Working on the John Barton estate has been an amazing and inspiring learning experience. In our recent adventure I began to think beyond the tools carried on the WW2 Jeeps and wonder more about what was used in the motorpools that kept the massive motorised army rolling. A few years back I began gathering some WW2 British tools. A friend of mine had stroke of luck with a contact in England and received a box or two of WW2 marked British Military tools. I received a handfull of them and put together a small collection in a home-made 1940s era box. With the Barton experience I began putting together the US motorpool tool set. Photos of the two boxes are below.
The toolbox on the left is an American military one. The same model toolbox was used for a variety of purposes. This one is marked signal corps. But since I already have it I decided to put my mechanics’ kit in it. The one on the right is a home made vintage box that I have collected some British tools in. I would love to find a WW2 British toolbox. Anyone know of any? Or even what they looked like?
A couple shots of the British tools are below. They are recognisable by their Broad Arrow stampings. As Ford put a little f script on all their Jeep parts, all British military items have an arrow on them somewhere.
As we sorted through the Barton collection I felt inspired to go beyond the typical tool roll found in the Jeep. Doing some online research I found these posts on G503.com and used them as guides: http://www.g503.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=48&t=202399 http://www.g503.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=48&t=111970&p=1212394&hilit=winefamily5#p1212394
Using the G503 posts I set to scrounging in my workshops. I work with mostly vintage tools as it is so finding tools that were at least close to what should be in the box was not hard. Going through my grandfather’s tools, and items given to me by a WW2 mechanic (who was running an autoshop fulltime up through around 2004) I found most of what should be in the box. A couple ebay scores and some fine tuning through the Barton collection items brought the box to pretty near full. I customised the tools by adding in specialty tools I use for Jeep repair. And yes, some tools are not exactly what should be in there (ie the ancient Husky ratchett) but they do serve the purpose of another tool that would have been in the set. Here are some shots of the box.
Some details I particularly love about this tool box and collection are the following: a government stock number marked Irwin screwdriver, the small ratchett set, the correctly marked array of Williams and Barcalo wrenches, the fact that the tool tray has a hole in it for the oil can to stick through, and more. I have many more small items to find, and other tools to replace with more authentic items as I find them; but this is a good. working toolbox that I look forward to using.
If any of my readers have photographs of WW2 American or REME motorpools, can recommend a good book on motorpools, know where to find British tools or toolboxes, or want to share anything else please either email me direct through my website or drop a comment here. Thanks!!!
Update Aug 26: I started taking the toolkit to my secondary restoration shop. The Army knew what they were doing when they chose what went into this box. I was able to do all the work I needed for an afternoon just using tools from this set.