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Flying Flea Drop cage

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I can't remember if I posted something regarding a Flying Flea cage that was at the Malvern about a year ago ? Someone contacted me yesterday to say there was another one there on Sunday which had the same price tag (£2000). 

I contacted Ron last year and it seems there are only two originals in existence......... although the guy who contacted me said he thought this one was original due to the pitting etc under the paint and general condition......... with Rons ear to the ground last time and the info he got I very much doubt the one on Sunday (could be wrong ) but for another to appear in the same venue with the same price tag within a year I have my doubts, just wonder if anyone here seen it ? 

 

 

 

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Lex told me that there's one in the Airborne museum (NL I think) and there's another one that I think was buried for years and needs some repairs. There's talk of me getting 2 or 3 copied from it......Sometime maybe! Ron

Edited by Ron

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Whilst I know next to nothing about the drop cages, I would say that a small proportion of the one at Malvern was fairly new.

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Thanks Adrian. I know nothing about the ones being sold. Duke has seen two at Malvern. So you think this latest one might be a repaired original?  To my mind there's nothing wrong with a reproduction, as that's probably the only way to own one for a display........As long as everyone is being honest.  Ron

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I know there is a guy making these called Nigel who takes these to shows , he makes them to order. I spoke with him 3/4 years ago at Malvern he actually got measuements off the one at the Glider Museum at Wolfheze .

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I received an email yesterday, the guy who contacted me had made contact with the seller, who was very open and said it was a reproduction one. 

 

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That's OK then and it sounds like the guy making them might be Nigel Silver who I know quite well and is a decent bloke. Ron

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It is indeed Nigel Silver making them..........the one at Malvern last year was £1,200 and the seller (near the door) told me it was a copy...........

A friend of mine has acquired around 2-3 original drop containers for the Welbike. They are originals in poor condition as they were dug out of the ground but still have their internal crash pads fitted.....ideal for getting a replica made..........

Post-WW2 the 1,500 or so Flea's retained by the Army until the early 1950's (that sat unused in storage) were largely intended for use on glider operations, therefore the drop cage was considered obsolete. Doubtless the vast majority went to scrap unused.....

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This replica was for sale a couple of years ago. I'm not impressed by the build quality I have to say...

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Jan maybe Lex should pass his original through your door for appraisal and possible production?  They look like a lot of work but some of the welding and detail on that one don't bare close scrutiny. I'd like to see or good pictures of an original out of interest. 

Ron 

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17 hours ago, wdbikemad said:

It is indeed Nigel Silver making them..........the one at Malvern last year was £1,200 and the seller (near the door) told me it was a copy...........

A friend of mine has acquired around 2-3 original drop containers for the Welbike. They are originals in poor condition as they were dug out of the ground but still have their internal crash pads fitted.....ideal for getting a replica made..........

Post-WW2 the 1,500 or so Flea's retained by the Army until the early 1950's (that sat unused in storage) were largely intended for use on glider operations, therefore the drop cage was considered obsolete. Doubtless the vast majority went to scrap unused.....

£ 1,200 that's cheap to what I was quoted  earlier this year, £2000.00 was the quote I had 

Edited by Davey089

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I doubt very much the originals had much of a build quality, with the intention of something being scrapped once opened, I doubt the quality was a big issue at the time as long as it did the job. 

 

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I'm not so sure Duke? I'm often amazed at the quality and engineering that went into a piece of equipment which maybe only had a life expectancy of a short period.

If something was designed and ordered to be produced, I don't think there would have been any instructions to make it shoddy. 

I've still yet to see an original drop cage but I bet the welds are neat 🙂 

Ron 

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I agree Ron! Several dropping tests were carried out by the military before Enfield started producing these dropping cradles. The design of the dropping cage had to be modified several times because motorcycles got damaged during the landing. I'm sure that the quality of these dropping crates had to be "perfect"! 

The dropping crates were made in a Royal Enfield factory in Scotland by the way... (Edinburgh to be precise, with Calton Hill in the background.)

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Edited by rewdco

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I note that the original drop cage, as part of the assembly, had a couple of separate(?) bars that sat either side of the frame saddle down-tube just behind the engine.........see this picture of a wartime Flea in German hands after it has been removed from the drop cradle.......you will see these extra "bars" on the side still attached.......I wonder if these were a collapsible component against side impact of the cradle.....?

refleacapturedcn4.jpg

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Never noticed that Steve! Ron

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Gentlemen... it's all in my "Report" on the WD Royal Enfields! 😉

At least 16 dropping test have been made during the March – May 1944 period. The “crating of the motorcycle” procedure describes how a “weak tube member” must be fitted between crate and motorcycle frame. This weak tube member “was designed to collapse before any failure occurred in the motorcycle frame.And the crates that were used for the first tests had “wheel cradles in the form of light alloy castings”. Compared with the original August ’42 prototype crates this was a modification. But the wheel cradles for the later tests were modified again: the cast wheel cradle was now replaced by a bar type wheel cradle. “The bar type broke off when the motorcycle was subjected to an excessive sideways thrust, whereas the shoe type remained rigid and caused damage to the wheel.” ... “Although the motorcycle can be dropped using the cast shoe type wheel cradles, the stiffness of the casting is such that when subjected to excessive side loads on landing the bicycle wheel is more readily damaged than the cradle. The bar type wheel cradle has proved satisfactory on every drop made at this Establishment and is therefore the type recommended.”

You can see the weak tube member and the cast alloy wheel cradles in the picture below (also from my Report...)   😉 

Schermafbeelding 2019-11-22 om 08.24.36.png

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And now I feel guilty again for not, reading, learning and inwardly digesting your report Jan. Truth is I can't even remember yesterdays headlines😏 Ron 

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Jan, what do the factory despatch registers mention about the captured Flea shown in the image ? C5111922.........I wonder where it was originally delivered to ? First contract, it has some markings on the front flanks of the fuel tank but I can't make them out sadly.............I think this image was taken during "Op Varsity" (the crossing of the Rhine).....?

 

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Census number C5111922 would have been frame number 4922. According to the factory ledgers this one left the factory on 29/09/1943, destination War Department South Merstham.

Jan

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"Merstham is a town in the borough of Reigate and Banstead in Surrey, England. It is north of Redhill and is contiguous with it. Part of the North Downs Way runs along the northern boundary of the town".

Thanks for the fast reply Jan ! So it was delivered to a unit in the above location during 1943.......with some further research, it just may be possible to track down the journey of this Flea........I think it's a 2-digit Unit sign on the tank, ending with a "7" so it may be possible to pinpoint the exact unit who dropped this Flea...?

 

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19 hours ago, rewdco said:

I agree Ron! Several dropping tests were carried out by the military before Enfield started producing these dropping cradles. The design of the dropping cage had to be modified several times because motorcycles got damaged during the landing. I'm sure that the quality of these dropping crates had to be "perfect"! 

The dropping crates were made in a Royal Enfield factory in Scotland by the way... (Edinburgh to be precise, with Calton Hill in the background.)

 

 

 

Bike 0066.jpg

Great picture, it's also interesting to see the Jeep in the background, on a air droppable frame.

 

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On one of Guy Martins programs they Air Dropped one of these, then he started and rode the motor cycle on the runway. I think it belonged to a teacher.

Edited by john1950
addition

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I missed that one☹️  He could have used mine......NOT! Ron

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