As an organization we are very lucky to have an extensive workshop to take care of our ever-increasing fine collection of transportation artifacts. We not only take care of the daily needs of the static items on display, but we also currently maintain a significant group of vehicles that run, drive and head out into the public at various events, car shows and public engagements. This is no easy task for a non-profit and we rely heavily on the help of many skilled volunteers and their experience to do the ‘heavy lifting’ at the center. The volunteers bring a skill set that is as broad as it is deep. We have multiple engineers from all fields, skilled trades of all types, architects, dentists, machinists, machinery builders, painters, etc. These fine people are the engine that continues to drive the machine at the center and enable us to continue to push forward with new and exciting additions to our collection. With a collection surpassing 175 transportation items in addition to the aircraft and motorcycles this is no easy task as far as upkeep and repair.
One of our items that needed major restoration and preservation work was our White Motors M2 Half Track from WWII. White Motors from Cleveland, Ohio started as a sewing machine company and eventually spread into an automotive company with their introduction of a steam powered automobile and heavy trucks for industry. As all major manufactures during this time period, war time production took precedence and White Motors built vehicles for the war effort churning out thousands of vehicles including various versions of half-tracks. The first thing we needed to do was asses the situation and formulate a plan to tackle the repairs. The situation was dire in some respects as we are always battling time and the availability of parts. The longer an item goes before having work performed, the harder, longer and more costly it is to locate the requisite parts. With this piece of history approaching its 80th birthday, time was not on our side.
Our inspection of the vehicle indicated quite a few areas that needed addressed initially. We had no operational power brakes and the unit had been bypassed for some reason in the past. All the grease fittings, bearings, spindles and rotating assemblies had grease that had hardened to the consistency of a solid resin. The drivetrain including the engine, transmission / transfer case and radiator was leaking profusely and required immediate attention. None of the gauges worked, the wiring was a disaster and was completely frayed, corroded or even nonexistent. To add to those problems, various incorrect modifications were done to the armor and frame of the vehicle making it miss the mark of being a true example of a White manufactured war time M2 track. This vehicle was going to need some help, but luckily, we are equipped with an extensively equipped facility and an extremely enthusiastic crew.