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I wonder if any of you gents have any experience and advice on buying/owning/restoring/maintaining Saracens? Is there any particular problems one should be aware of? Any very expensive bits I should check for? Are there unobtainable bits I need to look at? Are spares generally available? Absolutely any advice would be welcome although the "don't touch it with a barge pole" type of thing will probably fall on deaf ears!!!!!!

Daren

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I wonder if any of you gents have any experience and advice on buying/owning/restoring/maintaining Saracens? Is there any particular problems one should be aware of? Any very expensive bits I should check for? Are there unobtainable bits I need to look at? Are spares generally available? Absolutely any advice would be welcome although the "don't touch it with a barge pole" type of thing will probably fall on deaf ears!!!!!!

Daren

 

Daren,

 

Obviously you will not heed my warning, DON'T ...... so I will give you some advice on them. Firstly, they are very thirsty. Go for one that is not uparmoured, because they are about a ton heavier and it is noticable, they can be spotted by the extra armour welded over the outside, look at the rear door area and you should spot it. They also have 12.00-20 tyres where the normal Saracen has 11.00-20. Another thing to watch is if you find one with the beehive engine covers (reverse flow cooling), check that it has the sheet metal / rubber shroud over the front grille. If it does not have the shroud, check which way the fans are blowing when you start up. For reverse flow it will blow forward. I have known some people fit the standard fans that blow rearward, but with the beehives and no ducting around the front of the hull, they can suffer fuel evaporation and other problems. So are you with me so far? The accumulaters serving the brakes and steering need to be charged regularly, else you will not get sufficient pressure in the system. Charged with nitrogen or dry compressed air to 500psi. Parts are not too bad if you go to the right places, but some things that are prone to wearing, breaking, deteriorating are getting short and thus, expensive, like silencers, exhaust manifolds, Y-branch, etc.

 

Maintaining........there are an awful lot of levels and oiling points to cover, access to engine is not as good as it might appear.

 

How is that? Part 2 follows (only joking)

 

Richard

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I got a Saracen as part of a deal about 12 years ago. At that point I could not see the point of it: no gun, no tracks, no WW2 history etc. Then I drove it!! It is bloody magic! How many other wheeled vehicles can cross a five foot trench? Or go over telegraph poles in the road flat out? Change gear in reverse? It can go almost anywhere, including Motorways and gets a LOT of looks.

It is very thirsty, between 3 to 5 to the gallon and there are a lot of levels to check.

4 things you might come up against: leaking seals, broken exhaust manifolds, uneven tyre wear, rusty pipework.

Seals: might be oil level or fluid flywheel. The best remedy for oil leals is check levels before EVERY trip initially. You will soon find the one or two that actually leak. The fluid flywheel seal goes hard with age and high temperatures. You need to do a 'stall check' and top up if necessary again before every trip. Replacement is a major dismantling job so quite a leak can be tolerated for some time, so long as you top up!

Exhaust manifolds: seem to crack around studs. No real cure although you could try brazing. Replace bolts and studs with stainless steel when dismantling. Exhaust leakage is both a flame hazard and Carbon Monoxide hazard.

Uneven tyre wear: you MUST jack up each wheel, inflate to the correct road pressure and mark the circumference length of the tyre in chalk. Repeat for all 6 tyres. Then swap wheels to put 3 largest on one side, the three smallest on the other. each wheel on each side must be the same circumference as the other two within 2 inches, preferably within half an inch. Doing this is a pain but completely relieves wind up problems.

Pipes: hydraulic pipes are steel and clipped horizontally along the bodywork. Condensation or leaks from the escape doors can lodge and cause rust holes to penetrate. As these pipes work the brakes and steering this is a problem to avoid! ANY oil leaks inside the body must mean an immediate halt and investigation.

Don't forget to 'pedal up' the gear change pedal before driving off.

I like them so much I have got 2 of them: a Mk 1 and an Ambulance Mk5.

If you need persuading to buy one or need help once you have got one, give me a call.

Cheers

John

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Thanks very much for your advice,it is much appreciated.Basically the vehicle I have in mind is in Jersey in a very delapidated state but free to a good home or it's heading for the dump!!Here is a pic

100_1264.jpg

I actually got shot of my rose tinted spectacles a few years ago a realise it is in need of a great deal of work,but I hate to see it thrown away.The guy says it runs and has today agreed to let me spend a weekend there fiddling and check it over more closely baring in mind the information you have given me.The other major consideration is the fact that it is road registered in Jersey which is a big deal over here believe me!!I also must admit I would prefer a standard hull as opposed to the ACP.Any ideas which model/year it is.I managed to find those articles you mention Andy even though we are in the middle of moving house and can't find any pics of one exactly like this.It has wooden duck boards on the roof and really nicely opening windows in the drivers side vision slots.Also the roof hatch is plated over so no commanders position.Also strange vents on r/h side of hull just visible in this pic don't appear on any pics in the articles

Will post more pics

Daren

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Daren,

Certainly looks to be a challenge, are you jersey based, or do you need to ferry it back ?

Regarding identifying modle type, it may be worth,if poss, borrowing the following, from your local friendly libary, if held in stock; (cheaper than buying on spec !)

Alvis Saracen Family, by Bill Munro.

In National Service, by Pat Ware,-( of Classic Military Vehicle mag)

 

 

Some where, I'm sure I've got some gumf on the 6 wheel Alvis's, so will have a root about; -(you know what its like, when looking for something specific,...........it hides !)

 

Good luck,.............it does look like you'll need it :lol:

 

 

Andy

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Thanks very much for your advice,it is much appreciated.Basically the vehicle I have in mind is in Jersey in a very delapidated state but free to a good home or it's heading for the dump!!

 

Daren,

 

It is a Armoured Command Post as you say and is FV610. Some were designated GPO, thats not General Post Office, but Gun Positioning Officer. Another role was FACE, Field Artillery Computer Equipment, both Royal Artillery usage.

 

How did it get in that condition? As you say it is road registered, I assume it was in good order once. I have had experience of these in the past and some were used, after they were declared obsolete, by research establishments, with all sorts of odd modifications and fittings, maybe this is how come it has a few variations from the norm on it. Will certainly want a deal of work and parts on it.

 

Best of luck,

Richard

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  • 1 month later...
It is a Armoured Command Post as you say and is FV610. Some were designated GPO, thats not General Post Office, but Gun Positioning Officer. Another role was FACE, Field Artillery Computer Equipment, both Royal Artillery usage.

 

How did it get in that condition? As you say it is road registered, I assume it was in good order once. I have had experience of these in the past and some were used, after they were declared obsolete, by research establishments, with all sorts of odd modifications and fittings, maybe this is how come it has a few variations from the norm on it. Will certainly want a deal of work and parts on it.

 

Best of luck,

Richard

 

It is indeed an APCRA (Armoured Command Post Royal Artillery). When our regiment deployed to BAOR in late 1977, we (Command Troop) were mistakenly issued with these "double decker" ACPRAs instead of ACVs (Armoured Command Vehicles. We drove from Paderborn to Moenchengladbach to collect them (and four Ferret Scout Cars) and it took forever to make the return journey.

 

You may have noticed that this is a good few inches (14 sticks in my mind) taller than normal Saracens and like another poster has stated, it guzzles petrol. I don't remember ever getting one above 20 miles per hour.

 

As a vehicle it was dire and the mistake was rectified within a month or so when we were issued with ACVs instead. But as a collector's piece it will be very rare. I don't think, apart from the chape of the cabin, there was anything unusual about these vehicles and there oughtn't IMHO be a problem over diversity of spares.

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  • 3 weeks later...
:D just a few pointers,

you will need a very trusty friend as visability is terrible too the rear and sides.

if the engine stalls you lose brakes and steering,

but they are great fun to drive and they make a lovely sound going down the road vroom vroom!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Heh - the bit about visibility seems to be a trademark of all the 6-wheeled Alvis family :)

 

I drove a Saracen once on a TAVR exercise way back in the seventies and could never have done it without a No. 2 in the turret telling me when to turn. Overtaking wasn't a problem - apart from the odd milk float :)

Great fun to play with though.... If the wife Mk 1 wasn't so anti-guns I'd be tempted to have gone for one in lieu of the Stalwart!!!! (or a 432 - but thats another story!!)

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:D just a few pointers,

you will need a very trusty friend as visability is terrible too the rear and sides.

if the engine stalls you lose brakes and steering,

but they are great fun to drive and they make a lovely sound going down the road vroom vroom!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Something to bear in mind. Presumably you are aware that it has a preselective (semi-automatic) gearbox - I drove it on my automatic car licence, though I think the laws may well have changed.

 

Anyway, when you change gear, you don't allow the clutch back out gently (primarily because it isn't a clutch: it's a Gear Change Pedal or GCP), that's what the fluid flywheel is for. When you initiate a gear change, give the GCP a good smack: don't mollycoddle it. If you treat the GCP gently, you increase the risk of finding a false neutral, and the GCP will extend so far, so fast and so hard that it'll push your left knee almost into your chest and stick there. You need to spend some time and effort trying to find a gear, at the same time steering the Saracen which continues to hurtle down the road (it may be only 20mph but it's a lot of kinetic energy!).

 

Also because of the six wheels and the primitive power steering, I found that keeping it on the straight and narrow ... errr straight and wide as a battleship ... was best achieved by actually working the bus-like steering wheel back and forth against the power steering in the manner of any Hollywood star driving up a dead straight, dead smooth road. You'll also find the six wheels render sleeping policemen irrelevant. I discovered that the first time I ever drove a military vehicle (a Ferret, following a Saracen on the streets and lanes of West Tyrone). The Saracen APC, leading, went past an RUC station flat out, round the oil drum chicane and over the sleeping policemen. I, in the Ferret, knowing no better, lined up to do likewise. I heard a strange whining from behind me just as we hit the first sleeping policeman. As we landed, having cleared the rest of the sleeping policemen, I realised that it was my commander, who'd just worked out what I was going to do.

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: You'll also find the six wheels render sleeping policemen irrelevant. I discovered that the first time I ever drove a military vehicle (a Ferret, following a Saracen on the streets and lanes of West Tyrone). The Saracen APC, leading, went past an RUC station flat out, round the oil drum chicane and over the sleeping policemen. I, in the Ferret, knowing no better, lined up to do likewise. I heard a strange whining from behind me just as we hit the first sleeping policeman. As we landed, having cleared the rest of the sleeping policemen, I realised that it was my commander, who'd just worked out what I was going to do.

 

On the way to a show in a Saracen, no 1 son went over big road humps flat out, no problem but no 2 son, following in a Ferret did the same. He knocked himself senceless on the roof. He had a couple of seconds before passing out and luckilly stamped the middle pedal and came to a halt as he lost consciousness.

A couple of months later, no 1 son was showing the cross country capabilities of the saracen with his wife in the turret. He hit a hump in the middle of a field where the farmer had dumped the big rocks for the last 10 generations and was going over this long, wide, 2 foot high hump repeatedly at speeds up to 40 mph. On the last pass, he found a 21 inch high (measured) vertical face of rocks in the grass which he hit at the said 40mph. Wife left the turret entirely and all four bonnets clapped hands above the engine compartment and all six wheels left the ground. Wife fell back into turret with only a couple of bruises: no 1 son was completely unaffected, even though he had no seat belt on. His ears got very sore from his wifes tongue later though!

I just pay for them: others usually seem to drive them!

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I saw this FV610 in Jersey some 20-odd years ago. It belonged to Aviation Jersey (who still exist) when their business was located near the sea-front in St Brelade in what was the German army's meat store and butchery during the Occupation. If I recall correctly, one of its uses was for developments in crew air conditioning which may account for the strange ventilation fittings. Although it's road-legal, they had to get agreement from the island's police to take it out on the road because of the width (maximum allowed width in Jersey is 7ft 6in which also causes problems in buying buses as the standard Euro width is 8' 2 1/2 in). On days out they used go for runs along St. Ouens bay which has the only decent long straight bit of road in Jersey.

Twenty years ago it was in pretty good state; shame it's been left to rot in the salt air.

 

Andy

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I saw this FV610 in Jersey some 20-odd years ago. It belonged to Aviation Jersey (who still exist) Andy

 

I think that I phoned them for a quote for B80 engine spares but they seemed to misunderstand me and quoted me the cost of buying the island of Jersey whole!

I think they can also supply brand new Merlin engines but they cost more than the Gross National Product of any country that is not in the G8 organisation. :lol:

 

(Apologies Aviation Jersey if it was not you I telephoned)

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  • 1 year later...

Saw this fine Saracen at a Rally in Connecticut , USA back in the early 1990's no idea who owed it then or who might own it now . He seemed to have a good time making several laps of the rally area .Perhaps some one will reconignize it from its British Registration # ?

width=640 height=480http://i236.photobucket.com/albums/ff35/abndeuce/friendsmvs009-1.jpg[/img]

width=640 height=480http://i236.photobucket.com/albums/ff35/abndeuce/friendsmvs008-1.jpg[/img]

width=640 height=480http://i236.photobucket.com/albums/ff35/abndeuce/friendsmvs010-1.jpg[/img]

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I think that I phoned them for a quote for B80 engine spares but they seemed to misunderstand me and quoted me the cost of buying the island of Jersey whole!

I think they can also supply brand new Merlin engines but they cost more than the Gross National Product of any country that is not in the G8 organisation. :lol:

 

(Apologies Aviation Jersey if it was not you I telephoned)

I worked for them, back in the days when they serviced engines for Rhodesia. the spares came down from andover. 2 years or so after the engines went back some politician jumped up and complained about sanctionbusting. not a lot changing then. they also got into a lot of grief for doing unauthorised mods on Merlins in a Mosquito that subsequently crashed.
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Companies like Aviation Jersey who deal with Foreign Goverments are use to charging vast sums and getting it paid without question.

 

I remember about ten years ago asking Alvis if they could supply me with a tool for adjusting the brakes on a Saladin. Even though the vehicles were totaly obsolete by that time with very little market for spares, they still wanted several hundred pounds.

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Oh Bugger, going back to the start of the thread, I WORKED on that wagon back in in about 1875. At that time Aviation Jersey were Alvis's main FV dealer. The beast was behind the factory at St Aubin's bay, now millionaires mansions. When I first went there i was wound up by giving a crank handle shown it and told, 'Now first thing every morning when you come in your first job is turn that engine over 100 times to stop it freezing up'. i actually believed and second day........ One side of the factory serviced AFVs the other side built Travelectric electric wheel chairs. Never could decide if they were slaving conscience's or cashing in both ends.

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I don't ever remember it running actually. There were 2 of them. It was the time we got the Rhodesian engines The other apprentice and I opened the crates and thought who's sent these bricks? They were solid with bright red clay, took a week to get it all off. One good thing for us, and bad for the Sarecens, the factory was about 100 yards from the beach, off work straight over the sea wall and out swimming and sailing.

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How many horsepower was the engine in those days then Tony ;-)

 

 

Not enough. Like I said earlier in the thread, we were issued with three of these by mistake by the vehicle depot at Moenchenstrapback in late 1977 and I don't think we ever got one of them over 20mph.

 

Yet I cannot believe the APCRA was so much heavier than the ACV which never felt like it was dawdling.

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