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Dodge WK-60 Owners

I am hoping to build a simple but useful register of Dodge owners in the UK, this page for owners of the Dodge WK-60 in particular. Finding parts for all Dodge trucks, particularly for the more obscure civilian or military variants, is less than easy especially in the UK.

Hopefully if people sign up to this simple WK-60 register (click here to join the Dodge register) it'll help people get in touch with fellow owners of WK-60 Dodges, restored or rusty, to aid their restoration or get advice & help!
PS I'll present your contact email address in such a way that spammers can't pick it up using their harvesting techniques: remove 'NOSPAMWEREBRITISH' from the address given.
=====================================================
1940 Dodge WK-60
Dave Ashby and Pete Ashby
WK60 3 ton 6x4 Thornton two speed bogie chassis COE RHD winch equipped.
Engine T124 331cui up draft carb, 5 forward gears 1 reverse via a two-speed power bogie.
Wanted: ANYTHING to do with 331cui T124 engines, five speed transmissions, and two speed Thornton power bogies………is there anybody out there???????????????
peteashbyNOSPAMWEREBRITISH@hotmail.com

Dodge WK60 images

More information:
Last known user was Samuel Irvine painted yellow, however under the yellow is red and silver on top of the service Olive Drab. The truck operated in the mid 1960's in the Bristol area and ended it's working life around 1965 when it was sold to a scrap dealer in West Harptree by the name of Weeks. For the next 40 years the truck became part of an enormous bramble bush at the bottom of his yard. At some point the gantry body was removed along with the winch.

The truck belongs to my son David (read his story below) who is carrying out a full nut an bolt restoration. The cab was a complete write off and a replacement has been sourced and shipped in from the US via Vintage Power Wagons. A friend has provided the correct winch. Outer frame rails are good but the inner frame is blown and will require separating replacing and re-riveting. Engine is seized, however the head is off and we are soaking the pistons, the bottom end looks good despite two gallons of condensation in the sump. The block is not cracked and is still full of anti freeze as is the radiator. Power train looks good at this stage, only the gearbox has been examined to date but this is perfect again despite a gallon of condensation in it. The two-speed bogie remains to be stripped.

"I first accompanied my Dad on a visit to the Week's yard in March 1999 and the memory of crawling through a little hole at the bottom of a huge bramble bush and finding that rare truck hidden inside remained with me and turned into determination to one day save it, but persuading my Dad would prove very difficult. From time to time I would bring the subject up in conversation but was met with a range of poor excuses, from “we’ve got too many trucks as it is, we haven’t got enough space, its too far gone” or “I want to finish the Leyland”

Time passes to November 2001 and persistence pays off! Well in my case anyway. Catching my dad at a weak moment, after a particularly good bottle of wine he finally agreed to go and have another look at the Dodge once more. Armed with thick leather gloves and long handled shears, one sunny November day saw us hacking at an even bigger bramble bush that had by now completely covered the whole truck. After 4 hours, and many cuts and scratches from the enormous thorns, we could finally see the truck in all of its glory. Close inspection showed that the truck was mechanically complete but the cab was completely rotten. On the journey home Dad agreed that it was saveable provided we could source a cab. It was decided that the project would be mine, as Dad wanted to finish his Leyland Retriever.

Long nights on the internet followed in the search for parts and a cab, again persistence paid off and by joining several American Vintage Commercial web forums I found an identical cab in the US this was duly shipped to the UK with the help of Jaap Rietveld who also deals in Dodge parts.

We went back to the yard and a very fair deal was struck with the yard owner and the next 4 weekends were spent travelling the 180 mile round trip to the yard to prepare the Dodge for transportation back to our workshop. Our good friend, fellow collector and restorer Steve Stone played an enormous part during this phase.

As the truck had not moved in 40 years all the brakes were seized to the drums and had to be freed off. On the rear bogie this involved drawing the half-shafts, cutting the rivets from the backplates, drawing the brake drums complete with the shoes welded to the inside, the shoes were chiselled out and the hubs and drums replaced, this took a day for each drum. Thank goodness the weather was fine, however the sticky red mud seemed to cling to us like tar. All the tyres were flat but each one pumped up and held pressure. It was during this operation that a really odd thing happened. The truck had sunk into the ground so that the rims were part buried in the earth, about ten minutes after we had finished pumping up the tyres we heard a sort of creaking and sighing and it rose up out of the ground by about six inches, just like it was waking up after a forty year sleep.

The yard owner offered to tow the truck out using his all terrain folk lift an offer we readily accepted however it was a tense moment as he took the slack up in the chain, would the truck move? Would it break its back?. There was no need to have worried it came out from its resting-place without a squeak or a grown.

Finally just after Christmas the day came to pick the truck up. Our luck with the weather had run out, it had rained almost solidly for 2 weeks and the mud was now ankle deep. Freezing rain and high winds buffeted us, making us all look like drowned rats. Another good friend Keith Draper provided and drove a transporter for me. The winch cable was connected and the Dodge moved slowly but surely up the bed of the transporter. All of our hard work had paid off as it went on without a squeak or a groan. Two and a half-hours later we arrived at the workshop with the rain still lashing down! The Dodge was manhandled into the workshop and it was under cover for the first time in 40 years.

Two years later and we are still striping down components and refurbishing down to the last nut and bolt. If the WK60 was not so rare it would really be touch and go where it was restorable, but it is just so rare that it has to be saved…….watch this space."

David Ashby

Type History WK60:
The Dodge WK60 was an American made 6x4 truck produced to a British specification during 1940. The story behind the placing of the contract is not uncommon to a number of militarised commercial types produced for the British by the United States in the pre Pearl Harbour period initiated by the passing of the Lend Lease Act in March 1941.

During the early summer of 1940 the British lost the majority of their mechanised force on or near the beaches of Northern France. Due to the commitment of supplying both material and man power it was not possible to make up the short fall in equipment. To cover this short fall Britain turned to the United States with its vast production capacity. The British Government set up in the summer of 1940 a purchasing Commission in the USA, the commission had a mandate to approach US truck firms and offer contracts to produce their commercial truck lines to a modified British Military specification.

The subject vehicle is a product of just such a contract with Dodge Bros. for 741 chassis cab units to be produced using the pre war commercial Dodge enclosed cab over engine design. This was to be fitted to a slightly modified chassis with a centrally mounted Garwood winch and 6x4 wheel arrangement driving through a two speed Thorntan power divider rear axle bogey assembly. The bogey was a more modern design than the war office standard fitted to other British built 6x4’s of the immediate pre war period. The trucks were produced under one contract SM2023 and shipped to England as assembled chassis cabs to be bodied with standard war office gantry bodies. These bodies were of standard design and were also fitted to Leyland Retriever, Crossley IGL8 and Guy FBAX. The rear body consisted of a low wooden side with a well type floor onto which was bolted a heavy angle iron frame supporting a longitudinal runway beam, the beam could be moved either forward or backwards for front or rear lifts, or the front end could be lowered to the floor of the well body and locked to enable the outfit to operate as a jib. The beam was fitted with a movable dolly from which hung a hand operated chain block. The lifting capacity was modest, 2.5 tons 3 feet from the end of the body, 1.5 tons at five feet, 1 ton at 6 feet and only 15cwt in the jib configuration, the mid mounded frame Garwood winch had a three ton capacity with forward or rear pull.

The roll of the gantry truck was varied and regardless of which manufactures chassis was used they saw service with Engineering units and ROAC (latter REME) units including LAD units carrying out all manner of lifting and towing operations. As with all 6x4 wheel configurations the WK60 did not have a startling cross country performance, however on reasonably hard ground it had a reputation for reliability coupled with plenty of pulling power. Interestingly the USA did not favour gantry trucks and when they entered the war in Dec. 1941 a building programme for twin boom wreckers on 6x6 chassis from Diamond T, Kenworth, and International was instigated. These were very powerful trucks that gave good cross country performance with the flexibility of use that true wrecking equipment gives. A large number of theses trucks were supplied under Lease Lend to the British, this meant that the gantry truck was relegated to second line use in the European theatre.

It would appear that most WK60’s were shipped to support the N African campaign and then on into Sicily and Italy, it is doubtful that any returned to Britain. A few may have been allocated to base units in the UK, and a very few may have gone to Europe with the second front. At the end of hostilities these trucks would have come up for release early due to there limited numbers and limited non standard spare parts availability. Today there are no restored examples of this immensely handsome truck in existence anywhere in the world, my son owns a basket case and one more exists in Belgium in a bad state missing the original engine. The intention is to completely restore our WK60 including building a gantry body from plans to full working condition. It will then join our other restored WW11 trucks on the show scene but that will probably take five years of hard graft.

(Thanks to Pete for allowing me to reproduce the above here) =====================================================
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