1948 GMC Mt. Tamalpais Flat Bed
01 May 2010
From Chris :
The first car that I ever bought was a 1954 Chevy wagon. I had it for about a dozen years and traded it off about a dozen years ago.
In September 2007, I bought a 1948 GMC 1-ton flat bed. The first things that I wanted to do to it was repaint the cab, and rebuild the bed.
I call this old truck "Ulysses, the Mt. Tamalpais Flat Bed," because Mt. Tamalpais is my favorite mountain. I found an old registration slip showing that this truck belonged to The Mt. Tamalpais Cemetery. One of my workers called the truck "The old general," and my favorite general is Ulysses Simpson Grant. So, the name!
It turns out that the owner of the cemetery is a car collector. I spoke to some of the men who were familiar with my truck. They told me that it had been purchased at an auction, possibly in Sacramento. Since then, it had been used at several of the cemeteries in Northern California.
The workers at the Oakland cemetery had nicknamed it the "Watermelon truck" and It had been used at the graveyard in Sacramento by convicts to carry equipment, to do brush removal.
Specific details: 1947, 250 Series, One Ton, Conventional Cab, 137 Inch wheelbase, 228 engine, 4 Speed SM420 Transmission, Production Number 5918.
The truck was sold as cab / chassis, without a bed, and the bed was probably built at a local shop for the original owner. The bed does have integral stake pockets on the sides , but not on the rear. The corners of the bed are square, not rounded. So maybe the bed was made locally also, but not by GMC. The bed is ten feet long and seven feet wide.
The photo above is how the truck looked in June 2009, with the bed and headache rack built. [ Chris had sent us this picture for the Stovebolt calendar, so we included the whole shot here, which was a nice setting. ~ Editor ] For the headache rack, sides, and gates, I am following plans that I found on the North Dakota State University web site.
In April 2009, I finished rebuilding the bed. I started by removing the old bed. I then cleaned and painted the frame, rear differential, drive shaft, and bed rails. I made new joists out of Philippine mahogany, which I coated with Spar Urethane. On top of the joists I put 1 1/8 inch by 6 inch purple heart ship lap decking which I attached with stainless deck screws and coated with Watco Exterior Oil. I spaced the boards apart with 16 penny nails (as temporary spacers), and used pole clamps to align the boards. I am very happy with the way it turned out.
Later in 2009, I noticed a crack in the exhaust manifold, so I replaced the manifold. I was able to find one for $150 from another old truck guy in Oregon. Before I replaced the manifold, the truck occasionally put out a lot of smoke. I thought that it might have had bad rings, but since I replaced the manifold, it hasn't been smoky.
Towards the end of 2009, the 6 volt generator seized up, so I converted the truck to 12 volts using a new Delco 1 wire alternator. Now the starter motor turns the engine over really fast, I have brighter lights, I can plug in my 12 volt trailer lights, and I can install a sound system!
Well, I haven't made a lot of progress in 2010 yet, Here's a recent photo taken March 12, with the largest load so far -- 20 sheets of sheet-rock and two large cabinets. Besides, the '48, I have an old 1953 Van Pelt Fire truck. And my "main project" is work on a 1900 Queen Ann Cottage.