We’re in Monteagle, Tennessee at the Sam Werner Military Museum taking a look at a large collection of military vehicles and artifacts. This is part one of a two show visit.
Also, we’ll answer a question from a viewer about Japanese Military helmets as collectables.
Then Bob shows off the latest addition to his collection, a 1942 Dodge WC-57 Command Car.
Welcome to Military Collectors this week.
We’re in Monteagle Tennessee.
We’re going to be taking a look at a large collection of military vehicles and artifacts from the Sam Werner collection.
It’s the Sam Werner Military Museum right in the great state of Tennessee.
We’ve got so much stuff to show you, well we’re going to probably have to do it in a two-part series but this one I know you’re not going to want to miss on Military Collectors.
On this week’s Military Collectors, we are in the midst of over 70 year collection and we’re gonna feature and show you exactly what 70 years of collecting military surplus actually looks like.
It’s almost all but gone now but this very site that we’re on housed hundreds of thousands of military vehicles parts.
You name it, from World War I, World War II on up even in the present day and I’m going to show you this week exactly what collecting is all about and joining me is the Chairman of the Board of the Sam Werner Military Museum Foundation and that’s Parker Lowdes.
Parker, thank you so much for sharing this story about Sam “Bud” Werner, because I will just, you know, people don’t actually believe this exists but it does.
[Parker Lowdes] Well, welcome to, to his old home place here and where he started his collection many years ago.
We are very proud to have you all here and excited to show you what he did over many years and we’re trying to go forward with and his desire to continue to honor all of our veterans and being a teaching establishment for our youth.
[Bob] Well, you know Parker, let’s, let’s talk about, let’s take this back about 70 years when when Sam was a young, it was in his 20s, okay, Tracy City, Tennessee is known for its logging and basically that’s, that’s how it came to be here, just, well, right now a current day off I-24 for a few minutes.
But, but tell us…picture and take us back a little bit about what Bud was doing back during those early years.
[Parker] Well, when the family originally moved here they were in the logging business and they logged all over the top of this mountain.
In fact, on this site, there are still some beautiful old steam engines part of the old sawmill that was here and they set up and worked a lot of community in this local area doing log working throughout these mountains.
[Bob] Well, then let’s take it forward, okay, so, part of the whole deal here is logging needs trucks so then how did all this this get here then.
[Parker] As we walk around this facility, you’ll see that some of the old pieces that came out, some of the old white trucks that we know of years gone by being Liberty trucks are still here.
They’re still some chain-driven trucks here we have one in the museum that we’re …
trying to preserve and carry forward.
And then on up through the sand and coal business they continue to buy like Deuce and a half to be working vehicles here.
Today you’ll still see a lot of old Deuce and a half bringing sand rock and stone out for new houses that are being built in local area.
[Bob] Well, you know, now Sam is a young 20-something, of course, buying all of this stuff.
What would he just go around at different sites, military bases, and buy up the surplus and then bring it here.
[Parker] He did, we would, I grew up knowing him as a young man and he would bring back vehicles here and on the weekends when I would come up we would be unloading truck after truck of things that he would store this very field very similar to what you see stacked up behind us here.
And he collected things for many years and what he collected then was like what we’d be collecting today but over the last 50 or 60 years you just can’t find that stuff anymore.
And so we have a lot of interesting things and we’re still digging out of this this very site.
[Bob] Well, now Sam’s passing, he passed in 2010.
[Bob] Okay, and so from that and his home site here, you guys are kind of repatriating some of this, going to the museum, you’re putting it in there.
What do you do with the rest of the collection?
Are you going to liquidate, continue to liquidate some of it to help run the museum?
[Parker] Yes, what we want to do is, we’re going through, right now, in between what we have and then as we move forward, any things that we have that are, you know, duplicates that we can then maybe swap with other interesting pieces to help the museum and/or, you know, sell to help, you know, the museum go and survive over many years to come.
[Bob] Well, I have one final thing because I can’t wait to get to the museum.
And folks listen, when you go along with us, we’re gonna take a look at some of these trailers and stuff with thousands of items of things that Sam collected and, you know, again, I know he he was a veteran as well but he was a very eccentric guy and, you know, those kind of folks just kind of blend into the community and, and, and that’s what they do.
[Parker] Yes, so right, well, let’s go look and see what we can show you on the museum side of the world.
[Bob] Let’s do it.
[Parker] Thank you.
[Announcer] If you have missed any past episodes of Military Collectors be sure to go online at militarycollectorstv.com and you can see, not only past episodes, but also read in-depth features on the people and their passion of their military collections.
Welcome back to Military Collectors.
We started where all of the collection began in Tracy City, Tennessee at Sam “Bud” Werner’s.
We’ll actually, his home place, which is still there.
We couldn’t do justice to what was left but now we’re back here and joining me again as Parker Lowdes.
He is the chairman of the board of the Werner Military Museum Foundation.
And, you know, Parker, I’ve got to ask you, okay, we’ve come from Sam’s lot….
…what’s left of it and there’s still a lot of stuff over there, okay, now to this beautiful place that Sam wanted you all to establish as a foundation.
Tell me about how you started this.
[Parker] All right, well, when Sam passed away he had asked several of us to be on a board of directors for him to start a military museum with his name but to honor all veterans and to be a teaching establishment for our younger generations.
And we were lucky enough to find this facility which was almost move-in ready and we were able to move in here about two years ago and start doing a soft opening into this museum.
We currently have almost 70 vehicles in this facility now and are bringing more in every week because we’re collecting and moving them over from the old site we were just that there and Tracy City.
What, you know, I think one of the things is so unique is, is, is Sam, just, he was a hoarder.
[Parker] Oh yes.
[Bob] Okay, and and the other thing that I really find unique about Sam, as a lot of the collectors are, of course, Sam was not married, he had no family.
This was his family, this was his life.
[Bob] And so, of course, they started with logging and, and doing all that and then he ended up here with with all this military.
Now did Sam serve in the military?
[Parker] He did he actually, served during Korea and was a dentist, believe it or not, or worked in the dentist profession in the military and came out and then ended up with all these Jeeps and trucks and tanks that you see in this facility today.
[Bob] Well, I have to ask you, of all of the things that Sam really collected and he liked, what was the most unique?
[Parker] There are so many things that are here, personally, I think that these four vehicles that we have here, with the ultra lights for the 1943 glider program, these four are very unique.
That’s what makes this museum different than any other museums that I’ve been in to.
[Bob] Well, Let’s kind of walk and talk for just a little bit.
Tell me about this Chevrolet here.
[Parker] All right, well, first off, the military wanted something to go in the gliders that is a little bit lighter.
So they asked for a set of vehicles to be under 1,300 pounds and air-cooled four-wheel-drive.
Chevrolet made two of these.
It has an Indian motorcycle engine in it.
Which is very unique in itself.
It has a transverse Leafs suspension in the front.
There’s some really interesting technology that that you can see that the military and the different companies came up with.
I can show you a little bit more on different vehicle we have over here.
Kaiser came up with this version and there were two different versions of this but this one had a continental aircraft engine in it.
There were six of these that were originally delivered to Aberdeen for testing.
Crosley made this version and there were 36 originally and they had to Waukesha engine in it and see that a little bit difference.
And then the last one, in the, in the series here was a Willis.
Willis made six of these.
There’s only one would still know in existence and it’s got a Harley-Davidson engine in it.
[Bob] So, in the early part of the war, they were really after something that would fit inside of a glider.
[Parker] That’s right.
[Bob] That was air transportable but yet then could get around on the ground.
[Parker] That is correct.
[Bob] Did any of these actually see service?
These these, never made it in the service and I have some pictures that we have in one of our displays over here from Camp Forest during the 1943 maneuvers where they actually had the full-size jeeps inside the gliders and they went on in with that series you know of course when we jumped over into Europe.
Do you think Sam is watching you guys now?
Do you think he’s proud of what you guys have established?
[Parker] Well, I think he’s very proud of everything.
There’s been a lot of hard work.
We have a lot of volunteers who were his friends for many years, of course, he called his family, both all of his friends, like several of us that are on the board and friends who do this but then he also had a bunch of dogs that he called family.
If you knew Bud, he had how up to 20 plus dogs at any given time, so, but yes, I think he’s very proud of all the things that we’ve done and are still doing.
We’ve got many years still to go bringing all this stuff back to life.
[Bob] Well, you’ve certainly got a great collection here and it’s just one of those things that I appreciate you sharing with Military Collectors this week.
And so, if folks would like to come visit, okay, you guys after eight years of establishing this place you now started to open it to the public.
[Parker] Right, we opened in May of last year with a soft opening and we are currently opening on Fridays and Saturdays also by appointment.
We have a website which is WernerMilitaryMuseum.com and we have a Facebook page.
So you can find us and contact us.
You can watch us as we do different activities and share those on both of those sites.
[Bob] Well, folks listen, we’re Military Collectors comes back, we’re going to be talking about some other very unique things that Sam collected in all of those containers in that place where we started the show today, where Sam began his collection over 60 to 70 years.
[Bob] Well, our letter this week comes from Bill in Bangor Maine and Bill writes, “Bob, I’m trying to get into collecting Japanese World War II collectibles.
What are some of the more unique helmets that I might be able to get into and what might they be worth?” Well, Bill, I appreciate you writing into our email notes this week.
I’ve got an expert here that I think can answer your question.
Matt Fox from Quarter-ton Military Parts down at Chickamauga Georgia.
He is also a Japanese helmet collector.
Ok Matt, I got ask ya.
[Bob] Bill wants to get in to collect the these, ok, what are kind of the differences here in what you find?
[Matt] Well, your standard Japanese helmet, just a lightweight helmet looks about like this, you don’t have a star in the front.
(Okay) That they’re very, very common.
They’ve gotten expensive since all the movies have come out.
(Right) But if you’re really wanting to get into something, that’s a little bit more interesting, not your norm.
You can get into like, like this is a naval marine.
Japanese naval marine.
These are very collectible.
These are the northern Japanese and since they were taller than your normal Japanese they consider them, more I guess, you could say, scary or more intimidating because they were larger.
I mean, they were large, ya know, and so, they made them Marines and it’ll have, of course, the anchor on the front and the later style will have a painted anchor.
Now, if you really wanted to get into some really weird Japanese helmets.
This one here for instance, this is a Japanese machine-gunners helmet.
These are extremely rare and what they did is they went one step from, one step further from a German helmet that had the brow plate and they actually integrated the brow plate in the front of the helmet.
This was actually found in a bunker in China by Chinese digger.
These were very unwieldy they were so heavy on the front that they would, you know, the, the movement of the gun would cause the helmet to follow with the eyes of the guy shooting it.
So, they weren’t real popular.
So, there was very few of them made this.
One was probably thrown down and a normal helmet picked up.
But if you really want to get into weird Japanese helmets, this is a good, this is a good find.
[Bob] Well, let’s tell Bill, this one’s worth what?
[Matt] It’s probably worth, it’s missing the liner, yet it’s about 500.
[Bob] Okay, this one as it’s rare?
[Matt] This one?
I wouldn’t even know where to start.
I’ve never seen one before.
This is the only one I’ve ever seen.
I would say ballpark I mean, 2 – 300 bucks.
I don’t know.
I really don’t know where to even start.
[Bob] Well, most of the time when these things, when you start collecting them, you’ll get lucky and find it (oh, yeah, yeah.) But when somebody knows exactly what they got, you’re probably looking, in two to three thousand dollars for something like that.
(Wow, yeah.) So there you have it.
Well Matt, thanks so much for your knowledge, okay, and Bill, I hope that’s answered your question.
[Announcer] If you would like to have your military restoration project or collectible featured on the show, just send an email with your photos to photos at militarycollectorstv.com
Well, welcome back to Monteagle Tennessee here at the Sam Werner Military Museum.
Now Parker, one of the things that Bud did, he’d like to find one of anything.
(That’s correct.) Okay now, this particular 51 Jeep by Ford, tell me the story about this because it’s very unique and Sam had the market cornered.
[Parker] Right, so this is actually a prototype.
This is an XM-408.
It was built by Ford and they built four of these in 1958 and delivered them to the military.
It is a six wheel drive.
Of course, we see today, a lot of times, people have tried to make an adaptation out of some of the old 51s and into a six wheel drive, but this is one of the original four.
Bud had two of these in roughly the shape sitting on wheels and then a third one that was in very rough shape as far as just kind of the body and frame.
We know where the other one is up on full, full tires like this one is sitting.
This one is not restored.
He did have a coat of paint put on it just to kind of keep the rust down over the years but we do plan on restoring this as we move forward but we have a non-static display now people for people to enjoy it.
[Bob] Let me ask you this question and you may not even be able to touch it.
How did he get all of these together?
Well, the same place?
Different places, you think?
[Parker] Bud was very instrumental in going and finding the oddball things.
As you saw the ultralights earlier in the show, he was able to track those out those were a very limited.
Bud liked the unique things, he liked the ones and two type of vehicles.
The odd things that you just didn’t see.
I mean, you can go to a lot of museums and see jeeps and trucks and we all have, just like we have in here.
But these are the odd things that you don’t get to see every day.
[Bob] Wow, well, you know Bud, I know, was special to you all.
You as even a youngster when he was alive and you got to travel around and this museum, this, this tribute to his life and his collection has got to be something special that I know that you and your other board members and even on into perpetuity will continue to carry on the legacy of Bud Werner.
[Parker] Yes, we’re very happy with all the hard work it’s been a lot of sweat equity into it and we are trying to make sure this goes on for many generations to come.
[Bob] I want to show you a vehicle that’s in my collection, that during season two, you saw the front end of this vehicle. I had just acquired it but I was up trying to get some of the restoration work done and the drivetrain has now been complete.
Everything else has done to this vehicle and I want to show you just a little bit about my 1942 Dodge WC-57 command car.
Now, let me frame the Command Car for a lot of you folks who may not understand what this vehicle is and what it was.
There were a little over 6,000 of these WC 57s and they’re the ones with the winch.
They were made during World War 2 and if you remember the movie Patton, George C Scott when he went in North Africa to his first assignment he rode in one of these.
Patton had just had a fetish for the command car.
The command car kind of fell out of grace merely because the enemy used to ID it because they knew that there were high-level ranking officers or high-level staff in those vehicles and they’d bomb them first.
So anyway, I was lucky to acquire this vehicle several years ago.
It’s one of my World War II vehicles in my collection other than my WC 54.
But, I still, we’ll do a little walk-around now, okay?
I know it ain’t Jay Leno’s Garage but we’re back here at Bob Redferns motor pool.
So, let’s take a look at my Command Car.
Now, this particular vehicle here was all disassembled and taken apart and I want to show you a little bit about the engine.
It is a T2 14 Dodge Flathead 6.
This this engine is a brand new engine in this vehicle.
Everything on it and or about it was redone.
I had new wiring harness put in complete.
The steering gearbox has all been redone, radiator, you name it, it has all been redone in here.
Now, for a lot of you purists out there, you would think that the original transmission that these came with should go back in them but if you want to drive them, and many of you folks who are military collectors out there, know what a synchronized transmission is and what is not.
So, what I had was, I took the transmission out of an M37, which is a truck made by Dodge in 1952 and up through 1969, I took the power transfer case and the transmission that was synchronized and had hit retrofitted into this vehicle.
So, when you drive it, you’re not grinding gears and doing all those kinds of things, so.
Those are just a couple of things.
All of the drivetrain was redone, all of the bearings, all of the seals, everything that had something that, that moved had been replaced on this.
Well folks, the drivetrain on this 57 is an absolute mint condition now and it ought to be, ok.
Folks that want to get into collecting these vehicles, World War II stuff, probably is one of your better bets as for as investment is concerned.
There are folks that argue with me about that but the amount of collectible vehicles out there from World War II, the eye that needle is getting smaller.
I did put, the canvas has been installed on these the canvas doors.
Driving it in the winter is a big deal and so I’ve retrofitted it with new reproduction canvas doors.
Now you’ll see that the bodywork is not complete on this I didn’t do it back to what I would call pristine concours condition there are some dents and stuff and and that’s okay.
It shows that that’s this is a motor pool ready parade ready collectible vehicle but because of its rarity, and they estimate there’s probably less than 150 to 200 of these left on the road, by talking to some of the experts, the WC 57 Dodge Command Car, again, is one of the most collectible of the World War II vehicles.
There are a lot of others and a lot of the folks would argue with me, not just because I have one, but I will tell you that this particular vehicle they just didn’t have that many made and there’s not that many left.
Well, I’d like to thank each and everybody again up at the San Werner Military Museum in Monteagle, Tennessee.
Military Collectors is so honored, it’s a privilege to be around such great Americans who are preserving history.
If you want to know more about the Sam Werner Military Museum log on to Militarycollectorstv.com and you can go up there, pay them a visit.
I know they’d enjoy it.
Well, until next week, we’ll see you right here on another episode of Military Collectors.