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Canadair CL70 RAT CFR 58-91588

robin craig

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Good day,

I thought I would share this project with you.

After loosing the possible purchase of another special vehicle I re connected with Mike Calnan and arranged t go visit him for a reconnaissance visit ad confirmation of a possible deal.


A week later, armed with a wedge of cash and equipped with a rental trailer and a rental small excavator and a willing accomplice we arrived for the recovery.

The CL70 is made up of a front and rear car and were stored on the ground separated.

With some gentle persuasion a pair was dragged out of the tall grass storage. Mike also generously allowed us t remove a second front car for parts as neither was complete and it will be easier to compare the two side by side and do the work in the warm and dry..

The excavator proved to be the perfect tool for the job and blended subtlety and power a deft control all in one.

As we had an extra piece, we made a mad dash to a local shop to put the first piece on the back of the truck deck so we would still hae enough space to get everything home in one trip.

Back at Mike's place we loaded the other two pieces and the spare chassis frame.


cl70 01.JPG

cl70 03.jpg

cl70 04.jpg

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The CL70 is made up of a simple aluminum tub both front and rear, mostly riveted construction. This sits on top of a hollow structural steel frame / chassis which is identical front and rear.

The front car has a steering wheel and instrument panel  and bench seat with battery, two fuel tanks, an engine compartment with a VW 36 hp engine and a custom gearbox made only for this vehicle by York Gear Company in Toronto, Canada.

Both the front and rear has two tracks each and has a differential. The frame / chassis is in all reality beyond economical repair under both halves. Happily I was able to secure an NOS frame as part of the deal. It is 85% good needing some minor repair.




cl70 05.jpg

cl70 06.jpg

cl70 07.jpg

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Now that my accomplice Peter Duggan have brought the units back to the area where I live I have been able to pore all over them and get them dried out and cleaned up.

I have tons of pictures and more information that I will try to get uploaded over the next few days.

Being offered this original manual by Brian Asbury has been a godsend and I sincerely thank him for that.

there have been other happy events but more on that later.

cl70 manual 01.jpg

cl70 manual 03.jpg

cl70 manual 02.jpg

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So, on other forums people have made some comments and questions and I think it is best to be a bit forward and explain a bit more.

People ask me how best to describe the CL70.

My stock in trade answer is to ask "do you know what a BV206 is?"

Once people say "yes" I tell them that the CL70 is a baby version in a proof of concept size for one person to drive.

Th CL70 uses a clever if not somewhat fragile system of cables to draw one side of the two units together while letting the other side out. This is done by using a bees nest on the steering shaft kind of like how early outboard engines were steered from a steering wheel.

The power is sent to all four tracks at the same time. Here are few more pictures, showing the front and rear cars, currently they are separated



cl70 10.jpg

cl70 08.jpg

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  • 1 year later...

So, it has been a while since I recovered this machine and the spare parts and even posted about it.

As far as a general survey goes, I needed an engine, 36 hp VW, 20 pneumatic wheels with tubes as major items.

By chance via Facebook I ended up meeting a gentleman, Don Chisholm, who worked on them when he was RCEME and was quite intimate with them. My mate Gerry and I took him for supper and then on to the workshop for a visit before we got too far into the tear down process. He was a treasure of information and explanation that I am glad we took advantage of. He is in his 80s now and has a very sharp memory. he answered a lots of questions we had. He is pictured beside the front car.

We have decided that for our use the track is in a reasonable enough state to re use, at least for the meantime.

Both the front and rear car need a new chassis. Both are shot from years sitting in the tall grass storage. I was fortunate enough to get a nearly perfect NOS chassis as part of the purchase. Over time we have found that it has some prototype parts on it but otherwise dimensionally it is the same, so I have made a good start at a jig. One chassis will be made from it and then the near NOS one repaired and used under the other car.


Don Chisholm Rat.jpg



cl70 chassis jig 02.jpg

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Along the road in any project one gets a hand up from friends and strangers. A local vehicle owner has given me another VW engine that he is never going to use.

By chance I ended up buying another ex Canadian Forces KLR motorbike, one of only 77 used. I have now traded that bike with a friend who is a VW nut and rebuilds engines. He had get rid of a few possessions a year or so ago, one of which was a MT500 and he has been in the doldrums ever since. He now has the original engine and the donor and reports that the crank is good in the original but the cylinders will likely have to come from the donor. I am happy with that, so another item crossed off the list.

A Canadian tyre / tire dealer came through with affordable replacements with tubes, they have come home now. The first axle awaits tear down and clean up.

The curious lights with chrome bezels, two white at the front and one red at the rear have been identified as lat 1948 /49 GMC / Chevrolet / Pontiac / Buick and are available NOS or repro, I think we will go NOS.

There are so many parts to identify. Sadly the fuel tank caps are I fear rusted beyond safe usage, but M37 caps will also fit, so that will have to be acceptable.

The amount of detail that the machine has is amazing, many parts have CL70 and a part number stamped into them. The centre of the steering wheel has the Canadair logo and is also useable.





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I have a side job in the winter plowing our island roads of snow for our Township. I do a few shifts a weekend and we have had a snowy winter, so funds for this project are good at the moment so I am pushing things along before the spring farming season hits and that takes over again.

Last week I took the rear car out for media cleaning and got it back this weekend. It has highlighted some of the damage that will need to be fixed. Thankfully my neighbour a few doors away is rebuilding an aircraft in his garage so he will shear me up some material for these pieces. I will have to make the holes and the rounding of the edges.

cl70 rear car blast arrival.jpg

CL70 rear car 01.jpg

CL70 rear car damage 01.jpg

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