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'65 Dodge WM300 Power Wagon Passenger Accommodations

The driver's side passenger compartment. Not done up quite like the new ones, eh? Some complain about the lack of a good sound system, thus revealing their ignorance. A standard feature in this truck is life like surround sound; clattering floor boards and levers, roaring engine, whining gearboxes, and a host of other noises of unknown origin. Long as they don't change, I don't care.

No, the pretty blue transmission isn't original, nor is it correct. Neither was the one it replaced. Got tired of holding the other one in second all the time. Also got tired of searching for parts for it, and got especially tired of the prices when I found them.

The correct transmission for a WM300 Power Wagon is a New Process 420. Just to keep things interesting, however, the one that you see the top of is also called a 420. One distinguishing feature (aside from the mounting bolt pattern, minor detail) is the proper 420 has a removable shift lever ball like the 435's, where as this one has only a removable shift lever. Another difference is this one has no synchros into first or second, where the later 420 has a synchro for second.

I've got the proper 420 now, two of them in fact, but this one is working Ok, despite producing a little more noise than is ideal. Also, there is the matter of the plugged and redrilled and tapped bell housing, so...

'65 Dodge WM300 Power Wagon passenger compartment, left side.
       '65 Dodge Power Wagon passenger compartment,
       providing a view of the luxurious appointments.
The speedometer goes to 80 mph. Bullshit. The sticker on the glove compartment says 52 max. Optimistic at best. A good cruising speed is about 35. 40 is Ok if you've really got to do it but, while the guy behind me may disagree, I never feel like I've got to do it.

A glance at the military Power Wagon's throttle location will tell you something about the riding position of the driver. I seriously doubt these trucks ever had even the passing attention of an ergonomist (did I coin a term there?).

Fortunately, the clutch has the spring from hell on it, so you simply place one foot on the throttle, the other on the clutch, and lean back, maintaining a slight curvature to the spine. This posture is necessary to facilitate the absorbtion of shocks because, oh yes, there are indeed going to be some of those. You rest your foot on the clutch without fear of wearing out the throwout bearing because your leg doesn't weigh anywhere near enough to bring it in contact with the fingers against that spring.

The slot on the left of the transmission cowl is for the PTO lever. The PTO sent a gear tooth through the previous transmission, stripping the second gear retaining ring groove from the output shaft, resulting in the need to hold it in that gear. I haven't gotten it back on to take a try at this transmission.

'65 Dodge WM300 Power Wagon passenger compartment, closer.
       A little closer look at the generous array of stock features in the
       '65 Dodge Power Wagon, many of which must be operated
       simultaneously to keep the damn thing running when it's cold.

Ah yes. This is where the lucky Power Wagon passenger gets to sit. Forgive the rotten exposure, but I sacrificed the peripheral details to get some contrast on the floor. Should have got closer. The background is a near whiteout. Reducing the pixel count of the image got the snow out of the foreground, surprisingly. Well, I guess not completely, but anyhow.

The white thing that looks like it could be hanging out of the ruptured belly of the glove box is a rag doing just that. Yes, that's another rag wrapped around the transfer case levers. Failing to muffle the noise they would otherwise make might very likely result in some kind of hearing loss in the upper frequency range. A bungee cord would be a more elegant solution, but the rag works pretty good and you can use it for wiping stuff. A handy option in a military Power Wagon. Let's see you do that with a bungee.

Here on the West shore of Michigan's lower peninsula, you don't drive anything you love in the winter, particularly if it's difficult (or expensive) to find body parts for. Hence, every spring brings with it the task of getting the ol' Power Wagon back out on the road.

For yuks, I like to invite some uninitiated passenger for the inaugural spring ride. You get it up to cruising speed, then crank the windshield open to clear all the pine needles and dead bugs out. When the person in the right seat has gotten their eyes to stop running, you pop the cowl vent all the way open. Creates a miniature but intimidating cyclone of dust and crap sucked from the floor and blown from under the dash. It's a necessary and, when done correctly, entertaining spring ritual.

'65 Dodge WM300 Power Wagon interior, passenger side.
       A look at the sumptuous accommodations afforded
       the lucky vintage Dodge Power Wagon passenger.

Last updated 04-30-04

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