Beverly Hillbillies, Part Deux

Vehicles and items that do not fall into the general M151 categories

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Re: Beverly Hillbillies, Part Deux

Unread post by m3a1 » January 25th, 2024, 8:41 pm

Well! FINALLY a full day of good weather. We've had rain, wind, sleet, ice conditions, cold, freezing, and yes, even a touch of sunshine just to help the break the monotony but, today we had a WHOLE day of goodness...perfect for getting things done. Waste not, want not! It was far better than having to stare down the barrel of a crazy 'weather gun' like a condemned man tied to a stake.

So, I rounded up two completely petrified 8.25x20s on low offset rims and finally laid hands upon my recently acquired WWII one ton trailer, most commonly referred to as a 'Ben Hur' trailer (G-518). Haven't picked it up yet but once I replaced the rotting wheels and tires with something that is still actually round, I am one step closer to having the thing brought home.

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Re: Beverly Hillbillies, Part Deux

Unread post by m3a1 » January 29th, 2024, 11:07 pm

Xloflyer volunteered his time and trailer (actually, his whole rig) for the transportation of the old Ben Hur trailer back to my place. So, Billyboi and I rode over in fine style with Xloflyer doing the driving. "Take me to the green stuff, Jeeves!" His is a very nice truck with all the bells and whistles. Alas, in all the excitement, I forgot to try out all the front seat comfort options. We packed everything but the kitchen sink and had more than enough of everything for loading and load securement. Didn't even need to use the compressor because unbelievably, the petrified tires continue to hold air...

which is not something I would have bet good money on!

Now, the G-518 is a largish trailer, rates for one ton of payload and has a tare weight of some 1,300 pounds. Take away some weight for weight reduction owing to rust and add some back in for the slightly oversized, petrified tires and I imagine it was still right at 1,300 pounds. But, no matter, we rolled that trailer right down the driveway and into the street and lined it up behind the car hauler trailer...all by hand and all without breaking a sweat. Considering how awful the thing looks, it rolls very sweetly so it's going to be a keeper and I'm looking forward to sorting all that ugly out. We loaded with a small winch and we unloaded with the small winch. The whole process was a no-brainer.

Most, if not all the hardware for the stake sides had been tossed into the bed and left to rot, along with all the other forgotten and unloved stuff in the bed. I'm not saying it was in any useful condition to be used but, it was all there. The real prize was the brake handle for setting the parking brakes. It WAS present, which is to say most of it was present....and rusted into a vague lump of rust resembling a brake handle. It was NOT worthy of being put back to work. But, as luck would have it, I never, EVER pass up a military handbrake handle. Wherever I find them, I grab them, bring them home, clean them up, and throw them on the pile because you never know... What did I find in the garage this evening? Yup. An absolutely correct and proper handbrake handle for this poor, unloved Ben Hur G-518 trailer.

Ring the starting bell on this project, fellas... because with that handbrake handle, we are off like a shot!

About this trailer - The good? Well, everything that is important is present. What is broken can be mended. The bad? Well, tires, tubes and flaps are not cheap. The ugly? Floorpan is badly rusted and when I say badly, I mean - BADLY. The saving grace on that matter is that everything that supports or connects to the floor pan is in satisfactory shape. I am not averse to the idea of excising the floor pan and installing a newly made one, except for the fact that these trailers are notoriously watertight and sit notoriously nose-down when unhooked, which creates no end of troubles for an all-steel box. So, I will have to decide whether to go with wood for a new floor (which will speed the process of restoring the trailer back to usefulness) or go back to an all-steel floor and grit my teeth about the inevitable return of The Rust Monster for as long as I have it.

There really is no wrong answer.

Cheers,
TJ

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Re: Beverly Hillbillies, Part Deux

Unread post by rickf » January 30th, 2024, 9:31 am

Good paint and floor drains. What size tires? Did the old ones have air in them or were they just so hard they held there shape with no air?
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Re: Beverly Hillbillies, Part Deux

Unread post by m3a1 » January 30th, 2024, 12:13 pm

7.50 x 20. As for the condition of the 'original tires'...well, both the tires were irrevocably flat on one side and also petrified. You know how it is. It's the usual mountain I have to climb... :roll:

I just put the other (still round) petrified tires on so that it could be rolled around easily.

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Re: Beverly Hillbillies, Part Deux

Unread post by m3a1 » January 30th, 2024, 5:56 pm

So today I figured the best course of action would be to make the trailer just a bit more presentable because what I brought home had the appearance of being stunningly syphilitic. So, I held my nose and had a go at cleaning all the junk out of the bed. Lots and lots of stake-bed side hardware was found and after counting everything up, the only two bits that were missing had probably disappeared because the whole wooden bit (which floats above the tail gate and is supported at either end) was robbed from this trailer for use on another trailer. These pieces are nothing more than a piece of strap steel with a bit of rod welded to it. No biggie. There were a lot of rotting bits of wood that had been the bones of the stake-bed sides and every other sort of discarded stuff, from chicken wire to aluminum siding. Once all the big stuff was out I got a rake and a shovel and a broom and swept the bed

Drum roll, please!

Well, it's certainly not as bad as it might have been. The back half of the bed might even be good enough to save. I'm always pleased to see my work load cut by half. So, to answer the earlier question (Wood or steel?) the answer is certainly, STEEL. But, for the moment, the floor pan looks awfully ugly.

To bring some balance back to the curious question of How Bad Is It, Really, I brought out a big scraper and went over the whole trailer and removed every flaky bit of paint that could be coaxed off the thing. The Billmeister stopped by and after some internet sleuthing, concluded that this trailer had been used by the Belgian military. Frankly, I think it looks like a definite 'keeper'.

So, the most popular question now is, is this trailer an American hand-me-down or is it one of the Ben Hur trailers manufactured, post-war. by Germany? Very difficult to say. I found some olive drab and some remnants of white stenciling beneath the European camo but I could not find any evidence of rivel holes for VIN plates. All very curious, but in the final analysis, not really a big deal, either way. One thing is assured. The trailer looks 1000% better than it did yesterday.

Cheers,
TJ

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Re: Beverly Hillbillies, Part Deux

Unread post by m3a1 » February 3rd, 2024, 1:20 pm

Another piece of the Ben Hur trailer puzzle arrived today in a text from my brother. Note that I did NOT say that the puzzle piece dropped into place. He sent me a link to an instagram page posted by a well known guy in the MV hobby; a guy who had a wood-bodied Ben Hur produced (or perhaps refurbished) in the Netherlands. Well, from the usual sources of MV discussion I was aware some were made (and again, the word 'made' might also mean refurbished) in Germany, post WWII. I also know that mine was used by the Belgian military but this new information was the first time the Netherlands involvement in Ben Hur (re?)production had been proven (to me, anyways). Of course, it would be no small stretch of the imagination to recognize that the Netherlands would be involved, given its location between Belgium and Germany, and its many sea ports (which represent an ability to conduct trade very easily). Still, it is unwise to draw conclusions and represent them as fact without empirical data.

Of even greater interest to me is the fact that I have FINALLY found an image of my particular style of jockey wheel which has a very plain, smooth center dish..but, of course none of this sleuthing is ever very straightforward so, while I have now found a jockey wheel that matches mine, the yoke that supports it is a definite departure from the standard, stamped steel yoke... the production of which would require the exact same sort of machinery that the allies were only too happy to bomb the double-compound-doggie-doodoo out of existence, during the war. In fact, it is a far heavier (and stronger) design and one that is produced without the use of a huge stamping press. So, one cannot make any definite conclusions about a particular Ben Hur trailer by looking at it as a whole. The rest only seems to point to standardized designs for U.S. production....or not.

It is important to realize that a lot of these trailer parts and pieces did not necessarily begin their life on any one particular trailer. U.S.-produced trailers came as kits, in a knocked-down form and crated for transport. After a rough time of it, parts would quite naturally begin to migrate from one machine to another. I cannot say with any authority how post-war produced European Ben Hur trailers were produced; as a whole in one facility, or more likely, by the piece in a variety of facilities or even how they were doled out to the various European militaries. Any record of this sort of thing doesn't exactly make for popular reading and it is rare that those tiny facts survive the tests of time and tide.

Unless you happen to be a guy like Ken..

We DO know that Uncle Sam brought a whole bunch of Ben Hur trailers to Europe and a lot of them were 'rode hard and put up wet' and we also know that Uncle Sam was refurbishing worn out Jeeps on the European continent....so why not trailers? It would make sense, but alas, I have no evidence.

And then, there is the matter of re-importing Ben Hur trailers to the U.S.... which, in my particular trailer's case, definitely DID happen at some point. I have seen small mountains of reimported Ben Hur trailers which were completely disassembled to save space during transport back here. Billyboi actually selected the parts for his Ben Hur from (literally) big pile(s) and the seller put it together for him so we know his isn't exactly as it came from the factory. Nope. His is just another Ben Hur frankentrailer but with a slightly better provenance.

But, it would nice to be able to say with some degree of certainty that certain things are indicative of U.S. production whilst others are not. So, the next time you encounter a lowly piece of military history (particularly those that have a history of having been shared with other militaries) take a second and maybe even a third look at it. There's a lot of questions that need to be answered.

Cheers,
TJ
Last edited by m3a1 on February 4th, 2024, 1:56 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Beverly Hillbillies, Part Deux

Unread post by rickf » February 3rd, 2024, 2:34 pm

You need to contact George on here, He is from Holland and is big into military vehicles and the hobby in general. He also has his own shop over there so he might have some info on them. His info is below.

https://www.g838.org/memberlist.php?mod ... ofile&u=82
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1984 M1008
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Re: Beverly Hillbillies, Part Deux

Unread post by m3a1 » February 15th, 2024, 12:58 am

Hello all. Well, I've receive a lot of help from others lately and I'm grateful for all of it.

Rick set me on the path to acquire a bit of rather obscure militaria, which I dared to look at and then immediately opened my wallet. Naturally, this took place just before Valentine's Day when one is supposed to be doting on one's wife and showering her with gifts. So...while the timing for this fateful financial hit was not horrible, it came at exactly the wrong time. But, I freely admit I cannot wait to see it when it gets here.

Meanwhile, our very own George has been doing yeoman service by getting me pointed toward resources that would otherwise be too deeply buried in the internet for me to find but, with his guidance, I got not only great information on Ben Hur trailers but also a whole new set of questions and, some really eye-opening facts that have left me with my fingers laced over the top of my head in an effort to keep my mind from being completely blown.

But more on Ben Hurs and mind-blowing revelations later.

Yesterday I received a call from a fellow for whom I did a good deed and he very casually said he would give me (he GAVE THEM TO ME, mind you!) four wheels, upon which were mounted four reasonably good tires.... for my Gama Goat. What are the odds! No, REALLY...what ARE the odds?!

Well, let's just say odds are you'd have better luck being invited to eat an extra large order of nachos grande off the Mona Lisa in the Louvre....

and while there is still plenty of kindness in the world, there aren't a whole lot of wheels and tires for Gama Goats....and Dirty Gertie really needs new shoes. Lloyd, if you're reading this...

YOU ARE THE MAN!

Today, he showed up at the casita in a big, white dually loaded with humungous tires. Thanks, buddy!

Cheers,
TJ

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Re: Beverly Hillbillies, Part Deux

Unread post by m3a1 » February 21st, 2024, 2:51 am

So, there have been even more changes around here. For instance, the old 47 Ford Super Deluxe has moved onto a new pasture to become....Yard Art, and in fact, it looks WAY better there than it ever did here. Here, it looked like my passion for rusty stuff had overflowed the property and spilled out into the street. It was also taking up valuable curb space and my wife's parking rarely showed any concern for the mailman. Now, she has no excuse.

I sold the new owner the engine for a pittance and with that, gave him a free car, from which I kept the wheels and tires since that was the singular thing I had invested time and money in. If the opportunity presents, I will move the tires and tubes over to jeep-sized wheels and let him have the original wheels back.

Had a fella commit to buy the M416-Beach-Blanket-Bingo Adventure Trailer Wannabe and at the last second (after I moved a bunch of stupid stuff in order to be able to get it out) he bowed out which, where this trailer is concerned, is the tipping point for me. I suppose it's time for me to slice off all the extras and return it to some semblance of its military status. It IS an interesting trailer because its an air transportable version with some of the stuff that mades it air transportable still attached. Somebody added a heavy gauge steel floor to the tub which is far and away better than anything Uncle Sam blessed-off on and that will stay because as far as I'm concerned, it's a real improvement.

It's also far better than my civilian Bantam which is so lightweight and so stiffly suspended that it leaps into the air when going over the slightest bump, if unloaded. Not exactly desirable trailer behavior when being pulled by a short wheelbase vehicle. Still, on the 416 there will be a lot of cutting and grinding to get it pared back down to the basics. There is also some wrinkled sheet metal on the front panel which I figure is just there to put a checkmark the 'pre-disasterized box'.

Anyhoo, I wanted a decent trailer for my YJ and I reckon the ol' 416 won't look too lost behind it. The first bridge I had to cross with it was that several lug nuts were degraded to the point that they were all whittled down to a nub with rust. Apparently, Cooper the Wonder Dog made it his mission to pee on that particular wheel every day for the last three years, leaving me with only two lugs in a condition that was good enough to remove with the standard sized socket.

*sigh*

So, I popped into Harbor Freight and purchased the little Maddox brand socket set that is designed to defeat recalcitrant lug nuts that want to round off and chiefly meant for locking lug nuts that have become separated from their so-called key. These special sockets are meant to be driven onto the lug nut and they have teeth that have a slight twist that is meant to bite into the lug a bit when put under a lefty-loosey torque load. I must say, I was impressed. Removing the damaged lug nuts was just as easy at using a regular socket, discounting the additional step of having to drive it onto the lug nut with a copper mallet. The kit contains four sockets and a pin meant for drifting the damaged lug nut back out of the lug-remover, and all stowed in a blow-mold case. With new lug nuts on order and with the old lug nuts removed, I'm officially over the first hurdle.

Cheers,
TJ

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Re: Beverly Hillbillies, Part Deux

Unread post by m3a1 » February 23rd, 2024, 3:40 am

Okay, so here's the reason that a bunch of research has left my mind completely blown.

We know that Ben Hur trailers were made by countries other than the U.S.A. in the post WWII period. We also know that a bunch of them were imported into the U.S. and, quite naturally, many of them have later been modified to appear almost indistinguishable from WWII U.S.-built Ben Hur trailers, which leaves me rather curious as to what folks are actually paying for the post war Ben Hurs down the line because -

LOOKS like a WWII artifact,
ACTS like a WWII artifact so...
Why not charge the same money?

I'm rather sure a lot of MV owners may own Ben Hurs and have paid good money for something that is, in fact, a counterfeit. Now that's disturbing enough but I'm concerned that the reality is, most folks don't dabble in the larger stuff and since the Ben Hur trailer is a one-tonner meant to be found being pulled by bigger MVs, for most folks in the MV hobby, the attitude is: 'As long as it ain't MY ox being gored, I don't care.' Or simply put....

it ain't my problem.

Well, what if I told you that it MIGHT be? It kind of depends upon where your interests lie

By way of example, I think that most of us would agree that a counterfeit M151 would not necessarily hold the same value as an original, U.S.government M151 of the same quality. Which would you pay top dollar for? And before anyone gets their dander up, I'm not talking about professionally restored (but otherwise original) machines such as those that can be achieved nowadays. No, I'm talking about machines that were NEVER in the U.S. inventory.

Be of good cheer. I haven't found anyone counterfeiting M151s so, we're not going there. But, I will tell you what I have found. Not only were Ben Hur trailers made overseas, post WWII. Are you sitting down? Okay, lace your fingers over the top of your skull, 'cause here it comes.

M100 trailers were ALSO manufactured overseas, post WWII !! And you know how hard THOSE are to find!

Frankly, I find this rather unsettling because I've been in this hobby for quite some time and was completely oblivious to post war Ben Hurs and M100s.

This provides yet another opportunity for a U.S. consumer to buy for top dollar what he (or she) may think is a genuine WWII trailer when in fact, what is being offered is actually a counterfeit. In some cases, these may be nearly indistinguishable if not actually indistinguishable from the real thing.

Now, to be entirely fair, not everyone is a crook but the lure of big money makes some people crazy. And, not everyone really cares about the provenance of what they buy so long as it looks and behaves like what they want to own. I am in the second category. I will tell you outright that you should never buy any of the Rolex (and other high-end) watches that might be offered by my estate upon my death. I bought very high quality counterfeit watches from the PX while overseas. I love 'em and they look great.

Don't judge me. Uncle Sam said it was okay.

But, those watches are NOT the real deal. They look and act very much like big name timepieces...but their value, compared to the real thing, just isn't there.

But, LAWDY! I had to have that Yacht Master.... and before you begin wagging your finger at me, it's illegal to buy and sell them here, but not there.

I am an honest fellow and I didn't buy my Ben Hur, or my watch(s) to flip them. The Ben Hur is German-made, but I bought it at a very, VERY fair price...just like the watches. Come the day when it's time to let the Ben Hur go and send it down the road with the next guy, I'll let that person know it's not really a WWII Ben Hur and if that bothers him, well, there are other trailers out there to be had.

ANYHOO, I though some of you might be interested in this sort of stuff. There's a lot of weird stuff going on out there and if it comes to looking at buying Ben Hurs or M100s (and certain watches) you need to be VERY careful about what you buy.

Cheers,
TJ

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Re: Beverly Hillbillies, Part Deux

Unread post by rickf » February 23rd, 2024, 10:50 am

BUT, Were those trailers made under contract from the US Government? That does make a difference because now they actually ARE the real thing since they would have to be made to the same exact specifications. I have come to find out that the engine block in my M37 was actually cast in France in the 60's. Whether this makes it a forgery (would that be a Forged forging?) or a duplicate or a contract build I don't know but it runs just like any other flathead 6.
1964 M151A1
1984 M1008
1967 M416
04/1952 M100
12/1952 M100- Departed
AN/TSQ-114A Trailblazer- Gone

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Re: Beverly Hillbillies, Part Deux

Unread post by m3a1 » February 23rd, 2024, 2:43 pm

Well, no, they weren't. At least not the ones I've found out about. By that point in time we were giving the stuff away and back-filling that with our stuff that was waiting to be shipped at the end of the war. Wartime contracts are often quick to be cancelled at war's end but the QM never stops looking for newer, mo-bettah stuff. The trailers I'm speaking of were being made for the various European militaries who, no doubt, began their military build-back with a lot of hand-me-down U.S. (and other nation's) equipment which it is why it made more sense to continue building what they had the most of, at least until they got back on their feet. It's really interesting to see how foreign Ben Hur designs were changed to better suit their foreign users in nips and tucks.

But, as your comment has demonstrated, one can begin the argument as to what is real, or counterfeit, where-ever one wants to begin. My point was, either it is equipment that was on the U.S. Military's TO&E during WWII, or it isn't. That is where I draw the line and that is what most hard core WWII collectors want. I believe that is the most common standard.

My Ben Hur is a good example of post war foreign production. There are notable differences between foreign manufacturers that you would never see between U.S. manufacturers. The QM corps was very strict about any of their contracted manufacturers making unapproved 'improvements'...but by design, these trailers are a monocoque body and that means that almost every part can be unbolted and swapped around, leaving the tub as the keeper of the identifiers.

Thus, minor variations in equipment and design between post war foreign manufacturers usually amounts to things that can be unbolted and swapped around so, even those items carry very little weight when it gets down to absolutely identifying who made each particular trailer...and when it was built.

Trailers are useful tools and they get passed around quite a bit rather than just sent to scrap. Over time, you can pretty much bet on parts being shared between inventories which, at this late date, makes the whole proposition of what is real WWII kit, and what is NOT real WWII kit (using the metric I've given) a rather daunting one unless you're lucky enough to have an original data plate firmly attached to your rig by the original fasteners.

Cheers,
TJ

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