Weymouth - June 2002.
What a weekend! Not exactly how I had hoped for it to turn out, but a character forming event. Now that the dust has settled, I suppose that there are lessons to be learned, but I am not sure what they are.
So - what happened? The arrangement was that the low loader would turn up on the Friday lunchtime and that we would all head off to Weymouth that evening. Tony, my commander, would meet us there and the weekend would unfold as they usually do. Weymouth is about one hundred and fifty miles from us, and is a pretty seaside town. The parade takes place along the sea front and is about a mile long. The Town Council organise the event and it is now clockwork like in its running.
Friday morning was damp and drizzling. Because of the need to be in the Midlands for the track test I was not as far ahead with the camping preparations as I would have liked. As Helen had just started her junior school, Anne felt that it would be wrong to take her out for the afternoon, so they planned to leave after school and meet us there. I was to travel with the lorry and do the loading and unloading. I do not run without at least one other in the turret, preferably two, but I reckoned that unloading would not be a problem.
I should have realised that things might be going awry when one of the horses managed to get out of the field. Partly that was my fault as I needed to get the tank out, and he managed to slip out of the gate when we were not looking. The problem then was that no amount of temptation or coercion was going to get him back in. I do not understand horses and deep down do not much like them. They are beautiful and majestic creatures but they have my measure and know that they can do anything to wind me up. This one decided that grass was different outside and raced around eating from neighbour’s gardens and other fields. He remained just outside catching distance and was completely unmoved by carrots, cabbage or any other alleged horse treat. This passed a stressful hour and a half during which time the lorry turned up. The second problem then showed itself. I had initially negotiated around a low loader, but for various reasons Ron had sent a six wheeled flat bed. Not a real problem in itself as the tank hardly bothered it, but it meant that it get on the back I had to go up ramps that looked far too small for the purpose. My first effort left me cold and shaking when half way up the whole thing started to slide backwards. The rain had made the ramps greasy and despite the rubber blocks, the tracks would not grip. The second attempt required a lower gear and more revs, but also slightly more speed than before. The drill was to go up until it crashed down and then brake before it hit the cab. Put like that, I wonder why I bothered. It may be the way it is done, but is no fun.
It worked though, and she was sitting on the back of the lorry looking fantastic. We chained her down and set off. I really enjoyed the drive, you see things from a lorry that you don’t see from a car, and with a limit of about fifty miles an hour it all seems so unhurried. We stopped for a break and a cup of tea and then arrived at Weymouth. Spookily we turned up at a fish and chip shop five minutes after Tony, and Anne and Helen arrived before we were served. So far so good. Unloading, as they say in the manuals, is the opposite of loading. It isn’t, it’s twice as scary. This time you spend a long time looking at the sky and praying that it runs true down the ramps until it gets on the floor. I am always surprised how little engine braking she has and momentum seems to be able to out perform the Jaguar engine. I understand that New Zealand had problems with this as it is more hilly there than here, but I sympathise.
The next bit was really fun. We drove into the camp site to the adulation of small children and other vehicle enthusiasts. There is something about armour that sets it apart from the best softskin. Without being rude to Jimmy owners or Jeep drivers, they do not have the presence even with a 50 cal. on the roof. I should have remembered Hubris.
The next day we were asked to go down to the sea front to take part in the static display, so off we went. The drive down in convoy with a couple of Ferrets and a Stalwart was fantastic. She handled well, and although a bus driver came a bit closer than we would have wanted, I had no problems. I had worried about this, as I had little experience and there were a couple of large roundabouts. Whilst the Scorpion is quick, I doubt that it could outrun a Weymouth taxi. I drove along the front and parked up next to a 434 and an Abbot and spent a lovely day there. It was interesting to talk to people, several of whom had served in Scorpions. I have never worried about letting kids climb on her, just watching the faces is fun enough. Provided that it is not wet and slippery I doubt whether there is much they can do to damage her.
We decided that we would leave at about four to miss the Saturday rush and off we went. I filled up in a garage on the way back and we were doing really well. Tony had settled down as commander and had a measure of the ability in terms of turning and acceleration and was ensuring that it was all easy for me. We had worked the route back to avoid anything too demanding and only had to make one right turn across traffic, followed by a left turn controlled by lights and another right controlled by lights. We were blasé about roundabouts by then.
Coming up to the left turn I slowed down to allow the lights to change from red to green and then went down through the box to get the right gear ratio to make the turn. This is something I had not realised before, so I was very conscious of not getting it wrong and ending up on the other side of the road. Anyway, I indicated, told Tony of the intended manoeuvre and he cleared it. The lights were green, I pulled the left tiller and nothing happened. I pulled again, harder and still nothing happened. By this time I was at the decision stage and decided to go across the junction as it was clear and better than leaving a tank sitting in the middle of the road. I pulled on the right tiller to straighten up and again nothing happened. I realised by this stage that we had a problem and looked to park it somewhere out of harms way. Tony also realised that there was something up. We sailed across the junction and ran up over the grass nicely missing the road sign. Having got my breath back I tried to move, but there was no steering at all.
We bailed out and looked around for something that might give us a clue. Nothing. No oil, no bits dangling, no odd noises just an obstinate refusal to move. As it was getting late and the situation was at least safe, we decided to get back to the camp site to seek help.
The next morning it was raining. Our first attempt was to try to push it up on to the lorry with a Stalwart. This almost worked, but the ramp was too steep and the bar bent. Our next attempt was to try to pull it with the Stalwart but we could not get a straight pull. Half way up the ramp it took a sharp lurch to the left and threatened to fall sideways. That was enough of that. We were not helped at this stage by the lorry driver, who just wanted to get home early and was not concerned whether we recovered or not. He left and this virtually stranded us.
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Stranded at Weymouth.
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I have to say that by this stage I was getting a little fed up. That was until the Waterman family took charge.
They had a 434 in the parade and said that they would help us recover. They own a farm outside Weymouth, and
the plan was to move the Scorpion there so that we could recover with an appropriate low loader at our leisure.
These guys were marvellous. We worked until about midnight to get her ready for towing the next day, by
adapting an A frame. We managed to get her back down to the sea front car park where she would stay until
they moved their vehicles back to the farm. This they did and she was recovered home about three weeks later.
It is easy to become sentimental about clubs, but the kindness that the Dorset area showed was truly outstanding.
We were in the middle of a stressful time and their concern and best wishes certainly helped morale. I learned
an awful lot that weekend, especially about armour breakdowns and there are still times when thinking about what
happened makes me go cold. Anne and Helen were marvellous and again supportive. As it was Father’s day on the
Sunday, I admit to getting emotional when Helen gave me a card and a small present. It has to be said that we
conquered all that the weekend threw at us and still ended up with a sense of humour. As for the rest of the
story, that will have to wait for another instalment.
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At certain times in life there is nothing quite like an "A" bar!
July 2002 - Home again.
The Scorpion came back at the end of the month and our task now is to get her working. I have asked people who
know what their diagnosis is and have had any number of different answers. At present it seems to be a possibility
that the high range clutch in the gearbox is sticking or that the oil pressure in the gearbox is too low and the
main brake bands are slipping. Either way the box has to come out. Once it is out it is not really a problem as
Martin knows someone who can fix it provided that I can get the parts. I have twelve months to sort this out as
I think that any rallies this year will not be possible.
Having to take the box out has thrown up the need to get the tank under cover, and that means building a shed.
I also have to look to the future in terms of self recovery. One thing that I have learned from the Weymouth
breakdown is that you need some way of moving it very quickly as I will not always be as lucky as I was by ending
up off the road, safe and out of the way. The A frame that the Watermans had was useful and I must look for one.
I also need to go through the drills that allow the Scorpion to be towed without damage.
Apart from the immediate difficulties in getting the gearbox fixed there is a further problem in that my confidence
has taken a knock. I have run the Ferret for five years with only one small breakdown and to have the tank give up
on the first run is offputting. I keep thinking what if? What if it had failed earlier when there was more traffic?
Logic tells me that once we sort this problem out, the vehicle will be as reliable as the Ferret, but there is still
this lingering doubt.
Anyway, assuming a positive mental attitude the box has to come out and go to Coventry where Steve will rebuild it
and tell me exactly what was wrong. I am committed to a local steam rally and the transport is booked, so I will
push her there. After that, it is action time.
Time moves on.
It is now November and the box is out. Martin came down and we struggled for a day and out it came. It was
surprisingly easy once we started, the major problem being the weight of components. The whole thing was
accomplished with an engine crane, although this was damaged when the box slipped to the right. Working in a
field is a problem, as having lifted the box we could not move the crane and it then sank on one side. Once
it did that, the legs on the crane bent and it jammed itself under the hull. The initial plan was to lift the
box and tow the tank away from it, but we could not move the tank, so it was a bit of a controlled crash. I
was surprised how little there was to do to remove the box, but I suppose that this is what a pack lift is all
about. With some power assistance I doubt that it would have taken us a couple of hours.
The next step was to take it to Coventry. You would think that would be easy but in the way of everything about
this job it was not. The gearbox fitted the trailer fine, but just outside Bristol we blew a tyre, No problem,
just fit the spare but it looked decidedly under inflated so we headed off into Bristol to find a garage. We
tried three before we found a working air line. The others claimed that they had been vandalised. A sorry
state if that is true.
The rebuild is planned to start after Christmas. Steve will do it, and has worked on all sorts of tank gearboxes
including some experimental ones and apparently knows all that there is to know about them. In the meantime I
will set about cleaning out the bay and building a shed.
Steve has stripped the box and I watched. It was fascinating, so much so that I videoed the inside of the box.
Anne thinks that is really sad, but not as sad a showing it to my mates. Steve really does know his stuff, and I
think could have stripped it in his sleep.
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Gearbox inards - complicated little sucker.
I am always impressed by people who are really on top of their job. I have never been much of a one for excellence,
and just watching Steve was an education. In about five hours he had stripped the thing to its component parts and
we had almost worked out what was wrong.
The first thing was that the drive clutch was seriously worn. It was so worn that the bolt heads that hold the clutch
plates on had worn down so much that they had to be taken off with pliers. Luckily the drum was not scored, although
it does show some signs of overheating. Steve was very scathing about this and blamed both the army and the corporate
owners. He did not blame me as he has seen me drive. The reason for his anger is that most people driving CVR(T)
pull off in third gear. I know that this is true as I have spoken to ex regular drivers who have told me the same.
Having worked on the design and development of the transmission, they are not designed to do this. The approved
technique is to use all the gears, even the low ones. The problem is that first ( or E as it is marked on mine )
gets you from 0 to 2 miles an hour before you need to go up, whereas if you start in third, you can get up to about
ten or fifteen before you need to change up. However, the centrifugal clutch is not a fluid flywheel and just slips,
creating heat and wearing out the pads. The point of the lower gears is to get ten tons moving, once that happens
then there is less resistance on the clutch and it becomes much more efficient. There is no difference here between
AFV and car driving. It is possible to start your car in third by slipping the clutch, but not advised. I start in
first and go through the gears. I count myself lucky that I have not been driving these things long and have not had
time to develop bad habits. Having driven through Weymouth, I can see the attraction of starting in a higher gear as
the traffic seems to impose an urgency and you do not want to hold stuff up. Anyway, I have been told and I will obey.
Apparently another problem with this sloppy technique is that the brake bands in the box also wear as they slip as
well. It is apparently quite common to see boxes where the third set of bands is worn out whilst the first two are
I was surprised by how small the clutch is. It looks a bit like a lawnmower clutch, nowhere near big enough to sort
out a tank. I am told that an asbestos free clutch is under development as part of the dieselisation program and that
it is also a bigger unit. The spare parts list has begun.
The rest of the box was in pretty good condition. By the time Steve had finished there were bits all over the place,
all nice and shiny and showing little wear. The bands were of the non asbestos type which showed that they had been
replaced at least once, probably during a base overhaul in 1982, but a couple were showing signs of wear. It
supported the clutch misuse, but was not as bad as was expected. However it is better to replace them if I can
rather than have to do the job later.
What did surprise me was the level of bodging that had gone on, presumably by the Base Workshop during the rebuild.
Silly things that were totally unnecessary such as rounded nuts and stripped threads. You could see quite clearly
where cover plates had been prised off by hammering a chisel or something between the mating surfaces or by smacking
the corners as hard as possible. There are a number of pressure tappings along the oil gallery and one of these had
been stripped and put back in with PTFE tape and spit. We think that it has been used to put a bolt in to try to
work off the backplate, but there would have been little chance of this freeing off the plate. The proper way is
to hit it from behind using a piece of nylon bar that fits into the piston holes. Anyway it leaves me with a
problem as it is unlikely that this will now hold oil pressure.
Despite the strip down we are still not sure what caused the failure. It might be that the clutch gave up the ghost
at that point, although we cannot be sure. It certainly had been under pressure getting up on to the lorry, and this
might have been the final straw. The brake band wear was not enough to make the gears slip, so there is still some
doubt. One silly thing that might contribute is that the selector arm had been bodged badly. There should be a grub
screw and a woodruffe key to hold this to the oil pressure selector and they were missing, replaced by an ill fitting
bolt. Steve thought that is the selector block was not lining up properly it could have an effect on the oil pressure
at the brake pistons and this might cause slippage. Twenty pence sorted this out, why was it butchered in the first
I now have a long list of bits to get.
Whilst the gearbox has been away I have not been idle. Well, not more than normal anyway. The shed is up and I have
a roof on it. I cannot afford the sides yet, so I have some tarpaulin to make it sort of weatherproof. Brian from
the farm up the road towed her up from the field and put her in the shed. That was a struggle, even a big four wheel
drive tractor had problems moving her in the muddy field. None the less, she is there and I can now start painting
and sorting out some gearbox bay. Almost the fun bits. Four months to Weymouth.
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Doesn't it look like a toy behind that tractor!.
Where does the time go? There have been a couple of hiccups; Martin was sent to overseas to do some more work.
I have struggled getting bits and pieces as no one seems to have anything. It has also been a bit frustrating
sorting out some of the brake problems. Anyway, the rebuild is scheduled for June 7th and Weymouth is the
following weekend. The transport is arranged, the vehicle is taxed and insured and I have a week’s leave to
get it mobile.
I have given it a respray. This sounds grand, but I am no painter. Dave paints these for a living and has
given me a lot of tips to make it better. I followed his camouflage scheme of last year, and she looks good.
Mind you, my standard is that of forty miles an hour in the dark. I have replaced the smoke grenade boxes and
painted the eyes on them. It gives her a vaguely menacing air and makes her look alive. The brakes are
overhauled, although this is still ongoing. The callipers are made by Alvis whereas the seals etc, inside
are made by Girling. I replaced the bleed nipples as they looked like they had been attacked with Mole grips.
However one sheared off. I took it to a local engineering works who said they could drill out the old nipple
and rethread it. This they did. However, they drilled it out crooked and destroyed the thread. I managed to
get the nipple back in, but it would not hold fluid. Dave said that he would take it in to work and see whether
a friend of his could fix it properly so I dropped it in Coventry. The plan was that I would pick it up when
the gearbox was done. All systems go.
I think that it is King Lear that says those whom the Gods wish to destroy they first drive mad. I am getting
paranoid. The shed that Martin and Dave keep their vehicles is just off the end of an Airport. Dave and the
chap who was to look at the calliper went over to the site on the Saturday before the gearbox rebuild to have
a look at the calliper, but mainly to watch the air show. This is really very good. It has all sorts of classic
planes from around the world.
That evening I rang Dave to see what the prognosis was, and he was really shaken up. They had been sitting on
the roof of a building directly in line with the end of the runway when a plane crashed. When I say crashed, I
really mean that. It landed about fifty yards away and Dave is convinced that the pilot saw them and tried to
avoid hitting them. Unfortunately the pilot died of his injuries and the whole site was sealed by the police
and Air Accident Investigation. Unfortunately for me, my calliper was also sealed in the shed and they were
not allowed to go and get it. I realise that this is no great deal in comparison to the loss of a life and
Dave’s trauma, but I am beginning to feel the rising panic.
Luckily it sorted itself out and Dave managed to get there during the week. The calliper is sorted and on
the Saturday we all assembled for the rebuild. Steve checked everything carefully before putting it back
and the box went together. When it came to the clutch though it was a different story. The clutch consists
of six metal shoes held onto a central disc by two garter springs. To each shoe is attached a friction
lining which makes contact with a drum and which drives the gearbox. These linings are secured to the
shoes by four 2 BA bolts, some tab washers and have spacers. The only thing we had managed to save were
the spacers, and the only thing I could not get replacements for were the spacers. However, when we came
to look for them, we could not find them anywhere. Three of us spent four hours tearing the sheds apart,
and even went through the smelly garbage skips on site to check that they had not ended up in there. We
did not find them.
Never mind, the box went in the trailer and I rushed down the following day. The tyres did not blow out
on the way back so all in all it was a success. Five days to go before Weymouth.
Monday it all starts. I rush in to town to sort out a tap and plug for the oil way. I take the clutch to Harry
and we look at the problem. Harry thinks that we can make something from copper washers so we set about that.
They need grinding down so while I sort out the correct sizes, Harry starts making the spacers. By the end of
Monday night we have completed four of the six shoes and I have everything I think I need to finish the job. We
have also swapped the pistons and seals into the replacement calliper.
Tuesday we finish the clutch and I start to get the gearbox bay together. I had hoped to get the box in today,
but it is not possible. I notice a leak from the nearside calliper, the one we had just rebuilt. Taking the
back plate off, the problem is that an O ring has perished and is not sealing. There is too much to ignore,
and it will only get difficult if the box is back in. I ring a local supplier who will get them in first
thing on Wednesday morning.
Wednesday I get the O ring and seal the calliper. Some of this is the legacy of the brake fluid I am sure,
but no time to wonder. Andy comes over and we tap the thread and fit the new plug. The gearbox is as ready
as it can be, so after lunch Brian brings his tractor up and we lower the gearbox into the bay. Everything
is bolted in and by tea time we have the cross bulkhead in place. This is where things go horribly wrong.
Attached to the bulkhead is the fan and the fan drive belt has to be placed over the drive pulley and under
the corresponding one on the clutch. We struggled until nearly eight o’clock and cannot make the band fit
over the pulleys.
I cannot see what the reason is. The band is new but there seems to be no adjustment on the fan pulley.
Putting a spirit level on the pulley suggests that they are level but the whole thing seems about and eighth
of an inch too far apart. I can get some of the band over, but it then becomes too tight and as the pulley
is turned it pushes it off. It is also under some serious strain.
Thursday I continue with the band. All morning we have a go at it, slackening fan bolts, spraying belt lubricant
on to the pulleys to no avail. About half past two the belt rips and we are totally stuffed.
I have a thing about military spares dealers. Some seem fine and enthusiastic, others just do not want to know.
I am not sure whether this is just to do with CVR(T) spares or whether this is a general thing. I know that CVR(T)
are difficult. Foreign governments are still using them, as are we, and they are in the open market for spares.
They also have deeper pockets that I have. I have been told by a couple of dealers that they can get more from a
government than they can from me and it all sounds like a big favour. There is a big dealer near us who advertises
in the Green Sheets. I know that he can be difficult, but I also know that he has a lot of CVR(T) stuff, including
some complete vehicles. So I ring him and ask whether he has a drive band. He says he has 19 of them according to
his computer. Fine, I say, Anne can be down in an hour or so, how much? Oh he says, it’s not worth my while for
one, I can’t be bothered to look through stillages. I only deal in large quantities with foreign governments.
Now, I accept he has a living to make and it is not for me to tell him how to run his business. On the other hand,
if he advertises in the green sheets for the stuff that I assume he can’t sell elsewhere, then he has to put up with
the enthusiast market. Whilst I am ranting, have you noticed that a lot of traders advertise as if they are
enthusiasts. Especially when they want a part to complete something? Something to think about.
I look in the parts catalogue and the belt shows the maker’s name. Half an hour on the internet and I find the
firm. A couple of phone calls and they promise to send two down to a local agent in town by 09.30 the next morning.
I ring Alvis who as usual are very helpful. They think that I might have put the shims on wrong and this is affecting
the alignment. I go out and look and they are right. There are two special cup washers, one of which goes above
and one of which goes below the gearbox mounting. For some reason they are both above and the gap is too large.
It is one of those things, I had kept them all together but forgotten the order. Andy fitted them and had forgotten
to ask, so that was that. I spent the rest of the day sorting the camping kit out and putting the transport off.
I reckoned that we would still be OK if he turned up on Saturday morning so that we would be in the parade on
Sunday. I then took stock. On Friday I had to get the belt and get it fitted. Put the bulkhead and firewall
back, together with the drivers seat. I charged the batteries that night, checked all the fluids and got the
top armour ready. This needed painting, but I thought I could blow that over on Friday enough for the weekend.
Friday morning Anne, Andy and I shot into town. They were as good as their word and the belts were there.
Cheaper than the vehicle dealer as well! Once back, with the gearbox at its correct level it fitted like a
dream. The bulkhead went in as did the firewall. Brakes bled, gearbox oil filled and connected. Radiator
back in, filled with water and ready to go. So, for the first time in an year or so I was ready to fire her
up. On with the master switch, on with the ignition switch and the fuel pump started ticking. A really good
feeling. Hit the button, nothing. Hit it again, nothing. Not even a twitch from the starter motor suggested
that power was getting there. A physical turn of the motor did not get any response so we took the meter to it.
The fault seemed to lie in the cable leading from the main panel to the engine, and as luck would have it I had
a spare. I fitted that and tried again, and then she fired up. What a sound! There was a bit of smoke, but
she settled down to a quick tick over. The box turned over, the clutch seemed to work and apart from a small
water leak from a radiator plug there was not much left to do. To get her moving was only a question of
connecting the final drives and then put the armour back on.
We started on the quail shafts at about half past three, and after an hour were getting nowhere. It should
be an easy job, they have to be disconnected for towing as well as gearbox removal, but the first one seemed
locked solid. At that stage the phone rang. It was the lorry driver. He had the opportunity of a better
load on the Saturday, so it was either go at half past six that night or the deal was off. It would also
mean leaving the Scorpion at Weymouth for a week before she came back. Leaving her there would not be a
problem as the Watermans would probably look after her, but I could not see that we could guarantee being
ready in two hours. Especially as the driver would set off in an hour and then the cost would start.
Reluctantly I called it off.
I just felt gutted. We had all worked so hard and ended up with nothing. Anne had already left for Weymouth
so we were committed. I decided that this was enough and we would give it a rest until the following week.
Our next rally was at Pendennis Castle in a fortnight, so I would go to Weymouth, watch the parade and have a
June 2003 - Frustrated and annoyed.
We are back from Weymouth now. The weekend was glorious, baking hot weather and a good time had by all. There
did not seem to be as much armour there this year, which made the Scorpion’s absence all the more poignant.
People were very friendly, sympathised and hoped to see us next year. I have to say that I became a little fed
up apologising and explaining, but I think that is just me getting on to a touchy story. Helen did get a ride
in the parade thanks to Clive Runnels, so at least she was not disappointed.
On Monday we re-connected the final drives. This threw up yet another problem. The nearside drive went in as
expected, not easy, but positive. The off side seemed to be disconnected. That is when it was turned, the whole
quail shaft turned. I was uneasy with this, as theoretically it should be locked into the hub drive. Anyway we
connected it and fired up the engine. Once the engine had warmed up I engaged the gearbox and selected first.
On acceleration the box made all the right noises but no movement. Looking at the exposed end of the final drive,
the offside shaft was turning in relation to the gearbox, but it was not driving. Because of the differential
effect the other side did not move. Result - no forward motion.
This is a sobering thought. Looking back almost twelve months, the lack of drive on one side would have exactly
the same symptoms as we had in Weymouth. No drive, no steering nothing. What this means is that I have spent a
year and a fair bit of money sorting out stuff that was not broken. It also means that I now have to sort out
the final drive. Deep gloom.
I think that this is about as low as I have felt with it. What is the point of it all? I know that when you read
the magazines and enthusiasts accounts this would only seem like a small setback. These are the sort of people
that have a major breakdown in the middle of central London go home and whittle a new engine from soap and it works.
They do not seem to get depressed, fed up or want to sell it for ten pence. To a certain extent I suppose that
there is an element of guilt in it all. I wanted tracks and perhaps did not think it through well enough.
Perhaps I relied too heavily on other people. Who knows, but I really am tired of the whole thing. It has been
nothing but a pain since I bought it, and I have managed to drive about a dozen miles in two years. Everything
that could have gone wrong has, and a few things that need not have gone wrong did. I am totally *ucked off with
it. One other thing, which could be classed as the icing on the cake - when we got back from Weymouth there was
a huge pool of oil under the gearbox. I don’t know where it is coming from but it drips off the tow pump drain
plug. I have tried to tighten it and tried to remove it to put a new sealing washer on, but the plug is longer
than the clearance to the bottom of the hull and I cannot withdraw it. Now I either have to lift the gearbox
out again or try to jack it up to replace the seal and hope that it is that that is leaking rather than something
on the front casing which I cannot see.
OK - taking a deep breath and assuming a positive mental attitude - I need to find a final drive. I am sure that
the problem is probably only the splines on the quail shaft or the hub into which they engage. I have looked at
the final drive exploded diagram and there is not much to it, although there is a reduction gear that might have
failed. Better and easier if I get another drive.
I have found doing this that most of the time it is easier to get big lumps than small bits. I could hunt until
Kingdom Come for a hub but might pick up a drive tomorrow. Cost is a factor though.
Hurrah! I have found a final drive. We have agreed a price and I will go to Beltring to collect it. I have
never been to Beltring before, it is about four hundred miles away, but this year it coincides with a family
holiday to Norfolk and I can stay with a friend on the way back. Although it will be a slight detour, it is
not that bad and certainly not eight hundred miles. The drive is MOD reconditioned and ready to slot straight
in. I have spoken to people who say that it is only about an hour’s work, so even if it takes me a day, it
should drive away fairly shortly.
I am looking forward to Beltring. Friends have been and say that it is superb and that it is not possible to
do it in a day. I will have to do it in about five hours. I think that I will just enjoy looking at armour
on the move and see whether there are any Scorpions there. It would be nice to see one move, if only to prove
to myself that they can.
August 2003 - Beltring.
Beltring was quite fun. I have never been there before and was surprised at the sheer number of vehicles. I
was also surprised at the admission price (£12) and the cost of food. However, it was not as crowded as I had
been led to believe, and I managed a good poke around the stalls. I find that it does not matter how good I say
I will be, I always manage to find something that I cannot do without. Anne goes daft when I come home with
something green, but it gives me some sort of small thrill. From Beltring I ended up with 22 camouflage poles
and some baskets, but could not find the pegs to anchor them down. I was impressed with the camouflage efforts
of some of the exhibitors. The Gulf War scenario was completely hidden from view, which I suppose is fine if
you are in the desert, but seemed a little odd at a show. It was also odd to see the Germans wandering around
fully tooled up. I have seen a few German re-enactment groups, including our local Falschirmjaeger and I am
generally impressed by them. For some strange reason they seem to look more like the real thing than the Brits
or Americans. Andy and I have doiscussed this at rallies and we can only assume that they live the life as
opposed to just wearing the clothes. I do not mean by this that they are Nazis but they seem to take the
soldiering much more seriously. At the entrance they were dug in along the hedge line and it was absolutely
perfect, from both an attention to detail and tactical perspective. The weird thing is that they actually
look like Germans.
I am trying to learn a lesson from that and make the Scorpion look right. I do not think that I can make myself
look like a soldier. I have a beard for one thing that is over a quarter of a century old and it would possibly
traumatise Anne and Helen if I remove it. I did actually plan to shave it off for Weymouth as I have the black
kit, but as the vehicle did not get there the beard remains. I think though that if I wear a uniform it should
be done properly. I agree that I cannot do anything about my shape, but the detail should be right and it should
be pressed and the boots clean if that is the look required. I think that it looks strange to see jeeps driven
by people in jeans with a DPM jacket on, but this is only a personal thing. I am not keen on the dressing up side,
but will do it at certain events. Generally I just wear a pair of green coveralls.
I found two Scorpions at Beltring. One was a bit of a nail and the other was very nice. I understand that the
rougher one is in the process of restoration, so next year who knows. From my own experience I know what a
difference a coat of paint can make. The one in the main ring had all the new bins on, and looked the part.
I hung around for over an hour hoping to talk to the owner or to see it move but without success. When I came
back from the toilets (and they were truly disgusting) the thing had gone. Just my luck. I took a couple of
photographs to inspire me.
Whilst the trip to Beltring was pleasant enough, the point was to pick up the final drive. The problem was
that the seller had not brought it. He had transport problems getting his vehicle there and had not been able
to load the drive. I was not best pleased, but there is little that you can do. Given my general success rate
with any of this, I should not be surprised if bad luck happens to other people. We have agreed that he will get
it to me shortly, so I hope to have it installed in August.
Whilst I was on leave I went to the Muckleburgh Collection in Norfolk. Very good, they had a Scorpion in
immaculate condition. As Tony pointed out though, it does not mean that it goes.
I now have a final drive. It was slightly more difficult than I planned, but never mind. Having agreed to
meet halfway, it all went a bit out of whack, but a couple of phone calls re-arranged the rendezvous to a
roundabout on the M25. It is heavy, so it sits in the trailer until I get around to moving it. Martin thinks
that it is only about an hour’s work, so we are very close.
I went to a rally at Stoneleigh over the Bank Holiday. Martin has been sent to "exotic locals" at short notice, so he
missed it. Some of his colleagues brought a diesel Scorpion that they have restored and it looked pretty good.
I was fascinated by the fact that they made most of the bins from scratch, as well as most of the brackets. I
am beginning to realise that I lack basic engineering skills. They told me that I should have brought mine and
they could have entertained the public by changing the final drive. It was fantastic to see another Scorpion.
I have become a little blasé about it, she seems small and rather non in the shed, and yet when you see one out
you realise that they have quite a presence. Two of them together would look the part. Next year it is on my
list of rallies to attend. I am still in two minds about Beltring. The cost of transport, entry and everything
else puts me off, but really the main factor is the behaviour at night. I did not plan to take Helen and Anne
as whilst they are fairly pro vehicles, this is not their cup of tea. Even if it were I am told that the antics
and language at night are not for a family audience. Nor are they for anyone who wants to sleep. Martin thinks
we can cram about five of us into his Land rover, so we will have to see. On the other hand, the Scorpion would
I came away from Stoneleigh with a beacon pole and fitting kit for the Scorpion. I bought the beacon a year or
so ago, but have been unable to fit it. Anne’s brother made me a pole, but it is far too heavy. This is the real
thing, and all I have to do is work out how to fit it. When the tanks were at Heathrow recently I bought the
newspapers with Scimitar pictures in them solely to see how the beacons were fitted. How sad is that?
Now that I have the final drive there is no reason why the Scorpion should not run by the end of the month.
Having missed all the rallies this season, my next target is the Poppy Day collection in town on 8th November.
We usually get a good turnout of vehicles and I really want to take her this year. This will be the 7th year
we have collected, although the collection has been going for a lot longer. It is usually the same people, we
take about half a dozen vehicles and with the City Council’s permission park up in a pedestrian area. I am not
generally a good collector; I do not like rejection and have had some bad experiences in the past. However the
Poppy Day experience is totally different. I think that when I started I expected that the majority of the
donors would be World War Two survivors or ex Servicemen. I was totally wrong, and have found that all ages
and backgrounds give quite willingly. Everyone from students at the local University to young families come
up and buys poppies. I am also amazed at how many say that they have already bought one before but want
another either for the church service or because the poppy is on other clothing. Each year we collect more and
each year we think that it cannot be surpassed. Last year we collected over three thousand pounds.
I have never been aware of any anti war feelings although I feel that the Poppy Fund is too closely identified
with the last war in the minds of the public and they should perhaps lay more emphasis on the work that they do
for the generations of servicemen since. You get the odd nutter who will have a go, Andy and I were harangued
by a young German last year, but he has his right to an opinion and to express it. One of the collectors also
had a view, and perhaps expressed it more robustly than I would, but that’s democracy for you.
So, off with the track, off with the sprocket and let the dog see the rabbit. I was feeling quietly confident at
this stage as the track and sprocket came off in half an hour and I was having a cup of tea when Mike arrived.
Getting the old final drive off was not difficult once we had worked out how to do it. My problem is that I am
inclined to be too gentle with it and sometimes what is needed is a really good wallop. In the case of the final
drive we placed a jack under the far end and the twist broke contact with the hull, so out it came. Actually it
dropped like a stone which made us pucker slightly as we realised that you might need to count fingers and toes
afterwards. Having offered the other one up, it seemed to be one bolt out of line, but by working out that we
could re-fashion the breather pipe, it seemed to line up pretty well. Until we tried of course. We had the new
one balanced on a car jack which was fine until we decided to move it anywhere when it crashed to the floor. A
few bits of wood removed this tendency and it bolted in. Then we realised that we could not get the brake
calliper to line up with the holes. This induces a state of disbelief. You know that it came out, you know
that you have not moved the gearbox, so why is it jammed solid between the drive and the box? More tea and we
found that the speedometer drive housing was fouling the calliper. The calliper had also started to weep around
the flexible hose. This, by the way, was not the calliper that we had replaced. As darkness fell, we gave up
and decided to have another go a couple of days later.
Mike could not make it that day, so Anne was roped in. She controlled the jack while I moved the drive and
steadied it. Another loud crash and out it fell. I spent the rest of the day trying to rotate the back
casting through 180 degrees. Now I thought naively that if I removed the outer ring and took all the bolts
out that it would rotate. I could then re-bolt it and behold, it would work. You would think that by now I
would have learned. Five hours of banging, levering, swearing, sobbing and praying and the thing is still
firmly fixed in the wrong place.
Later that night whilst soaking my back in the bath I decided that it would be just as easy to put the thing
in upside down. I know that the drain hole will point up, but once it is full of oil, who cares? I can always
sort it out later, but I am determined to see if this works. Remember that I am still not sure that the drive
is the final solution to the problem.
Anyway, the drive went in last Friday, upside down and the sprockets are back on. I cannot pull the track back
by myself, so I will leave that until Mike is free. At least the sprocket does not move independently and the
whole thing seems like it ought. After that it is only a question of bleeding the brakes and putting the radiator
One daft thing that happened. I am generally very good about not having stuff left over after a job. I put all
the bolts in ice cream tubs and like them to be clear at the end. On Friday I had two ½” nuts and five washers
left. I could not for the life of me work out where they had come from, but they were obviously part of something.
They had traces of green paint and some silver on them and looked exactly like the sort of bolt that Scorpions
should have. They also looked sort of important. After an hour’s thought and a cup of tea, we worked out that
they had come from the packing on the final drive. The drive was bolted on to a small pallet, and these were the
nuts. Small stuff, but scary.
My next job is to take the whole gearbox out again and sort out the leaks. I am in a quandary, do I do this before
Poppy Day and risk missing it or do I run the risk of a gearbox problem if I go to Poppy Day and run out of oil?
There should be no doubt that I have to do it. The problem is that I am away from home quite a bit in October, but
I must try. I doubt whether the City Council will want oil all over the city centre either. I am not sure they
want track marks, but I think we can disguise those by scuffing them up and not doing tight turns. Getting the
Streaker out of Martin’s shed is a bit tight and that really leaves rubber marks. I am lucky here in that the
field is a bit more forgiving, but the disadvantage is that the tracks and wheels always seem to be muddy. I
have a pressure washer but although it cleans, it makes the ground muddy. As soon as I move off, I am back to
square one. I will try putting it in the lane to wash and see whether that is any better. One of my lottery
dreams is to buy a steam cleaner. Most people want a Porsche or a helicopter, but a steam cleaner would do me.
Before I bought my little cold water one I dabbled with trying to get one from the free advertisements. There
was one that was industrial and only needed a bit of work (his words not mine) to get it going. I went on the
internet to see whether I could still get spares, but it looked as if the firm went bust in 1998. Not that the
new one was much better as the oil filler pipe broke off the first time I filled it with oil and it took three
months to get a part from Italy. The firm that badged it rather than made it is a big industrial concern and
yet when it came to it tried to get out from under the warranty by trying to claim that they were not responsible
if the engine developed a fault, only the pump. Just as well the wheels were not a problem as I would never
have found out who made them.
Mid September 2003
Having put the drive in and added the sprocket, she is beginning to look like a tank. The track is bunched up
at the back and needs pulling on to join up again. One tip is to lay a length of plank along the top of the
road wheels to prevent the horns from snagging. It works.
Download the big pics by clicking on the small pics...
Anne was drafted in to help and as I used a crowbar at the back to push the track along, ashe used a piece of
wood to take up the slack. It worked well and after about ten minutes the track was located in the sprocket
and using the bar on that pulled enough through to attach the track clamp. Once this was in place it was just
tightening it up. Well, that is slightly simply put, but the principle is there.
Having tightened the track clamp, the links almost engaged. There is a difficulty because it is slightly twisted
and the rubber bushes catch but with a bit of banging and drifting they line up. I always use a new nylock on the
pin, so the old pin is smacked through from the back. Unfortunately this scuffs the thread on the exposed end and
because of the horns it cannot be tidied up in situ. I take it all out again and re-cut it on the bench. Once
this is in, the nut connects and the job is done.
Tony is down for the weekend, so we decide to get the radiator in and see what happens. It is filled and the master
switch turned on. Fuel pump ticks, I prime the carb and hit the button. Nothing. Well, a slight clunk, but no
engine movement. We find that the starter motor is engaging with the flywheel but not turning the engine. It is
probably the batteries, so we put them on charge overnight.
The following day the process is repeated. The battery connections seem a little loose, but they are tightened
and the master switch turned on. Hit the button, nothing. The Bendix is going forward on to the flywheel but not
turning the engine.
The starter motor on the Scorpion is a rather clever design. In order to stop the Bendix flying forward and
spinning like a whirling Dervish the initial phase of the process is controlled by 12 volts. I do not know
how exactly, this was explained to me by Trevor the auto electrician. Once the cog is engaged, the second
winding becomes live and the full battery power is on stream to turn the motor. When I first bought her we
had a problem with starting and thought it was the batteries, but it turned out to be this winding process.
Around the shaft of the motor is a felt pad which should be lubricated. This ensures that the shaft is free
to extend along a spiral groove until it brings in the rest of the voltage. An initial diagnosis is that
this has dried and the shaft is sticking. I attack it with a can of oil and a small crowbar to free it up
and all of a sudden the engine fires. Once the engine is up to temperature the gearbox is engaged. First
is selected and with a slight increase in power off she goes.
Download the big pics by clicking on the small pics...
Download the big pics by clicking on the small pics...
Out of the shed at last!.
It is an unbelievable feeling. There is no main brake as the joint between the flexible hose and the steel
pipe is weeping under pressure. However, she steers and I manage to clear the shed and do not roll too far
out into the field. For the first time in fifteen months she has moved under her own power and in the
daylight I can see the results of my painting. I think she looks pretty good. I give her a wash down with
the pressure washer and drown lots of spiders, and once dry take some photos.
The oil leak seems to have stopped. I do not think that I have lost fifteen litres of gearbox oil, so
whatever it was must have sealed itself. On this basis I will try to see whether I can get away without
a box lift. I will put a large drip tray underneath and see what happens. The puddle in the gearbox bay
is no longer there, so it looks good. I have to re-make the brake pipe which means that the bulkhead has
to come out, but that is not too difficult.
Since then I have run her out a couple of times and sprayed a mix of oil and paraffin on the tracks. They
are much more flexible now than they were and some of the horrible clunks and clicks have gone. I managed
to get a replacement commander’s seat and have sourced some of the internal fittings. I do not think that
Poppy Day is an option. It is a bit like the first Weymouth, not enough time for a shakedown and with so many
question marks over the box and brakes, it would not be sensible.
All in all a happy bunny!
The next phase is to continue with the gearbox bay and servicing. I have to sort out the hand change and some
of the throttle linkage before the top armour goes back on. I have bought some specific sockets for the drain
and filler plugs and I need to check every level, every grease nipple and every cable. The brake needs attention
and if I can get a service kit for the steering callipers I will do that. After that, the anti freeze needs
replacing and then the top armour can go back on.
The turret basket needs a looking at. The little rollers are seized and gritty so will need re-bearing. The
floor needs a paint and the spall lining has to be re-made. The turret electrics are not brilliant and Andy
will have to look at them. I have no comms, but I think that this is only a fuse. All the boxes and cables
are new, and it did work, so we will need to trace the problem. Andy has overhauled all the headsets and pressels,
so we know that they are working.
Anyway, as it is a crisp Saturday morning and I have half an hour, I plan to take a cup of tea to the shed and
fire her up. Not to go anywhere, just to hear the noise!
Apart from the tank it has been a busy month, so I am not as far forward as I had hoped. She starts on the button every time now and moves backwards
and forwards within the shed quite easily. I managed to re-connect the brake pipe and this does not leak now. I still do not have main brakes so getting
her out into the field is not yet possible.
The gearbox oil leak seems to have stopped. Since July I have had no oil in the bay and I have topped it up. I still do not know what that was, so I
will put it down to one of those things. There are a number of options ranging from spillage during filling to a seal being dry and leaking until it expanded.
Steve is a craftsman when it comes to gearbox rebuilds so I doubt that he has left anything undone, and my favourite explanation is that the circlip that
anchors a flexible pipe leading from the filler cap to the gearbox might have been slacker than it ought and the oil ran out during the filling process.
Either way, I know that I have about three gallons of oil inside it so it is not going to seize.
The tick over is a little fast and this is causing the clutch to drag a little. It makes the forward and reverse lever hard to engage with the engine running.
On the other hand, she does not like choke at all so starting seems to be a bit of a compromise. The drill is to pump up the accelerator and then fire it with
just a hint of throttle. After that it is a constant adjustment and a few restarts. Once she is warm she will idle all day.
Anne and I had a brake bleeding session and the main brake works now. Not a really firm pedal, but at least there is some resistance. It is a bit of an
awkward one as the callipers and bleed nipples are lost in the bowels of the gearbox bay. I will have to find a lot more tubing and try to get the jar out of
the bay. Not the end of the world. The steering is the same, and obviously needs another run through.
Now that I have a brake, I ran her around the field. That is a real blast. I did not get her up over third, but she pulls like a train and steers pretty well in
both directions. She will stop reasonably well although not really well enough for road use at the moment.
I am amazed at the amount of grass and mud she digs up. All the books claim that she has the same ground pressure as a walking man, but no man I have
met chews up the field like that. It all wraps itself around the road wheels and rests on the tops of the torsion bar arms. I pulled out at least two wheelbarrow
loads of grass and that was without getting into the track cleats. I suppose that if I were to thrash her up the road then this would clear itself reasonably quickly.
Next time I will try it.
On the list of jobs for this month are connecting the accelerator linkage together properly and getting the hydraulics sorted out. Poppy Day is too close to take
an untested tank into the City Centre. I have managed to get the gunner’s seat cushion and a spare driver’s pair, so this is looking good. I will have to get into
the turret with a meter and find out why the electrics are not working. The sort of job I can do with a cup of tea. I think that the turret distribution box is likely to
be at fault as I painted it last winter. I imagine that the connections (and there are about 15) are probably not made properly. I have some switch cleaner and
will chase the current through until it works.
I went to see Martin the other week. The diesel Scorpion from Stoneleigh was in his shed as it had broken down on the run back after the show. It was only a
fuel problem but a sobering thought. If something as nice as that can break down then what hope for us? It is now working well and certainly sounds different
when it runs. One of the group that owns it says they will “whip out” the engine over the winter to paint it. Another league.
Otherwise there is little movement anywhere. The Saracen’s generator is not working and will have to be replaced. Martin was working on a brake cylinder
when I was there, and that is another job off his list. Seeing the Saracen and the Scorpion in the same shed makes you realise exactly how big the Saracens are.
Driving those through the streets of Northern Ireland must have been tricky. I met the local crowd at Poppy Day and there is not much going on.
Andy is making progress with his RL. He brought it up from storage in Cornwall the weekend we first moved the Scorpion, and Tony and I went over to help
him get it to its new home. When you see it on a low loader it is a big thing. It has been standing fro a while and there are some problems. The brakes have lost
the air assistance and the silencer and exhaust manifold is shot. He also has a “orphan” Munga which was tacked on the back. So, having off loaded the RL we
set off up a single track lane to the farm. The whole trip is about two miles at most but for the majority of the time the bushes are touching both sides of the lorry.
It all went quite well at first - Tony and I sat in the Munga on the end of a rope and Andy drove the RL. The RL coughed and spluttered its way along until at
what was probably the narrowest part, it died. The battery then went too flat to turn the engine over, so Andy ran back to his car for the battery. Having
connected this, she fired and we crawled along to the field which is its new home.
He has now sorted the exhaust manifold and has had new pipes made up. These are still being tweaked to fit, but it is apparently much better and runs much
more smoothly. Once the engine is running properly then the air system can be looked at.
I remember RLs from my childhood. The local army camp housed the Junior Leaders from the Royal Corps of Transport and they used to learn to drive
around the town. There is a distinctive engine note and they look like a proper army lorry. Andy is also keen on post war machinery, slightly earlier than I am,
so there is a bit of it around locally. Otherwise it is all wartime. Another chap who is helping Andy out has a Lightweight Land Rover. This is absolutely
perfect, but not overdone in any way. You don’t often see that, most stuff seems to have everything and a bag of chips on it whereas I am sure that the
majority were just transport. He is a keen modeller, and I think that helps in getting the overall form right. I have a colleague who is a keen bird watcher and I
asked him once how he can tell one small brown bird from another at a distance, and he tells me that there is a thing called the “gis” of a bird, which is the
impression that it gives rather than the detail. Perhaps it is the same thing with vehicles. Some look right, some do not - it’s all in the gis.
Anyway, Tony had brought along his model of a Scorpion. Absolutely perfect in every detail. He had made Chieftain bins from scratch and added camouflage
net, some stowage and repositioned the crew to give them a lifelike pose. It looked like a shrunken tank, not a model. Again though, it looked correct not a
collection of stuff from the spares bin. The only quibble I would have had was the positioning of two sprocket rings over the radiator intake louvers, but otherwise
it was bang on. He has promised to make a model of mine at some stage if I buy the basic kit, so I am on the lookout for one.
The afternoon is looking a little clearer now and I have watched the rugby, so I will pop out and poke around with the meter. Who knows, I might have some
comms by the end of the day.
Needless to say it is not as easily sorted. The turret batteries are as flat as pancakes yet a week on a battery charger has not resurrected them and it looks like
they will need replacing. Andy is designing a “keep alive” system for it which will overcome this problem in the future. The aim is to put in some wiring on the
batteries which will end in some discrete plugs that are within easy reach. Once she is back in the shed these will be connected to a box full of circuits and then
plugged into the mains. This will monitor the voltage in the batteries and if it drops below a certain figure will then charge them back up to full. I have seen them
for 12 volt batteries, but nothing for 24 volt systems, and because of the location of the batteries it is easier to try to take the leads away to where they can be
I went to an auto jumble at Malvern a couple of weeks ago. Plenty of stuff there, although it does seem to be getting dearer. Malvern is mainly kit, and I never
cease to be amazed at what an industry re-enactment has become. Poking around one stall I found that they were selling reproduction wartime Kit Kat wrappers
that you slipped over your modern biscuit for that authentic look. I find this fascinating and am impressed by people who will go to that level of detail.
There seemed to be an increase in the amount of deactivated weaponry for sale this time. I think that a lot of the German stuff has come from the former Soviet
states, but given the way that the press is looking at gun crime I wonder whether there is not going to be some form of regulation or ban. Perhaps dealers are
getting nervous and off loading. I would like three Sterlings for the Scorpion, but at £165 each and for no reason other than ornament, they are not up on my list.
I still managed to spend some money - two wing mirrors and arms, seven camouflage pole pegs, two ARFATS and a TUUAM. Inspired by the kit Kat wrapper
I bought three green handkerchiefs for a pound. Now I can blow my nose in an authentic manner. The camouflage pegs are awesome. I had seen them before
but had never picked them up. It will take the Scorpion to cart them around. By the time I had loaded up my back pack I could scarcely walk, which acted as a
brake on the spending at least. Harry did not manage to find anything for his Jeep, which is no surprise as it is absolutely perfect, but did get involved with a trader
over the medal ribbons on a tunic. Harry spent 25 years in the Navy and is rightly proud of his service. This chap was exhibiting a uniform of a Captain with a
load of ribbons, one of which was a ratings’ long service medal. Harry pointed out that this would have been impossible unless the owner had remained in the
Navy until they were 80. The stallholder was not impressed with the argument, and said that it “was only a bit of fun anyway”.
This is quite an interesting area. The MVT policy is that whilst it accepts re-enactors wearing uniforms, medals and decorations should not be worn unless the
holder has a right to them. Some argue that this applies equally to badges of rank and regimental cap badges and cite a fairly old act of parliament which makes
it an offence to impersonate a soldier. Looking at me in my tank coveralls, I am not sure that I could be classed as impersonating a soldier, but I understand all
the points of view. I think that there has to be some common sense applied, and perhaps incline towards the MVT view. At the poppy Day collection Dick Eva,
who organises the vehicles each year and who is part of the Devonshire Regiment re-enactment group, was presented with his Quartermaster’s crown by the
group. I think that this is really very good. They have a proper promotion structure which means that you have to earn the stripes you wear and thus they mean
something. Dick has risen through the ranks by virtue of supporting the group and playing his part and should be rewarded. I do not know whether this
approach is common across all re-enactment groups, but it strikes me as sensible. I do not know how you choose officers mind, it might be a class thing!
On that subject - why have so many Military Police vehicles made it into preservation?
The weather in this part of the world has settled into wet and cold and this has affected my willingness to brave the shed and eight tons of cold metal. I have
made some progress though. I have managed to get a couple of small but silly jobs completed. The link between the throttle and the carburettor relies on ball
joints and one of the clips had broken. Martin had a spare in an old box and this did the job in about five minutes. I had tried all over the place to replace it,
but with no success. I doubt whether the part cost a penny but the frustration at the joint popping out all the time was great. I also lifted out the turret batteries
and tried to charge them, but they were so dead that I have had to scrap them. I bought a couple of batteries from the local auto factors and was surprised how
cheap they were. Now that they are in I will have a good look at the turret electrics and get the intercom going. I failed last year, probably because of a fuse,
but in the meantime Andy has been through all the pressels and head sets and repaired them. He was surprised that some of the pressels had failed because
they had not been properly soldered during manufacture. By that I mean that solder connections were just not made. I assume that is why they made their way
into the disposal sales. Anyway I now have pressels and headsets that I know are fine. The intercom did work and all the boxes are new, so it is not likely to be
a big job. The weakness is the turret slip ring I am told. Next month I will find out.
Mike and I bled the brakes and steering and she stops and turns well. I took her for a turn around the field and all is as it should be. The engine could do
with a tweak as I dropped the revs to make gear selection easier and she is cutting out a bit. A bit of Harry magic is required. Harry is very good at engines
and has a gas analyser which we plan to stick on it at some stage before the top armour goes back.
Next month the plan is to make the gearchange bracket. It is only a piece of bent rod which connects the foot pedal to the gearbox selector shaft but it has
proved elusive. I have tried a few dealers without success so the fall back is to take the bracket from Martin’s and to copy it. I am up in the area at the end
of January so I’ll have a go. I have bought the rod and the rest is only waving a blow lamp at it. I have to get some profile to clamp it against the bulkhead,
but I am sure that this cannot be difficult.
Once that is done then the top armour can go back on. That will make a real difference. I think that it will make it look finished even though it needs a bit
of a paint over. I have started to clean up the steel louvers which seem to attract rust and stuff like no one’s business. They are also very heavy, which is
comforting if someone shoots at you, but is a bit of a bind when you are carrying them about.
I have a confession to make - more of a concession to age really - and I have bought a small step ladder to get on to it. I find that the knees really argue
each time I clamber up on the track, so I saw this thing in a local DIY store which is about two feet high and will take my weight. I am tempted to spray it
green and tie it to the outside for use at rallies. The other thing with putting the top cover back on is that I am then committed to getting in through the hole
in the top. Not a lot of room there and the driver’s periscope seems to catch the nuts every time.
It’s now the end of 2003 and there has been real progress. Sure we missed every rally this year, but these things happen and time diminishes the sense of
frustration. I am positive that we will be ready fairly soon and that 2004 will be a good year. I have learned of a couple of local military vehicle enthusiasts
who have bought a low loader so transport to local shows seems assured and this is good news. One owns a Stalwart and the other a Scammell, so they
understand the difficulties of big stuff and they are both decent blokes so it all looks bright. The ceaseless acquisition of kit continues although I am not sure
why. Because I am weak I suppose. Anyway, soon I will be able to use her as I planned, and although there is a little nagging voice in the back of my mind
that reminds me of the consequences of a breakdown, I must not listen. Much better to listen to the little voice that encourages me to buy a set of camouflage
net bungees that I saw on the Net the other day. Ten quid well spent I think.