1943 BANTAM BT3 #34572 ¼-Ton Trailer
Mission Statement: To create for my personal use and enjoyment, a fully-functional, factory new appearing and extremely accurate ¼-ton trailer from original parts to tow and display behind my 1943 GPW.
Journal Entry 4/25/02
I acquired a 1943 Bantam trailer for $1500 from a contact on G503.com that is in fantastic shape. It has a valid title, current license plate and there is very little rust, no dents and it is mechanically complete, including 3 combat wheels and the lunette ring (sitting on the tailgate of the pickup in the picture). This is going to be a very easy to restore trailer and the order to Beachwood Canvas Works for the canvas tarp, wiring harness and jeep to trailer light wiring coupler has already been made!
Journal Entry 9/21/02
Given the fantastic sunny, warm September we're having, I've sandblasted the front panel, hitch and rear panel. Amazingly I discovered the original factory applied serial number in the process of sandblasting. Unfortunately I had already blasted the "U. S." in the "U. S. A." off before discovering the "A." but took great care in finding the whole serial number. The blue masking tape was applied so I could mark off the position and size measurements and take some close-up photos with my digital camera for making stencils modeled after the original. After blasting all the problem areas the trailer is really in remarkable shape for being 59 years old. Only one 2" x 3" spot on the floor of the tub is actually rotted to the point where blasting blows holes in it. Rather than blasting, I'll chemically seal the rust and fiberglass the thin area so it looks cosmetically perfect. Otherwise once blasted the sides of the trailer are practically new looking, with no major dents or rust pitting.
Just to further clarify about factory numbers found during sandblasting, the white ones are field applied. Closer inspection shows the original factory blue numbers faintly visible, shadowing the white ones.
Journal Entry 10/2/02
The Bantam trailer is all primed with Gillespie red oxide metal etching primer and the rusty areas cleaned-up and sealed so no further erosion can occur. I used Eastwood's rust encapsulation product, also red oxide colored, on the bottom side of the trailer where I lightly sandblasted, only to remove the paint and expose the rust. My desire is to simply stop the rust and minimize the pitting caused by sandblasting away the rust. This should provide a nice looking surface with a minimum of effort and protect the trailer from further rust damage. As you can see in the picture, the sides of the trailer are virtually dent-free and have a minimum of pitting. The fenders on the otherhand have quite a bit of rust pitting which will require filling with red oxide colored spot putty. The only major repairs required are on the front, lefthand corner of the tub floor where standing water has left some deep pitting. Since I'm not using this trailer to haul anything which will scratch the tub floor, I will use bondo to fill the rust pits in that 10" x 20" area of the tub floor.
Journal Entry 6/17/03
Bodywork on the 1943 Bantam T3 has been completed and it's painted! All the rust pits have been filled with spot putty and block sanded. The left front corner of the bed where the rot had been discovered has been treated with SEM brand Rust Seal, Eastwood's Rust Encapsulator and filled with BONDO to rebuild the rib. The cigarette package sized repair is undetectable to the eye. I must have about 100 hours into filling rust pits and block sanding but the efforts of my labor have paid off. Suffice to say, nothing will be placed in the bed of this trailer without a foam rubber backed carpet protecting the paint! Next step is assembling the restored combat rims and mounting the tires. Media blasting the safety chains, reflector rims and various bolts and machine screws will be started once the trailer can be rolled out of the blaster dust zone!
Journal Entry 6/21/03
The Bantam T3 project is almost complete! Today I re-painted the original U.S. Army registration number on the back panel, same size, position and factory applied blue color. Actually everything is done except for putting the inter-vehicle cable on and wiring the tail lights. Tomorrow I will complete the project and take the "as pictured in the technical manuals" photos.
Journal Entry 6/22/03
Now for the money shot! The Bantam T3 restoration project is complete, now to relax with a cold one and play with some photos scanned out of the technical manual for comparison...
Journal Entry 9/9/04
Well, over a year after I finished this trailer restoration, I finally got around to redoing the Army registration numbers using the correct style of factory lettering and the correct drab blue paint sold by Beachwood Canvas Works for this specific application. As you can see from the pictures below, the numbers truly blend into the background and are nearly invisible at 150 feet. The original purpose was to make these numbers unreadable by enemy aerial reconnaissance and scouts so troop movements couldn't be monitored. That is also the reason the tire treads are "non-directional" so the enemy couldn't tell if we were coming or going! Pretty sneaky, eh? I have a similar re-do project planned in the next couple days for the hood numbers on the '45 GPW, actually in conjunction with replacing the repro hood with an original 'F'-script '45 hood with the lube order chart and grease gun.
RETURN TO THE MAIN PAGE