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1937 GMC 1/2-Ton Flatbed




 

 

Owned by Glenn Reimel
Morgan County, West Virginia


 
03 August 2009
# 2633

From Glenn :

Here is my 1937 GMC flatbed. She has 14,300 miles on the rebuild which was done by an Uncle in 1950.  The paint job was also put on in 1950.  She has been garage kept since then.

This truck was once featured in Hemmings Motor News.

I drove her about 20 miles on July 5th, 2009. 

Here is some additional history on the truck. My Uncle, Oliver LaBar, operated a Hudson Dealership in the Bangor, Pennsylvania area.  Although his first love was the Hudson, he restored a number of vehicles that he came across during the years that he operated his Hudson garage in the Slate Belt area.

Upon Uncle Oliver's passing, his only child (Carolyn LaBar) held an auction at the garage. There were a couple of like-new Hudson Hornets still in the show room that were sold, as well as some used Hudson cars and even a Hudson pickup truck. There was a Ford Galaxy 500 convertible that he had restored also -- that being one of the later model vehicles in the inventory.

Needless to say, there were interested parties from all around the country there. I remember wishing that I could afford to buy some of these vehicles that meant so much to my Uncle.

My Father, Glenn L. Reimel of Middletown, Maryland, was able to arrange to purchase the 1937 truck from Carolyn before the auction.  The truck held a sentimental attachment to both my Mother (Betty) and my Father. Uncle Oliver and his brother were in the process of rebuilding the engine and painting the truck when my Father and Mother met and started dating -- about 1949-1950.  My Father often quotes Oliver regarding the overhaul of the engine.  “Glenn, I am building this engine with tighter specs than it originally came with out of the factory, because I am the guy that’s going to be driving it.”  Well, he must have done it right because the rebuild has lasted to this day, and is pushing nearly 15,000 miles.

When Dad and I started traveling up to Bangor to see about getting the truck running, the engine was seized up. The truck was on a lift rack which kept the weight of the vehicle off of the suspension. It was in the Hudson garage which was kept heated in the winter and being a block building wasn’t bad in the heat of the summer. 

We took the head off of the engine and used gallons of a lubricant to free the one piston that was seized. Dad had an oak block milled to conform to the piston diameter and we would tap from one piston to the other and add lubricant.

We made about four trips to Bangor to go through this same process over and over again. Finally, while Dad was out buying more lubricant one day, the piston came free. When Dad returned with the lubricant, I asked him to put some pressure on the hand crank that could be used to turn over the engine. He was shocked when it turned and kept right on turning. I tried to make him believe that he had broken it loose but as usual, there was no fooling Dad.

The next issue -- we had was to take out the gas tank which was full of broken and rusted pieces of tank baffle. I took the tank to a local car wash in Bangor and hosed-rinsed and emptied the gas tank several times. I wasn’t too impressed with how the inside of the tank was cleaning up though.

Meeting back at the Hudson garage, we were walking around the back of the building when lo and behold, there sat a gas tank that looked very much like the one I was carrying back from the car wash. I pointed it out to Dad and we moved in for a closer look. The gas tank was labeled "1937 GMC." Uncle Oliver had a brand new tank there for the truck; all we had to do was install it.

Once we drained all the lubricant and flushed and re-flushed the engine and got everything back together, we were ready to attempt to start the engine. We had a little trouble getting the old cable-operated lift to come down setting the truck back on its four wheels. But once we got by that, we pushed the old truck out of its long time home onto the front parking lot of the garage. We got ready to start the engine. I’ll never forget that scene. I was standing away from the truck in case it blew up. Dad was crawling inside the cab to operate the starter. She fired right up without any drain on the battery but the lubricant was all through the entire exhaust system and it created one massive white cloud of smoke, finally to the point where I not only couldn’t see Dad in the truck. Then I couldn’t even see the truck.

After a few minutes of that, Dad turned off the truck and bailed out for some fresh air. We were both overjoyed though because she was running on her own and sounded solid.

Dad made arrangements for a roll back from Myersville, Maryland to bring the truck from Bangor down to Frederick, Maryland. The truck's new home was to be in the small one-car garage of my sister's (Tennie Hamilton) house for the next several years. While the truck was at Tennie’s, Dad and I, as well as my Brother-in-law David Hamilton, worked on minor issues, with brakes and such.  I had a small piece machined from scratch for the master cylinder by an older gentlemen, a machinist who had a back yard machine shop near Halfway, Maryland.

Uncle Oliver had used the truck to haul old engine blocks and such, so the lumber that comprised the bed was not very pretty. Dad knew I had some nice seasoned oak lumber at my place and he asked me to bring some of it over to his home in Middletown.

Dad laid out a plan for having the lumber cut, shaped and planed by Ingles Lumber Company of Middletown, Maryland. Dad then cleaned, and re-painted the hardware and put the bed back together. Then he added the one-of-a-kind side rails that he designed. Oh, Dad’s a Civil Engineer, graduate of Lafayette College, Easton Pennsylvania and not a bad mechanic.

Eventually my BIL needed his garage back, so the '37 moved to Bulls Tail, a local nick name for an area just outside of Wolfsville, Maryland.  My sister Connie was house setting for a neighbor that had moved. While their house was for sale, Connie had the use of their two-car garage. The '37 resided there in the two car garage for a few years.

While at both of the locations, Dad would take her out with some of the grand children for rides through the back country roads.

That home eventually sold and at that point, Mom and Dad turned to me to provide a home for our '37. Not having a garage myself, I had to do some quick thinking. I decided on an Amish pre-built garage, 14 x 28.  It took a few months but finally the building was finished and the sight work for the new garage was ready.

The Amish brought the new building in and set it. The building has a fold up garage door on one end and three windows and a personnel door on the side of the garage facing the house.  A short time later, the newly built garage had a very special guest.  Our '37 has resided at our home, near Berkeley Springs, West Virginia for about seven years now.  She gets special attention, doesn’t go out in bad weather and travels the back roads of Morgan County, West Virginia on Sundays. She’s earned a few trophies from local parades and she continues to get the attention of passersby.

The truck is pretty much original with the exception of a few minor things, such as the addition of turning signals.

Best regards,

Glenn

-30-


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