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Archive for June, 2017

1953 GMC Long Bed 1/2 Ton

Friday, June 30th, 2017

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We had heard of this special GMC over the years but had not personally talked to the owner or seen the various photos showing it in detail. The owner and person responsible for this creation is Bill Miles of Ashland, Massachusetts. After several conversations with Bill, we knew this pickup should have been a part of our Feature Truck series long before now!

It was created in 1953 and began its life as a long bed ½ ton, not a short bed as most are used to seeing. It was the decision of the General Motors Truck Division to offer a long bed ½ ton (using a ¾ ton bed) during the early years and not make it with heavier suspension, a stronger frame , and low gearing in the ¾ ton differential!

GMC had its own full oil pressure inline six cylinder since 1939. Additional horsepower allowed this extra 12” bed length on a ½ ton (not available on the Chevrolet ½ ton). The gross weight remained 4,800 pounds, the same as the short bed. It was still far below the ¾ ton gross weight of 8,800 pounds. This long bed could still have the higher ratio 4.11 differential and not the lower geared ¾ ton with 4.57 and optional 5.14 but with the same bed. The ½ ton ride was smoother, highway speed increased, and fuel economy improved over a ¾ ton.

Another very unique feature is the factory 4 speed Hydra-Matic transmission. It operates just right and was the first year GMC offered it in a pickup. Photo shows this “big brute” on a table just after its rebuild.

Our feature truck is one of these unique pickups, however with Bill’s help it has been given several additions to operate better on today’s highways. And the big plus: Most of these extras are not visible. Bill’s ½ ton has been given a higher speed and is a pleasure to drive.

To most, it appears as a very nice restored stock GMC pickup that is as was bought new over 60 years ago. It is not!

The following is the data from Bill Miles that personally explains what he added to make it so road worthy and at the same time safer to drive. His reward: 40,000 miles over the US in fun driving since he bought it in the year 2000. Many vacations were scheduled.

YOU WILL REALLY LIKE BILL’S STORY

I purchased my 1953 GMC Hydra Matic long bed half ton in the summer of 2000. At the time, it had a 270 GMC engine with Fentons, 4 wheel drum brakes, the original 4.11 rear gears, and 15 inch bias ply tires that were 27 inches tall.

Over the years, I have installed a 302 engine with a 2 bbl. Holley AA-1 Carburetor, keeping the Fenton Headers, changed the rear gears to 3.55’s, changed the tires to 215/85R 16 inch radials that are 30.5 inches tall, installed front disc brakes with a dual master cylinder, and added an original sway bar.

By changing from the 4.11 and the 15 inch tires, to the 3.55’s and the 16 inch tires(3.5″ more diameter), my engine rpm dropped by approximately 800 at 65 miles per hour.

I kept the 16 gallon fuel tank behind the seat and added a second 16 gallon tank under the rear of the bed, where a spare tire would mount if there was not a side mount. I have a valve on the floor of the cab to switch between tanks. Each tank has a sender that is wired to an On/On switch under the dash. When I flip the switch forward, it reads the seat tank, when I flip it back it reads the rear tank, all from the original gauge.

The two tanks come in handy when I am traveling. In 2009, I shipped the truck to my friend Ken Brown’s home in Yacolt, Washington. Then, my son Connor and I flew to Washington, and drove the truck home to Massachusetts. We were on the road almost a month and drove 5200 miles, visiting San Francisco, Yellowstone, Mount Rushmore, The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, and other attractions.

I have driven the truck to ATHS (American Truck Historical Society) shows in Syracuse, NY, Baltimore, MD, Auburn, IN, and several times to the ATCA show in Macungie, PA. I have logged about 40,000 miles since I bought the truck in 2000.

In May 2017, I drove to the ATHS show in Des Moines Iowa, then headed south to Nashville, and Lynchburg, Tennessee, then drove north through Bowling Green, KY, toward home. I was on the road for 15 days and traveled 3800 miles. To date, I have driven the truck through 31 states.
Www.53gmc.wordpress.com

You can contact Bill Miles @ bd97@comcast.net

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Loaded and ready for travel

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Nice Phrase

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First year for the optional side mount

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The cockpit for traveling.  Look at the speed on the speedometer!

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Close-up of Hydra-Matic shift and original gauges plus a very old turn signal control.

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Only year for the Ram Horn attached to the intake manifold. It requires the new relay on the firewall.

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The 302 looks new!

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Fresh Hydra-Matic Rebuild. Now that is a heavy weight! Bill’s 1953 in the Background.

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Bill showing the “shaft extension” that gives the short bed the extra length to make it a long bed GMC ½ ton. Making this extension saved GMC so much money in designing a total new longer ½ ton drive shaft system. Some may have call it GMC’s “weak link” but it sure has not been the case for Bill Miles.

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Setting by the Bowling Green Water Tower near the Corvette Museum.

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A day at the Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky

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Beside a small local church in West Virginia

3.5 more diameter

Cameo Trailer Hitch Assemble

Monday, June 26th, 2017

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.

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Hitch in place

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Bar Removed and on a tailgate

1939 Chevrolet COE, 108″ WB

Monday, June 5th, 2017

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If you wonder what are some of the most unusual early GM trucks, you should always remember John and Lisa Milton of Vestal, New York. Their continual search for those with almost no survivors is their passion. Not only do they occasionally find an available rare truck for sale they usually give it a ground up restoration to be like it left the factory.

Among their collection of almost non-remaining GM trucks, one of their favorite is this restored 1939 Chevrolet Cab-Over-Engine (COE). Of the very few remaining, maybe none have this short 108” factory wheel base.

The attached photos show it like the day it was delivered to the dealer in 1939. Swifts Red, 216 six cylinder, 4 speed non synchronized transmission and single speed rear axle. About 2 ½ years were required to complete a total restoration.

It was first seen in a national ad and John was immediately interested. Especially at the $500.00 price.

Having the first year for a Chevrolet COE was just what John wanted. The immediate trip from their home in New York to Janesville, Wisconsin was 1,300 miles with their trailer behind. Unfortunately it was not love at first sight! Photos certainly did not tell the true story. There was so much rust and abuse since it was abandoned outside for many, many years.

They offered only $250.00 just for parts and to help pay for their long trip. Surprise, the owner agreed. After all few people would attempt this major rebuilding of a totaled 39 COE. This would be the owner’s only chance to sell it. Once back in New York, it was placed in their side yard until 2 years later when Lisa said “Move It”. John knew it was time to begin the planned major restoration.

Down to the bare frame and each part evaluated. John had done this many times before, but never to a COE. Fortunately, the cab is much like a more common ½ ton and chassis is so similar to a conventional longer wheel base 1 ½ ton of several years. John’s talents in finding parts, knowing people in the business and many years doing restorations as a hobby made this project possible. Much money was saved by John having his own shop with so much repair equipment. If this project was given to a restoration company, the price would have been prohibitive! John’s many talents even includes sheet metal welding, straightening, and repair plus painting. Even so, the price to complete this project far exceeded the planned budget.

Just the plating of the limited chrome on a COE truck was over $5,000.00. Plating the massive grill was the really big ticket cost. Expensive! There are no grills available so you write the check and try to not think about it!

The not even in fair condition 1939 COE front fenders were repaired. You must restore your own no matter what damage they have as others are about non-existent.

Lisa, has always been a great supporter of John’s passion for unusual early GM trucks. She also helps when time allows however Lisa also has another interest. She raises English bull dogs and miniature pony’s and has done some showing. What a unique couple!!

ADDITIONAL TRIVIA

John’s future plans is to build a 90” wood flat bed for this short COE. It will be much like other after-market beds sold by non GM companies about 75 years ago. This will certainly protect the back of the cab from flying debris, and rear wheel gravel when on the road.

Notice the voltage regulator on the upper left side of the firewall. Other 1939 Chevy trucks still had the voltage cut out attached to the generator. Because of the difficult accessibility to the cutout on a COE, GM used a voltage regulator that would later be on all 1940 models.

SO SAD!

In the year 2000, the Milton’s had a major barn fire. All the rare limited survival trucks were lost. At least 10 restored very rare GM trucks were gone! Years later, his current collection of 17 years is almost as good.

John and Lisa had nothing but compliments for their insurance company, JC Taylor. They received a check in the mail within 10 days from that company after the fire. The Milton’s photos of the ashes of the barn and trucks told the story. This time he built an all metal building.

You can reach John and Lisa @ jmilton@stny.rr.com

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The real thing!

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Don’t look at the flowers!

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Waiting for a new bed

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Drive line exposed

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The massive tall grill

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The script says it all

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Nice chrome nose

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Maybe better than new

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one year only interior color

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Wish you had one?

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No mistakes here

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Correct non-pleated seat

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Factory accessory re-circulator heater