November 2001
The guy I was dealing with to do my paint and body work finally called in November and agreed to take on the job as a winter project.  He (I'll call him AL) said he would be ready to start in 2 to 3 weeks.  I said that was fine because I wanted to remove as much of the outside trim as I could before taking it to him.  There were several reasons I wanted to remove the trim myself.  It would be less work for Al, which meant less cost to me.   I also wanted to keep the parts at the house so I could work on restoring them while he was doing the paint and body work.  And, I wanted to know how they came off, so I could put them back on.  But most importantly, I figured I would be more careful removing the items than would someone else.   I had seen the cost of some of the trim items and I didn't want to have to replace any unless absolutely necessary.  NOTE -- If I had known then what I know now about AL, that last reason  wouldn't have been a concern.

The first items I removed were the front and rear chrome bumpers.  I thought this would be an easy job.  After all, there are only a few bolts holding them on, right?  I hadn't taken into account that rust could be almost as effective as welding to keep nuts on bolts.   I couldn't budge any of the nuts on the front bumper by hand, even after repeated spraying with WD-40.  I finally resorted to laying on my back and pushing on a 1/2" breaker bar with my foot.  This technique worked, but I twisted off two of the bolts in the process.

Now that I had the technique down, I thought the rear bumper would come off much faster.  NOT!  The previous owner had install a trailer hitch that would have to be removed before the bumper would come off.  The trailer hitch was one of those types that bolts to the frame cross member.  To get to the bolts, the spare tire has to be removed.  I was glad I had recently bought a floor jack at a swap meet.  When I was restoring the wheels, I borrowed my neighbor's floor jack, but he was out of town the day I removed the bumpers.  I could have gotten the spare out without the floor jack, but it sure made it a lot easier.  Fortunately, the bolts holding the trailer hitch on were not severely rusted, so they came of fairly easy.  To remove the bolts on the rear bumper, I used the same "lay on back and push with foot" routine I used on the front bumper.  Only twisted off one bolt this time.

After I got the bumpers off (about 2 hours), I removed the headlight bezels.  No problems here.  Only four screws in each bezel and they screwed out easy.  I originally planned to remove the grill also, but I discovered that the hood latch was held in by the top of the grill.  If I removed the grill I wouldn't be able to latch the hood.   Because I had to drive 30 miles to deliver the truck to Al, I decided it was best to leave the grill on.   I also didn't remove the fender eyebrows.  These are sort of chrome extension of the grill and the speed nuts that hold them on are not accessible without removing the fender.

The emblems were the next to come off.  The G-M-C letters on the front of the hood are held on with 1/4" speed nuts that are easily accessible from the inside of the hood.  I did discover that one of the studs on the letter G was broken off, so that would have to be repaired.   

The Sierra Grande emblems at the back of the bed sides were a little more difficult.  The emblems have bolt-in studs like the hood emblems, but they are also stuck on with some kind of adhesive tape.  To get the studs out of the holes, you simple pry them out from the outside.   You'd think after 30 years the adhesive would not hold very well, but it was still very much stuck.  I used a putty knife to gently pry behind the emblem.  I was very careful to avoid breaking the emblem.  Replacements are $50.00 EACH!   Unfortunately,  like the hood emblems, one of the studs was broken off the passenger side emblem.

The emblems on the front fenders will have to wait until the fenders come off because they are attached with speed nuts that are inaccessible with the fenders installed.  

After removing the emblems, I removed the tailgate woodgrain trim panel, the upper tailgate trim, the tailgate handle trim cover, and the tail light bezels.  The woodgrain trim panel is held on with screws only so it was easily removed.  The upper trim is attached with compression retainers on studs, so it is simply pried off with the help of a putty knife.  I wasn't too careful removing this trim because it was damaged beyond repair and would have to be replaced.  The tailgate handle trim is a stainless steel piece that slides over the tailgate handle.  I understand that this is a rather rare item because it is not mechanically attached and so was easily lost over the years.  The tail light bezels are held on with a combination of screws and clips, but are not hard to remove.  Both of these bezels would have to be replaced also.

I don't remember why now, but I decided to leave the four side marker light lenses on until I took the Maych to the body shop.   Maybe I thought I'd be driving it down in the dark.

The next exterior trim to remove was the aluminum side molding.  GM must have had a contest among its engineers to see who could come up with the best method to attach the side molding and then decided that all of the ideas were so good they would use all of them.  There are no less than 6 different type of fasteners used to attach the side molding:

  • bolt-in clips

  • snap-in clips

  • studs with speed nuts

  • studs with compression retainers

  • sheet metal screws

  • stick-on plastic fasteners

Of the 6 types, only the snap-in type puzzled me.  These snap-in clips are designed to be permanent once they're "snapped-in" and I wasn't sure how best to remove them without damaging the molding .  I didn't want to just start prying on them so I decided to ask my fellow truckers on the The 1967-1972 Chevrolet & GMC Pickups Message Board.  The "tip" I got from one of the members was to "push down on the top of the trim while pulling out on the bottom".   Sounded wacky enough to work, so I gave it a shot.  

My first attempt to use the "push-pull" method was less than successful.  I simply could not push hard enough with my fingers to get the trim to budge.  I decided I needed a tool of some sort to help push.  Something that would exert pressure over a wide area of the trim, but would not damage the trim or the sheet metal if it slipped off while I was pushing.  That meant it had to be softer than the aluminum and have no sharp edges.  It suddenly dawned on me that I had the perfect material from which to fabricate such a tool.  In fact I had an abundant supply of this material -- pine 2x4's.  I got a 6" length of scrape 2x4 from my wood shop.  I placed the 4" side of the 2x4 on the top of a section of trim, pushed down with the palm of my hand and gently pulled up on the bottom of the trim with the fingers of my other hand.  Worked like a charm!

I'll have to admit that several (actually most) of the snap-in clips broke while removing the trim.  My "tipster" had warned me that would likely happen, so I wasn't surprised, and  I knew I would likely have to replace all the clips anyway.  But, I didn't damage any of the trim using this method and that was my main objective.  My plans were to salvage and restore as much of the original trim as I could.

After much prying with a putty knife (stick-on fasteners), unscrewing (sheet metal screws), unbolting (bolt-on clips), and pushing/pulling (snap-on clips) I had all of the side molding removed from the bed and the doors.   I decided to leave the side molding on the front fenders for now.  The fenders would be removed in preparation for painting and it would be much easier to remove the trim once  the fender were removed.   

The last remaining exterior trim piece was the chrome paint divider molding.  This chrome molding separates the two paint colors on the rear of the cab.  It is attached with yet a different kind of fastener.  I don't have a clue what this fastener is called.  It's a plastic clip that fits in the molding and is held to the cab by means of a stud attached to the cab.  This stud looks sort of like a small headed nail.  Anyway, I messed around with the molding and discovered it could be removed by first sliding it toward the cab corner.  This created enough slack at the corner to slide the end of the piece that was closest to the window off of the nail stud.  With the end of the molding free of nail stud, it was possible to slide the molding off the remaining studs on the back of the cap.  This has to be done for the left and the right sides, as the molding is a two-piece unit with a union piece in the middle.

So, I now had all the exterior trim removed (at least all I was going to remove prior to going to the body shop).  A week or so later, me and Al removed the remaining trim -- grill, fender eyebrows, fender side molding, fender emblems, and side marker lights.  Now I could spend the next few months restoring the trim while Maych was getting a new set of clothes.  The next episode will detail the restoration of the various emblems on Maych.



Copyright 2001-2006 by Johnny M. Patterson
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