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Radio

1947-54 Radio Antenna Installation Warning

Friday, April 15th, 2011

It is very important where to drill the hole for the new radio antenna. The results of making a slight mistake will stay in your mind for many years to come!

Radios during these 1947-54 Advance Design years were never installed at the factory. This was done by the authorized GM Dealer. In the box that contained the new radio was a paper template that prevented mistakes when drilling the antenna hole. This hole in the cowl was so close to the belt line that the body to the antenna seal gasket even lacked an edge where it touched this body belt. Even with GM moving the antenna so close to the belt line there is still only about 1/2″ clearance to the hood when it is open. See photo.

The sad realization occurs later when a new radio antenna is installed by an amateur. He drills the hole in the cowl (correctly on the driver’s side) about another 3/4′ forward. He smiles as the radio works great. He doesn’t smile a week later when he tries to raise the hood to check the oil. It won’t raise! The rear hood edge hits the antenna. A rubber plug later put in the new hole is always a reminder of what a 1/2′ can do.

Hood Closed Hood Open Hood Open

New 1954 Radio

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

In upgrading the Advance Design 1947-1953 cab for 1954, GM engineers created a totally different dash assembly. It required that the radio be much smaller. With better electronic technology and no push buttons, the new 6 volt radio could be placed into the smaller space. They even placed a cardboard sheet above the ’54 radio to protect it from settling dust over the years.

Yes, the 1954 Chevrolet and GMC had different designed dashes but each of their radios were similar and fit the smaller area. In the follow photos you can see the major differences between the 1947-1953 and the new 1954!

new 1954 radio 1

1947-1953 Radio/Weight 14.75 lbs (above)

new 1954 radio 2

1954 Radio/Weight 10.75 lbs (above)

new 1954 radio 3

1954 Radio, Side View (above)

1954-1955 Radio Blank Out

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

All 1954-1955 Chevrolet/GMC trucks came from the factory with a blank-out plate to cover where the radio would be installed. As this accessory was dealer installed the plate could be removed (probably thrown away) and the new radio added.

This blank-out plate and its two special clips has become very rare in recent years. They are not being reproduced. The enclosed photos show an original painted plate. The Chevrolet unit is the interior cab pearl beige color with a stamped bow-tie in black. GMC chose to not add their logo. These plates are just like Chevrolet except have a smooth surface with no trade letters.

1954 1955 radio blank out 1
Chevrolet (installed)

1954 1955 radio blank out 1

Chevrolet (above)

1954 1955 radio blank out 2

GMC (above)

1954 1955 radio blank out 3

Back View (above)

1954 Chevrolet Willys Radio

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

As more restorers become interested in the 1954-1955 Chevrolet truck, the demand for the correct factory accessories has increased demand. Trucks during these early years were used mostly for work and many owners ordered no accessories. Even the heater was often added later.

Though locating a restored or restorable factory radio is a difficult task, there is another source that might make the project more successful. The factory 1956 Willys radio #694866 is almost identical to the one in the 1954-55 Chevolet truck and both are 6 volt. The following does not affect fit and the appearance differences can be easily modified.

The Willys radio uses 1951-1953 Kiaser tuning knobs. These can be exchanged for excellent reproduction black knobs now made just for the truck radio.

The dial face does not have the current bow tie displayed on the glass. New glass dials are now available for the 1954-1955 Chevy truck radios.

The Willys radio does not have the speaker attached to its top. A small bracket can easily be fabricated to put the speaker in the correct spot for a Chevrolet. None of this is seen when positioned behind the dash on the truck.

And now the sad fact. If you thought the 1954-1955 Chevrolet truck radio was rare, imagine locating one from a 1956 Willys!

1954 chevrolet willys radio

Radio Trivia

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

  • Push buttons were discontinued at the end of 1953 and did not reappear until 1967
  • Prior to 1959 radios used mechanical vibrator tubes. They would operate with either positive or negative ground. A low buzzing sound could always be heard from the tube area before the radio warmed up, once the sound began, the speaker made the buzzing difficult to hear. In recent years a major change has occurred. Vibrator tubes have been gradually replaced with a modern solid state style These are ruined if the battery is reversed. A positive ground tube cannot be placed in a negative ground vehicle
  • The 1947-1955 four staff cowl mounted antenna could be extended almost four feet. This helped pull in at least one station in rural areas
  • With a totally redesigned dash in 1954, the radio was given a major change. It remained AM only but with push buttons discontinued, it became almost half the size of the previous model
  • From 1959 and older, GM truck radios had two lead wires. One usually attached to the headlight switch so the dial light went on with the dash lights. The other wire attached to a 20 amp fuse and then to the ignition switch “hot” connection
  • The AM-FM radio was first available in GM trucks in 1970, not in 1967. These units have one sound track and are not stereo
  • In 1947, with the introduction of the Advance Design body style, GM trucks for the first time had a place in the dash to install a radio
  • In relation to wages, early radios were very expensive. A 1949 radio had a retail price of about $74.50 when it was difficult to carry $5.00 in groceries
  • The dash on the 1954-1959 GMC and 1955-59 Chevrolet has no place for a speaker opening. Thus, the factory speaker is placed between the sunvisors above the windshield