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Warren D

Short Hood Diamond Reo Searchlight Truck

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Inspiration for this comes from my childhood many years ago.  Growing up in the early mid 60's, searchlights were often hired for car dealership's new model year arrivals as well as supermarket and department store openings.  My father would take the family out for a drive looking for the origin of the beam of light dancing in the sky.  I recall seeing truck mounted searchlights, usually 6 wheel trucks.  The searchlight was large, maybe 5 feet in diameter.  My research shows they were most likely ex-military.

For this build I decided on a concept rather than a specific truck as I have no recollection of specifics.  Searchlight will be from scratch and is still in planning.  I like the idea of a short nose Reo, seems to fit my memory.  I'm going with tandem rears, I like the look.  Kits involved so far are the AMT Diamond Reo for most of the build, AITM for the short hood and the Ford COE stake truck for the flatbed. 

I confess I didn't know what was involved in a short hood conversion.  Difference is almost 3/4" and it means the cab must be moved forward that amount.  It became obvious the Cummins in-line 6 from the kit was too long.  I decided to go with a Detroit 6V-92 from Gary Wallace.  I also have a GW Detroit 4-71 for the generator.  Turns out the Detroit is too long as well and the interior is now cut up to make room.  Next I'll be re-building the engine cover in the interior.  The good news is that the rough work seems to be done and now it's finess time.  Once I get the cab location finalized, I can fit the bed.  Pics show progress so far.

 

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Edited by Warren D

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I like these trucks. I built one a few years ago with an 8v-71. One thing that I have ran into on this cab and the Louisville cab is that the interior buckets narrow at the bottom which doesn’t leave much floor board when you add the dog house. I opened the doors on my Diamond Reo so widening the floor was a given, but I just widened the bucket floor on the Louisville. You should be able to make that 6v fit real nice. You may also consider turning the compressor around and running it off of a belt like in the 359 kit and running the alternator off of the front of the engine which will give you more room. I pretty sure the remaining item on the accessory drive is the power steering pump which can be ran off of the front or done away with. I think there is an oil fill back there too that you can remove. Also I would recommend against using the AMT hood hinges if you want your hood to open properly.

Edited by DRIPTROIT 71

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Warren what a cool idea. I grew up in Levittown NY ( on Long Island) and my parents would pile us into our 1959 Impala to “chase the spotlight” from time to time as well. Fun times back then in the late 1960’s through the mid 1970’s. Will be watching your progress.

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11 hours ago, DRIPTROIT 71 said:

I like these trucks. I built one a few years ago with an 8v-71. One thing that I have ran into on this cab and the Louisville cab is that the interior buckets narrow at the bottom which doesn’t leave much floor board when you add the dog house. I opened the doors on my Diamond Reo so widening the floor was a given, but I just widened the bucket floor on the Louisville. You should be able to make that 6v fit real nice. You may also consider turning the compressor around and running it off of a belt like in the 359 kit and running the alternator off of the front of the engine which will give you more room. I pretty sure the remaining item on the accessory drive is the power steering pump which can be ran off of the front or done away with. I think there is an oil fill back there too that you can remove. Also I would recommend against using the AMT hood hinges if you want your hood to open properly.

Thanks for the suggestions, I'm past that point.  It's more of a challenge than I thought, I've done at least 6 AITM cabs/conversions and this is by far the toughest!

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9 hours ago, Warren D said:

Thanks for the suggestions, I'm past that point.  It's more of a challenge than I thought, I've done at least 6 AITM cabs/conversions and this is by far the toughest!

Looking forward to what you come up with! I’m sure that it will be great!

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Progress, I have a rolling chassis, just needs some accessories.  Cab mounts are fit, might need a little tweaking at the end.  Detroit is home, took a bit of finess to get it in there.  The only big thing left on the cab is the installation of the short fenders behind the hood.  This may prove more difficult than moving the cab forward!  Once that is done, hood and cab can go to paint.

Bed has been shortened about an inch to get the right look, will be headed off to paint soon.  Then the searchlight fab begins....

 

Chassis.jpg

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Waiting to see how this turns out, I started to do a short nose on one i'm building, but changed my mind. Looks like ur's will be finished next week!

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A little progress, color is on the cab and hood, details on the hood are done.  I'm stalled on the cab for a bit, decided to do door signs.  Just spent 2 hours in Photoshop getting the artwork done and of course the printer decides it wants attention before printing on decal paper.  That done, decals are printed and will have to dry for a day before the seal coatings gets applied.  Then another day to dry and by mid-week I should be able to get them on the cab.  Wish I had thought of this last week......

Then it's on to clear coat over the decals and interior install before mounting the cab.  Cab lights, mirrors, door handles, air cleaner, lube filter, stack and then I can start fitting the flatbed.  Have parts for the searchlight coming from down under so I may have to park this one for a bit.

Maybe I should go back to out of box builds, that way I wouldn't need to pause projects waiting for parts?  Eh, been there done that, this is more fun.

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Basic cab is complete, not sure what happened to the right fender, seems like it twisted a bit after paint.  Didn't notice until the bumper went on.  Working on the bed and the engine/generator then on to the light.  Waiting on parts from Oz.

 

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Your project is awesome! I love that you have created a vision and are working through all the mods to make it happen. For your searchlight, I suggest rummaging through you household recycle bin, The bottom of a soda can can be a parabolic reflector and a vitamin bottle could make the sleeve. Good luck!

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2 hours ago, Bills72sj said:

Your project is awesome! I love that you have created a vision and are working through all the mods to make it happen. For your searchlight, I suggest rummaging through you household recycle bin, The bottom of a soda can can be a parabolic reflector and a vitamin bottle could make the sleeve. Good luck!

One step ahead of you, already had some parts ideas before I started!

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Making progress on the generator, Detroit 4-71 from Gary Wallace via Jamie.  Genset from scratch along with the frame.  I have the radiator, air cleaner and exhaust.  Radiator gets mounted next.

 

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More work on the generator housing.  Radiator has a slight front tilt (to help keep the rain out).  Waiting on parts to continue....

 

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Unique and well planned subject. I remember seeing these light rigs at an area theatre in the 1940's when  a major film was being shown for the first time. Those spot lights were a real crowd attraction in those pre-TV and internet days when the only way to advertise was in newspapers. The lights made a really loud humming sound when they were on at night. I'll be watching this build to see it completed.

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