John Vetter’s Stuart
John Vetter [ May 2012 ]
The tank is a 1942 M3A1 built by the American Car and Foundry Company (Berwick, PA). Their main production was in rail cars and like other heavy industry companies; they were selected to build the initial run of tanks before the start of WWII. These Stuart models (all were informally named by the British - Lee, Sherman) began with prototypes in the mid-thirties and continued with variations through 1945.
Power is supplied by a 670 cubic inch Continental 7 cylinder radial air cooled engine. These are twin magneto equipped and were simultaneously used in the Stearman trainer and a variety of other aircraft. The need in the Stuart and in the bigger tanks was for high horsepower with light weight, thus providing more opportunity for heavier armor. A rather large combination transmission and stick controlled steering differential, feeds into final drives on each side to turn the track sprockets. Not unlike an airplane there are lots of instruments to check and some vigilance necessary on the permissible engine revs. Twin tanks carry 70 gallons of fuel and an oil change is 24 quarts.
The tractor is a 1956 Diamond T (M52). It is powered by a 6 cyl Continental 602 cubic inch producing 225 HP.
Working on a tank is not for the faint hearted. Parts are not available at NAPA, manuals rare and there is a steep learning curve. I have been fortunate having friends in the hobby, including Jim Mandigo, a professional mechanic from Morrisville, who works at Majestic Auto in Waterbury. Countless weekend sessions have allowed us to redo the suspension, power train, turret, and hull fixtures back to original specifications that likely make this Stuart one of the most accurate restorations in the county.
A very common question is what do you do with a tank- answer is similar to the enjoyment of any antique vehicle; learn about its history, look for parts, regularly skin some knuckles and drive it in meets and shows. There is a Vermont Chapter of the Military Vehicle Preservation Association (www.GMMVC.org), with like minded restorers that features an open to the public annual July show in Waterbury (12th-14th).
Editor’s Notes...The tractor is a 1956 Diamond T (M52). It is powered by a 6 cyl Continental 602 cubic inch producing 225 HP. It has a 2-speed transfer case with auto front wheel drive engagement, using todays terms that means ALL-WHEEL-DRIVE….impressive!
In the smaller picture on page 1, John is pictured left on the tank. Dan Murry and Ryan Liszewski to John’s left. Bob Hargrove and Liszewski from left on the ground. I wonder if the bag contains secret enemy position maps or lunch?
Throughout my conversations with John another gentleman was often mentioned, that was Jim Mandigo. I needed additional information and when I called he and Jim had just finished dropping an engine into their latest project that might be ready for the next Stowe Show. That is a 6-ton 1945 Ford M20 Armored car. It is a 6X6 with a 140HP Hercules engine and carries a crew of six when used in recogni-zance. The British were so impressed with it’s maneuverability that their nickname of ’Greyhound’ took the place of M20.
You will always find John and the rest of the Green Mountain Military Vehicle Club at the Stowe Show, just walk into the main gate and they are right there on the right. It is tough to talk to them long and not want to go shopping for something in Army colors. Check out their website http://www.gmmvc.org