DOUG'S 'HEAVY METAL' GALLERY

 

T A N K SC A R R I E R SG U N SA R M O U R E D   C A R S

 

A German collector of English MVs.
   (Ver 2)

 

From Roland in Germany comes the following article regarding his collection and how he came to concentrate on Alvis vehicles.

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Herewith a little story about my Alvis MV collection.
Please excuse my English. I hope you are able to understand it.

My first contact with British military vehicles was in the 60's when I was a little boy. Ten years later in 1975/76 I was a soldier in Bergen/Hohne. In the near of our quarter was the British firing range and one or more tank regiments. Every day I saw the Chieftains, Scorpions, FV432 and Stalwarts on the main road around the range area. A wrecked Saracen stands beside it as an exercise object for the fire-brigade. I was the driver of the fire chief and many times observed the military traffic. I loved the sound of the Rolls Royce engines. Nearly twenty years went by till I saw these beasts again. The British Army sold their wheeled fighting vehicles in the early 90's and I was crazy enough to want one of them.

The first of my Alvis vehicles was a FV 623 Stalwart with a 3 ton Atlas crane on the back. It was in sad condition but it ran. At home I spent many hours to remove all the paint ( I think there were 6 or 7 layers of paint on it) and respray it in original colours.

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  All the transmission boxes , bevel boxes and the engine got new oil ( Itīs better to make a contract with an Oil Company !) and checked the brakes and steering. After weeks it looked like new, and the time was right to drive to many of the military meetings around. Nobody had told me anything about fast scrubbing tires or smashed bevel boxes. The Stolly goes like hell and I had a lot of fun with it. In that summer I drove 300 miles on its own wheels till a horrible sound came from the right side. You know whatīs matter. The drive shaft from the center wheel was gone. I make my first lessons in Alvis mechanics.

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  With help of some spare part dealers in England and a lot of pounds I repair my Stolly and spend additional money on the missing swimming parts. I want to go for a swim !
I cannot tell you what I feel in my tummy when I hung at 45°over the steep bank with the cab in the water, watching fishes behind the screen, and the rear wheels on the land.

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  With some conquest and a big splash my Stolly and me are really sailing! What a feeling.

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  But to get out of this element was not so easy as I thought. The wheels donīt have grip and I need help from my friend with the winch of his MAN to recover my "boat“. After that I go swimming in the Rivers Rhine and Danube over concrete ramps and I never need the winch again.

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  You know that I have restored some Stollys to swimming condition. It is no secret that in 1985 the British Army issued an instruction ordering the removal of the Dowty Hydrojets units and later on the swimmgears. For the restorer - to get all the missing parts at the swimm-gear/steering is one side of the story, but the main problem is to make them pretty watertight. So I take care to fit the rubber gasket at the rear bottom hull engine door and the dropsides - thats easy. Also to take a closer look at the exhaust pipes is not wrong. Because 2/3 it is under the waterline, every crack or little hole can be disastrous if the driver stop the engine. You donīt believe it, but two years ago a Stolly from customer must recovered out of the eastern sea. He used his stalwart as a swimming island for diving activities and shut the engine. The next hour was time enough, the seawater filled some rust-holes of the exhaust, through the pipes/valves/combustion chambers into the engine. And it didnīt start again. Take care of the exhaust if you want to swimm!

But my most horrible experience was a FV 623 stolly sunk in only four Minutes ! Whatīs happened. After doing all the work I transported it with my lowloader to a nice event at Pocking/Bavaria. Next step was going into the lake with a friend of mine on the loading comparement - looking into the hull to watch incomming water. Because I was an "amphibious expert“ I put the Dowtys in and going to sail. Joe, my friend behind me, told me : "Roland - water comes in !" Why I donīt stop at hurry and goes backwards out of the lake - I donīt know that. Next cry from Joe : "Roland - The hull is nearly filled!“ I was able to set my stolly at the near of the shore. Engine quit and water around my seat. In seconds I was out of the cabin. The heaven takes care of sailors - the bottom of the lake at that place was only two and a half meters deep and Stalwartīs cabins roof stays above the waterline. It need some work to recover it from the lake with friendly help of a Hotchkiss Tank driver. The rest of the time at the event I use to make stollyīs engine dry and running again!

The next week was used to clean the truck and to find the hole in the hull. The problem was found in the winch compartment ! The winch is a hydraulic one and has the dip stick and control lever on the right hand of the driver. The oil dip stick pipe and the control lever are sailed to the hull by two rubber sleeves. You canīt see them - not from bottom and not from above if the driver seat and floor is fitted. They are nearly 15 cm in the diameter, and that is space enough to make Stolly sunk in minutes if they are missing or cracked!
After that I found in two other stollys also these sleeves missing. The army mechanics donīt fit them because Stalwarts are donīt need to swimm anymore! Beware of it.

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  Some problems with the steering on Stalwarts with crane (FV 623/624)? Also my experience...

From one minute to the other your areīt able to rotate the steering wheel ?
Before you going to change hydraulik filters, oil pump or dismantle the steering cylinders - screw away the rear sheet of the cabine to opened the comparement of the air-induct. There is the oiltank of the steering/winch and crane. At the bottom/right side is the main pipe to feed the oil pump. Only at crane fitted stollys is there a T-like fitting in the pipe to feed the crane.
Dismantel it and wonder ! There is a leaded in sieve in it, to filtered out fluff and dirt before it reach the hydraulik filter ! After cleaning everyting was fine. Take a closer look at the EMERS - you donīt find any word about it !
I spend nearly two weeks strange work on it to find out this damned cause.

In 1997 I sold my Stolly to an architect who wanted to use it at the capverdian islands! He owns a little island there and told me that he use the Stalwart to make island hopping ( 8 miles between his island and the main island) and to go shopping direct from the sea to the mall !
I never heard from him again !


Five Stalwarts I bought in the next years and make them drive or swimmable. I sold them to other MV fans and through this got enough money to complete my collection.

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  I got my Saracen in Luxembourg. This machine was in nearly new condition but itīs cross country drive was not the same as the Stalwarts. With the long engine overhang a wide and steep hole or ditch can give you a fast stop. But its superior weight ballance on the suspension is much better for driving on hard surfaces. From 1998 to 2000 I drove with it to some MV Meetings from where I live to Sigmaringen, Ausburg, Regensburg and Wiesbaden. Nearly 1000 Miles without any problems! But Iīve learnt - every 10 to 15 miles I drive off the road to allow the drive line stresses to unwind. This makes the drive time longer but reduces the costs of repair. The biggest problem for me is the very hot engine comparment in front of the driver seat. In the summer you are able to cook some eggs (not only in the engine comartment) there!

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  Note the unusual square commander's hatch for the ambulance version in place of the regular turret!

My loved saladin is more comfortable to drive. But not to enter the driver seat. Look at me in my pictures and you know why! I bought it in November 2000 from a military surplus dealer at Manchester/England. I use a big 320 hp Ford Transcontinental Tractor with a flatbed trailer to transport the Saladin from there to home. After 3 days and 3400 Km we arrived my hometown tired but happy. Now my Alvis MV collection is complete. The Saladin is a fine AFV but needs some attention to complete it. I am missing the gun safety reel with bag , the foot firing pedal and some other little eyecatchers ( need 42 demil. Shells...! ). But I īll complete it with time. Saladinīs first problem was at Manchester to climb on the trailer. The 1st gear was gone. The dealer has no idea were it was...“may be needs some oil ?!...". Now I know it more better. The brakeband is gone. I īm able to drive the Saladin around and have fun with it. But the day to repair the gearbox is not far away, I think. To reach MV Meetings I drive now with my Transcontinental Tractor with one of my Alvis Vehicles on the back. Itīs the best way to avoid any damage and the cheapest way to save petrol.

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I send you some pictures with this data. I hope you enjoy it.

With best regards
Roland

 

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