Direct Exchange

Not too surprisingly, the Army had its own way of doing things. One of the more interesting programs was labeled “DX” for “Direct Exchange.” The idea was that damaged or worn out equipment could be turned in for new or serviceable equipment. And, it could usually be done fairly quickly and with a minimum of red tape.

Our 5-man team didn’t have a lot of clout when it came to procuring equipment and supplies so we sometimes had to resort to other, unofficial, methods such as “liberating” certain items. The primary and only generator for our radar system was really marginal in capacity and it occasionally was temperamental and difficult to start. Technically, we were authorized a backup generator, but that never materialized. The only alternative was to trade in the cranky little 2-cycle 1 kw generator for a nifty 4 cylinder, 4-cycle 3 kw generator. But, there was a catch. To qualify for DX, the item turned in must be unserviceable. In other words, broken or worn out. The 1 kw generator in question still ran. What to do, what to do… we came up with a plan. Early one morning, shortly after shutting down the radar system and generator, we “accidentally” refueled the 2-cycle machine without adding the required oil mix to the fuel. We cranked it up and then stood back and waited. Surprisingly, that little sucker ran for several hours before the piston seized up. In fact, in our impatience, we removed the air cleaner and “accidentally” kicked a little dust and dirt into the carburetor in an attempt to speed up the process a little.  

After the 1 kw generator became one piece of metal, we loaded it into the 3/4 ton truck and drove to the DX area where we filled out some of the infamous Army forms and picked up our new 3 kw generator. One of our team members had a slip of the tongue and mentioned to the supply sergeant that the little 2-cycle generator ran longer than we expected with no oil. The supply sergeant gave us a funny look as we drove off, laughing with our new machine. Hey, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do!