UK Universal Carrier tracks – lot 0249
- No Reserve
- Buyer's premium 16.5 % of the hammer price
- Location: Nederweert The Netherlands
- Estimated Price: Euro 16.000,- Euro 18.000,-
Brand new set track set for Universal Carrier.
334 links per machine, made to original metallurical specifications but manufactured to modern ISO standards, links come loose ready for you to add your own pins.
Set will be delivered including pins.
Source Article Key Military (Classic Military Vehicle Magazine) Issue March 31st 2021
Track for World War Two Carriers has been commercially reproduced in the UK for the first time since 1944. CMV editor Andrew Stone chats to Richie Harrison of Vanguard Restorations to find out more
Richie Harrison of Vanguard Restorations has been operating Bren Gun Carriers for just over a decade. His grandfather Kenneth was a Carrier driver during World War Two serving all over the globe.
“It was my love of him that got me into carriers in the first place,” said Richie. “CMV did a wonderful piece in 2014 regarding my Carrier and the human story between my grandfather and a mutual friend and collector Shaun Hindle’s grandfather who served together during the war.”
Richie said since restoring his first Carrier, he had spent “much time” with other owners including Marc van Aalderen and Shaun Hindle, two enthusiasts well known in the Carrier community. “They both put serious annual mileage on their machines and as a result so did I,” said Richie. “I do some 1,000 miles per year on UK roads along with the annual trips to Normandy and Holland.
“Come rain or shine my Carrier was out and moving once a week, sometimes even to do the shopping. Carriers do not do well to sit for long durations and neither do their drivers.”
Richie said they were all aware of the dreaded “wear and tear” on the vehicles. “Tracks do not last forever and inevitably we all began to notice the telltale sag of the track when viewed from the front or the rear of the machine,” he said. “The track either leans towards the centre of the machine or out towards the pavement. The leaning signifies that the track and pins are worn, and likewise we noticed that we were pulling links out of the track system due to stretch.
“We were in the 150s when the link count should be in the 160s as there is after all only so many links that can be pulled before the track becomes unserviceable. I and the majority of owners do not have access to spare links.”
Richie said talk between Carrier owners would often revolve around track availability. “The same conversations were also taking place on numerous online forums and it was established that we had a serious problem going forward into the future,” he said.
“Over many years there have been discussions about producing track but as it was usually so cost-prohibitive it was immediately put down as a pipe dream.
Perhaps this was vaguely true ‘back then’ when a roll of corroded NOS track would set you back circa £5,500 and usually needed to be repinned.
“The cold reality was that we were using up our resources and whereas back in 2009 I could maybe highlight four or five running Carrier examples in the UK and Europe, that number has now quadrupled and is growing year on year, which is a great thing because saving history is, after all, a noble undertaking.” In 2018 Richie sold his Mk1* Carrier and later purchased an Mk2* for restoration.
“The track link count was a Carrier owner’s dream of 165 links, having only lost two since factory and the tracks themselves were not leaning,” he said. “Clearly, I had happened upon a low hour’s machine, which is almost unheard of.
“I had two thoughts: re-pin, use and ultimately wear out the war dated track or take a rather large and expensive leap into the unknown and finally put an end to track issues once and for all…
“At the time I was fortunate to be associating with leaders in the high-end manufacturing industry who were within the motorsports and aerospace industries, and I obtained a new and never used track link from a close associate in Canada.
The link was still sealed in cosmoline grease and was a pristine example of the correct pattern link. I also obtained three worn links from different batches of track produced at different stages of the war which were sent off to my aerospace partner who conducted a costly (for me) metallurgical analysis of the links.
“We now had accurate data on the materials needed as the pin and link materials are crucial as they wear together and work hard over time. “The pristine link was carefully measured multiple times and much travel and correspondence followed between our partner foundry, myself and my project manager, Bill.
“Eventually what followed was several reference links which had been cast and returned to us for checking and sign off.
After some minor corrections, we had a pattern link that was accurate to within 0.1mm of the originals. The original links were never produced to that level of accuracy.”
Richie said the next stage was to produce a series of test links that would be cast from the correct material. The test track was subsequently fitted to a Carrier and thoroughly abused for a sustained period. The tracks were then removed and checked for issues.
“We were relieved to see that the tracks had performed exactly as they should, just like the originals had back in the day,” he said. “Well, two years of R and D later, we are now in a position to take preorders on track and as soon as we fill the first cohort, we can set our partners at the foundry away.
“Unfortunately, the foundry work on minimum numbers. This was one of the problems that cropped up when the track was discussed on the forums but through some lengthy negotiations, we have been able to lower those minimum numbers and agree on a price with the foundry for the first batch only. That now makes brand new track an affordable reality for the first time.”
‘The readily available links of track were made to correct metallurgical properties and cast using modern techniques’
Richie said the readily available links of track were made to correct metallurgical properties and cast using modern techniques. They also complied with ISO standards and were accurate to within +/- 0.1mm. “They are all pinned together with correct pins, again to correct metallurgy and aesthetic specifications, meaning our carriers can now continue to be used for another 75+ years,” he said. “The links that we have currently will fit all Universal Carriers made to Canadian or British specification, Loyd carriers, Scout and Bren carriers along with the American T16.”
The team is currently working through a re-tooling operation to produce track for Windsor and Australian LP carriers and are equipped to ship globally.
“Although my own Carrier’s track was in good, serviceable condition, I have removed the wartime produced track to store and preserve it and I will be fitting new track to my Carrier going forward,” he said. “The rationale is to save the provenance while allowing the Carrier to live its life. It feels like the right thing to do at this point, while I can.”
He said they were also producing new sprockets to go with the track and anyone purchasing the track will be given the sprockets at cost price. “We are very proud to be able to say that we are the first to commercially produce this type of track to a high and useable standard since the end of World War Two and that alone is something I feel is a gamechanger for collectors and hobbyists alike.”
© Tracks & Trade BV, the Netherlands, January 2022