Bren Gun Carrier I restoration

As found, September 1999 …

In the spring of 1998 I received a phone call from a woman who owns an old resort on an island on the Canadian side of the boundry waters saying she heard I collect old military trucks. I said yes and asked what she had. “I have no idea except it says UC MK I on it.” I asked if it was 4 wheel drive, and she said no, it has tracks. I asked if it ran, “no, it has plants growing in it.” I told her that I come fishing in that area each fall, and would look at it then. Not knowing what I would find, camera in hand, here it sat. This is how I found it, 14 miles by water from the US border crossing in the Fall of 1998. It had ferns that were 3 feet tall growing in it. The woman said that it had been there since the late 40’s and never ran as long as she could remember. A price was agreed upon and in the spring of 1999 I hired a dozer and a barge to travel up the lakes to retrieve it. Low water that year proved to be a problem when the barge got stuck on the bottom of the bay for 3 hours. They rocked the dozer back and forth on the barge and finally got it free.

Bringing in the heavy equipment to get it out …

Here I am in the early spring of 1999, the day we took it off the barge and it was on US soil. We used the track hoe to unload it and put it on my truck for the 4-hour ride home. The guys who ran the dozer and barge outfit thought I was nuts. “What do you want with that old piece of iron?” was all they kept asking. Little did they know.

Home in Minnesota.

4-1/2 years later …

Finally in December of 2003, we started to take it apart. Man, what a ton of stuff in the way just to get the motor out. Finally got it all out. Took several weeks to get it down to the bare hull. I had to fabricate the front wheels and brackets so we could roll it around. I used some old Cavalier rear axle spindles to make them. Once this was done, one guy could push it around.

Off to the blaster …

We had the hull blasted and painted in 3 days. The slow replacement of all the parts is now in process. Here I am putting in the steering gear, control pedals, linkages etc. Nothing has been easy with this project. All the bolts are British Standard thread and the heads are special too. I have had to custom make 60% of the hardware needed to put it back together. Lots of parts were still in the carrier when I got it, but not good enough to use in a nice restoration, so, I have had to fabricate many, many items. This is beneficial to the next guy cause now I can supply parts for another vehicle.

Here I have reinstalled the rebuilt rear end. I had to replace the ring gear because there was so much rust. That was fun to find. Not cheap either. New brakes, bearings and seals completed the axle. I also had to rebuild the brake actuators that were rusted tight. Glad I found a spare axle that I could rob parts from, I needed them! You can also see the custom made exhaust now installed. I researched and cross referenced mufflers that were very close to the originals, then modified them to fit the actual application.

My friend Ryan showed up and we put the engine in. It was a snap with the M60 crane truck.

Don and Gary survey the situation. We were trying to figure out the linkage set up.

Instrument panel installed and wiring started. NOS speedo cable installed.

My newly reproduced, exactly original, very expensive fuel tanks are painted and awaiting installation.

Radiator is installed and the new fan shrouds with the sealing felts are in. At this point, all the conduit and wiring is in. New carb, breather tube, and water outlet tubes also installed.

Rear panel for pioneer tools installed, awaiting the new upper support.

Gary has been a huge help with this project especially since I am limited with one arm due to rotator cuff surgery. Notice the overloaded shelves in the background. This was when I was still doing Midwest Military from my own backyard pole building.

Upper engine armor, radio operator armor, and the engine cage all installed. Also installed, air deflector, side radiator panels, exhaust screen and a ton of other small brackets.

Grenade boxes before and after felt lining installed. Straps were installed on the boxes and then were put in the carrier.

More parts added to the carrier. Antenna stowage bracket, fire extinguisher, rifle rest, rear grenade box.
(Note the empty shelves, we moved all parts to the new place.)
Tracks on the skids, back from the powder coater. Track links counted and re-pinned, layed out and ready for the real fun.

Seeing how the Bren Gun will look when mounted.

How many guys does it take to install a track? We were all watching Don trying to pinch his fingers feeding the track over the sprocket.

My original track jack at work. Without that tool, it would have proven very difficult to get them together.

Sliding in the last pin … and, FIRST TRACK ON!!

Making Tracks!

The Track Crew. Special thanks to good friends, Gary, Don, Mike, and Dave.

All smiles. The new flat head sure sounds good. All instruments and lights are working too!

The radio gear is installed. And all the final trinkets and trim are added …

Completed and ready to roll … just in time for the MVPA convention in Duluth.

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