Monday, January 16, 2017

Ancient crane truck looking ready to roll at age 84!

I was visiting one of my hometowns of Paradise, California a couple years ago when I noticed this vehicle being used as an advertisement. Being California it has only minimal rust and looks registered and ready to drive on fully inflated tires. Check this thing out!
This is a 1933 Chevrolet 1 ton truck. I'm going to fumble my way through the dark a bit in my descriptions because this predates any of my supposed expertise. In addition commercial vehicles of this era typically started with just the cab, front clip, drivetrain, frame, and wheels. When ordering a commercial truck you would actually go through a supplier like Hercules who offered an array of bodies built for specific uses. This looks to me to be a Hercules bed.
I found an old document listing all the color combinations for 1933 Chevrolet and they did offer Boatswain Blue over Dove Gray as a two-tone option, so maybe this is that?
Tall and stout is the stage presence of this Depression-hardened workhorse. Behind that exposed radiator lies the inline 6 cylinder "Stovebolt" engine. Introduced in 1929, it was a replacement for the earlier 4 cylinder. The cast iron 6 was a 3.2 liter model good for 50 horsepower. It would continue through the 1936 model year. No-nonsense vehicles did better than most in the Great Depression.
That circle near the bottom of the radiator is the spot where you insert the crank for manual starting! A little loop on the bumper was later added for stability when cranking. In '33 you bought your vehicle and were on your own from that point forward. The notion of a warranty was still very far off. The Lemon Law wasn't even passed until 1975, a full 42 years after this truck was built. If your truck didn't start or the battery was dead you retrieved the crank from behind the seat and got to work!
This capable looking donkey sports some heavy duty wheels from the factory and duallies in the rear.
Fold-out windshields were common back in the '30s. In addition that rectangular shape in front of the windshield is a pop-up scoop for added, under-dash ventilation.
From the inside you can see how far the windshield is able to open. Everything is very straightforward in the cab; speedometer, fuel, oil pressure, and water temp gauges are all in a cluster with the ignition key. A tall stick shift comes up from the floor. The steering wheel is original and the seats a disaster. There is zero safety equipment.
Behind the door glass you can see what looks to be the frame of the cab itself. Indeed these early Chevys were built with a wooden frame that was then wrapped in steel Many of the roofs of the era were cloth over wooden slats. This all harkened back to the carriage construction of the 1800s.
I looked up Ron's Wheel & Brake on the off chance that someone had done some of the work of describing what this actually was and discovered a Craigslist ad from September of last year advertising this for sale. Who knows where it is now?
Mounted to the frame through the bed is an old crane. Obviously it isn't made for very heavy job but I'm guessing it helped for anything up to steam shovel size. It is much too long to have been for accident recovery but I bet if someone drove off a mountain road this could come in handy.
The bed is simply a flat surface mounted on the heavy duty frame. The sides are literally pieced of plywood hanging on via shelf braces. Originally this would have had 1 single taillight.
This is a period correct aftermarket turn signal arm. These became required by law in the 1940s for trucks with beds large enough that the arm of the driver was difficult to see. Some had a miniature hand as opposed to the reflectors. A string or wire in the cab operated it. This truck has some homemade turn signals and a horn crudely wired up front but I'm glad to see that this is still here!
Well there we have it; an 84 year old truck that looks ready to answer a call to action. Being back in Paradise is always a trip as cars from every era are still being used as daily transportation. It's not uncommon to see a tiny white haired lady barely seeing over the steering wheel of a car from 1960 in perfect condition. The amount of old cars is so overwhelming that it took a 1933 commercial truck for me to stop and take notice. Now if you'll pardon me I'm going to look at Craigslist ads for antique cars in the Chico/Paradise area. Here's a quick example of what I'm talking about!

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