M35A2 DRIVING EXPERIENCE

An evaluation by an Owner and Operator

 

Latest Update: May 12, 2012

I purchased an M35A2 military truck because I wanted a truck I could buy without having to commit to making payments for months or years to come.  I knew a regular sized pick-up truck wasn't large enough for the jobs I had in mind.  I was also intrigued by the engine and off-road capabilities even though I may never push the truck to its limits.  When I saw the M35A2 a friend had bought for his business, I was hooked.

The truck I purchased has not disappointed me.  It is loud and uncomfortable but once I got used to the noise level and the unusual shift pattern, the M35A2 became actually fun to drive.  Judging by the thumbs up and salutes I get when I drive the M35A2, many people approve of my choice of truck.

Table of Contents and Menu
Section 1Myth and Reality
Section 2Driving
Section 3:  Other
Dimensions
Lights
Maintenance
Built Quality
Speed
Fire Departments, Contractors
Configuration:  M35A2 vs M35A2c
Tires
Break-Down
Configuration:  M35 vs M36
Turning Radius
How To Pull Yourself Out Of A Mud Hole
Engine
Terrain
Insurance
Fuel Choices
Bumps, Railroad Tracks ...
Registration
Fuel Capacity
City Traffic
Theft Prevention, Vandalism
Fuel Filters and Oil Filters
Country Roads
Offering Roadside Assistance
Mileage
Highways
Possible Improvements
Loading Height and Load Height
Off-Roading
Uncertainty
Comfort
Driving in Rain
Where To Buy
A/C
Winter Driving
Support
Heaters
Wind Resistance
 
Seats
Winch
 
The Instrument Cluster
Fording and Driving
 
Steering
Flying
 
Shift Pattern
Carrying Cargo
 
Braking
Weight Considerations
 
Visibility
Use
 
Windshield Wipers
Troop Seats
 
Air Reservoirs
Parade Duty
 
Running Air Power Tools
 
 
Pintel Hitch
 
Alphabetical List

MYTH AND REALITY

Before we drive an M35A2, also known as a "Deuce and a half" because of its payload rating, let's be clear on what the truck does and does not offer.  Some readers may be surprised to find out that the truck they have been dreaming about is really not the dream truck they want.  Drivers who expect electronics and automatic features, young drivers who grew up with technologically advanced cars in particular, will be disappointed.  The M35A2 is not built for show even though some people buy these trucks for their raw appearance.   It is a tactical vehicle, a military tool, built to go where most other vehicles cannot go with a payload of the size the Deuce-and-a-half seems to handle with ease.  The military classified this truck as a medium duty vehicle, and it received the same classification in the civilian world.  The M35A2 offers very little comfort but a lot of ability and attitude.

DIMENSIONS

If you are used to driving a modern pick-up truck, you will have to get used to a much larger vehicle when you climb into a Deuce.  You will sit higher, have a longer and straight  "nose", and when you turn around you'll look over a longer and wider truck bed. The front bumper extends even farther out from where the driver sits on trucks that are equipped with a winch.  The winch sits in between the front bumper and the radiator where it cannot be seen from the driver's seat.  Not all of these trucks are equipped with winches.

The cab does not extend over the total width of the vehicle.  The driver must be aware of the actual dimensions in order to aim the truck safely through traffic, over narrow roads and in between obstacles.

Bumper to bumper, the Deuce is 278.25 inches long, 97.75 inches wide, and the tip of the exhaust pipe is 101.5 inches above the road with standard military ND tires at proper inflation on the wheels.  If you have bows and a tarp, you may be 112 inches tall.  Bow extensions give you additional height.  Choosing larger tires will also increase your total vehicle height.

The axles are almost 11 inches off the ground with properly inflated military 9:00x20 non-directional tires.

Tire size and inflation affect clearance and fording height.

BUILT QUALITY

Several different makers including REO, Studebaker, AM General and Kaiser Jeep built M35A2 trucks over the years.  All of them had to meet the same government specifications.  Few changes were introduced over the manufacturing run of the M35A2 that spans almost a half a century.

These trucks are "army tough", built to withstand the rigors of serious off-road driving under adverse conditions. That, however, does not mean that no parts can fail. Like everything else mechanical, excessive wear on any part leads to that part's eventual failure. Because there are no complicated computer parts, you only worry about the break-down of mechanical elements. If you are good with tools and manual jobs, you will probably want to perform most maintenance work yourself and also make most repairs.  The frame is very sturdy and yet flexible.  You'll notice the flexibility when you crawl over logs and rocks and dip into culverts.

Rust is one of your enemies.  Doors, windows and mirrors show rust on many trucks.  If you address the issue in time, you can avoid failure.  Rust does not stop on its own.  It needs attention.  Remove it and apply a fresh layer of a rust inhibitor and protective paint over it.  Alternatively, replacement doors, windows and mirrors are readily available from military vehicle dealers.  As time goes on and fewer and fewer M35A2's are left to be retired from active duty, rust-free trucks will become harder and harder to get directly from the source, the government liquidation sale, or auction.

The standard exhaust stack on the M35A2 is open at the top.  Rain water may enter when the truck is not in use, accumulate in the pipe and lead to damages.  Put an empty coffee can, a bucket, a sawed-off plastic soda bottle, or anything of the kind upside down over the stack to keep rain, leaves and debris out, or install a flapper.  You may find one at a commercial truck supplies store, a chrome shop, or other locale servicing the trucking industry.  If a flapper that closes over the opening of the bent pipe of the Deuce is not available, some owners cut the top section of the pipe off and install a flapper at the end of the cut pipe.  This changes the wind dynamic of the exhaust system.  The flapper should be installed in such a way that the effect is minimized and the exhaust from the engine can escape at all times including when the engine is running at full speed.

Many of the 10,000 lbs winches on these trucks see some abuse in the hands of owners who want to test their strength without proper forethought.  Follow the instructions manual and avoid jobs that may be too tough.  Use sound judgment.  Luckily, the shear pin will break before you do serious damage to the winch mechanism - if the proper shear pin is installed.  Unfortunately, some users consider it an acceptable shortcut to replace a broken shear pin with a stronger bolt.  The weakest component is the first to break.  The shear pin is designed to be that weakest link.  If another component is weaker than the bolt, that other component will break first and may seriously hamper your winching efforts and may even render your winch inoperable.

Shear pins are easily replaced in the field even though it may take several attempts to perfectly align the shaft so that you can remove the broken pin and replace it with a new one.  If a job looks like it might reach the limits of the winch cable, use blocks or other means to reduce the stress on winch components, the shaft and the cable / wire rope. 

Multifuel engines for the M44 series of trucks to which the M35's belong were built by several different manufacturers including Continental, Hercules and White over the years.  These compression engines function like diesel engines but under greater pressure.  How long your engine will live greatly depends on how well you maintain your engine, what kinds of fuel you burn, and last but not least how well you drive.  Some engines had to be replaced before they turned 20,000 miles.  Others last 100,000, or more.  If you use your engine in stationary use, be sure the oil pressure is adequate for extended use.  You may have to pull your throttle lever on the dash and run the engine above its normal idle speed.

According to one report I have not verified, the standard military 9:00x20 ND tires are so tough that they kept a Deuce rolling out of harm's way even after the tires had been punctured by gunfire in multiple locations.  Photographs I have seen suggest otherwise.  The wider and larger tires many owners prefer nowadays are probably not as tough and won't perform as well under these extreme circumstances.

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CONFIGURATIONS:  M35A2 vs. M35A2c

The standard bed of the M35A2 has three walls and a drop-down gate in the back.  This is the typical pick-up truck configuration many owners prefer.  By inserting the chains in the side slots of the gate (see pictures), the gate can be used to extend the size of the truck bed.

Troop seats can be added and bows and tarpaulin.  Troop seats function as seats or as single shelves.  The tarpaulin provides a cover from rain, snow, and sunlight.

The M35A2c has drop-down sides in addition to the rear gate.  This configuration is a good choice if you frequently need to load and unload from the sides.

Everything else is identical between the M35A2 and M35A2c.  The price difference between used M35A2 and M35A2c models at dealerships can be between $500 and $1000 (US) nowadays.  If you bid on a truck at a liquidation auction, all bets are off as to for how much money a given truck will be auctioned off.

There are many other configurations on the same chassis and with the same engine, including field maintenance and service trucks, water trucks, pole setting trucks with large augers, pipeline trucks, fire trucks, dump trucks, wreckers, tractors, ambulances and others.  Add to that number trucks that were customized by civilian owners. 

The truck in the picture was modified by its civilian owner for a special application on his farm.  He replaced the standard bed with a large water tank and a pump.  Many such modifications are out there.  Thanks to its ruggedness, the Deuce lends itself to many special uses.  This article, however,  focuses one the standard M35A2.

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CONFIGURATIONS:  M35 vs. M36

The M36 is a longer version of the M35.  The longer wheelbase provides more cargo space.  The cabs and engines are identical. 

Like the M35, the M36 is available with drop sides. The M36 has split drop sides which can be opened up individually, or together.  The sides of the M35 are in one piece.

The longer wheelbase reduces the departure angle of the vehicle and increases its turning radius.  The departure angle is only of significance in off-road applications.  Most private buyers may pay little attention to this limitation.  The turning radius, however affects drivers  as they negotiate tight turns on windy roads, or in traffic in densely populated areas.  The M36 is not built for use in tight quarters.  This limitation is even mentioned in the manuals.

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ENGINE

Several different engine models were put into the Deuce over the decades.  All but the gasoline powered engine are 6 cylinder in-line compression engines.  Most popular today is the larger size multifuel engine with a turbo charger.  It develops slightly more horse power than the older, smaller model and those without the turbo charger.  The "C" engine is also known as the "Whistler" because of the distinct sound its turbocharger makes.  The "D" engine is quieter.  With 130 or 126 HP, these engines are no "powerhouses" by today's standards but they got the job done in times of conflict.  The naturally aspirated engines are equal in size but less responsive than the turbo-charged engines.

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FUEL CHOICES

The gasoline engine requires gasoline.

The multifuel engines in the Deuce are essentially compression engines that work with a higher compression rate than typical diesel engines. Because of that, these engines allow us to burn a greater variety of fuels than standard diesel engines do.  At times of conflict (war), this affords troops a significant advantage.  When diesel is not available, the driver can pour some alternative fuel into the tank and continue to drive.

Suitable alternate fuels are listed in the manuals and I see no reason to repeat that information here.  Let's just focus on productivity and efficacy.

Diesel fuel is your best fuel choice for the engine.  Not only does it provide the most power, it also lubricates the engine and thereby contributes to its longevity.  Because these engines were designed a long time ago when diesel fuel contained components that have since been reduced for environmental purposes, some owners recommend fuel additives that lubricate internal engine parts.

Biodiesel (80% diesel + 20% biofuel or similar) works about equally as well as "straight" diesel.  In some parts of the country (USA), biodiesel is readily available.  Mixtures with higher bio content are usually home-made and not as powerful.

Heating oil is essentially diesel fuel with a different dye. The dye tips DOT cops (DOT = Department of Transportation) off that you may be burning untaxed fuel, and burning untaxed fuel is illegal.

Filtered veggie oil can be burnt in Deuce multifuel engines.  Because the fuel tank is not heated it is affected by ambient temperature.  Veggie oil will congeal in cold weather and clog fuel supply lines and disable the engine.  Mixing veggie oil with other fuel(s) is one possible way to avoid that problem.

Great caution must be applied when gasoline is used as an alternate fuel.  Gasoline is not recommended for multifuel engines !!  If other fuels are not available, gasoline can be mixed with diesel, or another oil, and that mixture can be used in an emergency in the (very) short term but diesel, or a mixture with diesel should be added to the tank as soon as possible.   

Motor oil and even filtered used motor oil is a better choice than gasoline.  Used motor oil must be filtered in order to avoid clogging of fuel lines and injectors.  Most users filter to at least 6 microns to catch impurities.  The filtered used motor oil is then mixed with diesel.  That gives the driver an advantage when he tries to start a multifuel engine.  Some users use a mixture of 75% used oil + 25% diesel, or even 80/20 in the summer, but 50/50 or less in the cold winter months.  I run my truck on diesel.

Gear oil, transmission fluid and brake fluid are other fuels that can be mixed into your fuel cocktail.  While all burn, they are not all equally potent and environmentally responsible fuels.

The engines also burn certain aircraft fuels but the average citizen does not have access to them.  So, let's skip over them here.

Please consider the environment and burn diesel straight up.  Excessive smoke from your exhaust stack and poor performance of the truck are indicators that the fuel you burn is polluting and inefficient.

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FUEL CAPACITY

The Deuce has a 50 gallon fuel tank on the co-pilot's side.  While this may sound like a lot to some of you readers, it really isn't much when you consider that the engine develops a mighty thirst, particularly in off-road applications that require frequent acceleration and mountain climbing at high revolutions in low gear. According to the manual, fuel consumption may average 5.5 mpg.  This number applies to off-road driving.  Some drivers claim mileage can be as high as 13 mpg on the road with diesel fuel.  Alternate fuels may be less efficient than diesel.

The place the tank occupies on the passenger side is occupied by a pioneer tool rack on the driver's side.  The spare tire is also located there.  If you removed the rack and tire, a second fuel tank could be fitted into that space.  Mounting a second standard tank, or an even larger tank on the truck bed are options worth consideration if you operate your truck in an area with few opportunities to refill your tank.

So-called Jerry cans (fuel canisters) are no longer legal in some states (US).  Pennsylvania, for instance, made them illegal because they do not conform with required ventilation standards in that state.  In neighboring New Jersey, the same cans were still legal at the time this statement was written.  Please check applicable laws in your home state and wherever else you may travel.

The standard fuel tank does not have a secure lock.  The standard cap can be twisted off very easily and fuel could be stolen, or foreign materials could be mixed in with the fuel in the tank and potentially disable the truck.

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FUEL FILTERS

The M35A2 was equipped with three canister type fuel filters.  Shown in the picture on the left is the original primary fuel filter.  Replacement filter inserts are still available.  The canister needs to be removed and taken apart for canister cleaning and replacement of the filter.  The canister is then reinstalled on the head.

Many users prefer to use spin-on fuel filters instead of the canister-type filters because the replacement is less messy and filters can be purchased at most automotive supply stores.  Several manufacturers offer replacement kits that usually consist of a new filter head with the correct connectors and a new spin-on filter with gaskets.

The primary filter head is converted independently from the secondary and final filter heads.  Because of their location in the engine compartment, there is no other option.

The secondary and final filters (see picture on the right) are located next to each other.  Both can be converted for spin-on filters together.

It is not advisable to reduce the number of filters in the system.  They are there for good reason.  Should you break down with a clogged filter, you are more likely to find a store with a spin-on filter in stock than a store that has the correct filter cartridges for the canister-type filters in stock.

An additional advantage of using spin-on filters is the relative ease with which they can be replaced in just a few minutes.

Shown in the pictures is one conversion kit for a primary fuel filter.  These three pictures show the same kit from different angles.  It consists of a mounting bracket, the head complete with threaded adapters, a filter and gasket(s). 

The conversion job can usually be accomplished in a day with a few cigar breaks here and there to explain what you're doing to family, neighbors and your dog, if you so desire.  The old canister can then be discarded.  It is no longer needed.

(See also Oil Filters in the next section.)

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OIL FILTERS

Oil filters (which are not discussed here) can also be "upgraded" to the spin-on type filters.  Parts for a complete conversion of all fuel AND all oil filters were priced between $600 and $700 at the time of this writing. 

(See also Fuel Filters in the previous section.)

MILEAGE

According to the manuals, the multifuel engine in the Deuce gets around 5.5 miles per gallon.  This estimate applies to off-road travel.  Actual mileage may differ depending on terrain severity and the load you carry.

On the road, mileage is much better than off road.  Owners reported average fuel consumption of between 8 and 13 miles per gallon.  Road speed, altitude, terrain (lower mpg uphill than downhill), total weight and the efficacy of the fuel you burn influence the mileage you may expect from a gallon of your choice of fuel.

While the multifuel engines burn many different types of fuel and combinations of fuels, not all fuels are equally efficient.  Less efficient fuels usually prompt drivers to open the throttle wider and run the engine hotter while they burn more fuel than they would with more efficient fuel, and thereby they reduce their mpg rating.  Some fuels are cheaper than diesel but savings can only be realized when burning those other fuels does not lead to premature engine failure, or other costly repairs. 

Wintery road conditions, at least in the Northern part of the US and in Canada where snow often accumulates significantly, can noticeably increase the truck's fuel consumption.  You drive at slower speeds in deep snow than you would in the summertime when roads are dry and safer.  To counteract the increased demand for fuel, you may want to shift the transfer case into "low" and find the "sweet spot" (RPM) to determine your road speed from there.

Driving on deeply snow-covered roads  is comparable to driving in dry, loose sand.  The wheels meet increased resistance and the driver has to change his driving style accordingly.

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LOADING HEIGHT and LOAD HEIGHT

( 1 )  The beds and floors of most modern trucks and commercial trailers are about 47 inches off the pavement.  At that height, the truck bed is going to be (nearly) even with a standard loading dock.

The bed of the Deuce is a bit higher.  Unless you purchase your Deuce as a commercial hauler, you probably don't mind the height difference except for when you want to load and unload heavy items from the street level.   Trying to lift your baby grand piano those extra few inches can be a back breaking experience.

Electric and hydraulic lifts are not available for the M35A2.  However, it is possible to customize a Deuce with an electric aftermarket lift.

( 2 )  The term "load height" is usually applied to the height of the load itself on the truck.  To determine the safe load height for any kind of cargo, one must consider the dimensions and weight of the load, and how it is loaded.  Boxes, for instance, can be stacked one on top of another.  Usually, the box on top of the other is less safe than the box at the bottom.  No items must bounce off the truck when it hits a pothole at high speed, be blown off by wind, or tumble over in a curve.  Restraints, tarps and nets can reduce the risk of losing a load, or parts of a load. 

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COMFORT

If you are looking for a comfortable vehicle, don't even think about an M35A2.  If you want a truck that goes just about anywhere you point it, the M35A2 may be a practical but uncomfortable choice.

You must be somewhat agile to get behind the huge steering wheel.  You cannot "hop" in and out, you must climb up, step over the inner door rim and fit your legs under the wheel as you sit down.  The steering wheel is not adjustable.  Even though the truck you consider may have been built in the 70's, or 80's, it is still 50's technology you buy.  Few improvements were made since the first M35A2 left the assembly line at the REO factory.

Both the driver's seat and the passenger seat are relatively hard and uncomfortable.  Complaints about back pain are common, particularly after long hauls.  It is possible to retrofit the Deuce with luxurious short truck seats.  At least one owner put Cadillac seats into his Deuce.  Modifications like that require patience and some fabrication - but it can be done.  Purists among military vehicles owners would not consider such a modification.

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A/C

There are no air conditioners in these trucks. However, with the driver's window down and the windshield pushed forward to create a gap of one, or two inches between the windshield and the windshield frame, I create enough airflow to keep me comfortable even in the heat of the summer.  This advantage is lost when you need to move slowly, or when you are stuck in standing traffic. 

The windshield is hinged and can be folded forward so that it rests on the hood.  The softtop (canvas top, ragtop) needs to be removed from the truck before that can be accomplished.  The windshield must then be secured to the hood. Goggles are suggested for both the driver and the co-pilot when traveling with the windshield down.  A breathing mask of the kind commercial painters use, or a surgical mask, or a knotted bandana helps to keep the flies out of your teeth.

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HEATERS

Some M35A2 trucks are equipped with a 30,000 BTU cab heater and blower/defroster.  The defroster is needed to keep the windshield clear from condensation.  Unfortunately, many drivers report those motors short out frequently. (Electric motor and squirrel cage fan pictured on right.)  Whether you actually need the heater depends on how cold it gets where you drive. Because of the lack of insulation, heat from the engine warms up the cab as you drive.  The floor board may get hot enough in the summer to burn through the soles of shoes. 

A diesel-fueled "Arctic Heater" is also available for use in severely cold climates.  It works independently from the engine and, therefore, can be used when the truck is stationary.

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SEATS

The standard driver's seat is a box with a cushion.  It was not called a luxury seat at the time but some driver's must have felt lucky that they got to drive a Deuce with a spring seat.  A spring seat does not compare to a modern air seat (seat with an air cushion to support it) but is definitively an improvement over the standard seat.

The co-pilot sits on a hard seat.  While two slim persons fit onto that seat, only one person should ride there.  The driver needs the space the legs and knees of the person sitting in the middle would take up to shift through the gears.

M35A2 troop carriers have troop seats in the back.  Troop seats are fold-down wooden benches without any cushioning.  Not only are they hard but the wood deteriorates over the years, and many stories about splinters in unspeakable places are shared at campfires and military reunions by those who have made their involuntary acquaintance.  Troop seats made from composite material are also available nowadays.

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THE INSTRUMENT CLUSTER

The instrument cluster is in the center of the console (dashboard).  If you are used to driving Cooper's and some other British cars, you may already be in the habit of looking there.

The speedometer and odometer are larger than the other gauges.  Checking the road speed from the vantage point of the driver's seat may be difficult at first but you will soon become good at guessing the speed by the noise of the engine and by watching stationary objects along the road as well as other vehicles on the road.

Do not exceed 2,600 RPMs on the multifuel engine.  If you drive by ear like I do, you won't overrev the engine.  The warning decal not to rev over 2,600 RPMs is missing from the gauge pictured here.

Let's take a closer look at the gauges:

  • The needle of the oil pressure gauge (top left in the picture) should point to around 40 or higher when the oil is warm and the vehicle is being driven (not standing still at idle). 

  • The speedometer indicates the road speed in miles per hour.  The gauge includes an odometer that counts miles driven.  Models used in foreign countries may show kilometers instead of miles. 

  • Engine revolutions (RPM) are indicated in hundredth.  In other words, the number on the dial the needle points to must be multiplied by 100 to see how fast the engine runs.  This gauge also shows the number of hours an engine has run.  Beware !!  The engine in the truck you buy is not necessarily the engine with which mileage and hours correspond.  Engines may have been replaced several times in the truck you're considering, and the hours read may be far from the actual hours that particular engine has run.  Some trucks are often used in stationary mode. 

  • The coolant temperature (top right in the picture) should be around 180 degrees but some trucks run cooler.  My truck usually runs at about 170 degrees when it is warmed up. 

  • Fuel gauges (under the speedometer in the pictures) in these trucks are usually not accurate.  Use this gauge with caution and fill up often.

  • The needle of the battery gauge should point to the green zone.  The air pressure gauge (bottom right in picture) should point to 120 PSI or slightly less once the system is aired up.  Pay attention to the air pressure.  When the needle drops to below 80 PSI you may have a serious leak that should be fixed before you drive much farther.  If the needle drops below 60 PSI, the buzzer will sound and you should stop the vehicle while you still can.

The instruments can be illuminated with a separate switch on the light switch console.  You can choose between two light settings, dim and dimmer.  This is a military vehicle, and illuminating the inside of the cab is the last thing you want to do.  It would just invite snipers to take aim at you.  With that in mind, we consent that the settings of dim and dimmer are acceptable.

You don't have a trip mileage counter that can be reset to 000 which I would find helpful to have.  However, such luxury was not included in the Deuce.

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STEERING

Because the standard M35A2 does not have power steering, you need to apply some elbow grease at low speeds when you try and turn the wheel.  The wheel is large by today's standards, and the size helps with the task of steering.  When you drive over rough country, the steering wheel may snap your thumb if you hold it in the wrong way when the tires hit a large bolder, or dip into a groove.  However, steering at highway speeds requires little effort.

I approach turns slowly in town in order to be able to spin the wheel and control my speed.  I noticed that drivers in vehicles in the roads I want to turn into keep a respectable distance to the white line in order to give the truck space to safely complete its turn.  With driving lights on and the heavy chain of the winch dangling from the front bumper, the truck looks like a serious threat to any paint job.

Hydraulic power steering can be added to the Deuce for a price.  It was not offered on the M35A2 as an option when these trucks were built for the military.  However, if you frequently drive in tight places, you may want to consider adding power steering both for safety reasons and to avoid driver fatigue.

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SHIFT PATTERN

The Deuce does not have the standard "H"-transmission most of us who know stick shifts are familiar with.  It is important to learn the shift pattern quickly because shifting sequentially through the gears is the only way to save your transmission and your clutch.  The clutch would wear out prematurely if you let it grind every time you shift up from a stand-still, and your gears may jam, or even brake if you don't shift correctly.

Shift lever to the left past the spring resistance and forward - reverse

  1. Shift lever to the left past the spring resistance and backwards (towards you) - 1st gear

  2. Shift lever to the middle and forward - 2nd gear

  3. Shift lever towards you - 3rd gear

  4. Shift lever to the right and back - 4th gear

  5. Shift lever forward - 5th gear

The gears are synchronized EXCEPT for the 1st gear. The vehicle must stand still before you can select first gear.

Shift pattern for heavy loads:  Shift transfer case to low:
  1. Shift lever to the left past the spring resistance and backwards - 1st gear
  2. Shift lever to the middle and forward - 2nd gear
  3. Shift lever backwards - 3rd gear
  4. Shift lever to the right and backwards - 4th gear
  5. Shift lever forward - 5th gear
  6. Shift transfer case into high and shift transmission lever back - 4th gear
  7. Shift lever forward - 5th gear

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BRAKING

A truck of this size does not stop on a dime.  With a weight of between 13,000 and 14,000 lbs "empty" (without a payload), these trucks require significant stopping distances.  Loaded trucks (additional weight) necessitate even longer distances.  Drive defensively, not aggressively.  A good driver will know how much space to leave between himself and another vehicle in front of him so that he can slow, or stop his truck without damage to either vehicle.  These trucks have air assisted hydraulic brakes.  You need both hydraulic brake fluid and also compressed air to operate this vehicle safely.

Because of the truck's stiff suspension, the truck tends to bounce on uneven road surfaces, particularly when it is "empty" (without a payload).  Passing through a construction site chute I noticed that the truck lost touch with the road at times.  Steering and counter steering became difficult, and I knew I would not be able to stop the truck as quickly as on properly maintained, paved roads.  I let the truck slow down to a safe speed.

Additional weight (cargo, passengers) adds to your stopping distance.  Depending on your tire profile and the surface you're traveling on (sand, gravel road, paved road, dry road, wet road, snow, ice, road grime, oily surface, etc.), the increase in braking distance can be significant.

Several drivers suggested it is not safe to solely depend on the parking brake / emergency brake for holding the truck in place when it's parked on a hill.  The use of wheel chocks is highly recommended.

Old school drivers may be tempted to shift the Deuce in gear and park it like that.  Because those multifuel engines turn over easily and since the truck will move when it is in gear, this practice should be avoided.  A little bump from another truck, or a really strong gust of wind may suffice to start the Deuce.  Damages to people, animals and property are incalculable since the Deuce is quite capable of climbing over obstacles and crushing them in the process.

If a high curbstone is available, park the Deuce with the steer wheels turned towards the curb on your side of the road. If the engine points downhill, turn the wheels to the right, and if the engine points uphill, turn the wheels to the left.  In case of a nudge, the steer wheels will then press against the curb and that may suffice to keep the Deuce from running away.  Other drivers argue that the wheels should always be turned towards the closest curb regardless of whether you park uphill, or downhill.  In case of a nudge, the rear wheels will then press against the curb, and, they argue, the rears are less likely to jump the curb than the steer wheels.

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VISIBILITY

You sit high enough to look over cars and SUV's and to shake hands with truckers in their full sized tractors as well a with bus drivers.  The forward visibility is comparable to other trucks of that same size.  You can look down past the engine hood on the driver's side to check for cars in front of the truck.  However, smaller objects in front of the engine compartment may be out of your sight.  For instance, the engine compartment may hide a bicyclist or biker standing close to the bumper, or a school child, or other pedestrian crossing the street immediately in front of the truck.  That is one of the reasons why many school buses are equipped with fisheye mirrors that allow the driver to see what is in front of the engine from his driver's seat.

Clear snow off the hood before you drive.  Snow being blown against the windshield can significantly reduce your visibility of the road.

Rearward visibility is severely limited.  Even with an open cargo bed you may not see a car right behind your truck.  If troop seats block your view to the side you will have to depend on your mirrors.  When I use the truck on my private property, I sometimes reverse with the rear gate open.  The open gate covers the tail lights but allows much better rearward visibility.  Driving with the tail lights covered on public roads is illegal but there are no roads on my property.  If you have the tarp on the roof with the sides lowered, you are pretty much blind towards you rear.

Of course, the term visibility also applies to how other drivers see you.  Green and camo blend into the woods nicely.  Desert tan blends into American beaches.  Turn on your lights to increase your visibility for other drivers.

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WINDSHIELD WIPERS:  Air-operated vs. electric

Older models of the Deuce were equipped with air-pressure operated wipers such as the one pictured here.  Newer models came with electric wipers.  The older wipers are easily replaced with electric wipers.

The driver turns a cap on the dash to allow air to flow to the wipers.  Many turns are necessary to engage the wipers.  The frequency of wipes per minute can be adjusted by loosening and tightening that cap.  The driver has to frequently readjust the air flow to the desired speed.

Electric wipers are more user friendly.  The main advantage of the electric wipers is that they are more powerful. The difference becomes apparent when mud hits the windshield, and in cold temperatures when freezing rain and snow interfere with the driver's vision.  The electric wipers do a much better job keeping your windshield clean and you safe.

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AIR RESERVOIRS

The air tanks on the Deuce are small compared to some of today's trucks, and they do not have automatic spit valves.  It is the driver's responsibility to ensure that the tanks are free of excessive moisture.  Drain your air tanks every day to avoid problems.

As the pump compresses air from the outside inside the tanks, moisture accumulates from humidity and changes in temperature.  Air heats up during the compression process.  This moisture accumulates quickly and leaves the inside of the primary tank wet, and possibly also the inside of the secondary tank.

The driver should open these valves when he retires the truck for the day.  Expect much liquid to come out of the primary tank.  Do not position yourself right underneath the valve when you open it, or you will get sprayed.  When you see that the "soup" has stopped running, close the primary tank valve and repeat the process with the secondary tank.  On my truck, the primary tank always spits out a lot of "soup", and the secondary tank only spits a barely visible mist, or nothing visible to the naked eye at all.

If you omit this maintenance task, the inside of the tanks will rust much faster.  Unfortunately, you need pretty long arms to reach both valves under your truck.  It may be necessary for you to crawl under the spare tire and pioneer tool rack and perform this task lying down.

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RUNNING AIR-POWER TOOLS

Air power tools can be run directly off the air lines of the Deuce.  Because of the relatively small size of the tanks, you may have to interrupt the use of your air tool until sufficient pressure to run the tool has built up again.

To run air tools, either connect your tools to the emergency gladhand (seen open near the rear light on the far right side of the photograph) under the bed in the back of the truck, or use the valve on the co-pilot's side inside the cab.  The emergency gladhand is red.  I installed quick connectors to my air hose and the valve inside the cab. Quick connectors make connecting and disconnecting the hose very convenient.  I use my air line frequently to inflate tires.

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PINTEL HITCH

The Deuce is equipped with a Pintel hitch rated at 10,000 pounds.  A military style electrical receptacle for the trailer connection is located in the recess above the bumperettes.

The M105 trailer is designed to be towed by the Deuce.  Both are equally high above the road.  Civilian trailers may have a non-military type of electrical connector.  If the trailer has electric brakes, this poses a problem.  Heavy trailers and those with significant weight carrying capacity should be equipped with brakes for your own safety and that of others.

In the photograph shown on the right, you see the standard pintel hitch on an M35A2 truck.

The Deuce does not have any other hitch receiver. Many modern pick-up trucks and recreational vehicles have ball receivers.  Conversion from a Pintel hitch to a ball hitch is not recommended.  Not only would the conversion be costly, but the ball hitch receiver would be mounted very high in relation to the trailer, and you'd have to spring for a height adjustable hitch on top of the costs for the conversion.  A custom built hitch might be a better option if you need a ball-type hitch for your Deuce.

The photograph on the left shows a customized tow receptacle with a tow tongue inserted below the standard Pintel hitch.  The hitch ball is missing in the picture.

The red and white marker lights and the white back-up lights are also customizations on this M35A2 that a contractor uses as a commercial work truck for projects that take him off-road.

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DRIVING

Let's climb into the cab and go for a drive.  This is where the Deuce shows what it can do that most other trucks on the road today cannot do.

The configuration of the mirrors has changed over the years.  Regardless of whether you have two, or four outside mirrors, adjust each one for best visibility. If any mirrors are loose, retighten the screws that hold them in place prior to your departure.  Screws may loosen over time as the truck is driven.

Make sure your tires are properly inflated and you do not have excessive play on the clutch and the brake pedal.  Check under the truck for any evidence of leaking fuel lines, unsafe brake lines, dripping oil filters, a damaged radiator, etc.

Commercial truckers perform a routine walk-around inspection every time before they drive their truck.  Truck operators in the armed forces do the same (at least when nobody is shooting at them during the inspection).  It is a good idea to perform a pre-use inspection every time before you take the truck out on the road.  It only takes a few minutes and helps to ensure your safety and the safety of others.

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LIGHTS

Turn your lights on regardless of the time of day, even in bright daylight on sunny days.  This is a military vehicle with several lighting options.  The turn signals and brake lights only work when the main lights are turned on to first, or second position of the switch.  You need working turn signals to be street legal at any time of day.  So, turn your light switch on.

Blackout lights (low visibility lights) are not street legal.  Your brake lights and turn signals will not work in combination with blackout lights.  (You wouldn't want to give your position away to the enemy every time you step on the brake pedal.)  In order to have brake lights and turn signals, the light switch must be in position 1, or the headlights must be on (pos. 2). 

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SPEED

In first gear with the transfer case set to "high", you can reach walking speed.  A jogger can still pass you.  Quickly shift into second and apply the "go pedal" again to follow that jogger.  In third, you feel like you're finally really moving.  The shift pattern of the M35A2 is unusual.  If you shift correctly into fourth, you can gain more speed.  If you unknowingly shifted into fifth, you will bellow some black smoke from the exhaust stack.

The ride is pretty rough.  You get bounced around on uneven roads.  Deep potholes and ruts may catapult your tires into the air.  I got into this situation on a very uneven road in a construction zone.  It was hard to control the direction the truck was taking and I had to slow down in order to not hit the guard rail.

With standard military tires the truck can reach a maximum speed of about 55 miles per hour.  You will noticeably slow down on grades and you may gain a little speed on downslopes. The recommended sustainable travel speed is only about 45 mph.

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TIRES

In its typical configuration, the M35A2 is equipped with ten non-directional (ND) military tires on three axles.  Both rear axles are drive axles.  Some three-axle trucks and buses have a tag axle that can be lifted.  Lifting the tag is very helpful when you have to make sharp turns.  However, both rear axles on the Deuce are designed to support the weight of the truck and its cargo, and maintain contact with the ground at all times.  Other tire configurations are possible including true 6 x 6.

The standard 9:00x20 NDT (non directional tires) dig well into powdery snow and propel the truck.  However, they provide little to no grip on ice and on slippery, wet roads, and may get you stuck on compacted wet snow.

Road grip can be improved by lowering the tire pressure.  On the road, the recommended tire pressure for a Deuce is 50 lbs.  Off road, pressure can be reduced to as little as 15 lbs. under the appropriate conditions.  However, the tire pressure needs to be increased again when the vehicle is on hard surfaces again.  Inflation and deflation are possible but time-consuming - particularly when the driver has to rely on the relatively small onboard air tanks of the Deuce to inflate ten tires to 50 lbs.

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TURNING RADIUS

The turning radius of the M35A2 is impressive - in the negative sense.  You need space, a lot of space.  Forget fitting the truck into an open slot in the Wal-Mart parking lot unless you are willing to play bumper truck with the other cars - which could be fun but is very illegal.  The Deuce is just not made for tight cornering. Some owners only power one rear axle.  This customization makes steering easier and may also slightly improve your fuel consumption. 

The M36A2 is longer.  Fitting this truck into a parking spot at the mall is an even harder job.  These trucks do not belong where tight turns need to be negotiated. 

Bobbed Deuces have only two axles.  The rearmost axle is removed.  These bobbed vehicles on four, or six tires have a much better turning radius.  However, they are not really "Deuces" any more.

When both rear axles are powered, all eight wheels want to move forward in the same direction:  straight ahead.  When you start to make a turn, the steer tires (the one's on the front axle) turn to the right, or left, but the truck continues to push straight forward.  You lose some rubber when the truck finally turns into the steer direction.  Tire wear is minimal on soft ground but more noticeable on hard surfaces.

When the rear tires slip, the driver can add power to the front tires with a lever on newer Deuces.  The front axle engages automatically on older models that are equipped with a sprague.  Engaging the front axle gives you more pulling power but does not appreciably affect tire wear.

Many owners prefer wider tires and modify their trucks to run on only six tires.  Others "bob" their truck by removing the third axle and shortening the cargo bed.  In this configuration, the truck is much more corner-friendly.

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TERRAIN

Like everything else, it takes a little practice to get the best possible performance from these trucks.  An experienced driver knows how to climb over obstacles, transverse slippery ground, go for a swim or dive (the truck does not actually float, and it certainly won't swim, but it can be driven under water), and how to keep it ready for the next drive. 

If the terrain is difficult, you may want to shift the transfer case into "low".  The transmission provides five forward speeds and one reverse speed regardless of whether the transfer case is set to "high", or "low".  You won't gain much speed in "low".  The advantage of running in "low" is that you transfer more power from the engine to the wheels.  Despite it's weight of roughly six and a half tons empty, that truck can climb over rocks, crawl up steep slopes, and pass through soft sand, mud and even through riverbeds with mixed ground.  While getting stuck is certainly not impossible, it is less probable than with conventional commercial OTR trucks.  Nevertheless, always apply common sense when you select a route through rough terrain.

Farmers, ranchers, forest service employees, fire departments and other emergency services love this truck because of its ability to get just about everywhere you point it in just about any weather condition.  These trucks are used in the swamps of Florida and Louisiana and the snowy expanses of North Dakota and Minnesota.  A few run in Alaska and Northern Canada.  Sitting so relatively high above the ground, you feel the rough terrain as you get shaken and bounced around on your way to wherever you aim to go.  On the positive side, a skilled driver probably gets wherever that is.

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BUMPS AND DIPS IN THE ROAD, RAILROAD TRACKS

Many obstacles that may blow tires on a little 4-wheeler car at regular speed can easily be absorbed by the Deuce.  However, the experienced driver uses caution nonetheless.  When you come out of a dip, or jump over a bump at high speed, your wheels lose contact with the road.  You are no longer in control of your truck at that time. If you had to brake suddenly to stop the vehicle, you couldn't because you are essentially flying.  Reduce your speed when you see dips and bumps in the road ahead.

Hidden railroad tracks are often slippery in rain and may also cause the truck to "dance" in the air.  Reduce your travel speed to safely cross the tracks.

Exposed tracks must be crossed with caution.  Check to make sure no train is coming, then drive across at an angle, not straight on.  Again, reduce your travel speed to a safe pace.

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CITY TRAFFIC

The Deuce is a slow mover in stop-and-go situations.  Even if you tweak this and that, you still have a vehicle that can't leave the white line at a stop light with tires screeching and smoking, and you probably are in third gear by the time you have crossed an intersection.

You have to accept that drivers of other vehicles around you will want to pass you, and that some of them will try to squeeze in between your front bumper and the guy in front of you.  Be prepared to brake at all times !

If you bump another vehicle, the damages will most likely only be on the other vehicle.  That, however, isn't necessarily good news.  Unless you have witnesses, or can prove that the other driver was trying to squeeze his 6 foot vehicle into 5 feet of open space in front of your bumper, you will likely be held responsible for the collision because you did not keep the minimum safe distance between yourself and the vehicle you were following, presumably the "squeezer".  Unfortunately, if you don't brake the Deuce, it is capable of running over an offending car and crush the driver and passengers.

Be a responsible driver and travel at safe speeds.

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COUNTRY ROADS

The Deuce performs about as well as other trucks of equal size on country roads.  Avoid potholes and dips in the road because they may make your truck "dance" and lose contact with the road surface.  That could spell disaster if you have to brake suddenly and unexpectedly.

On the other hand, the Deuce will not likely break down if you hit a series of potholes, or small obstacles in the road as long as you haven't overloaded your truck.

Be mindful of deer and other animals that may cross the road.  The stopping distance of the Deuce is significant.

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HIGHWAYS

The Deuce is not a good candidate for highway driving - at least not from the perspective of drivers with faster and more powerful vehicles.  Other vehicles will be faster and more agile than you are, particularly on hills, and that includes most commercial trucks and certainly most pick-up trucks.  As long as you maintain at least the required minimum speed, you are legal.

Because of the relatively low top speed of the Deuce even under the best of conditions, it easily becomes a moving obstacle.  Because of its slow acceleration, it may be dangerous to merge into flowing traffic from an on-ramp.  Because of its decreasing speed on inclines, the Deuce may fall below the minimum permissible highway speed. 

When your speed drops below 45 mph on a highway, particularly a limited access highway such as an Interstate (in the US), turn your four-ways on and let faster moving traffic pass you. 

The photo on the left was taken on I-95 at the back end of a traffic jam.  I thought it was nice not to have to listen to the roar of the engine for a while, and didn't mind I was just as fast as every Porsche out there.

Driving at maximum speed and near the RPM redline for extended periods of time shortens the life of the engine.  These trucks were built to transport materials and troops, usually in large convoys, at travel speeds between 35 and 45 miles per hour on roads, and at significantly lower speeds off road.

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OFF-ROADING

As hundreds, maybe thousands of videos on YouTube suggest, many people drive these trucks just for fun and don't worry about getting stuck.  Someone else is usually around (at least the camera operator) who can help pull a stuck truck out of the muck.  In some of these videos, drivers purposely plow into lakes and mud holes and curse and/or laugh when they get stuck.  They don't seem to be concerned about dirt, small rocks, wood and other debris that may get caught inside the boots, or interfere with the brakes and the driver's ability to steer the vehicle.

Serious drivers approach off-roading from a more professional angle.  The last thing you want while under fire is get stuck and become an immobile target for snipers and anyone else aiming rifles and cannons at you.  If you are with the forest service, you don't want to get hung up because you may be working alone with no-one around for miles.  If you are with the fire department, you want to get to your destination while the fire is still burning, and you want to be able to back out of every place you're getting into.

The Deuce does a great job taking us to places most other trucks couldn't get near.  With a little bit of foresight and consideration, you can extend the life of the truck and maybe your own, too.  Check where you are heading if at all possible.  Leave taking chances to the clowns on YouTube if you are in a situation that permits you to stop and investigate the terrain.  The ride will be bouncy, and you are likely to feel the effects of bumps you climb over, and holes you sink into, on your spine.  Your co-pilot and passengers on the troop seats are in no better position that the driver.

If there is a way to drive around a mud hole instead of through it, take it.  If you cannot easily avoid the mud hole, try to determine how deep it is and whether the bottom is firm, or soft.  Shift into the appropriate gear and ease into the hole.  Accelerate carefully on your way out.  "Carefully" does not mean pedal-to-the-metal and mud and water flying high into the air.  Try to keep a grip on the ground.  That grip will allow you to move on.  Too much speed and too little traction will only churn the water but won't allow you to move forward.  Your wheels and brakes may get very muddy.  Clean them as soon as you can.

Sometimes it is best to back out of a situation before you get stuck.  When you realize that you do not make the progress you expected, back out in the same tracks you laid when you went in.  Backing out that way usually requires relatively little power and does not require you to steer much either.  Try to back out in the grooves the tires made on the way in.

Adjust the air pressure in your tires as you go from firm roads to desert sand, beach sand, mud, rocky surfaces, snow, ice.  This will give you better traction when you need it.

When you have to cross open railroad tracks, approach them at a soft angle, not at 90 degrees.  This will allow the truck's suspension to absorb much of the impact, and your cargo is less likely to shift and passengers are less likely to get injured, or fall off.

Be sure your road clearance is sufficient to climb over rocks and logs.  There is not much of a point in jumping over a rock, or log, when your tank gets pierced on the other side, when tires blow out, or when the transmission seizes to work.

The standard military 9:00x20 ND tires do not perform well on wet roads and in the rain.  They don't do much in light snow either.  However, they do dig into heavy snow and keep you going when other 4x4 trucks already get stuck.  Use that ability wisely.  Don't try to see how fast you can go.  Try to anticipate how far you will travel from when you hit the brakes until you come to a full stop.  Adjust your speed to travel at a reasonable, safe speed.  Avoid ice if you can.  All the engine power and braking power in the world does little to help you when you slide, or spin, and you are no longer in control of your vehicle and the destination it takes.

Now, some of you may ask where's the fun in playing it safe ?  I understand many buyers of military trucks have only fun and games in mind, and if testing the abilities of these vehicles is your idea of fun, neither you nor I need to explain it to anyone else.  This article, however, was written for the buyer who has more serious applications in mind but isn't quite sure yet what to expect from a Deuce.

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DRIVING IN RAIN

Older M35A2 trucks are equipped with air operated windshield wipers.  While they do work, they do not work as well as electric wipers which are much more powerful.  The difference becomes clear when you compare wiper performance with mud on the glass, and when driving in freezing rain with ice building up on the windshield.  Electric wipers will beat air operated wipers in this competition with ease.

Slippery roads will extend the distance you travel with the brake pedal applied.  Commercials always point out how little time it takes to accelerate a car from 0 to 60 miles per hour.  When you drive a truck you need to worry about how much time it takes to stop that truck, or to bring it from 60 to 0 mph.

The standard 9:00 x 20 military tires are particularly slippery on wet surfaces.  Drive defensively and with great caution.  Even when your brakes work well but your tires slide, your truck won't come to a full stop as quickly as you may expect.  Additionally, the truck gets pulled towards whichever side grips best, and that may spin your truck into another lane of traffic.  Always keep a safe distance to other vehicles.

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WINTER DRIVING

Most owners report that their trucks start "right up" even when it's cold outside (not "artic" cold).  The truck has a pre-heater for very cold temperatures, and additional engine warming devices can be installed in several places.

With the military NT tires digging well into dry, powdery snow, the truck moves with little effort even through powdery snow drifts.  However, it may get stuck in wet compacted snow.  Other tires may be more suitable for winter driving through snow in your area. 

Because of its high clearance, it finds less resistance than pick-up trucks and other vehicles in high snow. 

Power is permanently applied to both rear axles of the Deuce.  Additional front wheel drive can be engaged with the flip of a lever under the dash if you do not have the older sprague setup.  Without the sprague, you engage the front wheels with air-power.  With it, the front wheels automatically engage when the rear wheels slip.

The Deuce can move through powder snow when other vehicles already get stuck.  That only shows that it gets better traction.  It does not, however, mean that the truck will stop more easily.  Remember that ice may have formed under the snow, or the snow may be iced over.  Those same military ND tires that get a good grip in snow do not grip on ice.

The same military NT tires that do well in high snow, perform poorly on plowed but slippery roads.  Extreme caution should be applied when driving on freezing roads, in icy conditions, or with just a dusting of snow left on the road.  Drive slowly and defensively to avoid slip-sliding all over the road and into a ditch, and to be able to stop the truck within a reasonable distance even under adverse conditions.

The same mass that serves you well when you break through snow drifts as if they weren't even there is the mass you need to stop when a person, animal, car, or other obstacle suddenly appears in front of your truck.  The only responsible way to drive is to drive carefully.

I drove my M35A2 through 6 inches of fresh snow before the plows had come through my neighborhood.  The 9:00x20 NDTs pushed the truck ahead very well at regular on-road inflation.  I had to stop in high snow (6") when someone with a snowblower walked into the road but did not hear my whistling diesel engine over his snowblower.  The truck stopped well.  Later, I had to stop on an already plowed road, and ended up at a 45 degree angle to the lane I had been in.  The truck slid and was uncontrollable for a brief moment.  My speed was only 25 mph at the time, and nothing serious happened as a result of sliding, but the point I am trying to make should be clear.  NDTs do not work well on slippery road surfaces.

For additional traction, the air pressure in the tires should be reduced as appropriate under given conditions, even to as little as 15 PSI in deep mud, or snow.  Consider the weight of the truck and the payload when you reduce tire pressure.  Once the driver is back on snow-free roads, tire pressure must be increased again to drive safely at road speeds.  Due to the small size of the air tanks on the M35A2, re-inflating all ten tires to 50 PSI is a time consuming chore.

The law requires drivers in many states to remove snow from vehicles before they are driven on any public roadways.  Because many wipers do a less than perfect job it is highly recommended that you brush all snow off the hood and roof before you embark on a trip even if you are in a state where that law does not apply.  Melting snow from the hood will hit the windshield when you drive.  If that water freezes to the windshield it will severely reduce your forward visibility.  Some snow from the roof will likely slide forward and eventually also impact your visibility. 

The mushroom shaped breather must be kept snow free so that no snow gets sucked into the air filter housing where it may collect and choke the engine.

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WIND RESISTANCE

Without a tarp, an M35A2 is a large pick-up truck.  With a tarp, you may feel more wind resistance.  The frontal area of the truck us enlarged with a tarp on, and the tarp also turns into a sail in strong cross-winds.  As every experienced truck driver knows, wind power needs to be considered when crossing open bridges, and when driving in plain areas where the truck is exposed to cross winds.

It is best to drive defensively and slow down in those areas where wind gusts are unpredictable.  Truckers usually share warnings of strong winds over their radios.  Unfortunately, M35A2's do not have those radios.

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WINCH

Videos on the internet exemplify the abilities of the M35A2.  Some drivers drive like fools and prove that the truck is pretty forgiving.  Imagine what an experienced driver can do.

Some M35A2 trucks are equipped with a winch mounted right behind the front bumper.  This winch is PTO driven (off the truck's engine) and rated at up to 10,000 lbs. pulling capacity.  It is capable of pulling the truck it is mounted to, or another truck off an icy patch, or out of mud.  To free yourself, hook the wire rope (cable) to an anchor point, e.g. a tree, and engage the winch.  In most cases, the winch will pull the truck and will get you on your way again.  If two trucks are involved, one may serve as a suitable anchor.

When the operator gets ready to pull the winch wire rope (cable) taught, he should command bystanders near the wire rope (cable) to leave the area.  If the wire rope (cable) snaps, it will likely whip around and injury or kill anyone in its path.  Therefore, the safety zone should be equal to the distance between the winch and the object you try to pull, or the length of the exposed portion of the wire rope (cable). 

A shear pin in the winch assembly is supposed to protect the winch mechanism.  When the stress on the shear pin exceeds its capacity, it breaks, and the stress is instantly released.  The shear pin needs to be replaced before the winch can be used again.

The shear pin in the picture had just been inserted moments before the picture was taken.  It is a good idea to take several spare shear pins with you when you go out and use your winch.  Only original pins designed for this kind of winch should be used.  Using pins or bolts made of a stronger material defeats the protective purpose of the shear pin.

The holes in the shaft and the U-yoke must be perfectly aligned before remnants of the broken pin can be removed and a new one inserted.  This is not a difficult task but it may take several attempts to accomplish it.  Unfortunately, pins usually break out in the field where you may not have the conveniences of good light and a firm, dry surface to lie on.

Move the truck if it stands over any anthills, or muddy puddles before you try and replace a shear pin.

Engaging the drum on the outside can be difficult.  If the lever on the drum does not easily engage and disengage, move the drum by hand a little bit and try again.  If that does not help, the condition and alignment of all components should be checked.

Engaging the drum inside the cab is easy.  It may take a few times before a new operator feels comfortable with the shift lever on the floor that lets the operator choose between neutral, two forward and one reverse speed.

An assistant on the outside should watch the cable and signal his partner in the driver's seat when to engage and disengage the winch. 

The picture on the right shows a tree limb being pulled off that lightly wooded property. 

Never wrap the winch cable itself around a branch like that.  Wrap a strong rope, or a chain around the item you want to pull, and secure the winch cable to that rope, or chain.  The winch cable will not have to bend around a small diameter object like that branch, and that helps you avoid broken, or stretched, or overly stressed strings.

Having a winch has been very helpful to me.  I removed several trees and big branches from my property even when the ground was wet and my tractor would have left deep ruts in the soft soil.

Stop the winch before the chain gets stuck under the bridge above the drum.  In the photo, the wire rope (cable) is reeled in as far as it can go before the chain touches the bridge. 

Getting a stuck chain loose again can be a very exhausting job.  If damaged, the bridge and/or wire rope (cable) should be replaced.  The assistant on the outside should carefully monitor the wire rope (cable) as it is spooled back onto the drum. 

The manuals offer more information on winch operation and maintenance and explanations how the power of the winch can be multiplied than we discuss in this article.

It is not necessary to cover the winch in the winter time in areas where temperatures frequently dip below freezing.  A properly greased cable will withstand rain, snow and ice.  However, I prefer to cover my winch because I live in an area in which municipalities use salt to melt snow on roadways. Salt is a very aggressive and destructive agent that promotes rust and decay. 

I wrap a plastic bag around the winch and secure it with a bungee cord.  This simple method protects the cable from salty water vehicles moving in front of me kick up.  The bag stays on the winch while I drive.  Properly secured, it will stay on even at highway speeds, and yet it can be quickly removed when the need for winching arises.

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FORDING AND DIVING

The high clearance also comes in handy when you need to ford water.  It is important to remember to plug the flywheel case with a large bolt to keep water and debris from entering the case.  The boots on your wheels will most probably not be able to keep water from seeping in.  A thorough clean-up is highly recommended afterwards, particularly when the water contains mud, or silt.

The multifuel engine is a compression engine.  It does not have spark plugs and can work under water.  However, the engine needs to breathe and exhale.  It requires a snorkel to suck air in, and an exhaust stack that reaches above water level to discharge exhaust.  A conversion kit is available to prepare the Deuce for "diving".  The mushroom shaped air intake cover is replaced with a long "snorkel", and the exhaust pipe is extended.

Before you drive into any deep lakes though, remember that you need to breathe, too.  An army movie shows a driver equipped with diving gear drive through a river.  To do that is not one of my personal aspirations.  I think we should leave the rivers to the fish and use water to brew more beer, make more tea, or whatever else you like to drink.

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FLYING

No, the Deuce does not turn into a helicopter, balloon, or other aircraft.  It does, however, seem to fly when you attach it to a crane and lift it off the ground.

Large shackles on the front bumper and on the rear of the truck support the weight of the truck when it is lifted.  If that seems odd to you, just imagine how trucks are transported from the United States to other countries and back.  Many are hoisted onto Navy vessels for the journey.

Of course, you won't air lift your truck by yourself but since the shackles are built for that purpose, you may as well take advantage of their strength when you need to pull something.  I had to remove a small tree that was growing by my mailbox.  No matter how hard I tried, I could not pull it out by myself.  So, I wrapped a chain around the trunk a few times, hooked one end of the chain to the front bumper, shifted the Deuce in reverse in "low" and gave the tree a little tug.  Crrrrunch, phoop !  Done.

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CARRYING CARGO

The M35A2 is rated to carry 5,000 lbs (2.5 tons) of cargo across the country off roads, or 10,000 lbs (5 tons) on paved roads.  That is an impressive amount of weight, and army ratings tend to be very conservative.   The actual weight carrying capacity of the truck may be significantly higher.  The name "Deuce and a half" is a reference to the off-road weight carrying capacity.

I chose not to classify my truck for its full weight carrying capacity of 10,000 lbs because I don't see that I will ever carry anything weighing that much.  By choosing a lower class, I am legally limited to not carry more than the registered weight carrying potential but I save money on the annual registration in this trade-off.

Without troop seats installed, the metal bed is more than a foot high.  With troop seats installed and in the folded up position, the bed is significantly higher.  Troop seats offer additional height in the front and on both sides but not in the rear of the uncovered truck bed.

Folded down, troop seats protect anything stored underneath them, and serve as shelves.  However, caution is required because cargo that is not properly secured on the seats can fall off the truck.  It is the driver's responsibility to ensure that no cargo is lost and motorists and pedestrians are not endangered, or property damaged by anything falling off the truck. 

In the picture above, bags filled with leaf litter were transported in an open Deuce.  The folded-up troop seats added much needed additional height to the sidewalls of the truck.  This load requires a cover at speeds above crawling to prevent any of these light weight bags to be blown off the truck.  A commercial grade cargo net would suffice.

The load of fresh manure pictured on the right was moist and heavy.  Dry manure breaks apart more easily and blows off the truck.  This load must be covered with a solid tarp for transport to avoid "blow-off" and the contamination of the area you transverse with the truck on your way to your destination. Transporting manure without a tarp is a health hazard and illegal in some states.

Tarps offer protection from rain, snow and wind. The tarp shown on the left is not military issue.  It was used here to protect collected leaves from being blown off the truck, and from getting wet in the rain.  A full set of bows with a tarp offer much more protected space for the Deuce.  However, the tarp does not offer much other protection.  Sharp objects can penetrate the tarp and fall off the truck.  The resulting hole in the tarp can then widen and lead to significant tears that expose more cargo to the outside.  Cargo should always be secured to the truck bed.

Pictured on the left is an M35A2 in the standard bows and tarp configuration.  The sides and back of the tarp can be rolled up for quick loading and unloading but it is best to completely remove the tarp and bows for loading loose sand, gravel, manure, etc. so that no parts of the loading device (front loader of a skid loader, bobcat, tractor, hoe, etc.) touch, bend, or break the bows which are made from wood, or a composite material with metal curve brackets.

Air circulation under the tarp is minimal when it fully covers the truck bed.  Temperatures can quickly rise to dangerous levels in direct sunlight.  Neither people nor animals should be kept under the tarp in hot weather.

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OTHER WEIGHT CONSIDERATIONS

If you are used to driving a regular sized car, you will have to start paying attention to weight limitations on roads, particularly near bridges.  The heavier the truck (including cargo and passengers and everything on it) the greater the pressure it exerts on the roadway.  Do not exceed the weight carrying capacity of a bridge. 

Increased weight will slow you down more on inclines. You may have to shift more frequently as you climb up a hill.  In extreme situations, you may want to start with the transfer case in "low", shift from 1st through to 5th, shift into "high" and then into 4th and 5th again.  The additional gears help you on your way.

Your "take-off speed" will be less than usual (if you can imagine that).

Increased weight will also affect you when you descend from a hill.  The additional weight will help you gain speed.  You need to downshift when you can to control your road speed without the brakes.

Increased weight can become very noticeable when you move from a hard surface to soft ground.  Everything else being equal (number of tires, tire size, tire pressure), you will sink a little deeper, or a lot deeper into the ground.  This effects your ability to steer, your road speed, and affects your control over the truck.

Additionally, the ride quality is affected when the suspension works harder under a greater load.

As the pictures on the right demonstrate, even an empty truck is heavy enough to reduce the woodpile in the top photo into the "coarse mulch" you see in the next two pictures below.  The truck rolled over the pile twice to break wood and produce this "rough mulch".

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USE

If you can cope with the lack of critter comforts and want a work truck, the M35A2 may be a good choice.  If the noise level is acceptable to you and you don't mind smelling oil, this truck is awesome.

I have used my M35A2 for trips into town, pulled trees out of the ground, transported various cargo, and driven off-road on my land.  My longest trip took over five hours including two breaks which I felt were necessary because of the hard ride in the empty truck.  My shortest trip was only a few hundred feet from the parking lot to crush a woodpile.  I used the Deuce to crunch the branches and twigs and make the pile smaller - a lot of smaller.

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TROOP SEATS

Troop seats are a popular option for trucks in pick-up truck configuration.  Whether you choose the M35A2 with a rear gate, or the M35A2c which has droppable side panels, troop seats allow you to offer seating to family, friends and neighbors.  Of course, seat belt laws apply when the truck is moving !

Another advantage of troop seats is the "shelf effect".  (See top picture.)  You can store things under the seats as well as on top of the seats.  Securing your cargo on top of the seats can be challenging, depending on what your cargo actually is.

Troop seats do not affect the drivability of the truck but significantly reduce rearward visibility when they are folded up.  (See bottom picture.)  This can be a serious handicap when you have to maneuver in tight areas, back into an open parking space, or avoid an obstacle that you know is out there somewhere but you cannot see it in your mirrors and cannot see it because the folded up seats block your view.

If you have passengers in the back and do not have bows and tarp installed, remember that branches from trees you pass under may hit passengers.  Drive slowly, avoid low branches and keep the well-being of your "troops" in mind

Laws regarding the legality of transporting people in the back of a truck vary from state to state.  Troop seats were designed for the transport of troops (military personnel).  However, as a civilian Deuce owner, you have to obey civilian laws.  The following website may be helpful in your research but you should investigate if the information provided there is still applicable at the time.  This link will take you to a different domain:
  http://www.iihs.org/laws/cargoAreas.aspx

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PARADE DUTY

Are you thinking of taking your Deuce to a parade ?  You can post flags in the rails for the bows.  The bows are necessary to support the tarp that provides a roof for your cargo and/or rear passengers.  Without them, you can insert flag poles into those same rails.

While wind resistance can actually be quite significant, you hardly feel it at all in the Deuce.  At parade speed in particular, that resistance is negligible.  Let your colors fly !

You may want to offer your troop seats to veterans and/or other participants so they can enjoy the parade from your truck.

Shift the transfer case into low and adjust your velocity as necessary to parade cruising speed, usually in 2nd gear low.

Most parades are well organized. You will likely be assigned a particular spot in the column with instructions WHEN to do WHAT. Little is left to chance, and as long as you follow the directions and don't miss your signals to roll and stop, you'll do fine.  Watch out for children and dogs running into the street.

Research in advance what is expected of you, your passengers and your vehicle, what decorations are permissible, if you are allowed to smoke, if you are expected to wear your uniform (if you are, or were in the service), etc. You don't want to be excluded from participation for any reason you could have avoided had you gotten better information in advance.

As far as drivability is concerned, there are just a few points to consider:

  • Be prepared to use a little extra elbow grease when you drive through traffic circles (roundabouts) and around curves at low speed.

  • Your rearward visibility is likely diminished with flags flying from your bed and people sitting on the troop seats. Since you travel at very low speed and nobody is likely to try and pass you, this should not be a problem.

  • Make sure your engine is running well and you have diesel in your tank so that you don't leave the public coughing from black plumes of exhaust you leave behind. You also don't want other participants in the parade who follow you hallucinate from your exhaust. As a driver and participant, it is your responsibility to have your vehicle in top shape.

If it is legal to do so in your state (US), you may invite veterans and other guests to take a ride in your Deuce.  In that case, you may want to provide blankets to cover the troops seats. If you fold them over, you can easily hide them from the spectators and still provide a little comfort to your "troopers" that also protects them from splinters.

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MAINTENANCE

Compared to modern trucks, the M35A2 requires more frequent and more extensive maintenance work.  While it is built to withstand abuse, harsh weather and drives through unfriendly terrain, maintenance is key to keeping the truck in good working condition for many years.  Neglect will sooner or later catch up with the needs of the vehicle.  While parts are relatively inexpensive, it is best to service the trucks regularly and keep them in top condition.

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FIRE DEPARTMENTS  and  CONTRACTORS

One fire chief told me his department purchased a Deuce because it can climb up narrow paths in the nearby hills where all the "regular" fire trucks would get stuck.  Additionally, the Deuce can be driven through high snow drifts, and the bumpers are strong enough to make way where there is no way (with limitations, of course).

A contractor said purchasing a Deuce was one of the best business decisions he has made.  He frequently works in poorly accessible pastures but no longer worries about getting stuck with his modern commercial truck. The taller military ND tires grab into dirt, sand and snow and push the truck forward.  The Deuce has taken him everywhere he needed to go.

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WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU BREAK DOWN

If you break down on the road, put your four-way flashers on, light up and position your emergency flares at the appropriate distances and get yourself out of harm's way and into a safe location.  Obviously, you want to make repairs on location if that is at all possible.  Carry a supply of tools and parts that are the most likely to fail, e.g. belts, hoses, nuts and bolts, etc.  If the problem cannot be fixed on the spot, you may have to call for help.

If you need a jump start, it is best to use military issue jumper cables with the proper plugs and the corresponding receptacles on the disabled and the able truck.  The receptacle is usually on the passenger side of the cab.  Remove the cover to expose the receptacle and plug your jumper cable in.  There are two different kinds of receptacles. Only one is shown here.

I am and have been a member of the Good Sam Club for many years.  The club's Emergency Roadside Assistance program includes my RV and all the cars in my household up to pick-up truck size but it does not include the M35A2.  This is a commercial class truck regardless of whether you use it in some commercial application, or strictly for fun.  Calling a tow truck service can be very expensive - VERY expensive !!  You probably want to explore all other possible alternatives before you call someone with a wrecker big enough to handle the Deuce.

There are several other automotive clubs that handle full-sized motorhomes and the largest camping trailers but they won't help you with a commercial class truck.  If you have a friend with a Deuce, or a truck of about equal size, you may want to call him first.  If you're not friends with him yet, this would be a good time to start a friendship.

With a good tow bar, he may save you big bucks on the way from where you broke down to your home, or the nearest garage.  Use of an appropriate tow bar is necessary because if you are unable to slow your towed truck with your brakes, the towing truck must be big enough to stop both you and himself.  Ropes and chains alone won't do the trick.  You need a tow bar.

Alternatives include a wrecker and a flatbed trailer.  Some private owners of military vehicles have a wrecker and/or a tractor with a skateboard (flatbed trailer).  A wrecker may be able to put you on the hook and tow you to safety.  A skateboard may need to be reversed close to your truck, and you have to find a way to move your broken down truck onto the trailer.  Those problems can be tricky, and you may want to leave the skateboard option as a second-to-last alternative.  Your particular location and the circumstances of the break-down may dictate which option is most appropriate.

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HOW TO PULL YOURSELF OUT OF A MUD HOLE

The procedure described here is not recommended for various safety reasons but in an emergency you may have no other option left but to try it.

Let's assume you had some fun slinging mud and find yourself stuck.  You tried moving forward and backward but the truck just won't find enough grip in the mud hole to pull itself out.

If the mud hole is shallow, you may get traction by pushing tree branches under and in front of your tires.  Shift into low and first and ease forward.  If the mud hole is deep, check the water, the mud hole and the surrounding area very carefully for snakes, crocs, gators, or whatever else may live where you are and develop an appetite for you.  If you think you are safe, turn the engine off and lower yourself into the mud.  Do not jump !  You may sink in deeper than you imagine and you may get stuck yourself.

You need to get to the winch if you have one.  You can disengage the lock while you lie flat on your belly on the hood.  Pull out as much wire rope (cable) as you think you need to get to firm ground and try to get there.  It won't be easy to do that with that heavy hook in your hand, but you may want find this to be your best option.

Pull the wire rope (cable) to an anchor point.  An anchor point can be a large tree trunk, or a stump left in the ground, a large post, a large bolder, or something you construct yourself.  Sometimes you have to improvise with whatever "tools" you can find.  If possible, do not loop the wire rope (cable) around the anchor point but secure a rope around the anchor point and then hook the wire rope (cable) up to that rope.

If you don't have a winch but have a rope, spool some of the rope around your axle and the other end around an anchor point. Your axle can serve as a winch of sorts.

I assume you will learn the correct procedures for using the winch and apply it here.

Engage the winch slowly and see if you can free yourself that way.  If you use a rope around your front axle, shift your additional front wheel drive on and slowly let the clutch out.  You don't want to use too much power and snap your rope.  Easy going is key here !  With a little luck, the rope will wrap itself around the axle and pull you out.

If you're still stuck, you may have underestimated how much power you need to free yourself.

Army instructions on rescue operations are extensive.  Check there for additional ideas.  We only scratch the surface of the subject in this article.

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INSURANCE

Before you buy, find out how much it will cost you to insure a truck of this kind.  I spent a significant amount of time on this issue.  Costs vary between insurance companies and from region to region.  Among the many factors that come to play here is your base location and the area in which the truck will be used (probably your home and surrounding area within a given radius), your age, age of the truck, driving record, use of the truck (commercial, personal, weekends only, parades only, antique, etc.), weight class and annual mileage.

Insurance is a subject all by itself. Because there are so many differences between insurers in general and between geographic areas, this article will not closely examine this topic.

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REGISTRATION

You may have several options of how you can register your truck in the state in which you live.  This article only suggests a few of them.  Please check which of these options are available in your state, and how they may affect your use of the truck.

Truck registration is available in all states (US).  Essentially, you can use your truck commercially and privately, carry cargo within permissible limits, and drive it every day.

The Deuce and a Half is a class 8 truck.  You have the option to register at a lower class but you are not permitted to register at a higher class.  Registering at a lower class will limit your legal weight carrying capacity but it will save you some money.

Classic Vehicle registration limits your use of the truck to non-commercial applications.  This option may be a good choice for owners whose primary interest is the preservation of the vehicle and occasional presentations at shows, expositions, parades, etc.

Antique Vehicle registration limits the use even more.  Again, this option may be a reasonable choice for some owners.  Check the regulations in your state.

A word of caution for anyone thinking of changing a truck registration to an antique vehicle registration: It is easy to register a vehicle that is at least 25 years old as an antique vehicle. However, changing a vehicle's registration from "antique" to a regular truck registration is much more complicated and may involve many steps in your state. As a general rule, it is probably not a good idea to classify your M35A2 as an "antique" if you intend to later switch that same vehicle to a regular truck registration.

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A WORD ABOUT THEFT PREVENTION AND VANDALISM

Theoretically, it is easy to steal a Deuce.  It is easy to get into the truck, easy to start one and drive off (if the thief doesn't get confused by all the levers and handles inside).  In reality, stealing a Deuce means stealing a slow moving vehicle that is very loud, has very little commercial value and is easily spotted on public roads.  So, it probably doesn't make much sense to actually steal one.  However, kids may get curious and break in just to play around, or worse, to vandalize your truck.

Replacement door handles with built-in locks can be purchased for less than ten dollars each.  Battery disconnects are a bit more expensive but might discourage a would-be thief.  We must accept that these military trucks were not built with theft prevention on the forefront of the minds of the engineers.

I don't dive deeper into this subject because I don't want to give anyone ideas what to try to get into an army truck and take it for a spin.

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OFFERING ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE TO OTHERS

Helping other motorists in need is a noble thing to do - but keep your own safety and the safety of others in mind at all times, and observe the law.  Towing and rescue operations always include risk.  That is one of the reasons why insurance for tow trucks is so high. 

Before you turn yourself into a knight in shining armor, consider this:

  • As a non-professional operator, you leave yourself wide open to liability claims for scratches, torn off parts, injuries and even deaths of motorists and/or bystanders. 

  • Your gallantry may backfire when an ungrateful person discovers damage at his/her vehicle and demands restitution. 

  • Injure someone, and an ambulance-chasing lawyer will want to sue you. 

  • Any damages to your truck, whether they be a few broken shear pins, a blown tire, or more serious damage, maybe the price of helping.

  • Law enforcement may cite you for running an illegal rescue operation without proper license and insurance.

  • Professional tow operators don't appreciate you "steal" customers from them.

  • Your insurance company may cancel your policy because you violated the insurance contract.  This is particularly true for owners of trucks registered as "antique", or those only covered for the occasional Sunday drive and parade duty.

It is usually best to call a professional towing service.  They usually dispatch a truck with yellow warning lights that warns motorists to drive cautiously and pay attention.  Of course, you may prefer to do the macho thing and pull someone out of a ditch yourself, particularly if the disabled vehicle belongs to a family member, or a close friend.

In that case,

  • make yourself visible and

  • turn your 4-ways on,

  • park the truck so that it offers you protection from traffic following you,

  • light up your flares if it's safe, or use blinking electric emergency lights, and position them at some distance away from the truck,

  • and set up warning triangles.

  • If you wear army fatigues that blend in with the environment, put on something that makes you more visible and reduce the chance that you get hit by an unsuspecting speeding driver.

Never ever pull your winch wire rope (cable) across the roadway.  It is almost invisible to drivers even in broad daylight, and can decapitate bikers and cause serious injury to people even in cars.

If possible, send a trustworthy person with a flag ahead to warn traffic and slow them down.  If it's dark, use a flashlight in addition to the flag.  This is particularly important if you are hidden from the view of approaching drivers by bushes, trees, stand on the other side of a hill crest, etc.  Wave the flashlight to attract attention.  Do not aim the light at the approaching traffic as drivers may think you're on a bicycle and continue at their speed.  Avoid blinding drivers with a powerful light.

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POSSIBLE IMPROVEMENTS

If you are not happy with the performance of the truck and don't mind installing non-standard equipment even though many purist collectors find that objectionable, then you have several options.

ORIGINAL EQUIPMENT:

  • If you want a turbocharged engine, select one from the start (recommended).  Adding a turbo later is not cost-effective.

  • Original cab heaters are available from several sources in the United States.  You can probably install one yourself.

  • An "Arctic Heater" is available as an option.  You can run that independently from your engine.

  • Air-operated windshield wipers lack real cleaning power, particularly when mud gets splashed against the windshield and when snow turns to ice.  Air-operated wipers can be replaced with original electric wipers.

  • Troop seats as well as bows and tarp can easily be added/replaced.

  • Larger tires are available for the Deuce but at substantially higher cost.  If you want balloon tires on your rears, the rims need to also be changed.  The advantages are appearance, softer ride, and a wider foot print which may be advantageous in certain off-road situations.  Larger diameter tires will also increase speed compared to the standard 9:00 x 20 ND military tires.  If top speed is a concern and you consider an improvement of roughly 15% significant, the acquisition of larger tires may be a worthwhile investment for you.

  • If you need more space than the truck bed provides, consider an M36A2 which is longer than the M35A2, or consider the addition of a M105 trailer to the Deuce.  That trailer can also be equipped with bows and a tarp.

AFTERMARKET EQUIPMENT:

  • Hydraulic power steering can be installed.  This will make turning the steering wheel a lot easier at low speed and on hard surfaces.

  • A small muffler can be added to the exhaust stack above the safety heat grill.  The Deuce will still be loud but the muffler helps to reduce the noise level by a little.

  • The Deuce does not have back-up lights.  There are no street lights where I live.  Installing one, or two back-up lights will help you back up in the dark.  I bought a pair at the I-80 Truck Stop in Iowa.

  • Someone posted on the internet that he added a butterfly valve brake to his M35.  This is a type of compression brake that uses pressure generated by the engine to slow the truck.  These brakes are very useful when frequent braking, or extended braking is required, e.g. when driving down mountain roads.  Your brake fluid won't overheat and your brakes are actually not at all applied and, therefore, cannot overheat either.  Butterfly valve type brakes are operated with a control lever that is separate from the brake pedal. This is not a Jake Brake.  While at least theoretically every brake manufactured by the Jacobs Company is a "Jake Brake", the true Jake Brake is not a butterfly valve brake.  In fact, it works very differently.  No real Jake Brake has been designed for the multifuel engine in the Deuce.

  • With some fabrication, the original seats can be removed and other seats installed.  Some short semi-truck seats can be fit into the limited space in the cab of a Deuce, and at least one owner replaced the standard military seats with luxurious leather seats from a Cadillac.

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UNCERTAINTY

If you are still uncertain whether or not an M35A2 may be a good choice for you, ask yourself these questions.  If you answer "yes" to any of the following questions, a Deuce may not be a good choice.

  1. Do you live in a quiet urban, or suburban neighborhood ?

  2. Is there a township ordinance, or other community rule that regulates on-street parking and the off-street appearance of your property ?

  3. Do you worry about break-in's and vandalism to your vehicles ?

  4. Do you value comfort over raw appearance ?

  5. Will the truck be your "daily driver" ?

  6. Do you mind spending as much on registration fees as you do on insurance ? (Rates vary from state to state and driver to driver.)

If you answer "no" to any of the following questions, a Deuce may not be a good choice.

  1. Are you at least somewhat mechanically inclined ?

  2. Can you perform maintenance work yourself ?

  3. Do you know how to drive a stick shift ?

  4. Are you comfortable with the idea of being in the way of other drivers and slowing traffic down ?

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WHERE TO BUY

The Deuce and a half is a popular truck with collectors of military vehicles, the forestry industry, fire departments, special police units, farmers and ranchers, and guys who enjoy driving where nobody has driven before, at least not a truck the size of a Deuce. If you want to buy your Deuce in the United States, you must be a US citizen and at least 18 years old.

Government Liquidation Sales

GL sales are advertised in advance. If possible, explore available trucks before you bid on one or more of them. Vehicles are sold "as is" without warranty. Usually, potential buyers are on their own when they want to inspect a vehicle, and will not get any help from the seller (the government).

Responsibilities:
Inspection, payment, removal and titling are your responsibilities.
Advantages:
This may be the least expensive way to get a truck - but beware of trucks that require extensive repairs and restoration. Keep in mind that there is a reason why the government wants to sell those vehicles.
Disadvantages:

While GL sales include vehicle descriptions, you don't really know what you're bidding on until you see the truck yourself.

Dealership Sales

Several companies in the U.S. specialize in sales of former military vehicles.

I live in Eastern Pennsylvania and found one such dealership in Philadelphia which lies south of my place of residence, another one north of me not far from the PA/NY state line, and yet another dealer isn't far away in Delaware. A parts-only dealer is west of me. Check the internet for resources in your area.

Responsibilities:
Payment is your responsibility. My dealer had preinspected the truck before I bought it, and then inspected it again before I came to pick it up. Some trucks are sold with a clear title, others without. In the latter case, titling is your responsibility. If you cannot pick the truck up yourself, have the dealer ship it you, or arrange for delivery yourself. This is usually done with a flatbed trailer. Of course, you would have to pay for the transport.
Advantages:
Larger selection of vehicles, opportunity to test drive the trucks you are considering, ask questions and get answers, buy accessories, have the truck customized.
Disadvantages:

You may pay a little more because the dealer has to cover his overhead. In my opinion, this isn't really a disadvantage because you get some value out of speaking to the dealer and comparing vehicles he has for sale.

Private Sales

Ebay has developed into a monster sales vehicle (pardon the pun) for all sorts of vehicles, including military vehicles. If you buy from a private seller, you owe it to yourself and your savings to check every truck you're considering thoroughly before you actually commit to buying one. Beware of sellers who ask for payment in advance "to cover their costs", or for other reasons.

Responsibilities:
Inspection, payment and removal are your responsibilities. Some private trucks are sold with a clear title.

Advantages:

You may be the lucky one who buys from a friend you trust.

Disadvantages:
There is usually only one truck for sale.

Removal

Regardless of where you buy, sellers usually request that you remove the vehicle within a certain time frame. This is not only true for government sales. Private sellers usually don't want to "warehouse" the truck you bought for long. Having the truck is a liability for them. Ideally, the seller is nearby and you have time to title, insure and register the vehicle. Often however, the seller is far away from the buyer's location. Ask before you buy if the seller is able and willing to assist you in some way. Titling can take several months !!!

It took me a long time to find an insurance company for a Deuce but I know others have had far less hassles in their pursuit of affordable but adequate insurance.

Registration with your state takes about as long as it does with any other vehicle. Some states in the US require every motor vehicle to be inspected for its safety. If you live in one of those states, you have to consider the time frame necessary to get that done, too.

Lastly, the actual removal or "recovery" as it is often called includes the physical removal of the vehicle from its sales location. This is worth mentioning because the truck may not be standing in a paved parking lot that is connected to a highway by a nice access road. Particularly if you buy from a private party, ask from where the vehicle needs to be recovered. If your truck has sunk into the mud up to its bumpers, you may need something like a crane to get it out. Also, there's the story of a farmer who had allowed a tree to grow through the space between the cab and the bed. Imagine how much fun it must have been to recover that truck.

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SUPPORT

For ongoing support with your military vehicle, I suggest you join the "Steelsoldiers" on the internet at http://www.steelsoldiers.com .

This group provides a lot of very useful information including manuals, and the forum allows you to post questions for other members to answer.  Membership is free.  Registration is required for full access.

Download, or purchase at least copies of the -10 and -20 manuals for these trucks, if not all available manuals.  There is a wealth of information in these manuals including step-by-step troubleshooting and repair instructions.

Check if there are any military vehicle collectors clubs in your area.  Chances are there are members with the same model vehicle you want to buy who are more than just willing to guide you through the process, or help with maintenance and repair issues later.  You may also enjoy the camaraderie at club meetings and outings.

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ALPHABETICAL KEY WORD LIST
A/C
Air Reservoirs
Air Power Tools
Break-Down
Braking
Bumps, Railroad Tracks ...
Built Quality
Carrying Cargo
City Traffic
Comfort
Configuration:  M35 vs M36
Configuration:  M35A2 vs M35A2c
Contractors
Country Roads
Fording and Driving
Fuel Capacity
Fuel Filters
Dimensions
Driving
Driving in Rain
Engine
Fire Departments, Contractors
Flying
Fuel Choices
Heaters
Highways
How To Pull Yourself Out Of A Mud Hole
Improvements
Instrument Cluster
Insurance
Lights
Loading Height and Load Height
M35 vs M36
M35A2 vs M35A2c
Maintenance
Mileage
Mud Hole
Myth and Reality
Off-Roading
Offering Roadside Assistance
Oil Filters
Parade Duty
Pintel Hitch
Possible Improvements
Pull Yourself Out Of A Mud Hole
Railroad Tracks ...
Rain
Registration
Running Air Power Tools
Roadside Assistance
Seats
Shift Pattern
Speed
Steering
Support
Theft Prevention, Vandalism
Terrain
Tires
Troop Seats
Turning Radius
Uncertainty
Use
Vandalism
Visibility
What To Do When You Break-Down
Weight Considerations
Where To Buy
Winch
Wind Resistance
Windshield Wipers
Winter Driving

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