Ian Foster, New Zealand

After a couple of exciting years I was heading into a stage where there were no projects and winter was looming. I mentionedto a couple of hard case mates I wouldn't mind restoring a vehicle something like a 42 LRDG truck, they both smiled as they are enthusiastic military vehicle owners. A couple of discussions followed, nothing serious and then on a wet Sunday afternoon Mike and Reg turned up for a brew with a couple of parts for a 42 Chev-jerry can and pump. Reg knew where some parts were and said he was going to see the guys (Norbert & Vince) that owned them very soon. That's a whole story in itself. Meantime I had started a bit of research, first reading all of Brendon O’Carroll’s books then scouring Google images. The time spent behind a magnifying glass staring at pictures had my wife thinking I was close to needing some psychiatric treatment.
As time rolled on word spread and as with any restoration, people came out of the wood work helping to locate parts. It was at this time I was given a copy of a signal from the Mideast Command detailing exactly what they wanted on the 200 new 1942 Chev 30cwt trucks, the 1533 × 2. This, together with the photos of the Breda Truck of T patrol, T10 and a scrappy old Chev truck manual the build was started. So in September 2009 the new project began and is still going. What follows is a shortened summary of four years of work, three on T10 and one year on the Breda.

Chevrolet 1533x2, LRDG T-Patrol, T10 (Breda gun Truck), 1942

Chevrolet 1532×2

Wheel Base: 134.5 inch
Body:Gotfredson 4B1steel
Engine: Inline 6 cyl, 216.5 cu in
Transmission: 4 speed
Diff: 6.17:1
Fuel Tank: 18 gallons
Range: 150-240 miles
Tyres: 10.50 × 16
Payload: 3000lbs
Crew: 4

Mitragliera Breda Mod 35 20mm

Weight:240 kg approx. (No wheels, suspension, trails)
Ammunition: 20 × 138mmB, HE, AP
Loading Tray: 12 rounds
Muzzle Velocity: 840m/s
Rate of Fire: 240rds p/minute
Action: Gas Operated
Elevation: -10 to +80 degrees
Traverse: 360 degrees
Effective range: 1500m
Maximum range: 5500m

The arrival of the truck from the South Island. (Sep 2009)

First question –“Are you insane, you’re going to make it out of that?” Yep- more psychiatric evaluation!
On close inspection,you can see there are two chassis, one 30 cwt, one 3 ton, giving a bit to choose from. Not a military hub insight, but the first item to be ticked off the list – aheavy duty Timkin front axle, front hubs on the way.

The dismantle, clean& sort

Who knows how long these two had sat out in the paddock? One thing was very obvious from the start, the old grease and grime was not going to give up easily. The first three months was spent stripping all parts, cleaning and putting into trays to simplify the rebuild. Degreaser, the scraper and the wire wheel were the weapons of choice. Being similar aged Chevs it wasgreat to be able to choose which parts would be used for the rebuild. All parts were treated as rare as I didn’t know(at this stage) what was out there in the way of spare parts.

The chassis

The choice of which chassis would be used was made very quickly as the stiffening plates on the 3 tonnechassis were taken off. Yep rust never sleeps and it had been doing a grand job over the years. I can’t say that about the rivets- they held their own to the bitter end. The 30cwt chassis won with only the cross member under the cab which was rotten needing replacing. The 3 ton chassis became the donor and went on to be the source for three other projects. Amazing how good the steel is even after 70 plus years. Seeing the chassis all primed grey and ready for the next stage was certainly satisfying. One small step for man kind

The motor

Both motors were seized so I pulled the spark plugs out and took the side plates off both; one had a bent push rod and plenty of rust. The other looked ok and had oil to the full mark on the dip stick. It was time to take a chance. I had heard other people had done this so I filled the bores up with diesel and WD40 and left it sitting there for six weeks, plenty of other things to do. After this, each week I used a power bar and socket and give it a small tweak until after a while the crank turned 360 degrees. From there we progressed until we used the starter motor to work the engine. Once the motor was flushed and new oil added it was time to go for broke. A good cup of fuel straight down the carb, it roared into life. It’s still going to day- it doesn’t want to idle but goes well at the top end. Thanks, to the experienced Chev lovers; Jonesy, Chris, Greg & Ross who have put in the hours to get it to run smoothly.

The tray

Many hours were spentscaling off the numerous photos of the tray. The best aid for finding thecorrect scalewas from a photo of an issue enamel mug on the side of the tray.I hunted down books on the Gotfredson 4B1steel ammunition body, the best information was in WA Greggs books. I even managed to talk to Mrs Gotfredson; the widow of the founder of the company, only to find out the military collected all the plans at the end of the war. Of course they would. The Gotfredson’s have a web site showing their trucks etc. Anyway, the body is very close to original dimensions. If I ever did another one I now know where the changes would be. With Reg skilfully manoeuvring the tray with the Hiab and Mike spraying the finishing touches we managed to get it mounted on the Sunday before Cambridge Armistice 2012. Thanks Guys

The cab

There are only two ways you can do the cab; one – you are blessed with a complete cab and you have the time and skills to manipulate and change the whole structure, or two – you collect pieces from all over the place, clean them up and then get an expert to do it. Fortunately for me the second worked-a big thanks to Bob, otherwise the project would still be going. At a quick glance one may say there is nothing to it. This is equal to saying the desert doesn’t get cold…moving on. The back of the cab is changed, the dash is vertical, the glove box is changed, the guards are widened and grill modified. Sorry didn’t mention things such as running board, rifle racks etc. The photo bottom centre was two weeks before Armistice, what a day; John, Miles, Mike pitched in and assembled the cab. With all the components coming from different vehicles there was a fair bit of sweat to make the parts fit. We ran out of hands and screw drivers (you had to be there) at times getting the grill in. I really appreciated the help guys. Both Mike and Miles had LRDG vehicles in the display. John is nearing completion of a restoration as well.

The diff

A quick word on the diff;the correct diff for the 1533 are a rare beast, one could say it doesn’t exist. It certainly doesn’t in NZ. The hubs are unique as they carry the same brakes as the front axle; makes sense- one size of brake shoes and components fits all. The mounting plate for the backing plate is square not round. The last part which is so elusive is the two speed diff. So at this stage I’m still looking for the lever operated addition which will shorten the drive shaft again. This diff came from the UK(thanks Jeremy), another story within a story, aye Reg

Cambridge Armistice 2012

After three years with D Day only a matter of sleeps away there was still a long way to go. To cut a long story short; not much sleep, huge amount of help from good mates and a marathon effort from my wife who kept the troops fed (if you have a dead line with a vehicle you know how it goes). T10 was being picked up by an Army transporter at 0930. Needless to say the last bolts were being tightenedwhen they arrived. Thanks to everybody that has helped replicate a vehicle that is steeped in history and was used to provide reliable transport around a very unforgiving terrain by the courageous group of men in the LRDG

Cambridge Armistice was great success as there were four 1533X2 Chevs, a Willys Jeep and a static display by Brendan O’Carroll for the LRDG display. The piece of 38 round tube under a cam net on the back of T10 didn’t fool many but it did hint at what was to come.

The Secret Cable

What did they want on the order of 1533×2s? This list is taken off the signal word for word.
(200) Commercial two wheel drive chassis wheel base near 133”(.) Timkin front axle(.) Auxiliary rear springs(.) shock absorbers front and rear(.)engine driven air pump(.) 10.50 × 16 tyres front and rear(.)heavy duty radiator(.) heavy duty breather(.) heavy duty oil bath air cleaner(.)speedometer adapter and ?*(.) diff ratio 6.17 to 1(.)Collapsible windshield(.) Open type cab as required in my OS/62052(.) *can’t read

The Breda

So after a break over the Christmas holidays, it was time to get on to the exciting bit, the Mitragliera Breda Mod 35 20mm. Armed with numerous pictures off the net and some very detailed photos from Roberto I set about scaling off the many pieces of the mount and the gun. It was a daunting task at the start, beginning with the gun and slowly moving on down. I lost count of how many batteries I went through in the Vernier callipers. Roberto also supplied many great images of pages out of the Breda hand book, these helped immensely as they show the individual parts that needed to be made. After about two months I had enough measurements to start making some plywood shapes. The mock up was placed in the back of the truck to check if it was to the right dimension. After having the dimensions of the body of the gun checked for accuracy against the real thing it was off to the laser cutters(funny looking machine parts). This project was more tiring than the truck, it was finish work, home, manufacture/ weld dinner then back to scaling off photos and getting drawings ready for the next lot of laser cutting.

Once again it was down to the wire, with 5 am starts, assembling parts with wet paint, enough said we made it, just over four years and T10 is finished but for a few modifications.

Cambridge Armistice 2013

Another fantastic weekend, the LRDG display was on the right environment – sand (beach volley ball court but never the less, sand). This time four 1533 ×2s and two jeeps,proof that there are still a number of Desert Vehicles being preserved for the sake of history. Also men that rise up for the cause; Mike, Reg, Bob, Miles, John, Greg, Chris, Graham, Shaun, Roberto, Brendan and Kuno to name a few. Thanks men, I appreciate your help.

T10 isn’t finished yet; there is still a lot to do. One point that has come out of this project is whoever came up with the idea of combining the 1533X2 and the Breda Mod 35 hit on a winner. The Breda balances the truck and creates a smoother ride improving its handling. Sitting in the gunner’s seat you get a clear field of view and about 150 degrees of traverse (albeit cramped). The Breda was well ahead of its time, accurate and reliable with a good rate of fire, single or automatic. It is also one of a few weapon systems that replaces the spent round back in the clip making it easy to clear the limited space. Seventy six Bredas were still in service in Finnish Defence Forces in 1985- a good testimony to its thoroughbred. Enough raving, here are the characteristics of the two