DUKW wheels and tires

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aarondnelson

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Towanda, KS
Hello all,
I have a series of questions in regards to the DUKW wheels, their utilization in the war on other vehicle platforms and how people use them today. Let me provide a small story that I think is cool - it provides a little background to my particular story.

Back in the early 40's, my best friends grandfather was busy at Iowa State University (then Iowa State College). A talented student - he was working his way towards his mechanical engineering degree. As it went with many in his position, when war came calling, he was able to finish his studies before entering the war effort. He was placed into B-29 program as the flight engineer. The most notable incident in his time as a crewman of a B-29 was when his plane was forced to ditch in the ocean and he spent a handful of days adrift at sea - unbeknownst to him, awaiting a US ship to rescue him. At one point, an unidentified small vessel was approaching his crew, the became more and more wary of its intentions as it approached. Things became dire as the distance closed between the two, but minutes before contact was made, radial engines where heard in the distance. The dual engines, distinctive hull and long wings gave it away as 'our boys' - a PBY! It began a machine gun attack on the threatening vessel and managed to buy them time until a naval ship was able to reach them. I don't recall the fate of the vessel, which was later communicated to him to have been Japanese. The rescue of his crew was recorded and included in 'real footage' segments of at least one popular war movie (I'll have to verify which)! After his career in the military was over, he headed back to Iowa to work the family vegetable farm. The ability of surplus war machines to do massive amounts of work has a way of attracting attention from the farming community - they certainly got his attention! After the war, he purchased multiple CCKW's for harvesting and other farming operations. In order to adapt them to 'row crop' operations, he retrofitted them with DUKW wheels and the rest is history. Kennedy Farms was founded on such ingenuity and hard work and has remained thus since. They eventually graduated to the newer Vietnam era M44 deuce trucks and the M54 5-tons, and again to the M809s, M939s. They even had a few M656s, which were quite rare - but good in the field!

Kennedy Farms destroyed my ability to accept the term 'strong enough!'

This brings us to today - many years after I helped on the farm, I visited my friends dad to ask about the old DUKW wheels. We walked down into the old 'cave' - an underground storage area that was used for vegetable cold storage in the early years, but more recently used as tire storage. As we walked it down together, we found 6 DUKW wheels with original tires fitted! I am now the proud possessor of these and I am looking for a way to use them! Here come my questions:

1. In what circumstances and to what vehicle platforms where these wheels utilized within the military? CCKWs, G506s, Trailers?
2. Are there any simple improvements that can be made to 'modernize' these wheels (make them better, safer, etc?)
3. Does anyone have any of these for sale?
4. It appears that there are a few manufacturers out there, still making the 11.00x18 tires (e.g. - Coker and at least one other). Does anyone have experience with either of these? Any recommendations?
5. Does anyone have any photos (wartime or modern) of non-standard application of these within the military?

Thanks ALL!

Aaron
Towanda, KS
 

NDT

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There are some pics of CCKWs with them while still in service. I think this was a mobility experiment, they never came from GMC with singles. The wheels are not in any way unsafe. The painful part of running them is the expense of new tires. 20 years ago, you could use Goat tires as mentioned but now those are too old. To run the wheels on a CCKW, you need the wheel spacers as used on the DUKW. I have a stack of them.
 

aarondnelson

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Towanda, KS
NDT,

Could you provide a further explanation of these spacers? I'm sure I understand the concept, but do you know why they were needed when placed on the CCKW? Was it to move them out to where the outer dual would normally run? Perhaps to provide the same roll-over stability as a dual? How thick are they? Do they require different (longer) wheel studs? Sorry - questions, questions, questions. I may have an interest in the spacers if they are available. I'd like to understand them a bit first!

Thanks!

Aaron
 

NDT

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They were used on the DUKW too. Like you said, to get the track correct. They look just like the modern ones you see for sale for pickups, only bigger. I think they are 1.5" thk. They use Budd cap nuts. No hub stud change required. PM if you end up needing a set for your CCKW.
 

cckw353

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Tilton, NH
Little late with a reply to this but I hope I can contribute.

Briefly, The original DUKW design utilized 10 750 x 20's on CCKW standard rims. When they decided to add a Central Tire Inflation System they could not do that with the 750x20 so decided on the 11.00x18 using a combat style rim with bead lock. The wider tread also gave higher flotation when running at low psi. To move from rear duals to a single tire and have them track correctly with the proper brake drum/brake line clearance (for the wider single rim) they added spacers to the rear axle only. Note that my 1945 DUKW does not have spacers on the front. And since serial number 406 the ORD 9 lists spacers and only on the rear.

As for use on a CCKW. It was experimented on some 353 Cargos that wider tires would assist in traversing the Desert Sand during operations in North Africa. There are pictures on the net of those in use. It is also evident that the CCKW Bolster truck for bridging equipment/pontons/pontoons was equipped with the DUKW style rims from the factory. This was on both the 6 wheeled truck/tractor and on the single axle Bolster trailer. Higher flotation on the muddy river banks is why that was done. I have seen spacers used on the 353 rear in this instance.

There is a CCKW owner here in New Hampshire who had the Bolster setup on his Cargo. It makes the truck look "tough".

weare_2004(30).JPG

Bill
 
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