M3A4 Handcart Restoration Log - Intro
Date Written: 9/29/2007
Author: Chris Guska
In June of 2007 I was approached with an offer for a 1943 John Woods M3a4 Infantry Utility Cart. I jumped on the opportunity to acquire the cart to add to the 81mm mortar display – as a variant of the cart was specially equipped to carry the baseplate, bipod and tube of the 81mm. The M3a4 and variant carts were a general issue item to infantry divisions and specifically heavy weapons companies. It was issued indiscriminately to both straight leg infantry and airborne infantry. The carts were not a strictly “airborne” item as described by many collectors.
A background history and wealth of photos the M3a4 handcart can be found at Craig Johnson’s outstanding site http://www.handcartz.com/1/ - His site has proven an invaluable resource in addition to his personal help via email. Thanks Craig!
Johan Willert’s http://www.theliberator.be/handcart.htm has also been an inspiration. His site has an outstanding short history of the carts, ETO photos, one of which being 90th heavy weapons using a cart. His site also documents the excellent restoration of his John Woods M3a4 through a series of photos and commentary. I hope that I can match the outstanding work done by Johan!
Back to my cart-
Logistics: The cart is large, awkward and heavy – something that doesn’t work out well for carriers such as UPS or FedEx. It simply would have been prohibitively expensive to ship one of those methods. After searching some of the common carriers (Yellow Freight, Roadway, ect) I asked Craig if he had any advice – his recommendation was Greyhound. Thankfully the gentleman I purchased the cart from was within range of a Greyhound station and was able to ship the cart with no problem. The total cost to ship from Salt Lake City to Dayton Ohio was 68$. The cart arrived within about 1 week’s time, with the only glitch being the Greyhound staff at the Dayton station “forgot” to call me and let me know that it had arrived for 4 days despite my inquiries to its status.The cart arrived without any damage that I could tell – it was in rough shape before it went on the bus so it matters little.
The cart is in need of major restoration, with some fabrication work. All the major component pieces and castings are present, original matching tires and original paint. It would be an outstanding cart if it had not been previously modified in its life to be a welding cart. The front of the cart had two radiuses cut out to hold compressed gas cylinders when it was used as a welding cart.
The cart is missing the rear most body slat, the rear rope loops are missing, the rear wall is bowed outwards, the pipe used for the tongue is bent, the lunette has some superfluous weld slag on it from a prior mod, as well as the stop cleat on the lunette casting is bent.
Overall, this should prove to be a mildly challenging and interesting restoration. There is plenty to be done on the cart to bring it back to the way it should be. I am not planning on restoring the cart back to factory perfect. Some of the dents and bends will remain, as I fully intend to bring this cart to displays as well as use it in the field for its intended purpose.
Additional “starting / before” photos are available in the supplemental gallery.
90th IDPG Weapons