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Wednesday, November 21, 2007 A Classic Woody

In the parking lot of Morgan Motors on Pico in West Los Angeles, a perfectly restored Chevy Woody from the forties. At first glance it appears to be a 1948, but the front end seems to indicate it's not. Consulting this page at Old Woodies. You see this one seems to be a 1942 Chevrolet half-ton with a body from Mid-States (Campbell).  Chevrolet would send Campbell the entire frame and drivetrain, the front truck section, floor and rear fenders, and Campbell would do the wood.  Much of this work was done for the military most were disassembled and crated and sent to India during the war.  Some were used in San Diego for military officer transport as that was a center for Naval Operations. After the war the surfers snapped them up, of course.

1942 Chevrolet half-ton Woody with a body from Mid-States (Campbell)
1942 Chevrolet half-ton Woody with a body from Mid-States (Campbell)
1942 Chevrolet half-ton Woody with a body from Mid-States (Campbell)

For a detailed pictorial discussion of what is involved in restoring the wood on one of these, see this site Sean Headrick, a cabinet and furniture maker living in Decatur, Georgia, who specializes in period construction and hand-cut joinery, takes you through it, step by step.

As for Mid-States Body, see this

    In January, 1932, Waterloo, New York, welcomed Robert Campbell, President of the Hercules-Campbell Body Corp. of Tarrytown, New York, accompanied by Vice President Vincent. Perhaps a reason for their interest in Waterloo was the $.20 to $.40 per hour local wage levels, quite depressed in these early years of the Great Depression. Campbell took over the factory and business of Waterloo Bodies Inc., renaming it Mid-State Body Co. Inc., and undertook manufacturing automobile station wagon and truck bodies. Henry W. LeClear of Waterloo Bodies Inc., had been acquainted with Mr. Campbell, had manufactured truck bodies for him, and had made known to him the sort of products that could be produced in the plant. Mr. LeClear continued to be associated with the concern until his death and was instrumental in its success.

    In May of 1939, Mr. Campbell purchased the car barns, repair shop and local office of the former trolley line, located on West Main St. in Waterloo, just west of the village, and turned them into a manufacturing facility.

    "We started receiving passenger cars with windshields form the Tarrytown Chevrolet plant and shipped them off to Waterloo on car transport trailers where the wooden bodies were installed and the assembled car then return shipped to Tarrytown."

    In 1940, Mr. Campbell and Mr. Vincent negotiated a contract with General Motors' Chevrolet Division as exclusive supplier of station wagon bodies. The bodies were completely finished and shipped in freight cars, eight per car, with equipment of special racks and tie downs, to all Chevrolet Plants, three freight cars per day, five days a week. In 1939 our contracts had still been small, but now production increased into thousands. Waterloo, NY was enjoying prosperity again. People were smiling again after years of depressed economy, and the smokestacks were again busy.

    Even today (1987) people in Waterloo still talk about this, because of the wages they were getting at that time. Stop today and talk to these old timers, you can still find them by the dozens.

The plant burned down in 1947.

If you wish to use any of these photos for commercial purposes I assume you'll discuss that with me. And should you choose to download any of these images and use them invoking the "fair use" provisions of the Copyright Act of 1976, please provide credit, and, on the web, a link back this site.

Technical Note:

Most of these photographs were shot with a Nikon D70 - using lens (1) AF-S Nikkor 18-70 mm 1:35-4.5G ED, or (2) AF Nikkor 70-300mm telephoto, or after 5 June 2006, (3) AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor, 55-200 mm f/4-5.6G ED. They were modified for web posting using Adobe Photoshop 7.0.  Earlier photography was done with a Sony Mavica digital still camera (MVC-FD-88) with built-in digital zoom.

[A Classic Woody]

All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 - Alan M. Pavlik