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Thread: Nice M170 on a January Day

  1. #1
    Super Moderator LarrBeard's Avatar
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    Nice M170 on a January Day

    I attended a Veterans Staff Day for one of our Indiana Senators at the Fort Wayne Veterans Memorial and I happened upon a good example of an M170 Front Line Ambulance variant of the M38A1. From where it was parked, the type of license plate and the fact that the key was in the ignition, I suspect that it belonged to someone in attendance at the event, but I had already left the building and I did not go back to do any investigation.

    It has probably been restored – you can note that the hood paint job does not quite match the body – but it is in very good condition. It has a new canvas top and a good set of door frames. It is a nice example of an uncommon variant of the M38A1.

    Notes about photos:

    Driver side interior: From this angle you can see the bracket to support the handles of a stretcher (litter) – probably the most obvious visual clue that this is an M170. This also gives an excellent view of the quick-disconnect connector on the turn signal switch housing and the manual wiper handles for driver and passenger side. The spare tire is located at the passenger arm rest position.

    Passenger side dash: A good overview of the dash details. In particular, note the three switch cluster directly behind the steering wheel. The key is in the ignition and the odometer only shows 00280 miles – probably a replacement speedometer.

    Canvas Cover – rear: The big Red Cross clearly denotes it as an ambulance, but I had not previously noted the holes for the handles of the litters. The holes have a leather patch sewn around them for reinforcement. Also note the clear flexible plastic windows. Details like this are why good canvas costs as much as it does.

    Tailgate Detail: The tailgate also has clearance holes for a second litter. The tailgate has been “kissed” at some time, but it has good paint over the kissed area – the reason I suspect this is a good restoration. Later I learned that normally the tailgate would have the lower half of the red cross painted on it to match the canvas upper half....
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    Last edited by LarrBeard; 01-21-2022 at 08:06 PM.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator bmorgil's Avatar
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    Nice shape for sure Larry. I hope it doesn't snow on it!

  3. #3
    Super Moderator gmwillys's Avatar
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    That is a great example of a M170. You don't see many around due to the parts and accessories availability. With the body and frame stretch, you can find where people have made family cruisers out of them with two rows of rear seats.

    The three lever light switch is still used today on some military vehicles, and are fairly simple to use. The new electronic push button light switches are not as user friendly because each action relies on multiple button pushes per desired function. The juggling effort is intended to keep from inadvertently turning on the headlights in a blackout condition during a battle, and giving away your position on the battlefield. The turn signal switch is from a newer set up, (M151A2 MUTT, M35 duece and a half, etc) but it looks like it belongs.

  4. #4
    That is pretty awesome! I'm not familiar with this model, so have a few questions:
    1. Which lights do the three lever light switch control and why are they located where they are instead of perhaps an easier to reach location?
    2. Why is the turn signal switch removable?

    Thanks!

  5. #5
    Super Moderator LarrBeard's Avatar
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    Switchology

    A. Here is probably more than you really wanted to know about the light switch... And who knows why it went in that spot - some ergonomic human factors guy decided that would be a good place .. maybe?

    B. As part of the restoration, it looks like the original lever type ignition switch was replaced with a key switch.

    C. The M38/M38A1/M170 were built to be easy to maintain, at least as a design goal. Just about every electrical connection is a connector of some sort; a "quick disconnect". It would be easier to pull off a deflective turn signal switch and install a new one than to try to fix a defective one either on the vehicle or under a tree in the rain.

    D. If GMWillys says the turn signal switch is a newer replacement - it is - he knows this stuff.
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    Last edited by LarrBeard; 01-21-2022 at 08:08 PM.

  6. #6
    Super Moderator gmwillys's Avatar
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    The light switch was put there by design. In a combat, blackout situation, you don't want the lights inadvertently turned on, giving away your position to the enemy. Even today, the light switch is typically installed to where it is difficult to accidentally hit a lever. Then as a fail safe, the third lever is a lockout lever that has to be depressed before the lights can be switched on.
    Last edited by gmwillys; 01-21-2022 at 08:30 PM.

  7. #7
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    When you have never seen a light switch arrangement like that it can be a challenge to figure what has to happen to turn the lights on. Of the retired military trucks we use in the fire department, I think only one, an M35 we converted into a brush truck has those switches. None of the guys could figure out how to turn on the lights because nothing was labeled. The M1008’s we use as brush trucks are like hopping into any other Chevy except for 24 volts to start (everything else is 12 volt).
    Jeff
    '51 CJ3A
    '47 CJ2A

  8. #8
    Pretty cool stuff. Never seen that before so it is interesting to learn. Thanks, guys!

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