Willys JeepsWhen visitors tour the Armed Forces History Museum, they are consistently amazed when they learn all the military vehicles (tanks, halftracks, jeeps, etc.) have been fully restored in-house AND are in operational condition.  This means the vehicles at the AFHM don’t just get an exterior refurbishing in order to be on display.  The intricate parts of each vehicle are painstakingly taken apart, inspected, cleaned and overhauled (if necessary) so the vehicle is safe and its interior (motor included) matches its exterior.

 

Maintaining operational status is vital for the museum as many of the vehicles are moved to make room for large rentals and events hosted by the museum.  But what is even more amazing is the majority of this work is accomplished by one staff member – Doug Yerby.

 

Operational Military Vehicles are always a show stopper.  They have a conquer anything-in-their-way kind of attitude.   Some restoration projects can be daunting and overwhelming for even the most avid restorer, but for Doug, the bigger the challenge, the better he likes it.  His pride is evident in each and every restoration project he has undertaken at the museum.

 

Doug started with the museum prior to its opening in 2008.  He has been an integral part in what can best be described as an exceptional museum of high caliber.  He’ll be the first to tell someone the vehicle they are looking M16 halftrack WSat did not always look that way.  Doug has spent countless hours researching and then restoring each of the many vehicles at the museum all the way down to the fine details such as stenciling, lending an overall, ready-for-the-battlefield feel to those housed at the museum.   He knows each project is going to demand knowledge, skills and most of all, patience.

 

Doug’s experience with military vehicles began when he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.  Doug was trained in the Corps as a mechanic and now brings those skills, along with many others, to the museum.  Sometimes, Doug’s work requires a little ingenuity as standard parts and tools are not part of his trade.  He often finds himself bending and reconfiguring standard tools to fit various parts and spaces.  His contributions to the museum are truly priceless.

 

Restoration of the WWII M8 Reconnaissance Vehicle

Restoration of this WWII M8 Greyhound 6 x 6 light armored reconnaissance vehicle was definitely a lengthy process.  What resulted, however, was an incredible display piece which also serves a second purpose.  Today, guests can take a ride on this incredible piece of history.  It is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure only available at the Armed Forces History Museum and it does not disappoint.  Below are some photos taken throughout various stages of the restoration process of the AFHMs WWII M8 Greyhound.

 

WWII Reconnaissance Vehicle being restored

The first part of any vehicle to be worked on at the AFHM is the suspension and brakes.  This ensures the vehicle is safe to drive.  The system is checked for leaks and all the seals are also checked.  On this particular vehicle, the brakes had to be redone.  A number of parts were cleaned and rebuilt and the gear oil was replaced in the M8’s three drive axles.

 

 

 

Engine on the WWII M8

 

This photo shows the engine on the WWII M8 Reconnaissance vehicle.  On this particular one, the transmission was rebuilt and the clutch was replaced.  This type of work, along with the suspension and brake work, is always done prior to any outside body restoration.

 

 

 

M8 Turret

 

The turret on the M8 was totally frozen and would not turn, so it was removed in order to get to the bearings.  All the bearings had to be replaced and were actually found at a local bearing company.

 

 

 

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Old bearing is on the left and the new bearing purchased to replace it is on the right.

 

 

 

 

 

37mm anti-tank gun

 

Condition of the 37mm anti-tank gun prior to being removed from the turret and dismantled.

 

 

 

 

restoring the body of a military vehicle

 

Body restoration has now begun.   The fenders, which were quite beat up, required quite a bit of work in order to restore them.  It is not unusual to find the fenders missing off this vehicles for that very reason.

 

 

 

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The body on the M8 was sandblasted inside and out.  In this photo, the M8 is primed and is now ready to be painted.

 

 

 

 

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Painting of this WWII M8 Reconnaissance Vehicle begins.

 

 

 

 

 

Rear lights on a WWII M8

 

Photo shows some stencil work on the rear end of the M8 after it is painted and assembled.  The housing on the rear lights had to fabricated in house.

 

 

 

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Photo of the turret after being restored and painted.

 

 

 

 

37mm anti-tank gun refurbished parts

 

Refurbished parts of the 37mm anti-tank gun prior to reassembly.

 

 

 

 

37mm anti tank gun

 

 

The 37mm anti-tank gun is now assembled and ready for installation.

 

 

 

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First, the turret is hoisted into place using an authentic military crane vehicle.

 

 

 

 

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With the turret in place, it is now time for the 37mm anti-tank gun to be lowered into the turret.

 

 

 

 

 

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Above, the 37mm anti-tank gun is being carefully guided into the M8’s turret.

 
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Photo on the left shows last minute adjustments to ensure the gun fits properly into place.  Photo on the right shows the gun from inside the turret after installation is completed.

 

 

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Doug takes the finished M8 out for its first test drive.  On the right, the fully-refurbished WWII M8 Reconnaissance Vehicle is shown with stencils and accessories and is now ready to take visitors on an authentic military ride.

 

Restoring military vehicles takes time, patience and dollars.  Despite the challenges, the end result more than warrants the investment of each.