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M16 Halftrack restoration/build. A long long road.


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So I thought it about time I started a thread on my Halftrack restoration. It will take a long time but it should be steady away.

 

First hurdle was to unload it. You would think that it would be easy but I didn’t know what type of trailer it would be on, or how much it weighed in its non original state.

2 days before it’s delivery the seller told me it would be on a curtain sider so I had to figure out how we would unload it either through the roof hatch or the side.

Luckily a mate has a Telehandler and my storage owner also had one so between them, we guessed it should work.

 

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So I got it parked up in its storage location and started to get photos and make notes on things missing. The list  isn’t actually to long, Winch, headlamp buckets, rear armour etc.

The parts that require repair/overhaul is quite extensive though.

I decided that the cab should be covered so got a reasonable tarp from screwfix and it’s actually quite good for the price. I decided to remove some of the sharp pointy bits of armour to protect the tarp from being punctured and put pipe lagging foam on those parts I couldn’t remove yet.

 

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since this photo was taken I’ve removed all the armour around the engine bay and the ‘fenders’.

I did notice I’ve got 2 odd front wheels. One is a scoutcar and early M2 Halftrack wheel and the other a later version. The correct late wheel has a French Michelin 9.00 x 20 combat tyre instead of the correct 8.25 x 20 tyre. These Michelin tyres are solid with no inner tube and are very heavy. I’m not looking forward to taking that off!

 

 

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Because it can be a right PITA to unwrap and rewrap the cab with the tarp, I decided to strip the rear frame down first.

first up was to remove the track idler stop and track idler. The idler wheel came off with very little effort, even the retainer nut was only hand tight.

Unfortunately the Outer idler post nut was a little different. I pulled the split pin but hadn’t a socket or spanner big enough ( 2 1/2”) to remove it.

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so I picked up a cheap socket off eBay and borrowed a huge torque wrench from work.

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Well it didn’t go to plan and I bent the torque wrench. It broke at 800NM!

So I decided I would try and remove the tension spring instead. I couldn’t undo the tension spring nut as it was solid. All those years in the rain had frozen it up completely. Luckily the track on that side had previously snapped and I realised there was no tension on the spring anyway. So I popped that lot off.

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they say that “if at first you don’t succeed, get a bigger hammer” or in this case, a bigger wrench. A 2000NM torque wrench had the nut off in seconds. It took 1800NM in the end to get it off. This just leaves the idler post to remove, the post itself is very badly worn so either needs replacing or welding and grinding to size. It maybe could be bushed but I’m not sure if that would work.

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The idler posts are an absolute ball ache so I’ve been leaving them for now and just soaking with oil. I tackled the bogies next. 
 

To remove the bogies I needed to have the track on stands. I got some medium height stands from the net and they are more than man enough for the job. To stop the volute springs extending as I lifted the track up, I used a ratchet strap to retain the crab and bogies in position. I then removed the 16 nuts from the assembly while there was weight on them.

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With the bogies off the ground, it was time to fit the spring compressors and retract the crab off the bogie arms. You can see them fitted here, they’re simply 1” x 8TPI NC of 12” lengths with nuts to compress the spring. In the crab there’s a spring seat for each spring. The compressors (threaded bar) screw into the spring seats and then the nuts are screwed down to compress the springs. If only it was that simple!

I couldn’t get the compressors to screw in and it was suggested on another forum that I should run a tap into the spring seat to remove any rust and dirt. So I did and very little foreign matter was removed. And the compressors still wouldn’t screw in. I then realised the tap I screwed in was actually at an angle and that angle stopped the compressors entering the seat squarely. So I had to tweak the crab a bit to get it and the spring seat square......and of course it was frozen.

lots of oil and using a hammer, then a bigger hammer and finally a bigger F***ing hammer freed it up and the compressors slipped in like a you know what.

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you can just see in the above photo that the crab is just clear of the bogie arms and as I’ve removed the ratchet strap, the bogies have dropped to the floor.

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And for interest, I think this is my track (the one on the left, not the one in the middle) in the scrap yard. I had to remove the remnants of a thorny vine from the engine bay, under the cab and coming out in the rear bed. It was about 3/4” in diameter and still had some extremely sharp thorns. I didn’t swear too much honest.

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Edited by Chris Hall
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20 hours ago, Listerj123 said:

If you don't mind me asking was this in the UK 

It was a French scrapyard that the previous Dutch collector bought it from. I had it shipped here on a Dutch trailer with an English tractor unit and a Polish driver. A truly European effort.

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Today’s efforts were short as I had a laser tag party for my god twins. I decided at my age it was best to hang around in the rear and pick them off long range. 82 confirmed kills...... but they were 8 year olds so I think it was a little unfair.

 

Anyway, I gave 3 hours this afternoon to more stripping. The idler assembly is now off and I focused on the bogie frames and it was all going well until the last bolt wouldn’t budge. It was the first nut I removed, and I remember trying to knock the bolt out but decided to come back to it. That bit me in the ass in the end.

So I’ll try again another day.

 

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Anyone know any company supplying 1/4” steel plate/sheet?

Everywhere I find either has 1/4” thick steel in narrow strip or supplies 6mm as 1/4” rather than a true size. I would normally be happy enough with 6mm but as it’s to weld to 1/4” plate, I think the .35mm difference will be visible and difficult to mask.

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2 hours ago, Chris Hall said:

Anyone know any company supplying 1/4” steel plate/sheet?

Everywhere I find either has 1/4” thick steel in narrow strip or supplies 6mm as 1/4” rather than a true size. I would normally be happy enough with 6mm but as it’s to weld to 1/4” plate, I think the .35mm difference will be visible and difficult to mask.

We have a few steel workers around here in Wakefield, where are you based roughly?

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We use a company at work called Precision Profiles for any thicker material (our machines punch a max of 3mm thick).

You can also go direct to the mill, one we use are called J Uptons (Uptonsteel) and they can generally get their hands on anything but obviously smaller amounts wil cost more to run.

Edited by Rootes75
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1 hour ago, OzH said:

Fantastic thread Chris..

I'd love a halftrack... Maybe one day!!

Well I always thought that, and then one day I did a search for Halftrack parts and couldn’t believe how many NOS parts are out there. My biggest bug bear restoring the GPW was the lack of quality repro parts as the NOS parts were drying up. 
 

The only real issue is tracks which are now available as newly made but aren’t cheap. Oh and the cost of shipping stuff isn’t cheap.

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Regarding the unavailability of 1/4" plate, you might be surprised at the variation in thickness of '6mm' plate. As with rolled steel joist and angle sections, the quality control of plate thickness is not that good and it is worth actually measuring any piece of 6mm plate to check its real thickness.

David

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5 hours ago, Chris Hall said:

Sorry the above was posted yesterday in response to surveyor but the forum crashed and it’s just posted it now I’ve come back to the page.

Same thing happens with me, you about 2-3 hours away, are you looking for it formed or just ready for you to shape?

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Hi  Chris,  I know you will probably prefer to make your own rear armour but as far as I know BAIV.nl make a rear section in 1/4 plate for an M16, I  know it is expensive but from what I can see its made up of 14 pieces of steel. Hope this is of some help.

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Thanks Jonny, I actually need the plate to repair some of the armour and to fabricate some parts. For the rear armour I have the original fold down sections (one needs a 6” piece welding in) and the front left and rear right sections. I’d need to buy the rear left, front right and rear panel. I also have an M16A2 rear door, the panel to the left of the door and 3 of the 4 side armour plates of an M3.

 

I’ve already had some parts from BAIV and will be looking at their M16 rear boxes and likely the missing armour too.

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1 hour ago, Surveyor said:

Same thing happens with me, you about 2-3 hours away, are you looking for it formed or just ready for you to shape?

Just looking for plain straight sheet to cut, drill and counter sink as required. 

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