Useful Info for MV Owners

The Internet has grown dramatically and there are now thousands of websites specifically targeted to the military vehicle marketplace. There are several categories, such as dealers in parts and services, owner's websites showing off their vehicles, and organizations of owners.

This page of Olive-Drab.com discusses another aspect: there are many Internet resources that can help the MV owner even though they are not specifically targeted to those owners. Many items you need in order to repair or restore your MV are available from commercial sources and can then be adapted to match the military part you need. Use your search engine (Google, Bing, etc.) to find the suppliers using the ideas found here. Sometimes it takes a bit of searching effort and creativity, but they are out there.

USS LCT-222 lands U.S. Army Jeep serial # 2039078 on an Italian beach. Photo believed to be taken during the Salerno landings, September 1943
USS LCT-222 lands U.S. Army Jeep serial # 2039078 on an Italian beach. Photo believed to be taken during the Salerno landings, September 1943.

Today in WW II: 27 Oct 1939 In a radio broadcast to the US, King Leopold III of Belgium declares that Belgium is determined to defend its neutrality.  More 
27 Oct 1942 Wierzbnik ghetto in Poland liquidated by Germans, with mass killings in the square and about 4,000 deported to concentration camp.
27 Oct 1942 Aircraft carrier USS Hornet [CV-8], who carried the Doolittle Raiders to bomb Tokyo, damaged by Japanese attacks and sunk dufing Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, Solomons.
27 Oct 1943 American and New Zealand troops land on Choiseul, a large island near Bougainville.
27 Oct 1944 Allied offensive in Northern Italy halted due to stiff German resistance, Allied munitions & shipping shortages, troop exhaustion, lack of replacements, and worsening weather.
Visit the Olive-Drab.com World War II Timeline for day-by-day events 1939-1945! See also WW2 Books.

Directory of Useful Information for Military Vehicle Owners

For each directory category below, the relationship to military vehicles is explained and suggestions are provided about where and how to find out more. As the Internet is expanding and changing at a reapid rate, the best course is to use Google, Bing and other search engines to browse the latest offerings.

Remember, these suggestions are resources that are not specific to mililtary vehicle restoration, repair and ownership but are relevant because military vehicles share characteristics and technology with all vehicles. For resources that are more specific to military vehicles, refer to the main sections of the Olive-Drab.com Military Vehicle Ownership Guide.

Type of Information Suggested Resource
Vehicle Restoration

In many ways the needs of owners, buyers or restorers of Classic Cars are similar to those of military vehicles. At Buy Classic Cars you will find all the major Classic Car clubs in America and rental agencies for classic cars or bikes. You can read the latest Classic Car Magazines on-line and even check a dealer's credentials. They tell you who to contact if you get ripped-off and everything you need to export a classic car legally and safely including phone numbers for all American Ports and US Customs.

Automotive Technology

The technology of military vehicles is very similar to that of civilian vehicles, but may have important differences. Engine, transmission, brakes, electrical parts, etc. are all familiar but, for example, modern military vehicles use a 24 volt electrical system while most non-military systems are 12 volt. Even with the differences, a solid knowledge of automotive systems and parts along with assembly, maintenance, and repair techniques will put you in a much better position to do your own work on your military vehicle.

The Internet has many resources available regarding automotive technology that will indirectly help you with your military vehicle. For example, search for "automotive systems" or something more specific like:

  • truck transmissions
  • oil lubricants
  • off road tires
  • automotive electrical systems

There are also general sites like How Stuff Works. Wikipedia, and About.com that have articles about automotive topics.

Off-Road Adventure

The excitement and fun of rock crawling or mud bogging is the same, whether your ride is an M561 Gama Goat or a Dodge Ram. Internet sites for 4x4 off-road enthusiasts have much to offer the military vehicle owner. They generaly have some material that is specific to military vehicles, but all of their presentations are relevant. For example, where to go to find areas open to four-wheeling, repair techniques in the field, winch and recovery mehods, and much more are common to both MV and non-MV owners alike. One all-around resource is Off-Road.Com, a good guide to material about off-road driving, tech topics, product guides, trails and events, clubs and more. They includes some coverage of military vehicles with interesting histories and other fact sheets.

Tools and Equipment

Although military surplus tools are available for collectors, they are mostly used to display with your military vehicle. You can find them on online acutions, at MVPA flea markets or other events. Being antiques, you really don't want to risk damage or loss to original tools or other equipment like electric testers, air pumps, or even lifting jacks. Instead you will probably use commercial tools in the proper sizes -- SAE for earleir military vehicles and metric for more recent ones. Many tool suppliers have extensive catalogs on their web sites so you can find even obscure sizes or special purpose items. Search for "auto restoration" with "tools" or "supplier". You can also try "classic cars", also with "tools" or "supplier".

Electrical Parts and Electronics

Since about 1950 most U.S. military vehicles have utilized 24 volt electrical systems. Prior to that, 6v systems were used. However, most commercial electrical parts available today are for 12v systems. Many of the MV electrical parts, such as generators/alternators, flashers, lighting, connectors and switches are military specialties and common across whole families of military vehicles. Those are widely available from military parts sources. Wiring harnesses are custom made for each vehicle, with all the circuits and connectors needed attched to bundles of wire strands of just the right length and capacity. However, individual lengths of correct wire and the mil-spec connectors can be purchased to repair wiring or add new accessories.

Finding 24V or 6V lightbulbs in a mainly 12V automotive world can be a pain. Many of the surplus parts dealers listed in the Olive-Drab.com database have them (search for "electrical" on the Dealer Search page), but there are also commercial sources. It's good to stock spares since typical auto parts stores probably do not carry 24v bulbs.

Another useful item is a 24v battery charger which can be used to charge your vehicle and also can be used as a power source for 24v electrical testing.

There are Internet vendors who specialize in antique electronics, including military items. Some dealers specialize in all military equipment, others commercial products or a mix. If you need a knob, vacuum tube, cable or whatnot, they may be able to provide it.

If you want to graft a 12v accessory, like a radio, to a 24v system there are ways to do that but it has be done in the right way to drop the voltage without damaging the batteries or other parts of the electrical system. There are many how to articles that can be found on the Internet to help you with your electrical projects.

Visit the Technical Reference Downloads page of Olive-Drab.com for documentation and more information on electrical topics.

Paint and Finishes

The paint used on military vehicles is not just to have a uniform color. Mil-spec paint usually is formulated with specific reflective properties to reduce its visibility to night vision electronics, and other technical qualities. The Olive-Drab.com page about OD Paint for Military Vehicles and the section covering Camouflage Patterns provide all the details of actual military paint and its substitutes. Many paint suppliers can match the correct color for you, for brush or spray application. You can also get the paint to match your vehicle in spray cans from many vendors.

Other finishes that are used on MVs include rustproofing treatments, high-temperature paint for engines, and battery box coatings. In addition, many mil-spec parts have black or olive drab plating or are in a dull gray gun-metal finish. Many of these parts are available from specialized vendors or you can have a plating company run a batch of parts for you if you can't find them ready made. Do-it-yourself companies have plating kits that you can use in your own workshop. Caution: paint, plating preparations, and chemicals can be dangerous. Do not use them without carefully following the vendor's directions and safety recommendations.

Small Parts

A military vehicle uses many small items in addition to its major assemblies. For example, nuts-bolts-washers, steel and rubber tubing, canvas straps, and much more. All of these items are carried by MV parts dealers but sometimes you have to turn to commercial replacements.

Anything made of rubber originally, or parts such as leather seals, will deteriorate with age. Even if in original packaging, you can't trust the integrity of the product after many years. Substitute commercial products are available, made to match the original but fabricated of modern materials. Brake lines, fuel lines, transmission and vacuum lines all fall into this category.

Original fasteners (bolts, nuts, screws, washers, lock washers) may be out-of-stock as originals, but you can often find commercial replacements in the right size and shape. Check your original vehicle or study the parts manuals, then locate the large fastener suppliers on the Internet to find the match. You may have to refinish the parts (strip and replate with a military finish) but your restoration will look 100% original.