The Kempner POWER WAGON Museum
168 FM 2808 Corner of US 190 Kempner, Texas
Mail Address: 174 FM 2808, Kempner, TX 76539
(512) 932-2377 firstname.lastname@example.org
PAUL COOK, Owner/Curator
TEXAS POWER WAGON REUNION
April 27 & 28, 2013
and Wanda's Ranch, Brownwood, Texas
It's that time again when we look forward to seeing old friends who are not all that old, seeing friends we haven't met yet, and celebrating our fascination with those magnificent trucks known as "POWER WAGONS".
It is a time to share everything we have learned about our POWER WAGONs. There are some of you that have bought your very first truck and just hauled it home from a farmer's field. Others are sharing their latest truck and letting the rest of us see what they have learned about restoration and repair techniques. Some have learned this at "Bloody Knuckle" University. Others learned this at "the old school" from the "old timers". These regional POWER WAGON events are great for both the new guys and the old guys. The new guys can get a lot of help seeing where the framzit mounts on the weedoodle. And the old guys can enjoy their memories of how it was when they were the new guys. There is a lot of information available and often its the old guys who benefit most. Even if your truck is not running, it can be worth the effort to haul it to the Reunion. It's like having a team of experts to point you in the right direction.
IT'S NOT ALL TRUCKS. You will also meet some of the finest folks.
Typically there will be food, conversation, trail rides, conversation, food, truck technical time, conversation, trail rides, and food.
One special thing at the Reunion is that folks often bring extra parts to sell or trade. The never ending search for parts might mean that someone has found a scarce part and ended up with a usable duplicate.
Camping is available ranging from sleeping bags under a tree to BIG travel trailers and motor homes. Hookups are available if you do not try to recreate a Las Vegas strip environment. There are plenty of motels in Brownwood about 15 miles from the ranch.
For more info call Lloyd @ 361-877-7992 or Paul Cook @ 512-932-2377
What is a POWER WAGON?
To be truly accurate, the term, "POWER WAGON", applies only to those civilian four-wheel-drive Dodge trucks built from 1946 through 1968 in the original military style (left) and to the "W" series Dodge four-wheel-drive trucks built from 1957 through 1980. (below)
Within the POWER WAGON community, the original military style truck is referred to as a "flat fender" POWER WAGON. It was introduced as a 1946 model. From 1946 to 1956, the "flat fender" POWER WAGON was the only four-wheel drive light truck available in a dealer show room.
It and the "Jeep" utility vehicles were built as civilian versions of their military predecessors. Unlike the "Jeep", the "flat fender" POWER WAGON was never built in a two-wheel-drive version. That makes the "flat fender" POWER WAGON the only true factory built and dealer showroom delivered American four-wheel drive light truck. Without exception, the first comment folks make when they see a "flat fender" POWER WAGON for the first time is that it looks like it will go anywhere - and get back.
Click here to learn more about how the "flat fender" POWER WAGON was developed.
Click here for a detailed history by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide
The "W" series POWER WAGON shared the bodywork of the "D" series two-wheel-drive Dodge light trucks. Their introduction in 1957 gave the American truck buyer a second choice of full size, four-wheel drive trucks, both of them from Dodge. (Ford and Chevrolet/GMC were yet to introduce theirs.)
The "W" series trucks were produced in various weight capacities with a full range of engines, transmissions, cab configurations, cargo bed styles, and optional equipment. A relatively large collection would be required to give all these vehicle combinations adequate coverage. There are several excellent web sites that cover various of these later versions of the POWER WAGON. Recently, the Museum acquired a 1967 W100 which will be restored to represent all these other Dodge four-wheel-drive trucks.
The Museum also recognizes that the POWER WAGON family of vehicles includes those sold using FARGO and DESOTO brand names.
In 2005, Dodge resumed production of the POWER WAGON. The new model, like the 1957 - 1980 "W" series POWER WAGON, shares the standard Dodge pickup bodywork. However, the new POWER WAGON differs from current models of the "regular" Dodge four-wheel-drive light trucks. It has a different frame and many unique engineering features that make it more capable in an off road situation - just like the original POWER WAGON.
The Kempner POWER WAGON Museum collection and the reference library primarily focus on the military trucks and the military styled "flat fender" civilian model Dodges.
This 1942 WC-52 3/4 ton Weapons Carrier is representative of the Museum's World War II military Dodges. The civilian POWER WAGON was developed from these military trucks. The 3/4 ton engine and drive line components, as well as the winch, front bumper, and a few body parts were carried directly to the military styled POWER WAGON first built in late 1945 as the 1946 Dodge WDX.
The M-37 series replaced the WWII WC's and was fielded at about the same time as the signing of the Korean Conflict truce. M-37's served throughout the Cold War era and much of the Viet Nam war.
The M-880 series Dodge military trucks were based on the 1978 civilian "W" series and were in the military inventory until the mid to late 1980's.
Click here to learn about Dodges in the Military.
Is a Dodge military truck a POWER WAGON?
It has become common to call any military Dodge truck that served in World War II, the Korean War, and the Cold War era a POWER WAGON. Some owners of the POWER RAM series Dodge trucks built after 1980 also use the POWER WAGON name. There are some purists who challenge this. Here at the Kempner POWER WAGON Museum, all Dodge four-wheel-drive trucks are accepted as members of the "POWER WAGON" family.
What is the Kempner POWER WAGON Museum?
I started the Kempner POWER WAGON Museum to display my collection of these incredible Dodge military and civilian four wheel drive trucks. I wanted to share my trucks and my knowledge about them. I hoped folks would come here and learn about the trucks and also learn about collecting them.
What is a Collection?
From my 1967 Edition of The World Book Dictionary, col-lec-tion n. a group of things gathered from many places and belonging together. The significant words are "belonging together" as opposed to just being "gathered".
What makes the collection a Museum?
From that same dictionary, mu-se-um, n. a building or room where a collection of objects illustrating science, art, ancient life, or other subjects is kept and exhibited. To that I add... In addition to the objects, a proper museum has reference materials that add to the body of knowledge concerning the artifacts in the collection on display.
I feel that my collection of vehicles and the extensive reference library truly qualifies this as a Museum and I'm proud to call it The Kempner POWER WAGON Museum. It certainly is more than a gathering of several old trucks that really do not belong together but just happen to be sitting out in the same field.
At first, my trucks were kept in several old barns and out buildings, while others were "grazing" in the sun. Recently, with the full support of my wife, I was able to erect a new building to house the Museum.
What is there to see at the Museum?
Obviously, the main theme of the Museum centers on the various POWER WAGON trucks. While some visitors will see only a group of old trucks, POWER WAGON aficionados will see the Dodge 1/2 ton military trucks built for our Allies in the days before Pearl Harbor and then used by the US Army in the earliest days of World War II. They will see the Dodge 3/4 ton military trucks that replaced the 1/2 ton models and served so well during WWII and the Korean War. The Museum also has a Dodge 1 1/2 ton 6x6 military truck that was based on the WWII 3/4 ton model. POWER WAGON aficionados can test their knowledge of the WDX through WM300 "flatfender" POWER WAGON models by identifying first, second, or third series beds, several standard engines, and many other improvements and options available to POWER WAGON buyers during the 22 years of POWER WAGON production for the domestic market. There is an M37 - the Dodge built replacement for the WWII era military 3/4 ton truck. The M37 was a mainstay during the Cold War and well into the Viet Nam War.
Some vehicles on display are complete, running, originals. A few have been restored. Others are waiting to be restored and are displayed just as they were found in fields and barns. Visitors are free to climb in the trucks. There are none of the "Don't Touch" signs typical of many Museums.
Having lived 70+ years, I have accumulated other items that are contemporaries of the trucks in my collection. Included are a few antique filling station items, various antique tools, toys, glassware, and other things from years long past. The memories these things evoke are worth sharing and I have added them to the items displayed in the Museum. Most of these items are out in the open and you are free to pick them up and examine them. The trucks, tools, toys and trinkets at the Museum will bring back memories to many of you, and will be a source of great wonder for those younger folks who have never seen these things.
These trucks - and cars as well - consumed gasoline and needed oil. The Museum has some "filling station" equipment and automotive accessories from "the good old days" when guys hung out at the corner station and talked about cars. The Museum has two prized items that would have been found there back then - a late 1930's "Bowser" Model 575 gasoline pump in Texaco trim, and a 1946 Westinghouse WE6 soft drink cooler in Coca-Cola trim.
As I began to move into the new Museum building, I found that I had many other items from the same "good old days" as the trucks. Many of these were tools that had belonged to my two grandfathers and my Dad. They were using these tools while I grew up and these wonderful mentors taught me how to use and take care of them. Then, as one grandfather, then the other, and finally my Dad passed away, these tools came to me.
For many years, all my tools fit into a Sears toolbox with the lift out tray. Now Sears is selling that same toolbox and lists it as a "1950s retro box with grey baked enamel finish, and a matching partitioned tote tray." For many years I maintained my daily driver, my boat, and my boat trailer using only the tools that fit into that box. Then, I expanded my "toy" inventory and was maintaining motorcycles, custom vans (remember the '70s?), and recreational vehicles. This forced me to move from the small toolbox to a tool chest and cabinet combination. Up to that time, most of the tools in that first toolbox had been handed down to me. Some of those were real antiques - early and primitive versions made before the manufacturing techniques of modern tool manufacturers. Finally I bought some better, up-to-date tools.
Then, before I knew it, my "new" tools weren't up-to-date any more. The tools I had accumulated were used by three generations. My son has tools that are more up-to-date than mine and his have made mine obsolete. I decided to get rid of these obsolete tools. First of all, I still have a good inventory of fairly up to date tools. And secondly, I do not need as many tools because I no longer do all the things that I used to do.
I was not sure I knew the correct names for some of these tools. Often they were referred to by nicknames used in one part of the country but not in others. I doubted there would be much information about my obsolete tools, but I went ahead and "surfed" the internet. WOW! Not only was there detailed information about most of these tools, but there were serious collectors and even more serious prices being paid.
To present these tools in a proper Museum environment would take time that I prefer to use in furthering the main theme of the Museum - POWER WAGON trucks. So, I do not plan to spend a lot of time inventorying and cataloging these tools. However, they are on display for "real tool guys" to see and hold - and maybe even to buy.
Santa Claus came through town two days ahead of the stork that brought me in 1937, so I had to wait 363 days to celebrate my first Christmas. And then I had to share that occasion with a new baby sister born 17 days before what should have been a special day ALL ABOUT ME. Hey, I was a baby and didn't know about that other baby born in a manger.
By the time I was old enough to move up from soft "snuggie" toys to hard toys - you know, the ones with sharp edges that made noise when you banged them into things - there weren't any. I was still three years old when the Japs bombed Pearl Harbor. Lionel Trains stopped what they had been doing and started producing for the war effort. So did everyone else.
Looking back more than sixty years, I don't remember small toys being as prominent in my life back then as they are for kids now. Obviously, war production was a factor. For us, "action toys" were toys that we used while being active. We got plenty of exercise playing with roller skates, tricycles, and coaster wagons. I remember that we had a few "indoors" toys for those times when it was too bad to play outside and we had to play indoors. Mostly, we mostly read books or played board games. Yes, there was life before there was television.
I built model airplanes, cars, and trains from kits that had parts made with hard wood. I had to sand parts to fit before gluing them together. Then I sanded again to clean off the excess glue before I painted the model. To finish the model, I had to cut the detail items carefully from the paper sheet they were printed on and then glue them in exactly the right place being sure I left no wrinkles. My favorite model was a P40 "War Hawk" but I could never get the paper detail shark's teeth glued on right. (I still have that model.)
To everyone who lived in those days - even children growing up - "THE WAR" referred to World War II, and it still does. The war was in every aspect of our lives. Even our toys reflected that. I remember having a bean bag toss game where the goal was to knock over targets that had the faces of Hitler, Tojo, and Mussolini.
There were no metal toys. I had a landing craft made with a wood bottom and cardboard sides. It moved on wood rollers that turned in holes punched in the cardboard sides. The front ramp and the back was wood. It held a tank and a jeep that were silhouette cut outs, also wood. Everything was OD and there were white stars on the sides. The only metal was the two small nails that served as hinges for the front ramp.
One Christmas, I did receive a wondrous gift. It was a used electric train my parents bought . It was not a Lionel. Even then they were a bit expensive. Maybe it would have been a Lionel if one could be found. Instead, I got a Louis Marx, tinplate, freight with 8 wheel cars. Recently I was repacking it into a more sturdy box. As I held one of the freight cars and remembered all the hours I enjoyed the train, I suddenly wondered if that train had belonged to a young man, a few years older than me, who had gone off to "the war" and did not return. Was that why that train was available for my parents to buy it?
I was seven when "the War" ended. There was no great or sudden change that I can remember, but I do have some toys made of steel that are appropriate for a kid who was older than seven. I'm sure my parents were much more aware that rationing and shortages were over. For me the changes in my life were more connected to growing up. I finally got a full size bicycle. It was the one my dad rode to work at the defense plant where he worked on the Sperry Autopilot that connected to the Norden bombsight and flew the B-17 on the final bomb run.
POWER WAGON Models
Some folks started pursuing their interest in their favorite vehicles by collecting models of them. Those who had room eventually added the full size vehicles to their collection. I did it the other way. I collected the full size Power Wagons and then collected a few Power Wagon models. Click on MODELS for information about some models I have on display at the Museum.
What trucks are in the collection?
1942 WC-6(?) 1942 WC-21 1942 WC-52 1942 Ben Hur Trailer 1944 WC-62
1947 WDX 1953 M-37 1958 W300M 1965 W500 1967 W-100
2005 POWER WAGON
Click on the truck you want to see.
Chrysler design engineers made extensive trips to "the parts box" in developing their light cargo truck for the Army. This practice continued when those trucks evolved into the POWER WAGON. As a result, many two wheel drive Dodge and Plymouth trucks of the late 1930's through the early Post-World War II years have much in common with the POWER WAGON because they share parts and engineering. My son collects two-wheel-drive Dodge trucks of the 1940's and 1950's, some of which may be on display from time to time.
The Museum also recognizes that the POWER WAGON family of vehicles includes those sold using FARGO and DESOTO brand names.
Often, various Museum trucks are driven in area parades. Here are the WC-52 pulling the Ben Hur trailer, and the M-37 pulling the M-101 cargo trailer. Parade watchers have told us that having trailers with the military trucks makes their true history more real.
Where is the Museum?
Click HERE for directions to the Kempner POWER WAGON Museum
ADJUSTING THE MUSEUM INVENTORY
My primary intention in establishing the Museum was to display my Dodge truck collection. I have generally identified the trucks in my collection which represent significant milestones in the development and evolution of the Power Wagon family of Dodge 4x4 trucks. I have other trucks that duplicate trucks that I have selected to keep and display.
Along the way I discovered I had acquired many other items during my 70+ years and these things also were worthy of being on display to tell their role in the history of the 20th Century. Because the Kempner Power Wagon Museum is a place where visitors come to see trucks, the displays of toys and tools are better suited to Museums and collectors where folks go to see toys and tools.
I feel that it is most appropriate to have any collectible item displayed with other items of the same type. This applies equally to trucks, toys, and tools. To that end, I am reaching out to Museums and collectors who will display the artifacts currently housed in the Museum.
TRUCKS are generally divided into two categories. The first is PROJECT trucks. The second is PARTS trucks.
A PROJECT truck is fairly complete. Many needed parts have been obtained. A PROJECT truck may come with a parts truck or trucks. It may run or will run with the usual efforts.
A PARTS truck is one that has little or no potential for being restored to any level. The first priority for parts from these trucks will be as needed for one of the project trucks.
Very soon I will be offering TOOLS and TOYS in a picture layout here on this web site.
At this time, my inventories are very basic, but I will do my best to help you. Please e-mail me with your needs. I can do a better job of searching when I have your wants printed out.
Frequently Asked Questions
Many of you have posted questions on internet sites like the Dodge POWER WAGON Page or the POWER WAGON Advertiser Forum, or you have called or e-mailed me. Sharing information is the key to sustaining our collector hobby.
I have always tried to give the best possible answers to those questions. Keep in mind that these answers apply to the "Power Wagon" era - 1941 - 1980. Reference to modern vehicles like the YUGO are only made to remind you how great things were way back then.
There are some questions that are not of a mechanical nature and apply to the overall Army experience. I served in the US Army from August 1961 through January 1982 and served in various capacities that included maintenance, property accountability, equipment movements, and administration. I have also studied the history of the "Power Wagon" era using historical references in the Museum reference library and research on the internet.
The Museum Reference Library includes many original and some reproduction copies of civilian service manuals, Army Technical Manuals, operator's manuals, parts lists, lubrication orders, wiring diagrams, historical publications, and periodicals related to the truck collector hobby. All told, these currently represent an investment of around $2,700.00.
Museum visitors are welcome to use the Reference Library. I am still surprised by the number of folks who don't own or have access to the appropriate references. Based on the answers many folks provide on the Forum, I would not be surprised to learn they were "winging it" without any correct or accurate sources. This troubles me when some questions are safety related and the answers posted on the Forums are wrong.
Equally valuable as a source of information is the availability of some very original trucks for seeing the way they go together.
Answering the Questions
To the greatest extent possible, I always provide answers directly from the appropriate military technical or civilian service manual. For a long time, I directly answered many questions by e-mail and included scanned pages from the manuals. This got to be an arduous task, often taking several hours to do the research, scan the pages, and then compose the response. When the manuals did not answer a question completely or did not have a good illustration, I went out to one of my trucks and took something apart to see how it worked. When appropriate, I took photos and included them in the answer.
There are many adjustments and assembly procedures that I have done many times, but I do that with the work in front of me. When some folks give their answers on the Forums, they are sitting at their computers and do not have the benefit of an ongoing, "hands on" situation where they are actually talking you through the process. I will never risk someone's safety by giving an answer based on what I may or may not remember 100% correctly. The brakes I told you incorrectly how to adjust may fail just as we both are driving up to the registration at the same POWER WAGON event. I wouldn't want you to hit me because I was wrong.
Preparing a competent answer could take several hours. After a while, I started seeing the same questions - sometimes from new folks, and sometimes from regular Forum visitors who did not want to spend any of their time researching the answers. To avoid spending my time researching the answers again, I started saving my answers here in the Frequently Asked Questions section of the Museum web site.
Here are some of those answers. Nothing here is theory or opinion. Generally, these explanations are from service manuals and will work - unless someone who did not have a manual worked on that part and already messed it up. Do you recognize the term, "FUBAR"? Some explanations are what old time mechanics showed me based on their years of experience. A few explanations are the way I finally solved a problem when the text book answer did not work and the old mechanics' advice was not available. A few solutions resulted from trying something completely different after all the other ways did not work. Everything presented here worked for me. I hope you find this information to be helpful. Observe all shop safety rules. Use the correct tools.
Click on the item heading to see the information. Use the "Back" icon to return to this page.
BRAKES - How do I adjust them?
MECHANIC HOW TO - How Do I Remove Broken Manifold Bolts?
GASOLINE - Can I run my Power Wagon on unleaded gasoline without damage?
MEASURING DISPLACEMENT - How can I tell the difference between a 218 c.i.d. and a 230 c.i.d. engine?
WINDSHIELD WIPERS - How to "tune up" vacuum or convert to electric
NO STATE REGISTRATION PLATES FOR MILITARY VEHICLES (TEXAS) - I've seen some restored military vehicles being driven without registration plates.
TRACING THE HISTORY OF MY FORMER MILITARY VEHICLE? - How can I identify the military organizations to which my former military vehicle was assigned?
WHAT'S WITH THE ARMY AND CADILLACS AND OTHER CIVILIAN CARS AND TRUCKS? - I've seen old pictures of many civilian vehicles that displayed a "US Army" license/registration plate.
WHAT DOES THE MILITARY INSIGNIA ON MY WC 1/2 TON STAND FOR? - Most 1/2 ton WC's had unit markings before the Army standardized the vehicle marking procedures at the beginning of World War II.
ANTIQUE ISSUES - Registering and insuring Antique Vehicles.
BODY DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT, AND FRAME ALIGNMENT MEASUREMENTS - Here are the correct dimensions for the Flat Fender Power Wagon and the measurements for checking truck frame alignment.
THE FRAME - Here are pictures of a bare frame, and also the frame alignment dimensions.
MU-2 WINCH - What are the controls on the winch itself and how do they work?
JUMP 6 w/ 12 - How can I jump start a 6 volt truck with a 12 volt truck without doing damage!
DECEMBER 1958 - Work order for clutch replacement on my 1950 Plymouth.
WHEELS and TIRES - Answers to most of your questions.
POLARIZING THE GENERATOR - What is "polarizing a generator" and how do I do it?
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I LUBRICATE - Here's a lubrication schedule.
SINGLE SPEED TRANSFER CASE INTERCHANGEABILITY - Can I switch 1/2 ton and 3/4 ton transfer cases?
AUTO-LITE PARTS ON CHRYSLER VEHICLES - For many years Chrysler vehicles were equipped with Auto-Lite products such as electrical components, bumpers, and chrome trim. Click on this link to learn more about Auto-Lite
FRONT END ALIGNMENT/ HITCH ISSUES FOR NEWER DODGES WE USE TO HAUL A POWER WAGON - There were many problems with the front ends on newer Dodges. Some of this may be a hitch issue.
DETERMINING PRICE - How much is that truck worth? (We are working on that one.)
My 2005 Dodge POWER WAGON
After seven years, an owner's report
Many folks still have not driven or ridden in a new POWER WAGON. And there are still some who have not even seen one. I have followed all their comments in discussions on the various Forums. I have received e-mail and phone calls with questions about mine.
Packard motorcars had the slogan, "Ask the man who owns one." Now that I have owned my new POWER WAGON for over seven years, here are some thoughts by a "man who owns one."
Click here to read my 2005 POWER WAGON report.
Click Here to see Some Great TEXAS Trucks
Let us hear from you!
Each of you is invited to submit announcements of future POWER WAGON events and reports of events you have attended. We all will enjoy articles about your POWER WAGON - how you acquired it and got it running, what mechanical upgrades you have done, and how you have solved any of the problems we all face as we seek that ultimate POWER WAGON for ourselves.
Mail your announcements, reports and articles to The Kempner POWER WAGON Museum, 174 FM 2808, Kempner, TX 76539 - or send them by E-mail to email@example.com You are visitor number Thanks for visiting.