Friday, July 30, 2010

New Port Townsend Ferry: Chetzemoka

Here is a sneak preview of the new ferry for our Port Townsend to Whidbey Island run.

The ferry Chtzemoka is the first in the new Kwa-di Tabil Class of Washington State ferries. The Chetzemoka is currently undergoing sea trials and is slated to begin service on August 29, 2010!

The local paper just reported today that excessive drive shaft vibrations were discovered on yesterday's trials, so let's hope it's an easy fix and the opening run will stay on schedule.......

In other PT Ferry news, the ferry department decided to change the the name of the run from Port Townsend to Keystone, to Port Townsend to Coupeville starting this Fall......... Coupeville is 6 miles away from the ferry and Keystone is where the landing is........??????????? No one can quite figure out that decision.

10th Mountain Division, US Army, WW2

Here is a little historical background on the division and units that used the 88B Mountain Rucksack that is now in my collection........
On December 8th, 1941, the US Army activated the
87th Mountain Infantry Battalion at Fort Lewis, Washington. This was to be the Army's first mountain combat unit. The unit was nick-named "Minnies's Ski Troops" after Charles Minot "Minnie" Doyle, the president of The National Ski Patrol. The 87th trained on mount Rainier.
The 87th was sent to Kiska, Alaska to repel the Japan
ese invasion force there but found the island abandoned by the enemy...........
They returned to the states and formed the core of the
newly organized 10th Mountain Division at Camp Hale, Colorado. They trained here to survive and fight in some of the most brutal winter, mountain environments.

The Division arrived in Italy in late December, 1945 an
d entered combat for the first time on January 28th, 1945, in the North Apennine Mountains of Italy.
Here a few pictures of this Historic division wearing
the 88B rucksack during WW2.

1942 model 88B US Mountain Rucksack

After a number of weeks of trying to coordinate a meeting with a woman here in town who wanted to donate a rucksack of hers to my bike project-restoration, finally came together! I picked up the rucksack yesterday afternoon and was thrilled and surprised to see that it was not, in fact, a Vietnam era ALICE pack, but is actually a 1942 Mountain-Ski Troop rucksack! The top picture is an actual period photo showing how the gear is attached to the pack.

The date and maker tag in the main flap pocket.

The official US designation of the rucksack is: J.Q.D. 88B. The J.Q.D. stands for Jeffersonville Quartermaster Department and 88B is their model number. They were produced in 1941, 1942 and 1943. They were designed by and for the 10th Mountain Division of the US Army for use by the ski and mountain troops.
The pack is in very good shape and should clean up well. It will be used to carry the extra gear that the BGS bicycle can't carry. The era of the pack is even correct!
Here are a few shots of the new pack. You will notice a hook on one shoulder strap, a hanging clip on the waist frame, and a large grommet on the top leather near the neck. These were used to carry the rifle while skiing.

Here is how the riffle carrying rig was set up. The clip on the frame clipped into the bottom sling swivel on the rifle.
The woman who gave me this back pack traveled to Europe in the early 1960's and traded her luggage for this pack when she arrived. She said the man she got the pack from was a veteran returning from Vietnam. She used the pack as she traveled through Europe and then later as she traveled and lived in Israel. From my internet research on this model of pack, it seems that some of these packs were issued to US troops in the very early years of the Vietnam War. The packs were unissued old stock from WW2.

This pack has been a VERY treasured possession of hers for all of these years and I am very grateful that she has decided to give it a new life in my project. It has a great, new home!

Monday, July 26, 2010

"Repli-Bucket" Bundesgrenzschutz Helmet Re-Make

Before the "remodel"

With the can of "German Police Green" spray paint still half full from the stove repaint job, I decided to finally get around to the make-over I had been planning for the "Novelty Motorcycle Helmet" that I bought a while back to use as the "Bike Helmet" for the BGS bike.

I pretty much stripped it back to a shell and rebuilt the guts. I pulled off the edging from around the rim, cut back the internal padding and liner........... built a new headband-suspension system out of NOS Army webbing and 3 millimeter neoprene, gave the shell a sanding and faired things up and then finished off with several coats of "police green".

The finished helmet is a pretty darn good copy of a post-war Bundesgrenzschutz helmet. It's a helmet that I won't have to worry about using and messing up and will look great on top of the new zeltbahn tent set up! It looks great on as well :)

Vintage Navy Buttons

We hit a few garage sales this last weekend and picked up some GREAT stuff............... at one sale I found a little bag of U.S. Navy buttons that are very cool and quite old. I've never seen a button back style like this before on old military buttons. A mystery to investigate:

Optimus Stove Re-Paint

This weekend while Sweet Pea was painting the living room, I did a little painting of my own.

I found a can of high-temperature spray paint in a "G
erman Police Green" and decided to give the old Optimus 8R gas camp stove a face lift. Now it looks great for camping and will work as a field stove for the BGS bicycle!

Here are the before shots:

Here are the after shots:

Friday, July 23, 2010

New-Old Bike Pump for the BGS Bicycle

A number of years ago I picked up an old bicycle pump in need of serious attention. This pump had been banging around in pretty rough condition ever since, but with tons of potential.......

I finally got around to finding a use for it. I have reconditioned and restored the pump and have put it into use as the "official" BGS bicycle pump!

The pump has a wonderful brass top cap, wooden handle with a very cool threaded "hose holder", and a cast iron base with a single hinged foot tab. The threaded brass stem fitting is of a quite old style. I have repainted the tube in early German Police - Bundesgrenzschutz Green. I have reconditioned the original leather internal cup and replaced the rotted hose with a piece of vintage, but still usable hose I found at the local used building supply shop.

I'm not sure of the exact age of the pump, but I would place it in the pre-WW2 era, and probably back around the "teens or twenties". I have not been able to find any makers stamps or company names on any of the parts, however the quality is quite high.

East German (NVA) Zeltbahns

East German Border Guards on the Border

I had the opportunity to purchase a lot of six unissued NVA (East German) zeltbahns recently, so I gathered up the cash and placed my order. The shipment came yesterday and I must say that I was not disappointed!

I received one bundled package of 5 zelts and one loose zelt. The group of 5 were still in their original bundle with the original NVA warehouse tag and rain-camo pattern bundle ties! The tag is marked with the date code "III / P", which translates to "March, 1986".

These zeltbahns are designed to be worn as a camo-rain cape and used as a tent shelter. There are two built in draw cords that turn one corner into a hood and two arm slots that can be closed with a double overlapping flap when used as a tent. There are numerous buttons and button holes along the edges to allow several zelts to be fastened together into larger structures.

I have everything but the original East German issue tent pole and stake sets for these......... I'll just have to improvise with my WW2 Swiss pole sets for now.

Here are a couple of web shots of the zelt set up as a poncho and tent.

Two zelts used as a tent.

Drawstrings pulled tight for use as a poncho.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Swedish M39 Zeltbahns

I found a great source for Zeltbahns (better know as shelter halves or quarters) from a big surplus dealer back in New York, NY. I picked up two Swedish zelts for my BGS bicycle project........... both very used, but very cool.

These zelts are the triangluar shaped quarter shelters and are designed to be combined in groups of 4 with a single center pole to form a full sized "tipi" stlyle tent. They also have a neck hole in the center that can be used to wear the zelt as a poncho. The neck hole can be buttoned closed with a double-overlapping flap to close it off for shelter use.

There are buttons arranged along the edges on both sides to allow the zelt to be buttoned in various configurations when worn or used as a shelter. The camo pattern on these zelts is very similar to the German WW2 style, as is the shape. These Swedish zelts were used from the 1930's to the 80's. One of the zelts I have has the distinctive tripple crown marking on one corner with sewn on buttons........ the other has riveted on buttons. I believe the sewn ones are the oldest.

I have a few repairs to make to the buttons, then this set will be rolled and strapped to the BGS bicycle.

I have an additional set of "like new" Swedish zeltbahns (4 quarter shelters), with the issued pole set on order. I'll post pictures when that set arrives.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Flecktarn Camo Cover

I picked up a West German flecktarn camo helmet cover off of eBay the other day......... dates to the 1990's. It's got that field weathered look and a small military-made repair on the top.

It fits perfectly on the German "novelty helmet" that I'm using for the bike helmet on the BGS bicycle.

I'd like to pick up a WW2 era Swiss or German cover, but until then, this will definitely do!

Here's a shot of the helmet cover in use by the West German Army. Check out the para-cording threaded through the foliage loops to form a sort of webbing effect.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Retro-Fahrrad For Sale

N8 dropped off a potential Burning Man bicycle a week ago that has now ended up in a new project of mine. The bike has been "restored" in a retro-vintage, military fahrrad style and is currently being offered up for sale.

I replaced the saddle with a replica leather hair-pin saddle that I picked up a year or so ago at the ReCyclery yard sale fundraiser, added two of the Swiss saddle bags and a German mess kit, gave it new cables and a tune up........... and a good write up on Craigslist! The bike had already been painted in flat black like the old German WW2 bikes so that saved me time and actually gave me the inspiration for the set up............ A very cool bike with some great vintage parts and gear. The wheel set is an old vintage size that is uncommon today and the rear hub was in need of a rebuild, so I did a little quick conversion on the rear brakes (to be compatible with the new wheel sizes) and added a newer style 26" rear wheel and cassette. Now I just need to find a good home for it :)

Swedish Canteens - New Fuel Bottles

I have been looking for a good solution to my fuel bottle problem for my two Optimus stoves for quite some time......... I finally found the solution! I found a pair of Swedish Army surplus metal canteens for about 8 bucks each. They are solid aluminum flasks with aluminum screw caps, leather belt hangers with metal clips and wool covers. Perfect!

I painted the caps red and made two metal tags stamped with the fuel type and attached them to the belt hangers. Now all I have to do is fill them.

The perfect thing is that the canteen-fuel bottles are vintage looking, and Swedish. Both of the Optimus stoves are vintage Swedish as well............. the perfect match.