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cordenj

British WWII REME Lightweight Electrical Repair Trailer: Restoration Project

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Having restored 1944 Airborne 10cwt No1 Mk2 Trailer and an 1944 10cwt Lightweight Water Bowser (posted photos previously on HMVF), I've now got a new project.

Have been lucky to find a 1944 Lightweight Electrical Repair trailer (thanks Richard).

 

I believe it is one of the trailers developed by the REME section of the Airborne Forces Development Centre based at Amesbury Abbey (Wilts) from 1943 in cooperation with the REME Central Workshops at Old Dalby (ref. Rob van Meel's British Airborne Jeeps).

 

The trailer data plate shows it to be "Electrical Repair Trailer. No.1 Mk II. Cont. No. 23/7940" and WD Number: X6170936.

 

It still has its 110v DC Bench Grinder and a 110v DC "Van Norman YW Valve Refacer", a large worklight and an Admiralty Pattern 1 Gallon Still (for distilling water for batteries!).

It came its original canvas cover with "T-plate", but is missing the simple steel frame (on the to do list).

 

I am guessing the old design of triangle warning plate is a post-war.

 

It is missing the collapsible workbenches that slotted into the front...does anyone have any information on these?

Size and method of construction?

The two wooden cased 6v battery boxes are also missing.

 

But I think it is an unusual survivor in very good conditon, I'll post a few photos below, but I am very interested to find any further informaton about these trailers, their equipment and use.

 

It seems that this particular example only left the army in late 1970s/early 80's, possibly having been with a TA unit.

 

I don't think the REME museum has one, althought they do have the very similar Lightweight Machinery Trailer.

 

How many others survive?

 

 

 

Thanks in anticipation

John

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drawing from 1966 manual (Medium).jpg

Edited by cordenj

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What a great find and an excellent project.

 

Is it on its original tyres do you think John ? It presumably hasn't seen much use.

 

What other bits and pieces do you need ?

 

David.

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Hi Chris: You can see why I was enquiring about 6v batteries now. I hope to restore it to original 1940's spec, so I think you said I would need two 6V 85 AH Mk.3 batteries with the Niphan sockets.

Failing that, I will have to make two light oak wooden cases to the correct size and construction to fill the gaps. Any leads as to where I might find them would be very welcome.

 

David: Yes an interesting project, as with all these things part of the challenge is uncovering the history behind why they were built, to what spec and where were they used.

It has very old tyres (Goodrich 6.00x16 embossed "Miitary"), but whether they are original I can't say. Although they have surface cracks, I towed it home behind the Jeep for 65 miles on these tyres from Romney Marsh...but had two spare airborne wheels with me just in case!

 

I am looking for a few accessories for the trailer, the most important one being the folding workbenches that sat in the front open compartment. I will make those, but can't progress further until I have some photos or dimensions.

I'm also on the look-out for a period electric drill, seems the Black and Decker were specified. Some for sale in US at present, but am sure one will turn up in UK.

 

Cheers

John

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Hiya JohnThere is one at Bordon of this spec complete if that helps? Don 't suppose you know where there is a water bowser like yours for restoration?CheersDan

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Hiya JohnThere is one at Bordon of this spec complete if that helps? Don 't suppose you know where there is a water bowser like yours for restoration?CheersDan

 

i,ll get some pics of it next time i,m there

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Hi Danny,

 

No sorry I don't, they are fairly rare.

 

There is another restored one in UK and I'm aware one is being restored in the Netherlands.

 

There is also another chassis in UK, but missing the galvanised tank.

 

I'd bet there are others on farms still in use taking water to livestock ... just a matter of finding them.

 

jnc

 

 

 

 

Hiya JohnThere is one at Bordon of this spec complete if that helps? Don 't suppose you know where there is a water bowser like yours for restoration?CheersDan

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Hi Andy,

 

That would be very useful. Especially the collapsible workbenches.

 

I'm currently just working off the 1966 drawing and a couple of photos from the 1951 book about the REME in WWII.

 

Cheers,

 

John

 

i,ll get some pics of it next time i,m there

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Last weekend I started to pull the trailer apart.

 

The Van Norman Valve Grinder is incredibly heavy, and had to use my engine hoist to move it. I wonder why it was ever considered a good idea to fit one to a "Lightweight" trailer designed to be delivered by glider.....burnt/damamged valves must have been a major problem!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unlike the standard Lightweight trailers, the Electrical Repair and Machiniery models were built with steel storage boxes around an open chassis. A plywood storage box then was fitted into the gap. It just sat onto the chassis with no fixings, so very easily lifts out.

 

 

All sorts of odds and ends had fallen into the gaps between the trailer and storage box over the years, including a 1950 One Pfenning coin....

 

 

 

The trailer appears very original and the dataplate looks liie it has never been moved

 

 

Any other info on these trailers is very welcome.

Thanks

John

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.

 

The Van Norman Valve Grinder is incredibly heavy, and had to use my engine hoist to move it. I wonder why it was ever considered a good idea to fit one to a "Lightweight" trailer designed to be delivered by glider.....burnt/damamged valves must have been a major problem!

 

 

 

Hi John,

 

It does seem odd to find what would appear to be mechanic's equipment on an Electrical Repair trailer. I think the explanation is this, small generating and charging sets were being subjected to regular valve problems around the mid point of the War onwards, due to the introduction of leaded petrol. Airborne forces, working ahead of ground troops and their support, would have to be self sufficient initially, so to keep their charging sets operational, they would need valve refacers and seat cutters. Of course, not only for generators, but jeeps, etc as well, but it was documented by REME, the particular problems of small plant engines, having valve failure due to the leaded petrol.

 

regards, Richard

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Thanks Richard,

 

I am sure you are right and there must have been the very real need to keep these valves operational.

 

Interesting that it was the leaded petrol that caused the problem.....seems ironic now that I add lead replacement to the current "unleaded" petrol in My Jeep.

 

John

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Thanks Richard,

 

I am sure you are right and there must have been the very real need to keep these valves operational.

 

Interesting that it was the leaded petrol that caused the problem.....seems ironic now that I add lead replacement to the current "unleaded" petrol in My Jeep.

 

John

 

John,

 

I will look out the REME technical instructions. The problem with the petrol was the amount of lead added, it caused large deposits around the valve stems of exhaust valves, where they entered the guides, this caused the valves to stick and not seat properly, decokes had to be done more regularly, tappet clearances increased and on some engines, the guides had to be modified ..... so lead was actually a real problem at the time.

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Thanks Clive,

 

That is very interesting and it does look in good condition.

I'd seen from the REME museum website that thay had a Lighweight Machinery trailer, and LandAndy told me about this one.

 

I am hoping to visit Bordon soon to see it "in the metal".

I'm particular interested in the dimensions and means of construction of the folding benches.

 

I have found a photo of these in use, useful but nothing beats seeing the real thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I will post some more photos of the Bordon one after the visit, as hope this thread wil be useful to others restiring this type of trailer.

 

Thanks

John

Airborne welding on folding workbench.jpg

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Part of the interest for me, and I hope others, is researching what would have been supplied as part of the original kit with this type of trailer.

 

I have a list of "Major Equipment" that was originally included with the trailer, and it lists "machine, drilling, portable electric, with stand"...... a portable electric drill press.

 

In a contemporary (late 1940's) photo, the drill press base can just be seen fitted in the left front of lower photo beyond the light fitting:

 

 

 

Also the 1966 drawing posted earlier in this thread shows how the drill stand was stowed in transit, and the base permanantly fitted at back of trailer.

 

On my trailer there were three holes and impressions in the wood to show where the base had been fitted.

But which make and type?

At the back of one of the storage drawers was an old War Office booklet "Complete Equipment Schedule: service edition" dated 1959, and has an final entry for July 1964 relating to "Drill Electric, portable 3/8 in 110v DC, Black and Decker" and "Bench drill No.20".

 

Time to Google "1940's Black Decker" and found adverts from 1944 and 1948:

 

 

 

 

Then a web search for "Black and Decker Type 20" found this on a Vintage Machinery site website in USA.

So I knew what it looked like, and that some where still out there:

 

 

 

 

It looked very similar to the stand in the 1966 drawing and the 1940's adverts.

 

Next challenge was to find one for sale. Again the web came up this one in the US for only $14 in a US version of the FridayAd:

 

 

 

But the cost of shipping was far more than the value of the item....

 

So set up an Ebay search and expected to wait for a long time before one appeared in Uk.

 

In a real stroke of luck, one came up for auction only a week later, and even better was located in New Forest. Perhaps there are dozens of these stands for sale....but I doubt it somehow:

 

 

 

Well I won the auction and this is how it looks on the trailer. The cast base has three feet that exactly match the old floor intentations:

 

 

 

Another piece in the jigsaw complete.

 

Now...does anyone have a 1940s Black and Decker Drill that they dont really need any more?

Something like this below (a 1945 B&D ad) or one of the drills in the other ads on this post?:

 

 

 

 

Thanks to Jack (and the web) for providing the opportunity to find obscure pieces of scrap metal and bring them together!

John

 

 

 

 

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Black & Decker advert 1945.jpg

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Well done John - I admire your attention to detail and skill in searching and finding successfully.

 

I'm still looking for a 11/16 x 13/16 Whitworth WD marked spanner ( wartime dated would be a bonus)

 

David.

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As I have posted under the "Museum" section today, "LandyAndy" kindly invited "Markheliops" and I to visit the REME collection at Bordon this morning.

 

I was keen was to see their Electrical Repair Trailer, and to measure/photograph the collapsible workbenches that are missing from my one. Simple construction from t&g timber and 1 1/4" x 1 1/4" heavy angle, held together with butterfly nuts. The only parts missing are the flat steel stays that can be seen in contempory photos in an earlier post of these benches in use. But now I have the dimensions of the benchtops and legs, easy to calculate the size of these parts.

 

 

 

The Bordon trailer was renovated in Sept 1998 by 72 Engr Regt Wksp REME (V).

 

 

 

It still has the original Black & Decker type 20 Drill press, a Wolf 110v DC grinder and large worklight, but no Valve Grinder.

 

 

 

Both trailers are from the same contract No. 23/7940

 

 

 

My trailer is numbered X6170936 , thirty-three later than the Bordon example, and appears identical in design and construction. Although an ATLAS brand 110v DC grinder has been fitted rather than a WOLF, presumeably they fitted either type from what was available in 1943/4.

 

While my chassis is numbered 4136, only six later than that at Bordon.

 

Wonder how many of the Electrical Repair type were built?

 

Thanks again to "Landyandy", now just need to add "make two workbenches", to the list.

 

Cheers,

John

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Have been busy stripping the trailer ready for shot blasting. A few photos to show means of construction:

 

 

Last scan is from a contempory WO manual.

 

John

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Drawing with Frame from Rob - ex (Medium).jpg

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hello john

 

i want to build a replica trailer for myself .

is it possible to help me of the mesurments of your trailer

 

regards hans prijs

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Hi Hans,

 

Welcome to HMVF.

 

Yes, will help if I can.

Which measurements do you need?

Are you using a No1 MkII chassis as a base?

 

John

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hello john

 

i want to make a complete new chassis with original axel, rims and springs.

 

and i need the sizes of the lengt of the towing bar

 

the size of the overal lengt of the trailer

and the height en the width of the trailer

 

cheers hans

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hello john

 

i want to make a complete new chassis with original axel, rims and springs.

 

and i need the sizes of the lengt of the towing bar

 

the size of the overal lengt of the trailer

and the height en the width of the trailer

 

cheers hans

 

Hi Hans,

 

  • Length of the towing bar/drawbar forward of main body = 680mm.

  • Width of trailer = 1362mm

  • Length of main body = 1830mm

  • Height of body (not the distance from the ground, but the depth of the main body frame) = 436mm

Hope these help.

Where are you based? The Netherlands?

 

Which type of trailer did the axle and springs originate from? These REME trailers and the Water Bowser had stronger springs than the usual 10cwt Lightweight trailers.

You can see the type of springs in one of my earlier posted photos. If you need photo of other type let me know.

 

Cheers,

John

Edited by cordenj

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Lightweight Trailer Spring Types:

 

Lightweight No1 MkII "airborne" trailers where a higher weight was likely to be carried (water bowser or machinery trailers) appear to have been fitted with stronger springs where the lower leaf have recurved ends. The slightly later No2 lighweight trailers where also fitted with this trype of spring.

 

a) Standard No.1 MkII:

 

 

b) No1 MkII Lightweight Water Bowser:

 

 

c) No1 MkII Lightweight 2 Wheeled Electrical Repair Trailer:

 

 

d) No2 MkI:

 

 

 

 

Cheers,

John

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hello john

 

thanks for the help of the mesurmennts

 

i live in the netherlands near arnhem

 

i wanne use the springs and the schock absorbers of a generator trailer

 

and the axle of a 10cwt gs trailer

 

a friend of mine has the same waterbowser as you he want to restore it soon and i going to help him

 

cheers hans

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Hi John

As I'm new to the forum I hadn't picked up this thread till now. Richard spoke to me about your trailer at Combined Ops when he first located it, we discussed battery boxes etc being somewhat sad and T plates. I see you still have the T plate attached so you where lucky!! I recently purchased 10 T plates from a dealer I found at the Great Dorset Steam Fair, as you can imagine they have all been snapped up to finish restorations. The good news is I have one 6volt oak battery box of what I belive is the correct patten for your trailer, You have my home Phone No so give me a call os I'll see you at Godstone IMPS meeting in Febuary.

Regards

Robin Grainger

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