Historical find....WW1 Army 1917 machine Gun carts

L999here

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Thought about posting to my original thread on the 1917 carts...but this is such an historic find that I believe it deserves it's own thread. Recovered 3-original 1917 carts from Hernando,MS area last week...1400 mi. round trip. 2-carts in the ORIGINAL SHIPPING CRATES,as they left the International Harvester plant in Quincey,IL. Apparently,these were stored in a storage facility in Memphis,TN and either sold to or obtained by someone close to Hernando,MS. Guy I bought from said there were 40-carts stored in an old barn and he was told he could have what he wanted...the rest were bulldozed and burned. There is an ORIGINAL 1917 ammo cart and an ORIGINAL 1917 gun cart in the crates...untouched for over 85+ years. The 3rd un-crated cart was taken out of the crate,assembled and the rest of the items included were scraped....the guy did not know what the items were or where they went...so he trashed 'em. Just a couple of pic's for now,as I'm cleaning stuff up,restoring as best I can and documenting this find for future use. Now have 10-1917 carts but may give/sell one in-the-crate to the largest collector of carts who has a web site....handcartz.com. Enjoy the pic's,as these carts will probably never be seen again in their original packing crates...until I take 'em out,clean up/paint and re-pack 'em for show-and-tell in a military museum.
 

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PeterD

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... the rest were bulldozed and burned.

... rest of the items included were scraped....the guy did not know what the items were or where they went...so he trashed 'em.
It is astounding how monumentally stupid some people can be! So the guy (owner) destroyed perhaps thousands of dollars worth of historical materials... :sad:

And then the guy throws away stuff because he's not sure what they were! :p

Good (no GREAT) you managed snag them at least. A shame the rest were lost forever.
 

jasonjc

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It is astounding how monumentally stupid some people can be! So the guy (owner) destroyed perhaps thousands of dollars worth of historical materials... :sad:

And then the guy throws away stuff because he's not sure what they were! :p

Good (no GREAT) you managed snag them at least. A shame the rest were lost forever.
I agree but in a 100yr's from now somone will be saying the same thing about all the bobbed 6X6's.


But those carts still in the crate are just too good not to keep like they are. Great save!!!! Thank you.
 

Trailboss

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From that period, and from the appearance of the wood, the wood used to make the crates looks like it may have come from the last of the virgin southern longleaf pine forests. Mules and oxen were used to haul the logs to small steam trains that ran on temporary wooden tracks leading to the saw mills that were located next to the real railroad lines. Most of the southern heart pine from MS, LA and western AL was shipped directly to the Chicago rail hub from the late 1800s through the 1920s.

That heartwood was so dense and contained so much resin that rot, termites and other wood insects couldn't easily damage it, which helps explains why the crates are still intact. The loblolly pine that has replaced the longleaf pine won't last near as long even when treated.
 

twlinks

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Very nice find and recovery. Kinda seems like they would be the most valuable just as they are, still in the crate?!? Especially if you were planning on selling them at some point I would think.
 

L999here

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Thank you to all for great comments and esp. the segment on where/how a lot of Southern pine came north to Chicago. Realize that these pieces of military history are rare...but to conserve them...not 'restore' them...to their original granduer and display them as 'issued' is my goal. To do this,it is necessary to take them out of the crate,save all the wood and nails...no screws used anywhere...clean up and/or paint the wood and metal and return the pieces to the crate in their original position for shipment overseas...as they left the International Harvester plant from 1917-1928(?). To return the cart to the crate dirty,rusty and in less than original condition does not seem to be realistic. If the goal was to sell them...maybe. But any true history buff would want to see them as they were when new. I wish I had the use of a real conservator's input. Those that take an older car and restore it to pristine,original factory condition have the same goal...present it like it was when new. These carts will be used for display's and some for reinactments. The crated carts will reside in their crates...just for historical accuracy and to show folks how it was done during WW1. Any and all comments or helpful hints are welcome for this historical display.
 

twlinks

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I understand some of what you are saying about the preservation, however I think I would try to get some real professional opinions at least as to their historical value either as they are now or in the "restored" to their original "from the factory" condition. An example to me would what happens with antique furniture...the second it gets restored, its value most of the time is diminished. It may be a real catch 22, darned if you do and darned if you don't. I don't know the answer but surely some historical expert should be able to help out. Good luck and keep us posted.
 
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L999here

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Since these 1917 Army carts are so rare....believe less than 200-carts in existence...the only real test of value is the open market. Have only seen 2-examples of original carts...from a museum...in a 2001 article from Small Arms Review. Most carts,when found,have been stripped of all boxes and hardware and the wheels have been replaced by more modern stuff or missing all together. Last price I saw for a restored cart ...a gun cart...was $6K. There were no tools,gun,ammo boxes,or any of the issue items...just a bare cart. Since I have never sold any 1917 carts,can't say what one might bring. But have paid from $150 for an incomplete frame w/brass tag with no wheels...to $1,900.00 for a butchered example that had junk tacked,bolted and welded all over it. It was the Spare Gun Cart and I realized what it was as soon as I saw it. An original cart with as-issued-in-the-crate items has not been seen or even talked about for at least 85+ years.....until now. Just to restore 1-16-spoke,8-felloe 38" artillery wheel....$300.00. 11- pieces of oak wood to replace a complete cart...cut,shaped,planed and finished....$275.00. Just the hardware...bolts,nuts,washers and slotted screws....$75.00. Estimate for a cart that can be rolled out with appropriate boxes installed to identify it and painted for display....$2K. What anyone would pay for an original in-the-crate 1917 cart....probably anywhere from $2,500-$6K. Since none of my carts are for sale...although my wife of 47 years is not so inclined....I would defer any pricing to an auction. And I've never seen a 1917 cart go up for auction.
 

twlinks

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There was a show on TV earlier this year about strictly military stuff as I recall. Everything from swords to cannons, but I can't remember what it was called right now. The main guy in it is the same "expert" that Rick Harrison on Pawn Stars calls in for advice. That whole thing may be suspect, but it might be worth a try...you might even end up on TV...haha. I'm not a collector with a lot of money, but if I was, I would think something like that in the condition they are would bring a heck of a lot more than 6K. I know you aren't selling them, but even just from an asset/estate/insurance value purpose, I would want to know. They may not be the "Holy Grail" but there just can't be very much stuff like this around anyplace anymore.
 

Trailboss

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Cool! Some of the BII tools are farrier tools (horseshoer). The three nippers, small hammer and the rasps - all you need are shoes and nails. I guess the brace and bit and bald peen hammer are for cart repairs.
 

L999here

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Update:Have sold the original 1917 Machine Gun Cart-in-the-crate to the collector/owner of handcartz.com. Sold my 2nd. gun cart to a gentleman who is a re-enactor at Newville,PA for WW1. He will put it to good use. Selling price was $2,500.00 for this gun cart with no accessories and set up strictly for man-power with a tow pole. Still have 5-ammo carts (4-restored),3-gun carts (1-restored) and 1-spare gun cart,also restored.
 

maddawg308

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Those are a very interesting find - nearly 100 years old and still able to be assembled and represent their original completeness. Awesome, to say the least.

Thanks for finding them good homes!
 

L999here

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Gentlemen....been awhile since I've posted anything on STEELSOLDIERS. It's a trying time during this covid-19 thing and have limited time to do anything else at my reloading business. However...was able to assemble an entire U.S. Army WW1 1917 Machine Gun Cart Co. for a photo shoot in late Nov 2019. Had, since 2015, accumulated,built,restored 30-1917 carts...18-original and 12-built from scratch. 14-gun carts,13-ammo carts and 3-spare gun carts.

A WW1 Machine Gun Cart Co. consisted of 12-gun,12-ammo and 2-spare gun carts. It took 7-guys 6-hrs to assemble,push,pull and position these 26-carts for the shoot....and then to return them to my barn. First group of photo's was to position them in-lager...or at-rest position during an encampment. Second set of photo's was as the Co. would be on-the-move on a gravel road in France. Over 200-photo's taken by 3-camera buffs...can't do them all here.

Hope my ability to post properly will enable those of us who enjoy the study of the historical aspects of WW1...especially of the American Expeditionary Forces...to be rewarded. Little is written about the U.S. Army Machine Gun Cart Co's. But a book written by a retired Army Col....'A Withering Fire' is all about this aspect of them.

Well...unable to post photo's...too large for the file to accept. Any help here...? When hitting the 'attach files' and double-tap photo,it loaded and then said 'too large'.
 
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