M37 Project

This truck and the project that will follow on this page has been a thought of mine for over eight (8) years.  I have been in the military vehicle collecting hobby for over 25 years.  I have always been a person into history and into military history.  In the past I have owned two M151s and A1 and an A2, a M211, a M1009, a M1028, and a M35A2.  I have also owned several trailers to include a M416, M105, and a MKT.  I was always amazed at the life the M35 series truck has had.  It is over 50 years that the truck in some form has been in service with the US Military.  The original truck started out as a gas powered. Then it became a multi-fuel diesel. Then the multi-fuel turbo diesel and then finally a CAT powered diesel.  So over 8 years ago I started to wonder what would have happen if in the mid 1960s if the army had decided that it was going to stay with the M37 truck in service instead of the course it took with the M715, then M880 and then the M1008 and M998 HMMWV.  I decided back then that it would be interesting to build a concept vehicle based on the M37 truck. So I am finally starting the M37B3 project.  Please enjoy the progress and the troubles and trials we (myself and my family) encounter along the way. 

I purchased this 1953 M37 on 13 July 2008 as part of a trade deal for my M151A1 that I had had for 22 years and some much needed cash.   Here the is were the adventure begins.

Sunday 13 July 2008:  Here is how it looked when we picked her up.



My observations were that the truck though rusty it was mostly surface rust.  The only real problem with the body was the drivers floor and the transmission cover. The glass is all broken, but hey you replace that on a restoration anyway right?  It was mostly complete and the price was right.  The wiring is all hacked up and it was converted to 12V somewhere along the way.  All that is going to be replaced and redone with the project, so we loaded it on a trailer and brought it back home.

In the drive way before putting it in the garage. (cell phone pic sorry)

Saturday 2 August 2008:

The truck is in the garage and the disassembly has begun. 
Can you tell how small my garage is...this should make a frame up rebuild very interesting.

Hard top, windshield and doors all removed.  We also broke the hard top down into pieces for greater storage and ease of rebuild. 

Now the big problem..... I knew the floor was rusty, but I didn't realize how bad till we pulled the door off.
The rocker panel, the inner side wall panel and the floor all need to be replaced.  We may opt for finding another cab and just replacing it.  But if not then we will be doing a lot of welding.

Our observations is that this was an Air Force truck. The cab has Strata Blue under the red, white, and brown paint.  The bed is not original to the truck as it is an US Army bed with no USAF Blue on it.  We are making an educated guess that the truck went from the USAF to a Fire Department maybe with the Forest Service where the bed was removed and the fire equipment was mounted on the truck.  Then the truck was repainted white, maybe as part of the Forest Service or the FD went from Red to White.  Then the truck went into civilian hands were it was painted brown and then a new bed was mounted to it.  Stay tuned more to follow.

Saturday and Sunday 9 -10 August 2008

Started working on pulling the bed down.  I decided that I would pull the bed apart to its smaller parts instead of pulling the whole bed.  This way I could get into the nooks and cranies to remove rust and also it would make the bed lighter to move.  With the bed removed the cab will be easier to remove.   

I want a time machine to travel back in time and find the engineer who designed the bed for the M37 truck and kick his fanny!  Who uses philip head bolts to hold something together.  What a major headache this was.  A good philips screw head looks like this +.  Not these screws some looked like the +, but many others looked like []  or  like this O or just a blob of metal.  Many years sitting out on the farm have not been friendly to the bolts.  If we could get a screw driver on them as soon as we tried to turn them the + went to O.  So every single bolt that was philip head had to either be cut off with a cut off wheel or drilled out.  What we thought would be a one day job turned into two days.  I had a few more pics but it seems my camera glitched and I didn't get them...sorry.  Anyway here is what I do have.

Tail gate and drivers side off.  This is one of the glitched pictures sorry about quality.

Bed off
You can see a little bit of the custom wiring someone did.  The military rear wire harness is gone and the mess of wire left is all that remains.

Left and right side and tail gate off.  We got a scattered rain shower tonight so that is why everything looks wet.

When we pulled the bed the amount of dirt that came out of the sub-frame channels was amazing!  I had small dirt piles all over the garage floor. Here is one that built up over the air hose.

The bed floor is up against the side of the garage.  The next step is the front sheet metal.

16 August 2008

We got some more work done on the truck today.  The front end is off completely and the motor is just about ready to come out.  Then we will prep the cab and take it off.  The front wire harness was also hacked to pieces so it all went into the trash.  Nothing worth saving. 

Front sheet metal is off

Our growing parts pile.  Truck 1 each M37 Dodge (some assembly required)..lol.

As I started pulling the wiring out of the cab both civilian and military I found this interesting wiring on the drivers side kick panel.  It was held in with one screw.  Ah nothing like bread board construction... :)  Isn't this special?

At some point in this trucks civilian life it was converted to 12 volts.  Here is the motor you can see the civilian distributor as well as the 12 volt civilian (Chrysler no less) generator. 

Stay tuned more to come. 

Well we took a few weekends off. Had other obligations, but we did get some things done and then we had one day to get back at it.

13 September 2008

Well we got the motor and steering column out.  Motor and trans was easy, but the steering column proved a little more difficult, but we got it.

Next we unbolted the cab and because of the rust in the cab and the missing metal we welded two brace rods into the door opening to give the body strength so that when we pulled the cab up and off it wouldn't fold in on its self.

Cab off...yeah!!

You can see in the above picture that some owner in the past either the FD or "bubba" changed the brake master cylinder to a hydovac "power" brake system.  Problem is the way they did it was an abortion.  Look at this next picture and see how they messed the frame up so bolting a stock MC back in place or even one of the approved after markets in place is going to be next to impossible.  I hate when good intentioned people screw good Army trucks up!

Also check out what's left of the MC and the copper line feeding the main brake lines.

This may lead to hanging brake pedal for the M37B3 project.

Well after removed the MC and the brake and clutch pedals. We removed the transfer case and the drive shafts. The worst part about the coming of fall is the shorter days.  By 19:30 we were out of light so these were taken in the dark.

So we are getting there slow but sure.  Now the real fun starts trying to find parts at prices I can afford..... :)

October:  We had some down time in October due to family events so we didn't get anything done... :(  But the other things we did take care of were more important. 

November: Well, we were able to get a little more accomplished on the truck, not as much as we have hoped, but we did get the shocks unattached from the mounts on the frame and we power washed the frame to get the years of mud, sludge, and grime off the frame.  Here are some pics.



The interesting color on the frame....there is what looks like 319 OD green, then USAF Strata Blue, then Semi-gloss black, then red primer and then metal. 

We have have uncovered some bumper markings, but have yet to decipher it.  We will get to it maybe in the next few weeks.  Here are the markings.
As stated we are going to have to do some more sanding on them. 

December: Winter has set in.  The garage is not heated and makes working in it very difficult.  We don't want to sandblast prime and paint in 20 degree weather.  Therefore we are putting the project on hold till we can either provide a good heat source in the garage or till spring. We will update you should we get a warm spell or spring comes.

26 April 2009

My son-in-law and I rented a modern Dodge Pick up from Enterprise and drove 6 hours to Hale MI to pick up axles from a 1979 Dodge W200.  This consists of a Dana 44F (sometimes called a 44HD) front axle and a Dana 60 rear axle.  Paid less for both axle than would be for one set of disk brakes for the old Dodge axles.  Not only do I get front discs but also 4.10 gear ratio.  Good highway speed, but still offers some off road.

May 2009

We decided to start with the front axle.  Figured it would be the hardest.  Got the old front axle off with no problem then had to start figuring out how the front axle was going to line up.  We figured that the font axle had to lay 18.5 inches from hub to frame to be centered on the truck.  In order to do this the right front leaf spring would have to move out 1.75 inches from it's stock location. So, the next step was to figure out how to move the leaf spring.  I came up with some cardboard templates and did a lot of head scratching.  Here is one thought on the rear hanger.

This is what we decided to do for the most part on the rear. Of course the u-bolt and the punch were replaced by bolts.  On the front we fabricated a mount and pulled the spring over. 

Jun 2009

We got the mounts made and got the axle under the truck.  A trip to junk yard got us 4 good 16.5 inch Dodge rims with usable rubber for less than $50.00 and the front axle was in place.  we had to cut and move the sprng perch on the drivers side, but otherwise it fit great.  The axle is centered at 18.5 inches hub to frame.

Axle in place                                                    Front axle mount

Rear spring mount.  We still have to weld some things up, but that will get done just before we sandblast so that we can weld, sandblast, prime and paint basically all at the same time.

21 June 2009

What a great Fathers Day.  Had both my son and my son-in-law and their friend Rob helping me.  We finished up some loose ends on the front axle, then pulled the rear axle out.  Two of the u-bolts were rusted in place and wouldn't give no matter how much heat and beat we put on them.  We finally just cut them off.

Found out the rear Dana 60 bolts right in.  No fuss no muss.  Just slid it right under the truck and the rear springs fall right on the perches.  I was very happy to find that out.  No having to figure out alignment and cutting and welding etc.  In it went.  All that is left is to get some new u-bolts.  I'll have them made at EAB Truck in Cleveland and then install them.  Here is the rear axle just sitting in place.

Our next step is to finish bolting in the rear axle.  Then pull everything back apart and start the sandblasting and painting of the frame and axles.  Then start putting things back together.  My goal before winter sets in is to have the truck back on the rims in OD.  Wish me luck and say a pray... :)

Continued on page 2

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