|I am sure that many of you have, like me, wondered what the military guys in the field did when cables broke or were seriously weakened. Even though they had access to repair parts we can only dream of, this wouldn't help them out in the field much. So it makes sense that there would have some sort of "patches" to make a broken/weakened track serviceable until the vehicle could be fitted with a new one (which probably was a big deal even back then). Tankers always took extra sections of track for this purpose, but no such joy for a Weasel.
Today I happened to notice that on one of my recent donor vehicles there was something odd. Upon further inspection, I think I might have found a field repair option. See picture below:
|The details are rather simple. The repair constists of a three part hinge which is designed to bind three grouser plates together as shown above (note the homemade outer cable). Each of the two shorter sections of the hinge are anchored to their own plates by two bolts, with the middle one being secured by four bolts. See my quick and dirty graphic about the layout:|
|This hinge repair uses the pre-existing holes from the second type of 20" tracks (i.e. flat bands for all, not just inners). One set of holes belongs to the outside edge of the inner band, the other set of holes from the inside edge of the outer band. Since the original holes are used, and the hinge points fill the gaps perfectly, the plates have the correct spacing in order to bend around the drive/ideler wheel without difficulty. On my track there are hinges on both sides of the bogies for uniform strengthening.
The hinge's construction is quite strong looking and surely can handle normal use and abuse. Because of the design, it is possible to put these hinges end to end in case there were two breaks close together. In theory one could replace the entire inner bands if there were enough hinges available.
|Installation does require some tools, specifically a hammer and heavy chisel (at least for being out in the field) . First of all, the rivets for the bolts in question must be removed (8 per hinge). The hinge is placed underneath the bands' brackets, the bolts are pushed through the holes, and then the bolts are secured by nuts and washers. The bolt head is on the running surface of the track, the nut on the inner. The bolts used in my example were exactly the right length so that there was less chance they would catch on things as the tracks moved.
All in all, this looks to be a fantastic field repair. Everything lines up perfectly and is crafted for extra strength. For moderate use, I'd say it could even be a permanent repair option. So perfect, in fact, that I can't imagine that this hinge was some off the shelf thing and not a purpose built repair option. If this wasn't a military issue solution, it should have been. I know I plan on "liberating" these two hinges, cleaning them up, and keeping them in my tool box when out on the trails!