Tech Tips

'Bolters helping 'Bolters is a beautiful thing!

Around the 'Bolt...

Search the 'Bolt - more than 100,000 pages of info. Start here if you're hunting!

Discussion Forums
More than 38,400 registered Stovebo
lters from around the world talking old trucks, and sharing technical help.

Gallery More than 3,140 old truck stories with photos from Stovebolters worldwide! More in our DITY Gallery.

Tech Tips
Helpful tips on truck restoration, identification, preservation; project stories, Build Blogs and Stovebolt histories.

Find out who's doing what, where and when! See who else is in your neighborhood with an old truck.

The Swap Meet
FREE Classified ads for trucks, parts, truck citings, eBay / Craigslist, Hauling Board.

Nothing new under the sun ... got some good Frequently Asked Questions here, and will probably have more!

Sagas, Feature Stories and some stuff we've done here and there and don't know where else to put it!

Stovebolt Hoo-ya
'Bolter wear, calendars, bling and other goodies!

Stovebolt Office
About Us, Contacting Us, Stovebolt Supporters, and other pertinent administrivia.

Return to the home page


Ray Stanley
Wheelwright Restorations
92 Pine Street
Wheelwright, MA 01904


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!




No parts of this site, its contents, photos or graphics may be used without permission.

Copyright © 1995-2023
Leonardtown, Maryland


The Neds 1951 1 Ton Panel          So you've always wanted one of those panel-type Stovebolts but weren't quite sure what to look for. Or you already have one, and you're still not sure! Happens to all of usl! George Moniz started a forum discussion back in 2007 gathering data to help folks find answers to some of the hard questions. Now with an update, it's got LOTS of information to help if you are on the hunt for a Chevy or GMC Suburban, Panel, Canopy Express. Shoot, it'll help if you already have one. He's got enough information that would probably be helpful with when hunting for an old truck in general.

        We want to continue to build this living document. So, if you have images to offer, or additional information to share, please send it along. You can post it in the forum , or send it directly to George via email. We encourage input and corrections. Let us know what can be added or should be corrected, or if we have forgotten something.

The Restoration Check List
A compilation of information by George Moniz  

Updated July 2011 (original thread 2007)

Any questions, check this thread in the forums

It all began

I have helped a few guys in their pursuits in finding Suburbans. This list should help most people who are not as familiar with the vehicles as some of us. It can also be used remotely when a fellow Stovebolter volunteers to look at a Suburban for another who lives far away. (If you are new to this site, this happens all the time -- to our delight and amazement ! ~ Editor)

This should cover 1/2 ton Suburbans, Panels and Canopy Express vehicles. One ton models will have the same problems with only some of the body patches being unavailable.

Areas to check   Other things to look for
Check for missing parts   What to expect when driving
Safety check and tools   Parts Manuals

Buying a 1947 - 1955 Chevy / GMC Suburban, Panel or Canopy Express

Both the GMC and the Chevrolet share many of the same body parts and all of the same problems. The Advance Design bodies were problematic to rust in the same places as the pick up, plus areas exclusive to the Panels and Suburbans. My real focus is on the Suburban, but I have included some of the issues with the Panel and Canopy Express.

In general, the front doors, fender, hood and grille are the same for 1/2, 3/4, and 1-ton trucks, including Panels, Suburbans and Canopy Express.

Areas to check

Here are a few of the areas to check when purchasing a Suburban, Canopy Express or Panel. The Panel and Canopy Express have their own quirks and issues, but the following information can be used as a baseline in your search.

Front fenders: This is common to all AD trucks, including the Suburban. Cowl to fender -- first and second bolt adjacent to the hood. Also the lower cowl to fender area as the fender curves. The lower portion of the fenders can be a problem, too. Sometimes, in extreme cases, I have seen rust out around the headlights. No repair panels available to my knowledge. (ALL)

Cowl: This is common to all AD trucks. As mentioned in the fender to cowl area, but also on the lower section of the cowl between the fender and the door. Repair panels are available. (ALL)

Door pillar: This is common to all AD trucks. The lower section just below and including the lower hinge gets rusted out. Repair panels are available. Check the door for sagging and misalignment. (ALL)

Door bottoms: This is a common to all AD trucks. Patch panels are available. (ALL)

Inner cowl: This is common to all AD trucks. Rust out is common in this area and around the toe board including the emergency brake location. Repair panels are available. (ALL)

Cowl to front fender well: This is another area that is prone to rust out and common to all AD trucks. Repair panels are available. (ALL)

Toeboard: Usual place to find rusted out. Repair panels are available. Look under the firewall padding. (ALL)

Floorboard: Usual place to find rusted out. Repair panels are available. Look under the floor matting. (ALL)

Windshield / cowl: Look for rust or deep pits caused by leaking seal. (ALL)

Cowl vent: Look for unusual rust caused by bad seal. Also look under the dash if you find any evidence of a leaking vent seal. Water collects near the ignition switch and around the steering column and will rust out the lower portion of the dash. (ALL)

Inside visor/header: This is common to all AD trucks. Check this area for rust caused by leaking window seal. (ALL)

Roof rain gutters : This area is susceptible to seam cracking and leaks. Rust out can occur in several areas. (ALL)

Interior roof and headliner bows: This area can get major surface rust and the headliner bows can become loose or rusty. (SUBURBAN)

Seat riser and passenger seat floor: This is usually rusted and the passenger floor is a flat piece of 1/8" steel that hides most of the rust. Make sure you check this area carefully and do an underneath inspection too. (SUBURBAN) Panel and Canopy Express seat riser goes the full width of the cab and is susceptible to rust too.

Running boards: These rust out at the support area. Reproductions are available. (1/2-TON)

Curved area under the rear side windows between the front door and the rear fender (both sides): This area is usually rusted, sometimes the paint hides the rust out. Check this area carefully. Patch panels are available. (SAME PROBLEM FOR SUBURBAN, PANEL AND CE)

Under rear fender flange: This area is another hidden problem. Make sure that you use a flashlight and poke around a little. This will show up when you remove the fenders. Limited patch panels are now available (Ray Stanley). (SAME PROBLEM FOR SUBURBAN, PANEL AND CE)

Rear fenders: Where it attaches to the running board and the rear corner. Also the fender flange to the body rusts out (SAME PROBLEM FOR SUBURBAN, PANEL AND CE)

Body belt line just above the rear fenders: Sometimes this can be a problem and it can be hidden under the paint or someone has bondoed over it. Limited patch panels are available (Ray Stanley). (SAME PROBLEM FOR SUBURBAN, PANEL AND CE)

Rear cab corners: This is a common place for rust out. Limited patch panels are available (Ray Stanley) (SAME PROBLEM FOR SUBURBAN, PANEL AND CE)

Rear valence: Often missing or damaged. Only available as a fiberglass reproduction. (SAME PROBLEM FOR SUBURBAN, PANEL AND CE)

Body panel just above rear valence: This is sometimes rusted and most always dented. Some patch panels are available but not a complete piece (Ray Stanley). (SAME PROBLEM FOR SUBURBAN/PANEL AND CE)

Rear body sill: This is the piece just inside the rear doors. Usually dented; sometimes rusted out. No patch panels available to my knowledge. (SAME PROBLEM FOR SUBURBAN, PANEL AND CE)

Rear doors (barn): Usually dented, sometimes rusted at the bottoms and hinges. Missing hardware or hardware not working is common problem. No patch panels available. (SAME PROBLEM FOR SUBURBAN, PANEL)

Clam shell tailgate: Usually dented and usually rusted at the hinges and the inside bottom. (SAME PROBLEM FOR SUBURBAN AND CE)

Hinge support header: Sometimes rusted out due to poor fitting lift gate (sprung). Can also be damaged due to frozen upper lift gate hinges. (SUBURBAN)

Lift gate hinges: There were two styles of hinges 1947-49 / 1950-1955 (Need more information on this). The early style failed and tore out the header. (SUBURBAN)

Clam shell lift gate: Usually rusted at the bottom and window area. Hinges are usually sprung or damaged. Sometimes they have been poorly welded in. Look for welds and tears. Check gate supports for proper operation. (SUBURBAN ONLY)

Lower hinge support (Clamshell tailgate): This area usually cracks or is rusted out. Climb underneath and check. (SAME PROBLEM FOR SUBURBAN AND CE)

Inside side panels under rear side windows: Sometimes rust out will occur here when the fender wells get rusted out. This will show up in the area adjacent to the fender flange, just above the inside fender tunnel. Make sure you check this area carefully (both sides). (SAME PROBLEM FOR SUBURBAN, PANEL AND CE)

Side window openings: This area gets filled with leaves and crud. Check the outside trim pieces as well as the inside trim pieces. Slide the windows and use your flash light for a thorough inspection. (SUBURBANS)

Leaded seams: There are a couple of leaded factory seams that may show stress cracks or just have failed. They are located at the top of the front windshield pillars, cowl to side cowl panels, and at the rear roof corners near the rear side windows. (SAME PROBLEM FOR SUBURBAN, PANEL AND CE)

Check for missing parts

Make sure the truck has all of the hard to find parts or you know what is missing:

  1. Side window stainless. (Unique to the Suburban) 1947/53 and 1954/55 - Two different styles
  2. Side window stops. (Unique to the Suburban) 1947/53 and 1954/55 - Two styles of clips. 1947/53 (Reproduction stops available through Jim Carter's)
  3. Rear fenders. (Unique to Panels, Canopy Express and Suburban) Reproductions in fiberglass only!
  4. Rear valence. (Unique to the Suburban, Panel, Canopy Express) Available in fiberglass reproduction only
  5. Rear door handle and door hardware. (Barn door) (Unique to the Suburban, Panel)
  6. Barn door checks. There are two different styles, one for the Suburban and another for the Panel.
  7. Clamshell tailgate. (Unique to the Suburban and a modified version for the Canopy Express)
  8. Clamshell lift gate. (Unique to the Suburban)
  9. Rear lift gate support. (Clamshell lift gate) (Unique to the Suburban)
  10. Clamshell interior tailgate handles (2). (Unique to the Suburban and Canopy Express)
  11. Tailgate cables and retractors. (Clamshell tailgate) (Unique to the Suburban) Generic reproduction retractors available. Cables can be made to order.
  12. Clamshell tail light. (It should have a round base and hinged.) This light will flip down when the tailgate is in the open position. Look for the rod attached to the lower sill when the gate is in the open position. (Unique to the Suburban / Canopy Express)
  13. Clamshell tailgate. (Unique to Canopy Express) This is a modified Suburban Clamshell.
  14. Clam shell tailgate chains and hardware. (Unique to the Canopy Express)
  15. Spare tire carrier and spare tire. Two styles -- 1947/50 and 1951/55 (Unique to the Suburban, Panel, Canopy Express)
  16. Front / jump, middle and ear seats. (Unique to the Suburban)
  17. Front bucket seats. Drivers seat is original equipment and the passenger seat is an option (Unique to the Panel, Canopy Express)
  18. Cab divider panel (Unique to the Canopy Express)
  19. Bed rails (Unique to the Canopy Express)
  20. Rear Roof bows. (Unique to the Suburban)
  21. Side window garnish trim (inside and out) (Unique to the Suburban)
  22. Tool box covers. Panel / Canopy Express has two and the Suburban does not have one. (Corrected by Sean, Marty, and Tim)

Safety checks and tools:

  1. Always take a flashlight, rug or mat, gloves, small hand tools, hand cleaner, rags, masks, etc. with you for inspecting the vehicle.

  2. Always check the brakes, including the parking brake.
  3. Always look under the dash for wiring and its connections.
  4. Always check the electrical components such as gauges, head lights, tail lights, instrument lights, heater switch, etc.
  5. Always check heater and defroster for proper operation and leaks.
  6. Always check steering slop and king pin wear.
  7. Always look at the oil and water.
  8. Always look for evidence of oil leaks where the vehicle is stored, not just where he is showing it.


Always check the registration to the license plate, body tag, engine number. Make sure that the paper work belongs with this vehicle. Take a picture of the seller with the vehicle, make sure you get the license plate in the picture. He does not have to know why you are taking the pictures. Get a copy of his drivers license or another vehicles license if possible.

Other things to check:

  1. Check the doors for sagging and fit. Lift door when in the open position to check hinge wear. Look for wear on the door striker. Make sure that the door lines are close (they were never perfect from the factory).
  2. Check for missing parts. Take a manual (see below) with you if you are not sure.
  3. Check radiator for rusty water.
  4. Check heater for leaks and proper operation.
  5. Check engine oil. It should be golden. Further inspection of the engine will be needed if oil is black or worse, gray.
  6. Check the tires for wear and alignment. If truck has been sitting, check for age cracks and de-lamination of the tread.
  7. Check the king pins. Rock the tires back and forth. (The best way is when the tires are off the ground.)
  8. Check under the vehicle for unusual rust and modifications.
  9. Check for engine smoke and noises.
  10. Check the front and rear seals for leaks after the engine warms up.
  11. Check all of the rubber parts including window seals, motor mounts, hoses and belts.
  12. Check all of the glass, roll the windows up and down, listen for rattles.
  13. Check for bondo or body repairs (a small magnet will work).

What to expect when driving vehicle:

  1. Steering should be tight and no weaving on the road.
  2. Shifting should be easy and no grinding of the gears.
  3. The clutch should start engaging about two inches from the floor board.
  4. The clutch should start disengaging about two inches as the pedal is depressed.
  5. You should not hear noises as the clutch disengages. Listen for throw-out bearing noises.
  6. Brakes should stop in a straight line and not pull left or right.
  7. You should not smell exhaust inside the cab with the windows rolled up.
  8. The horn, lights and gauges should all be working. The amp gauge should show a slight charging (positive).
  9. Check the windshield wipers when going up a grade.
  10. The engine should not move hard when accelerating (bad motor mounts). Broken rear mounts will cause a hopping effect when shifting or accelerating.

Parts Manuals

Thanks to Keith Hardy and our friends at the Old On-line Chevy Manuals project, we have some parts manual pages that should be of help:

Parts Manual - page 775, page 776, page 777, page 778



Even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there. ~ Gazim


Home | FAQ | Forum | Swap Meet | Gallery | Tech Tips | Events | Features | Search | Hoo-ya Shop