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Sankey trailers


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Hi there.

I am thinking about getting a Sankey for various duties, mainly tip trips etc. As the local tip does not seem to mind sizes of trailers etc (the last place was very stringent) then thought Sankey is probably the most cost effective route.

What should I be looking for if I plan to get one? Are spares readily available or are there bits I want to ensure are good condition?

I have seen there are fixed and drop tailgate. I thought they were all fixed so is this later mods?

What changes need to be done to make legal for civvy towing. Obviously electrics need changing but is there anything else? I seem to remember hearing there were other problems but a search on here didn't highlight anything.

What is the true weight carrying capability of them? They have brakes so I presume it is over 750 kg all up.

Any info gratefully received.


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What is the true weight carrying capability of them? They have brakes so I presume it is over 750 kg all up.

Ahem :ph34r: I can say that it won't break with a bit over 2 tons of gravel in it but not recommended really :ph34r:

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Earlier Sankey tralers have no tailgate. They were all cast 4-5 years ago and are cheap, no more than £150. Downside is the bodies rot badly and the lack of tailgate although that can be cured with a plasma cutter, some inch square tube and some welding.

The later trailers generally known as widetracks have a tailgate, many have jockey wheels and the newest disc brakes. This is probably your best choice and these are being released in large numbers, expect £250 - 350. Check out www.milweb.net

There is nothing required to make them road legal. They have overrun brakes and the official carrying capacity is 3/4 tonne but I've had double that in them. Other than rot in the tub or being bent from dropping they are very robust and will take standard LR tyres.

You will need a NATO hitch to tow one safely. They don't have breakaway cables as it's impossible to happen if correectly hitched, bit of a grey area but nobody I know bothers. Best bet with the electrics is to wire in a civvy lead into the junction box rather than cut the military plug off. If you need a wiring conversion diagram let me know.

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  • 3 months later...
They don't have breakaway cables as it's impossible to happen if correectly hitched, bit of a grey area but nobody I know bothers.

Not a grey area at all, just a case of whether you choose to risk it.

Unbraked trailers need a chain or similar attachment to keep the nose off the ground in the event of hitch failure (the grey area here is whether a skid under the hitch does the job). A braked trailer must have a breakaway cable that activates the brakes if there is hitch failure.


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I put the following replys on the LRM forum a couple of weeks ago. They may seem a bit distjointed as they were answering specific questions but there is a fair bit of info in there which I hope helps.

Don't forget there were two widths of Sankey, commonly referred to as narrow & wide-track. I am sure I am correct in saying that they matched the track of the vehicle in use at the time (narrow-track for Series vehicles and wide-track for 90/110's). Having said that, when I was 'in' we still had Series 111's, 101's etc but were using brand-new wide-track Sankey's!

The later model (wide-track) had a drop-down tailgate and jockey-wheel on the front which ultimately makes it a more usefull piece of kit but I have owned my narrow-track for 20-years now and despite being quite old when I bought it, it is still in excelent condition.

I fitted a jockey-wheel to replace the front leg, fitted a hinged cover which carries a roof-box, got rid of the 12-pin electrics and fitted it with 7.50x16 tyres. I have towed it with my S111, 101 and current 90 and it still performs perfectly. I have used it for camping, hauling ballast (considerably overloaded but it coped perfectly) and general use.

To prevent them rotting out, make sure the drain-plugs are not fitted and the holes are clear as that way any water which makes it way in can get out again.

Any Sankey you become the second owner of nowadays (the MOD will be the first) will be a Widetrack as the last narrowtracks were cast some time ago with the last of the Series fleet. In fact there are more & more disc-braked (ex-Defender XD) Sankey's for sale now as the new pattern trailer is being delivered.

An old narrow-track which needs attention is practically worthless so if you were handy with a welder you could fix one up for next to nothing, a really good one like mine would still only have a market value of around £100 hence the reason I keep it when it only gets used once or twice a year. A decent widetrack can be picked up for around £150 and the disc-braked ones for around £250.

Don't be misled, these are very heavy-duty pieces of kit and are VERY heavy (box-section steel chassis, steel body, OTT running gear etc). They can be pushed/pulled around very easily as they balance very well but you try lifting one!

With regards to the breakaway cable, I fitted one to mine several years ago when there was a lot of distpute about it.

It didn't take much work, just a simple bracket on the handbrake arm which locks the brakes on the the (unlikely) event of the trailer becomeing unhitched. Just attaching a cable on the brake-rod wouldn't work as it wouldn't actuate the ratchet whereas my system does.

Is it needed or not? I don't know but I have it and always use it.

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  • 3 years later...
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I have a Rapier trailer and had similar questions when I bought it.

If it was manufactured (or significanlty modified) after 1986 then it must comply with C&U regs. This is a big issue with some trailers but mine was built in 1983 and the paperwork from Withams bore this out.

The brakes need to be auto-reversing and meet certain performance requirements. Nato brakes meet the later but not the former, not all of them at least.

My understanding is that of brakes are fitted it should have a brakeaway cable to apply the brakes if it becomes uncoupled. It needs a skid or jockeywheel too. I have read somewhere that trailers up to 2,000kg or thereabouts are allowed a secondary coupling as required on unbraked trailers, most likley a heavy chain that is capable to keeping the trialer coupled it the NATO hitch fails.

These are legal requirements, if in doubt fit a bike chain, it will stop it getting nicked too.

Then the lights, the rear lights on mine were not legal, the indicators and tails had to be swapped places and you shouldn't have glass lenses on the back.

the NATO wiring is odd, ignoring the convoy lights there was 1 circuit for both sets of sidelights (that might break a law somewhere) and 2 for the brakes IIRC.

You'll be keeping the NATO hitch I guess, well you have to use a secondary locking mechanism, which means a pin through the T bar that locks the upper jaw, they are all drilled for this and later NATO trucks had a closed locking pin that looks like a stitch-keeper from your wife's knitting basket <_<

I don't know if a park brake is a legal requirement but it is part of the trailer test, so I guess it might be.

Then there's mudflaps and wheelarch sizes etc.

Nato trailers are barely legal in civilian life, that's why they get sold at little above ther scrap weight.

But the flipside is they are rated for off-road use. My Rapier was rated fo 1,000kg R/T (rough terrain) and re-rated by the REME at 2943lb payload sometime whilst it was in the falklands. In addition to the common 750kg units some earlier wide-track (tailgated) trailers were rated at 1,000kg to carry a drop-in water bowser (I've seen those for sale too). I'm sure they were drum-braked trailers (IIRC these go up to a mkIV), the latest (wolf?) ones have disk brakes and anti-roll bars.

When de-mobbed they are often serviced or made into good order, unless they are damaged/spares only. mine has some brackets in stainless and had new parts on it despite looking every one of it's 20 years old.

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