1954 Dodge Power Wagon
Dave Stone [ July 2015 ]
In the fall of 2006 I acquired a 1954 Dodge Power Wagon truck while out driving the back roads of Vermont, route 109 to be exact. A rusty old truck next to the road caught my eye. The owner happened to be mowing his lawn so I stopped . I must have been blinded by the Rust Flu for I could not see how much work this truck really needed. I seemed to miss the broken frame and the fact that two cylinder walls were cracked. The head to the 230 ci motor was resting on the front seat. Someone had cut the last two inches off the bed with a torch. Inhabitants plagued the cab like a condo running amuck, five mouse nests, two bees nest and a dead snake, biohazard site for sure. The nests rotted out the wiper cowl area and lower doors. This old wood truck had its share of running into objects, bed sides bowed out no doubt from being overloaded. Previous owners must have been amateurs at throwing wood and used the back of the cab as a backboard. The Rust Flu was hard at work, swaying any rational thought, letting passion and desire overrun common sense. Gazing googly eyed into pitted headlight buckets. Trying to justify the legitimacy of restoration or delegate the vehicle to mere parts car status.
Why a Power Wagon? Just a work truck, a tractor with a cab, born out of the World War II WC trucks. My interest in vehicles isn't just the flow of the lines, blending of panels, 50 shades of gray, horsepower, and chrome bumpers, its the history of the vehicle, stories, development and researching parts manuals and shop manuals. This truck was legendary for its toughness and durability like the men who used it. From combat to farms both environments demanding, it answered the call. Restoration started with disassembly, the endless labeling & bagging. The parts list continued to grow. While tracking down parts, I met some great people and contacts, this is the other joy of our hobby. The down side is the endless sandblasting and expense. Many restorations fail at this point and keeping the
spark and drive alive can be tough. I stayed involved by attending rallies and online forums, gaining knowledge I needed for the restoration. Each vehicle has its unique quirks, you know what I mean. Before the Shelburne show I had only driven a Power Wagon once before, an M37 military equivalent, it had a synchromesh transmission and mine doesn't. It left an impression of crude but purpose built
machine, rugged and overbuilt. I was hooked. Hooked enough to endure 10 years worth of, on and off again restoration effort. I kept pecking away at it. Locating a good frame, salvageable block and a lot of bed pieces. A tough process for a vehicle that the aftermarket reproduction companies tend to ignore because there isn't a healthy profit in it. I was use to Mustangs, parts available anytime, anywhere and reasonably priced,…. Down to every nut and bolt. I found Power Wagons have a true and devoted following. Make a few connections and used parts and advice can be found. So I set monthly goals, little tasks and kept working at it. March of 2015 I had the bed done, April wiring and May the brakes. The Shelburne show was the maiden voyage with the truck, still not complete, but I attained the goal. I do all my own work except for a few select things, I’ll be the first to admit “jack of all trades master of none”. It’s a battle
when everything is twice as heavy and damaged. The old truck was well received and many nice comments. People stopped to tell stories of their Dodge experiences. Timber handlers, farmers, uncles, dads and Veterans all had something to say about a Power Wagon, invoking memories of the past. Listening to the stories only added to the event. Now, if I could only manage more than 35 mph, or as I like to say” I can go anywhere in the world at 30MPH……... VIVA LA POWERWAGON…