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Buying MV Parts & Equipment
Every military vehicle needs parts to maintain it in proper running condition. For vehicles in the military inventory, there is an extensive logistics system to provide parts and other service items at the point of need, but that won't help you. When restoring your historical vehicle you may need to locate missing parts or replace inappropriate parts installed by a prior owner. This page will guide you on where to find the parts, equipment, and related items for MV maintenance, repair and restoration.
Buying Parts and Equipment for Military Vehicles
The eBay on line auction has become one of the most active and easiest to use ways to buy and sell Military Vehicle parts. As you can see from the live auction list above left, many hard to find parts can be found there. It is also a quick way to determine current prices and generally to see what is going on in the parts market -- what's rare, what's common, etc.
Direct sales by the U.S. Government are now conducted through the website of Government Liquidation.com. MV parts are on sale all the time, but you will have to check carefully to make sure the part numbers are correct for what you are looking for. You also have to buy in lots assembled by Government Liquidation.com which may include other things that do not interest you. For example, the steering wheel in the top photo was part of a big mix of "stuff" that had to be purchased all at once or not at all. On the other hand, some lots go very cheaply so you can take what you want and put the rest on eBay. The Government Liquidation.com tells you how to buy from them. Check out the Olive-Drab page on Government Auctions of military vehicles for more information.
Parts and Equipment Suppliers
For dealers and manufacturers, many of whom now sell on eBay, refer to the Olive-Drab database of suppliers of vehicles, equipment and parts, by far the largest list on the Internet. You can search the supplier database from the menu at the bottom of any Olive-Drab.com page or from the Olive-Drab Search page. Most vehicle dealers also sell parts. Some parts dealers have vehicles, at least occasionally. Shop around and get to know who does the best job for the vehicles you work with. If you are not sure of the reputation of a particular dealer, post a message to one of the Discussion Groups or Forums for some experienced opinion.
Since private military vehicles are not found in large numbers in any given area, almost all suppliers are used to working with people at a distance. That is, they can pack and ship your order quickly and get it out to you no matter how remote you may be. Of course, expedited service costs extra, but when your truck is on the lift waiting for some part the local NAPA never heard of, these guys can be lifesavers.
If you don't know what part number you need, most dealers will help you. However, it will make things go faster and easier if you have the parts manuals for your vehicle and can be more specific. Many times there is more than one manufacturer, more than one way things were done on a particular vehicle. Ask for help and advice to minimize having to reject a part and deal with returns and re-shipments. If you can't get original manuals, then use Portrayal Press who have top quality reproduction parts manuals for each vehicle and also the very useful "Army Vehicle Parts Guide" (their ID# 620-AVPG).
If your vehicle is a HMMWV, or other vehicle still in military use, you may find that the same parts that are sold to the military are available to you from the original manufacturer or one of their dealers. For examples, see the HMMWV Military Parts page. Or check out this military lighting LED retrofit kit on Amazon.com.
Military Vehicle Tools
Most of the tools you need to work on a military vehicle are the same as those used for any automotive work. In fact, maintenance of MVs has been deliberately simplified as much as possible to reduce costs and training requirements. There are exceptions, however. If any special tools are needed, they are listed in the manual for the vehicle. In most cases, the parts dealers will have the special tools available for sale. For example, you can count on Vintage Power Wagons to have the tools for all the WW II Dodges plus the M-37. Before you buy a tool, however, be realistic about how often you will need it. The purpose of the special tool can often be handled by some other tool or by improvised methods. Unless you just want to have them around ("OD Fever" strikes again), you may not actually need the special tools.
Military Vehicles Magazine runs articles about dealers who are well established in the market. Get a copy of MV and look at the back issues index for the full story on Tom Murray, Adirondack, and others. Very interesting material about some great people and their businesses.
What is NOS?
You need to know what "NOS" means. You will frequently see the notation NOS associated with military parts listings. NOS means "New Old Stock" which indicates that the parts are new, as issued through the military supply line. This distinguishes them from used parts, "take-offs" removed from vehicles, or reproductions. NOS parts were manufactured for the military, then have been sitting somewhere, usually for years, and are now for sale to you.
For the person who is concerned with authenticity, NOS is normally first choice. There is a special thrill to opening the original military package, with all numbers intact and matching, and seeing the brand new part ready to go into your truck. But, NOS can also mean a mouldy package and a deteriorated part. For example, seals, belts or hoses for WW II vintage vehicles are now way over-age and probably unusable. If you are going to drive your vehicle, the original cork or leather seal cannot be used and you have to put in updated parts made of modern materials. A good reproduction or modern replacement for actual usage plus NOS packages for display is the prudent course.
What is TO?
The letters "TO" when applied to vehicle parts means "take-off" or "take-out". That is, the part has been taken off (or out) of a vehicle and is now sold separately just as the part. This simply means a used part! When the part is hardware such as a pintle hook, tow shackle or brushguard, you need only inquire about its condition: it could be near new or bent, smashed, and rusted out. When buying through the mail ask for a fair description and right of return if it isn't as described. For running gear, such as transfer case, transmission, axles, etc. you have the same general concerns but in addition the part has to be in good shape for its purpose. Unless you are capable of doing a rebuild to replace bearings, seals etc. make sure you know what you are getting with a take-out. There should be a big difference in price between a burned out, used up gear box vs. low-miles, good running condition. As with anything bought used, make sure you know what you are getting.
What is Depot Rebuild?
The military has its own facilities to re-furbish, re-manufacture, and re-build certain major assemblies such as engines, transmissions, differentials, and the like. These depot level machine shops receive worn or damaged equipment from the organizational maintenance units in the field. If rebuildable, they will do so. "Depot Rebuild", especially if recent date, can mean first class material with full inspection and replacement of worn parts, all bearings, seals, etc. replaced and engineering upgrades performed followed by full testing to make sure all is well. Look for military tags and labels indicating what was done, when and where.