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1956 1-Tonne Military Cargo Truck R2067

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  • 1956 1-Tonne Military Cargo Truck R2067

    1-Tonne 4 x 4 “Torpedo” (Cargo/Troop/Utility) Body Style

    Descended from prewar civilian designs, the 2067 was procured by all branches of the French military from 1953 to 1956, then the 2087 model (similar) in service through the 1970s. The Renaults were replaced by highly-capable SUMB (Simca-Marmon) tactical vehicles, which served until replaced by the current, sophisticated, ‘cabover’ Renault TRM-2000 series vehicles.

    The 2067 / 2087 was used in all theaters of French military operations of the 1950s and 60s. They saw service in the Algeria, Morocco, Vietnam (Indo-China) conflicts and were common sights in domestic operations of the Armee and Gendarmerie.

    This vehicle is VERY compact, being just a foot longer than a Jeep, able to carry 1 tonne but tow 5 tonnes. This is enabled by the ‘semi-cabover’ layout. The high load capacity results in a very harsh ride when empty.

    It is powered by a familiar civilian 2.5 ltr OHV gas engine with aluminum cylinder head and Iron block. An unfamiliar 4-speed gearbox (backwards shift pattern) has 3 speeds synchronized. The transfer case is two-speed, at 1.58:1 when in front drive position.

    The ‘Torpedo’ body style is the GP cargo version; others being ambulance and tanker configurations. They were normally seen with fully-enclosed canvas tops, yielding poor rear visibility. They had collapsible troop seats on the centerline, facing both ways, for 10 troops.

    Driving the 2067 is difficult, due to the shift pattern and harsh ride, but brakes (unassisted) are good, and steering gives a VERY tight circle without excessive effort. Driver’s position is very high. Visibility is good with no hood. The windshield assembly can fold down and top be removed for lower-profile tactical operations. Prewar-style civilian-based instrument cluster is legible. Brake low-fluid and low-fuel warning lights are provided.

    This Renault 2067

    I found the vehicle in France offered by a military-vehicle dealer near Paris and had it shipped, via Le Havre, to Brunswick, GA (Ro-Ro) thence by rollback to Ft. Lauderdale. I was attracted to the rather-bizarre, clearly ‘retro’ style. There is NOTHING on the road that resembles this vehicle. Somebody had recently given the vehicle a good coat of correct paint, a new canvas top, and fitted a new fuel tank, but then stopped work.

    The Renault Club USA reports this is the sole ‘torpedo’ example in N. America, though there are thought to be two ambulances. In France the 2067/2087 are popular collector vehicles which are also enjoyed for ‘off-road’ adventures, as they are extremely capable in terrible terrain. To accommodate our warm climate (plus rear visibility), I omitted the cargo top, bows, and troop seats.

    The engine was operational but nearly impossible to start due to a worn ring-gear. The gearbox was mostly frozen, and found to have water in the bottom. The transfer case was dry but apparently in good condition. Drive shafts and diffs had not been lubed for decades but seem OK.

    I was able to buy a new ring gear in France. With great difficulty I removed the engine-transmission unit through the vehicle nose and separated it. A friend replaces ring gears often, and knew what to do with the flywheel. Engine pack went back in without trouble.

    I flushed out the gearbox and replaced oil but it makes a terrible roaring sound in all gears but top. That tells me it is the bearings of the countershaft, located lowest in the case. It is drivable, so I will leave transmission rebuild for the next owner.

    The Solex carburetor has been a chronic problem but it is finally working, thanks to my neighbor, Silvio. I discovered a bad vacuum leak in the main mounting gasket. Fixed. I bypassed the damaged Fram-type fuel filter and added a shutoff valve to run the carb dry.

    Driver and passenger seats are totally different, but both were ruined, with no springs or covers. My local upholstery shop had some old springs which I built into new seat squabs. After many months I received my beautiful comfortable seats; NOT like what you find in most HMVs.

    I did research and applied all correct exterior markings for Gendarmerie. In cleaning the old number plate on the rear, I uncovered the original tag number, which I then had reproduced for front and rear location, WITH a small ‘tricouleur’, correct for 1956.

    In a frustrating detail, one of the horns was dead. It has two-tone horns. I shipped it to a guy who specializes in repairing them but he got sick (pre-COVID) and didn’t touch the unit for over a year. Eventually he got it done but had no 24V for testing. I took it back anyway and it is Perfect. You press the horn button gently and it sounds a gentle note. Harder and you get that plus a VERY loud ‘Klaxon’.

    The wiper motor was frozen so I sent it to a specialist, but he could not deal with the tiny 24V wires, so I have no wiper motor, but the manual handle works. I am legal. These gearmotors are seen on the ‘net, but rarely. All signal lights had been converted to modern fixtures. I was able to find four correct light fixtures and install them with difficulty.

    The entire wooden bed had suffered fungus attack, so I built a whole new rear body, using old parts as patterns. All metal parts were sandblasted, cold-galvanized, and repainted before assembly. Front, sides, and tailgate are specially-milled 1” marine plywood. The bed deck is a South American exotic wood, called “IPE” (ee-pay); harder and denser than teak. Amazing material.

    In building the new rear bodywork, I determined that huge interior steel wheelwells were superfluous and scrapped them (they were badly rusted). While the bed was off, I removed and rebuilt the ruined under-bed tool/accessory box; a terrible job but a brilliant product, water-resistant, insulated, and gasketed. The new ‘pickup’ bed is uninterrupted but for small ‘steps’ where excess tire travel could threaten the planks.

    The right wheelwell housing also held a pair of large 12V batteries (24V total). I determined that in a warm climate (and for a small engine) I could use far smaller batteries, and was able to install a pair of U-1s in the large tool box, even including the whole complement of on-board tools already stowed there. Neat installation.

    I assembled a new wheel lug-wrench from chrome mechanic tools and enclosed it in a water-resistant PVC pipe. It is far easier to use than the old military one, (which was missing). The original internal-screw jack is effective, was restored, and is accompanied by large wood blocks to get the correct height. Also preserved is the set of ‘breakdown’ signal triangles in its original plastic case.

    The previously-protected but now-exposed gas filler pipe is armored with heavy PVC pipe. PVC sections also protect rear corner wiring.

    All over the vehicle were places of bad or missing paint. I had a stock of 24087 semi-gloss postwar USA aerosol that was close to the original green. It is furnished with the vehicle. Most places you can’t tell. I got some liquid 24087 to shoot the bed parts and panels with my HVLP gun.

    During the rear bodywork I removed all wheels for blasting and painting. I found a BIG split in the LR brake drum. Of course, NOT available. Next trip to France I asked the HMV club guys if they knew where to find one. One guy spoke up right away, having one in his garage! And they are different for 2067 and 2087! It was 14” diameter and 25# but it went in the suitcase. Getting the old one off was nearly impossible, eventually requiring deep grinder-cuts, acetylene torch, and huge puller. BANG!

    I don’t know how many drums are working but the brakes STOP.

    I designed and had built a rather complex civilian trailer hitch (in addition to the military pintle unit) which incorporates a SMV red triangle. I designed and had built front-personnel mounting drums for front wheels but they are less useful than I expected. I installed troop-boarding steps from later French Army trucks on the tailgate. Makes getting up into the rear EASY.

    I have not gotten the vehicle inspected or registered but repaired everything with that in mind. I have all the importation documents. It should be no problem to get tagged and on the road. Also included is the excellent Renault Operation and Maintenance manual (reprinted) and historical research documents. A modern digital automatic 24V 10A charger is included.

    While doing research I ran across a photo of a 2067 in Gendarme service equipped with a hand-operated spotlight. I considered that a nice addition and installed a fine, yellow-lensed unit.


    In general, for this restoration, I have tried to improve the vehicle. When there is only ONE example in the country, one does not need to be perfectly correct and original.

    Accoutrements

    Furnished with the vehicle for display is a 1956 simulated Gendarmerie / Algeria uniform (for tall slim guy, modified from recent USA BDUs) with matching desert boots. A correct, functional, beautifully-restored 7.5mm MAS 49/56 semi-automatic rifle with custom portable case and 200 rounds of recent ammunition is included with a bandoleer with extra magazines. I have never fired it. Fits rifle holders in vehicle cab.

    Headgear: beige WW2 ‘calot’ cap, postwar French steel helmet and liner (NOT a M-1), desert-correct cork ‘pith-helmet’ with large Gendarmes emblem, and a correct 1960s dress Kepi hat.

    For added interest I acquired a simulated MAT-49 9mm submachine-gun. It is executed in wood and is fragile, but looks right. The MAT-49 was a favorite for all French soldiers into the 1990s, firing at 600 r/m. It was heavy, but very compact

    I include a period-correct military 10-ltr. wine gerrycan in excellent serviceable condition.

    The pioneer tool rack is filled with correct restored tools and the two 25-ltr gerrycans are blasted and restored, but not usable. Gerrycan rack is fully restored.

    Overall, a convincing period historical display

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