Mike has another Tech Tip on rebuilding oversized pins and bushings.

He has one on swapping your ammeter for a Voltmeter on your Advance Design truck.

Both have great detail and lots of images. Check them out!




Not all of us can bend and shape and turn and curve old iron like others. So this article was written by one of our Bolters who attests he is not a "body/fender guy" and he wrote it for other "non-body/fender Stovebolters." A lot of work went into putting this step-by-step amazing tech tip. Should be a big help to us not-so-skilled fender folk...

Restoring an Advance Design Grille
For Beginners (when you are not a bone fide body guy)
By Mike Bakken
1951 Chevy 3600 Rust Bucket
Bolter 32971

More discussion about this topic in the Paint and Body Shop Forum

<< Click on any image for a much larger view >>

July 1, 2013

Take a look. Take a deep breath. Here we go ...

The outermost supports (vertical pieces that attach to the inner and outer fender) on my grille were severely corroded (see figure 1 on the right). The outer bars had moderate corrosion and a couple outer bars had some small dents. I was intimidated ... but I figured the worst that could happen was to have to purchase a replacement grill, and some wasted time and materials.

If the horizontal parts been more damaged, I probably would have bought an entire assembly (2013 price about $300+ new).

There may be other ways and probably better methods to do the same but if you have basic skills and your grille is in fair shape, you can fix it.

I have good heavy welding skills, so-so light welding skills and am a beginner body guy learning on my own.

I purchased replacement support set ($49) as well as a complete fastener set ($16) both from Jim Carter Truck Parts -- the only source I could find for new vertical supports. The fastener set includes all the required rivet-like bolts in lieu of rivets, nuts with lock washers, pan-head screws and J-clips. I found no source for individual inner and outer bars -- the horizontal metal parts of the grille.

Seems Chevrolet installed this grille as a complete assembly. Referring to assembly and parts manuals, they do not show any individual parts or part nomenclature. The only reference I found for part names was Chevrolet paint color specifications and parts vendors, so for this article:

  • Support(s) = 5 vertical pieces
  • Outer bar(s) = 5 forward horizontal parts, typically same color as exterior
  • Inner bar(s) = 4 aft horizontal pieces, typically painted white and connected to 4 lower outer bars. I have also seen them referred to as upper bars, splash bars and deflectors.


There are a few posts on Stovebolt.com about numbering the bars before disassembly. I didn't. The grille assembly is tapered from top to bottom so the bars are different lengths, shortest at the top. During assembly, I learned Chevy made it easier than measuring each, and I will share this knowledge later in the article. You will see measurements recorded in some of my photos that was done by the other knucklehead that works in my one-man shop.

To disassemble, the pan-head screws were removed (most had to be ground off with a pneumatic cutoff tool) as well as rivet heads to separate the supports from the bars. There are tabs protruding from the inner supports through slots in both bars that need to be straightened (twisted).

I then removed the rivets connecting the outer to inner bars. A pin punch was used to drive what was left of the rivets from their holes while supporting the surrounding sheet metal.

I retained all the rusty pieces until assembly was complete -- I needed mine to tweak some bends on the new support pieces.

Cleaning and Repair

A paint remover wheel was used to clean off moss, dirt, leaves and loose paint. Corroded areas were cleaned with an abrasive wheel. Pinholes were spot-welded closed with a copper backing plate and a MIG welder. Rust was treated with rust converter, then rust encapsulator.

One inner bar end was corroded through so I made a replacement end with 18 gauge sheet metal (the drawing / pattern is Figure 2 below).

Here is a link to the PDF pattern/drawing. The PDF image was drawn in a scale of 1:1. If you print the PDF and ensure at least one measurement in each axis is correct, you can cutout the image and use it as a pattern rather than measuring onto your sheet metal.

When repairing an inner bar end, I first measured and recorded the length of the inner bar. Then I cutoff 5/8 " from the inner bar.

On the replacement piece, I made a flange the thickness of the metal 3/8" from the "eared" end. This overlapping flange section provides some good metal backing to weld with.

My inner bar was quite corroded so welding a butt joint (end-to-end) would have resulted in the old metal "burning through." Then a little hammering of the repair piece along the flange was needed to create a curve similar to the inner bar.

I punched (could have drilled) a couple holes in the inner bar about 3/16" in from the cut end. These holes will provide locations to make spot welds. Then I positioned the repair end inside (underside) the inner bar.

Before welding, I adjusted the repair piece to ensure the inner bar length would remain the same as originally measured. I made a chain of spot welds along the topside joint, then spot welded the holes.

I applied a copper plate (heat sink) along the top and then made the chain spot-welds along the underside joint then a little grinder cleanup (Figure 3 above, right).

The new inner vertical supports were not exact matches and needed few adjustments (bending) where the rivets attach to the inner bars. I wish I had discovered this before I painted the supports (black). I used those old supports as a guide to my adjustments (Figure 4, right).

Then I pounded out a few little dents, smoothed with some 80 grit sanding, did some filler work, then 220 grit sanding, cleaning, primer/filler, 320 grit sanding and finally painting.


In preparation for grille assembly, I rebuilt the parking lights. Disassembly, rust treatment, machining and replacing a mounting stud, replacing the original light socket with a 2-filament socket making the parking light also a turn signal.

Another deviation from original was use of amber LED lights retaining the clear lens appearance. Like others, I want bright lights to let others know where this big heavy truck is going.

Fastener locations are as follows:

  • Rivet head bolts, lock washer / nuts – outer to inner bars, inner supports to inner bars, end supports to inner bar ends
  • J-clips – slip over tabs at end of each outer bar
  • Pan head screws – end supports to outer bars through J-clip

I started by matching each inner bar to its paired inner bar. Chevy made this easy by notching the sheet metal (Figure 5 on the left). I matched the inner bar with 4 notches to the outer bar with 4 notches then used the rivet head bolts and nuts to loosely fasten them together.

The top outer bar includes a flange to connect the top of the assembly with the hood latch panel so it does not have a paired defector. Second from the top bar pair set has 2 notches, next has 3, then 4. The bottom inner bar has a divot in the center to allow clearance for the hand crank to reach the engine crankshaft pulley.

One decision I had to make was the direction to install the rivet head bolts that fasten the inner bars to the outer bars. If the bolt is placed from the outer bar to the inner bar, a socket can easily access the nut / lock-washer. Installing the bolt from the inner bar to the outer bar makes the rivet head visible and gives the illusion of stock rivets. The disadvantage to the stock look is the nuts are difficult to access for tightening. I settled for difficult retaining the original look (also Figure 5, bottom image).

When fastening the outer supports to the inner bars, the rivet head bolts must be installed from the outside (support end) with the lock-washer / nut inside (inner bar). This provides a near smooth surface to mate the outer supports to the inner and outer fenders.

Orientation of the vertical supports is as follows:

  • Outers -- channel inside, flat outside, angle end down
  • Center -- (only odd piece) angle end down, protruding tangs down
  • Left/Right Inner -- protruding tangs down, inner bar attachment tabs out

This is an awkward assembly to deal with. I started on a towel-covered bench (Figure 6 right) and connected the left end vertical support with the bottom bar pair assembly. I secured woodworking parallel jaw clamps on the end support holding the assembly still attempting to ensure I didn't scratch my new paint. Then I attached the second from the top bar pair. Then I attached the left inner support. Again, all bolts loose -- thumb tight.

Now the partial assembly was in a state it would sit well in a body workstand without clamps (Figure 7 left). I was able to connect all but the top the horizontal piece. Then all inner supports, last was the right support.

Before installing the top bar, I attached the parking light assemblies to the top inner bar. Now that all the pieces were attached properly, I started tightening the nuts. To speed things up and prevent scratching the paint, I shaped a custom wrench for those nuts hidden inside the outer bar (Figure 8 below right). The bend near box end is at 1 3/4". Second bend is 2" from the first bend. You can do like I did -- put it over a nut and mark a location for first bend to clear the bar pair spacing, place over nut again and mark second bend high enough to clear the depth (width) of the inner bars.

Now the pan head screws went through the end supports to outer bar with the J-clip.

I finished securing the supports to horizontal assemblies by twisting the protruding tabs with a vise grip while protecting the paint with painters tape.

Last step, was drilling the replacement inner bar ends using the end support holes as a guide then installing the last rivet head bolts. With 140 pieces in the fastener kit, I checked all fasteners for security twice. I checked them again the next day.

I made one enhancement -- a ground wire between the parking light assemblies. I really do not wish to remove paint from my new end supports to ensure operation, after all these were the most corroded pieces. So I placed a ground wire between the two light assemblies and when I install the grille, I will connect another ground wire to one of those light studs.

I did drill the center support to install a grommet plus a couple 1/8" nylon wire supports on the rivet head bolts to ensure my wire will not chafe (Figure 9).

I connected the power supply to my lights, and was surprised -- a beginner at bodywork can have great results. Give it a try!



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Brad Allen has an awesome collection of Chevrolet factory pictures that he has set up from film strips.

This one is on AD Chevy trucks (1947-1955).

Lots of work on Brad's part ... pure enjoyment for you.