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1944 Flying Control Dodge WC51 - The Story So Far

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I've had the Dodge just over a month now, so I thought you'd like to see what I've been up to since I got it home. To start with, a few pictures of the journey home from Kendal on September 4th. It was 100 miles door to door and a 3hr 30min trip across the country.









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March 21st - Putting Faith to Bed With the coronavirus lock down only likely to become more severe and the 2020 MV events falling like dominos, we popped over to say good night to "Faith" for som

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Another year  and once again it is Happy birthday to "Faith" the Flying Control Dodge. This time, it's a big one!! 75 years old today!!! First time out, shortly after purchase in September

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The first couple of days saw a number of small jobs done to the Dodge, like new hinge pins for the rear doors, cropping some over length bolts on the side doors, rubbing down, sealing and repainting the dome mount. The following weekend, I had a trip out in the Dodge to the local aircraft museum for an open day. While at the museum, I polished the astrodome with T-Cut paint restorer, as the plastic had gone quite cloudy. It has come up much more clear, although the scratches are still there. They will need sanding out with fine wet and dry before re-polishing.




My daughter also seems to approve of the Dodge, and the radio operators chair in the back makes a great high chair at feeding times!






Once home from the museum, I built a new table for the radio operators position. Also made were some small catches to hold the rear body sides closed when not driving.




Another small job was filling/re-gluing some of the joints on the roof panels to better weather proof the rear body of the truck. For its first few weeks over here, it was going to be kept outdoors. I located storage at a local farm, but at the time, the barn was still full of classic cars and parts. The owner of the cars buys and sells, so the farmer said as soon as a space opened up in the barn, I could get the Dodge inside. While the roof was sealed, I did have a rain cover over the truck to keep the worst of the weather off.

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A shopping trip for bearings and assorted steel sections for the next stage of the conversion followed. Once back at my workshop, the 'Flightline Vehicle' red warning flag was made, although I have yet to make the mounting bracket for the truck.




Next job was for the meteorological position. I figured that a Flying Control vehicle should be able to tell pilots the local barometric pressure so they can set the altimeter to airfield pressure. Wind speed and direction instruments will also be provided along with temperature and humidity. So the first job was the cutting and welding of the weather vane parts.


A windsock will be mounted on the trailing edge of the vane and it will drive a wind direction indicator inside the truck. The 1/4 inch spindle rides in bearings which fit into a larger steel suport tube, however I couldn't get bearings exactly the right size so had to machine a small collar to fit around the outside of the bearing and take up the space.







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is bodge going out of the military scene altogether? noticed some of his stuff on e bay .....


No, he's just clearing out stuff that is no longer suitable for his display. He's got the staff car now for getting around, and he's keeping his .50 cal and ground crew gear for 40's specific events, but a number of things are now surplus.

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Below is the mount for the flagstaff. This will be welded to the front bumper with the bolt passing through the wooden flag pole to retain the flag.




The main support tube for the weather vane sits in a larger diameter tube which will be bolted to the truck roof. The drive rod from the instrument is supported by a slightly larger bearing to fit this tube, but I couldn't get one with a 6mm hole, so had to machine another two bushes.



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The weather vane and main support tube were primed in red oxide followed by a sprayed black top coat. The brass tube spacer has yet to be painted. The back of the arrow has been drilled for the windsock mount.




This is the ceiling mount for the weather vane mast. The flat plate will bolt to the ceiling of the truck body with the drive shaft extending down to the instrument panel.



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On September 18th, it was the Washington Heritage Festival, and amongst the other attractions there was to be a military vehicle display and dioramas. Since the event was only a mile from my house, it gave me the opportunity to take the Dodge and the Jeep on display, with my dad ferrying me back home after dropping the Dodge off so we could get the Jeep. It was the first chance I'd had to get photos of both vehicles together in my ownership.











Calling in the bombers!


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I finally got hold of a bicycle speedometer to convert into an Anemometer. The original dial was scanned, and the coloured sections and inappropriate text were removed. A new dial was then printed out and attached with double sided tape. The pointer was also resprayed white from the original red plastic. This will be installed in a panel with the other six instruments.





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I got a sheet of 1.5mm aluminium for the instrument panel, and need to cut seven holes for the dials. Lots of chain drilling holes was the order of the day as I don't have a large enough metal hole cutter.


The week after the Washington Festival, I was going to try and swap the wheels around today to find a pair that are balanced better, but discovered the spare was flat once I got started and wasn't holding air. I then discovered none of my sockets were the correct size for the split rim nuts, so had to go out and buy one and got a tube repair kit while I was on. I then struggled to break the bead for an hour before giving up and phoning the local garage who split it free of charge. I discovered the reason for the leak, the tube had split right at the valve.




While the wheel was apart, all the loose rust was removed with a rotary wire brush, and the wheel was primed and repainted ready for when the new tube arrived. I had quotes for tubes around £20 plus VAT, but eventually found a dealer on ebay selling tractor tubes for £12.00 for a pair including shipping.



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In order to get the observers chair at the correct height for viewing out of the dome, I added a false floor in the front half of the rear body. The 1/2 inch ply floor is bolted onto a 1 inch angle steel frame. I'm moving the spare wheel from the side to under this floor. I'd like to make some 'field mod' doors at some point ( like the Jeep ), and the spare wheel is a hinderance to the doors and climbing in.


A door covering the opening was cut and weather proofed. Three steel hinges were welded to the rear angle for this door to hinge on. The spare wheel fits under the right side leaving ample room for a 12v battery which will probably slide into place on a tray to make access easy. The battery will power ancillary gadgets.






Here's the start of the instrument panel with the chain holes around the circumference of the dials, the remaining material was cut out with a jigsaw. The panel now just needs filing to clean up the holes.



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Before the Meteorological station could be built and fitted, the locker lid needed replacing. Because the table and instrument panel need to be mounted low, so as not to obstruct the rear quarter vision when driving, the original rear locker lid wouldn't have opened.


As a result, I've made a new lid in sections which folds back on itself, minimizing the height of the lid as it opens. While there isn't much room to reach under the table, it still allows use of the locker for smaller items. The catch from the original lid was fitted to the new lid, and the original lid kept safe in case of re-fitting in the future.







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With the locker lid fitted, the table was fitted into place. This then allowed the instrument panel to be trial fitted to establish the point where the weather vane drive enters the panel. The aluminium panel was slightly over-sized, so that was filed down flush with the box.






Once I knew the position where the weather vane drive goes, I began work on the wind direction indicator. The instrument needs calibrating depending on which direction the truck is parked in. Therefore, the face of the instrument can be rotated using the knob to the upper right of the dial. In the picture below, it is some plastic Lego wheels used for testing, but a turned aluminium version will be machined.




The instrument face is attached to a gear wheel, which is driven through an intermediate gear to the shaft for the adjusting knob. This gearing down allows finer adjustment of the dial position. The pointer shaft runs through the centre of the dial face gear and is seen above with a temporary styrene needle. A gear on the end of the pointer shaft will connect to the weather vane shaft via intermediate gears to make sure the direction of rotation is the same as the weather vane. Rather than spend money on gears ( which are unseen ), I used some old Lego ones that I've had kicking around the workshop for years in the hope that they would be useful one day!

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The bottom of the weather vane shaft is now supported in a bearing seated in a turned resin housing ( blue cylinder ). The gear wheel on the end of the shaft drives a second gear connected to the brass tube shaft seen below. This turns a third gear meshing with a fourth on the pointer shaft of the weather vane gauge.




Also turned up is the knob to swing the compass face to align it in the correct orientation depending how the truck is parked.



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With the panel painted, I was ready to start fitting gauges. The wind speed gauge was first, and then the two clock faces were fitted to ply plates and the clock mechanisms fitted. The pointers needed trimming down and respraying. A wooden framework was then built on the inside of the panel to hold the instruments behind the removable aluminium front face.




After the Wind Speed gauge was fitted, the drive cable was routed to exit the top of the panel. A piece of brass tube was crimped and soldered to the square drive of the cable so that a drive wire could then be connected up to the truck roof and the yet to be built anemometer head.



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The first picture below shows the inside of the panel with the wind direction mechanism and wind speed gauges in the foreground. To the left is one of the clocks and below and behind, the barometer and hygrometer.




This picture shows the virtually complete instrument panel, just needing the box painting and then fitting into the truck.



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Finished! The main box of the meteorological station was primed and painted. The aircraft compass has been mounted on the top. This is used to calibrate the wind direction indicator once the truck parks up on the end of the runway.


Also done is the stencilling on the clocks and the wind direction indicator. The only thing that may be added in the future is a toggle switch in the blank upper right side of the panel to switch on a panel light which I have and that can be mounted overhead.


I knew there was a US/UK time difference during WW2, hence the reason for the two clocks, but just read that all orders from 'Pinetree' ( 8th AF Headquarters ) were written using GMT. The UK however was using British Double Summer Time ( BDST ) during the summer. So one clock is set to GMT and the other adjusted from BST to BDST as necessary.






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The most recent update, finished a couple of days ago is the cotton windsock. This has swivel linkage to connect it to the weather vane that is detachable from the vane using a small metal M3 clevis.








I'm going to the war weekend at Pickering this weekend ( without the truck ), so it will be next weekend before I get chance to fit the instrument panel and get the weather vane dirving the dial.

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Brilliant stuff, Steve!


I don't know how the Dodge will look without the spare wheel next to the driver, you've taken away a very distinctive feature of the WWII Dodge.


A load of Dodges and other vehicles operated on airfields commonly operated without spare wheels, axes, shovels, jerrycans, and all sorts of stuff - basically on the premise of if you are on an airfield just how far can it be to walk back to the garage, I think

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