The groundhog has poked his head out, looked around, and saw OD. That’s a good sign! Guys are pulling the tarps off of their jeeps, WCs, M37s and other historic military vehicles and getting ready for another season of shows, driving, restoring, and sharing.
It’s about this time of year that I try to remind everyone that our historic MVs are old vehicles. Be careful when you are working around them or depending on them for safe transport. In some cases, these vehicles are 60+ years old and the steel may not be as strong as it once was, the cables as strong or the rubber as fresh.
In a lot of my defensive shooting classes, we learn about the different states of situational awareness: “White” being totally oblivious to the world around us; “orange” being the condition of basic awareness of the sounds and movements in our immediate vicinity and finally, “red” being the state of high-alert and ready to take action. I think the same system would apply to working on or driving our MVs.
Naturally, you don’t want to be totally distracted when you are driving your MV. But remember, it probably isn’t your daily driver, so the brakes, the handling and the response are all different. You don’t really need to be carrying on a conversation or entertaining when you are driving…Rather, focus your attention on the sounds and input from your vehicle. Give yourself time to become reacquainted. In essence, drive your vehicle at an “orange” level of awareness.
Of course, if red lights are blinking on your instruments or you are feeling heavy vibrations, it is time to switch to “red”. Pull over, shut off the engine and evaluate the situation.
The same rules should apply in your garage. I always work on my vehicles with a radio on, but that is the limit of distraction. If a friend comes over who isn’t working on the vehicle with me, I crawl out from under the vehicle and talk…away from the work. When little kids poke their noses in the garage, I walk out of the garage to talk to them—away from the vehicle, jacks and tools. “Orange” level of awareness.
When you are displaying your vehicle at a show, you need to maintain that “orange” level. People are curious by nature and for some reason, the same inhibitions don’t seem to kick in at an MV show as they do vintage car show. Whereas most folks wouldn’t dream of putting their hand on a vintage Corvette, the opposite seems to be true for most MVs. There is something about olive drab paint that seems to invite people to touch, kick or climb on. I can’t explain it other than folks seem to believe “old army trucks” are indestructible. While that might seem flattering, do we really want them crawl behind the wheel and start pulling levers or flipping switches?
Again, a good trick is the same one I use with kids and the garage…walk up to a visitor and engage before they get too close to your vehicle. Your body implies a sort of invisible boundary without having to be verbal or rude. Then, as your guest exhibits more interest, it is up to you whether you want to step closer to your vehicle, allowing them to follow. It is a simple technique but much more effective than setting up your lawn chair behind your vehicle and glaring at folks.
It should be a good MV season…gas is cheaper this year than it was last summer. A lot of good shows are scheduled (check our online calendar of events) and I have heard a lot of chatter from new MV owners who will be displaying at their first event.
Be safe, be aware and keep em rolling!
Editor, Military Vehicles and Military Trader