ELMRA Articles - Sankey Trailers

As many of you know I have been playing with trailers for many years and have been asked a great many questions, some of them were dammed rude and a few of them were about trailers, so I have put a few photos together with some basic details of specification gained from user manuals and added some of my own observations. I have done this pocket guide to give you a chance to see the main types of military trailer, which are commonly towed by Land Rovers, there are many others which have special uses and applications but I don't have space for them and that’s not what this guide is about.

Cargo Trailer General Service - Two-Wheeled Fixed Back
If the Land Rover is the workhorse of the British armed forces then our first trailer must be the mule of the British armed forces. Just as the vacuum cleaner is called a Hoover no matter if its made by Hotpoint or Phillips, these trailers are mostly called Sankey Trailers in spite of them being made by many companies, including GKN Sankey, Roots and Pressed Steel Company to name just three of many. The early examples were made in 1/2 and 3/4 Ton spec and were identical in most respects apart from the springs and shock absorbers that were of a higher spec on the 3/4 Ton.

Body and Chassis
They had a welded steel body and were designed to be water tight and capable of floating when fording shallow water. To tell if a trailer was intended to float you need to look in one of the 4 to 6 drain holes in the body, on inspecting them you will notice that some are threaded in side and originally these would have had a multi-role brass bung in them. The bung was hollow with fluted holes near the head, so when it was wound in tight the trailer would be watertight but slacken the bung about four or five turns and the trailer was able to drain itself when in normal use. This was not seen as important and was dropped in later years. All trailers had internal load lashing rings and exterior lashing hooks for load roping and for canvas tilts. The tilts were originally specially made of 18-gauge flax with buckle up flaps over the wheel arch which could be raised if the trailer was lightly loaded so the tilt was not soiled from the spray coming off the wheels, However as time went on and the Wide Track trailer came on the scene the Flax tilt was dropped and the ripstop Wide Track tilt was used as standard on both types of trailers. The later bodies were fitted with a small flap in the rear panel ,which pivoted on one point, this allowed a water tank to be placed in the trailer body and the taps and tap T bar were fitted to the tank through the flap thus turning the trailer in to a bowser and doing away with the need for another specialist trailer. As the years went by the body changed slightly , the main change was that the sides, front and back panels were small sheets spot welded in place, instead of the old method of seam welding and folding the steel which made them less likely to get rot in the edges.

Lights
Lights were the standard military waterproof light unit as found on Land Rovers. They were originally fitted with glass lenses but moved on to the "bug eye" plastic version when the vehicles moved over to that type. They had sidelights at the front with a reflector and Stop/Tail and Indicator on the rear. Some of the very last batches also had a built-in pair of fog lights. Convoy light and number plate lights were also fitted as standard

Towing and reversing
NATO tow eye at the front and a NATO towing pintle or jaw fitted to the rear crossmember. To reverse the trailer you have to manually place a steel collar over the neck of the towing eye to stop it operating the brakes.

Brakes and parking
The service brake is an over-run mechanical type, while the parking brake is a hand-operated mechanical connection to over-run system. For stability when parking the trailers are fitted with stabilising jacks, one located at the front and two at the rear.

Radio Repair Station Trailer Mounted, 2 Wheeled
This interesting style of trailer has been used in many other roles including: Signal Centre/Cipher office, Radio Relay Medium (Terminal/Repeater Stations), Terminal Telegraph and most commonly Radio Repair Station. As these roles became redundant the trailers were to start with sold off, but then 3 new roles were devised for these versatile trailers. They are ABDR [Aircraft Battle Damage Repair], HBDR [Helicopter Battle Damage Repair] and VBDR [Vehicle Battle Damage Repair]. For these new roles they were stripped of the previous role kit and refitted for the new role. The common format for the three new roles seems to be on one side a sheet of ply coated in foam rubber with spaces for tools pressed into it, and on the other side a chest of draws and taking up a third of the space and then mixed stores and other tools specialist to the role.

Body and Chassis
The body of this trailer is very different from any other, the body is made from aluminium. It has a lift up door each side to access the main compartment. Each door is secured by four clamps and has a clasp for a padlock to make it secure. When in the raised position the doors have a bracket in each corner which is designed to hold the trailer end of a tent frame which when erected allowed an operator to work the trailer based equipment while being protected from the weather. Also a small locker is built each side of the wheel arch which can only be opened from the outside of the trailer, these are secured by two T-Key type twist locks. On the towing eye end of the body you will find some interesting brackets, one will be a Jerry can holder which held the fuel for the generator which travelled in the towing vehicle. Another long bracket with two clamps will be for two earthing stakes and a small sledgehammer, you will also find a fire extinguisher bracket. On the back of the trailer you will find a long metal plate with drilled captive nuts fitted inside, to this plate was fitted a pair of quick release brackets for an antenna side arm similar to that fixed to vehicles, to which a standard rubber antenna mount and antenna was fitted for radio testing. The chassis is the same as the fixed back trailer spoken of in part one, but has a bolt-on 6" chassis extension fitted to the rear.

Lights
Lights were the standard military waterproof light unit as found on Land-Rovers. They were originally fitted with glass lenses but moved on to the "bug eye" plastic version when the vehicles moved over to that type. They had sidelights at the front with a reflector and Stop/Tail and Indicator on the rear. Convoy light and number plate lights were also fitted as standard

Towing and reversing
NATO tow eye at the front and a NATO towing pintle or jaw fitted to the rear cross member. To reverse the trailer you have to manually place a steel collar over the neck of the towing eye to stop it operating the brakes.

Brakes and parking
The service brake is an Over-run mechanical type, while the parking brake is a hand operated mechanical connection to over-run system. For stability when parking the trailers are fitted with stabilising jacks, one located at the front and two at the rear. On later models a pair of small load bearing wheels were added to enable a loaded trailer to be moved on hard surfaces, these wheels were mounted on the front corners, they are telescopic like the standard rear legs but also have a pad, which can be pulled over the tyre when used on soft ground.

Cargo Trailer General Service - 2-Wheeled Wide Track

When the 90, 110 and 127s came into service, the demand from the MOD was for a more up to date trailer which would match the new breed of Land Rovers, just as the trusty old Fixed Back (FB) had been the loyal partner to the Series Land Rovers. GKN Sankey came up with the winning design which stuck to the "little tub on wheels" look. When you get closer you can see that it is very different to its older FB brother. The WT design has been very successful and is still in service today. It has been improved over the years and there are three models—the Mk I, II and III. As you read this the Mk IV is being tested, but full details have not been released yet. It should be entering service in late summer this year.

The Mk I had a rather old-style jockey leg with a pivot foot on the bottom and this was bolted to the cross bar of the A-frame. This was very fragile if not respected, if it worked lose hitting the road while being towed it often resulted in serious A-frame damage. An improvement was needed and the Mk II entered service. The Mk II is basically the same as the Mk I with a few improvements, the most noticeable of which is the addition of a jockey wheel on the front A-frame. This is fitted to a raised "tomb stone" like plate on the outside of the A-frame just behind the towing eye. The Mk III was the biggest step forward, with the braking system going over to a fluid system with a reservoir fitted on the A-frame. The jockey wheel does not get missed out, it now has the ability to be swung so it's stored parallel to the A-frame when being towed. Also several new companies gained contracts to produce the Mk III, names such as Viking Trailers Ltd and Reynolds-Boughton.

Body and Chassis
The Wide Track has a welded steel body with internal wheel arches, the main body improvements were to increase the size of the tub and to give the long-suffering soldiers the addition of a drop tailgate. The tailgate is fitted with a small sliding plate which is for when the bowser tank is placed in the body and the tap fits through the sliding plate. Gone are the little J-bolts which held the body to the chassis on the FB, the Wide Track has the tub bolted down to the chassis with 10 steel bolts. The internal lashing eyes are much larger and more heavy duty with the ability to turn 360 degrees so they don‘t snap off like the old FB style. The exterior lashing hooks for load roping and for the canvas tilt remain much the same.

Lights
On the Mk I and II the lights are the standard military waterproof "bug eye" plastic light unit as found on Land Rovers. They have side lights at the front, and on the rear they have Stop/Tail, Indicator and Fog lights, also a number plate light along with red triangular reflectors, and a convoy light and panel fitted underneath. The Mk III has a totally different type of lights. They are more of a plastic and rubber design. The front side lights are smaller than before, the rear lights are also of a similar style all are produced by the Flexible Lamp Co Ltd, who produce light units used on many civilian trailers.

Towing and reversing
The WT NATO tow eye has a smaller brake damper than the FB, this is updated by the removal of the need to put a collar on the eye shaft when reversing. You now need to push a button on the top of the damper down and twist it so that it stays down, by doing so you lock the brake damper off. The NATO towing eye is of a fixed type, meaning that it cannot turn so the Land-Rover towing jaw should be able to turn. On the rear cross member a NATO towing hook is no longer fitted, but in its place is a pin and open jaw towing pintle, which is cheap to make but still functional.

Brakes and parking
The service brake is an over-run hydraulic type, while the parking brake is a hand operated mechanical connection to the over-run system. On the Mk I and II it’s still the traditional rod pull system, however the Mk III is a clean sweep from the rods. A fluid hydraulic system is in place, as mentioned before the reservoir is on the A-frame for easy checking and filling. For stability when parked, the trailer is fitted with a pair of stabilising jacks at the rear. The front stabiliser is in the form of a jockey wheel which can be hand operated to raise or lower the trailer to assist in hitching or un-hitching, and makes vehicle movement easier

1/2 & 3/4 ton Radio Repair Widetrack
Length 2.92m
Width 1.425m
Height 0.94m
Track 1.2m
Weight, laden 1.12 tonne
Length 3.12m
Width 1.425m
Height 1.82m
Track 1.2m

Length: 2.850m
Width: 1.680 m
Height: 1.115m
Track: 1.420m
Wheelbase: 1.750m
Weight (unladen): 509kg

The wheel rims were 5.00 x 16 size with a five stud fixing, and the tyres were a 6.50 x 16 of various makes. All types had semi-elliptic springs with aeon rubbers and telescopic hydraulic shock absorbers. A new feature on the Wide Track is the anti-roll bar for better road holding and stability.
40GJ12 2-Wheeled fixed Back
34GJ08 2-Wheeled fixed Back
 
 
 
 
 Wide Track 04HF63

 Wide Track Tailgate

Mk1 A-Frame

Mk2 A-Frame

 

Steve Marsh