History of Wooden Body

Commercial Vehicle Truck Van Lorry

Based heavily on the description of the late 1800s horse-drawn escort waggons previously made, the truck's freight bed or 'body' as it is sometimes linked to in source records, there were two variations: wood and steel.

The first and most common type used and accepted by the government design board for the Quartermaster Corps in 1917 was the wooden body. It was used during the war on most Type 1 Liberty Trucks manufactured and constructed at the Deering Plant of the International Harvester Company in Chicago, IL. The wooden cargo body was created by Philadelphia, PA, and Kundtz & Co. of Cleveland, OH.

There were two large removable panels on the floor of the wooden cargo bed that allowed maintenance access to the drive train and rear drive transfer case, preventing the removal of the bed entirely from the frame in case work needed to be done. The own restoration team discovered that all the wood used in the cargo body was tongue and groove, which made for a much better fit and a longer lasting body, after some in-depth examination and analysis of many surviving wooden cargo bed examples.

This enabled many originals for much longer to keep warping to a minimum. This small yet important detail is often lacking from other restored vehicles, as most rotted-out originals are reconstructed, often with new materials and modified new specs.

Tom Bailey of Firebrand LLC in Woodstock, GA, has worked hard to assemble and complete a freight body with new wood and original hardware to build their own truck body. The Type 2 Liberty truck now has a wooden cargo body using parts that have been recycled or partly replicated from two partially surviving cargo bodies to ensure the most completely significant truck available.

Tom has taken considerable pain to ensure that the wood used is the correct form recommended by the War Department, as well as being tongue-and-groove boards that interlock allowing less than several restorations made with regular 2x4s treated to avoid warping of the cargo bed. The wood used on our type 2 in the truck is mainly poplar with white oak interspersed as outlined by the War Department in 1917 for structural purposes.

This is one of the most accurately re-built cargo bodies yet achieved on a surviving Liberty Vehicle, to the best of our knowledge. The body was mounted to the frame as of April 2018 along with the seat box, taking the truck one step closer to completion and eventually looking more like a truck!