Mark IV Spud Box - more complex than it looks ...

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Chris Hall
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Mark IV Spud Box - more complex than it looks ...

Post by Chris Hall » Sat Jan 23, 2016 3:29 pm

In our ongoing quest for maximum authenticity on our Mark IV's, Steve Stuart and I have been discussing the Spud Box (well, it helps to banish the 'January Blues' :wink:).

This was originally intended to store the 'spuds', which were the shoes fitted to the outer edge of the tracks to, supposedly, improve traction through the mud. As I've mentioned on another thread, these didn't really work, and were more trouble than they were worth (although I'm minded to try and model them in due course). However, there are other facets about the Spud Box which we've been considering, so I got out my books and pictures and did a bit of digging .....

On his excellent model of Bloodstone II, Steve has angled the exhaust cover (part EK0637, Stage 29 of the build instructions), which is a departure from the recommended build. I didn't think this was right at first, as I thought everything would need to be straight for ease of spud stacking and storage. But I found this picture (pictures of the roof of Mark IV's are not that common) which shows that he's right:

Image

And then I found this picture (much less clear) that suggests he's wrong:

Image

I then looked at the photographic evidence for my builds - Liesel and Flaming Fire II (which became Lotte). The pictures I have suggest, gratifyingly, that the exhaust cover was straight on these particular tanks:

Image
Liesel

Image
Image
Flaming Fire / Lotte

although the exhaust cover for Lyric, which replaced Liesel in 1926, definitely looks angled !:

Image

So where does that leave us ? Well, it's possible that these things were altered 'in the field' when the unditching rails and rear armour were fitted, as these were not done in the UK. This is perhaps more likely with Lyric, which was a 'top tower' modified to tow sledges loaded with oil, grease and ammunition. But I'm now more inclined to believe that this is another example of inconsistent build standards across the different factories contracted to turn out the Mark IV's in considerable quantities and to tight deadlines (well, there was a War on). Therefore, as I've said before, unless you have clear photographic evidence of the actual tank you're modelling, you can justify it any way you like ! And Steve has told me it was a very difficult thing to do .......

The other thing I was pleased to see in the pictures of Lotte (I really must study these things a lot more closely :oops:) is the bar over the Spud Box, designed to stop the unditching rails from splaying out. I'd read about it, and modelled it on Liesel, but never actually seen one before ! This was actually a very easy thing to model - I just used a length of thin brass tube (from B&Q), slotted and glued over two long M3 bolts used to fix brackets EK0657 to the unditching rails. If I can do it, anyone can !

One last thing. Steve has also identified an extra strip line at the rear of the front cab (clearly seen in most of the above pictures). This isn't provided in the kit, so it's one more thing to add on .... unless you've already hammered rivets into those holes, when it's probably not worth the bother ! And some of the pictures also show that extra work (rivets and a pistol port) is needed to the hatch on the "rear house" (EK0646, Stage 32).

I hope that you're tolerating my ramblings, which I hope will encourage those still soldiering on with their builds. These things really are wonderful, historical items, which reward the extra level of work and detail (especially with the forthcoming centenaries !).

All the best,

Chris
Mark IV (Liesel, Abteilung 14, France 1918)
Morris Quad, 25-pdr & 2 x limbers (45RA, Korea 1951)
M3 Lee (25th Dragoons, Burma 1944)
Rolls-Royce Armoured Car (10(RN)AMB, German E. Africa 1916)

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Re: Mark IV Spud Box - more complex than it looks ...

Post by Daniel Scholefield » Sat Jan 23, 2016 10:06 pm

Sterling work as ever Chris, the more I see of your research the more the enthusiasm that led me to build my Mark IV as fast as I could comes back to bite me in the behind. Maybe one day I will muster the will to rebuild 'Lightning II' and correct everything that I didn't consider. Since it's respray it has effectively gone into hibernation as I ponder what to do...
Mark IV No. 35 aka. L9 Lightning III

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Re: Mark IV Spud Box - more complex than it looks ...

Post by Steve Stuart » Sat Jan 23, 2016 10:56 pm

Chris, thank you for your posting, it is good to see your material, which is not in general circulation. By careful measuring of the relative proportions of the Spud Box I believe they show that the Cover was angled on most Tanks, the issue is finding good and clear images that allow for a more definitive statement of the correct dimensions. I have gone for an angled cover as my examination of photos lead me to that hideous conclusion that it needed to be done!
There is another detail that needs attention, the Tarpaulin Tie Downs just beg to be produced, the Spud Box has three forward and three rear. Has any one had a go at making these yet? I have not yet got the courage to try and make these, if any one has some good photos or better still drawings with dimensions that would be great.
Steve

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Re: Mark IV Spud Box - more complex than it looks ...

Post by Michael Cecil » Sun Jan 24, 2016 12:06 am

Gents,

The stowage box on the Australian War Memorial's Mk.IV (Female) No.4643 built by the Coventry Ordnance in Glasgow has the angled exhaust cover, and the circular 'wheels' for gripping the ropes of the canvas cover. Image attached. Hope that helps.

Mike
Attachments
MkIV AWM stowage box.jpg

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Re: Mark IV Spud Box - more complex than it looks ...

Post by Steve Stuart » Sun Jan 24, 2016 10:38 am

Thanks Mike, that is a good a clear photo which is pretty clear!
Food for thought? Steve

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Re: Mark IV Spud Box - more complex than it looks ...

Post by Chris Hall » Sun Jan 24, 2016 4:00 pm

Daniel -

I share your pain, which is why I'm doing another one ! :lol: I wouldn't be surprised to hear that others complete their first ever model very quickly and enthusiastically, and draw lessons to be used on later builds. Fortunately, you and I both chose distinctive (lurid ?) paint schemes for our first tanks, which will hopefully draw the eye away from any errors or inconsistencies ....... so I wouldn't be in any rush to rebuild Lightning, for fear of spoiling a great job. I'm certainly not minded to revisit Liesel too much - just to keep her in good order and to enjoy her.

Mike -

Thanks for that picture. Liesel was also a Coventry build - No. 4571. So perhaps I was hasty in my judgement ! It's entirely possible that all the exhaust covers were angled, but only slightly and not acutely. We'll probably never know for certain (it's a bit like arguing about angels on pin heads :) ), but it's good to debate these things to increase (or rediscover) the Knowledge Base.

When I get to that stage on Flaming Fire II, I'll certainly consider whether to angle the cover a bit - if I have the skills, and the courage !

Steve -

Tie downs. Something else that's been hovering around in the darkest parts of my mind 8) .

Until I get around to designing some spuds, I'm carrying a lot of 'junk' (spades, pickaxes etc.) in Liesel's spud box. Tie dows would help to tighten a net over the top to stop it all bouncing out !

And something else. I've read that an axe there was standard equipment. I've already modelled them on Liesel. It never ends, does it ?

All the best,

Chris
Last edited by Chris Hall on Sat Mar 26, 2016 7:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Mark IV (Liesel, Abteilung 14, France 1918)
Morris Quad, 25-pdr & 2 x limbers (45RA, Korea 1951)
M3 Lee (25th Dragoons, Burma 1944)
Rolls-Royce Armoured Car (10(RN)AMB, German E. Africa 1916)

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Re: Mark IV Spud Box - more complex than it looks ...

Post by Michael Cecil » Sun Jan 24, 2016 9:22 pm

Gents

I know we all keep referring to it as the 'spud box' but I wonder, particularly in the light of that last image of the APG tanks with the axe mount inside, if the box was simply a general stowage box? It would seem that spuds crashing about inside would damage the axe handle, and probably the canvas cover, and why have a canvas cover at all to cover spuds: they are hardly prone to weather effects. Has anyone discovered a CES list for a MkIV that might provide some clues as to where it was all stowed?

Mike

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Re: Mark IV Spud Box - more complex than it looks ...

Post by Oliver Brüninghaus » Tue Jan 26, 2016 2:14 pm

Maybe I can give a little input here.

Last May I gave some attention to the Spud Box and the six fasteners.
I compared a lot of pictures to find the right size but the measurements are only an approximation.


IMG_1986.jpg
Using a copper plate with 0,5 mm thickness it isn’t difficult to give the fasteners the curved shape.

The upper spherical part gets its shape by deforming the round plate in a wooden block with a concave indentation. With a small roundheaded hammer you are able emboss this part to its spherical form.
The triangle part with the three rivets gets its shape the same way, but need a little postproduction with pliers at the there corners.
IMG_1422.jpg
At the time I haven’t had the right rivets. So I used small nails with round head and glued all parts together. Today I would consider to use some rivets (1 mm) from "Knupfer".
IMG_1988.jpg
If helpful I can provide the sketch as PDF file.

Sorry for my bad English, I sadly realize that I’m totally out of practice.

Oliver
Last edited by Oliver Brüninghaus on Fri Feb 05, 2016 12:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Mark IV Spud Box - more complex than it looks ...

Post by Steve Stuart » Tue Jan 26, 2016 10:50 pm

Oliver thank you for your posting, very useful and inspirational.
Steve

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Re: Mark IV Spud Box - more complex than it looks ...

Post by Chris Hall » Wed Jan 27, 2016 11:08 am

Oliver -

Thanks for that - most illuminating ! And it's always nice to hear of another Mark IV out there ......... let us know more ! (for example, whether it's Male or Female, and which tank you're modelling).

Mike -

I owe you a response on the whole question of what the Spud Box was for, but I need to do a bit of digging first !

All -

And here's another issue to be considered which, while not directly related to the Spud Box, is definitely in that area of the tank build ......

I've seen mentions of a tail light, possibly a convoy light ? Anyway, it served a dual purpose as the chain used to tie down the unditching beam was looped over this. A bit of googling has found the following picture:

Image(also a nice shot of Oliver's tie downs)

And a link to the actual item (2 images), at the Australian War Memorial (perhaps Mike can find out more ? Like actual dimensions, colour of lenses etc. ?):

https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/RELAWM00919/?image=1

Another small, but significant, item to be modelled ? I'd welcome advice on how to make it, though ... :) and a Gold Star to anyone who could actually wire it to light up !

All the best,

Chris
Mark IV (Liesel, Abteilung 14, France 1918)
Morris Quad, 25-pdr & 2 x limbers (45RA, Korea 1951)
M3 Lee (25th Dragoons, Burma 1944)
Rolls-Royce Armoured Car (10(RN)AMB, German E. Africa 1916)

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Re: Mark IV Spud Box - more complex than it looks ...

Post by Adrian Harris » Wed Jan 27, 2016 12:39 pm

Another interesting nugget :D

Looking at the Aussie pictures - thank heavens for souvenir collectors :lol: - I can't really see the orange side panels being visible to a following tank, unless they are really close, due to the rear track runs.

Also, trying to spot whether the red light in front had gone a bit orange at one side or the other would be a pretty tricky task, even if you could see them.

I wonder if the orange lenses were more for lighting the rear of the tank, a glorified porch light if you like, as it's mounted just above the door :?:

As far as modelling it, I would have a look within the model boat community for navigation lights, at least as a starting point.

Adrian.
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Re: Mark IV Spud Box - more complex than it looks ...

Post by Steve Stuart » Wed Jan 27, 2016 1:09 pm

Hi All
The hook that the light is mounted onto has an original purpose of hanging the tow cables from. The photos of the B Battalion Tanks show this clearly. So it would make sense for it to have a secondary use as a light bracket. The interesting point is that it is not a Carbide Lamp which I would have expected; bicycle and motor car lights and all, but is electric?
Steve

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Re: Mark IV Spud Box - more complex than it looks ...

Post by Michael Cecil » Wed Jan 27, 2016 9:38 pm

Chris, Steve and Adrian,

Given that the tank has an internal lighting circuit that could be tapped into, I'm not surprised that the lamp is electric, rather than carbide. Much easier to control with a simple switch inside. The amber side lenses and red rear lens suggest to me that it was meant as a marker light, rather than as a method of local illumination. When viewed in varying positions across the rear arc, there would be proportional red/amber visible, indicating the attitude of the tank compared to the viewer. All red = square on to the rear, while the combination red/amber would indicate an angle to the tank's centreline. Its position on the rear would mean it could not be seen across a very wide frontal and side arc - hence, good for following infantry, other tanks, etc, but not for anyone to the front.

Dimensions, etc might be a little difficult, as the object is listed as being on gallery display (and is thus locked in a display case).

Mike

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Re: Mark IV Spud Box - more complex than it looks ...

Post by Oliver Brüninghaus » Fri Jan 29, 2016 1:48 pm

Chris –

In lack of enough time it’s a very slow build and I couldn't resist the temptation to make some extras. That expand the building time additional.
It’s my first Armotek model and I enjoy every minute of the build. Unfortunately I haven’t found the time to share the build in the forum.

My MK IV will be a „Beutepanzer“. I’m still looking which one.
It should have the late „Buntfarben“ camouflage and should be a male one like „Fritz“.
But the gun mount is different to the original MK IV and that cause major changes at the six pounder turrets and the sponsons.
If this turns out to be too complicated I will go with a female like „Mariechen“.
Time will tell.


If I compare the size of the bullseye tail light with the tie downs it should be possible that the tail light is approx. 10 or 12 mm in diameter. It reminds me on a vintage Adlake railroad signal light.
That may be a task for „Shapeways“ with the frosted detail plastic. Fitted with a 3 mm LED it will be look fine.

Greetings Oliver

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Re: Mark IV Spud Box - more complex than it looks ...

Post by Chris Hall » Fri Jan 29, 2016 3:18 pm

Oliver -

Wow ! Another Beutepanzer ! Another Armortek owner said to me recently that people didn't know that the Germans used captured tanks in WW1 until I built 'Liesel' - and now there will be two of them ! Will we ever be able to get them together, I wonder ? 8)

A Buntfarben paint job (similar to the Mark I's in September 1916) will certainly be colourful, with Latin crosses rather than my Maltese. I assume you have the Tankograd books by Rainer Strasheim ? I would say these are definitive for the Beutepanzers.

I'm aware of the differences in the socle mounts for the 57mm guns that replaced the 6 pounders, so I'd say that doing a male would be very, very brave - certainly way above my poor engineering skills :oops: ! But here's to you finding more time, and please keep us informed of your progress.

An impressed,

Chris
Mark IV (Liesel, Abteilung 14, France 1918)
Morris Quad, 25-pdr & 2 x limbers (45RA, Korea 1951)
M3 Lee (25th Dragoons, Burma 1944)
Rolls-Royce Armoured Car (10(RN)AMB, German E. Africa 1916)

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