Hello and welcome back to another post from Libertytruck.org! Today we are addressing a long overdue review of an important subject- types of Liberty Trucks! While there are many variations and civilian adaptations after the war (which we will follow up on in the future), you may have noticed in certain photos that there are some small differences between trucks: handle bar size, lighting systems, and wheels to name a few. That’s why right now we are going to address the most obvious differences between the first and second series of class-B Standardized military truck or ‘Liberty Truck’.
The first production Liberties to roll off the assembly line in January and February of 1918 were of course, the first series. These had many of the features of the prototypes tested in late 1917. The 1917 liberty truck and first prototypes are easily identified in photos by their single-bolt bumper beams. This was later changed to 4-bolts per side for production models and remained the standard for both types of truck. The rest of the features of the prototype would become hallmarks of the first series truck:
-Electric lighting system; a 6V battery located beneath the driver-side seat powering the head, tail, and side lamps, as well as a dash-mounted plug-in ‘trouble light’.
-Screw-top removable radiator cap
-Small style cab side handles
-Angled leaf spring oil cups
-10 Front leaf springs and 17 in the rear
Wooden spoke single 36×5 front and wooden spoke 40×6 dual rear wheels were also very commonly encountered on first series trucks, but are not exclusive to either series. Some first series trucks have left the factory with steel and some with wood. Steel cast wheels became the standard over time and are more commonly encountered on the second series however. I hesitate to make them clear features of one or the other, but felt it necessary to mention at the very least.
Introduced very late in the war, the second-series of trucks were given a host of new design features and parts and omitted several features of the first. Photo evidence and records suggest none of these trucks managed to make it overseas to Europe. They would become some of the more commonly encountered trucks that survive today despite being the lesser-produced of the two series. The second series was the final iteration of production Liberty Trucks and are easily identified by oil head lamps, a dash-mounted search light and steel wheels. The most distinguishing features of this truck were:
-Oil Lamp lighting for head and tail lamps (battery electrical system was omitted from under the seat as well as dash ‘trouble light’ and front bumper-mounted side lamps)
-Carbide Gas searchlight mounted on center dash and gas generator to power it (mounted on left front of cab/firewall)
-Manual fuel transfer pump to help transfer fuel between main and reserve fuel tanks on the right-hand side of the cab.
-Cab side handles enlarged
-Lower profile spring-clasp non-removable Radiator cap
-Shortened front wheel fenders
-Improved starting crank catch bracket
-Bosch Magneto used in place of previous models (Eisemann, Berling and Dixie types used initially)
-Vertical leaf spring oil cups
-Leaf spring improvement: 12 in the front, 20 in the rear
-‘Spicer’ model propeller shaft
These are not the only differences between the First and Second series Liberty Trucks, but they are some of the most noticeable and obvious when searching photos and researching the truck itself. Naturally many trucks were outfitted from existing stock which meant you would frequently get a truck in use by the Army or post-war organization with a mix of first and second series parts. A mixture of wheels is one of the most commonly encountered.