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Tree Army Veteran - 1935 Chevrolet 1½-ton CCC Truck

Ken Yuly of Minot, North Dakota, is in good company as far as being a collector of military vehicles. As president of the North Dakota Military Vehicle Collectors Association chapter of the Military Vehicle Preservation Association just about anything painted olive drab piques his interest, but he tends to focus on the M-151 "MUTT" series jeeps and M-37 series Dodge 3/4-ton trucks.

He found this 1935 Chevrolet model QA 1½-ton truck reposing on a neighbor's farm several miles north of where he lives. It certainly looked the part of a between-the-world-wars Army truck with its rear bumperettes, pintle hook hitch, military-style cargo box, rear window screen guard, and remnants of olive drab paint—so he bought it as a future restoration project. Detailed examination and research (including quite a bit by this author) revealed that the Chevy was originally a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) truck. That is no easy task because only differences between 1935 Chevys destined for the CCC and those for the Army were lettering and markings. Armed with that knowledge, Ken moved the truck up the restoration project food chain to his 2008"2009 winter project. Winter being what it is around Minot, he had plenty of time to work on it between his farm chores.

For a truck that had spent its years outdoors on the northern high plains, the wood was in pretty good shape—so good that most of it was reused. The few pieces that had to be replaced were the lower cab corners, rear window frame, and vertical supports for the back of the cab. In addition, Ken fabricated the replacement floorboards out of marine-grade plywood.

The cab and fenders were restorable, and Ken is proud that no body filler was required. Locating a good grille and grille shell proved to be a challenge, but eventually a good original was found in Canada. Original fitments on the cab include the headlight assemblies, rear window guard, and multi-hole, upper hinge-mounted mirror bracket with a reproduction King Bee mirror.

Inside the cab, Ken masked around the original serial number tag on the dashboard. The original gauges and ignition cylinder were removed, refurbished, and reinstalled. A new key was made to fit both the ignition and the door. Only the temperature gauge needed to be replaced with a modern unit. Most of the original control knobs were good enough for reuse, with the exception of the choke and throttle.

The original fire extinguisher bracket was filled with a World War II-era model from one of Ken's other military vehicles, and he located a U.S. government first aid kit from the time period at the Iola Vintage Military Vehicle Show. The seat was reupholstered with a leatherette vinyl because of its period-correct appearance. This was installed over the seat frames that were later discovered to be from a civilian 1935 Chevy. The switch was probably done to make refueling easier because the military seat had a one-piece bottom. Civilian trucks seats were split to allow access to the fuel filler beneath the passenger without disturbing the driver's side.

Gar Wood made the general military troop body and cargo box. It is similar to, but not the same as, the type of body used on early World War II 11/2-ton Chevrolet military trucks. The spare tire mount is located forward on the curb side of the box in lieu of the usual location on a 1935 Chevy truck on the driver's side front fender. Ken suspects that this was a field modification because period photos of CCC trucks show a myriad of spare tire locations.

The box retains its original troop seat mounts, but the wood bench seats are long gone. It also has the correct military-style canted stake pockets. When the wooden hoop top frame is placed in the pockets, it creates a Conestoga wagon look, slightly overhanging the front and rear of the box. The only modern concession was a reproduction (circa 1940—42 style) three-hinge tailgate and steps sourced from Vehicles of Victory. Aside from that, it was in good enough condition that Ken only needed to power wash and prep it for paint. Just like the cab no cutting, splicing, or filing was needed.

Bumperettes were first used for military trucks in 1935, and Ken's truck also retains the original wood filler blocks between the bumperettes and the frame. The original pintle hook proved to be too rough to salvage, but one of the same vintage was found having no electrical connector or provision for trailer chain eyelets. The rear of the frame also sports the correct left-side-only taillight.

The original 216ci Stovebolt six that powered the truck was stuck, so Ken found a period-correct pre-World War II engine at Midwest Military in Prior Lake, Minnesota. It was rebuilt sometime in the '50s before being stored. All of the ancillary components from the original 1935 engine were used on the replacement, although most of them had to be refurbished or rebuilt. This included the starter, generator, exhaust manifold, oil filler cap, intake manifold, carburetor, and governor. The latter in particular was of interest to Ken. It is a Hoof model H204 that was rebuilt at an Army depot on April 15, 1940 (hence the date on the front description plate). This is definitely a stock setup because with the original oil bath air filter mounted, the radiator support bracket over all of it has a slight clearance kink. If the truck did not originally have a governor, a standard bracket would have been in place.

The oil filter canister and lines were not originally fitted on this truck, but they are military standard units in the correct colors and placement. Unable to find a replacement for the leaky radiator, Ken had a local radiator shop rebuild it to the original specifications to include the correct type of core.

The remainder of the drivetrain is original to the truck and was in good enough condition that the transmission, rear end, and wheel bearings only needed to be re-sealed and re-greased.

Chevy trucks employed mechanical brakes in 1935, and the brakes on this model still worked—after Ken and his head mechanic Dwight Fyllsvold blew the dirt out of the drums and generally cleaned things up. All seven wheels on the truck, including the spare, are the original ten-lug, five hand hold-style Budds. The front spindles have five studs, and the rears, ten. New 7.00x20-inch tires complete the outfit.

The truck was repainted in period-correct, pre-World War II semi-gloss olive drab matched to remnants of the original paint under the stake pockets in the cargo box. It was lettered in the original manner for new CCC trucks with the truck number on the hood and tailgate, although in a modern font. Ken added a period military-style bridge rating marking on the right front fender. The truck appeared to not have had any other markings, which is consistent with the few period images of North Dakota CCC trucks that he and I have been able to find and view. Fellow truck collector and club member Stu Lenzke sourced the correct CCC license plate.

Since completion, Ken has displayed the Chevrolet only once—at the 2010 ND-MVCA show at the Dakota Territories Air Museum in Minot. The 1935 Chevy won first place in the "Best Pre-World War II" category.



by B. Mitchell Carlson

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