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Most all early trucks were operated under a different set of rules than passenger cars. With a few exceptions, trucks were not people haulers. They were bought and used as freight movers! Freight is defined as anything from boxes to bulk dirt and hay to farm feeds.

To keep them running in the 1940's and 1950's with limited family income, early trucks were given get-by repairs that were rarely seen on passenger cars. This article will refer to these repairs as Field Engineering. Inexpensive repairs were often made with items that were close at hand. If they solved the problem, they were used!

 

Headlight buckets have fallen from these rusty 1956 fenders! Oh well, it's still a day driver. Tire tread easier to now see!
headlight buckets
headlight buckets
A 1963 broken window regulator plus a cold day. A wooden wedge keeps the glass up!
headlight buckets
headlight buckets
No original license bracket? Weld a drilled right angle bracket to your spare tire slide.
license plate bracket 1
license plate bracket 2
1958-1959 GMC park light lenses are rare. Display your style.
park light lense
When your pickup is loading hogs from a low ramp, make rubber bumpers to protect the tailgate.
tailgate rubber
When your 1934-35 grill hole isn't large enough for the hand crank, open it to make more room
grill modified
Leg tired of the clutch? Add a wood block for length, a rubber pad, and wire.
clutch extension
This 1947-49 fuse block has been given a fuse that will never go bad!
fuse block
Badly rusted tailgate? Wrap sheet metal along the bottom edge.
rusted tailgate
When you want to remove the 235 valve cover quickly and without tools, make your own fasteners. This engine uses two pieces of common concrete rebar.
rebar
A sitting truck attracts new trees! This 1/2 ton has the rear cross sill forced forward.
tree in truck
The 1947-1955 heater switch continues to work when metal foil is placed around the blown fuse.
fuse and foil
If you can't find the lower grill bars on a 1940 Chevrolet, use GMC bars.
1940 chevy gmc lower grill
When you think GM made the tailgate too light-weight, weld on a steel right angle bracket at the top!
chevy gmc tailgate
tailgate_field 2.jpg
Another "add-on" directional light on a 1941-46 Chevy. This is screwed on in two places for stability.
directional light field
Use Caulking compound to seal firewall leaks. Now your feet stay dry.
caulking compound field
What's this! The bed panel is on backwards.
chevy gmc tailgate
tailgate_field 2.jpg
Welding a rear wheel hub to a stake pocket makes a side mount for a spare wheel.
rear wheel hub
If you want to update your older truck fenders, just cut a hole and add a marker light
old truck fenders
A perfect way to ruin otherwise good doors. Cut large holes in their inner panels and add radio speakers.
speakers in doors
Don't want rope tie downs in a stake pocket plug? Drill holes in the bedside top and attach eye bolts.
tailgate_bed.jpg
Some universal spark plug wires are too long. Just wire tie them to the brake lines.
spark plug wires
A bungee cord holds the freight but slowly tears a rusty bedside.
bungee cord chevy gmc
Leaking heater core? Cut the two heater hoses close to the water pump and plug their ends.
leaking heater core
Raise the factory parking lights to make room for aftermarket fog lights. When the lenses finally fall out, get a different pair and fasten next to the first pair.
chevy gmc parking light.jpg
Make your own pickup bed sides by bending a steel panel and then welding on a horizontal pipe. Not a bad idea but shouldn't you smooth off the filler material if you want to cap the pipe.
pick up truck bed sides
Imagine this! You cut a hole in the inner fender and add a battery tray.
battery tray gmc chevy
When your under floor battery box rusts away, make a new one from a plastic sheet.
floor battery
In most states trucks were once issued plates showing their gross allowed weight loaded. Here the owner simply screwed this plate to the door.
weight plates.jpg
When you have a panel truck and want more visibility, just cut some holes and add your choice of windows.
panel truck
When you want to be heard, a pair of fender mounted horns will do the job! Can you imagine how a nearby pedestrian reacted when these went off? Maybe the driver was a hearing aid salesman.
fender repair
What a nice place for a tool-box! This 3/4 ton pickup bed has a home-made metal box attached to the two stake pockets. The section of the running board below the box has been removed.
tool box gmc chevy
If your pickup needs extra pulling capacity, maybe you need to install a dually rear end. (or maybe you don't)
pick up gmc chevy.jpg
For Real Protection!
Weld pieces of metal plate together. Cut holes for the tail lights and tail pipe.
metal plate gmc chevy
Can't find a correct 1947-1953 GMC park light assembly? Locate a close replacement. In this case, 1960-1966 fleetside backup lights. It doesn't look bad.
chevy gmc park light
A home water pipe valve works well in this heater hose Showcase.
water pipe valve
Bending a piece of sheet metal can make a nice door pocket for special papers.
sheet metal door pocket
With some boards, a tail gate can be created. It appears the black letters are doing better than the wood.
tail gate gmc chevy
Your door has opened too far and placed a long vertical crease in the body. Just drill holes and pull the metal back near original. OOPS! you forgot to fill the holes.
rusty door chevy gmc
This 1941-46 Pickup not only has been given a more modern tail light but check the backup light. It is a car cowl light assembly with base from the early 1930s.
chevy gmc pick up
This owner did not put a double filament socket in his original park light housing. He went to an auto or tractor accessory store and purchased amber lights. They were attached to the fender so he had modern turn signals.
gmc chevy lights
Safety in mind; This truck not only had a west coast mirror attached to the door but the owner wanted to see more. Note the 5" mirror he attached to the lower brace.
mirror gmc chevy
This owner hoped to lessen his chance of a rear end accident. Instead of the original single tail light, he added no less than 8 lights and reflectors.
rusty chevy gmc
Making an inexpensive grill guard: Find a used bumper, cut it to not interfere with the parking lights, and weld the remainder to the bumper guards. Anybody need a push?
chevy gmc grill guard
This truck's owner did not like the spare tire under the bed Showcase He fabricated a bracket that welded to two stake pockets. A portion of the running board is removed to make room for the low mounted tire.
gmc chevy spare tire
spare tire gmc chevy
This 1951 Chevrolet Suburban was recently purchased by Mike Taylor of Lee's Summit, MO. The photo is the way Mike found the truck including the second add-on bumper for grill protection.
rusty old chevy gmc
A horizontal strap between two stake brackets can hold tools, extra parts, baling wire, or even a spare tire.
chevy gmc tool box
Probably the ultimate in "Field Engineering" is this 1937 Chevy 1/2 ton recently seen at a swap meet. With the headlight stands broken and the original bulb headlights damaged or missing. The "easy" repair was to locate a more modern pair of sealed beams. The required mounting was created by using steel bar stock attached to the fenders and broken headlight stands. It looks very unusual but it worked.
gmc chevy headlight
headlight gmc chevy
When the diaphragms in the vacuum advance begins leaking, this cheap fix was to plug the line end at the carburetor. In this case, the owner found that a retired spark plug has the same thread size. What a coincidence! The vertical mounted plug also seals the threaded hole in the intake manifold. No vacuum wiper motor for this truck!
vacuum advance skark plug chevy gmc
This owner discovered that when you overloaded your bed and the tailgate began to bow. It's bending could be stopped. Just weld angle iron vertically to the tailgate and keep on loading the bed.
chevy gmc truck bed
gmc chevy truck bed
A cold truck cab can bring out the creativity of an owner. A brand-X heater box has been welded to the firewall and forces air through a heater core on the inside of the cab. No doubt this is the only one in the world like this.
heater gmc chevy
Special Tie Downs
On each side of this 1937 Chevy pickup, we found the steel round loops secured to the front stake pockets by windings of wire. We can only assume they were hand built tie downs for ropes to keep the cargo from blowing. Couldn't they also be used to tie the reigns of someone's horse?
tie downs chevy gmc
If the rear fender brace is gone due to abuse or salt on winter roads, there is an inexpensive solution. A metal strap gives support against the bed side.
chevy gmc rear fender
There are a great variety of tail lights that replaced the originals. When turn signals became popular in the mid-1950’s, every auto parts store could market their get-by replacements. This owner could now have a new pair of boat trailer lights!
gmc chevy tail lights
This is very unusual! This recent restoration is a GMC with Chevrolet front fenders. The owner didn't cut the round holes for the GMC park lights in the fender. He just attached the Chevrolet park lights he had to the GMC grill. Strange!
front fenders gmc chevy
What could be easier to make a rotten bed be ready for work? a row of 2x4 boards were cheap, quick, and there was almost no down time. Forget any bed strips!
bed boards chevy gmc
If you like chrome, add a front bumper from a car to the rear of your truck. Some still keep the grill guard and license bracket. These are sure one of a kind.
chevy gmc chrome rear bumper
gmc chevy chrome bumpers
Another example of an "add-on" taillight. This one was probably new when first attached. The owner placed it high on the stake pocket to lessen damage.
tail lights gmc chevy
A missing accelerator pedal makes the attaching rod uncomfortable on ones shoe sole. Carve a round wood pedal.
wooden pedal

 

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