I could be wrong, but I think full-size pickup trucks built during the mid-20th century were, for the most part, a phenomenon peculiar to North America. In the United States, we had Chevy, Ford, GMC, Dodge, Studebaker, International, Willys, and, of course, one can't forget the odd Plymouth, Hudson, or Oldsmobile truck built in limited numbers. For the folks north of the border in Canada, not only were the brands above available, but there was also Fargo, Mercury, and Pontiac, if a person such as myself considers a sedan delivery a truck. I guess I could also mention Mexico, but the only thing I remember about Mexico is the Chevys were rebadged GMCs, and they continued to build Ford panel trucks long after the United States quit.
Strangely enough, believe it or not, it was actually the water heater at my house that got me thinking about how many different brands of really good trucks have been on the market and then one day just seemed to disappear. My case in point is the brand of my recently demised 30-gallon gas water heater. When my family, along with Mauser, our goofy red Doberman pinscher, moved into the house in 1981, there was a Vornado emblem emblazoned on the front of the new water heater the real estate people installed to comply with some sort of escrow inspection. Since the guy who installed the water heater used a stack of old two-by-fours for a base to mount it on, I figured Vornado water heaters must be some kind of inexpensive Mickey Mouse junk only a cheapskate would use. But at the time I thought it didn't really matter, because one of the first things I wanted to do to the garage was replace the water heater with its eternally lit pilot light and move it as far away from my gasoline fume-emitting vehicles as possible.
Well, over 26 years have passed since then, and I never got around to replacing the water heater. Instead, I made a real point not to have volatile fumes present in the garage. Of course, that's not a guarantee that there couldn't have been a terrible explosion-I was just lucky for all that time. Naturally, after enjoying such remarkable service from something I had always figured was just an El Cheapo, I ended up developing a lot of trust for the Vornado brand name. When I began my search for a new water heater, the very first thing I did was to try and track down a Vornado dealer. Much to my dismay, I discovered that Vornado water heaters were no longer available, so I was faced with trying to learn enough about water heaters to make an educated guess at the right one to buy and how to go about installing it. Funny as this may sound, it was at this point that I imagined myself in the shoes of a Custom Classic Trucks reader, thinking about the information they would like to find in a tech story. Of course, true to our credo that at CCT we make all the mistakes so our readers don't have to, my experience with the water heater was a comedy of errors, from making the mistake of listening to a hardware mega-mart salesperson to missing out on a $300 rebate from the gas company because I bought the wrong model. In the end, everything turned out OK, but I didn't end up with as good a setup as I would have liked to. In a nutshell, what I'm saying is that I will try even harder than I have in the past to make sure the tech features in Custom Classic Trucks are as comprehensive as possible and address as many questions as a reader might have.
The real bummer about the whole water heater adventure was that it ate up a three-day weekend I was going to use on my truck. Instead of working on a '72 Ford F-100, I had to work on a '52 house. But that's OK, because as soon as I finish writing this editorial, I'm jumping in my trusty GMC and heading home to work on my entry for the build-off against Classic Trucks' associate editor Grant Peterson and his '68 F-100. Of course, this all hinges on whether or not the drain in the shower isn't plugged up or there isn't a big pool of water under the washing machine, or that the high-pitched squealing sound that has been coming out of our '81 Maytag gas dryer hasn't ceased with a loud blood-curdling thud.