Restorations - Its a busy old life!
Author Name: Armourgeddon
Posted: 20/03/2014 11:38
Synopsis: As well as the day-job of running Tank Paintball Battles- aka the best fun to be had in a field, aka carnage in tanks, aka the ultimate day out, we are one of the UKs leading tank and military vehicle Restoration bases. Finding tanks from far a field and restoring them to their former glory for our museum, for starring roles in blockbuster movies and for private collectors alike. We thought that we would share some of our stories of tank restorations with you in this week’s blog post. Read on to hear all about the less public side of Armourgeddon.
As well as the day-job of running Tank Paintball Battles- aka the best fun to be had in a field, aka carnage in tanks, aka the ultimate day out, we are one of the UKs leading tank and military vehicle Restoration bases. Finding tanks from far a field and restoring them to their former glory for our museum, for starring roles in blockbuster movies and for private collectors alike. We thought that we would share some of our stories of tank restorations with you in this week’s blog post. Read on to hear all about the less public side of Armourgeddon.
Our first foray into the world of tank restoration was a collection of five M8 Armoured Cars that we found in a scrap yard in Greece. Don’t be fooled though, finding and transporting tanks, as we were soon to find out, is a minefield of red tape and paperwork, and there are many painful and untrustworthy transportation ‘specialists’ out there that cause delay or even confiscation of goods. Thankfully not all shipping agents are cowboys and we now have a very reliable and reputable company working on our behalf.
Once our five M8s arrived here at Armourgeddon, they were fully restored to working order, this included full refurbishment of the breaks, electrics, engines and gearboxes as well as new front and rear wings and finally given a paint job. One was swapped for a Centurion Tank that was later cut up and put on display in an art museum of all places, three were sold to private collectors and the final one stayed with us. Recently it appeared in a movie due out at the start of 2015 but we can’t talk about that… yet!
After we cut our restoration teeth on the M8s, we turned our eye to a much bigger project, a huge project- our biggest to date, the restoration of our Sherman Tank. Everyone loves a Sherman, and when we found one owned by a private collector in Belgium in the summer of 2010, we snapped it up and (again through the pain, torture and skilled manoeuvres of red-tape-management), our Sherman arrived at Armourgeddon just before Christmas of that same year. The restoration to former glory of this beast amongst tanks took 18 months from start to finish. We conducted a complete nut and bolt strip down with new for old stock parts fitted, suspension replaced, engine rebuilt, inside and out sandblasted, spray-painted and hand finished. An eye-wateringly expensive project, our rare Sherman is one of the finest examples of these wonderful machines worldwide. She is now used for the movies and as a standout piece of rare tank-royalty in our museum.
Next came an M3A1 Scout Car, again sourced from abroad. We only partially completed the restoration on this machine before a private owner snapped her up for their collection here in the UK.
An Opel Blitz was our next acquisition with a wooden cab that was completely and totally rotten. One of our chief restorers, Nitro, spent 2 solid weeks rebuilding the cab from scratch, reshaping pieces of wood and replacing every last splinter. The Blitz again has appeared in movies and sits with in the restoration collection in our museum.
After the Blitz came another Opel, this time the Opel Olympia- the Marilyn Monroe of our collection and star of Saving Private Ryan, Tom Hanks is seen kneeling against her during one of the fight scenes. The Olympia’s restoration was largely cosmetic although the insides of the cab had to be rebuilt, the floors re-welded and the engine tweaked to get it running again. Now sanded, re-sprayed and polished, she is a really iconic vehicle.
Soon after, along came our Citroen U23, originally built by the French for the German occupying army, when our U23 came to us, she was in desperate need of a complete overhaul. The restoration involved a complete rebuild of the engine, a new back body and the interior re-wooded. When we sandblasted her, we found the German army paint still underneath the post war civilian overcoat. Randomly, when we got it, the U23 was full of dried beans!! Now cleaned of all beans and re-sprayed, re-worked to her former glory and beauty, she too sits in our museum.
We have also restored an Alvis Stalwart- a British 6-wheeled beast that was originally designed to supply the Chieftain Tanks with both ammunition and fuel in the field. In this case, the Stalwart will only be getting a cosmetic restoration as it will form part of the outdoor exhibit of our museum.
Two T34s were next on the list; one we sold almost immediately to a private collector in Belgium and the second is currently in the workshop being restored to exact specifications for a client here in the UK.
We also have our next big project- along the lines of the Sherman restoration waiting in line for some TLC in the form of a Sexton Tank. Similarly to the Sherman, this tank requires a complete nut and bolt strip down to be brought back to former glory. It will probably be a 12-month job to have the Sexton in full working order. We will keep you abreast of the transformation as it happens.
Finally, our newest addition to the collection is an M3A1 bought from the USA with an unbelievable amount of red tape and paperwork. From purchase in May 2013, our new M3A1 finally arrived at Armourgeddon last week. 10 months start to finish, without even picking up a piece of sandpaper!
We are always on the lookout for new tanks in need of restoration so please do call if you have one sitting in your back garden needing some work!
Our furthest-travelled tank is a Brengun Carrier transported from New South Wales in Australia so never rule out the more unusual finds here at our museum!
Looking forward, we have just closed deals on a T55 and a pair of BRDMs from Eastern Europe. With blood sweat and tears, we should have these with us for the end of Tank Paintball season this year in readiness for Winter Restoration.