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Old 12-22-2008, 05:22 PM   #1
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NAPCO Thread

Got pics of a NAPCO? Post it here. Got info? Post it here. Well, lets see how this goes!
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Old 12-22-2008, 05:27 PM   #2
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Re: NAPCO Thread

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HISTORY:



Taken from an article written by Seth Doulton, owner of Golden State Pickup Parts.
The exact date of the GM factory 4x4, is not known. What is known is that in July and August of 1954, NAPCO (Northwestern Auto Parts Company) was pushing its proven 4x4 conversion on truck upfitters and GMC dealers across the country. Upfitters were companies that installed upgrades and accessories like winches, auxiliary transmissions, tandem drive axles, dump bodies and hydrovac systems on stock factory trucks. NAPCO had been in business since 1918. During WWII, they focused all their attention on projects commissioned by prime contractors to the United States government. Mainly, this meant the production of specialized automotive parts and assemblies that could be tested on the largest proving ground in the world: WWII. After the war, the military's priorities changed, and NAPCO re-directed its vast engineering and manufacturing experience to the production of goods for private industry. Their two-speed 4x4 conversions were comprised of 85% GM parts. That meant for the most part they were serviceable by a local dealer. Complete front axle differentials, brake drums, wheels, drivelines, backing plates, springs, shock absorbers, and universal joints were all Chevrolet replacement parts. Their slogan proudly stated that, "Now you can have a standard Chevrolet four-wheel-drive pickup featuring the traction power of a tank, or, at the flip of a finger, a smoother-riding, high-speed, over-the-road truck. Aptly named the Mountain Goat, this full-sized pickup will literally leap up mountains, as well as carry you through deep mud, sand, or snow." Some features of this shift-on-the-fly 4x4 were the unchanged turning radius, a full engine torque P.T.O. option, a rubber mounted transfer case for long, silent operation, greater ease of steering, and a guarantee of no damage to the Chevrolet or GMC frame during the three-hour installation. Yes, only four holes to drill and no torch cutting! In a matter of hours, you could go from a two-wheel drive to four-wheel drive and the NAPCO POWR-PAK could be transferred from one Chevrolet truck to another. This meant that if a dealer had a truck in stock that he wanted to convert to four-wheel drive by using the NAPCO POWR-PAK, he could order the POWR-PAK four-wheel drive package. Soon, a wooden crate, 80 inches long, 30 inches wide and 26 inches deep, would show up on his loading dock weighing in at 1,410 lbs. with all the necessary parts enclosed. Now, take into consideration that a 1/2-ton, two-wheel-drive pickup listed for $1,548.96 in 1954. The retail price of the POWER-PAK was $995, which included a dealer freight cost of $800 from Minneapolis, Minnesota (home of NAPCO). Installation by an upfitter or equipment company included the cost of the POWER-PAK, and listed at $1,248. This brought the complete list price of the finished truck to $2,796.96. These conversions were done on the 1/2-ton, 3/4-ton, one-ton, and the two-ton trucks, as well as the Suburbans and panels.

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Old 12-22-2008, 05:33 PM   #3
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Old 12-22-2008, 05:52 PM   #4
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Re: NAPCO Thread

More history:

NAPCO (Northwestern Auto Parts Company) was founded in 1918. During World War II, Napco helped the war effort by producing specialized mechanical parts and assemblies that were tested in war conditions.

After the war Napco began building four-wheel drive assemblies to be fitted to Ford, GMC, Chevrolet and Studebaker vehicles. The retail price of Napco Power-Pak was $995. This option raised the price on a two-wheel drive truck from $1,548.96 to $2,796.96. There were companies that installed these upgrades for the previously mentioned manufacturers. Besides the four-wheel drive units they also provided winches, auxiliary transmissions, tandem drive axles, hydrovac systems, and dump truck bodies.

The Napco Power-Pak option could be ordered and factory installed on trucks with very few modifications to the original chassis. The Napco Power-Pak conversions were done on 1/2, 3/4 and one ton chassis. The package was shipped in a crate measuring 80"x30"x26" weighing 1,410 pounds. In a matter of hours with as little as 4 holes drilled in existing chassis a truck would be converted into a "Mountain Goat", a full sized truck that will climb steep inclines with ease. One feature was the "shift on the fly" rubber mounted transfer case.

Today these trucks are still considered to be very versatile and durable 60 years later and are considered to be collectible by Napco enthusiasts.
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Old 12-22-2008, 05:54 PM   #5
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Re: NAPCO Thread

More info/links.

http://www.napco4x4.org/


CHAPTER 1

"NAPCO" stands for the "Northwestern Auto Parts Company" of Minneapolis, MN., though their production facility was actually located in Plymouth, MN. I've been told that the abandoned old plant still stands with a weathered sign posted, sadly advertising times gone by. NAPCO had been in business since 1918, and during W.W.II, they focused all their attention on projects commissioned by prime contractors to the United States government. Mainly, this meant the production of specialized automotive parts and assemblies that could be tested on the largest proving ground in the world. After the war, the military's priorities changed, and NAPCO re-directed its vast engineering and manufacturing experience to the production of goods for private industry, which included the production of the famous NAPCO Powr-Pak 4x4 Conversion. I've heard countless times that NAPCO was bought out or had gone out of business in the early 1960's. This is just not true.



In the 1950s the Northwestern Auto Parts Company became a publicly traded stock company and changed its name to NAPCO Industries, reflecting it's change of focus from wholesale supplier to manufacturer. In addition to manufacturing, the company began a program in earnest of tracking the availability of blue prints and vendors and prices of all the equipment requested by its world wide customers. That computerized system has evolved to become today's model for the industry. The company also adopted the quality standards required of manufacturers serving the US Defense Department.

The date that NAPCO started to produce 4x4 conversion units is a little foggy. I have heard stories of GM trucks being converted as early as late 1949, but the earliest documentable truck that I have ever heard of is a 1951 Chevy 3/4 ton owned by Butch Gehrig of Odell, OR. Until October 28th of 1954, when Chevrolet introduced the '55 1st Series, all the conversions were done on 3/4 ton and larger trucks. The '54 and earlier Advance Design 1/2 ton models were not suitable for a NAPCO conversion due to the enclosed drive shaft design. GMC and Chevrolet conversions were by far the most popular, though conversions were available for Ford, Studebaker and other manufacturers.

Though the date of the first NAPCO 4x4 conversion is unknown, we do know that in July and August of 1954, NAPCO was very busy pushing its proven 4x4 conversion on truck upfitters and GMC dealers across the country. Upfitters were companies that installed upgrades and accessories like winches, auxiliary transmissions, tandem drive axles, dump bodies and hydrovac systems on stock factory trucks. The NAPCO slogan proudly stated: "Now you can have a standard Chevrolet four wheel drive pickup featuring the traction power of a tank, or, at the flip of a finger, a smoother riding, high speed, over the road truck. Aptly named the Mountain Goat, this full sized pickup will literally leap up mountains, as well as carry you through deep mud, sand, or snow."

Apparently NAPCO reached an agreement with both GMC and Chevrolet to supply them with the Powr-Pak conversion kits, and GMC began to produce 4x4 trucks on the factory assembly line (using NAPCO components) starting in 1956, with Chevrolet following suite in 1957. By the end of 1957 both GMC and Chevrolet trucks could be ordered from the factory with the NAPCO Powr-Pak conversion. The two offered identical systems other than the availability of a V-8 and an automatic transmission on the GMC trucks. The Chevy could only be ordered with the 235ci six cylinder and a four speed manual (although there was nothing stopping an owner from ordering whatever he or she wanted in a 2 wheel drive truck and then having a NAPCO Powr-Pak "upfitted" by the dealer).

Some features of this early "shift-on-the-fly" 4x4 were the unchanged turning radius, a full engine torque P.T.O. option, a rubber mounted transfer case for long, silent operation, greater ease of steering, and a guarantee of no damage to the Chevrolet or GMC frame during the three hour installation. Yes, only four holes to drill and no torch cutting! In a matter of hours, you could go from a two wheel drive to four wheel drive and the NAPCO Powr-Pak could be transferred from one GM truck to another.

If a dealer had a truck in stock that he wanted to convert to four wheel drive by using the NAPCO Powr-Pak, he could order the Powr-Pak four wheel drive package. Soon, a wooden crate, 80 inches long, 30 inches wide and 26 inches deep would show up on his loading dock weighing in at 1,410 lbs. with all the necessary parts enclosed. It also gave truck owners and dealers the distinct advantage of quickly removing the conversion package and transferring it to another truck, without damaging the originality or resale value of either vehicle (except for the four bolt holes in the frame.)

The NAPCO two speed 4x4 conversions were comprised of 85% GM parts. That meant for the most part they were serviceable by a local dealer. Complete front axle differentials, brake drums, wheels, drivelines, backing plates, springs, shock absorbers, and universal joints were all Chevrolet replacement parts, which are still available from a variety of sources today.

A 1/2-ton, two wheel drive pickup listed for $1,548.96 in late 1954. The retail price of the Powr-Pak was $995, which included a dealer freight cost of $800 from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Installation by an upfitter or equipment company included the cost of the Power-Pak, and listed at $1,248. This brought the complete list price of the finished truck to $2,796.96. These conversions were done on the 1/2 ton, 3/4 ton, one ton, and the two ton trucks, as well as the Suburbans and panels. Again, the conversion was not available for 1954 and earlier 1/2 tons because of their enclosed driveshaft design.

The first "all GM" factory 4x4's were introduced in 1960 when both Chevy and GMC went to a totally new chassis. NAPCO and its Powr-Pak conversion were left out of the equation due to the introduction of GM's completely redesigned truck line featuring independent front suspension on the two wheel drive trucks and a 4-wheel drive specific chassis on the 4-wheel drive trucks. This was the beginning of the end for the 4x4 conversion element of NAPCO. Though they did produce conversion kits for a few more years, their main business shifted to the heavier trucks, 1-1/2 ton and larger. A few later model specially built custom vehicles featuring the NAPCO components are still out there, such as Mr. Packy Pickrell's 1970 Chevy 1 ton NAPCO.

After the huge loss of the contracts with GMC and Chevrolet to supply conversion packages, NAPCO sold the rights to the Powr-Pak package to the DANA Corporation. I haven't found the date yet when that actually occurred, but we can safely assume it was after 1960. All documentation, archives, information and parts were transferred to DANA at that time. During this evolution, the association of the NAPCO name with 4x4's ceased to exist. The NAPCO 4x4 had vanished, just as it's associated history, archives and NOS parts supplies were absorbed into DANA.

During the years following the demise of the NAPCO 4x4, NAPCO has broadened its product line to include communications equipment, aircraft spare parts, logistics services and many other products and services. Due to corporate changes not related to its defense business, the company's name changed from NAPCO Industries to NAPCO International in the 1980s. Though they haven't produced the 4x4 conversion in any quantity for nearly 40 years, the company has continuously improved the efficiency, quality and breadth of its product line through deployment of new technologies, training, and hard work. They have expanded and live on today.

When asking questions or searching for any information concerning our NAPCO 4x4's, it becomes readily apparent that "all roads lead to the DANA Corporation." But why DANA, as the SPICER name is most commonly used in conjunction with NAPCO? We've heard that "DANA bought out SPICER." and that SPICER bought out NAPCO. Well, that is just NOT the case. We've got to understand just what's what in this Quest for NAPCO, and the story has all the twists and turns of a good Agatha Christy novel.
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Old 12-22-2008, 05:55 PM   #6
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Re: NAPCO Thread

CHAPTER 2

We closed out Chapter 1 while knee deep in the middle of a "who-dun-nit" involving the what's what of DANA, SPICER and NAPCO. It's important to understand the relationships between the three of these entities to give us good direction in our search for knowledge. It seems that just about every question that I've ever asked about NAPCO parts has had DANA and/or SPICER in the answer somewhere. You've got to ask the right question to get the right answer, and odds are you won't get a complete answer then! It can really get confusing!

The SPICER name goes hand in hand with NAPCO for a variety of reasons, the most significant of which is that the most common GM NAPCO Transfer Case I've seen or heard of is a Spicer Model 23. The NAPCO conversions for Fords used a SPICER Model 24 Case, which is designed with the drop on the opposite side of the vehicle. Same internal parts by the way, but we'll go there later. I've seen NAPCO Transfer Case tags labeled "Spicer Manufacturing", and I've seen them marked NAPCO Industries." My '59 1 ton has a "NAPCO Industries" tag with nary a hint of the word SPICER to be found, yet it's a SPICER Model 23 Transfer Case. I've wondered about that for years. Where did the NAPCO Transfer Case come from? Is it really a SPICER? Where can I get parts? Are they different? What's the deal?

Since DANA bought the rights to the NAPCO Powr-Pak 4x4 Conversion Package, I figured that DANA would be a good place to go to for information. I've burned up hours on the phone, and wandered endlessly through the virtual halls of DANA asking a lot of questions, and getting an echo for response. I finally spoke with Mr. Pat Long. Pat took the time to respond to my myriad questions and helped put things into perspective for me. Here's the real deal.

"SPICER is a brand name used by many of the first products: driveshafts, axles, clutches and transmissions. There have been no products manufactured in the past, and there are no products to this day manufactured as "DANA" products. DANA is the name of the corporation and all the branded products fall beneath the corporate umbrella: SPICER, Perfect Circle, Victor Reinz, Warner Electric, etc."

DANA is not a manufacturer, and has not and does not make any parts. Does this mean that the DANA axles on some NAPCOs are "not" DANA? Are they NAPCO too? Maybe? Like the NAPCO Transfer Case I have that's a SPICER 23? Confusing, is an understatement. To eliminate some of the questions about DANA versus SPICER, and understand the relationship, let's try going there, to hopefully give us better direction in searching for further NAPCO information.

The route begins, quite naturally, at the beginning, with a man named Clarence Winfred Spicer, and a simple piece of equipment, called a Universal Joint. The credit for discovering the Principle of the Universal Joint, a coupling that allows angular motion in all directions, and the transmission of rotary motion, belongs to Jerome Cardan, an Italian mathematician who was born in 1501. Robert Hooke, a 17th century English experimental philosopher, however, made the first practical application of Cardan's principle. Hooke's design was so efficient and reliable that Clarence Spicer remained faithful to its essential principles when he designed his own joint more than two hundred years later.

In 1902, at Cornell University's Sibley College, a young student of Mechanical Engineering named Clarence Winfred Spicer was assigned a project that had intrigued some of the finest scientific minds in history -- to design a self-propelled carriage, or automobile. Both Leonardo da Vinci and Isaac Newton had drawn plans for such a vehicle, while the first road tested steam vehicle was built by Louis Cugnot in the 1760s.

ClarenceSpicer had been fascinated by mechanics since the day his dairy-farmer father had bought cooling machinery for the farm creamery and told Clarence to look after it. Clarence Spicer's lifelong competitiveness and dedication to quality was also instilled early. One year his father won an award for the highest-quality butter at a World's Fair. The next year he was beaten in another butter competition -- by Clarence.

Clarence Spicer left the Illinois farm to study at Alfred University, then in 1899 entered Cornell's Sibley College to study engineering. There, under the tutelage of Dean Thurston, he worked on his design for an automobile and became increasingly fascinated with the issue of power transmission. Dissatisfied with sprockets and chains, Spicer determined to use a propeller shaft, which he attached to the engine and rear axle with specially designed "universal" joints. Spicer's universal joints were a major engineering breakthrough. They were not just easy on the eye and ear -- they were foolproof against dust and dirt, and were easy to lubricate.

Spicer showed his drawings to Dean Thurston, who immediately recognized the originality and commercial viability of the universal joint design, and advised his pupil to file for a patent, which was granted in May 1903. The design was duly published in a patent journal, where it caught the admiring attention of several automobile manufacturers. These people contacted Spicer and asked him to supply the joints, or license their manufacture.

With this firm assurance of the potential of his brainchild, Spicer left Cornell in the spring of 1904 and went to Plainfield, New Jersey, to begin manufacture of his universal joint. Spicer already had relatives in Plainfield, connected with the Potter Printing Press Company. At first, he contracted Potter to manufacture his universal joints, until Potter received a huge order for printing presses and could no longer help. Spicer then rented a corner of their plant, hired three employees, and began manufacturing the joints himself. In 1905, as orders kept coming in, he incorporated the Spicer Universal Joint Manufacturing Company. Within two years he had a lengthy list of prestigious clients, including Buick, Wayne, Mack, Olds, Stevens-Duryea, American Motor Car, Diamond T and E.R. Thomas.

The new universal joints were so good that soon they soon became the industry standard for power transmission. Spicer was rightfully proud that his joints were used at both ends of the market. The best and most expensive American cars regularly used his joints, as did the good low-priced cars, demonstrating that Spicer joints were the best money could buy, yet were still competitively priced.

In 1914, Clarence Spicer learned one of harshest lessons that can be taught in business -- his universal joints had become so popular that his company was pushed to the brink of bankruptcy. Over-hurried expansion had increased the cost of production, sales and delivery, and, because Spicer joints had become the industry standard, many competitors had simply resorted to imitation. Spicer's only defense had been lengthy, expensive and inconclusive lawsuits. Near desperation, he traveled to New York to put his case to the investment bank, Spencer Trask & Co.


Spicer's was far from a unique story. Some 1,500 automotive companies had already failed by 1914, and Mr. Trask did not fancy betting his money that Spicer's company wouldn't be the next. He did, however, see enough promise in the company to hand the papers to a young lawyer named Charles Dana. Dana saw enough promise to visit South Plainfield -- where, lore has it, he found Clarence Spicer's desk piled high with papers. "What are those?" asked Dana. "New orders," answered Spicer. "And where are your bills?" In answer Spicer opened a drawer and showed Dana a bare handful of invoices. The huge pile of orders next to the small stack of bills was all the encouragement Dana needed to become involved in the business.

In exchange for a controlling interest in the company, Charles Dana lent $25,000 to Spicer, then dedicated himself to leading the company through its hard time. Dana was no engineer, but he was a great salesman. Convinced that Spicer's universal joints were without equal, he proceeded to share his opinion with the leaders of the automotive world, with dramatic success. With Charles Dana in charge, and with a surge in demand in the automotive industry because of World War I, Spicer was soon back in the black. In 1916, with the help of Charles Merrill of Merrill Lynch, the company was re-organized as the Spicer Manufacturing Corporation.

The new corporation boomed and Dana took advantage by acquiring a series of complementary automotive suppliers, including Chadwick Engine Company, Salisbury Axle, Sheldon Axle, Parish Pressed Steel, Snead & Co, Almetal and Brown-Lipe. In the twenties, Dana also led the company overseas, expanding a licensing agreements and acquiring interests in Hardy Spicer in England, Societe Spicer Glaenzer in France and Hayes Wheel and Forging in Canada.

Even after Charles Dana became Managing Director of the Spicer Corporation, Clarence Spicer remained intimately involved with the company he had founded. Dedicated to quality, he once turned down an offer to leave Dana and join General Motors because he wanted to ensure the leadership of the Spicer name. He kept tabs on the competition by installing their equipment in cars and driving his family thousands of miles across the country, stopping every two hundred miles or so to check how the rival equipment was holding up.

As the company's Chief Engineer, Clarence Spicer also worked on many new products. He invented a machine for balancing propeller shafts, and another for producing welded tubing. He also designed a railroad generator drive and a safety clutch for a generator drive. He was a member of both the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Engineers Society of Detroit, and treasurer and president of the Society of Automotive Engineers. Clarence Spicer died in Miami in November of 1939. A tribute from the Society of Automotive Engineers acclaimed his life as "a beacon of example and inspiration in the engineering profession."

As the company expanded with acquisitions and new plants at Pottstown and Reading, demand grew and Spicer Corporation looked to consolidate its manufacturing operations. At the same time, the company needed to deal with another issue that was becoming more and more pressing. Most Spicer customers were no longer on the East Coast. If Spicer wanted to keep its reputation for responsive service, it needed to move it's manufacturing facilities. The harsh truth was, New Jersey no longer meant much in the automotive world. Detroit had taken over.

Why Detroit should have become so dominant in an industry founded in Europe and originally based on the East Coast is not easy to answer. Michigan had abundant raw materials, shipyards and foundries, but it also had the right people at the right time, which was fortunate. Legend has it, for example, that Henry Leland had originally determined to settle in Chicago, but when he arrived there he was greeted with "pistol shots and flying brickbats," so he bought a ticket on the first train out -- which just happened to take him to Detroit.

Along with Leland, R.E. Olds and Henry Ford were already established in the Detroit area by 1900. William C. Durant acquired Buick of Flint, Michigan, in 1904, and proceeded to build General Motors. Because of the incredible success of these pioneers, suppliers and associated companies gravitated towards Michigan and Ohio. When Walter Chrysler reorganized Maxwell Motor Company as Chrysler in the 1920s, and built it into one of the Big Three, Detroit's domination of the industry was complete.

It was not surprising then that Spicer Corporation determined to relocate. Toledo was referred to Detroit partly because an overnight train service would allow Charles Dana to continue living on the East Coast and still visit the company on a regular basis. In 1928, therefore, land was acquired on Bennett Road in Toledo, and a new plant was erected. In early 1929 manufacturing equipment was moved from South Plainfield. Within two years Brown-Lipe and Salisbury Axles had also relocated to the Toledo plant.

The company grew under DANA's direction, acquiring Wix, Perfect Circle and in 1947, Auburn Clutch. Later, Brown-Lipe and Monmouth clutches were consolidated into the company, and Auburn was renamed the Spicer Clutch Division.

World War II was a conflict of unprecedented movement -- with faster, more flexible machinery covering vaster distances and more diverse terrain than ever before. Yet almost every type of vehicle used by the Allies in combat service, on land, on sea or in the air, was equipped in some way with one or more Spicer products. That Spicer people were able to contribute so greatly to the war effort testified to their dedication, and the preparations they had been making as far back as the early 1930s.

Because of their heavy truck experience, for example, Spicer people worked with the army on developing equipment that would be suitable, with minimal change, for military use. Most famously, though, Spicer was intimately involved in the design and manufacture of the Jeep, the light reconnaissance car that was the envy of the Axis powers. Robust, capable of fast transportation of men and military equipment, the Jeep gave the allied armies a significant advantage in mobility. Spicer not only designed the four-wheel drive and axle, but also supplied the parts in huge volume. Salisbury, Victor and Perfect Circle products were everywhere. Parish manufactured heavy frames, while Weatherhead supplied artillery shells and parts for the B29 bombers. The General Drop Forge Co provided equipment for the B-29, as well as the Aircobra, the Wildcat and others.

Spicer's enormous contribution during this era was recognized by the armed services. In particular, America's two senior armed forces jointly awarded Spicer the Army-Navy "E", a coveted recognition of exceptional achievement. Presented to Spicer's Toledo plant in December 1942 for "great work in the production of war equipment," the award consisted of a flag to be flown above the plant and a lapel pin for every person who worked there. By the end of the war, every plant in the Spicer family flew the award.

The acquisition of Auburn Clutch in 1946 created a formidable line-up for Spicer. Formidable, but confusing. Because Spicer, Salisbury, Parish, Brown-Lipe, Sheldon and Auburn were all trade-names owned by the Spicer Corporation, the distinction between Spicer the brand and Spicer the corporation was becoming blurred. The company therefore decided to rename itself.

The Spicer Corporation owed a considerable debt to the leadership of Charles Dana. Hating paperwork, Dana was committed to education, employee benefits and idea sharing. He liked keeping plants to a workable size, and locating them near customers. He also prized growth and success -- both of which the company enjoyed very much under his leadership. In recognition of his 32 years of service, Charles Dana's family name was chosen. The Spicer Corporation was renamed Dana Corporation in his honor in 1946.

The Spicer name did not disappear. It remained where Clarence Spicer would have wanted it -- on the products that he and his company had designed and made famous, still manufactured to the quality he had insisted on: Transmissions, Transfer cases, PTO's and Propeller Shafts.

DANA is SPICER, and has been. NAPCO used SPICER Model 23 Transfer Cases for the GM's which they procured from SPICER's Toledo manufacturing facility. DANA bought the rights in the early 60's to NAPCO's Powr-Pak 4x4 conversion. Does this mean that DANA bought the rights to use the parts that they had originally sold to NAPCO? Yes. Wow. It does get better!
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Old 12-22-2008, 05:55 PM   #7
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Re: NAPCO Thread

CHAPTER 3

Wow. Chapter 2 was pretty deep, but at least now we understand things a little better. DANA through it's subsidiary SPICER had been a major parts supplier for NAPCO. They used SPICER Model 23 Transfer Cases for most of the GM conversions, procuring the units from SPICER's Toledo manufacturing facility. In addition, Rockwell Transfer Cases were sometimes used, and GM provided the majority of the other parts for the conversion, including the basic corporate front axle housings. Additional components included Hotchkiss driving axles and Rzeppa constant velocity joints.

In order to convert an Advance Design Series truck (Pre- '55 2nd Series) to 4 wheel drive, it needed to be a 3/4-ton or 1-ton unit. The 1/2-ton, 3/4-ton and 1-ton Task Force Series trucks ('55 2nd Series and later) could all be easily converted. The conversion kits were different for Advance Design and Task Force Series trucks.

Two different axle styles were used, and were either six bolt or eight bolt (referring to the number of lug nuts used.) On the six bolt style axle, used for the Advance Series conversions ( and commonly used on later 1/2 ton trucks,) the differential was offset to driver's side of the truck, while the eight bolt axle (commonly used on 3/4 and 1 ton trucks) had the differential offset towards the passenger side of the truck. On some earlier six bolt axles, adapter plates were used to convert them for use with eight lug wheel rims, for use on vehicles with eight lug rear axles.

Several optional gear ratio's were available, including 4.57:1, and 5.14:1. The 1 ton units came standard with the 5.14:1 gear sets. Owners or installers also needed to ensure that the gear ratio of the NAPCO front axle closely matched the one in their rear axle as well. Each NAPCO front axle has the name "NAPCO" and the part number either stamped into, or as a raised casting that faces front on the longer side of the front of the axle housing. It's located in the general vicinity of the word "Owners" as you see it on our logo at the top of this page.

The NAPCO front axle assemblies were in essence a modified corporate GM axle, and the differential gear assemblies are interchangeable with the GM corporate rear end of the time. Model's HL-52 for the 1/2-tons, and HO-72 for the 3/4-ton and 1-ton units. The 3/4-ton and 1-ton units are the same, with the exception of the gear ratio's. Manually locking hubs were also an optional item.

The modified section of the NAPCO front axle, consisting of the steering and 4 wheel drive components, use many of the same internal parts as the Dodge Power-Wagon, such as the Rzeppa constant velocity joints. It will vary from truck to truck (both Dodge and GM) due to the fact that neither could/would leave well enough alone. Dodge has something like 5 major changes between
1945 and 1961. NAPCO made changes through the years before 1957.

Though highly durable and a very rugged vehicle, after some 40 odd years (in my case) the trucks do occasionally need repaired, so back to the search for parts. Earlier, I said that DANA had bought the rights in the early 60's to NAPCO's Powr-Pak 4x4 conversion package and so, the road lead me back to DANA. After much gnashing of teeth and effort, I discovered that DANA had re-sold the "NAPCO segment" of the business in the early 60's to a company called R. Cushman & Associates in Livonia, Michigan. I made contact with Mr. Byron Holly of Cushman and Associates. Byron was employed by DANA for years, and is really a knowledgeable guy!

Cushman and Associates only purchased the rights to a part of the NAPCO conversion package from DANA. The segment that they bought included the SPICER Model 23 & 24 Transfer Case rights, information and NOS parts stock. Once purchased by DANA, our beloved NAPCO had been subdivided...

The NAPCO transfer cases were not manufactured by NAPCO at their plant in Plymouth, Minn. The transfer cases are actually SPICER 23's for Chevrolet, Spicer 24's for Ford products, and were manufactured by DANA at the SPICER plant in Toledo, Ohio. The completed cases were purchased by NAPCO, and were shipped to Minneapolis for inclusion in the NAPCO conversion package. NAPCO re-tagged many of the SPICER cases with the NAPCO Industries tag.

The SPICER Model 23 & 24 Transfer Cases are DANA Part #300176-1 through -8, depending on the configuration of the version. Though Cushman purchased the rights to the Transfer Case segment of NAPCO, DANA did not sell Cushman the rights to the -2, or the -8 versions because there was still a high demand for those configurations. The cases were manufactured in 8 different versions, all having the same case and gear assemblies. The different versions were created based on the application configuration. Flange in, yoke out / Yoke in, flange out / Yoke in, bigger yoke out, etc. Also, some configurations had an 8" by 2" emergency brake attached. All had front and rear PTO accesses. The key here is that the basic cases and gears are interchangeable. The Model 24 cases had the drop on the opposite side from the Model 23 cases, though the internals remained the same.

The Transfer Case is technically a "shift-on-the-fly" case, and you don't have to stop to engage the 4x4. However, I've been advised by several owners "NOT" to do it. I've been told that if your gears are not going all the same speed you will grind, bend or break things. With the manually locking hubs, they need to be "locked in" to engage the 4 wheel drive which defeats the purpose of the "shift-on-the-fly", regardless.

The NAPCO units are reported to be the most rugged ever built, so if you find a NAPCO assembly, your chances of it still being useable are good. NAPCO sales brochures even suggested that the buyer save the beam front axle and reinstall it on the truck at trade-in time; the 4x4 set-up would be removed for installation on the next truck. That advice speaks highly for the unit's durability. As the proud owner of one of these mighty vehicles, I'll endorse those reports and comments as being "Right on the Mark!"

This is about as good as it gets for information to date. There are still a "ton" of unanswered questions out there, and lots of additional information waiting in some dusty drawer to be discovered and shared.
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Old 12-22-2008, 05:58 PM   #8
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Re: NAPCO Thread

More stuff

Who is NAPCO? What is NAPCO? NAPCO built some of the most awesome trucks on the face of the earth, didn't they? Where did all the information go? What happened to them / him / her / it? No files, no archives, no parts, no specs, no books, no diagrams, no - - not anything! Something is wrong with this picture!

My axles have numbers on them. What do they mean? My transfer case has a tag. Who can tell me what it means? NAPCO has to exist, somewhere. It has to. I need it to. I think that maybe we all need it to.

"NAPCO". Just hearing the name creates in my minds eye visions of a magical, mystical, Super Truck Hero with tremendous brute power and strength. But where? Some nefarious demon has obviously escaped from the netherworld and managed to restrain our hero in a deep, dark, musty cavern. Incapable of breaking the evil ties that bind it without the assistance of mortal old truck lovers everywhere, NAPCO must be alive somewhere just waiting to be found and set free! "NAPCO lives." We all know that. We just have to discover where.

NAPCO lives! Just ask the countless individuals masquerading as parts men and women (I should refer to them as "counter-personnel") from Florida to Washington who have shuddered and mumbled, slithering into the shadows of their store when I mentioned the name. They know ... ask those who have flatly, boldly and incorrectly denied the existence of NAPCO, knowing in their heart that they were wrong. The proof is in the parking lot! They know ... Ask those "true" parts people who swell with pride, search their archives, and diligently make serious attempts to locate that needed item. But, alas ... they've not the resources. NAPCO is hidden too well. They bow their heads and say, "Sorry, but I can't help you."

Having to speak those four words --"I can't help you"-- must be a terrible experience, for the "true" parts person. They know too ... ask yourself, as you drive, or polish, or turn a wrench on, or just gaze at your own NAPCO. Yes, we know... But we don't know enough!

Well, the good Lord helps those who help themselves. So armed with the knowledge that; some parts are still available; some books and manuals can be found; and with a solid gut feeling that the information I need for my NAPCO's survival does exist, I started what I've begun to call "The Quest for NAPCO".

I mmediately, I hit a brick wall. I didn't hit it too hard, because I had been leaning up against it for some time. But when I hit it, I shook a brick loose from the top. It plummeted down and smacked me square in the middle of the top of my head. When I woke up, I looked at it's shattered remains (I have a hard head!), and felt all that frustration ... you know? The frustration of just not knowing? The frustration of not being able to accomplish what you set out to do? The frustration that comes from someone telling you you'll have to upgrade, or junk it? Telling you it's too old? Telling you it can't be fixed?

Why was I so frustrated? It finally dawned on me. I realized that the things I thought I knew, I didn't. Things I thought were facts were supposition, or had been repeated enough times to give them the all the trappings of being facts. Old wives tales and folklore abound when it comes to NAPCO. It's "ALL" got to be make-believe, I thought. Or is it? Maybe because of my inaccurate beliefs and my trust in the misinformation, I had been looking in the wrong places. Asking all the wrong questions. This was just too difficult. Or was it?



I had to get a grip, so I looked at my truck. There she sat, patient and serene, in all her glory. She's real, and she's a NAPCO. She is one Awesome Chevy. Yes, there are answers out there. Parts too! If we can't get 'em, the information is there somewhere to make them. Even if we choose to upgrade, it should be because we made an informed decision, not because "nobody knows anything about it", or "I don't know what else to do." Yes folks, our NAPCO's will continue to live through the efforts we make to ensure they never die... "NAPCO's FOREVER!"
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Old 12-22-2008, 05:59 PM   #9
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Re: NAPCO Thread

More info

NAPCO International's predecessor, Northwestern Auto Parts Company, was founded in 1918 as a local retailer of auto parts for the expanding number of automobiles and trucks in the Minneapolis area. Its founding motto was "for that hard to get part" reflecting the company's commitment to customer service from inception.

It was not until the Second World War that the company began manufacturing and rebuilding operations. After the war, the company began its current association with the military aftermarket. Huge quantities of surplus war materiel and the distribution of excess vehicles of all types to countries around the world created an active market of buyers and sellers for that materiel.

In the 1950s Northwestern Auto Parts Company became a publicly traded stock company and changed its name to NAPCO Industries, reflecting the change of focus from wholesale supplier to manufacturer. In order to further its commitment to its customers the company began a program in earnest of tracking the availability of blue prints and vendors and prices of all the equipment requested by its world wide customers. The computerized system has become the model for the industry. The company also adopted the quality standards required of manufacturers serving the US Defense Department.

In the ensuing years NAPCO has broadened its product line to include communications equipment, aircraft spare parts, logistics services and other products and services appearing on other pages of this web site. Due to corporate changes not related to its defense business, the company's name changed from NAPCO Industries to NAPCO International in the 1980s. The company has continuously improved the efficiency, quality and breadth of its product line through deployment of new technologies, training, and hard work. The company will continue to evolve and change with the change in market demands; the constant will be our commitment to customer satisfaction.
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Old 12-22-2008, 06:49 PM   #10
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Re: NAPCO Thread

Whoa! What happened to my images...

Thank God I saved em all. I'll upload them in a bit.
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Old 12-22-2008, 10:25 PM   #11
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Re: NAPCO Thread

I eliminated those posts since the pictures aren`t allowed to be copied making the posts worthless.Then,I combined the one that only left 2 pictures in one and a few in the other.
I have to ask about the 60-66 pictured trucks.Why do you think those are Napcos?That yellow Suburban 1/2t is a factory 4wd owned by Toroflow whio hasn`t been around.He has a few real nice vintage GM 4wds.Generally,after`59 pretty much all GM 4wds were factory with the Napcos limited to one ton and up.Why pay all that when the factory offered it at a much lower cost?
I lost the pics of my`71 K30 when my computer dumped and I don`t have scanning powers these days.But,here are some I`ve saved pics of:





That last one had the track photoshopped on.But,It`s a dual wheel 1t
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Old 12-22-2008, 10:30 PM   #12
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Re: NAPCO Thread

There is such a thing as to much info... I like pics and videos..

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Old 12-23-2008, 12:10 AM   #13
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Re: NAPCO Thread

Thanks Special-K I didnt even think to do that.
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Old 12-23-2008, 01:11 AM   #14
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Re: NAPCO Thread

Wow - great video and information. Keep it coming...
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Old 12-23-2008, 08:38 AM   #15
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Re: NAPCO Thread

I`ve had that happen with pics before.I was afraid the internet police were gonna get me.Sheesh,they`re just pictures.





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Old 12-23-2008, 04:37 PM   #16
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Re: NAPCO Thread

i have some 60's brochures but my scanner is packed away.....well try this
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1967 K30 Napco 292/SM420 original paint 30k miles
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1987 K20 Chevrolet Suburban. Ex NASA alien listening rig. Wanted12/14' airstream.
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Old 12-23-2008, 06:15 PM   #17
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Re: NAPCO Thread

Long time no see.How ya doin`?Are you coming back with the`67 stake body pictures or what?I was going to give you credit for your white`68 for those who don`t know.That`s an awesome ad.


Does anyone photo edit?I have a page of GMCs but there`s a racey woman image that won`t fly here at the top that needs either clothes or(as much as I`d hate to see it)erased


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"BUILDING A BETTER WAY TO SERVE THE USA"......67/72......"The New Breed"

'67 C1500 Wideside Super Custom SWB: 327/M22/3.42 posi...project 'Driver Quality'
'72 K2500 Wideside Sierra Custom Camper: 350/TH350/4.10 Power-Lok...'The 72'
Tim

"Don't call me a redneck. I'm just a rough cut country gentleman"

R.I.P. East Side Low Life __________ R.I.P. El Jay_____________ R.I.P. 72BLUZ _____________

Last edited by special-K; 12-23-2008 at 06:25 PM.
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Old 12-23-2008, 06:24 PM   #18
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Re: NAPCO Thread





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"BUILDING A BETTER WAY TO SERVE THE USA"......67/72......"The New Breed"

'67 C1500 Wideside Super Custom SWB: 327/M22/3.42 posi...project 'Driver Quality'
'72 K2500 Wideside Sierra Custom Camper: 350/TH350/4.10 Power-Lok...'The 72'
Tim

"Don't call me a redneck. I'm just a rough cut country gentleman"

R.I.P. East Side Low Life __________ R.I.P. El Jay_____________ R.I.P. 72BLUZ _____________
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Old 12-23-2008, 06:28 PM   #19
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Re: NAPCO Thread



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"BUILDING A BETTER WAY TO SERVE THE USA"......67/72......"The New Breed"

'67 C1500 Wideside Super Custom SWB: 327/M22/3.42 posi...project 'Driver Quality'
'72 K2500 Wideside Sierra Custom Camper: 350/TH350/4.10 Power-Lok...'The 72'
Tim

"Don't call me a redneck. I'm just a rough cut country gentleman"

R.I.P. East Side Low Life __________ R.I.P. El Jay_____________ R.I.P. 72BLUZ _____________
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Old 12-23-2008, 06:50 PM   #20
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Re: NAPCO Thread

All my other pics went down with da old puter. Stakebed is immersed in snow right this minute. Have'nt been around since my 3rd tax deduction arrived, economy, huntin season ect.
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1968 K60 Napco 396/5spd. dbl frame 52" michelins
1969 K10 SWB GMC 454/4spd 6" 35's posi,hooks
1972 C30 longhorn,BB/AT,A/C,Tilt,Toolbox,lokr
1987 K20 Chevrolet Suburban. Ex NASA alien listening rig. Wanted12/14' airstream.

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Old 12-23-2008, 06:56 PM   #21
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Re: NAPCO Thread

pic
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1967 K30 Napco 292/SM420 original paint 30k miles
1968 K60 Napco 396/5spd. dbl frame 52" michelins
1969 K10 SWB GMC 454/4spd 6" 35's posi,hooks
1972 C30 longhorn,BB/AT,A/C,Tilt,Toolbox,lokr
1987 K20 Chevrolet Suburban. Ex NASA alien listening rig. Wanted12/14' airstream.
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Old 12-23-2008, 06:57 PM   #22
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Re: NAPCO Thread

wrecker
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1967 K30 Napco 292/SM420 original paint 30k miles
1968 K60 Napco 396/5spd. dbl frame 52" michelins
1969 K10 SWB GMC 454/4spd 6" 35's posi,hooks
1972 C30 longhorn,BB/AT,A/C,Tilt,Toolbox,lokr
1987 K20 Chevrolet Suburban. Ex NASA alien listening rig. Wanted12/14' airstream.
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Old 12-23-2008, 09:24 PM   #23
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Re: NAPCO Thread

Wow,drool,drool,drool.
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Old 12-23-2008, 09:57 PM   #24
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Re: NAPCO Thread

Gmc
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Old 12-23-2008, 11:42 PM   #25
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Re: NAPCO Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by sakohntr View Post
All my other pics went down with da old puter. Stakebed is immersed in snow right this minute. Have'nt been around since my 3rd tax deduction arrived, economy, huntin season ect.
Lost my pics earlier this year,too.I hate when that happens.New ones`ll do that,won`t they?The economy sucks and huntin`sure can fill some gaps(and is a practicle thing you can enjoy).Definately takes a mind off of things.
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"BUILDING A BETTER WAY TO SERVE THE USA"......67/72......"The New Breed"

'67 C1500 Wideside Super Custom SWB: 327/M22/3.42 posi...project 'Driver Quality'
'72 K2500 Wideside Sierra Custom Camper: 350/TH350/4.10 Power-Lok...'The 72'
Tim

"Don't call me a redneck. I'm just a rough cut country gentleman"

R.I.P. East Side Low Life __________ R.I.P. El Jay_____________ R.I.P. 72BLUZ _____________
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