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British WWII Lightweight 100 Gallon Water Trailers

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I restored one of these seldom seen small water treatment bowsers a few years ago. They were developed, along with a wide range of other specialist trailers, based on 10 cwt components for the Airborne divisions.

At least one was said to have been landed by glider on D-day and used to set up a water point on the River Orme at Benouville.


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They consist of a 100 galvanised tank on a special mild steel chassis that utilises standard 10 cwt wheel. axle, hitch and brakes. Water filtration is by a Metafilter.



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They are rare and only a handful are still known to exist. One other has been fully restored and a couple of others are in the process of rebuilds in Uk and the Netherlands.


So imagine my surprise five years ago, when walking in a remote part of West Sussex near Midhurst to find these in an overgrown corner of a field:


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Having discovered these bowsers tanks, in then took several months to find the farmer who owned them as he did not live near the site.

There then was a protracted period of several years trying to persuade him to part with them, even though they clearly had not been used for decades.


This was finally achieved last month and a friend and I drove to collect them with an enjoyable 80 mile round trip in our Jeeps and Airborne trailers.


As the bowser tanks were galvanised, they have survived remarkably well, but the pre-war truck chassis that they had been mounted on had rotted into the ground. I assume they were purchased at a surplus sale after the war and just used to take water for livestock.


Their location was so remote and overgrown, that anything larger than a Jeep would not have gained access without some significant arboricultural work.


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Really just a story of patience and persistence paying off, and now both bowser tanks have been saved.

I'm pleased to say one is already with its new owner in the North of England who plans to mount it on an original Lightweight Water trailer chassis that he has but was missing its bowser tank.


So I hope we'll see another one of these unusual trailers at shows in the future.


P.s.: If anyone knows where there is a Metafilter looking a for a home.....please let me know






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  • 11 months later...

I'm pleased to say that both of these bowser tanks have now found new homes and will be used to build 100 gallon Lightweight Water Bowsers.


The first went to Richard in UK last year, the second was also quickly sold to Paul in USA and was shipped out today:





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  • 3 years later...

This post has been over ten years in the making!

Feel its only fitting  that I continue where John left off. 

It all started with the purchase of a 10cwt 100 gallon water lightweight trailer chassis over 10 years ago...

These rarely come onto the market and was one of the missing links in my Airborne collection. The trailer had been through numerous collectors hands, and having personally missed purchasing the trailer 12 months prior I wasn't going to let it slip again so I bit the bullet and made the  purchase and took delivery. :-) 

I figured the best course of action would be to only start the restoration once I had 90% of the parts to complete .

The key component would be the water tank itself. The likelihood of finding an original that had been salvaged after the war, spent its life on a farm full of water,  hadn't rotted out or had long since being sold  off for scrap.. my starting point was to contact someone who had a good original example of these trailers, who didn't mind me crawling all over it so I could take measurements create templates so I could  remake a new tank. 

John was that person. My plans we're (at some point in time) to visit with a camera and tape measure. So you can imagine my surprise with a call out of the blue that two had been found in a corner of the field. 

Again another long wait, several years later my day came to go and collect. Finally the restoration was starting to take traction. 

Unfortunately I have had a small mishap with a laptop hard drive, so have limited pictures. 

The water trailer chassis  is the forth from the left.  







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  • 1 month later...

Thanks John

The progress has been slow and steady, I figured the best plan would be to try and collect all the bits before I start. 

Obviously getting the tank was a big push in the right direction. So many thanks for that. 

The next focus would be to turn up a pump and filter. Easier said than done. Filters are practicably impossible to find, constructed from brass and copper. chances of these surviving the scrap man very slim....... fortunately Ian (restoring 180 gallon water bowser trailer) was kind enough to let me measure one of his originals. 

So this was my starting point. No luck in picking up an original (10 years in the looking) nothing. so onto making an replica.  

So progress so far.




Edited by Jerryjeeprichard
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  • 1 month later...

Spent a few days over the weekend getting back to grips with the bowser trailer. 

Started with the water pump. 

Unlike the water filter iv'e been luck enough to pick up an original.

Started by getting the pump stripped down to its component parts, before running it through the cabinet blaster to get back to fresh brass work. followed up with a quick coat of zinc primer. 







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I'm still looking for these for my MWC....  Nice to see one that has been taken apart, is there any chance you could post a few photos of the internals as I could never work  out (from the sectional view) how it actually works as there appears to be no path between the inlet and outlet.





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When I purchased the pumps and finally collected I had a few moments of panic, the size of these is difficult to gauge off a picture. 

I though I had bought the wrong type (being Canadian), 


The panic was over when i offered the pump up to the bowser, all the mounting holes align perfectly. 


Picture below shows the pump against a jeep dynamo /starter motor. this will give you some idea of scale. 


Physically the Canadian and British pumps are the same size, however their are differences,


These being 

End caps that screw onto the ends of the pump are different thread forms. and have additional drain taps, in what would be the bottom end cap. I guess to prevent frost damage. 

Secondly the pin locating the pump handle, Canadian is steel, British is made from brass. 


Just goes to show same thing but made to slightly different standards 





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1 hour ago, 64EK26 said:

I'm still looking for these for my MWC....  Nice to see one that has been taken apart, is there any chance you could post a few photos of the internals as I could never work  out (from the sectional view) how it actually works as there appears to be no path between the inlet and outlet.





Hi Richard, 


I've striped the pump back down for you, Internal view attached, I have coated the internals with silicone grease just to try and preserve what is left of the leather seals. 


After 70 years it still pumps water.... 


Notice the imperfections on the brass casting, i thought this could have been caused by frost damage...... I have the same imperfection on all the pumps. This must have been a production issue that was never rectified during production. 

That issue is the same for both British and Canadian built units....









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Hi Richard

Thanks, most interesting. The passage through looks like it is either side of the "slot" for the pumping lever.

I doubt if the casting imperfections would cause any issues and these surfaces are not sealing surfaces. Looking again, the leather seals always run in the  barrel section and never enter the lever section (between the arrows in the diagram)




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It was a Welsh hill find and became very close to the gas axe an sent on a trip to china. 

Luck really that the owner thought maybe it could be worth something to someone... 


The rest is history.........


Ive seen a few come and go over the last few years. and there are probably still more to find., they are certainly not as common as jeeps. And there are only a small hand full of restored  examples (that I know about).

8 complete trailers to my count. 2 rolling chassis.  

Maybe anyone reading this post has one of these trailers restored or un-restored would like to post a picture then we would have an accurate count... 🙂

I've restored many military vehicles but dont think that i have look forward as much to start restoring these. 11 years its taken to collect all the bits. Finally i can get stuck in. 




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Few more updates with progress. 


Previous posts of the filter, The brass cone on the base of the filter i had unsuccessfully mount this with a metal adhesive, of which the results were very poor.    

I wasn't happy with the outcome so changed that methodology to silver solder, so yesterday i spent a few hours finishing all the components I had left to do.  

The silver solder is expensive but i think the result far out ways the cost. 

I have attached pictures below, hopefully the results speak for themselves

There are few images thrown in of the original part I used to take my dimensions from.  i'll let you guess whats what. 






Edited by Jerryjeeprichard
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Spent most of the day de-greasing, blasting and getting component parts in primer. That busy i forgot to take pictures. 

Help and advise needed please....... 

I had anticipated blasting the data plates. however I thought this may ruin the patina. 

Any one with experience cleaning old brass? (i don't want polished brass). what options do i have? 

Secondly,, anyone have any thoughts on how to repair the data tag? 

Finally, what does the tag SOUL CLASS 2RDY data tag mean? By the state of the holes drilled i assume this wasn't original to the trailer. but why was it added? Any one any ideas? Importantly should I be thinking of adding it back on? 


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the bowser is a BROCKHOUSE [j b] the census number is from a batch of different types of two wheeled trailers the tag is a puzzle the date  of 1953 you would expect a post 1945 style data plate with a new style equipment registration number two numbers two letters two numbers but this may have been lost/removed you could try covering the brass data plate in brown sauce  the acid is more friendly than things like brasso or wire wool

Edited by wally dugan
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Tomato Ketchup.....

Tried many things before settling on this technique, the acid in the ketchup is not aggressive and will slowly remove tarnish etc, [Google it]. Old paint removed with paint stripper first.

Also used a cocktail sticks to get into the corners and finished off with liquid brasso and toothbrush. The process does take some time (something that a lot of have at the moment... I wonder why).

Attached are a couple of photos of before and after



Ironically the damage (slight crack) on the second plate is probably caused by frost.


On my Beford MWC, these are mounted next to the (yet to be found) pumps.

On a separate note, I wonder why most of the pipe fittings are 7/8" BSP, which is no longer a common size and virtually impossible to find. Even during war time I don't think that this size was often used, except on water bowsers.



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Just out of interest l ran the key card data base and the reason l raised the question on the 1953 date on the tag is because any of the BROCKHOUSE half ton LT WT TRAILERs by   that  time would have the new style numbers most were in the mixed trailer numbers for half ton two wheel that included  those made by ORME EVANS  and TASKER the series of  83 YK 10 TO 95 YK 99 

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