I traded some stuff for a rather tired Bantam T3-C. I wanted a trailer of this type and would have rather have lucked into a nice M416 but this is what came my way and the price was right.
The tailgate was such a mess, with original hinges gone and some crazy pin & barrel hinge-arrangement welded on in such a way that the tailgate was not only cockeyed but also would not lay flush with the rear of the trailer. I hated it so much I didn't even unload the Bantam from the transporting trailer. I just went straight to cutting that tailgate off. Took that wood off as well. CLEAR THE DECKS!
The original Fulton ball-hitch coupler is gone and it has a modified hitch attached to the original cast mount (that bit that joins to the tongue's A-frame). It is not done too badly and is certainly serviceable but it isn't the couple or the look that I'm wanting on this trailer. At the moment, I have a stripped out casting for an M416 sitting on the shelf. It appears to be of a size and with bolt-holes placed in such a way that it might very well be capable of bolting right up without any modifications. The point is, I'd like to be able to tow it with a lunette but I have no suitable lunette drawbar eye for it at this time so I'll have to hunt one of those down. (Author's note: As I would soon come to find, there would be no hunting one down....not for a reasonable price, anyway!)
As you can see here, the tongue has had it's fair share of abuse...torqued and misshapen. There will be a lot of work ahead to sort these out but it's do-able!
And so, we return to the issue of the tailgate. Here is the tailgate, with original framing. As you can see, some extra angle iron had been added (badly) and is now removed. The simple fact is, the civilian Bantam's tailgate was not built to withstand being stood on or having any real load placed directly upon it.
This photo at 92.2 K file size complies with our photo posting rules.
I've a lot of hammer and dolly work to do on this. This piece of metal is badly bent, stretched and completely jacked.
And there's all the usual use and abuse everywhere else....
I cut down and modified some bows I had laying around. Perfect fit!
The floor pan has seen better days. As the ribs got hammered down, the width of the floor got wider. That extra metal had to go somewhere, so it went down. and yet, the floor is still very sturdy. You might think that this trailer has seen some special abuse in its time but actually, this is a very common sight on an old Bantam.
These are the "wings" whose purpose is to support the sidewalls at the rear. As you can see, the bottoms are shot and the sidewalls, though still stiff, really aren't kept to their true vertical position. Earlier versions of the civilian Bantam used a strut system to support the trailing ends of the sidewall. I hate this arrangement. It is unsightly and subject to further damage. I may excise the lower portions of the wings, making a cut that is parallel to the angle of the sidewall further up. Rebuilding it is really out of the question because the sidewalls are a bit jacked out of shape and even a nice original wing panel would not be of sufficient strength to support the sidewalls.
I don't have any plans to vismod this into an M100 but I do have to make some decisions as to the future of the tailgate which was totally FUBAR and was so objectionable that I've already removed it entirely and have stripped off the original angle iron frame so as to be able to straighten it. It's quite a mess. If I can get it so that it will reframe and be sufficiently flat so as to mate to the rear of the trailer I'll reuse it. I'd rather not start with a new plate, simply because that wouldn't have the same war-weary look as the rest of the trailer.
I'm considering building a strong angle iron frame; a "kit" that fits inside the opening of the back of the bed into which the refurbished tailgate (or its substitute) would fit. Bolted in, this would serve to draw the sidewalls up into their proper position and make no irreversible modification to the trailer.
Here's what I look like after a full day of fun - cutting, grinding and cursing. Tired, happy and my beard all over the place.
As some of you probably already know, once you get the plasma cutter out and set up, you end up cutting a whole bunch of other things that didn't warrant all the set up. So, with the plasma cutter up and running, I went ahead an modified the base plate of my HMMWV machine-gun pedestal so that it would fit on the risers, to go into the MUTT. Now, if you are sucking air between your teeth and getting ready to hammer me for modding an expensive pedestal just let me say that what I cut down is simply a flat circular disk with a socket (little more than a cut piece of pipe of a specific size welded to it). No big deal.
While these pedestals aren't exactly a one-to-one swap for the MUTT, they will fit and they have a neat trick that the M4 system doesn't have and that is, they are sleeved so the MG can be raised (in case Saddam has aircraft about) just by pulling a pin, or it can be removed altogether to allow for canvas.
This is one of the things I have in mind for the rear of the trailer. An angle iron frame of sorts, custom fit to the opening at the rear but, I have some concerns.
First, I'm concerned that the bottom junction of the angle iron (where the sidewall and bed floor meet) will not be sufficiently strong to support the sidewalls and adding a gusset there would intrude upon the space of the cargo area in the worst possible way. I guess putting just the bottom and the verticals in and clamping it up would be the easiest way to find out.
Second, what to do with the taillight panel? I hate it and it looks horrible but, without it, the sidewall is nothing more than a single sheet of metal. Remember, the first idea was to keep this frame just as a bolt-up kit allowing the trailer to return to it's more original state if someone decided to go that way. I could keep the upper region of the taillight panel, cut a new hole and move the taillights up there (which would make a lot of sense). There, they would be out of the splash zone of the tires and reflectors don't even enter into the equation as I could use a composite lens (with built in reflector) or simply move the original style reflectors inboard to the tailgate panel.
So, here is the result of a few hours of work and in the doing of it, I developed a new plan that is far better than that clunky frame I was thinking about..
The flange on the taillight panels is 5/8". I will attach 1/2" square steel tubing or square stock (which I think I will have a far easier time bending) on the inside of the flange, come straight down with it and turn in toward the outer face of the frame. Then I will lay in another piece of 1/2" square steel tubing up behind the diagonal cut and tie it into the vertical piece and, likely as not, the vertical face of the trailer body. That should provide all the support the sidewalls will require (now that the trailer has an owner who actually cares about it.) I also threw some paint on there just so I could get a better sense of how it all looked once I made the cuts.
Here is preparation for the new hitch, using the original casting (properly referred to as - Drawbar Bracket Assembly) with no permanent modifications. I'm trying my level best to keep the Bantam as unmodified as possible. Take note that you are looking at the original A-frame members of the tongue, now straightened after much hammering and cursing. I might have been ahead to just make new ones but you can spend time and sweat or you can spend money. Doing the work keeps the costs down. My secret weapon in sorting these out was a lovely section of railroad track for use as an anvil and a BFH.
In the second photo, you will see the two plates that lay against the outside face of each frame rail. The bottom plate is a spacer. These spacers are necessary to take up the space of the inset of the 2"x2" head of the casting. The outer plate attaches to the receiver tube. In this way, the receiver tube can be unbolted and slide off, revealing the drawbar bracket assembly in it's original state. The grade 5 fasteners you see in use here are temporary hardware which are only in use for the fabrication process.
Here it is, appearing just a little high at the tongue but with the proper size tires and some maintenance at the spring-eyes I'm expecting that height issue to be resolved.
Here, I'm constructing a new set-pin for securing the landing leg. It is a very simple arrangement consisting of a 3/8 rod and a 1/2" x 1-1/2" pin to hold the landing leg. The set-pin is center-bored and the 3/8 rod is welded at the head of the pin. I picked up the spring from Ace Spring Service and it is almost perfect for the job, requiring only a small brass shim.
I'm going a slightly different route than the original method of securing it. Rather than bending the 3/8" rod over to secure it as Bantam did, I elected to cross-pin it. I will weld another piece of rod on the end in a tee, which should encourage a straight pull, minimizing the risk of breaking the rod where I cross-drilled it for the retaining pin. Even if this all doesn't work out as I intended, it is a simple matter to make a new one and tack weld a washer on the 3/8" rod rather than pinning it.
I have done all this so that the rod can be unpinned and then slid out enough to allow for maintenance of the socket where the pin resides. Infrequent use of these trailers seems to be their worst enemy and I think being able to perform such maintenance will certainly have its benefits in the long run.
If you look at the casting, you may notice that there is a threaded hole meant for a screw. That hole was intended to hold a pin-stop in place. I didn't want that closed off simply because it is just another way for dirt and grime to get trapped in there, so that is another departure from the original method.
Here, we see the support leg set-pin at full actuation, with a generous amount of support at either end.
As a final point of interest, the manner and pattern in which the civilian Drawbar Bracket Assembly is bolted to the frame (i.e. the placement of the bolt holes and the length of the fasteners) are exactly the same as the M416. However, the Drawbar Bracket Assemblies are different not only in the type of drawbar/hitch they employ but also in the style of support bracket (to which bolts the support leg.) The civilian landing leg has three holes for the up (stowed) position, down and middle (kneeling) position whereas the M416 has only two positions - up, or down. I am speculating here but, I believe the reason for the difference in design was that the civilian Bantam trailer was designed to drain at the front corners thus, having a middle, kneeling position promoted drainage when not in use.
Why use a receiver tube? This allows me to quickly switch between a drawbar eye and a ball hitch. The only real danger to using a commercial drawbar eye is that it is fixed on a single plane and thus, has certain limitations where severely uneven ground is present between truck and trailer. Because I have no intention of going off-roading with this trailer, I was satisfied with those limitations.
Last edited by m3a1 on Wed Apr 18, 2018 9:31 am; edited 1 time in total
As usual, real life intrudes upon my fun. New upper ball joints for the old Yukon. Happily, this was a very straightforward job.
And here it is, finally coming back together! I went from someone's FUBAR hitch with a badly mangled tongue to a nice, organized (and straight) arrangement. Added quite a bit of value to this trailer in sorting that out.
Putting the Tee on the set-pin pull. I'm still not entirely sold on my design. We'll see how it works out
The salvaged wheels and tires off the M38 make the ride height just right. Not too sure about the Robin's Egg Blue, though! As a point of interest, these Bantams were supposed to have 6.00x16 tires and you're looking at 7.00x16s here. Yeah...that fender well is just little bit full.
A little arch in the unloaded coupling means we'll have a very straight pull with a load. Perfect!
Spent hours yesterday measuring, figuring out angles and cutting pieces to frame this tailgate back up. The bottom horizontal member is of heavier stock so as to be able to provide better securement at the latches. I'll use all the holes that have already been bored in the gate to button weld the skin to the frame. I pity the next guy who wants to take this apart!
Came across these and decided they were the perfect fasteners for the tailgate. Local O'Reilly Automotive said they couldn't find a supplier (despite the fact they were them showing online) so I checked with AutoZone who did have them, two for $11 which is about HALF the price of O'Reilly. Awesome. They'll be in tomorrow or the next day. No dramas. I toyed with the idea of using the same latches as found on the hood of the old Jeeps but decided they would be a maintenance nightmare down there so close to the road with all the water spray and dirt. They really would have looked great, though. *sigh*
So, here, I took a huge departure from my make no "permanent" changes rule and I welded in a strut rod that sits directly behind the tailgate. At a glance, you wouldn't notice it with the tailgate in place. What it does is keep the trailing ends of the side walls rigid and truthfully, I don't see myself removing the tailgate for any reason so, there it is. I wouldn't have done it if the tailgate had hinged at the bottom. I admit, it looks a little weird without the tailgate but it kind of disappears when the tailgate is in place. Having it up there keeps the rear sides of the frame unobstructed for the placement of the latches. My welds are good but dressing them is tough in such confined space so I coated them in JB Weld and will sand that down when it cures. "Go ahead" they said. "It'll be fine" they said...
Here's the strut with the welds dressed up and finished with JB Weld. I might have spent more time jacking the trailer bed back into shape but it was pretty close. Not perfect, but pretty close. This translates to some very minor alignment problems with the tailgate but not so much that I felt like it had to be dealt with. In fact, you'd have to look pretty hard to see what's off. The trailer was built in 1949 and has had a hard life. Best to let old dogs lie. Trying to achieve perfect lines and angles is a wasted effort so I'm just rolling with it. Remember my goal? Creating a good, serviceable trailer that requires very little maintenance.
With the strut and the tailgate side-by-side it's really not all that obvious.
As you can see, my vertical ribs on the tailgate stick out from the horizontal pipe. I toyed with the idea of cutting them down but I've decided I may just make use of that and lay in a piece of rod across them horizontally and weld it in as it would make a dandy place to tie things down
Here are the weatherproof "latches" - placed low and straight on the frame rails. This makes for a nice, tidy installation and a straight, direct pull on the tailgate. I will probably weld the anchor point onto the frame rail since nothing else is going on there. Had I stiffened the bed side walls from below, this area would have been jammed up will all sorts of other things going on such as brackets and struts. In my opinion, this is really a much better option. Coming up - a handle on the tailgate to assist in lifting it up and then lots and lots of finishing work!
I sanded the rail-tops and threw on some leftover paint I had laying around, just because it was there and I was there and the trailer was there. Rattle can paint jobs on things like this are A-OK in my book. This is a workin' trailer! What you don't see here are some additional welds I laid in where the sidewalls meet the frame rail. Like the original welds, they tie the floorpan and the sidewall to the frame rail with one simple weld bead. Nothing fancy. The sidewalls were bowing out a bit between the original welds creating gaps between the floor pan and the sides, so I added a few where needed and it tightened right up.
If you squint juuuuust right, the red showing through looks like flames. Wow! Custom paint job!
I like the look - very tidy, very business-like. It's not perfect by any means but close enough.
The rubber latches are quite good but I haven't had this on the road yet. The tipper tailgate is really only incidental on this trailer and will probably be rarely used. If the tailgate rattles, I may run a couple of bolts through to secure it at the bottom until it is needed. That won't hurt a thing. They can be removed for the few times I want to dump a soft load.
I'm liking my hitch!
This last photo is for a fellow who commented that the tops of my vertical angle iron would look far better if they were trimmed. I took that advice and I cut 'em ....chiefly because when the tailgate was flipped all the way up against the back bow, the angle iron was resting against the stiffening rod. For those of you who study these photos intently, that little round disc thingy on the interior of the bed is just a magnet I used to secure the hardware for the tailgate latches while I was working on it.
Last edited by m3a1 on Wed Apr 18, 2018 9:39 am; edited 1 time in total
It was a really lovely day today so I cleaned, inspected and repacked the bearings of my little trailer. I had to dress some of the large nuts with a flap disc sander because farmer Brown had been at them for years with a chisel or a screwdriver. They refinished just fine (I simply knocked off the burrs) and I reused them. The original felt seals were still doing a fairly good job and showed signs of letting a little grease out but no water in so I reused them as well. I used Mobile 1 on the repack which has a very nice waxy, tacky consistency. Other than the seals, everything else looked very good and I would now pull this trailer to Katmandu and back without any axle worries.
For those of you following along, I thought I'd pull a stripped draw bar bracket assembly of the shelf for a visual comparison. Its bolt pattern for attaching to the two tongue members matches that of the civilian Bantam and the M100 exactly.
There are two sockets of the same dimensions, available for the lunette draw bar.
Note that the latch pin is located directly above the pivot for the landing leg. The M100 and the civilian Bantam it is located forward of the pivot point.
The opening, through which the latch pin must pass during installation, is threaded so that it may be closed off entirely.
The military draw bar bracket assembly is less massive than its civilian counterpart owing to the space necessary to secure the lunette drawbar with a spring, washer and nut.
The upper socket for the lunette drawbar has two bosses that are drilled and tapped for retaining bolt and grease zerk fitting. The lower socket has only one tapped boss (for retaining bolt) and no provision for a grease zerk fitting which suggests it is meant for a fixed, non-swivel, drawbar.
Got some 2"x 2" square tubing and a new 2"x 2" x 2"-ball coupler, drilled my holes and bolted the coupler on with 1/2" Grade 8 fine thread bolts. Finally! Now, I can pull the Bantam with my Yukon -or- my MUTT. It's WAY past Beer:30! Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Well, I finally finished the trailer to the level where I can now actually use it. Not everything is done, of course, but it's usable, straight and safe to pull.
I drilled and bolted in the 1/2" steel rod pivot points for the tailgate by drilling a 1/4" vertical hole through the sidewall top tubes and dinging the rods with the drill bit. I then pulled the rods out and finishing them on the drill press in 5/16". Followed that up with a final, through-and-through in 1/4" and dropped the bolts in and secured them with a nylon locking nut but not so tight that I deformed the tube (want to be able to pull these out later for maintenance). I might just have easily used a pin but in this case I doped up the top of the bolt with some RTV so water wouldn't migrate in through there.
And, lastly, threw on some old school reflectors on the back panel right where they originally were. This trailer will be run with a magnetic light kit rather than a permanent set-up.
Next up, dropping the front spring hangers to see if I can located a hidden VIN and addressing the rather worn shackle pins.
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