Jun 142001

This is my fourth ex-military truck. It’s a 1970 Kaiser-Jeep M109A3 2.5-Ton 6×6 Shop Van. I bought it as a replacement for my first military truck, which is also an M109A3, but which needs a lot more cosmetic restoration.

I sold this truck in September, 2005, and I’ve preserved the for-sale listing because it has lots of good pictures of the truck.



thumbnail My truck arrives from Maryland, on the back of a drop-deck disconnect trailer.
thumbnail Getting ready to jump-start it with my M543A2 Wrecker.
thumbnail As the driver who delivered my truck guides me, I back my truck off the trailer that carried it across the continent. I hardly even felt the 10 inch drop off the end of the trailer.
thumbnail Free at last!
thumbnail Safe and sound in my driveway, a few miles away from the unloading point. I told my neighbors that it’ll only be there temporarily. Only time will tell if that was an accurate statement… :-)
thumbnail Here I am picking up an AN/GRC-122B radio teletype (RTTY) system mounted in an S250 shelter. Part of the deal was that I had to take the 1.5-ton trailer that the shelter was sitting on. I probably will mount the shelter on my HMMWV eventually, and then sell the trailer. The March ARB airfield is in the background.


Van Conversion Pictures

Here are some pictures of work-in-progress on my conversion of this truck to a camper/radio truck. I’ll update these pictures and/or move them to a different page later.

thumbnail I replaced the original 120VAC 60A Arktite connector with an 120/240VAC 60A IEC-309 pin and sleeve connector. It has the same mounting bolt pattern as the original connector, but lets me deliver twice as much AC power to the van body. I’ll paint it to match the vehicle later. I’ll replace the cable with a larger one later; this one lets me plug the van into a 120/240V 20A outlet in my garage to run the lights and outlets in the van while I work. This picture also shows part of the copper fuel line for the van body heater.
thumbnail Here’s the fuel pump for the van body heater. I’ll fabricate a cover for it later.
thumbnail Here’s a view of the left side of the van body. I’ll put a self-contained porta-potty in the left rear corner, under the ventilation blower. This picture shows the laundry tub that I’m installing, and the twin-size bed, mounted on a pair of lockers for storage, with a pair of 36-gallon water tanks underneath. I’ll mount a refrigerator, microwave oven, and additional storage under the bed, in between the lockers.
thumbnail Here’s a view of the right side of the van body, showing the two-story 10 foot wide by 2 foot deep workbench I installed for radio gear. The workbench tops are 1-3/4″ thick solid maple butcher blocks. I haven’t installed any radio gear yet. The big box with two meters on the floor is a PP-4763A 28V 50A power supply, and the silver toolbox (which I may paint later) contains a pair of 12V Optima deep-cycle batteries.
thumbnail This picture shows the AC power boxes. I kept the original switch for the AC lights, but replaced everything else. Also shown are my home-made control box for the fuel-fired heater and a circuit breaker box for power from the vehicles 24 VDC electrical system.
thumbnail I didn’t like the way the original AC wiring was done, so I removed the original harness and re-wired everything with surface-mounted conduit.
thumbnail This picture shows the PP-4763A 28V 50A power supply (which is mounted on equipment slides so it can be slid out for service), the battery box, and a junction box which allows the batteries to be charged through blocking diodes from various sources, including the power supply and the vehicle’s 28 VDC electrical system. The batteries supply power to all of the 28 VDC accessories (including most of the radio gear) in the back of the van.




General Specifications

Name M109A3 2.5-Ton 6×6 Shop Van
Manufacturer Kaiser-Jeep
Year 1970
Cargo capacity Cross-country: 5,000 lbs
Highway: 7,500 lbs
Towed load Cross-country: 6,000 lbs
Highway: 10,000 lbs
Height 130 in (10 ft 10 in)
Length 268 in (22 ft 4 in)
Width 98 in (8 ft 2 in)
Weight Empty: 14,930 lbs
Gross (cross-country): 19,430 lbs
Gross (highway): 21,930 lbs
Van deck height 50 in
Rear door opening Height: 70 1/2 in (5 ft 10 1/2 in)
Width (one door open): 31 3/4 in (2 ft 7 3/4 in)
Width (both doors open): 51 3/4 in (4 ft 3 3/4 in)
Van interior dimensions Height at center: 77 1/2 in (6 ft 5 1/2 in)
Width: 90 in (7 ft 6 in)
Length: 144 1/2 in (12 ft 1/2 in)
Pintle height 36 1/8 in
Ground clearance Under axle: 12 1/2 in
Under chassis: 10 15/16 in
Vehicle/bridge classification Empty: 7
Cross-country: 9
Highway: 10
Wheel base 154 in (12 ft 10 in)
Approach angle 47 deg
Departure angle 40 deg
Turning radius 36 ft
Cruising range 300 mi (max payload, @ 1500 RPM)
275 mi (max payload + max towed load, @ 1500 RPM)
Fording depth 30 in
Tires 9.00 x 20, 8 ply. Tire+wheel weighs around 200 lbs.
Tire inflation Highway: 50 psi
Cross-country: 35 psi
Mud, sand, snow: 15 psi
Brakes Hydraulic, with air boost and glad hands for towing trailers with air brakes



Engine Hercules LD-465-1C 6-cylinder multifuel diesel with turbocharger
Power 130 HP at 2600 RPM
Torque 305 pound-feet
Displacement 478 cu. in. (7.8 liters)
Engine weight 1,650 lbs
Idle speed 800-850 RPM
Operating speed 1500-2600 RPM
Oil pressure at idle (min) 10 psi
Oil pressure at full power (max) 75 psi
Coolant temperature 180°F to 200°F
Fuel consumption 5-6 mpg


Fill Capacities

Cooling system 32 quarts
Differential 6 qts (each of 3 diffs)
Engine oil (crankcase only) 20 quarts
Engine oil (crankcase and filters) 22 quarts
Fuel 50 gallons


6/13/2001 My truck arrives from Maryland.
5/6/2002 Lately, I’ve been working on converting this van into a combination camper and radio truck. Of course, this isn’t a “correct” configuration! I still have a lot of work to do, but things are starting to get interesting…
9/14/2005 Truck sold. I realized that I wouldn’t use it as a camper/radio truck I intended to, because I don’t like driving big trucks that much.


  7 Responses to “M109A3 2.5-Ton 6×6 Shop Van”

  1. how much it it all cost to get it done?

    • If my memory is correct, I paid $6,500 for the truck, plus another $5,500 to have it shipped all the way across the country from Maryland to southern California. I did not keep track of what I spent on it after that, and I sold it for a lot less than I spent on it.

  2. Hi, I’m building an in scale model of the M185A3, and I have to build by myself the shop van, the model is in 1/35 scale I need please the dimensions of the little window on the sides, possibily also the position.
    You can see some images of the work here http://mab.forumfree.it/?t=69899937

    Could you please help on this. Sorry if I desturb.


  3. So you just wired in a 220 plug and didn’t fry anything?