Cracking the 320 Case and Fixing a Turret Fault by Stewart Gebbie G8YQN

Developing a Fault

This might be interesting for those of you that have a UK/RT 320 that is having issues with the band changing turret switch.  In my Clansman collection I have two 320’s. One modified for LSB, still needing the case restored and the other I have restored, and it looks like a new one.  I take the latter out with its brand new Clansman battery, whip antenna, headset and Bergen. This set up is good for working the higher frequency HF bands and I go for walkies with it.

In early January we had a window of milder weather so I thought I would go out onto the cliffs above the sea near my QTH and make a few contacts.  The radio worked fine for the first 10 minutes but then it gave the high pitched whistle (or  not ready tone) indicating the band selection turret was in the wrong position.  I wiggled the switch and it would spring back into life…for about five seconds and this was subject to putting pressure on it anti- clockwise.  When I got home, and the radio had been sitting at room temperature for half and hour it worked perfectly.  SO – I was either going to have to figure out a repair or it was a summer outdoor radio only!

Going In…

I open the case, finding it best to remove the hex bolts from the back and slide off the back first, then remove the front. The main radio slides out of the front of the casing.

DO NOT GO INTO THE BACK SECTION AS THERE IS A WARNING THAT BERYLLIUM OXIDE IS PRESENT

Fault Finding

Once the case is removed there is a small cover on the top of the band change turret. Remove these six screws. You will now see the mechanism.  Now turn the band switch clockwise and you will see little metal fingers making contact with the turret.  For those of you old enough, this is just like the tuning turrets in the old VHF 405 line TV’s.  Each of the contacts rests in a little black receptacle. Turn the band switch clockwise until it is halfway between two tuning positions and the little metal fingers should all be resting against the black plastic retainer.  In my case two of the fingers were missing.  While in this mid way position use a strong light to check the metal fingers that have gone AWOL. In my case, they were hanging downwards.  Fortunately I always turn the turret clockwise as I knew that was the direction that put the least stress on the contacts.  With these two hanging down and if I had turned the control anti-clockwise I would have snapped them off.

Repair

With two little screw drivers I gently teased the fingers back into their correct positions sitting alongside the others in the black plastic retainer.

I rotated the band switch many times and they worked perfectly every time.  Problem solved.

Reassembly

I then started to re-assemble the radio for test.

Note that when replacing the back part of the radio, there is a tuning capacitor and this has to engage with the turret. This has a little half moon shaped black plastic projection that engages the back of the turret.  Make sure you have this aligned or you will damage this fitting to the point where the capacitor will not be suitably engaged.

The back panel also has two connectors to mate when reassembling so be gentle and make sure they engage otherwise you could bend the pins of the connectors.

Do not forget the gaskets when re-assembling. Then it is the boring task of putting back the zillion hex bolts on the front and back.

Testing

My test was then to stand the radio out as the temperature was a bracing 3C and leave it for an hour.  I then operated the turret and set, and it was back to its old self, working perfectly.

Lessons Learnt

The important lesson I learned from this is that you should always turn the band switch turret clockwise because it puts much less strain on the contacts.  If a contact does come adrift then you minimise the chances of breaking  a contact.  If this happens it is a much more difficult repair.  (A further risk of damage can be avoided by putting the set out of use immediately you experience the symptoms above and investigating the fault – ed.)

Post Mortem

What I believe happened is that I inadvertently turned the band switch anti clockwise and this pulled two of the contacts out.  In spite of their dodgy positions they were “kind of” making contact. The temperature change going outside and the resultant metal contraction or reduced springiness in the lower temperatures was just enough for them to lose contact.

Finally – ALWAYS TURN THE BAND-SWITCH TURRET CLOCKWISE IF YOU WANT TO PROLONG THE SECOND LIFE OF YOUR UK/RT 320.

Cheers

Stewart G8YQN

 

 

Adding an Artillery Command Post to a Military Vehicle Collection – Part 1 – Introduction

By Richard Taylor

Part 1 – New vehicle, new direction

Scorpion On Display at Weymouth

Scorpion On Display at Weymouth

To introduce myself, I live down in Cornwall and have been playing around with ex military vehicles for the past twenty years. During this time I have had a couple of Land Rovers, a Ferret and I currently have a CVR(T) Scorpion. The Scorpion is great fun – there is nothing like driving through a town in an eight ton armoured vehicle to turn heads – but it is not a practical vehicle. Going beyond about twenty miles requires a low loader and the cost that entails, but even twenty miles requires a crew, planning for possible breakdown and a fair bit of stress. Having discussed it with various friends, I formed a plan to acquire another vehicle that would be easier to drive and maintain and which would be hopefully as interesting to the public at rallies as the Scorpion is.

Motivation

I think that the relationship between enthusiasts and their hobbies is interesting, especially when it concerns ex-military equipment, uniforms or vehicles. Looking around various sites on the web you come across any number of motivators to pursue the hobby. Some do it out of respect for those that have served; some do it to relive a part of their life they enjoyed whereas others, such as me, see it as an engineering thing. I admire the functionality of military vehicles – they are built for a purpose and they have to carry out that purpose in harsh environments and under extreme conditions and they must do it without failing. It is here though that the enthusiast begins to diverge from the professional user. If I can give an example – I use Airwaves at work and have to wear a uniform. I have no idea how Airwaves works – to me it is not the set that is important but the traffic that goes across it. The radio is just a tool that I use to achieve the communication I need. It is the same as the uniform. I have to wear it to a standard, but it is just clothing. It wears out, it gets replaced. If I rip it, I get another one. I am sure that the servicemen who crewed the Scorpion in its twenty year service were not as attached to the vehicle itself as I am – it is again a tool, although not one I would care to come up against.

My Choice

So, let me get back on to the quest for another vehicle. Whereas with the Scorpion and the Ferret I chose them for their presence, engineering and to a certain extent the wow factor, this vehicle was going to be chosen on a different basis. I had set parameters – it had to be wheeled, soft skin, modern and big enough for me to go to a rally and get out of the rain. I did not want to go over my licence, which excluded HGVs, and I had to be able to drive it by myself as a default. More importantly, I wanted it to be fairly bland as I firmly believe that the non-descript vehicles are not being preserved to the same extent as the fancy stuff. The bulk of the British Army runs on soft-skin, and yet to go to a rally you would think that everything was either in the Military Police or had a gun on it. I also wanted something that I would be able to put into some sort of context at a rally, when it was not moving. I find that this is perhaps the biggest problem in exhibiting vehicles. When they move they look pretty good, but when they are just parked up they seem to lose their sparkle. I think that there are things that can be done to bring the lustre back such as wearing appropriate clothing, but it is too easy to become a car park.

Direction

I imagine by now that some of you are beginning to see where I am going. I am looking for a soft skin vehicle that has a function which it can carry out at rest and which will give the impression that it is doing exactly what it is designed to do. You guessed it – a radio vehicle!

C3IS

This linked quite nicely into one of my other interests, which is not radio, but command and control. I am fascinated by how commanders through the ages have been able to maintain the control over their forces during a battle to ensure that the outcome is as they desire and have planned for. The planning itself is a subject so vast that you could almost deal with it as a separate issue – how do you make sure that the right thing in the right quantity gets to the right place at the right time? That can be anything from troops, ammunition and weapons through to fuel and food. The key is of course communication. Plans have to be disseminated, and thereafter messages must pass to and fro as the situation develops and changes are implemented. If you add to this the fact that there is an equally large organisation in front of you that is trying its utmost to destroy you and your plan, you can see the scale of the problem.

Plan

My plan therefore is to try to recreate a command centre and to give an indication of the working of that centre during conflict. In this, I hope to show that the vehicle, as well as the radio gear, is an important part, but as I have said before, they are tools to be used in achieving the object. If I succeed in this, then the public will not necessarily be interested in what type of truck, radio or other communications gear I may have, they will see it more as an overall impression of a working unit.

The RB44

Rb44in service

If only it were that easy! Before you can make any decisions, you have to understand not only the C3 structure, the ORBAT, the systems by which C3 is implemented and then look at what is available. Luckily there is a lot out there in terms of information and also the recent move to Bowman has meant that there is Clansman gear out there which is workable and reasonably priced. I have found a vehicle, a 1991 RB44 with a radio shelter attached. It is ex Artillery, and its last role was as a Battlefield Meteorology System vehicle, capturing data relating to weather conditions that affect the accuracy and effectiveness of projectiles in flight. However, the basic vehicle was built to be adaptive and I may take the odd liberty to gloss over the equipment I cannot source and supplement it with stuff I can.

I will keep you posted!
RB44st2012

Adding an Artillery Command Post to a Military Vehicle Collection – Part 2 – Radio Considerations

(And Getting Licensed)

So what has this to do with radio?

Having made the decision to start investigating a command vehicle it seemed to make sense to understand what army radio involves. In this regard I am lucky in that a friend is ex REME and was involved in the maintenance and repair of Clansman and Larkspur sets and still works with the MoD on various radio systems. He therefore understands not only the theory but also the practical side and how the equipment was used in service.

Understanding the Clansman Radio Systems and Modules and Using the Working Sets

Once I started the research I soon realised that the whole field is much more complicated than I thought, and that it would be much more involved than I anticipated. Identifying the Clansman sets was quite easy as apart from a few rare and specialised sets, they divide between VHF and HF and between portable and vehicle mounted. Not only that, it is possible to mount portable sets in vehicles without too much difficulty and because the system is modular, instructions and mountings are readily available. The problem is knowing when to use any particular set or frequency and that required an understanding of basic radio theory. This involved many hours of research and discussions until it began to dawn on me that the project was feasible and that some of the sets would actually be capable of use in the amateur bands provided I obtained the correct licence. The next step was to dip my toe in the water and see what I could get.

Locating and Testing Radio Kit and becoming a SWL

The answer to the problem appeared to me to be to find an HF set that covered the amateur frequencies and to get it working. As I did not have the vehicle, a battery operated portable would be ideal, and this narrowed the search down to the PRC 320. I saw two at auction on a site and bought them. With hindsight I probably paid too much, but you learn by your mistakes and they were complete to the CES apart from batteries which I found on eBay. They received very well using the whip and I enjoyed sitting on the patio of an evening just listening to anything that was out there. I was surprised by the distances involved – I have heard Brazil, the United States and many parts of Europe just using the 320 as a man pack without any additional antenna, but I still had no idea whether it worked as a transmitter.

That was fairly easily solved. I took both sets to the War and Peace show at Beltring and a friend of a friend set them both up on his FFR and managed to transmit and receive successfully using the harness and a 4m antenna. I had hoped to be able to sell one there but that did not work out, so they came back with me. I am now considering adapting one to LSB but this is still in its infancy.

Antenna Theory and Practical Work

The next step was to look at the antenna. My ex REME friend pointed me in the direction of various sites about antenna theory, and using those as well as the PRC 320 user manual, I attached 40 odd metres of Kevlar wire to it and draped that all around the garden. Needless to say it was a complete failure and I could discern no difference between that and the whip. Back to the manual and to eBay and I bought a 5.4 metre fibreglass mast. After a bit of tweaking this was set up in the field with the whip attached to the top and the set connected. The test was to listen to the VMARS transmission on a Saturday morning, which I could not do with just the whip on the set, and the proof of success would be to receive this in an audible fashion.

I was surprised, but it worked. I managed to hear the broadcast pretty well – the net controller was extremely clear but what was more interesting was that I could also hear some of the responses from other users. One that sticks in my mind was a PRC 320 user from Conway who came across very well indeed.

More antenna theory and research was needed as even with a 5.4 metre lift it was clear that the whip had its limitations and I needed to look at other options. Draping wire around the garden or across the field did not seem to be the best way, even if this was an option shown in the user handbook, so it was back to eBay and the net. I managed to find an 8 metre telescopic mast and kit for a reasonable amount and the plan was to repeat the VMARS test but using both masts with an end feed antenna between the two. Looking at the tables in the handbook and on the set itself, and running a couple of checks using calculators on the net, a 40 metre length seemed to be the desired option. I ran this out using the tags on the antenna wire and then put up the 8 metre mast. I was surprised how well thought out this was and how easy it was to do by myself . If anything it was a sight easier than the 5.4 metre mast which kept flopping around and dismantling itself. Anyway – both masts were set up and the antenna connected and tensioned. Radio connected and switched on; a bit of a whistle whilst it tuned and then the reception was as clear as a bell. Again the net controller was perfectly clear but this time I could hear many more of the contributors and there seemed to be less in the way of background hiss than before. All in all it was a success and quite exciting.

Becoming Licensed

That is about as far as I have gone with the set at present. I have booked a course with the local Amateur Radio Club which I hope will result in my foundation licence in six weeks time. My research in the meantime will be to look at how I can achieve as much as possible from the set and power that I am allowed and this again points towards making the most efficient antenna that I can. I have set myself some parameters in this and that is that I have to use the material and kit that would have been available to the Army at the time. It would be too easy to use better, civilian kit but my aim with the whole set up is to be as tactical as possible and to live with the compromises that this entails. I have been advised to look at NVIS as one possibility, I am researching Dipoles, end fed, ladders and G5RV antennae and once the weather improves I will conduct some tests to see what works in what circumstances. I hope that the members of the forum and the local club will be able to help and that my knowledge will expand. Watch this space!

Adding an Artillery Command Post to a Military Vehicle Collection – Part 3 – Choosing the Platform

Why an RB44?

I have been looking for way of displaying a command post for a while. As a result I have considered a number of vehicles but there is not one which fits the bill perfectly and does not have a significant drawback. I have considered three armoured vehicles – the Sultan, the FV432 variant and the Saxon – and two soft skin – the Land Rover and the RB44.  At the end of this part there is a short video of the initial inspection of the vehicle.

The RB44 at the the time of Purchase

The RB44 at the the time of Purchase

Armour

Armoured vehicles are in a league of their own and you can imagine the difficulties. These range from transport through road registration to the need for a multi person crew to move safely. Given that I already have an armoured vehicle, I was not dissuaded from this just because it was armoured but the 432 was rejected immediately as they are a complete beast to work on and I have never been a fan of Cletrac steering. For those that have not come across this, it is a system where the tracks are both steered and braked by the tillers and effectively all that is between you and disaster is a friction band in an oil bath that you tighten on one side to steer and together to stop. If you lose steering you lose braking and vice versa. This system is now illegal in road going vehicles and that is one of the reasons the Bulldog upgrade has the Allison box with separate steering and brakes.

The Sultan is certainly capable of being run by a private individual, but it too much the same as the Scorpion and would not alleviate the difficulties I have. The Saxon, on the other hand is a strong contender. They are Bedford based, automatic and could at a pinch be driven by a driver and commander. They are not so limited in range as tracked vehicles and whilst they are not the most aesthetic, I think that they have a beauty of their own. The problem is that they are rare and phenomenally expensive. I have seen them going at £35000 but nothing less than about £15000. Most were sold off to a military customer who also hoovered up a lot of the spares so this was also rejected.

Small Soft Skin Vehicles

IMG_2668

Land Rovers are quite easy – they use components that you can generally get in the civilian market and are large meccano sets which you can play around with to repair. They fit in to a garage – at a push you can use them as an every day vehicle and they are readily available as the 110 is being replaced by the Wolf . The drawback to me is that they are small. Even the 110 is cramped in the back and by the time you add the radio kit you are working in a pretty confined space. The weight of the radio puts towing a trailer on the limit and this is not helped by the 2.5 normally aspirated diesel. I am told that you can get out and walk alongside one going up hill and that 40mph with a full load is about the most you will get. The advice I was given was that I would be better to get a 200Tdi engine and swap it. However this added about a thousand to the purchase price and became a project in itself. I saw plenty of 200Tdi Discoveries on eBay, but they had all done 100000 miles plus and would probably need a rebuild if I was not going to store up trouble later on. Another one rejected.

IMG_2664

The RB44

It was my ex REME friend who suggested the RB44, and having looked on the web I thought they looked pretty good. They also had a rough beauty , a bit like a pumped up Transit with a pretty unbustable engine. They came in FFR which meant that suppression and the 24 volt system was already in place, and this would make fitting radio kit easier. I liked the communications shelter, it was big enough to sit in comfortably and also to sleep in should I need to. Some already had map boards, seats and lights fitted and they were designed to tow. Looking on the web, Withams had any number at fairly reasonable prices and the difference between that and a Land Rover was not too great. What could go wrong?

Vehicle Characteristics

Actually, quite a lot. As I started to research in depth it became apparent that it was the most hated vehicle in the British army. I could not find anyone who had a good word for them, and most of the words seemed to be “dangerous”, “lethal” and “crap”. This was not good, and I spent a long time reading every posting I could and discussing the options with friends. It appeared that the initial design had an inbuilt flaw which resulted in a number of crashes as the vehicle had a tendency to veer to one side when braking. The whole fleet was taken off the road and a modification program instigated. There are conflicting accounts as to whether this was successful but it seems to have pacified the MoD. Nonetheless, it remained a cursed vehicle and was withdrawn pretty quickly. What I had to do was to decide whether it was the one for me.

The way I looked at it was that forewarned is forearmed. I was not likely to get into a truly tactical situation where I would operate at the limit of me and the vehicle. A bit of mud or wet grass would be the most off-roading I would do. Similarly as I have said before, there is a difference in attitude to a tool that is given to you to do a job and something that you have paid for and want to keep in as good a condition as possible. Hence I would be less likely to drive at high speed “just because it can” and I can spend as long as necessary to get the brakes adjusted properly. Drum brakes can work very well, provided that you respect them and realise that they are not the same as power assisted discs all round. I drive the Scorpion in the same fashion, and have also experience of the same issues in the Ferret which also relied on unassisted drums. Some of the accident reports indicated that the vehicles were grossly overloaded on exercise – a figure of six tons overweight on one occasion – and this again was not likely to be an issue with me. Overall then, I believed that by conducting a thorough risk assessment and sticking to the safety system I could deal with the RB44.

Source Located

IMG_2358

Finding one was quite easy; Withams had a selection and I found one which fitted the bill perfectly. The company were very helpful and made sure that as much of the original

 

electronics fit was retained as possible, and that I was happy with the vehicle. It is now with another company getting ready for its first registration and VOSA test and even though I bought it in October, I have not had a chance to climb all over it and see what can be fitted.

Original Owners Marque

The Orignal Owners Marque

Link to Video showing the RB44 on Initial Inspection

Coming Up

In part 4 we discuss the C2 and C3I requirements of the vehicle and I sit the foundation licence….

 

 

Adding an Artillery Command Post to a Military Vehicle Collection – Part 4 – Progress with the Radio Installations as at March 2013

VHF Installations

Following on from my leave, the parts are arriving thick and fast although there is nothing here yet to bolt it to, I now have 2 VRC 353s with most of the ancillaries but no cabling.

...Assembling the VHF Installation...

…Assembling the VHF Installation…

I want to carry out a bench test on the components before I fit them either in the RB44 or the Scorpion. The Scorpion is perhaps more important as access to the turret with the 353 is very difficult and I do not want to do it any more than I have to.

The difficult cables are those from the radio to the ARFAT and TUUAM which are not wired as straightforwardly as they seem.

I will locate and post a schematic so that they can be made.

 HF Sets

I was successful in the Witham’s auction and now have the 321 set up. A friend has collected them for me and says that they look OK, but we have not tested them as yet. Again I probably paid slight over the odds for them, but I keep forgetting the VAT and I really wanted to get them all in one go. Once they are fitted I doubt that they will come out and will probably be sold with the truck anyway, so over the next few years the memory of paying for them will diminish.

IMG_2840

C2 Systems

As well as the radios, I have been thinking about what else I can put into the RB44 to make it look like a command post. It has a map board and I am sure that I can get a sufficiently “warry” looking map that I can draw targets and battle lines on. I can hang some DPM in it and camouflage it up, but there has to be something more. The original was filled with equipment for the BMETS role, and I need something to replace that.

Gunnery

Looking around, the artillery was probably one of the first arms of service to use technology to make tasks easier and more accurate. To a certain extent this was forced on them once the ranges of guns increased so that the fall of shot was away from direct sight. If you merely pointed the business end of your cannon at a body of troops and let it off, you could adjust elevation by sight and observe the outcome with your own eyes. As a result, spotting and correction was done by the crew and there was no real need for any other input. However once the concept of indirect fire was introduced, then that brought with it a number of issues that were not previously necessary. The first was that it introduced the need for a mathematical calculation to establish the required elevation to ensure that the shot fell in the right place, and also maps that were sufficiently accurate to measure the distances and to show the topography. It is no co-incidence that the mapping of the British Isles was carried out by the Board of Ordnance.

C3I Systems

The guns also needed to be zeroed, they had to be lined up so that the barrels were parallel and then any corrections in azimuth (the horizontal plane) can be applied to all. Having this fixed point also enabled observers to calculate corrections and express them in relation to the gun line. Added to this you have meteorology, incremental charges, barrel wear, differences in height between the target and the guns and you can see that the calculations become more complex. Prior to the introduction of computers the Artillery used a mixture of mechanical calculators, pre-calculated tables and corrections from forward observers. Nowadays it is all computer controlled and the calculations are much quicker and therefore a higher rate of fire ensues. I found an ex military rugged laptop and data station on eBay which I think will fit the bill and at least look like a fire control terminal.

IMG_2394

This has opened up a number of possibilities on the radio side. I will load some small programs which can calculate propagation predictions as well as antenna calculations so that I can use these when I am out in it, but my REME mate reckons that we should be able to attach it to the clansman radios to run a real time Morse decoder.

That sounds like fun and if anyone has some suggestions about how we do this please let me know.

Radio Amateurs Exam

As far as radio is concerned I have finished the basic course – there is a mock exam on Monday, one revision week and the real test on the 25th of March. I am revising and it’s all beginning to take shape, but I will find out any weak areas on Monday.

Adding an Artillery Command Post to a Military Vehicle Collection – Part 5 – Progress with Testing

Snakes and Ladders with Radio sets

Now where were we?

VHF ATU and AdapterIn the last instalment I had collected a number of parts which would go towards the radio installation and I was waiting for the cabling which connects the VHF sets and their components together. This arrived last weekend so I thought I would have a go to see whether the 353s worked. There was nothing to suggest that they would not, as they formed half of a batch bought from a dealer and the other two worked fine.

IMG_2850Harness

The first concern was that although the plugs on the cables I had bought matched the sockets on the radio bits, the labels showed that most were in fact designed for other uses. I was slightly annoyed about this as the whole point behind using that supplier and paying the price asked was that he told me he had the correct cables. I could have bought other cables which would plug in for a bit less and been in no worse a position. The bright side was that one pair were actually labelled correctly so I have a known good pair and I have tested the pins to see how they are connected and can then compare those to the others.

Power Supplies

My first test was to power up – the power supply I had was a simple 24 volt charger connected via a made up lead, terminating in the two pin clansman connector. I assembled the parts, connected the power, turned on and nothing. I turned it on a couple of times but with exactly the same result. I could not hear anything moving or working. At this stage I ran out of time so set it aside for another day.

Apparently Dead

My next trial involved another set with the same ancillaries, but this time I set it up indoors. My reason was to see whether any of the set lit up as the first time I did it, I couldn’t see anything. I followed the set up in the user manual to the letter and turned it on. Not quite nothing, but as close as you can get. A few more tests and some close observation indicated that the lights in the frequency selection window were lighting up briefly and then there was a clunk and they went off. They did this within a second or so of the power being switched on so it was very difficult to tell what was happening. When the switch was turned to 28 volts, the meter showed that the power supply was in the green, but at any other position the set appeared to be completely dead.

 Reading The Manual

From the fault finding schematic in the user manual it pointed to the power supply unit in the radio tripping, and the advice was to switch on and off to reset. This merely repeated the process, and the worrying thing was that the next stage on the flow chart was that the set was faulty.

There’s Life Jim…

This is where the Clansman Radio User Forum came in. I posted a request for help and received some very good advice. The consensus was that the voltage from the battery charger was not “clean” enough for the radio. That is to say that there were fluctuations in the voltage that made no difference when charging a battery, but which were completely incompatible when used to power radio equipment. Stuart posted a link which explained the situation perfectly and set me looking for another way to power the set. (see here…) On the good side, it was felt that the radios were performing as expected by tripping when faced with an unregulated power supply.

Testing….

One. As I mentioned earlier, I brought a couple of signals batteries down from the vehicle to try to recondition them so I had these in the garage. I made a better power lead with terminals that connected properly to battery posts and a lead to connect the two batteries in series to give me a smooth 24 volt supply. In the assembly of the set I checked as much as I could and found that I only had eight volts across the two batteries. Whilst I was disappointed I was not surprised as I did not have a lot of confidence in the batteries. However, I connected one to the charger for an hour or so and managed to lift the voltage up to about ten and it was taking reasonable amperage so there is hope that once I get them up to charge they will have enough in them to run the set.

IMG_2851

I did get some life into the batteries and connected everything. Turned the sets on and Bingo – lights where there should be and clicks and whirrs all round. It worked with both sets, so I am fairly confident that I have the basis of a radio fit. Over the holiday I hope to change the components around to test cables and boxes. Plymouth Radio Club are having a 24 hour event on Good Friday, so I hope to receive some traffic on the 50Mhz band just to test reception.

Two. That apart there has been some progress with the RB44 and it is now booked in for its VOSA test in the middle of April. I have checked with DVLA and they tell me that the registration process should only take 48 hours before I get the authority to make the number plates which puts it on the road. The V5 will follow, but it will be taxed and insured and ready to drive. Looking at my diary I am aiming to take some time off around the 10th May and bring it home then.

Three. Not only that but I passed my foundation licence exam. I have not been allocated a call sign yet, but will look and see whether TUH is available, TUH standing for Truck Utility Heavy, the designation of the RB 44.

Even the sun is shining here!  Albeit a tad late 😉

 

Adding an Artillery Command Post to a Military Vehicle Collection – Part 6 – Bureaucracy Bites but the Adventure Begins…

Worth the wait

It has been a while since the last post as I was waiting for something positive to happen so that I could make the transition from planning to working on the radios and the RB 44. When I left it I was arranging leave, getting a date for the VOSA test and trying to co-ordinate the drive back to Cornwall. My target date was the 10th or 11th May and everything seemed to be fitting in with that. However it was not to be as the truck, which had its VOSA test on the 2nd May, failed because a seal in the power steering blew. It was no-one’s fault, but most likely because it had been standing for a while and the seal had perished. It was then booked in for the following week, but this left me little or no time to get the insurance, and more importantly, the registration paperwork completed. I did consider other options – drive it anyway, borrow trade plates or make up a number plate – but was advised by those with cooler heads to leave it and not to take the risk. They were of course right. All it would have needed was to break down in an awkward place, to lose another seal in the braking system or have an accident and I would have been in trouble and could have risked a crushed vehicle, fine or points. Not only that it could have had an impact on the hobby in general and made it more difficult to register or run such vehicles in future.

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We were then on plan B. The procedure is that once you have insurance and the VOSA test, you take these to the DVLA local office and they check it all and after a few days you get a registration document and the authority to make number plates. After that the log book and tax disc comes through in due course, but you can drive it. My local office is in Truro so I took the train down and went to see them. They checked everything and decided that the copy of the disposal certificate was not sufficient and that I had to produce the original. This was in Grantham as it was needed for the VOSA test, so it was sent down. They looked at all the other paperwork and stamped the form. So next week I took another train ride to Truro. I thought I would enjoy the day as it was our thirtieth wedding anniversary and have lunch out in what is a pleasant city. How wrong can you be?

Having got to the front, I submitted the paperwork together with the original cast certificate. The application was rejected this time because the VOSA certificate that I had made no reference to the chassis number. Because of the earlier problems with the test I am now quite an expert on VOSA and know that in cases that have no registration number they allocate a K number. This is their reference number unique to the vehicle until it is registered and can be found on their system by quoting it. It then details all the history, including in my case the failed and missed tests. They can do this over the phone as I have done it with them a couple of times during the lead up to plating. However the DVLA would not accept the K number. They say that they do not have access to the VOSA system and they were not going to ring up and check. It was my problem. I rang VOSA who confirmed that they had a record of the chassis number under the K reference, but that they did not use it. The certificate was competed according to their instructions and that was that. Back to DVLA – they would not budge. I have to admit at this stage that I became quite annoyed with the whole thing. If I could phone up and confirm the chassis number why couldn’t they and anyway why was a properly issued test certificate not acceptable? Two hours later, arguments with the manager and he did sort it out, but by that stage I was really, really annoyed. It seemed the most frustrating type of bureaucracy; an argument between departments with me stuck in the middle and powerless to influence either. I also could not understand why in these days of customer focus, a department would want to turn something that we both want the same outcome into a battle.

After that we did get lunch and the very large bottle of beer that accompanied it seemed a reward for the wasted morning. A couple of days later the registration number came through so we were all set for the weekend.

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For the rest of the week I gathered as much stuff as I could that would be useful and put it in the car. I had a box of oils, greases, fire extinguishers, as well as all the paperwork I had and went via London on the Friday and picked up a civilian transceiver that I bought some months ago. Seemed in very good condition but my mate is not into radio so I just wrapped it up and put that into the car as well. Early on the Saturday I went up the M1 to another friend who lives nearer to Grantham and arrived there just in time for breakfast. The journey and adventure was about to begin.