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Jessie The Jeep

My Flying Control Jeep

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The small aluminium disc was baked for some time after being sprayed white and was then masked up for a red cross to be sprayed. Once dry, this would be mounted with the original bracket made for the RAF roundel. It is a 'T' shaped piece of wood with a threaded insert for a bolt. The Red cross disc and 'T' bracket clamp around the grill bars.

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On September 18th, the Jeep was rolled out onto the drive in the new markings for the first time. They were completed just in time for the Tanfield Railway 1940's event this weekend.

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September 20~27th - .50 Calibre Ammunition Crates

In early September, I made the first crate for camping gear. This was a single crate for when I go camping on my own. The next two crates were for when we go away as a family and so needed to carry more of everything. 

So the plan was to make two .50 calibre crates, but rather than buy a heavy repro, I opted for a lightweight thin ply crate. This would keep the weight down and create more internal space. A mock up was made from boards propped up to estimate the internal sizes needed for everything. I worked out that my crates could be close to the original size and so shouldn't look out of place, otherwise I would have probably marked them up as random parts crates.

The originals had a machined handle in the thick end plank. Since I was using thin ply, I needed to build a wooden box to create the slot. The rest of the boxes came together fairly quickly and were given several coats of paint mixed with waterproof PVA glue to seal, colour and waterproof the wood.

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The lid was going to be the hard part of the project due to the recessed machining of the original for the fasteners. As I didn't have a suitable routing bit, I took a different approach. I used a wood bit to drill a centre hole, then a hole saw to cut half way into the depth of the wood. This was the centre of the hole where the wing nut would sit down into. A larger circle was drawn around the hole with would form the boundary of the tapered recess. 

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To create the tapered depression, the centre part of wood was chiseled out and then the outer part was carved out with a very sharp scalpel While the pine was still quite hard to carve, the scalpel did a good job and was regularly sharpened. The hole was cleaned up with a mini drum sander before a hand sand to finish off.

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The finished effect was very pleasing and a good representation of the lid of the original crates.

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While the original lid had six wing nuts to fasten it down, I didn't want the effort of six nuts to open on each crate. Instead I added two dowels to one end that would slot into holes in the end of the box. The other end would use one wing nut to secure the lid.

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The picture below shows the inside end of the box with the holes that take the dowels from the lid. So five of the wing nuts would be doing nothing, but they needed to be there.

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I cut several pieces of studding, placed them in the holes and sprinkled fibreglass milled fibres down the holes. I then ran a few drops of thin cyanoacrylate down the hole with solidified thefibres around the studding, locking them in place. This allowed the five non-functioning wing nuts to be permanently screwed ont the lid.

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With the fixings complete, I began to paint the lids, again using a paint/PVA mix. Adding the glue not only helped with waterproofing and adhesion, but it also had the effect to filling the wood grain to some degree.

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One of the crates was to be left completely empty inside while the other needed some dividers. I had a trial pack to check what went where and marked up where the dividers needed to be. I still had some left over ply from the 8x4 sheet, so this was cut and glued in place to support the plates and cups, with the washing up bowl and other odds and ends.

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With the insides sorted, it was time to make the outside look exciting! I used photos of real crates to work out a size for the text and graphics which were then redrawn and printed on normal paper. The paper was then covered in a layer of Sellotape which reinforces the paper and makes cutting delicate stencil bridges easier. They were all cut in one big session with a very sharp scalpel and then taped onto the box with masking tape.

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With everything taped down, I began painting using a tin of Humbrol model enamel and a cut down brush to stipple the paint through the stencils. Two coats of paint were applied which gave a reasonable but not too even a coating. The largest side of the first box was done first.

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After the stencils were dry enough to remove, I then touched up all the stencil bridges to fill in the gaps. This is because the original boxes were printed rather than stencilled. The end of the first box was done next.

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The second box followed while the first was set aside to dry. The last stencils were on the lids and the boxes were then complete. They were left to harden overnight and the contents packed the following morning.

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The three finished camping crates.

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I've got quite a selection of boxes and crates now. In addition to the new .30 and .50 Cal crates, I have two astrograph boxes, two wooden crates made when I first got the Jeep, a .30 Cal tin and a first aid tin.

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September 28th - Windscreen Rust Treatment

At the Beamish event, I noticed a patch of rust at the lower corner of the passenger side windscreen. The paint was blistering badly and the frame looked like it had spread apart a little, allowing the rubber seal to come loose at the corner.

Other than a school visit in a few weeks time, the events are over for this year, so I have a bit of time to deal with it. At first, the inner screen wouldn't come out of the outer frame. It wouldn't lift up high enough to line up with the slot in the outer frame. I worked out that the bolts filling the holes where the original Hotchkiss screen supports were, prevented the screen opening enough.

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After they were removed, the screen opened fully and was removed. I used a rotary wire brush to cut through the paint and grind away the surface rust on the outside of the frame.

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It was then placed in an electrolysis bath to get deep into the rust, inside and outside of the frame. This is just the first step in the repair.

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After a little while in the bath, I pulled the screen out to check on the progress. A bit more wire brushing showed a very thin area which was ground out. The screen went back into the electrolysis bath again to work on this area.

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That's as far as I got today.

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After further electrolysis, the screen was removed and cleaned inside and out, showing the extent of the rot.

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The holes were filled with paint to try and seal the metal internally and the area was then baked in front of a heater. 

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Originally I'd thought about using lots of small welds to fill the holes until I realised how big they were. I was also concerned about heat damage to the glass since it isn't removable. It was siliconed into the frame, probably by he French Army during its service rebuild. After getting a good look at the cleaned up holes, I opted for filling the area with a mix of epoxy resin and iron filings to reinforce the corner. This was left overnight to fully cure. 

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September 29th

The low spots were filled with polyester filler, sanded, primed and filled again and eventually the olive top coat was painted.

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The paint was left in front of a heater for a while to dry. Before fitting to the Jeep, I sprayed WD40 into the joint between the rubber seals and the frame, to try and get some behind the seals. The screen hinge was then greased and then it was slotted into place in the outer frame on the Jeep.

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Blackfell Primary School World War 2 Day - October 22nd

It was a really cold morning and Jessie didn't want to start. On and off across the year, the starter gear wasn't engaging when the starter button was pressed. It took a number of goes, having to wait for the spin to stop before each try. Something to look at over the winter!

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Lynne and I eventually got going and arrived at the school gates just before 9am. After being let in, we parked up behind the year 6 classroom as the field was fairly wet and being cut by the council. 

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Since Tanfield, Jessie has taken possession of the new light coloured canvas roof as it seems to go better with the light olive of the bodywork. I'll leave the darker original roof canvas with Hope. Still wearing the Red Cross markings, this time Jessie was also wearing the RAF markings on the side, back and front bumper, giving yet another slight variation in the look of the vehicle.

Paul began the morning talks about the British airborne forces, taking the kids through the personal and field kit, before moving on to the weapons such as the Thompson, Sten and Bren guns. We finished off opening out a parachute which pretty much filled the school hall. That took us to morning break.

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I had planned to have a talk about the German forces, but the guy had to drop out due to illness. Instead I did my 8th Air Force talk which I had prepared from previous years. 

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This took us through to lunch. After lunch, John talked about ARP duties, evacuees, the home front, rationing, gas masks and the black out etc.

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When John finished, he fielded a number of questions from the class for probably around another fifteen minutes. 

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By this time we were half way through the afternoon, so we dressed up Miss Dodds in all my flying kit to give her and the class an appreciation of its weight, bulk and the effort needed to work wearing all of this.

From there, we spent the rest of the afternoon looking at the Jeeps outside, with the kids getting in a few at a time for class photos. I took Hope onto the field for a quick drive around to show them the Jeep in action, up and down the small hill between the two school fields, and leaving tram lines all over in the wet, soft grass!

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We returned to the the class for the last fifteen minutes and I fielded a number of general questions about World War 2 to finish the day.
 

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Once home, Hope was covered in mud and grass cuttings from the field, so I got the hose out for a wash down before putting both Jeeps away again. It had been another great visit and I'm fairly sure everyone enjoyed the day. I'm pretty sure this was my last event of the 2019 season.

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