Monday, May 13, 2013

I Am Honored

I am honored in the restoration process of Mabel to have had a mentor who was a resource better than any book.

Peter Bouwma.

Pete entered the US Army in 1943.  He went to Europe in 1944, and landed over the shores of Normandy.  He was attached to a mechanical unit on the 1st infantry division and it was his job to make sure that the big trucks (1 ton and over) made it to where they were needed both by insuring they were running and by driving them there.

When Pete came over and first saw Mabel he was like a kid in a candy store.  His eyes twinkled and I could tell he was remembering the good old days.  He immediately began looking her over and asking questions (most of which I had no idea how to answer).  And after his initial inspection he stood back and put his hands on his hips and grinned a grin I would come to know well and said.  "I've seen worse."
That would be the beginning of a long education on a great many things.  Over the next two years I would get to know Pete very well as he would show me how to repair this, or maintain that.  We would stop and he would tell me stories about his time in Europe (which were harrowing to say the least.)  To sum those up I will say only this for right now.  If he wasn't getting himself into trouble he was trying to get himself out of trouble (usually induced by the Nazis).

Pete taught me how to rebuild an engine, bleed brakes, adjust carburetors, time an engine, listen to the idle, replace axles, transmissions, u-joints, etc. etc. etc.  I honestly never knew I could learn so much.  But the most important thing is he taught me.  He would stand by and offer advice while I did the work.  And, although it may often result in more work for a frustrated Troy, it was sound advice. He was patient when I wasn't, and stubborn when I needed it.  This is perhaps the most important thing he taught me.

Now Pete and I will ride through the Lynden Farmers Day Parade this June in a well restored Mabel. He will be very happy and proud and I am glad I could give back to him something of value for what he gave me.

Mabel made me a new friend, she bridged a couple of generations and illustrated that it is common experience that binds people.  I hope that Mabel will be an experience for many more to share in the coming decades.

Thank you Pete for making that possible.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Here are some more photos that I have collected of M6 Wc-55s in action.

Here are some in Italy-

These two are extra cool because it is the same truck from different angles.

Here is a couple that I think are more USMC.  This is because of the lack of the markings on them (USMC did not mark their vehicles as much as the US Army did.)

Here are some shots of them coming out of the Chrysler plant in droves.

In my last post I talked about why the Jeep was too small to mount a 37mm cannon.  Here is an example of why.  There is no room for the crew to sit.  Although I like the 1917 water cooled machine gun for anti aircraft.
And here is a new M6 pic I just found on the internet.

Here is a great shot of the top of the bed with the 37mm and crew in place.

(copyright to Life magazine for the top two photos.  The others I grabbed from here and there across the internet so cannot cite the origin.)

Next post I will talk about some of the specifications of a WC-55 and what makes them unique from other Dodge military trucks.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A little background.

Mabel is a 1943 WC-52 that will be restored to a WC-55 configuration, as used by the US Marine Corps in the Pacific on Bougainville.

The difference between the two is not much just a 37mm cannon.

The WC-52 nomenclature establishes that she is a 3/4 ton dodge 4 wheel drive truck with a winch.  In this configuration she is intended as a troop carrier and light cargo truck.

However at the beginning of WW2 the military decided that they needed an quick anti tank gun platform that could quickly and easily maneuver to ambush german tanks.  The M6 gun motor carriage was created (they tried to mount a 37mm cannon on a jeep but the little go devil was just not big enough to work.)

The M6 gun motor carriage mounts a 37mm M3 cannon in the back (where the troops would sit), and had a special mount on the frame to adsorb the shock from the recoil.  It was mounted with combat wheels (that had extra thick rubber walls so they could "run flat" if they were damaged.  It was also outfitted with different brackets to allow for the cleaning pole, the bucket, the shovel, pick and axe that would normally be found in the pioneer tools rack, and special ammo cans and weapons holders for the crew.  It was then dubbed the WC-55 configuration as this is how these special mounts would be ordered from dodge when it was building the trucks.

When the M6 hit North Africa in operation Torch, it was found to be a very unsuccessful design.  The 37mm was not big enough to damage the german light tanks and just bounced off the medium and heavy tanks (such as the Tiger I).  The idea was quickly retired and replaced by half track mounted 105mm which worked splendidly.

But the design turned out not to be entirely useless.  In the pacific the USMC needed a light quick gun motor carriage that would not get bogged down on the beaches.  The M6 GMC turned out to be just what they needed.

3 companies were formed and immediately put to use on Bougainville.  The little 37mm gun truck turned out to be highly successful against both the dug in Japanese and their tanks.  So the US Army Olive Drab was exchanged for USMC forest green and trucks like Mabel went to work.

So far it has been just under three years since the project began.  I am at this point putting on the finishing touches and waiting for her 37mm replica to be manufactured.  This should happen before the end of 2013.

Some original photos of M6 GMC WC-55s  (I did not take these and assume copyright exists with the US military in some way shape or form.)
This is a prototype shot
Here is another prototype shot

From Italy (???)

In North Africa

Field Testing

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

So it began...

On September 22, 2009 the long journey began.
Mabel, who was not yet named Mabel, appeared in Lynden. After a trip from Minnesota, her former resting place, she was home.
A bit rough looking. A bit rough riding. A lot of work needing to be completed.
The adventures of Mabel and Troy were just beginning...