The scrap metal drives of the World War II era are still a vivid memory for many people. Even elementary schools had regular collections days, and everything from coat hangers to car parts were carried to school. The shortage of metals caused the Ordnance Corps to look at other materials for transport vehicles, including the ubiquitous jeep. This jeep was fitted with a body which was made of wood from the firewall back, and it was one of several build by the Canadian American Truck Company in 1943.
“McCarty” is another of the Canadian American Truck Company wooden jeeps. This one used kiln-dried oak with had been specially treated to withstand moisture.
Unfortunately, these wood bodies weighed 420 pounds vs. 270 pounds for the standard steel body, adding another 150 pounds to the standard jeep net weight of 2,315 pounds. The only obvious differences are the hefty brackets on the rear corners, and the oversized carriage bolt heads which dot the sides.
This wooden bodied jeep was named “Firewood”, and its body tub weighed only 268 pounds. One each was build by Canadian American and by the Alma Trailer Company, and they used Plywood extensively in the cowl area to save weight, although many of the other panels were still made of solid wood. During tests, “Firewood” was driven continually for 3,346 miles over all types of terrain, running 24 hours a day. One of the major Problems was the tendency of the wood components to get waterlogged, or to crack and break.
This interior shot of “Firewood” shows that the builders did a nice job of making the wooden body look like a metal one , even to the beveled corners on the rear wheel wells. The floor, body sides and the seat frames are obviously made of wood, and the instrument panel was wooden also, with created serious problems when trying to ground the electrical components.
Another of the wood-bodied jeeps was named “Timber”. Unlike “McCarty”, it even had wooden poles for the top bows, with metal hardware. The broken top bow was probably the least of the problems for this wooden jeep, as they were generally unsatisfactory thanks to the extra weight and the unstable nature of wood. The grain on the wooden side panel is apparent, and steel edging material has been applied to reduce wear on the edges of the panel.
Several copies of the third type of body were built by the two original manufactures plus the Covered Wagon Company. They all used a mixture of metal, solid wood, and plywood, and weighed 270 pounds each. One version used metal for the front floor, cowl and instrument panel in an effort to solve the grounding problem. The others were primarily of wood, as is this example, with has broad top bows to minimize breakage problems. By mid-1943, it was decided that wood was as critical to the defense effort as metal was, and the project was dropped.
Source : ''All American wonder vol. 3'' - by Fred W. Crismon
More pictures of our Wooden Body replica coming soon.