1938 Chevy 1 Ton Stakebed
Contributed by Wayne Malm, Sanford
This was the first truck sold by Deichert's Chevrolet in Flasher, North Dakota soon after the dealership opened in 1938. My Grandfather's neighbor, Frank Grimm, bought it and used it on his farm there in ND. It originally had a pick-up bed on it. They used it to take the grain to the mill.
During the 1950's, Deichert's built a new dealership building with concrete block. Up there in ND, trees are not very common. They refer to their state tree as a telephone pole. Anytime they had lumber, they did not destroy it. They used whatever they could whenever they could.
My Grandfather bought the old wood dealership building and had it hauled it over to his farm. That service station was built before 1938 and it is still being used on the farm, which my Cousin Alan now owns. It's an active 2500 acre farm, growing corn and wheat, as well as sunflowers. There was a ’52 Desoto and old tractor parked in the old station building — kinda cool. The Desoto is now at my home in Florida. Vern Frederick (Frank's Grandson) now owns Frank's farm and he is the one who told me most of the history of this old truck. The truck was used on Frank's farm until 1965 when the water pump broke and damaged the radiator. So then it was parked in 1965 and no one ever got back to fix it. It sat in the field for 46 years.
My wife was a professor at the community college and she retired in May 2010. We took a three month trip in our RV and headed west in the southern route, going across the US. We came back going through the northern states. In July, we stopped at the family farm during this trip. I mentioned to Alan that I was looking for a truck to tinker with. He said that “Vern had some in the field” and they should take a look. When I saw the 1938 Chevy, it was probably one of the most complete of the nine trucks in the field. I liked the Art Deco style. It was also one of the older ones. Several of them were Stovebolts. There were three Advance Design trucks – and they probably are still there! The following summer, we headed north and I bought the truck from Vern (June 2011). It was our summer vacation trip again but I brought my trailer.
North Dakota didn't issue titles for vehicles in 1938 and there was never a title issued for this truck. Since it was used around the farm, they had it registered but no plate. Vern and I hauled the truck to the DMV and had it inspected. They had to do a VIN search. When it came up clear, they did the bill of sale and transaction right there in the office. It has a title in ND in my name. I was issued the first title for that truck in all these years! As far as ND is concerned, I'm the first titled owner. We hauled the truck 2300 miles back to Florida.
I retired and wanted something to do in my spare time. I ended up spending 15 months working on the truck. I didn't realize how much work it was going to be. There was a lot of rust! This is the first time I had done anything of this magnitude. When we got it home, rust was on and in everything. The motor, transmission, and all brake cylinders were frozen solid with rust. I discarded the drive train and found a 1956 GMC 270 cubic inch motor with a 3 speed transmission. I also found a 1958 rear axle with 3.90/1 gears. I changed the front axle to a 1951 to have bigger kingpins and added disc brakes. I totally dissembled and rebuilt everything on the truck. I painted the truck with a roller using Rustoleum paint. I put it together as if Vern had done it in 1965 back on the farm.
During this time, I was reading everything I could find in the www.Stovebolt.com site's Tech Tips and forum that pertained to this truck. This forum provided me a wealth of knowledge and confidence as I rebuilt the truck. There was some hard time in finding parts. I did a lot of on-line work. We took a trip to Niagara Falls, New York. On the return trip, we stopped at the Carlile, Pennsylvania Swap Meet. We found head lights, an NOS radiator, and the floor shifter to fit the transmission. With different parts vendors and eBay, I found panels to repair the doors, and window frame. The door windows were made here in Florida. I could not break down to buy a hood ornament so I made my own. Felt the same way about a new grille — so I repaired it. I found seats on the side of the road (really!). It was the third seat out of a Dodge van. Some guy had a rental house and he was cleaning out stuff from previous tenant. Mine for the taking. Score! The headliner is cowhide. We were out walking one day and someone was throwing it away. I picked it up and checked it out. It is the same color as the cows that Alan raised on the farm. (He suggested I check for his brand! LOL)
Deicherts Chevrolet closed during the 1970's because the economy in the area was horrid. It was hard for a small dealership to survive. In October 2011, I placed an ad online in North Dakota looking for memorabilia from Deichert's Chevrolet. There is a classified in ND that's called bizman.com which is the main two town's in ND. It works like Craig's list and they were an active site before CL, so they have a loyal following. I was surprised when I got phone calls. I had a response from someone that sold me a used dealer’s badge . I also had a call from Mr. Deichert's nephew, Ted in Nonmember 2011. He offered me a new dealer’s badge and a great looking pair of new mud flaps with Deichert's name on them.
I really enjoy taking the truck to cruise in's. I post a sign that the truck is ‘kid friendly’. It is always available for kids to climb in and on for photos. I get very positive comments for the work I've done to this old farm truck.