PDA

View Full Version : Q4 in Australia



OZQ4
05-09-2009, 09:45
G’day, my name is Geoff Prescott and I am the Secretary of the Hillman Owners Club here in Australia. The Club seeks to preserve the Hillman cars and Commer trucks manufactured by the Rootes Group. I am semi retired and now have time to indulge in my hobbies! I have restored two Hillmans and have a total of four in roadworthy condition (I know, sad case!). However the purpose of my email is that I have just become the owner of a Commer Q4 3 ton four wheel drive lorry, which is a rare beast in Australia. Reportedly this one was built in 1952 and spent some time in the British Army and in the Middle East before coming to Australia to spend time with the Australian Government at the Woomera range in South Australia. I was wondering if I could ask a favour concerning its chassis number and possible history?
My problem is that I have two ID plates which came with the vehicle, bearing two different chassis numbers. One is square and is what I believe to be the standard id plate attached to all Commers. This one bears a chassis number of 31A1816 and a 'type' S25, although I am not sure this is relevant to my vehicle.
The other is a rectangular plate and is headed "MINISTRY OF SUPPLY TRUCK 3 TON 4X4 GS" It carries a chassis number 38A3569. I understand this number sequence is correct for the vehicle, according to a Rootes publication (no 468A) parts list for the type. I am hoping this is the chassis number for my truck, or at least one very similar to it.
I was wondering if anyone could shed any light on this, any help would be most appreciated.
many thanks

Richard Farrant
05-09-2009, 12:01
My problem is that I have two ID plates which came with the vehicle, bearing two different chassis numbers. One is square and is what I believe to be the standard id plate attached to all Commers. This one bears a chassis number of 31A1816 and a 'type' S25, although I am not sure this is relevant to my vehicle.
The other is a rectangular plate and is headed "MINISTRY OF SUPPLY TRUCK 3 TON 4X4 GS" It carries a chassis number 38A3569. I understand this number sequence is correct for the vehicle, according to a Rootes publication (no 468A) parts list for the type. I am hoping this is the chassis number for my truck, or at least one very similar to it.
I was wondering if anyone could shed any light on this, any help would be most appreciated.
many thanks

Hi Geoff,
I am looking at Rootes parts list no 437A, it covers British Army contract 6/VEHS/7878/CB27A for Chassis no's 38A0001 - 38A3499 and 38A5000 - 38A5200, with body types, Cargo, Command Workshop, Predictor, Recovery, Tipper, H.P. Recuperator, Radar Repair, Telecom Repair, Fuel Injection, Electrical Repair, Instrument Repair, Armourer, Cypher, Signals Office, S.D.O., Crystal Main. Note your 38A number does not fall in to these chassis numbers. The first number you quoted was 31A, if this was a mistake, and should have been 38A, then it is part of this contract. It would be interesting to know where these two plates were fixed to your vehicle. Any photos?

There is another of these, unless it is the same one, in the South Australian MV Museum, at least it was when I visited it in Port Adelaide in '95. Museum has relocated now.

regards, Richard

OZQ4
05-09-2009, 12:36
Hello Richard - thanks for your reply.

The smaller plate definitely carries the 35 prefix. Unfortunately the plates were not attached to the vehicle so I will need to check the engine bay for telltale holes.
The fellow I purchased it from said he was a member of the South Australian Military vehicle Society, and in fact I have found a receipt indicating he purchased it from the SA Military Vehicles Museum in 2002, so it is probably the one you saw. It has what is left of a red colour scheme, but shows evidence of both sand and green paint underneath. He obtained it as a cab chassis and subsequently located a GS body which I now have. Can you recall what body it had in the museum? It also has the turret hole in the roof above the passenger seat.
It is currently located 45 minutes away by car so if it is ok I will have to get back to you about the plate locations.
(I hope it is genuine military and not just painted up by the museum!)
many thanks
Geoff
(PS if I can work out how to load photos I will post some shots of the id plates if that would help)

Richard Farrant
05-09-2009, 12:48
The smaller plate definitely carries the 35 prefix. Unfortunately the plates were not attached to the vehicle so I will need to check the engine bay for telltale holes.
The fellow I purchased it from said he was a member of the South Australian Military vehicle Society, and in fact I have found a receipt indicating he purchased it from the SA Military Vehicles Museum in 2002, so it is probably the one you saw. It has what is left of a red colour scheme, but shows evidence of both sand and green paint underneath. He obtained it as a cab chassis and subsequently located a GS body which I now have. Can you recall what body it had in the museum?

Geoff,

It did not have a body when I saw it, sadly I did not take a photo. When being shown around, I mentioned having worked on these types to one of the museum guys and they thought it was a wartime Q4, but as I explained, those were not 4x4, different cab and sidevalve engine, totally different except confusingly same model number, yours would be early to mid Fifties. I thought then that it was likely to have been left behind from British missile and bomb tests.

According to the parts book, the Contract plate with vehicle number was fitted to the left hand chassis member adjacent to spare wheel carrier, if this helps.

OZQ4
05-09-2009, 13:12
Thanks Richard
Yes mine is definitely the post war version - 4x4, 4.7L 6 cyl ohv. In fact I think this is why the museum lost interest it it - not ww2.
The location of the ID plate certainly helps - my parts book (468A - commencing chassis 38A3501) indicates that the chassis number is stamped on the LH chassis rail near the rear spring front bracket - but I could not find any evidence of it there. I will check near the spare wheel carrier.
Two further questions if I may - if it had been in action at the bomb tests, would it have been covered by an Army contract, and secondly would the army contract chassis number necessarily be the same at the factory chassis number?
many thanks again
Geoff

Richard Farrant
05-09-2009, 13:22
Thanks Richard
- my parts book (468A - commencing chassis 38A3501) indicates that the chassis number is stamped on the LH chassis rail near the rear spring front bracket - but I could not find any evidence of it there. I will check near the spare wheel carrier.
Two further questions if I may - if it had been in action at the bomb tests, would it have been covered by an Army contract, and secondly would the army contract chassis number necessarily be the same at the factory chassis number?


Geoff,

Strange that the chassis numbers on your parts book, fall between the two groups of numbers in my book, is there a Contract number and body types on the book cover?

Going by photos seen from Maralinga and Woomera, there were a number of different in-service British Army vehicles over there at the time. A Contract number is not a chassis number, it is a reference number for a block of vehicles. If you can photo your plates or copy all details down we might be able to decypher more for you. There may be a WD number on the Ministry of Supply plate, which could help identify the vehicle.

OZQ4
05-09-2009, 23:22
Hi Richard
The parts list has no reference to an army contract - simply headed '3 - ton four wheel drive cross country model'
I have started an album 'Q4 id plates' and added a photo - but have not worked out how to put it in the post yet. The MoS plate shows the chassis no in the top left corner but unfortunately the contract no has been obliterated.
I'm beginning to wonder if it is even a genuine plate!
thanks
Geoff

Marmite!!
05-09-2009, 23:24
but have not worked out how to put it in the post yet.
http://hmvf.co.uk/forumvb/faq.php?faq=vb3_reading_posting#faq_vb3_attachment s

OZQ4
05-09-2009, 23:27
Here is photo -

http://www.hmvf.co.uk/forumvb/picture.php?albumid=175&pictureid=2048

thanks
Geoff

Richard Farrant
05-09-2009, 23:28
Hi Richard
The parts list has no reference to an army contract - simply headed '3 - ton four wheel drive cross country model'
I have started an album 'Q4 id plates' and added a photo - but have not worked out how to put it in the post yet. The MoS plate shows the chassis no in the top left corner but unfortunately the contract no has been obliterated.
I'm beginning to wonder if it is even a genuine plate!


Geoff,
The Q4 4x4 was also available commercially and a large number were supplied to British Civil Defence, but there were differences in electrics, etc. As you say yours has sign of desert paint scheme, etc. there seems no doubt it was an ex-British Army truck, but one of the plates may be leading you astray. I bet there is a number in the chassis somewhere, my parts list does not mention a location, but yours apparantly did.

Richard Farrant
05-09-2009, 23:34
Geoff,

Just had a thought, there is a guy in NZ called Howard Pettigrew. He runs a Commer website and forum. May well have access or know of someone, to factory records and also location of stamped chassis numbers.

OZQ4
06-09-2009, 08:34
Thanks Richard
I'll go and climb all over it - see what I can find. I am also attempting to contact the museum to see if they recall anything of the history of the ID plates
Geoff

OZQ4
06-09-2009, 08:40
Richard
Yes- found him. Howard Pettigrew Commer Connections. I'll send him a note

thanks again
Geoff

OZQ4
26-09-2009, 07:43
Well I finally managed to get to the Commer today and you were right Richard - the ID plates I have been referring to are not from the truck, and the 'real' one is still there - located near the spare wheel carrier.

I also found the chassis number etched into the metal of the chassis and it agrees with the ID plate, so it is genuine.

Chassis No is 38A5391, Contract No is 6/VEH/16133 so hopefully it is genuine military?

thanks
Geoff

Richard Farrant
26-09-2009, 20:03
Well I finally managed to get to the Commer today and you were right Richard - the ID plates I have been referring to are not from the truck, and the 'real' one is still there - located near the spare wheel carrier.

I also found the chassis number etched into the metal of the chassis and it agrees with the ID plate, so it is genuine.

Chassis No is 38A5391, Contract No is 6/VEH/16133 so hopefully it is genuine military?



Hi Geoff,
Good news then, as I may have mentioned before, the parts book that I have here covers contact number 6/VEHS/7878 and up to Chassis no. 38A5200. I am pretty sure yours is ex-military due to the contract prefix, 6/VEHS/.... Is there anything else stamped on that plate?

OZQ4
29-09-2009, 13:47
No other marks or numbers. I will also try my luck with the RLC Museum
Geoff

woodchips
29-09-2009, 18:53
Geoff

Don't know if you are interested, I have a workshop manual for a Commer 3 ton four wheel drive cross country truck, has the 4.7l 6 cylinder engine. Yours free except the postage, £22GBP, weighs 1500g unpacked. It is new and unused, and written when they cared about the information they put in the manuals.

Did intend putting a photo in but iphoto shows the picture but the file name doesn't seem to exist in finder, oh well. From Commer Connections might be the S467, 13'11" wheelbase.

Bob

OZQ4
02-10-2009, 23:15
Thanks for the offer Bob, but I have a workshop manual - it is marked as Publication No 591, issued in Dec 1954 by Commer Cars Ltd. - you're right, the level of detail is excellent.

Geoff

OZQ4
26-12-2009, 02:17
Well I have finally found out a little more about the Q4. It had the Army Registration Number 34 BP 91, which is chassis 38A5391 'Truck, Cargo, GS, 3 ton, 4X4, Commer Q4'
It entered service on 20 June 1955 on receipt TWN/252/61 - TWN indicating Vehicle Depot 75 Turweston.
It was 'struck off' on 2 September 1955, along with two others - 34 BP 90 and 34 BP 94. The reason for the early disposal is not known but it is likely all three vehicles made their way to Australia shortly after.

So much for the first three months of its life, now to find our what happened to it during the next 30 years !! (does anyone know where in Australia these records might be available??)
Geoff

Richard Farrant
26-12-2009, 09:23
Well I have finally found out a little more about the Q4. It had the Army Registration Number 34 BP 91, which is chassis 38A5391 'Truck, Cargo, GS, 3 ton, 4X4, Commer Q4'
It entered service on 20 June 1955 on receipt TWN/252/61 - TWN indicating Vehicle Depot 75 Turweston.
It was 'struck off' on 2 September 1955, along with two others - 34 BP 90 and 34 BP 94. The reason for the early disposal is not known but it is likely all three vehicles made their way to Australia shortly after.

So much for the first three months of its life, now to find our what happened to it during the next 30 years !! (does anyone know where in Australia these records might be available??)
Geoff

Hi Geoff,
I guess you got the info from the RLC Museum in Deepcut? Usually the records show that when struck off, where it was disposed off, ie disposal depot, like Ruddington, etc. My feeling is that it may have been transfered from Army "ownership" to an authority involved in the bomb testing in Australia, the timing would be about right. Then it was disposed of locally. I have seen a photo of the Centurion on the way to or from Maralinga (I think) with a Q4 in the background, will have to see if I can find it.

Richard Farrant
26-12-2009, 12:16
Just found a photo of a Q4 in convoy with the Centurion tank on the way to Emu Field / Maralinga for the atomic test, but realised it pre-dates the coming into service of your Q4. It only shows a part side view with Cent on transporter in front.

That is not to say it was not used later because numerous test carried on for several years. I did find another photo of a British REME detachment at Maralinga and a Q4 could be seen in the background, with a hydraulic loader crane between cab and body, that was never a standard fit on Army Q4 in the UK. I will keep looking.

OZQ4
02-01-2010, 01:33
Thanks Richard - yes the information came from the RLC Museum - they were very apologetic there was not more to be found - but it's a start.

I will try to identify where further information may be available in Australia, but I dont hold out much hope!

Geoff Prescott