1940 GMC AC 302 1 1/2-Ton Dually
From Randy :
I bought this truck for my wife Jana back in 2011. It's a 1940 GMC AC302 1 1/2-ton dually that was originally used as a brush fire truck. Yes, with a dually bed on it!!
We saw this truck listed on eBay when we were looking for stuff for our 1942 Chevy 1/2-ton (that story coming soon). It was listed in the Salvage Section (can you imagine!) of the site.
We started looking thru the pictures on the listing and thought it was just awesome and decided to go get it! It was out in Northern California -- only 2500 miles away.
We talked to the previous owner, who was a retired fire chief and he told us some of the background of the truck. After it was built, the truck went directly to the California Forestry Division for use as a brush truck. They keep their trucks for 50 years. It was on active duty for 25 years and then it went on reserve duty for another 25 years. After that, they put it up for auction. A lumber company in the northern part of California purchased the truck, as they are required to have a fire truck on premises. The truck mostly set "ready" in the yard for another 20 years of "work." The lumber yard closed down and that is when the fire chief purchased the truck.
When we got to California, we found the truck was all original and all there. It did run. The tires were dry rotted but the rims looked good. The interior was in fantastic shape for its age. There were a few holes in the seats just from age and wear. None of the windows were even cracked! She only had 30,000 original miles on her.
We loaded her on a trailer and brought her home.
We took the original rims, sandblasted and then painted them red. We got tires from Coker, which are period-correct. They use the original molds for these vintage trucks to make the tires. We bought tires for the '42 from them, too.
If you look in the photo album on Flickr, you'll see the "back bumper." We modified that since it was the wrap around brush truck bumper. We clipped the far ends so that you could see those HUGE fenders! It came off the assembly line with those fenders. The fenders in the front are just as big but not quite the same shape!
We added a hitch back there and lights.
The original motor had a cracked block -- a long crack, almost the length of the entire block. We tried five times to repair it but it kept busting. It would run for a short distance but we couldn't really DRIVE it in that condition. So, we pulled the motor (and kept it) and put in a 12V Cummins from a 1990 Dodge.
We pulled the siren and horn off the fenders. We took off the water pumper and pulled out the tank. We kept all that ... well, we're keeping all the stuff that is original to the truck.
The grille has a great story. When we pulled the water pump off, the grille had a gapping hole. It only had the "GMC" lettering and two bars. We posted on Stovebolt to see if anyone knew where we could find a replacement grille. We weren't having much luck until someone suggest we contact Don Peterson in Arizona. We called him and Don said he has had OUR grille hanging on his wall for 30 years, looking for the truck to attach to!
So now this old truck has been living with us for the past couple of years. We named her BOHEMIATH. She is an ULTRA-rare truck.
We are undecided about the paint. We may just leave her as she is as there is so much character in her.
My wife really loves her scars (as she calls them). Most of them are from places where it's been welded. There is a place on the fender, something hit it and they welded it. The marking on the door is where the Forestry Service had their logo. They had to remove it when they de-commissioned her.
My wife and I both drive the truck, mostly on the weekends. We have had a lot of people approach us, sharing stories and memories of their experiences with similar trucks. Some have their young kids with them, and it's fun to get all the generations involved in this history and life-experiences involving old trucks like this. Some folks want their picture taken with the truck. Some have even made appointments for us to set up a photo opportunity at their house, our house, in town ... with the truck! It's been awesome!
Some people have asked about buying it. And of course, we tell them it is NOT for sale.
Texman and Jana
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