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An introduction to engineering in the UK - 1960's - Part 5

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  • An introduction to engineering in the UK - 1960's - Part 5

    Old post was a bit long so started a new one.

    Part 5.

    Testing the vehicles.

    Tanks were tested internally in the depot, previously they used to go out on the roads but the local councils complained about the steel tracks ripping the tarmac up.
    I can remember seeing them as kids but we never got to go out on public roads.

    All the roads inside the depot that the tanks had to run on were concrete but that was quite a few as they had to move around from shop to shop for radios, turret, testing etc.
    The result was they polished these concrete surface to something akin to a mirror.
    No problem until it rained and they were just like ice and you spent more time on your arse that riding your bike.

    I think this is where I first got the title 'horizontal champ '

    Some of the later Centurion's had prototype guns fitted that eventually were adopted by the army and fitted to the Challenger.
    There were radar controlled and were self tracking. The Cent was unique at the time for being able to do neutral turns. In neutral if you hauled one stick back and one forward it would spin on it's tracks. Usually a tank turn is related to what gear it is in, low gear, tight turn etc.

    Because it wasn't gear related revving up made it spin faster.
    The apprentice masters used to get the new lads throwing up by spinning these round absolutely flat out. It wasn't just the speed but the noise and smell of hot oil, fear and shït

    We used to sight the gun on the local power station chimney, plug a chart recorded in and spin the tank round and the gun stayed aimed on the chimney, on board it wasn't anything special but from outside on the ground it was awesome for that time.

    We used to have rough area as well to test on, it was an old tip at one time and you soon learnt to be in the right gear for a particular corner or you drifted off the path into the rough. It was good fun.

    But if that was good fun then the testing of the wheeled vehicles was a better hoot. These went on public roads up to Donington Park a former race track before WWII. In WWII the ministry took it over and never gave it back until recently. Rolls Royce had an engine test facility there, they still have the facility but don't test engines there any more.
    Parts of the old track were there but much had been built over during the war, it saved laying footing if you had a hard surface but it was really neglected and over grown.

    We would take anything from 2 to 4 wheeled vehicles, one master / driver, one lad per vehicle and the idea was to have a run round and shake any bugs out.

    As it was about 10 miles there the drivers thought that was enough and they took themselves off to their little hut at the side of the RR shop and plugged the kettle in.

    WE got to do the driving !!!

    So 2 to 4 spotty Herberts, some with no driving license let loose with Ferrets [ about 7 ton ] to Saladins[ about 10 ton ]

    We used to play dobby, don't know what it's called in the US but it's the old kids game dob your on next, a variation hide and seek.

    Rules, - what rules ????????

    actually there were a few that you religiously stuck to.

    [1] engines running at all times so you couldn't hear anyone.
    [2] only combat visors allowed, that gave you a slit to see thru.
    [3] all hatches battened so you couldn't be tempted to have quick look round

    Draw short straw for who was 'on' then you had 5 minutes to go and hide.
    Try to pick a nice thicket to hide in, most of the better places like holes were known so it was better to try to find new places.

    Back in and hunker down and wait,

    and wait,

    and wait,

    And suddenly someone rams you up the arse doing about 20 mph and your 'on'
    You wait 5 minutes to give the guy chance to hide then go looking.

    Look in all the obvious spots and try to find someone and hope it's not front on and he gets chance to see you because he's allowed to run and because of the combat slit you know you will loose him. Better to find a sitting duck and ram the arse off him.

    Three hours later minus headlamps, fenders, radio aerials we go pick the drivers up from their nap and make out way back.

    O happy days.

    The Stalwart amphibious vehicles were based on the Saracen troop carrier but they had ducted fans behind the wheels to enable them to cross rivers, they still drove the wheels as well as with big chunky tyres this also helped.

    Testing on these was done in the River Trent which ran just past the depot. because this is a low lying area there are big flood banks stretching for miles.

    When they tested these with a new lad or guy aboard the driver would approach the river over a field quite sedately, then about 100 yards short of the flood bank, go flat out up the flood bank and this behemoth would take off and land in the river.

    The river at this point wasn't very deep, probably 6 or 7 feet but enough to go fully under water and hit the bottom with a tremendous shock.

    Because it was all sealed up for wading the smell of shït was overpowering

    You know you would pay good money for that nowadays

    Last edited by John Stevenson; 01-23-2009, 05:24 PM.

    Sir John , Earl of Bligeport & Sudspumpwater. MBE [ Motor Bike Engineer ] Nottingham England.

  • #2
    about time...
    gone to get a glass of red wine* and read this!

    *aka transmission fluid!!
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