There is a fine line between a hobby and a severe mental illness.

1944 Dodge WC-51 Weapons Carrier

Please allow time for images to load. Updated - March 2022
Unless noted otherwise, all photographs are by M. Roedel

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The thought of sitting in my basement, drinking copious amounts of beer, and building scale-models of USN Patrol aircraft for another couple of years seemed harmless enough. However, that solipsism was rudely side-tracked in 2005, when one of the 'voices inside my head' instructed me to refurbish a 1953 Dodge M37. That project became a transmogrification of my childhood preoccupation with erector sets and tinker toys. Albeit, now mixed liberally with a cornucopia of alkaloid toxins, assorted pain killers, and a wide range of hops and grains. That particular collection of bolts and sheet metal typically roll in the same direction and are are all dripping with both oil and charisma.

In September 2006, those 'voices inside my head' returned and instructed me to rebuild a 1944 Dodge WC-51...

The truck in question had been advertised in 2006 as a '1941 WC-51', located in California -

It was subsequently purchased by John Bizal (Midwest Military) who shipped it from CA to MN and then sold it to me in F06. Given these international travels (MI to ? to Japan* to CA to MN to SD), this truck may have as many shipping miles on it (~14K miles) as it has actual road miles.

As advertised by John Bizal:
Project Truck: Engine is free, but I have not tried to start it. Wrong carb set up. Missing generator and regulator. No front bumper. Hood hinge needs replacing. Wrong seats. Missing cab braces and side skirts. Inner windshield frame missing. No tailgate. Now, what's good about the truck! Truck was rebuilt by the Japan US Army Depot 11/59. Spent the last 45 years in dry California. No rust or rot anywhere. Straight, clean sheetmetal. Four combat wheels. Complete drive line. Here's what comes with the truck: Inner WS frame, hood hinge, used generator and regulator, 2 rear bumperettes, 1 pintle hook, 2 front seats, 2 cab braces, 2 side skirts, 2 brush guards, 2 headlamp buckets, and 1 correct non-winch grill assembly.

John Bizal was correct, this pile of parts was a 'project truck'. Many of the parts are stcked in the bed of the vehicle. Yet, the engine ran smoothly (w/ a haze of blue smoke on the day of purchase - there was hope.

This original engine (1944) was rebuilt at the Army ORD Depot in OPPAMA Japan, Job 1-0758 (Jan 1958). The transmission and transfer case were built before the engine (1942, '43, respectively), but they were then rebuilt in 1959, after this engine was rebuilt in 1958. That is, this truck has a frankensteinian drive train. At least the engine/frame #'s match.

Build cards are available for a small fee from:
Daimler-Chrysler, Corp. Historical Collection, 12501 Chrysler Freeway, CIMS 410-11-21, Detroit, MI 48288

Frame: #81692149 (Feb 24, 1944)
Body: #111642 (Feb 24, 1944). Cab is now #81692149
Motor: #214-167698 (Feb 24, 1944). Rebuilt at ORD Depot, Oppama Japan, Job 1-0758 (Jan 1958)
Transmission: Presently #C38126 (Mar 1943). Rebuilt Japan, Shop 60-J, Job 44-243 (Mar 1959)
Transfer case: Presently #C37832 (Jan 1942). Rebuilt Japan, Shop 60-J, Job 25-284 (Jul 1959)
Weight: 5645 lbs

Parts replaced on this WC-51: Brake lines, master cylinder, brake cylinders, fan belt, all gauges, all senders, speedo-cable, entire electrical harness (retained 6V system), coil, distributor, generator, throttle/choke cables, plugs, cowl-seal, vacuum lines and wiper motors, draft seals, horn/switch, seat covers, mirrors, all glass and weather-stripping, spare-tire-mount, 5 tires/tubes/wraps, reflectors, and lock-out hubs.


There is always the question - how much should you restore a 75yo old truck like this. Do you want it looking like it just rolled off the assembly line, or do the small bumps and dings tell a story all their own. Will putting it in "like new condition" preserve history, or does all of that bondo erase it? As I do not know the age of the blemishes, I kept them all.

Parade ready - Fall 2015

Delivered to Brookings SD, Oct 2006

January 2007

26 August 2007

August 2007

10 September 2007

14 June 2008

21 Jan, 2012

19 Feb, 2012

19 Feb, 2012

Aug 2013

13 Aug 2013

Aug 2013

October 2014 - looking 'truck-like'

Fall 2014 - Test drives were completed with 'minimal' problems (hence the tow strap).

Engine at time of purchase - Oct. 2006

Engine at time of purchase

September 2007 - It had began to dawn on me that this project may take more time than I had planned.

Sept 2007 - Engine at its least impressive.

14 June 2008 - Rebuilt

4 July 2008 - Painted

The paper air filter was a temporary convenience that made it easier to work around the engine and it kept debris out of the carb.

July 2014 - Do the math, this is 6 years after the engine rebuild. It would seem that there was some procrastination involved.

Before/after photographs of the R. side cab/dash

Before/after photographs of the R. side cab/dash

Critical shop components seen in this photo: milk crates, carbon monixide sensor, and a beer-fridge.

Lesson learned: Take photographs of everything, even if it seems trivial. Keep everything in labelled boxes, beer cups, or bags.

Heavy-duty plastic tarp was 'mostly sufficient' to keep 'most' of the blast-dust out of 'most' of the shop.

Engine hoist was a back-saver during body disassembly, sandblasting, painting, and reassembly.

My favorite fur-person (Rosy) is seen here inspecting several sand-blasted panels waiting to be primed.

John Bizal's advice, exceptional
patience and good humor have
always been much appreciated!

Great thanks are also due to
Ron Dobesh's Auto, NAPA, and
GP-Auto in Brookings, SD.

I wish to also extend a well-deserved thank-you
to other businesses in the Brookings area that provided advice, parts, NOS parts, and
boundless sympathy throughout the project.

Midwest Military
Beachwood Canvas Works
Military stencils
Jeep panels
Wallace Wade Tires
Midwest Glass
Ron's Auto Repair
Runnings Fleet/Farm
DONS Body Shop
Kevin Enevoldsen

The USN blue livery on this truck is "correct" for the period. However, finding this "blue-gray" color could have been easier - indeed, what the hell is 'BLUE-GRAY'?