We'll bet not hardly a one of you ever thought a Celtic nursery rhyme intended to teach children how to count might end up serving as an introduction to a bed wood story, and frankly we didn't either until we commenced our research. According to what we discovered, Chevrolet and GMC pickups from 1947 to mid 1951 came with nine boards, and then changed to an eight-board configuration for the remainder of the Advance Design series.
In the case of Sam Head's '50 Chevy gracing this month's cover, Sam had his own reasons for opting to delete yet another board from the lineup. In Sam's words, "stock came with eight boards, but we converted to a seven-board configuration because it made all the boards about the same width for a uniform appearance. It also eliminated the factory adjustment bolts that are in the number two and seven boards for a cleaner look. Furthermore, to top it off it put a wood board in the center of the bed instead of a stainless steel strip. The center of the bed is where our gas filler neck has been located since we moved the gas tank from out of the cab to the rear of the truck." Sam reasoned that "it's much easier to cut a clean hole in the wood and use a cool looking billet gas door that it would be to cut the stainless strip and make it look nice."
Moving onto Sam's choice of wood, hickory was selected over the factory original yellow pine because it is a lot less prone to decay than pine. In addition to a longer lifespan, hickory is extremely tough while retaining the ability to be flexible. Besides being a good choice for tool handles found on sledgehammers and axes hickory is a good fit for truck bed floors because it doesn't bow in the center as it ages like pine is known to do.
Beyond being just a pretty pickup, Sam constructed his Chevy to serve as a low-maintenance shop truck, which meant it had to be low upkeep in cosmetic as well as mechanical areas. Just like the stainless steel bedstrips which will not rust and are easily polished out if the finish is damaged, Sam's decision to oil the hickory was for the same reasons.
"At some point cargo will find its way into the bed so we didn't want an easily scratched finish on the wood like would happen with a high-gloss varnish. Instead of spending a ton of time and even more money finishing the wood with varnish we decided to oil it instead. Oiling the wood provides the protection to keep the wood intact for years and the maintenance will be real easy. Unlike a varnished piece of wood that when scratched and needs repair like a paintjob, the oiled wood will only need few scuffs with some sandpaper and a little more Linseed oil to fix it right up."