They were manufactured in the final year of Series 1 production, but were equipped with tubular front and rear ‘bumpers’ and front cabin hood frame used in Series II model.
ARN 101-820 was purchased on eBay in July 2010, and was advertised as being in generally good running condition.
She was unregistered, but her Queensland registration lapsed only around a year prior. The body was quite sound, with rust confined to either side of the engine bay where water and urine (we’ll come to that shortly) accumulated. Over the top of the original olive drab livery was a layer of white, some red and finally a coat of olive drab in a ‘fair’ state. She was fitted with non-original fibre-glass doors and long-cabin hood frame and deteriorated canvas hood, likely fitted by Casula Wreckers (Western Sydney) who had originally procured Haflingers and parts from the army in the early 1970s.
The on-road retread tyres on fiat 13″ rims were rotten. The brakes were shot, the battery dead, the engine backfired with gusto before stalling and would not idle.
The non-original muffler, exhaust and inlet manifolds were corroded, cracked and perforated. This was going to be a major re-build after all. The plan now was to strip everything off the body, chemically strip of the several layers of paint, repair where required, and repaint. At the same time the engine was removed for reconditioning. Removal of the engine was revealing. A family of possums had made the engine their home. Leaves and sticks filled the spaces between the tin-work and the engine. Possum faeces and muck was caked between the fins of the cylinders, rendering effective cooling impossible. The urine of the possums had heavily corroded all the tin work, cylinders and the alloy components of the engine. All of the tired Haflinger engines that I have seen have been caked in gritty (but corrosion inhibiting) oil and grease- certainly never corroded to this extent. Surely this tired, dumped upon engine could not have run properly for years.
The engine tin work was chemically stripped with a process that also eliminated all corrosion.
The tin work was re-painted with POR15 rust preventive paint. The cylinders were grit blasted to remove corrosion and re-bored to fit new Konig oversize II pistons, and heads reconditioned with new valves, sleeves, springs etc. The engine bearings were good, so the crank case was left alone. The engine was fitted with a new clutch and pressure plate, new inlet and exhaust manifold and fully reconditioned dynastarter. The single-throat Weber carburettor was fully reconditioned, with perforated brass float repaired. New throttle, choke and clutch cables were fitted, and an electric fuel pump installed on the firewall to replace the Weber mechanical pump. The engine looked like new again.
The body components were repainted piece by piece, using information gathered over the years to determine what was originally olive drab, black or zinc-plated (some Australian Army Haflingers had just about everything over-painted green over the course of service).
The rebuilding of the body was the fun part, and everything came together quite easily. Stainless steel hardware was used where possible to minimise potential future corrosion, with threads greased with lanolin grease. All channels, tubes and un-painted areas were flooded with lanolin. The headlights were rebuilt from NOS components, and new trafficator and tail light lenses and gaskets fitted. Most components were reconditioned, but a new starter button and Series I wiper motor and components were fitted. The brakes were completely re-built, with new copper brake lines, fluid reservoir, brake springs, master and slave cylinders. The shoes were re-bonded and drums machined to match. A new handbrake cable and handbrake springs had the handbrake working as it should.
To finish the project, a new canvas cab and canvas covering for tubular frame doors were fabricated.
The cab was to return to the original short-cab type as used during army service. The brief was to match the original locally made samples, stitch for stitch. An Australian made olive-green canvas was found that was an almost identical match to the canvas retrieved from a door of an ex-Australian Army Haflinger (but these seem to differ from vehicle to vehicle). The leather washers were made by hand to match the originals. Solid Brass Chicago screws that resembled the original hammered rivets were used, which allowed for easy disassembly for future repairs. The front and rear seats were re-trimmed in the same olive canvas as the canopy and doors as a temporary measure, as a match for the original dark-olive vinyl trim would not be readily found (black vinyl could have been another option).
ARN 101-820 was finally registered in NSW as a historic vehicle through the Ex-Military Vehicle Collectors Society (NSW), who have 3 other restored ex-army Haflingers amongst their membership.
The NSW Roads and Maritime Authority registered her as a ‘Daimler 703’, whatever that may be. A set of printed vinyl tac plates were made to match a historic photograph uncovered by Constantin Keisling from the Magna-Steyr archive in Graz. This was for the 35 Unit of the Royal Australian Army Service Corps (RAASC). Ex-army pioneer tools were found on eBay. ARN 101-820 made her debut at the Corowa Swim-In in March 2012, which is the largest annual gathering of ex-military vehicles in Australia, where she received a warm welcome. From here on she will live a good and pampered life.
The following are gratefully acknowledged for their efforts in the restoration of ARN 101-820:
Parts: Hafliger Technik, Autoquariat, Robert Prokschi, Constantin Kiesling
Services: Carburettor Service Company, Denmore Automotive, Burt Brothers Brakes, Barry Hopkins Motor Trimming, Redi-Strip, Gladesville Auto Body Repairs
Technical and Historical Consultants: Constantin Kiesling, Dale Harrison