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Scurvey Knave

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About Scurvey Knave

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    Lance Corporal

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    Photography, Scammell Explorers and old Plant vehicles
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  1. Hi Bassets, Sorry your post seems to have been met with a deafening silence! The military did use Fergies - we had one which was used for moving drawbar trailers around the site. From memory, I think that ours - 00EX28 - was an MF20. I well remember driving it on the public road on a pissing wet day with only a pair of goggles swiped off the workshops bench grinder to keep the rain out of my eyes. 20 MPH flat out on the hand throttle - it bounced too much for me to keep my foot hard to the floor on the accelerator pedal! Interesting trip looking out for passing traffic with no rear view mirror whilst avoiding puddles - no front mudguards meant getting a facefull of dirty water. It was fitted with a slam hook on the front with a concrete block for added weight. If you lined it up with the drawbar, selected low ratio first, it moved so slowly you could hold up the drawbar and hook it on when the tractor lined up and still have time to jump onto the seat and put in the clutch before it stalled.
  2. Guys, To be honest I can't recall how the Navy managed their trailer fleet, but common sense would dictate that they would have some sort of easily usable fleet number stencilled on them somewhere. I know that the RAF used the same system as the Army (we borrowed 2 Crane Fruehauf 6 ton semi trailers from the RAF and they had their own permanent plates fitted, same as ours). Best of luck with looking at current practice - by there time I retired most of our vehicles wore civvy number plates since just about everything apart from fighting vehicles were leased in. Regards - David
  3. Hi Clive, During my career, the Navy and the Army used two entirely different conventions for displaying trailer numbers. Army trailers always had their own numbers and these were permanently displayed irrespective of the VRN of the towing vehicle. The Navy on the other hand always displayed the VRN of the towing equipment on the trailer. I well recall the confusion that this used to cause when I drove army trucks with trailers into Faslane naval base to use their POL point for fuel - younger, less experienced MOD Police often commented that I had a different number on the trailer from the prime mover. On several occasions this was only resolved by calling the duty sergeant who usually had wider experience. I drove Navy vehicles for a short time during the Falklands war and I was surprised how different the admin side was - we used a Work Ticket which was designed to last for a month and could be used by multiple drivers by signing in a box on the reverse side, whereas the Navy used a fresh Work Ticket every day or even several where there was more than one driver. Regards - David
  4. Chris, Thanks for posting these pictures. I drove this tractor (as well as its sister tractors 01HW87 and 01HW88) for over 5 years. On the one hand it is gratifying to note that after nearly 40 years it hasn't been scrapped, but on the other hand it is saddening to see the state that it now lies in - about the only thing recognisable is the identity plate and the grab rail around the roof of the cab! That lovely Perkins V8 engine looks particularly rough. I have looked out some more pictures of this tractor and the tractor that was evaluated during the trials. First picture is the bare 171 being delivered for testing on a DROPS rack. Second picture is the final development of the 171 before production began. The picture shows a much younger me sitting on the tractor at Mullach Mor, the second highest hill on St. Kilda - the brief required that the 171 should be able to do every task performed by the Scammell Explorer which it replaced. The Scammell was capable of hauling a drawbar trailer up to the radar station loaded with 10 tons of hardcore for construction work so the Muir Hill had to be shown to be capable of doing the same or better. Next picture shows a brand spanking new 01HW86 being delivered (01HW88 at the front of the low loader and 86 at the back). In those days all vehicles were delivered by the manufacturer to CVD Ashchurch for acceptance before dispatch to the unit. Compare this picture with yours and you can see how badly the tractor has had bits removed and deteriorated! The last picture shows 01HW86 working the Landing Craft as it was designed to do. Finally, there is a Youtube video showing 01HW87 working on St. Kilda. I am not very good with links - if you go into Youtube and type in "resupplying st kilda" the video will come up (I am sure that someone on this forum will do the honours and post the link). Regards - David
  5. Steve, There is not much of a view, most of the vehicle being underwater, but it looks a bit like a Fiat Allis. Regards - David
  6. Richard, You are correct of course (it's been a long time since I drove these vehicles!). The MK's didn't have the spring brakes. I also drove TK's and these did (though I don't think that I would have been brave enough to drive the MK out of the garage with only the handbrake functioning anyway). I recall the handbrake on the MK causing some problems on loading ramps - the brake drum was fitted to the propshaft but backlash in the axle would allow the vehicle to move back and forward a couple of inches. I remember one poor chap unloading pallets from an MK with a Hyster. He was attempting to drive on to the back of the MK, but when the front wheels hit the load bed the truck moved forward. The Hyster's wheels dropped into the gap between the tailgate and the ramp. We always used steel plates to bridge the gap after that! Regards - David
  7. Hi, They are easy enough to identify - stretched wheelbase, boughton winch and three air tanks behind the cab and a couple of brackets welded to the right hand side to hold a 90" straightbar. The wheels had cast iron weights fitted to the hubs and the tyres were water ballasted to give additional weight. If the brass identification plate is still fitted, the VRN's were 01HW86, 87 and 88. Weak points were the prop shaft which had a habit of bolts loosing off and the steering rams which were never quite up to the job of moving the heavily ballasted wheels. Regards - David
  8. Hi Robin, As far as I know, these were the only 171's which had the wheelbase lengthened. When we ordered certain parts (like a propshaft which broke) we had to quote from drawing numbers rather than the items in the parts book since they were different from the standard. On the debit side, the vehicle used in the trials had an aircon unit fitted to the roof of the cabin. The MOD, in typical miserable fashion, refused to pay for such "luxuries" when the driver could open the window at no cost! The trial vehicle also had the ability to slew under braking - the brake pedal was split in two and the driver could operate the left or right side brakes independently for a sharp turn. The longer wheelbase would have put too much stress on the chassis so the two halves of the pedal were welded together and we lost this capability. The island was St. Kilda - part of the R.A. Ranges Hebrides. Regards - David
  9. Hi Keith, I got involved in wading trials with MVEE - we originally did a comparison trial between a County Tractor and a Muir Hill 171 for use on the Landing Craft Logistics - decided that the County was too light and done full wading trials on the Muir Hill. It was the most fun that I ever had whilst actually getting paid for it! Attached images show the Muir Hill 171 on beach trials and the vehicle as it entered service (we purchased 3). In order to meet the requirements, Muir Hill had to lengthen the wheelbase to stop the annoying habit of the nose rearing up whilst shunting trailers onto the ship. Regards - David
  10. I regularly drove a Bedford MK in the early 80's. It had a "Modified 330" engine fitted (I never did find out what was modified about it, but that was always written on the AF G1045 when it went into workshops for repair). SOP's were that you shouldn't drive off before you had 80 PSI on the air gauge (tho the brakes released at 60 PSI). I always remember that in the time it took to build up the air, the garage always ended up full of blue smoke. Maybe they are all just like that and you have to live with it! Regards - David
  11. Jon, Your restoration work is outstanding and I am enjoying the pictures that you have posted. I was looking through my late father in law's photos - he served with the Royal Engineers in North Africa during WWII. The attached sequence of pictures shows the Sappers building a bridge over a wadi and the last picture looks like a test of their work. The lead vehicle looks like yours and the second vehicle is a bit bigger ( I have no doubt the with the expertise on this forum, somebody will identify it). Best Regards - David
  12. I stumbled upon a clip showing the St. Kilda Michigan 175 on the net. http://movingimage.nls.uk/film/3518 The film appears to have been taken by National Trust guys (St. Kilda is owned by the NT but was leased by MOD for use as a tracking station for RA Ranges Hebrides). There are a couple of interesting bits - first is at 9.31 where a pristine looking R. Artillery Land Rover, 73EN31, is launching and recovering a Gemini/Zodiac type inflatable boat. Second is at 12.43 where you can see the Michigan bucket getting loaded with luggage and driving over the beach and on to the Landing Craft. You can see what was a fairly common occurrence - guys travelling in the bucket to avoid getting their feet wet! Try getting that past Elf n' Safety these days! The ship was the Andalsnes, sadly scrapped in the late seventies. Regards - David
  13. We (RCT) had two ex RAF Explorers - 43BT03 and 43BT27 - the inside of the cabs painted Eau de Nil as stated by Richard. 43BT03 was still painted RAF blue grey when we got it from the vehicle depot. We ran it for a while with the original colour until the annual REME inspection where it was fault coded for being the wrong colour. We repainted it with IRR green the same day so that the inspector's report could be marked up as RDI (rectified during inspection), RDI's not appearing in the final report which judged the unit's efficiency rating. Regards - David
  14. Terry, I remember the original FMW TT40 with the Ether start. It caused us no end of trouble - not the device itself but the supply of the ether to run it. The vehicle had a plastic reservoir holding the ether and it was topped up using a "Type F" can of Holt's Start Pilot. If I remember correctly, you lifted a spring loaded cap on the bottle and screwed on the Start Pilot can, which filled it up. We ordered these cans from COD Bicester and they were regularly out of stock. You could buy the aerosol spray type can anywhere (which we were forbidden to use in Cat C hazard areas) but the Type F screw-on cans were special order and hard to get hold of. Like you said, the later Electricars version was a much better tow tractor to drive. Regards - David
  15. Some years ago I worked with a retired Royal Engineer Major. He done some time at Halton Camp on the River Lune near Lancaster where they used to train soldiers to build bridges. He reckoned that you could always tell a bridge builder sapper by the missing fingers. Seems that no matter how often they were told not to, they would stick their finger in the holes when mating two parts up to see if they were flush and the pin would slide in. Any movement in the structure and the finger was guillotined off! Regards - David
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