Apr 192001
 

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This is my third ex-military truck. It’s a 1965 Kaiser-Jeep M543A2 5-Ton 6×6 wrecker. I probably crossed the line buying this one… 🙂

Pictures

 

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My truck arrives from Wisconsin, on the back of a drop-deck trailer.
5/1/01
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Here’s a close-up of my truck.
5/1/01
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This is the commercial wrecker which we used to unload my truck from the trailer, since no loading ramp was available. We thought that the wrecking company was going to bring a tilt-bed trailer, so that we could just drive my truck from one trailer to the other, and use the tilt-bed to lower it to the ground. Unloading my truck with this type of wrecker took a lot longer, but it didn’t cost me any more, and unloading my truck turned out to be a lot more fun for me this way! This commercial wrecker was really impressive. The driver told me it cost about $190,000, so I guess I’ll just have to be satisfied with my puny little 5-ton toy. 🙂
5/1/01
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We used the wrecker to left the back end of my 34,000-pound truck, pulled the trailer forward, lowered the back end of my truck to the ground, lifted the front end, pulled the trailer out the rest of the way, and then finally lowered the front end of my truck to the ground. It was a pretty spectacular arrival! I was sitting in my truck’s cab and steering when we lifted the rear end and pulled the trailer forward. Eeek! My truck’s engine is running here, since I needed to lift its boom a bit to make clearance for the other wrecker’s boom. It’s a good thing I studied my manuals ahead of time, so I knew how to operate the crane! We lifted my truck by the rear axle with the commercial wrecker’s lifting forks. We could not lower it all the way with the forks, because my truck’s pintle interfered with the boom. We used the commercial wrecker’s dual crane to lower my truck the rest of the way, and then to lift and lower the front end.
5/1/01
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At work on Mark’s Green Truck Ranch, hitched up to an incomplete M1022 dolly set. Photo courtesy of Matt Tait.
3/16/02
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Towing the M1022 dolly set cross-country. Photo courtesy of Matt Tait.
3/16/02
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Lifting the rear half of another M1022 dolly set. Photo courtesy of Matt Tait.
3/16/02
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Here’s a wide shot of Mark’s Green Truck Ranch. Photo courtesy of Matt Tait.
3/16/02

Timeline

5/1/2001 My truck arrives from Wisconsin.
5/19/2001 Today, I changed the coolant, tightened the loose alternator belts, and replaced the badly rusted metal battery box with the polyethylene battery box upgrade kit. It’s an easy upgrade to perform, requiring you to simply attach some hardware to the box, remove the old box latches form the truck, and drill two holes in the battery box runners. The plastic box has different latches than the metal one, and they look like they’ll be much less susceptible to becoming jammed by rust. I found that the shield that bolts to the back of the box keeps the box from sliding in, so I had to remove it. I’ll either cut it down a bit on a band saw, or I’ll replace it with a piece of angle stock to act as a box stiffener. I started up the engine and found that I wasn’t building any air pressure. After a bunch of head-scratching and investigation, I finally figured out that fiddling with the pneumatic clutch control valve on the wrecker body while the engine was off had made its exhaust valve stick open, so the air from the compressor was just blowing out the valve’s exhaust. Once I figured that out, I just pulled the valve lever up to the “disengage” position until the air pressure built enough to force the exhaust valve back closed when I moved the lever back to “engage”. Maybe the valve could stand some cleaning and a seal replacement, but for now I’ll just remember to leave it alone when there’s no air pressure. The oil pressure is too high, and there’s a lot of oil leaking out the right side of the engine. Those are the next things to fix. There’s also an air leak in the transmission area. I played with the crane for a bit, and it seems to work just fine, although the gear shift linkages are a bit finicky. They might need a bit of adjustment. The truck came with group 34 commercial batteries. Since I live in a warm climate, I think they should work just fine, and they cost less than half the price of the proper 6TL batteries. I built some wooden spacers to keep them from moving around in the battery box, and later I’ll modify the spacers to secure the batteries with hold-downs.
6/10/2001 Well, as if a wrecker wasn’t enough, I just bought an M861 Gama Goat on Ebay, and it’ll arrive later this week. This time, I’m planning to try unloading it from the semitrailer with my wrecker, one end at a time. Ironically, I also bought a replacement for my M109A3 shop van, and it’ll also arrive this week! It will come on a trailer with ramps, so I should be able to drive it off the trailer. This weekend, I worked on the wrecker to get it ready for its job later this week. I cleaned the oil pressure regulator and made a new gasket for it, which fixed the oil leak, but didn’t fix the high oil pressure at cold idle. I changed the crankcase oil and filters, added another 5 gallons of hydraulic fluid, made a repair attempt (that didn’t work too well) on the exhaust pipe, and did some other minor things. I decided to leave the air leak alone, because I might not be able to get it back together again without ordering parts. The truck is running well enough to drive it around the yard, and the crane seems to work just fine (although I haven’t tested it with a load yet). The crane controls seem less finicky now that I’ve gotten a better feel for them.

 

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