1945 REO 50V

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By Eddy Lucast - 3 Years Ago
This a mighty old REO being reborn. It's name is Willie Make It ll, because it's headed to a show this summer, restored.

the project begins, will he make it?

The front axle's being rebuilt.
More to come
By Jeff Lakaszcyck - 3 Years Ago

Ken's latest project is a 1945 Reo 50V, a 12 ton 6x6 wrecker built for the U.S. Navy. Only 200 were built, and we only know of three survivors. Ken's is the only one that runs and operates. The goal is to have it ready for the MVPA show in York PA in August.

This is what it looked like prior to starting on Saturday




By Monday it looked like this.


By Hamish - 3 Years Ago
Is that a Waukesha gas engine, Jeff?
By Hamish - 3 Years Ago
I just googled Reo 50V and there is a clip of it on fb-I see it has a Waukesha gas engine.
By Jeff Lakaszcyck - 3 Years Ago
It's a 145GK Wauk Hamish.
By Hamish - 3 Years Ago
Thanks Jeff.
By Bruce Ohnstad - 3 Years Ago

How does this Reo 50V compare with the big Sterling crane/wrecker (presumably with the same Waukesha?) for their intended work application?  Also, how would these two models compare with the big wreckers Federal 606/ White 666?  In terms of intended work application?  They were all front axle drive, heavy wrecker boom/crane.  I'm assuming different engine sizes and axle capacities, but were some more crane than boom wrecker?


By Jeff Lakaszcyck - 3 Years Ago
Bruce, you ask an interesting question. Most of the information we have on these trucks is pieced together from several sources. The Reo 50V and the Sterling DDS235 Navy wreckers were essentially built to the same specifications. Both share the same Waukesha 145GK engine and the same transmission, transfer case, drive train, and Gar Wood US6 T26 wrecker boom. The cab and sheet metal, and the Sterling wood lined frame were the main differences. Reo literature refers to the 50V as a "10 Ton Naval Aircraft Salvage Truck", but the boom was rated at 10,000 lbs (same as the Federal C2) and the data plate stated the truck was a "12 ton 6x6 Wrecker Truck". There is no doubt the chassis is much heavier than the 7-1/2 ton Federal. The Reo chassis rails are heavily fish plated from the factory and the truck seems much more massive. The top of the engine valve cover is about 7 feet off the floor. A Reo factory image of the 50V next to a 7-1/2 ton Reo 29XS (same chassis at the Federal C2) shows the 50V to be substantially taller.

Both the Army Air Force Federal C2 and Navy Reo and Sterling had the same purpose, to recover damaged aircraft. The Air Force trucks were equipped with a 5th wheel and an underslung winch on the rear, while the Navy trucks were just a bare chassis behind the boom tower. The only drivetrain components shared by these trucks was the Timken T-77 transfer case. The Federal used the Hercules HXD engine.  

There was never a wrecker built on the White 666/Corbitt 50SD6 chassis although some civilian operators added them after the war.


By Jeff Lakaszcyck - 3 Years Ago
Ken's 50V project is moving right along with the engine, transmission and rear differentials removed from the chassis and the front hubs rebuilt by the "Hubmaster" John Gott. To facilitate cleaning and painting the frame Ken has built a rotisserie to turn the chassis to whatever angle he needs it at. Here are some photos, courtesy of Warren Richardson.






By jhancock - 3 Years Ago
Always nice to have some extra pieces from an Erector Set to build the rotisserie!
By Eddy Lucast - 3 Years Ago
why was the rotisserie moved inside? I'll bet you a beer it doesn't get scrubbed on the new concrete floor since Ken covered it up to keep it clean.
Fix the springs first?
By Wolfcreek_Steve - 3 Years Ago
What, no more laying on your back to sandblast the underside of the frame? Can't a man have any fun?
By Jeff Lakaszcyck - 2 Years Ago
I wasn't there, but some little birds have told me there was quite a bit of work done on the Reo 50V project this past week. Since the last report the frame has been sandblasted and primered. One of the worst issues on this truck was that it had a severely broken rear spring. This is one of those times that you wish an old truck could talk, because there must be a great story about how the hell this happened. No one knows. So where do you find a replacement spring for a seventy year old Reo wrecker ? Well, you don't. Ken found an old spring shop in New Hampshire that could make two new rear springs to a engineering drawing that Warren Richardson made up. This week John Gott and Warren disassembled the new springs, painted the leaves (using KBS products, I'm told), and re-assembled them. Then Ken and the crew installed them on the chassis. One other issue with the truck was that the Timken-Wisconsin T-77 transfer case was shot. Fortunately nearly every big WW2 6x6 used this transfer case, so they are not hard to come by. The chassis from the Biederman parts truck was rolled into the shop and the transfer case was removed. Disassembly revealed it is in fine condition, some new seals and it will be good to go. 

Sandblasted frame

Primered frame


Broken Rear Spring


Warren's spring drawing 

New rear springs disassembled and painted


Rear springs assembled


Biederman parts chassis

Timken-Wisconsin T-77 transfer case


Nice and clean inside

By Tony Bullard - 2 Years Ago
Thanks for the update Jeff. It's coming along nicely.

"One of the worst issues on this truck was that it had a severely broken rear spring. This is one of those times that you wish an old truck could talk, because there must be a great story about how the hell this happened."

I believe this happened quietly over many years of sitting dormant. Usually salt which has an affinity for water will form a layer of rust between the spring leaves. As more water is attracted to the salt the rust will "grow" in  thickness and eventually bend the spring beyond it's yield point breaking  the spring.

A common thing here in the north.