Gamma Goat

Military vehicles other than M-151s that might be of interest to our members

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Mr. Recovery
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Gamma Goat

Post by Mr. Recovery » August 3rd, 2020, 11:36 am

I am in for a good walk around, back in 1974 I drove 1/2 way and was co driver the other 1/2 from Albuquerque NM back to Ft. Carson Colorado coming off a 30 day war game out in the Nevada Desert around Bullhead City and Boulder City area, was not a fun road march! :shock: :roll:
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1960 M151 Run 1
1963 M151 Willys DoD 10-63 in Baltimore
1989 Alley Cat. "work in Progress"
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m3a1
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Re: Beverly Hillbillies

Post by m3a1 » August 3rd, 2020, 12:41 pm

Ok. We'll do it, then. There will be a small delay as I am busily wrapping up a few things that were left undone in my efforts to get our of here last week. It has been a whole week! Sheesh!

No doubt, sooner or later, I will embarrass myself because as I said, the learning curve is going to be steep on this critter. I sure hope some of you who have had direct experiences with the Goat will add your comments and stories to make this a more fully formed article. You may also have reason to contradict me on a few things. So, fire away!

Last night I cam across a publication that was worth sharing. Go here -

https://www.gao.gov/assets/120/114979.pdf

Cheers,
TJ
"This is my Gama Goat. There are many like it, but this one is mine."

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m3a1
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Re: Beverly Hillbillies

Post by m3a1 » August 3rd, 2020, 1:48 pm

Here we have another very informative Gama Goat link. Scroll down to page 3 to find hotlinks that allow you to fast-forward through the document. The last section is particularly informative and it explains a great deal about the program to refit 'manufacturing defects' which, as it turns out, were original design driveline deficiencies discovered, quantified, and a workable solution designed and implemented by the manufacturer. Over 4000 of the originally produced units had to be refitted.

https://books.google.com/books?id=vCqbx ... &q&f=false

Cheers,
TJ
"This is my Gama Goat. There are many like it, but this one is mine."

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m3a1
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Re: Beverly Hillbillies

Post by m3a1 » August 4th, 2020, 11:17 pm

Well, fellas, here is a rough draft of an article I've put together on the Gama Goat. Some corrections are in order, to be sure but rather than sit on this for a week, I'll post it here. If you have additional information or corrections, or criticisms (be gentle with me) feel free to share.

Cheers,
TJ
"This is my Gama Goat. There are many like it, but this one is mine."

M561 Gama Goat
A Difficult Birth


The Gama Goat is an offshoot of the U.S. Army’s Mobility Improvement Program, established 1961. In order to gain a better understanding of what the driving forces were for military planning at that time, go here - https://www.jcs.mil/Portals/36/Document ... y_V008.pdf

The Army’s requirements for what was to become the M561 Gama Goat included the following:

-It will be used as a prime mover for direct support artillery.

-It must have a 90% probability of completing in a military environment, 10,000 miles with organizational maintenance only, and 20,000 miles without the need to evacuate the vehicle beyond the direct support maintenance echelon. During the first 10,000 miles of operation, the unscheduled maintenance hours should not exceed the scheduled maintenance hours. (Despite the fact that there was never a formal change in these requirements there was publicly acknowledged recognition that the requirement was unattainable, too stringent and not attainable by the Gama Goat, or any other series of vehicles tested by Testing and Evaluation Command (TECOM).

-It is essential that it must possess an inherent swimming ability in inland waters under all load conditions.

-It shall be capable of accepting kits to mount the current standard of flexible 7.62 millimeter and .50 caliber machine guns, the Vehicle Rapid Fire System, the anti-tank guided missile, the current standard heavy recoilless rifle, and the Davy Crockett XM28 and XM29 system.

-It should be in the hands of troops as soon as possible.

The new truck was to replace the M37 3/4-ton weapons carrier. In its ambulance configuration the Gama Goat would be known at the M792. Thus, it was expected to replace the M170 1/4-ton front-line ambulance (which was basically a M38A1 1/4 ton truck adapted to ambulance use) and the M42 3/4-ton ambulance (which had been in inventory since World War II). Early on, it was estimated that each new unit would cost approximately $5,000 (without engine); a very hopeful figure based upon the initial design. By June 30, 1971, it was estimated each vehicle would cost $15,400 to produce.

At this point it is important to note that the developer of the design, Ling-Temco-Vought (LTV) was not going to be the company that actually produced the vehicle and when necessary changes with the original design started to come to light, this circumstance would have some interesting results, not the least of which was the vastly increased production costs.

On June 10, 1968, the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Installations and Logistics) approved the award of the contract to CONDEC (Consolidated Diesel and Electric), and on the following day a contract was executed in the amount of $132 million, calling for the production of 15,274 vehicles. Of this total number of vehicles 1,758 were being procured by the Army for the Marine Corps. The contract provided that the vehicles would be delivered between October 1969 and May 1972.

It is also important to note that the Gama Goat’s complex and unique design was a huge departure from what would be considered ‘normal’ for any kind of truck. Further, the process for developing the design took place during the early period of the vehicle’s manufacture. Tests of the vehicle during this period did not always look promising. Early shortcomings became the stuff of legend and apparently very little effort was made to resolve the matter of the Gama Goat’s damaged reputation; a reputation that unfortunately follows it to this day. All these things, coupled with the expectations that the Gama Goat could perform a multitude of tasks (and do all of them well) set the stage for the Gama Goat being a much maligned, misunderstood and under-appreciated vehicle. Thus, the Gama Goat began its life with some very tall mountains to climb.

It would be fair to compare the Gama Goat to a Swiss Army Knife. The Swiss Army Knife has an excellent reputation for performing the tasks it is called upon to do rather well….as long as you are using only one tool at a time. But the Gama Goat would be best compared to a Swiss Army Knife that was being used with all the tools out and all working at the same time…difficult, at best. Expectations that were being placed upon the performance abilities of the Gama Goat were extremely (and perhaps unreasonably) high, in light of all the things it was expected to do.

Testing of the first two preproduction items manufactured by CONDEC in August 1969 demonstrated that the vehicles were satisfactory except in the areas of maintenance reliability and durability, where serious problems existed. These test vehicles were manufactured to the standards of the drawings provided by the Army.

In April 1970, CONDEC delivered 11 units to be used for validation testing. All 11 units were rejected by the testing command for what were stated as “quality control defects” (but were approved for further practical testing at Aberdeen.) Three months later CONDEC delivered those same 11 vehicles again (reportedly still with “quality control deficiencies.”) Ultimately, TECOM concluded that the vehicle, as it was being manufactured at the time, was not suitable for conditional release. Quality control deficiencies is a common declaration during early testing of any vehicle for use with the military. The military takes great pains to ensure that its vehicles are going to be the best they can be.

However, one of the problems which TECOM encountered related to the Gama Goat’s unsatisfactory swimming capability. On June 10, 1970 the Project Manager asked CONDEC to look into this problem. On August 13, CONDEC replied that, based on their investigation, the condition complained of “does not exist in the field.” (Exactly what this condition was has not come to light at the time of this article but the author suspects it was something related to the sealing of the tailgate.) This assurance may have satisfied the Project Manager, but it did nothing to keep the Gama Goat afloat. In field tests the Gama Goat continued to sink.

Despite the obvious deficiencies in the vehicle, CONDEC production lines continued to turn out thousands of Gama Goats. The first 4,400 went directly to Army warehouses and there they remained awaiting a redesign solution and retrofit. One can only assume this was largely a matter of timing. Manufacturing would continue at the same time efforts to resolve the Army’s design deficiencies were being worked out. Included in those 4,400 vehicles were the 1,758 vehicles assigned to the Marine Corps. (Interestingly, these particular vehicles would remain there well after many other units were built, delivered and sent into the field. Not surprisingly, redesigned parts, retrofit kits and spare parts were being prioritized for those units to whom the M561 had already been assigned. The original 4400 units would go to the end of the line and remain in storage for quite some time.)

How did the the requirements of the Marine Corps differ from that of the Army? Like the Army, they wanted to find a replacement for their aging M37 and their 2 1/2 ton trucks. Chiefly, an inherent swimming ability was not required and in fact, it was stated that a swimming ability might actually prove to be a handicap when disembarking vehicles in heavy surf. Additionally, their truck need only have a 3500 pound tow capability, and a maximum speed of 45 miles per hour as opposed to the Army’s desire that it be capable of 55 miles per hour.

Also of interest was that the Marines had based their original order upon their understanding that cost per unit would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $5000 which would not be unreasonable considering that it was a figure that was representative only of the early designs. As previously mentioned, with the number of design deficiencies mounting and additional changes to the design, the final cost grew to over three times that of the original cost. Not surprisingly, the Marine’s initial stated need of about 3,300 units was reduced to 1,758. The Marine Corps would be forced to look for a less expensive vehicle. Since the money was already spent, the Marines would take an initial delivery of 66 Gama Goats for training and in preparation for their introduction of the remaining M561s to their inventory.

Additional cost per unit was greatly limited by the Government’s contract with CONDEC, but only under certain circumstances. The fact was, the Army’s early design for a vehicle that was supposed to float was, in a manner of speaking, full of holes. The additional expense was not in any way the fault of Consolidated Diesel and Electric as they had no hand in the initial design and were being asked only to produce what was on paper. In the end, we will find that CONDEC will become the hero of this story.

On December 14, 1971, TECOM informed the Project Manager that the Gama Goat would not be suitable for release without restriction unless 19 deficiencies, and as many of the 27 shortcomings as feasible, had been corrected.

Here, it is important to remind the reader that this unique design was a huge departure from everything that had come before. Misunderstandings would abound. By way of example, consider that this vehicle was designed to float. A “shortcoming” might be illustrated by one complaint that the vehicle was difficult to enter and exit, particularly by a soldier wearing full kit and then, especially so with the canvas roof installed; a shortcoming that might be rectified by the addition of an opening, or a door to the crew compartment or simply lowering the side wall of the vehicle’s forward compartment. Clearly, having a door or even a cutout on a boat, particularly a boat with very little freeboard, that weighs almost 7500 pounds (or more if it is carrying a full payload) is clearly an exceptionally bad idea. So, it’s very necessary design parameters and the expectations of its soon-to-be users would begin, and continue to be, at cross purposes throughout its time in military service.

On December 19, 1971, a decision was reached for worldwide release of the Gama Goat. Time marches on and the needs of the military did not wane. In fact, their needs were growing. Ready or not, units were delivered to Army depots preparatory to deployment to Europe. Reports from those depots indicated a continuing problem with quality control and design deficiencies.

In a statement given to the House subcommittee, Maj. General Vincent H. Ellis, Deputy for Materiel Acquisition, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations and Logistics gave the following statement -

“I am pleased to have this opportunity to appear before this subcommittee to present a summary of the M561 Gama Goat program. In its assigned role, the Gama Goat will perform better than any other vehicle known in the world today. It is an articulated high mobility vehicle designed to operate over extremely difficult terrain. In order to achieve this level of performance, it has been necessary to incorporate design features not found in wheeled military vehicles. Consequently, the Gama Goat is not a conventional truck. Some complexity has been necessary to achieve the exceptional mobility. Due to this complexity in design, the M561 program has experienced some setbacks and problems. These have largely been overcome and we consider the M561 to be an extremely effective item of equipment.

We are reasonably satisfied with the Gama Goat program from its inception to release of the vehicle to the troops. The kinds of problems we encountered are those which are usually experienced in a program which seeks something new and better. The important thing is that personnel associated with the program have taken positive action to solve problems promptly as they were identified. The Army feels that management at all levels has been effective and that, all in all, the Gama Goat program has been a successful one.

The Gama Goat is an outgrowth of a recommendation contained in the CONARC (Continental Army Command) study entitled MOVER (Motor Vehicle Requirements, Army In The Field). The qualitative material requirement (QMR) was approved in May 1961. The Gama Goat will be issued to active Army units which habitually operate forward of the brigade rear boundary; that is, units in actual contact with the enemy, where mobility pays off the most.

The Gama Goat system consists of two body styles, the M561 cargo truck and the M792 ambulance. They are both articulated, two body vehicles, powered by a 3-cylinder diesel engine. Some of the military characteristics which we sought in this vehicle are: improved cross-country mobility and better fuel economy compared to other wheeled vehicles in this weight class, a capability of towing trailer up to 50 percent (of its) gross vehicle weight, sustained highway speed of 50 m.p.h., air transportability, a capability of aerial delivery, and an inherent swimming capability….”

Production numbers were eventually revised to 12,516 Army, 1758 Marine trucks and one truck for Italy or a total of 14,275. it should be noted that the Gama Goat is a case where the producer (CONDEC) is a firm other than the developer, Ling-Temco-Vought (LTV). It is also a first production of a unique vehicle which has never before been produced by American industry….

Next I want to address reliability. Reliability is the one area that was of major concern and is a direct indication of vehicle dependability and maintenance man-hours that will be expanded to keep trucks operation. Reliability is a measure of the degree of effectiveness of all the design improvements and emphasis on quality control that I have just covered.

There have been several ways of measuring or depicting reliability. For example, it can be stated in terms of mean miles between failure or, as was the case with the M561, stated in terms of maintenance. This was a suitable means in the past because it was descriptive to the designer. Reliability requirements state that way had one drawback: it was difficult to quantify test results.

There have been several ways of measuring or depicting reliability. For example it can be stated in terms of mean miles between failure or, as was the case with the M561, stated in terms of maintenance. This was a suitable means in the past because it was descriptive to the designer. Reliability requirements stated that way had one drawback: it was difficult to quantify test results of compare performance of one vehicle with another…

Summing it up, we find the reliability of the Gama Goat acceptable as it is now being produced.

The M561 represents a significant advance in wheeled vehicle mobility. the M561 vehicle meets the essential requirements stated in military characteristics documents….As a high mobility vehicle, the Gama Goat will require more maintenance than the conventional wheeled vehicles which it replaces but less than the tracked vehicles it accompanies…”

List of complaints from a variety of units receiving Gama Goats:

Improper wheel bearing adjustments.
High failure of alternators
Faulty U-joints
Transfer case breaking at drain plug hole
Faulty master cylinder push rod and connecting hardware (equipment improvement report T874-1204-04)
Driver compartment too small. A fully equipped soldier can only enter and depart the vehicle with great difficulty.
Body design does not allow quick and easy maintenance of troubleshooting. Engine, transmission and transfer leaks cannot be easily detected as they are enclosed in a watertight body; the only openings available are those for draining (3” holes).
Light fiberglass battery covers and consoles are impractical in a tactical vehicle. The “No Step” lettering does not prevent a solder from using the fragile cover as a step.
Hood assemblies crack. (early models had an aluminum hood. Later models were equipped with a stamped, one-piece steel hood.
Lack of a spare tire requires the lock out kit (truss) to be used when a flat occurs (The Gama Goat carried no spare as a weight saving measure but was expected to truss up a center axle and remove a good tire to replace a flat.) This requires approximately 70 minutes if a flat occurs on other than the center wheels.
In operation the communications with the rear compartment are not effective (due to engine noise). The emergency signal light on the cab dash (a signal from the rear compartment to stop) is practically useless in bright sunlight.
The vehicle commander in the right front cannot hear the radio due to (engine) noise. Frequencies cannot be changed without stopping (in order to communicate with) another soldier riding in the rear compartment to make the change. A remote is required.
Preservative in fuel tank is dissolving and clogging fuel filters.
Console must be removed to check transmission. Access doors recommended.
Brake line rubs against fitting under carrier.
Tire valve stem does not make a tight seal after movement resulting in loss of pressure.
Authorized jacks have not yet been received (contract and production problems)
Body access plugs cannot be screwed in fully without threads grabbing and seizing up.
Water can strap hooks are breaking. Material is not heavy enough.
Fuel leaks from bend located in the line over tailpipe at left rear corner of engine compartment.
Windshields received with acid pitting from the factory.
Driving difficult, drifts off road on turns and difficult to control on tank trails (The Gama Goat steering was unique in that it was not generally self-centering and required the driver to make steering inputs to bring the vehicle’s steering back to center. Only 15% of drivers interviewed had received any formal training.)
Engine starter failures.
Engine failures from overheating.
Transmission failures.
Transfer assembly failures.
Differential failures.
Driveshaft failures (tearing holes in the hull as a result).
Heater location and heaters not operating properly.
Fuel and tank lines contained debris from the factory.
Fiberglass components tend to crack.
Thin wall aluminum body easily punctured.
Light tailgate construction promotes dents and warpage (tailgate is part of watertight integrity).
Windshield wiper failure.
A variety of electrical issues.
Poor access provided to critical repair points and points for routine maintenance.
Jack, jack handle, life preservers, and fire extinguishers were not included in BILI (basic item list issue).
Repair parts support extremely slow.
The loud noise caused by the proximity of the engine to the driver’s compartment causes extreme difficulty in voice communication.
With canvas top installed communication between front and rear compartments limited to warning light on dashboard.
When making sharp turns, water and mud are thrown into the cab compartment and against (the interior of the) windshield by the front and center wheels.
When canvas is installed, rear view mirrors, to be effective, protrude outside the vehicle dimensions subject them to damage by trees, bushes or other vehicles.
Bilge pump will not remove all water in driver compartment and no other other method of draining is provided.
Canvas must be fully installed or completely removed; no provision for rolling up the sides.
Driver compartment difficult to enter.
When used as a prime mover for light howitzers it is more difficult to maneuver than the 3/4 ton truck.
There is no place to mount twin antennas such as are required for fire-direction trucks with more than one radio.
Difficulty in starting in temperatures below 20 degrees Fahrenheit (leading to burned out starters).
Difficult for operator to see the right rear of the vehicle while backing up.
Noise and vibration level is too high for sustained operations (requiring hearing protection).
Tailgate is not strong enough (a damaged tailgate would not seal properly allowing water to enter the rear compartment).
No area provided for storage, creating a problem with both security and proper maintenance of (certain regularly carried) items.
Winterization kit defroster directs hot air against the windshield causing the glass to crack.
Thumbscrews, too heavily tightened, cause the windshield to crack.
The ride in the cargo compartment is extremely rough.
Cargo and personnel cannot be safely carried in the rear compartment at the same time.
Limited ability to exit the vehicle in the event of a rollover.

Thus, we can see that many of the complaints were made simply without full appreciation for the limitations placed upon the Gama Goat’s design in order for it to successfully fulfill its many missions. Of course it is hard to get in and out of the forward crew compartment of a Gama Goat and comparatively, far easier to get in and out of a M151. But M151s are designed to sink. Gama Goats are designed to float.

To be entirely fair to all the parties involved, new designs are often plagued with issues at every level. This is normal but, when coupled with a general misunderstanding of the vehicle as a whole or failure to appreciate what the vehicle was being called upon to do by the designer (i.e. the many roles and purposes for which the vehicle is designed) it would be easy and wholly unfair to regard what what was finally approved for production as a failure at the outset.

In a statement given to the House subcommittee, Jerome I. Davis, President, Consolidate Diesel Electric Co. gave a statement which I will edit for the purpose of brevity.

“I am a licensed professional engineer, and hold two degrees in engineering. I have been with this company for twenty-one years, nearly all my professional life. Most of the principal officers and managers of Consolidated Diesel hold initial or advanced degrees in engineering, and most have extensive experience in motor vehicle, particularly truck, production. As a group we are professionals who take pride in our ability to build advanced land and water vehicle systems.

With that background, let me turn to the company’s role in producing the Gama Goat.

Our association with the project began in 1968, after the Army had completed several years of research and design for a new amphibious land vehicle designed to operate on rough terrain. Specification and drawings for the vehicle, based on test programs, were submitted by the Army to a number of vehicle manufacturers late in 1967 in a formally advertised procurement. Manufacturers who had demonstrated acceptable technical capability were invited to submit sealed bids for a fixed-price three-year contract to produce 15,274 of the vehicles according to the Army’s drawings and specification. Six bids were submitted. Consolidated Diesel’s, at slightly over $132,000,000, was $21,000,000 less than that of the next lowest bidder…

In spite of the fact that the Gama Goat had never been produced before, there have been very few changes in the design. By terms of the contract, it was up to Consolidated Diesel to take the drawings it received from the Army and correct drawing errors at its own expense. The company, in fact, has corrected over 1,300 such errors to date, at no additional cost to the Government…

Now, what is the Army buying? The Gama Goat is a vehicle of novel design. It was designed by the Army to be a wheeled vehicle which could maintain highway speeds of 55 miles per hour and yet cover rough terrain which only tracked vehicles had previously attempted. This was to be a truck which could operate at the front lines, carrying heavy loads of supplies over roughest ground, and providing an ambulance which could go where only stretcher bearers had been able to go previously. Moreover, it had to be easily air-dropped and to be able to swim rivers where there were no bridges.

To perform this way, the Army designed a machine with features never before seen in a land vehicle. The M561 has six-wheel drive, and steers with four of its six independently suspended wheels. The vehicle is two articulated hulls, rather than one straight body. It can transmit power to the rear section of the vehicle as well as the front while it turns or climbs. This means that the power train must withstand unusual stresses, with the drive shafts exposed to severe cramp angles resulting from the pitch and twist of rough terrain. Its bodies are of aluminum and extremely light, yet it can carry ten fully equipped troops, including the driver. Besides a payload of 2900 pounds, it can tow 9000 pounds more. The two sections have the floatation design of boat hulls, permitting the vehicle to cross deep streams propelled by its wheels… Suffice to say that this is a truck with performance capabilities not approached by any other truck ever built…

The Government’s specifications were derived from a few prototypes built earlier by another contractor for research and development. When production for the Gama Goat was ordered, it was recognized by all concerned that these drawings probably were not completely appropriate for production and might have to be corrected in the manufacturing process. Similarly, not all aspects of the vehicle were completely described in the specifications, requiring definition as production proceeded. Such refinements are common in the first production run of any piece of complex equipment, whither it be a new aircraft or a family automobile. They are particularly to be expected when a vehicle represents a major breakthrough in the state of the engineering art and has no close fore-runners. Although a land vehicle, the Gama Goat in many respects, is as revolutionary a departure as a new generation of aircraft…

Since this was a completely new vehicle, the Army planned a testing and evaluation program to continue with the production state. It was recognized that the Government might want to direct changes in the contract design in light of that test experience. For instance, an initial group of eleven vehicles was selected. These were minutely examined by Government inspectors from the Defense Contract Administration Services (DCAS) to see that they conformed with the contract design. The inspectors gave them full approval, and the vehicles were shipped for field testing to the U.S. Army Test And Evaluation Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. The Army’s Test and Evaluation staff recommended numerous minor changes which were not included in the original specifications. We at Consolidated Diesel agree to incorporate these changes in the production process, in most instances at no cost to the Government.

The only substantial problems in the tests of production Gama Goats resulted from an inadequacy in the design - that of the center and front differentials and the drive shafts. As specified in the contract drawings, these components would not perform at the the level the Army desired. The drive train did not have the endurance to withstand the stresses of severe field testing for the 20,000 mile test program. The problem had been noted by the Army in testing research prototypes built by the design contractor, from which the Army drew it’s specifications; however, these had been assumed to be special random problems of those vehicles, and not inherent in the design.

While this problem was being studied by the Army, Consolidated Diesel, on its own, at no cost to the Government, set out to find a way to improve the design… The tests showed that the drive train was in fact subject to stresses greater than those it had been designed to bear. Then, using new metallurgical techniques, Consolidated Diesel found a way to strengthen the drive train without reducing the capabilities of the vehicle. We selected new stress resistant materials for the differential gears. We designed an experimental device to regulate the torque reaching the differential. We redesigned the drive shafts. We then showed the Army these changes, which our tests indicated would solve the problem and make the Gama Goat work.

These changes were successful…

During the period, these changes were being developed, the Army desired that production be slowed until the design improvements were completed. The drive train improvements were put into production after 4,400 vehicles had been produced. The Army has decided to incorporate the improved drive trains developed by Consolidated Diesel in those 4,400 through a retrofit program. This program is being carried out entirely by the Army…

Let me close with a word about production quality control. As you know, the Government did not ask Consolidated Diesel to build a vehicle able to perform certain tasks. Instead, its contract called for a piece of hardware which conformed to the Army’s drawings. As I told you before, Consolidated Diesel, of course, wants the product to do the job, and we have helped in every way we can. We think it is a good product…”

By late 1975 three major complaints about the Gama Goat were still circulating; they being the noise level generated by the Gama Goat’s motor. This issue certainly had merit since the engine’s noise level was found to be high enough ,about 95 Decibels, to cause damage to the occupant’s hearing and efforts to protect the user’s hearing hampered their ability to hear commands and instructions and also contributed to the severity of mechanical failures not heard in their early stages. (The level of 85-90 decibels is usually considered harmful to humans.)

The second long-standing complaint was with ease of entry/exit and the likelihood that occupants would become trapped within the vehicle “in the event of ambush or rollover.” Rollovers were then a hot topic with the military owing largely to the issues that plagued the M151 series of tactical truck. And it was not so much that the M561 had a propensity for rolling over but that the crew members in the forward compartment were essentially seated in a tub from which there was no ready exit out either side, nor was there a roll bar present to keep the vehicle from laying flat on its back in the event it became inverted.

A third, lesser complaint, revolved around the limitations of the vehicle while swimming. Every vehicle has some limitations to its performance envelope. Thus, the complaint was less about a specific criticism of the Gama Goat and more about where the agreed upon limitations were to be placed to achieve some standard of safe operation. So few drivers had experience swimming the Gama Goat (only 40 out of 439 interviewees) that the merits of the complaint were difficult to judge and it would be revealed later that only 15% of drivers had received any formal training.

Other, more minor complaints persisted. One was likely just fallout from the early problems associated with the weaknesses in the drive-line. Complaints of mud being slung into the crew compartment, uncomfortable cab, poor handling, lack of sufficient freeboard, difficulty of maintenance and a host of other complaints much as had been leveled against the Gama Goat since day one. In short, complaints large and small were now being put into a single report.

The Comptroller General proposed that the M561 be “tested under simulated combat conditions to determine its ability to perform its mission.” That officer further recommended, “this evaluation should be monitored by an independent Department of Defense organization…and should address the question of whether the vehicle should be retained and a product improvement program undertaken or whether it should be replaced.“

The Assistant Secretary of Defense, Installations and Logistics did not agree, stating, “sufficient date exists from extensive testing and field usage to support the decision that the vehicle be retained and improved” citing three years of field usage, “Sufficient data exists upon which a decision may be based. These data indicate that it is prudent to retain the vehicle. While the GAMA GOAT fills the essential needs of the Army, past test and usage date point out that some improvements are warranted. These product improvements must, however, be cost effective or be required for compliance with mandatory regulations, health, and safety reasons, etc. The current product improvement program is being reevaluated and revised, as necessary, in light of your report and recent additional improvements recommended by the user. We share your concern that the vehicle be effective. That is our goal. While we do not agree with your recommended test, I would like to point out that the improvements will be tested, as necessary, and proven before they are applied.”

The Army completed production of the M561 Gama Goat in July 1973. On the topic of driver training, a summary revealed an interesting fact. “The GAO report alludes to driver training being inadequate and the TRADOC (Training and Doctrine Command) Survey reveals that only 15% of the drivers interviewed had received any formal training. The survey also indicates that the degree of satisfaction, expressed by the user, closely paralleled the amount of training and experience he had. While the vehicle may be unconventional, 92% of the drivers had no difficulty learning to operate the vehicle. It is Army policy that trained personnel are available before the equipment is introduced and trained personnel were in the field before the GAMA GOAT was fielded three years ago. However, as a result of the AQO report, a technical team was dispatched to Forts Carson, Bragg and Campbell to provide additional training and assistance.

It is extremely presumptive to suggest that ease of learning equates, in any way, to the ability of untrained drivers to operate the M561 Gama Goat with any degree of safety or skill or, to be able to avoid circumstances that a properly trained driver would otherwise avoid with relative ease. Unconventional vehicles, such as the Gama Goat, possess unique characteristics that go far beyond those of more conventional vehicles. Despite its rather standard truck-like controls, it is certainly not the type of vehicle one simply jumps in and drives away with without at least some negative consequences. Thus, some of the complaints about the operation of the Gama Goat were simply without merit.


Sources -

Army Procurement Of The M561, Gama Goat, HEARING BEFORE THE ARMED SERVICES INVESTIGATING SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES. House of Representatives Ninety-second Congress, Second Session Under Authority of H. Res. 201 May 24, 1972.

General Accounting Office Library System Dec. 9, 1975, COMPTROLLER GENERAL’S REPORT TO THE CONGRESS, Should the Gama Goat Be Improved Or Replaced?, Department of Defense
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Re: Beverly Hillbillies

Post by Redlight » August 5th, 2020, 6:41 am

Some corrections only on the area that I have some knowledge.
Old

The new truck was to replace the M37 3/4-ton weapons carrier. In its ambulance configuration the Gama Goat would be known at the M792. Thus, it was expected to replace the M170 1/4-ton front-line ambulance (which was basically a M38A1 1/4 ton truck adapted to ambulance use) and the M42 3/4-ton ambulance (which had been in inventory since World War II). Early on, it was estimated that each new unit would cost approximately $5,000 (without engine); a very hopeful figure based upon the initial design. By June 30, 1971, it was estimated each vehicle would cost $15,400 to produce.

Revised .
The M43 3/4-ton ambulance (which had been in based upon a truck design from before World War II).

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Re: Beverly Hillbillies

Post by m3a1 » August 5th, 2020, 10:40 pm

This is really Day 1 of Gama Goat ownership because until today, everything has been more like virtual ownership. Except for a short spin around my sister's farm I actually have spent very little time with the truck. She did earn her name, by the way. This little old Goat has been christened, Dirty Gertie.

With the paperwork done, the Goat is officially a 'Texas Truck' in the eyes of the State and a pretty blue title will arrive in the mail in a week or so. She is registered as a former military vehicle and her original markings have become her 'license plate.' Still on the trailer, she waits patiently for me to ask her to dance. Dirty Gertie is quite a wallflower, with a face only a mother could love but, Oh LORD!....she has perfect manners. Quite a sweetheart. I love her already...every dirty little inch of her.

This morning I took Longfellow and Baby over to the big lot and went through the long process of undoing chains and straps and what have you; freeing her from her bonds. Xloflyer was present (he has actual experience with these, by the way) and he became my faithful second-set-of-hands and ground guide. He undid the final strap and pulled the final chock and guided me off the trailer. Like for most new owners of an unfamiliar vehicle, those opening salvos, those 'getting-to-know-you' moments can be real nail nail-biters, especially with friends looking on because...well....
stuff happens.

Full disclosure, I'm presently having some difficulty with the throw-out bearing. It worked perfectly in Illinois and was probably shaken loose by those GodAwful interstate highways (which are more like the surface of the moon than an actual freeway.) There is just no other possible explanation, so it became necessary to put the truck in gear and then start it in order to drive it.

Backing off the trailer was exactly the same as putting it on...up, or down, the M561 climbs up (rather, it glides up) like it's on rails without a single shrug. No humpty-bumpty. Just forward...or backward, with caterpillar-like determination. Powerful things, these Goats, and they're happy to climb up onto anything you put before them without complaining. Goats are VERY aptly named. I've driven tanks, which clank and clatter and clunk along and every moment they let you know they're in contact with whatever happens to be beneath them but the Goat is oddly smoooooooth. Those big 11.00-18s are so sweet!

So, with the Gama Goat finally touching down on Texas soil for the first time, Xloflyr climbs in, bids me to move out and I do the thing.
Put it in gear, start it up, let out the clutch and....
We...
Go...
Nowhere. :roll:

Did I only think I had it in gear? Shut it down. Repeat the process. CLUNK.
Okay, that's definitely in gear. Start it up, let out the clutch and...
We
Still
Go
Nowhere. :oops:

Now I'm getting that copper taste in my mouth. What have I done? Why have I let go of the easy-to-manage little MUTT I know so well? I must be insane for having done this! They're going to put me in a straight jacket and lock me up and throw away the key! Is this something more than a throw-out bearing? All these things are going through my mind simultaneously. Ok, ok, OKAY...take a deep breath. Basics. Always go back to basics. It's the little things that get ya. What has changed from a moment before when this thing would actually move under its own power?

Xloflyr is a stoic man. He is patient man. Helicopter pilots are like that because their machines have to beat the air into submission and claw their way into the sky. He has been shot at. He has even had little pieces of him shot away. He has even been shot down, so he has all the been-there-done-that ribbons on his chest..but, I'm getting that awful feeling that he's sizing me up for a straight jacket because this is definitely not Vietnam, nobody made me do this and I was not drafted into Gama Goat ownership. I made this awful choice when I could have just rested on my laurels. But from the depths of failure and despair...

...I rise to the lofty heights of success and elation! I notice that I have bumped the transfer case selector into neutral. *sigh* Yeah....I'm an IDIOT. But, with that discovery, I'm a happy idiot! WooHOO! CLUNK. Transfer case selector in high. CLUNK. In gear. Start her up. VROOM-CLACK-CLACK-CLACK-CLACK! First bump of the starter and that big diesel is ready to rock! 85 decibels of pure, unadulterated JOY. 12Bravo walks among the Diesel GODs! (Thank you, bother!)

And off we go! Big grins all around as we plod along with me secretly wishing I had started out in 2nd because there is no up-shift while your throw-out bearing is taking a coffee break. And we end up parking where I will be unloading the spare engine. That's right, boys and girls...another Detroit Diesel 3-53. It's sick right now. I will lay my hands upon it and it will heal and all will be well.

Now, starting fresh with a new kind of vehicle, especially something as undeniably weird as a Gama Goat can be a humbling experience. Many of you have been there so you know the feeling. I am humbled and I am an idiot. I admit it! I am a humble idiot! But I am a Gama Goat owner and that makes me an official goat herder. Walk the walk. Talk the talk. ...or go home, crawl under your blankets and watch other, more intrepid individuals live large on YouTube..

I will simply have to work on my cab entry and exit technique and stop bumping into the controls like Helen Keller in an IKEA store after someone pulled the fire alarm. I acknowledge the fact that here is no doing it gracefully but, with patience and some more practice, I'm sure I can do get in and out in a way that might suggest that I have done it two, or maybe even three times before because, right now when I get in, I'm rather sure I look like I'm falling out of a tree and hitting every branch on the way down. While getting out, I undoubtedly look like a zombie clawing its way out of a grave. But, there IS a way to do it, and do it without bumping into every control in the cab and I swear will learn how.
IMG_2973.jpeg
This is MY Gama Goat. There are many like it, but THIS ONE.....is mine!

Cheers,
TJ
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Re: Beverly Hillbillies

Post by rickf » August 6th, 2020, 8:12 am

And the throwout bearing is SOOOOO easy to fix in those. :roll: :roll: :twisted: :twisted:
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Re: Beverly Hillbillies

Post by Hambone » August 6th, 2020, 9:26 am

Bout ready to take it for a swim? :D

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Re: Beverly Hillbillies

Post by Surveyor » August 6th, 2020, 10:23 am

:mrgreen:
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Re: Beverly Hillbillies

Post by m3a1 » August 6th, 2020, 12:19 pm

Actually, Rick, you may be surprised by what I will soon show you fellas. I admit I am not entirely sure how wretched the work will be because I haven't hit the books yet (and I'm not going to just tear into the thing) but it looks to be a pretty straightforward job with surprisingly good access to it.

Remember this...a lot of what we think we know about Gama Goats is often based upon myth and people who make it their business to repeat bad information based upon anecdotal evidence given by someone who probably never even sat in a Goat, much less drove, or worked on one. So, come Hell or high water (that's a very subtle Gama Goat joke, by the way) I will take everyone along for the ride and we'll all get to experience it first hand and maybe we'll lay some of those myths and bad information to rest.

In order to achieve that, the first thing I am going to be sharing with everyone is how those maintenance Joes would go about getting access to the driveline. That is to be the initial 'reveal' of the Secrets of the Gama Goat. Lucky you. (and don't say you haven't been warned)

But, I am having to focus on clearing the decks around here, getting things sorted, put away or put aside and generally making sense of things that didn't get addressed during my efforts to load and go. My work space looks like....well... it looks like Beruit. So, at the moment, it's time for housekeeping chores.

By way of example of some of the little things that must be done: once unloaded, the spare engine must be placed on a big cart I have; a cart that, heretofore, was the home for the power pack from the Alley Cat. That cart's wheels were in pretty bad shape, missing their nylon 'tires' which was fine with the smaller mill but, with the far-heavier diesel engine they absolutely have to be replaced. Heavy duty commercial quality wheels (rated for 900# each) got swapped in last night and my wallet got a lot lighter. Woof! They are NOT cheap but with my limited space around here, having heavy, bulky items retain some semblance of mobility is a necessary, and sometimes costly thing. This is a path we have all walked, I'm sure, so I'm not looking for pity.

Anyway, stay tuned for Secrets of the Gama Goat. To make it relevant to M151 ownership, I'll make some comparisons along the way. This is a site for M151 owners, after all. You may chuckle at the thought but, success or epic failure, I believe it will be interesting. If nothing else, by comparison, some of the work we M151 owners used to think of as 'Big Jobs' will soon seem far smaller and hopefully, some of you who might have been putting some of that 'necessary work' off, will get some sidewalk chalk and a Henweigh, stock the fridge with the delicious, frosty beverages of your choice, square your shoulders, roll up your sleeves and dig in to your wonderful little MUTTs and make them healthy again!

Cheers,
TJ
"This is my Gama Goat. There are many like it, but this one is MINE."

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Re: Gamma Goat

Post by rickf » August 6th, 2020, 4:52 pm

Testing new forum
1964 M151A1
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Re: Gamma Goat

Post by Mr. Recovery » August 7th, 2020, 11:14 am

rickf wrote:
August 6th, 2020, 4:52 pm
Testing new forum


OK, working now!! 8) :wink:

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Re: Gamma Goat

Post by m3a1 » August 7th, 2020, 2:55 pm

A neighbor down the street brought his tired old Bobcat up at dusk so we jumped on the job of lifting the spare motor off the deck of the bed and I drove the Goat out from beneath it.
IMG_2980.jpeg
We took the engine around to the front of the house, up the driveway and after removing the pallet, plunked it onto the cart. Strapped it down and wheeled it into its place for storage.

Outwardly, the two-stroke Detroit Diesel 3-53 i's a pretty imposing engine with a lot going on - wheels and pulleys and castings and all sorts of gizmos to look at and contemplate the mysterious things they're there for. '3', for its having three cylinders and '53', for the series of engine. Detroit Diesel was a favorite of bus manufacturers and those engines are H-U-G-E by comparison. Just the tiny little 53 series alone seems to have an endless number of variations (and applications). With a few tweaks, a nip and a tuck here and there the engine can do everything from providing static power for all sorts of things, to moving large machines around.
IMG_2981.jpeg
Dig those crazy, bright red wheels! I feel like PeeWee Herman when I'm pushing that cart with those wheels.

Happily, this time the Bobcat remained running, because it was dark by the time we wrapped it up. A great time for a beer and celebrating getting this project this far without anyone actually dying.

Final unloading takes place today once this heat drops off. Just a few pieces from the old Detroit Diesel are left to move and the cargo compartment will be clear.

Cheers,
TJ
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Re: Gamma Goat

Post by m3a1 » August 7th, 2020, 10:05 pm

We now pause for Station Identification...

Where are they now?
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Re: Gamma Goat

Post by rickf » August 8th, 2020, 8:03 am

Beer cans.
1964 M151A1
1984 M1008
1967 M416
04/1952 M100
12/1952 M100- Departed
AN/TSQ-114A Trailblazer- Gone

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