.

A major difference on the GMC dash is the long horizontal ridge at the lower edge door to door. Therefore, as the accessory fresh air heater was mostly the same in Chevy and GMC, the dash mounted control panels were different. GMC’s must have a hump in the lower half to go around this ridge. The two heater control levers must be 7/16 inches longer then Chevrolet. The upper half including the fan switch is the same on both brands.

This control panel on GMC has never been reproduced as fewer of these trucks were sold. Restorers must hunt for restorable originals. The longer levers are available from Jim Carter Truck Parts and a few full stock dealers.

First Factory Air

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

first factory air 1

The demand for in-dash factory air conditioning or GM trucks greatly increased during the 1960’s. (Automobiles had this feature available since the mid 1950’s.) An under dash ‘box’ (Cool-Pack) was available on trucks since 1958, however, this unit was dealer installed and took up much cab room especially for a third passenger.

In 1965, Chevrolet (not GMC) offered the first factory in-dash system. As it was introduced in a pre-existing cab, a custom non-metal panel was designed to fit over a new stamped larger dash opening. Its three movable vents could blow cool air on all passengers!

This new air conditioning panel covered the portion of the stock dash that held the ash tray. Therefore, engineers created a small under-dash slide in ash tray just for factory air Chevrolet trucks in 1965-1966. Unfortunately, few people recognize this small ash tray once it becomes separated from the truck in a salvage yard. This will be an almost unobtainable item if you don’t have it on your truck!

GMC Ash Remover

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

There are few GM accessories that are more unusual and rare than this item that was seen at a recent truck show. It was offered by GMC dealers in 1958 and 1959.

The item is an “Ash Remover” for the smoking driver and his passenger. With a touch of a small lever, the ashes on a cigarette or cigar is instantly removed from the cab. A rubber vacuum line from the engine manifold pulls the ashes to a small glass jar on the engine side of the firewall Quite a novelty on trucks that were usually bought for work.

Was it worth an extra price over a stock ash tray? Probably not but it appears some found owners. At this time at least two are known to exist.

Even when other “Ash Removers” are seen, they will not be recognized if they have lost their original box. Very few will know what these parts are made to fit.

images by Ralph Wescot

ash 1

ash 2

ash 3

1958-1964 Chevrolet Cool Pack Air

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

When we look for rare Chevrolet truck accessories available during the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, few are more unusual than the Chevrolet dealer installed “Cool Pack” air conditioning system. Truck cabs were not engineered for factory air as there had been little demand for this expensive accessory. Most people didn’t even have air conditioning in their homes, much less in a truck that was usually for work related jobs.

Chevrolet’s first attempt to provide truck air conditioning was the “Cool Pack.” The evaporator and blower unit was attached to the underside of the dash panel. It was good in the middle of the lower dash with a three speed column shift but had to be moved to the right if a 4-speed transmission existed. The floor shift lever prevented the air box to be center mounted in the cab. Yes, in this case the passenger certainly received more air then the driver!

With the introduction of factory in-dash air in 1965, the “Cool Pack” under dash system quickly lost its popularity. Its sales then were mostly to a few owners of late model trucks that wanted cooler summer comfort in their used vehicle.

1958 1964 cool pack air 1

Drawing from a 1950 Chevrolet truck accessory Manual (above)

1958 1964 cool pack air 2

An original under dash eveporator and blower unit. Note: the beige plastic case with silver “Cool Pack” letters and chrome plus blue bow-tie emblem. (Excellent condition for 45 years old) (above)

1958 1964 cool pack air 3

1958-1964 cool pack air 4

1958 1964 cool pack air 5

1958 1964 cool pack air 6

1955-1959 Panel Tail Lights

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

The new Task-Force truck design was introduced in mid 1955. For some reason the panel truck carried the same left tail light as the Advance Design used from 1947 through mid 1955. This is strange as the new body was designed to hold a right and left tail light.

Even more unusual was that GM provided a kit for dealer installation when the customer asked for the accessory turn signals. The dealer (not the factory) actually cut a square hole in the body panels to place the two lights. The result in mid 1955 was dealer installed turn signals (by customer request) and the assembly on the left door by the factory.

In 1956 GM began with the lights on either side and this has continued through the years. The left door in 1956-1959 held just the license light assembly.

1955 1959 panel tail light 1

The factory 1955 Panel with the single light on the door. (above)

Click on images below to enlarge

1955 with optional dealer installed turn signals (owned by George VanOrden of Fulks Run, Virginia)
Close Up of 1955 door and corner with accessory turn signals.
Tail Light in Hand… Notice the body shop cut to make room for the optional tail lights. These cuts were discovered by George VanOrden during a ground up restoration of his all original 1955 panel.


1955 1959 panel tail light 2

1956-1959 Factory installed dual tail lights. (above)

Incorrect Cigarette Lighter

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Purchasing a 1947-1955 optional cigarette lighter assembly from many vendors provides you a reproduction that is far from correct. It appears an overseas manufacturer decided to offer a lighter assembly made with the currently available 12 volt base and joining it to a 1947-1953 headlight knob.

Thus, no tooling investment and all parts were already available. Check the following images. What a difference!

incorrect lighter 1

Original Note: The correct lighter base and knob can now be obtained from Jim Carter Truck Parts (above)

incorrect lighter 2

Incorrect Replacement Knob (above)