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Buying an old army truck > F15441-M-PERS-3 s/n 109943 >
> Beltring and beyond > Bits 'n bobs
I'd been looking for a good CMP truck for some time when I ran across an ad on the internet in April 2001: 
"For sale: Ford F15A CMP GS 4WD Truck. 1943. Good running condition - Fully restored 7 years ago, 
now requires canvas & cosmetics. Rebuilt V8 runs like a watch.
Upon inquiring, the owner's son Max sent me some scans and information. It turned out the F15A had its original body, cab and data plates. Since being restored, it had slightly deteriorated, needing attention to some surface rust and the brakes. Sounded just like what I was looking for!

The picture left shows it during a show some years ago after it was restored by Alan Levell. In 1989 Alan purchased the F15A from Sidney Bolton. Mr Bolton reportedly bought the truck off a farmer in the 1960s, who in turn had bought it at a Ruddington auction in 1949. Mr Bolton had tidied it up to use, but the truck was first restored by Alan Levell. He found the F15A to be originally painted a sandy/desert colour under many layers of green. The vehicle is marked in 1st Canadian Army markings, these were copied from original markings found under the paint when it was restored. Its census no. 'CZ4285364' is spurious.

After exchanging e-mails and a few phone calls, I was convinced it was worth pursuing this truck. An English friend of mine, Richard Notton, offered to go over to Alan's place to assess the truck. So, on 26 June 2001, Richard Notton and Dave & Rory Ballard went over to Alan Levell's place to assess the truck. Richard is a mechanical and electrical wizard, while Dave and Rory are professional car restorers (incl. a Ford F15 with 20mm Polsten gun). Based on their report, I bought the truck over the phone - there and then!

Now, it sounds very easy to buy a truck over the phone, but then there's the business of getting it home. Beforehand, I had discussed the matter with Richard and another friend, David Herbert. They had both offered advice and help, and based on the condition of the truck and their support I decided to try to drive it home. It was taxed, MoT-exempt and I was able to insure it, so all legal necessities were met. I decided to pick up the truck just before Beltring, so I could attend the War & Peace show in my very own old army truck!

On the monday before Beltring I crossed the channel by high-speed ferry. My friend David Herbert and his wife Karen picked me up on the Harwich docks. Tuesday morning David and I set off early, to arrive at Alan Levell's Willowslea Farm Kennels at Stanwell Moor, right next to Heathrow Airport around 10 o'clock. We found the F15A in the same spot where Richard Notton and Dave Ballard left her after assessing the truck three weeks earlier.

When I got to Alan's place to pick up the Ford on 17 July, it still stood as Richard had seen it.
Alan let us check out the vehicle at our leisure. He had told me the brakes were not working properly, so I had brought various spares. Dirk Leegwater was kind enough to supply me with all the brake spares I might need, with the option to return the stuff I did not need. David and I found out that all was needed were two new bleeding nipples on the front wheel cylinders, topping up the master cylinder with brake fluid and bleeding the brakes. We tensioned the fan belts, checked the radiator fluid, fiddled with the indicators and by three o'clock we decided we were ready to head off to Beltring. 

Although I had no previous experience driving CMPs (centre throttle, double de-clutching, right-hand drive). But driving up and down Alan's property made me sure enough to drive on the road. We had to leave to arrive at Beltring before dark anyway… And oh, it was starting to rain.
The first stop was the petrol station – a good test since the road was lined with parked cars on both sides. Apparently I judged the width of the vehicle correctly, as I heard no scraping noises. Alan followed us to the petrol station to see how I did. I filled up the right hand tank, and Alan said goodbye to his old truck.
By that time the rain had increased, and I had found out how the window wipers work. As David says, they are really a panicking device as they only really work when you let go of the gas pedal!
At the first roundabout I managed to stall the engine, which made for some interesting moments while trying to start the engine again. Not many fellow road users appreciate you've stopped an old army truck in their lane. I thought the whole thing would end there and then. But, at the third or fourth try the engine fired up again, only to stall at the second roundabout. Stories about the infamous hot start of the Ford engine came to mind. But, she fired up again and it was only a few more minutes before I was on the M25 motorway, headed for Beltring.
Once I was on the M25, everything was fine. Although the rain started getting worse, the truck ran fine. Somewhere halfway, I pulled over at a motorway services station. I let the engine  run to cool down, and got in David's car. David had been following me all the way, keeping traffic off my tail. The M25 is deemed one of the worst motorways in the UK. David reckoned the rain was actually a good thing, as it slowed down traffic and made me less conspicuous. After a short while we set off for the last leg of the trip. By now I had somewhat got the hang of double declutching a Ford crash box, and started to like the roar of the engine and gears. Over 40 mhp, it is actually the radiator fan that starts to go supersonic, the engine itself is remarkably quiet. I was glad I was wearing earplugs, though!
Some 2½ hours and 60 miles later we arrived at Beltring, checked in and pulled over at Camp McStolly a.k.a. the Canadian Corner. Most people were quite surprised I had made it without a hitch. Most of this is attributable to Alan Levell’s restoration work over the past decade. This included a reconditioned engine, re-cored radiator, overhauled brakes etc. Only thing I needed was some ignorance (some called it bravery) to trust all this, and a little luck. The worst thing that could have happened was that the truck broke down at the side of the road, and I would have had to truck it home.

Proceed to part two to see the more pictures Richard took on 26 July, otherwise proceed to part three to read the rest of the story.

Created 26 June 2001
Updated 11 February 2001

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