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For technical questions, check out our extensive selection of Tech Tips that grows every month. For most everything else, try our Discussion Forum.

About This Site:

  • What's a "Stovebolt?"
  • What's a "NAPCO?"
  • How do I get my truck on this website?
  • How do I use your discussion Forums?
  • Do you accept Street Rods on your site?
  • Just who runs this dang website, anyway?
  • Why do some articles end with "-30-"?
  • What are the good info sources?
  • How do I...

  • get my new project home? (I just bought it)
  • start a restoration?
  • keep my restoration going? (I'm FRUSTRATED!)
  • Misc...

  • Should I restore original or go the street rod route?
  • What is a "Stovebolt??"

    Bill "red58" LePage sent us this photo long ago (back before 2004, the oldest date in our files, computer crash). We think he found this on eBay. Wow, if we only knew ... we should have gotten this!

             A ha! The term "Stovebolt" actually is a historic moniker for the famed Chevrolet L-6 (straight six, in-line six, etc.) overhead-valved engines produced from 1929 to 1962. The nickname generally applies, as well, to trucks (or cars) equipped with those engines.

             Where the term originates is a subject of much debate! The most plausible explanation is that the push rod covers on the sides of the early sixes were attached with fasteners that looked very much like the typical fasteners used to assemble wood stoves -- either a testament to the engine's ruggedness or a Ford-derived epithet poking fun at the engine's supposed simplicity and lack of elegance. Like flatheads are elegant ... ha!

             For the purposes of this web site, however, we take a more "Jimmy Buffett" approach! As Margaritaville can be anywhere you want it to be, "Stovebolt" can be what we want it to be, and therefore, we apply the term liberally to any GM truck (Chevrolet, GMC, Rapid, Samson or other GM branded truck) built before the 1973 model year, regardless of what engine it has. In 1973, GM introduced the more modern trucks with a plethora of options and we decided trying to cover all that was beyond the scope of what we wanted to do with this web site. We have left that vast field of interest to other ambitious web developers!

             As with any community, a whole lexicon has evolved, based on this term. To navigate it knowledgably, here's a quick reference guide to the known terms:

    • Stovebolter -- Anyone with an interest in, love for or ownership of these great trucks, and thereby is automatically a "member" of this site! Ahem, with all the rights and privileges thereby pertaining... Versions include:
      • 'Bolter -- Shortened version of "Stovebolter"
      • Eurobolter* -- A 'Bolter from any of the commonly recongnized countries of Europe and the UK.
      • OzBolter* -- An Aussie or Kiwi Bolter.
    • The Bolt -- A commonly used nickname (at least by Bolters) for this web site. And we hope you enjoy using it!
    • Big Bolt -- Any GM truck rated 1.5 tons or larger. Are 3/4 and 1-tons with flatbeds Big Bolts?? Size matters -- Sorry, but no.
    • Firebolt -- Any pre-'73 GM-based fire apparatus.
    • Detroitbolt/Jimmybolt -- Any Detroit Diesel-powered Stovebolt (doesn't necessarily have to be a Big Bolt, but so far we haven't seen any that weren't ;) )
    • Cumminsbolt -- A Stovebolt with the Cummins 4BT or 6BT engine swap. It also applies (lovingly, we hope...) to the editors' unmentionable truck that hauls their REAL Stovebolts to East Coast shows. At least it isn't a Ford ...
    • OzBolt -- Any Holden or Australian Stovebolt.
    • Mapleleaf -- A actual GM term that applies to Canadian-built Stovebolts.

    * Note: Although prides itself on being a truly global family of enthusiasts, and therefore with no barriers based on origin, some terms have come into use based in pride of identity -- these terms are presented, then, in that spirit.

             For more info on the Stovebolt engine, please visit our Tech Tips. Also, please check out an excellent information site on the subject put together by 'Bolter Tim Lederman at

    What is a "NAPCO?"

             NAPCO stands for Northwestern Auto Parts Company. NAPCO was an early converter of GM and other makes of trucks to 4 wheel drive. They provided the axle, transfer case (sourced from Spicer), driveshafts, and suspension components to the dealers for the 4x4 conversion. Most of their conversions were Chevrolet and GMC, though they did do some for Studebaker and Ford. They also provided GM with components after they offered the 4x4 option as a factory installed option in '56 (GMC) and '57 (Chevrolet). That relationship ended in '60, when GM decided to do it all in-house.

             A side note, NAPCO was not the only company that did 4x4 conversions. American-Coleman also did conversions using their own axle and transfer case designs. You see them more on heavier trucks, like Mack and International, though GM used them as well. You also see A-C axles on farm equipment, mose front assist tractors from the '50s-'80s use their axle. Marmon-Herrington was also made 4x4 conversion kits, though mostly for Ford use.

             Check here for more info on NAPCO. (Thanks to Bill, aka LONGBOX55, for this info!)

    How do I get my truck on this web site??

             We're glad you asked! We were beginning to wonder what was taking you so long. Please refer to our Submission Page.

    Who runs this web site and why??

             The Official "First Bolter" of course (and the patron saint of all Bolters) is Louis Chevrolet. Since him, there have been legions of Bolters. A few years later (in November of 1995, to be exact), Bolter John Milliman created this site as a project to learn web site coding and design. With input from Barry Weeks, the site started out as just an information site for '39 and '40 Chevy trucks. One of very first 'Bolters who is still active was Don "Down2Sea" McLendon. In 1997, Tom Brownell, then editor of Vintage Truck Magazine and author of "How to restore your Chevrolet Pickup" suggested we expand the site to cover more models and we created the basic site layout still in use today, albeit greatly expanded! In 2000, we added an interactive discussion forum.

             Today, Stovebolt.Com is run on a daily basis by Peggy Milliman. John mainly just tries to stay out of the way and avoid crashing the server ... again. (John provides design and content help when Peggy grants him permission to touch a computer...) Our Technical Support is provided by Paul Schmehl. We also rely heavily on many volunteers who help with content review, forum moderation and general correspondence -- as well as myriad other essential tasks. We simply could not exist without their help! As well, we are very grateful for our generous donors and sponsors who help keep the lights on and the site going. You can see who they are here.

             Why do we do it? Because it's fun! From the beginning, we've tried to foster a down-home, family friendly atmosphere that welcomed all -- from folks who didn't own old trucks, but liked them, to the "tribal elders" of the old truck hobby. And thanks to our fabulous volunteers (lead by the amazing and gifted Paul Schmehl who we absolutely could not exist without), generous donors and loyal sponsors, we've been able to create the very best web site of its kind on the net with up-to-date hardware, software and contemporary design without over commercializing the site. Having grown to more than 20,000 pages of content, 7 million hits per month on average and nearly 20,000 registered users from around the world, we think it's worked! We hope you like it! Thanks for stopping by!

    How do I use the discussion forums on this web site??

             Easy! Just go to our Forums FAQ page and you'll see just how fun and easy it is!

    Do you accept Street Rods on your site??

             Of course we do! We originally set out to do a website just for '39s and '40s. Tom Brownell, at Vintage Truck magazine , suggested we open it up to other years as well. The street rod guys just came in on their own. They are such nice folks, we couldn't turn 'em out. So we all live together in peace and harmony, eating granola and swapping NOS stuff (yeah, right!). We also get into friendly conversations about street rods versus originals and why one would go either way. Read about it here.

             But to answer your question, we accept ALL GM trucks through the '72 model year for inclusion in our Gallery and Discussion Forums. We have just about everything in our Swap Meet. So if you have a GM truck, this site is for you! If you have an old truck that's not a GM, you're still welcome.


    Why do a lot of articles end with "- 30 -" ?

             The "–30–" is a traditional journalistic term used to alert the copy setter to "the end" of a section of copy (or a story, for example) since the Civil War when telegraphers tapped "XXX", the Roman numeral signifying 30, to end transmissions. We use it here in homage to that fine Journalism tradition. Mainly, though, it's because we are formally trained traditional Journalists and it's just habit ...


    I'm new to the old truck hobby. What are the good info sources?

    There are many great web sites out there, representing both online content and printed publications. Among our favorites, though:
    • Hemmings Motor News, "The world's largest antique, vintage and special-interest auto marketplace." They can be found on the Lots-O-Links page. You might as well subscribe now as that's where you will find those hard-to-find parts.
    • Vintage Truck"(formerly "This Old Truck"). It is "Dedicated to the preservation of pickups, vans, station wagons, light trucks and commercial cars of all makes and vintages." It is a wonderful resource for folks like us who like driving LSTs (large, slow trucks).
    • "How to Restore Your Chevrolet Pickup" by Tom Brownell.


    How do I start a restoration?

             Hopefully, all you've done so far is get your new project off its trailer or unhooked from the tow vehicle. Good, STOP HERE! First, go get Tom Brownell's book, "How to Restore Your Chevrolet Pickup Truck." Read it.

             Then, before you do ANYTHING, go to the Tech Tips section and read the article on Shop Safety -- it's a must read.

             Now that you are safe and ready to work, go read Randy Bauman's excellent Tech Tip on starting a project!


    How do I keep my restoration going?

    Irwin Arnstein
    1959 Chevy 1-Ton
             I've got my truck in pieces all over the garage. It seems like I'm not getting anywhere and I'm about to take a match and torch the whole bloody mess!

             Put the matches down and step slowly away from the truck. Slowly. That's good. Keep your hands where I can see 'em. There. That's good. Now breathe.

              Seriously, we've all been where you are. Is this your first restoration? I've only done one myself, but I just about gave up, too. It was about this time of year (Winter is usually when "Restoration Frustration" strikes), the frame was together but it seemed like the body work wasn't getting anywhere. The cab was the worst. It just never seemed like I made any progress, yet I sure was spending money on the pig.

             I just got so frustrated with the whole thing. But then I put the cab away for a little while and broke out some smaller pieces and worked on them. I did a fender and got it all finished and in primer. And then I did something else small and finished it, and something else after that, until I started seeing some progress. That re-motivated me. And after a while, I just got the cab going again and just determined to put my nose to it until I got it done, or die trying. Then spring came and it warmed up a little in the garage and everything was cool again.



    Peggy Perry's
    1958 Chevy Apache Fleetside Custom Cab

             You are hitting "The Wall", kind of like distance runners do. You just have to keep going through it. For me, it was doing little parts -- stuff you could start and finish in a couple of days so you could see rapid progress. But also be careful about looking at too many photos of finished trucks. For me, that got to be counter productive -- "Ugh, I'll NEVER get there."

             One last thing -- don't work until you get really tired and frustrated. Don't walk away from the truck mad, tired and frustrated. Stop before you get tired of it, then put the wrenches away and turn out the light. This is supposed to be fun, right? I'm a believer in learned behavior -- if you're always working until you reach your frustration breaking point, then you will soon equate working on the truck with being really frustrated and you'll keep going to try and work through your frustration. Pretty soon, all your friends wonder where you've been, your family has moved out and your cat uses your pillow as a litter box 'cause you're obsessed with this thing that's supposed to be fun. That's the voice of experience talking. I didn't have to take a match to my truck -- my wife and daughters almost did it for me (with me tied to it).

             That's when I turned out the garage light for about two weeks and didn't even think about it. And when I went back to it, I did the small item thing for a while to rebuild my motivation. I also limited my time. When I turned out the light and left the garage, I really didn't want to. That way, I was leaving while I was still having fun. Pretty soon, it got to be fun again AND I wasn't obsessed.



    Be sure to check out our extensive Forums discussions -- from General Truck talk, Electrical Bay, Big Bolts, Panels and Burbs, Engine and Driveline, Paint and Body, Interiors, Tool Chest -- The Stovebolt Collective can help in your quest and walk you through the mire and magic of working with old iron!



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