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Posts Tagged ‘ww2’

Alcan Leads The Way

Tuesday, August 13th, 2019

Cameo Leads the Pack on the Alcan Highway

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!



Believe It or Not

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

It’s the height of World War II. The Japanese have control of the rubber plantations in Indonesia. The few tires available are reserved for military use.  And, the rationing of gasoline stops most U.S. vehicle operation.  But, there were still trucks needed on farms, keeping telephone lines operational, and supplying store commodities for their city.  For these selected truck uses, new tires could sometimes be available.

What did individuals do with no replacement tires for their trucks and cars?

We have talked with several elderly people over the years.  They recall using real ‘American Ingenuity’ to keep tires on their limited-use vehicles.  It was called ‘booting’.  Essentially, they searched for non repairable tires in salvage yards.  Then, they removed the bead that touched the rim with a small hand saw.  The tread part was then wrapped around the mounted tire that was still holding air.  Wear stopped on the inner tire and the once worthless outer tire could now be placed back in service.

It was said to work well at slower speeds. This was a creative idea that helped keep our country mobile during a time of great sacrifices and shortages. Sorry, we wish we had a picture!

1942 Chevrolet Deland Fire Truck

Thursday, February 11th, 2010
1942 Chevrolet Deland Fire Truck 1

Our 1942 1 1/2 ton Chevrolet Fire Truck Was delivered to the DeLand Naval Air Station, February, 1942.

Served during WW II as the crash truck during navy pilot training. When the war was over, it was given to the City of DeLand, Florida. It was painted OD green and had about 3,000 miles on the odometer. It ran as a first line truck for City for many years and then was parked at the airport in a an old hanger. It was in pretty bad shape by the time I got evolved. We raised money to have it restored by the auto shop at the local State Prison. They did a beautiful job and is now used in public relations and giving local children rides during the Christmas parade and during the annual Veteran’s Day Parade. The mileage today just topped 11,000 miles. The engine has NEVER been apart and runs just about as well as it did when issued. The system has been converted over to 12 volts. The fire department has maintained ownership and we all try to keep up with the overall maintenance.

After the great fire storm of 1998, my wife and I were invited to the Daytona International Speedway to participate in the appreciation day and make a blazing lap round the 2.5 mile track at 40 MPH.

Thanks for looking.
Dave Sutherland / Captain
City of DeLand Fire Department


1942 Chevrolet Deland Fire Truck 2

d1942 Chevrolet Deland Fire Truck 3

Artillery Wheels

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

The term artillery wheel is a nickname adapted from a scalloped type wheel often seen on US military vehicles in World War I. The similar appearance at a distance to GM’s scalloped steel wheels quickly gave them the name artillery.

On GM trucks, this style was first used during 1934-36 as a stock six bolt 1/2 ton 17 inch wheel. It was much stronger than the existing wire style wheels due to it being less susceptible to bending when hitting a large pot hole or sliding against a curb.

Though this 17 inch unit was discontinued on 1/2 tons for 1937, a redesigned 15 inch artillery began as GM’s stock wheel on that year’s 3/4 ton truck. It was stronger and wider but was still a non-split rim design. This remained the GM 3/4 ton wheel through 1945. By 1946, six bolt wheels on trucks were limited to 1/2 tons. The 3/4 ton would now have 15 inch 8 bolt split rims which remained stock into the 1960’s.

Today, we sometimes see 1947-59 GM 1/2 tons equipped with these early 15 inch artillery 3/4 ton wheels even though they were not placed on factory trucks after 1945. To many, they provide a unique appearance on the later 1/2 tons and will still hold the trucks current hub cap.

atrillery wheel 1

Regular 16″ Wheel (above)

artillery wheel 2

1934-1936 17″ Artillery Wheel (above)

artillery wheel 3

1937-1945 15″ Artillery Wheel (above)

WWII Door Handles

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Shortages during this major war was the reason for many modifications of Chevrolet and GMC door handles. War demands for die cast material changed handle designs on military trucks as well as the few commercial vehicles bought by civilians.

The attached photos show these war time designs. The exterior handles have a stamped steel outer cover. Their inner liner is thinner metal and much more susceptible to rust. The entire assembly at times holds moisture resulting in damage during below freezing temperatures.

Both the inside doors and window handles were made with flat steel. This was covered with a Bakelite or plastic type material in a mold. It prevented rust and gave the shape of the earlier die cast handles. Unfortunately, years of heat and cold caused shrinkage and cracks. Pieces broke away and finally the internal metal strip is all that remains of the original handle.

The door handles usually had a short life but did serve the purpose during a time when better material was not available. Most were exchanged, with the chrome die cast style, after the war.

WWII Door Handle 1

Exterior handles; Side view with one ferrule still attached.

WWII Door Handles 2

GMC Exterior handles; Side view of metal stamping.

WWII Door Handles 3

Interior handles; The full set. Middle windshield handle not used by military.

WWII Door Handles 4

Interior handles; Close up of a pair for a door.

1934-1946 Door Handles

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

The two series of exterior door handles on GM trucks between 1934-46 are certainly different yet they share a few similar features of interest.

One characteristic which seems strange today is that the handles lock the right doors only, not on the left. This occurs on GM trucks from the early 1920’s to about 1959. At this time, we have no reason for this feature. Maybe it kept the driver from standing too near traffic as he locked the door!

The 1934-38 handles are the same. The left has no cylinder key but the right handles are the locking style. Yes, the right and left handle will interchange but this is not the way it was done by GM. Switching handles would prevent the right door from being locked. There is no inside lock on the right!

With the introduction of the new body style in 1939, the handle design also changed, however the locking and non-locking handles remained in the same position. The big change started in 1942.

GM decided that rough roads plus freezing in the North caused too much lock breakage. The die cast lock parts inside the handle were too easy to break. During that year, the lock was moved down into the door skin. Both right and left handles became the same non locking design. The following photos show this big change in door locking on Chevrolet and GMC trucks.

Door Handle Trivia

The locking key cylinder used between 1934 to 1941 is the same despite visual changes in the handle body. Of course, if the truck is right hand drive, all is reversed!

1934-1938 Right

1934-1938 Right Door Handle

1939-1941 Right Door Handle

1939-1941 Right Door Handle

1939-1946 Left and 1942-1946 Right

1939-1946 Left and 1942-1946 Right Door Handle

1942-1946 Right

1942-1946 Right Door Handle (lock in door skin)

Buy Parts for 1934 to 1946 Trucks


1947-1951 Deluxe Cab

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

With the introduction of GM’s new truck body design in mid 1947, a delivered package became available on both Chevrolet and GMC. World War II was in the past, employment was high, and many American truck buyers were willing to pay a little extra for more options on their new vehicle purchase.

GM’s sales department recognized this as an opportunity to fill a need and sell a few more vehicles. A deluxe truck would look good in a dealer’s showroom and the market existed for nicer trucks.

Prior to this new body style, GM truck cabs were the same from the factory. Dealers installed the few extras provided by the manufacturer.

The new deluxe cab for the Advance Design trucks cost GM little additional in comparison to the standard design. Most items were already extra cost options or standard parts that were modified. The deluxe package included the following:

Five Window Cab. This was the largest expense. The Two corner windows required a different roof panel to be attached to the lower half of the body. The center rear window was the same.

Chrome Grill Bars. The option was also available for the base pickup. It was created by polishing and plating the five painted bars. This came only on 1/2, 3/4, and 1 ton.

Stainless Steel Door Window Trim. The factory dies that formed the painted standard trim could also stamp stainless steel. The outer was polished. The inner was left a satin finish to reduce glare from the sun.

Stainless Steel Windshield Trim. This was only on the deluxe cabs. Painted trim was not on the base cab. Therefore, GM had to create dies to produce it, give a high polish, and provide a modified windshield trim was still painted on deluxe models.

Right Inside Sunvisor. This was already a dealer accessory on the standard cab. The attaching holes were even punched on all cabs and covered with the non-punched headliner cardboard.

Left Arm Rest. A dealer accessory on the base cab, therefore holes are stamped in both doors at the factory. They are hidden with the cardboard upholstery panel on standard cabs. No extra tooling here!

By 1951 material shortages due to the Korean War conflict were effecting the automotive industry. Shortages of at least copper and stainless greatly raised raw material prices. To prevent a shut down of assembly lines due to no product, GM discontinued the deluxe option.

From late 1951 through 1953, the Chevrolet and GMC deluxe cab had no bright work. It retained the sunvisor, left arm rest, and corner windows, however most chrome and stainless were gone. It was not until 1954 that the trim was retuned to the deluxe cab.

The enclosed photos are of a 1951 Chevrolet 1/2 ton deluxe cab owned by David Bosley of Felton, PA. His grandfather purchased the truck new so David recently restored it just the way it was bought in 1951. Even the bed boards are painted! The door vent shades are a non-GM option but available in the early years. The other trim items are either part of the deluxe package or are options provided by the Chevrolet dealer.

1947 deluxe cab 1

1947 deluxe cab 2

1947 deluxe cab 3

1947 deluxe cab 4

WWII Cab Changes

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

With the US entry into World War II, trucks were quickly modified to be successful for military use. Pre-existing cabs, frames, and mechanical components were altered to be more usable when in everyday work duties or in battle.  NOTE:  The Chevrolet cab remains almost the same as those on civilian trucks.

WWII Cab 1
This photo shows a large military truck that was built by the Chevrolet Division of General Motors about 1941.  The items of much interest are the changes made for use overseas and when the truck was in the field.

WWII Cab 2

The horn button is of a very heavy duty basic design, not like on most civilian trucks.  Only the civilian ‘cab-over-engine’ body carried this style horn button on non-military vehicles.


Note: This is a civilian Chevrolet cab with many modifications. The windshield frame is operated differently. Its hinges are on the outside for easy repair. There is no crank-out assembly that is known for their short life. The frame is opened manually much like the trucks before 1936. The crank handle hole is not even punched in the dash panel.

WWII Cab 5

The crank handle hole is not punched in the dash panel.  The windshield frame is secured in the closed position by a simple wedge handle.

WWII Cab 6

The cab rear window is well protected with an exterior steel grill. We suspect many private owners would have liked this extra on their domestic trucks.

WWII Cab 6

The inside door and window handles are not die-cast due to the war time shortage of zinc. They are made of a steel stamping covered with a dull Bakelite molded material. This usually shrinks and cracks within a few years.

WWII Cab 7

The removable hood side panels are of extra thickness to protect the engine from enemy rifle fire.  The Chevrolet lettering was removed after 1941 to stop extra advertising.

WWII Cab 9

The windshield and hood have exterior hinges for easy accessibility if damaged overseas.

WWII Accelerator Pedal

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

During the war years, the US was plagued with a shortage of rubber. The Japanese occupied most of the islands that grew rubber producing plants. The majority of the rubber the U.S. could obtain was sent to the war effort.

WWII Pedal 1

Thus, manufacturers across the country were required to eliminate rubber and find substitutes. General Motors also felt the pressures on these non-war products. One of the more notable changed items was the redesigning of accelerator pedals on their trucks. All the rubber that had provided a non slip surface was removed. As a substitute, the metal surface was given three sharp edge slots. In this way the drivers shoe sole would not slip on the pedal surface. An excellent new design. (when you have a lemon, make lemonade).

WWII Pedal 2