From field to finish… M38A1C: A 1-Year Project

A conversation with a friend led to the discovery of this unrestored 1952 M38A1C.

A conversation with a friend led to the discovery of this unrestored 1952 M38A1C.

 

It was during the winter of 2009 when Angelo Salvadore discovered what would become his newest project. While in a conversation with Herman Morrill of Hubbardston, Mass., Angelo shared stories about his hobby of restoring older vehicles.

Herman told Angelo that he had an “older military jeep” in his backyard and would be willing to give it to him if he was interested. Upon seeing the Jeep, Angelo recognized it as a “military cannon jeep.” Upon further investigation, it was revealed to be a 1952 M38A1C Jeep. This particular jeep was  rare to “find in whole”—most of were cut into pieces with a torch and scrapped. Without hesitation, Angelo decided to take on this restoration.

After loading the find onto his flatbed, Angelo decided, then and there, to restore the rare Jeep to full 1952 functionality.

After loading the find onto his flatbed, Angelo decided, then and there, to restore the rare Jeep to full 1952 functionality.

In May 2010, Angelo pulled the Jeep out of Herman’s back yard and went to work. He had one goal in mind: Drive it in the 2011 Memorial Day parade in his hometown of Barre. He planned a complete frame-off, rotisserie restoration. He planned to completely restore the Jeep to full 1952 functionality.

 

ABOUT THE M381AC

The battle against armour during WWII led to some frustrating conditions and also for a need of a weapon to counteract these vehicles. These conditions gave birth to the small hand-shoulder or tripod mounted weapon known as the recoilless rifle.

These small, but lethal, weapons gave the necessary edge the foot soldier needed to hold his ground. Among these weapons were the M18 (57mmm) the M20 (75mm) and the M27 (105mm) – each weapon increasing in velocity and range as the war progressed.

The M27 led to the final M40 (106mm) which was used extensively in Korea and wars to follow. This weapon was also fitted to mobile unit especially the light vehicle such as the M38A1 1/4-ton trucks.

Later, a .50 caliber rifle was added to insure the first round hit. The M40s were used for many years and can still be seen in many countries especially the Middle East.

The restoration would not be without its challenges—years of outdoor exposure had reduced much of the interior to rusted metal.

The restoration would not be without its challenges—years of outdoor exposure had reduced much of the interior to rusted metal.

THE RESTORATION

Angelo worked on it just about every night from 7 p.m.-10:30 p.m. Gathering parts for the restoration from all over the world on eBay. He found a company Wee ee Webbing out of Richmond, Ohio, that stitched the original seats for these 1952 Jeeps, and are still in business and making seats for modern military vehicles today.

The 106mm cannon came from Brent Mullins in Texas that had it in three pieces. They welded together and sent it out. The casings and shells for the cannon were purchased from an Army & Navy store in Pennsylvania.

As for the engine, Angelo he completely disassembled and rebuilt it. The rebuild consisted of using new 20-over pistons, rings and bearings to make the 4-cylinder Hercules engine run like new.

Once in the shop, Angelo removed the tub and began work on the frame and engine. The 4-cylinder engine received new pistons, rings and bearings.

Once in the shop, Angelo removed the tub and began work on the frame and engine. The 4-cylinder engine received new pistons, rings and bearings.

Thankfully, the tub was relatively intact, though it did require a fair amount of straightening to iron out years of use.

Thankfully, the tub was relatively intact, though it did require a fair amount of straightening to iron out years of use.

Angelo completed the restoration by himself with the exclusion of the paint work, where he employed his own body shop “Salvadore Auto Body,” but he carefully supervised the work.

After many hours, Angelo was able to meet his goal and take the M38A1C on its maiden voyage at the 2011 Memorial Day Parade—he couldn’t have been happier!

See more photo highlights…

How many times in his articles and “Tech Tips” has Steve Turchet said, “Buy the manual!”  He’s right... there is no subsitution for having the printed book right at your fingertips.

How many times in his articles and “Tech Tips” has Steve Turchet said, “Buy the manual!” He’s right... there is no subsitution for having the printed book right at your fingertips.

Starting to take shape—frame and engine are done. WIth some new canvas from WeeBee Webbing, the temptation to take it for a test drive is overwhelming.

Starting to take shape—frame and engine are done. WIth some new canvas from WeeBee Webbing, the temptation to take it for a test drive is overwhelming.

Son of a gun—it runs!  Now onto the body.

Son of a gun—it runs! Now onto the body.

The only work on the restoration Salvadore says he didn’t complete himself was the paint job. He took it to his own paint shop, though, and carefully supervised his professional painters as they sprayed the OD.

The only work on the restoration Salvadore says he didn’t complete himself was the paint job. He took it to his own paint shop, though, and carefully supervised his professional painters as they sprayed the OD.

Functional, painted and ready to roll. Only one thing missing....

Functional, painted and ready to roll. Only one thing missing....

...okay, TWO things. First, the Jeep returned to the shop for the markings...

...okay, TWO things. First, the Jeep returned to the shop for the markings...

...and then the “crowning glory” was mounted: The fully restored 106mm recoilless rifle courtesy of Brent Mullins of College Station, Texas.

...and then the “crowning glory” was mounted: The fully restored 106mm recoilless rifle courtesy of Brent Mullins of College Station, Texas.

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