Best M37 mods for mild offroading?

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nhjohnny1

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Location
Contoocook, NH
Back story is many years ago a group of us were into offroading. I had a 52 M37 that was completely rusted out and smoked like a chimney but kept on going and going and going...until the group was caught by life and faded away. The M sat for about 15 years and during that time I managed to get a 53 M37 for cheap that I "couldnt pass up"
Fast forward to today, A friend of mine who was just a teenager when we were wheeling has had a nice M37 for a long time and recently got it going again. Knowing I was into them he started driving by the house, then would just pull in and rev the the engine, finally when he started doing donuts in my yard I agreed to drag out my junk and take a look at it.The 52 was parted out with some sadness and the 53 was chosen as the victim for our latest plan. The 53 was bastardized a bit with a C channel bumper, a 12V system and a big hole in the bed but the frame was nice.
So skipping ahead to get to the point this truck is a toy that will not be original and see the woods as well as the road so finally to my question. What are some good mods to improve off road prowess without changing to much of the original feel of the truck? im looking for small tips and tricks, not big things like new axles and so on, I dont want to go places like 318 or power steering for several reasons including money. My goal is to have a more capable truck than my buddy for friendly competing, its all about the fun! What I have so far is a locker out of the 52 (not yet installed in the 53) and thats it.

Thanks in advance for any help
 

nhjohnny1

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Location
Contoocook, NH
Looks like I forgot a few things, plans are to install a Ramsey 12.5 winch that I already have into a modified stock front bumper and heavy duty tail light housings that provide some bed corner protection, Im keeping the bumperettes because i love the look of them. The cab steps are on the list as well, my old truck was a bit hard on them, I dont know yet if I will replace them or modify them but the goal will be to create a bit more of a rock slider.
Im also thinking of cutting and rounding the bottom few inches of the front fenders to take away the snag point.
 

Gun Goober

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Claremore, Ok
I've been Jeepin' for 35 years. Had them all and been rock climbin' in all but about five states. I would suggest about 3 inches of lift and the locker (rear). If you have lock-out hubs up front, put a locker in the front to really show off. If no hubs, leave the front end open.

If you are intent on "friendly competition" be sure to install a high quality roll cage! And I mean HIGH QUALITY, too many of my friends didn't and they paid the price while in that "friendly competition".

One last thing, no matter what you do to make your truck go faster, higher, stronger, cooler, etc. Make sure you have good brakes! Then stay off them while your decending the hills.
 

vtdeucedriver

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Ohhh I see you two getting ugly before its done!! You tell your friend not to go crazy on that truck!!! He has had it a long time and he should hopefully enjoy it for what it is. Ive got to make a trip to check you guys out. :)
 

FrankUSMC

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Newport, NC
When I went to get my first M37 while in high school back in the 1970s, I went by one of the Motor T buildings at Fort Jackson, SC. I went inside and asked a really old looking soldier, how good was a M37 was. His reply was the best. he told me, " Son, were a M37 can't go, a tank can't go". I would keep it stock and just pull your friends out when they get stuck. One of the few, Frank USMC RET
 

nhjohnny1

Member
55
1
8
Location
Contoocook, NH
Thanks for the replies guys, vtdeucedriver, ya i would like to surprise him a little when we finally go out :twisted: he has a locker in the rear now but i dont think he will do anything to major to change his truck. I have been thinking about a cage but im not talking about very serious wheeling at this point, however I do know how easy it is to get carried away. the problem with a cage is how much it changes the look of the truck. I dont want to get into a lift or any other major mods because as soon as i go down that road it will never stop, what im trying to do is find as many cool cheap tricks as possible that are only minor mods but add a little something off road.

On the subject of a front locker however......I do have hubs for it but i assumed with el manuel steering it would be very tough to turn? im in if its not bad! that would totally up the anti!

Back to the cage, are there any pics of well done cages? ive seen a few roll bars but nothing nice that flows with the truck.
 

Danger Ranger

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Roland, IA
I saw a couple on M715s, but Petersens four wheel and off road magazine has featured a couple M37s that do the trails and get pretty serious. One is a vendor/sponsor I think, so look those up on their website: http://www.4wheeloffroad.com/

Post some pics of your truck(s). We want to see as much as imagine...
 

vtdeucedriver

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Do the front hubs!! I ran for a while with the stock set up and once I put them on and stopped everything from turning, it was like adding power steering. Maybe when the 2nd one is completed, maybe i will make a weekend to join you guys.
 

nhjohnny1

Member
55
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Location
Contoocook, NH
I wasnt to clear on the hub thing, I have superwinch hubs but I thought that in 4WD with a front locker it would be very tough to steer? I do know how much nicer they are with hubs out in 2WD I just wasnt sure on a front locker with no power steering.
vtdeucedriver you really should stop over some time!

danger ranger thanks for the links, im trying hard not to look to close at the modifications because its so tempting! Im actually not hating the cab/bed cage combo for some reason and the cab only cage was well done but lacked the rake of the original cab and soft top, good ideas for sure.

Heres a small trick im looking for opinions on, removing the bolts from the top of the leaf spring guides to allow for more droop. I have read some opinions both ways, yes it works or no it lets the leaves twist to much?

What about shocks? do the stock shocks allow for as much droop as the springs will do or is there more to be had? If so what shock options if any are there without new mounts?

Thanks again guys
 

jmassenga

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Location
AK
The stock M37 suspension is VERY flexible as it is; I wouldn't mess with it. My '63 is stock except for seat belts, a rear locker, lock-out hubs, 11.00R16 tires, and a 8,000# pto winch, and I am perfectly happy with the combination. Only other modification is a piece of angle iron sandwiched between the right running board and the mounts to help fend off trees. For deep water, I use the fording exhaust; haven't been in deep enough to need the intake. The simplest trick I've learned is: In mud, chain up. Yes, you can fit chains and the bigger tires without lifting the truck. They'll rub a little bit at times (I have a shiny LF shock mount and am missing some paint inside both rear fenders), but haven't caused damage. You'll be amazed where you can go. You won't get there fast, but you'll get there...
 

nhjohnny1

Member
55
1
8
Location
Contoocook, NH
I remember my 52 flexing reasonably well, just looking to see if there are any neat little tricks to make them go better. I believe the chains would work well but i figure about an 80/20 street/trail ratio so they wont be practical for me. Is the angle iron on the inside bottom of the running board? like a hidden reinforcement?

thanks for the responses
 

jmassenga

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Location
AK
That's the beauty of tire chains; you put them on when you need more traction (preferably before - much more enjoyable to chain up in a parking lot than when the truck is all muddy), take them off when you don't. It makes a noticable difference.

Yes, the angle iron is sandwiched between the running board and the brackets. I cut the vertical leg of the angle to fit just inside the bottom lip of the running board. The outside face of the running board can still get beat up, but it prevents the whole thing from getting crushed when you try to pivot on a tree or something.
 
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