Meet Phyll the Phlatbed-- Algea is the new patina; steering column bench presses is the new workout; bleeding breaks solo build character. Definitely a restoration "challenge" here!
The Two Guys Sagas -- A series of misadventures along the way to finding the ultimate Stovebolt restoration project!
I Never Wanted to be a Fire Man-- A lot of little boys dream of being astronauts and fire fighters. Not John Milliman! Not that he ever had anything against fire fighters, he just never felt led to be one. So why does he enlist the help of friends, spend 10's of dollars and embark on an epic venture to get... a fire truck?
True Grits -- The siren song of the rusty Stovebolt, battered and in repose, will never cease to stir the soul enough to risk life, limb and a perfectly fine tow vehicle to bring home ... just ... one ... more ... old ... truck!
You've loaded the tools, got your best junkyard coveralls on, poured the coffee in the travel mug and set the radio to your fav-oh-rite tunes. Time to head to the junkyard to capture those elusive Advance Design parts.
But trucks in the wild often are wild game preserves in their own right -- home to bees, snakes and other potentially unfriendly critters. Who wants to go crawling in or under a dead truck just to come face to face with Mr. No Shoulders? Not me, pard!
Wouldn't it be handy to tell the year of the truck (to verify it as a viable parts donor) from, say ... 50 feet away?
This section isn't going to make you an expert on Advance Design trucks. But hopefully, it will help you identify these trucks in the wild -- without having to ask Mr. Copperhead permission to inspect the VIN plate! Hatari!
Here's a down and dirty look at the major changes from year to year on the Advance Design Trucks.
NOTE:GM often switched to new models at mid year. This was true for the Advance Design trucks which came out in the second half of 1947. Thus, we'll refer to that half year of trucks as the 1947.2 model year. Likewise, GM stopped production of the Advance Design in March, 1955 to switch over to the Task Force model trucks (which began rolling off the production line in October). Thus, we'll refer to Jan-March, 1955 AD trucks as the 1955.1 model year.
1954 - 1955.1
The AD trucks debuted in the second half of 1947 with a grille sporting five horizontal bars topped with a hood ornament featuring a blue bow tie and the word "Chevrolet." On either side, between the 1st and 2nd bars, were rectangular parking lights in chrome housings. Painted grilles were standard with the outer bars in body color. The outer bars each had one stripe in "cream medium" (and matched the cab stripe).
The two outer vertical bars that attach to the fenders are the same color as the fender. The three inner vertical bars are semi-flat black (to make them less visible).
Chromed outer bars were an available option except as noted below.
Chrome outer bars not available '52 and '53
Outer bars were not striped in '50-'53
Inner bars were "Channel Green" for '47 and '48
Inner bars were "Waldorf White" for '49-'53
For 1954, the grille changed to a more open design featuring a massive cross bar through the middle. It extended the full width of the front of the truck, and below it on either side were the two (larger) parking lights.
The header bar had "Chevrolet" stamped in it, painted Waldorf White.
The outer grill bars were painted body color and the inners were "Thistle Gray" (exceptions: trucks painted Commercial Red had Argent Silver inners and trucks painted Pure White had Pure White inners).
For 1955.1, the grille outer bars were Bombay Ivory and the inners were Onyx Black
1954 - 1955.1
The early AD trucks feature a flat two-piece windshield with a stainless steel vertical divider bar in the middle. Most trucks have a plain black rubber windshield seal gasket. A chrome reveal molding was standard on Suburbans and optional on the other trucks.
Note:Trucks with two-piece windshields should also have 5-bar grilles (and vice versa). SeeNote 1below.
For 1954, the windshield changed to a slightly curved single piece.
Note: Trucks with single-piece windshields should also have single divider grilles (and vice versa). SeeNote 1below.
Note 1:There have been a few documented cases of some assembly plants, during model change overs, using up a few left over parts (grilles, cabs, etc) on the first few vehicles of the next production run before switching to new stampings in a cost savings measure. These trucks are exceptionally rare (but not necessarily more valuable ...) and determining provenance can be difficult in the extreme.
3. Door Windows
1951 - 1955.1
The first years of the Series had single-piece door glass.
For the 1951 model year through the end of the series in 1955, the AD trucks featured "Ventipanes" -- door vent windows. This feature replaced the side cowl vent (see next section).
4. Side Cowl Vent
1951 - 1953
The '47-'50 AD trucks sport a side cowl vent in addition to the top cowl vent. The top cowl vent is found on all Advance Design trucks.
Note! The inside handle for the side cowl vent changed to a flat stamping in 1950 from a more elaborate arm with a bakelite knob for the previous years. Also note the screwed on backing plate for the early years.
For 1951, the side cowl vent was eliminated and its function replaced by the ventipanes (discussed above)
5. Exterior Door Handles
1952 - 1955.1
The '47-'51 trucks have exterior door handles that are solid and rotate to unlatch.
From 1952 on, the door handles went to a push button design.
6. Fuel Filler Tube
1949 - 1955.1
The fuel tank on the early AD trucks is located under the bed and the fuel filler pipe comes out through the bed side just behind the cab.
From 1949 on, the fuel tank moved into the cab and the filler pipe comes out in the cab corner behind the passenger door handle. Fuel tank in the cab ... Hmmmmm... Happy smoking
7. Shifter & Parking Brake
1948 - 1955.1
When the big switch-over occurred in the middle of 1947 to the all-new Advance Design series, the first ones carried over the 3-speed floor-shifted transmission from the earlier "Art Deco" trucks.
Four-speed transmissions (which retain the floor shift for all years) are optional in the 1/2-ton and 3/4-ton models, standard in the 1-ton and up. Floor shifted trucks also have a hand-actuated parking brake -- until 1952 when the 3/4-tons and 1-tons got the foot actuated parking brakes, as well.
From 1948 on, the Advance Design trucks upgraded to a column-shifted 3-speed transmission. The floor-shifted SM-420 4-speed transmission was optional for all but standard on the 1-ton and larger.
Column-shifted trucks also have a foot-actuated parking brake.
Note:For 1954 and on, the Hydra-Matic automatic transmission was available as a factory option. Concurrent with this, was the introduction of the new, full-pressure 235 engine that replaced the 216 in all light trucks.
8. Hood Side Badging
The new Advance Design trucks debuted in the second half of 1948 sporting chrome hood side badging. The word "Chevrolet" in big letters, with three underscore lines, and "Thriftmaster" below (painted vermilion). The '48's used the same badging.
For the '49's and '50's, just a plain chrome "Chevrolet" with a separate badge below it with the series designation (3100 for 1/2-tons, 3600 for 3/4-tons, 3800 for 1-tons, 4400 for 1.5-tons and 6400 for 2-tons).
The Chevrolet name badges were used in 1951 and 1952 but no series designators.
Note:Some early 1951 trucks have been documented with series number badging (left over 1950 stocks, no doubt).
For 1953 and 1954, the "Chevrolet" got dropped (they probably figured you could tell it was a Chevrolet from the hubcaps or the front hood emblem ) and just the series designator in a broken loop was used.
The Advance Design goes out with a flourish -- the last trucks of the era rolled out during the first half of 1955 and sported a single-piece badge that had both the word "Chevrolet" and the series number.
9. Shock Absorbers
1950 - 1955.1
The early AD trucks used the older style lever, or "knee action" shocks. Double action shocks were available options for all years. Shocks for the rear axle were optional '49 and on.
The 1950 trucks were the first ones to use more modern tube shock absorbers on the front axle.
10. Tail Lights
1954 - 1955.1
The early AD trucks used rounded rectangular taillights.
Part of the big change in '54, the taillights went round.
11. Bed Rails
1954 - 1955.1
The '47 through '53 pickups used the older style angled bed railings.
While we're discussing bed sides, the following info for stake pockets applies for all years:
1/2-ton -- 6.5' bed, 2 stake pockets
3/4-ton -- 7.5' bed, 3 stake pockets
1-ton -- 9' bed, 4 stake pockets
The bed side railing went flat for 1954 and stayed that way until Chevrolet ended stepside bed production in the '80's.
12. Instruments / Dashboard
1954 - 1955.1
The re-designed instrument panel for 1947.2 included a multi-instrument containing an electrically driven indicator for fuel and battery, and pressure driven indicators for temperature and oil pressure. The other main instrument was the speedometer.
The steering wheel had an ovoid hub and horn button, and two large spokes bisecting the wheel.
The instrument panel and dash were re-designed for 1954 and featured recessed instrument clusters (to minimize reflections), redesigned glove box and restyled ash tray.
The restyled steering wheel gave better visibility of the instruments and incorporated finger grips on the spokes.
Other places to check/confirm ...
If the truck has a mish mash of parts from multiple years, doesn't have a VIN plate anymore, or you just want to be definitively sure, there are a couple of places you can check to confirm the year of your truck:
Assuming they are original to the truck, date of manufacture is stamped on the back of the heater (if equipped) and the back of the gauge cluster
The year of manufacture is stamped on the end of the pinion gear in the rear axle -- again, this assumes the rear axle is original to the truck and hasn't been swapped out.
This tech tip is a work in progress. I hope to add sections for differentiating between the different sizes, as well as some material on the Canadian trucks. If I get really ambitious, I'll tackle the GMC's!
Chevrolet Pickup Color History, Tom Brownell and Mike Mueller
Standard Catalog of American Light Duty Trucks (2nd Ed), John Gunnell, Ed.
OldChevyTrucks.com -- Jim Carter's site for antique truck parts (and major supporter of Stovebolt.com)