Highway Creepers Car Show

The Highway Creepers usher in the outdoor car show season in my area, and they host a terrific show replete with low riders, fins, rat rods, and hot rods. If you were unable to make it to Kearney over the weekend, here is some of what you missed: 

’32 Ford

’54 Chevy

’51 Merc

’54 Chevy

’55 Caddy

’51 Chevy Deluxe

’48 Olds

’55 Mercury Montclair

’59 Buick

1950 Shoebox Ford

Hubcap For a Henry Spen Trailer

This 9″ steel dog dish is one of our recent acquisitions, and it is a great find. Following the end of World War II, Willys Jeeps were marketed to civilians. Several companies produced trailers for use with Jeeps, and one of those was the Henry Spen Model S, an all-steel 3/4-ton utility trailer:

Interestingly, the marketing for both these trailers and the Jeeps that pulled them was targeted toward farmers. This 1946 advertisement is one example:

And look at these pages from the 1946 Jeep brochure:

I know farmers and ranchers with Jeeps, but they mainly use them for checking on livestock (and for fun)!

Nebraska-Made Douglas Trucks

I found this old, brass radiator cap a while back, and I have never seen another like it:

It is embossed with the name “Douglas,” and I can only assume it is a product of the Douglas Motors Company that was once located in Omaha. The Douglas story begins with another Nebraska-made car called the Drummond. The Drummond was initially offered in a four and six-cylinder in 1916, and then became the Drummond Eight for the 1917 model year. This early V-8 automobile was powered by a Herschell-Spillman engine.

In 1917, the Douglas Motor Corporation organized to take over the Drummond Motor Company and sent solicitors all over the state to find investors. Notice the emphasis the advertisements (below) place on the high returns generated by investment in other automobile companies like Ford. By the time the campaign for the sale of stock was over, Douglas had sold half a million dollars in shares to 900 shareholders.

One of the new shareholders was rancher George Christopher who hailed from Nebraska’s largest county, Cherry County, located on the border with South Dakota in the magnificent Sandhills region. At a stormy shareholder meeting in 1918, charges of “gross extravagance” were leveled against the managers of the company. Apparently a charismatic sort, Christopher rose and gave a rousing speech in an effort to convince the others he should serve on the board. He received nearly everyone’s vote and moved to Omaha where he was soon running the company.

The Douglas was a 1.5-ton truck powered by a Buda engine and was advertised as “The Farmer’s Friend.”  Many other parts with familiar brands were also utilized in the building of this truck as seen in this 1919 advertisement:

Sometime before 1920, the company moved from its original location at 26th and Farnam to a new home at 30th and Sprague.  The factory had a capacity of 10 trucks per day, plus passenger cars. The cars being manufactured were now called Douglas Eights but were still being built with Herschell-Spillman engines.

This surviving example of a 1920 Douglas Truck is located at Shoemaker’s Travel Center in Lincoln:

The company flourished for a time due to the post-war boom, but financial struggles led to the company’s sale to the Nebraska Auto & Truck Manufacturing Company, led by L. C. Nash, in 1925. The purchase included the rights to the name “Douglas Trucks” and, according to a 1926 article, the trucks were being sold in the states neighboring Nebraska in every direction as well as Oklahoma and Texas.

Douglas Trucks were an early pioneer of the twin axle six-wheel truck, an ancestor of modern semi-trucks. This story about Douglas introducing the six-wheel truck to the Midwest appeared in 1928:

These ads appeared the following year, 1929:

There isn’t much information available regarding the closing of the company, but I did find this advertisement from 1936. It appears Douglas was likely yet another victim of the Great Depression.

What Does the BLC Stand for on Those Old GM Parts?

You have probably heard some incorrect theories ventured regarding the meaning of the “BLC” logo on old car parts. For instance, here are some things it does NOT stand for:

Buick LaSalle Cadillac

Bright Light Company

Best Light Company

British Light Company

The BLC on those old parts actually stands for “Brown-Lipe-Chapin,” named for Alexander T. Brown, W. C. Lipe, and H. Winfield Chapin. Although Brown and Lipe’s brother, Charles, had gone into business in the 1890s, BLC was not incorporated until 1910. Located in Syracuse, New York, the business specialized in the manufacturing of automobile differentials, transmission gears, and clutches.

In 1917, it was announced that General Motors was in the mood to buy and would be acquiring BLC:

The purchase of BLC fell through due to “legal difficulties,” but some of the other “automobile accessories concerns” referenced in the above article and acquired by Durant and GM included familiar names like Klaxon, Delco, and Remy. BLC continued to prosper and was frequently mentioned in automobile advertisements like these:

Chevrolet used BLC gears, too. This 1918 advertisement makes the point that Chevrolet utilizes the same parts used by America’s finest cars, and it states that BLC gears were adopted as standard equipment by 80% of automobile and truck manufacturers:

By the early twenties more than 50% of BLC’s output was going to GM, and GM announced that it was purchasing BLC in December of 1922:

The BLC factory closed during the Depression and then reopened in 1936 as part of GM’s $50 million expansion project. BLC became a division of GM’s Guide Lamp and, instead of gears, began making chrome parts like bumper guards, lights, and hood ornaments.

This is an interesting snapshot of the GM empire in 1937:

Like the rest of the automobile industry, BLC soon retooled to join the war effort. By December of 1940, it was reported that the company was equipped to turn out machine guns en masse. BLC manufactured Brownings including the .50 caliber “stinger.”

BLC became its own division again in 1942:

After the war, BLC returned to making automobile parts, although it was also awarded the defense contract for the making of the Curtis-Wright J-65 Sapphire jet engine in the 1950s.

The last chapter of BLC’s history was written in December of 1961 when it was consolidated into the Ternstedt Division, making Ternstedt GM’s third largest division. The BLC logo lives on, however, on so many old lights, bumper guards, and emblems.


Advertisement. Chevrolet. The Pomona Progress, 5 Feb. 1918, p. 3.

Advertisement. Davis. Houston Daily Post, 19 Nov. 1916, p. 25.

Advertisement. Daniels. The Allentown Morning Call, 27 Oct. 1915, p. 8.

Advertisement. General Motors. Detroit Free Press, 6 Jul 1943, p. 14.

“Auto Men Put 100 Millions into Expansion.” The Herald Press [ Detroit], 6 Feb. 1936, p. 3.

“Auto Plants Are Geared for War Production.” Morgan County News, 30 Jan 1942, p. 3.

“Company Incorporated.” The Buffalo Enquirer, 3 Feb. 1910, p. 2.

“General Motors Acquires Brown-Lipe-Chapin Co.” The Buffalo Enquirer, 29 Dec. 1922, p. 5.

“General Motors Buys Brown-Lipe-Chapin Co,” The Muncie Morning Star, 29 Dec. 1922, p. 17.

“General Motors Empire Harried by Strikes.” Chicago Sunday Tribune, 10 Jan 1937, p. 2-8.

“General Motors Factories Start $61,000,000 Machine Gun Order.” The Boston Globe, 18 Apr. 1941, p. 34.

“General Motors to Have New Division.” The Minneapolis Star, 25 Jun. 1942, p. 28.

Greenburg, Abe. “’42 Auto Models Seen Certain, Despite War.” Daily News [New York], 29 Dec 1940, p. 217.

“More for Motors Co.” Muncie Evening Press, 11 Oct 1916, p. 6.

“United Motors is Earning $9 a Share.” The Wall Street Journal, 30 Apr. 1917, p. 6.

“United Motors is Parent Now for Big Added Firm.” Detroit Free Press, 5 Nov 1916, p. 2.