RL-16 Wire Reel Cart

Radio Telephone and Telegraph Transmitting and Receiving Equipment
campcallan
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RL-16 Wire Reel Cart

Post by campcallan » Wed Jun 20, 2007 2:09 am

I have recently aquired an RL-16 reel cart. It is dated 1942 and is in pretty rough shape. I've been trying to do some research on this item before I restore it. I have not been successful in finding any mention of this item except in a 1932 Signal Manual. Does anyone on this forum have any other information on this item?


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Post by wa5cab » Wed Jun 20, 2007 1:48 pm

Unfortunately I don't have a TM on it but an entry in my database says that it carries two RD-4 Cable Reel.
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More on the RL-16

Post by campcallan » Wed Jun 20, 2007 11:10 pm

That is the cart, it carries two RD (orDR) 4 reels each carrying a 1/2 mile of field telephone wire. The research I have done suggests that the RL-16 was issued to Infantry Headquarter Companies to lay wire. I have a photo of the 5th Infantry Regiment's Headquarters company that shows the signal platoon with four of these carts. One of the carts is carrying a full mile reel instead of the usual two 1/2 mile reels. My questions regarding this cart are the following:

When was it introduced? 1916 as the RL-16 may suggest?
What types of units were issued this cart?
When was is stopped being used? Since this particular cart came from the Cental California area, I wonder if was used during the 89th Divisions experiments as a light division during WWII.
When refinished, what color should I use?
How many were produced and by what company?

So far, I have been unable to answer any of these questions. I have looked into the possibility of the carts being used during WWI but I was unable to find as description of a similar signal cart in America's Munitions Report as all of the signal carts shown resembled the K-Cart which was horse drawn. Any assistance would be appreciated.

Ian

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Post by wa5cab » Thu Jun 21, 2007 9:02 am

Ian,

I didn't turn up much. But I can state that the "16" in RL-16 has no correlation to the year 1916. TM 11-487 10/44 says it carries two DR-4 or one DR-5. And references FM 24-5 (Signal Communication) 10/42 which I don't have. Signal Corps Stock Number is 6H6016 but the entry in SIG 5 12/45 does not answer any of your questions. It is still listed in the 1951 cross reference. Based on the sequence number (16) I'd make a wild guess at a start date of 1938-1940. It is the lowest number Reel listed in TM 11-487.

For color, I'm sure it would be safe to assume green of the shade in use either the year it was made or the year it was overhauled.

If someone has FM 24-5, maybe it will turn up more.
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Post by Craig Johnson » Fri Jun 22, 2007 7:34 am

Nice find. Can you give a short story of how you found it. You say its dated 1942. Is there any other info on the data plate. Pictures?

Here is a gallery of RL-16 carts. Quit a few of them are from National Guard Pictorials (various states) from 1940. I would have to look through my references and see what the earliest year mentioned is. Ive never really figured out when the first year they were produced. Interesting to have a 1942 date. My RL-35 cable reel carts are 1944.

http://HANDCARTZ.smugmug.com/gallery/895143/1/15559019

Image

Image
REEL CART RL-16

1938 NATIONAL GUARD OF THE UNITED STATES

STATE OF OKLAHOMA

HEADQUARTERS COMPANY 1st BATTALION

180th INFANTRY

TISHOMINGO OKLAHOMA

SCANNED FROM YEARBOOK/PICTORIAL

I wont ask/bug again,but if you decide you want to sell I would buy it.

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Post by wa5cab » Fri Jun 22, 2007 8:07 am

If NG units were using them in 1938, then the intro date (as anyone who has served in NG or Reserve units would understand) must be several years earlier than my first guess.

The 1942 date I mentioned refers to the only known publication date I have for FM 24-5. There may have been earlier or later ones but I think I got the listing from FM 21-6, which I have copies of the Signal Corps sections of between 9/41 and 1/48. But all that proves is that the RL-16 was in service in '42, which was already known.

FWIW, the entry in SIG 5 says that the standard issue was with six each of DR-4. It doesn't say what if anything was on the drums so the assumption would be nothing. The photo above of Truck No. 1 appears to show six.
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RL-16

Post by campcallan » Fri Jun 22, 2007 4:41 pm

Thank you everyone for your help on this research project and Craig if I decide to sell it, you will be first contacted. My plan right now is to restore the item and display it with my WWII Line Signal Equipment.

I found the cart on my good friend's (well actually he was my best man at my wedding) ranch in Central California Paso Robles area. Since he knew I was into military stuff, he gave it to me. In return I've gone up there and worked on the ranch. I thought t was a deal until I planted 100 Olive trees in one day and cleared brush the second. He has also given me his 1941 Chevy 1 and 1/2 truck, but that is for another post. His grandfather bought the cart in the late 1940s early 1950s at a DRMO sale along with 1 1/2 truck and probably 20 miles of field wire. The cart and the wire he used constructing and maintaining the local phone network . The Chevy was used to haul grain into town.

The cart was produced in 1942, but I was sure that it was an earlier design as the style of construction looks older than WWII. I have found an illustration of the cart and a description of its use in the War Department's Basic Field Manual Vol. IV Signal Communication dated 1931:

"Hand reel Carts [Figuire 30-Reel cart, type RL-16], shown in Figuire 30, are issued within the division. These small carts are pulled by hand or may be towed behind communcation carts. Each cart carries two steel spools of wire. The spools may be removed from the cart chassis and replaced by filled spools when they become empty. Each spool has a capacity of approximately one-half mile of type W-44 wire. The cart is so designed that it may be taken apart for packing."

So based on this information I have concluded that the Rl-16 cart was adopted pre-1931 and because little or no new equipment was procured after 1919, I assumed that the cart was designed and adopted during WWI and if it was adopted at that time, the 16 in the title may designate 1916 as much of the WWI designation numbers had to do with dates in the army in general although I am not sure about the Signal Corps. I don't have the cart in my possesion right now as it is in my parent's garage instead of my apartment, but next time I am up there I will snap some photos of the cart and the data plates.

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Post by Craig Johnson » Fri Jun 22, 2007 7:24 pm



One burning question is does it have a data plate or just a 1942 date?? It would really help in my search for one.



Now that you mentioned the 1931 manual I remember seeing that manual on EBAY awhile ago, but did not buy it. He just happened to show the
Rl-16 cart.

I have never actually set the rims side by side ,but I believe they are the same as my 1932 M1 machine gun mount. The only difference is the hubcap has 8 sides instead of 6. The rims are a friends, and I would hope if he ever sells them he would offer them to me (hint hint).


RL-16 rims (8 sided hubcap)
Image

M1 Rims (6 sided hubcap)
Image

The first year of the M1 cart should be 1930. So this is probably when the Rl-16 was developed.


Image

Thanks for the story and considering me to sell it to someday if ever.

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Post by wa5cab » Fri Jun 22, 2007 8:13 pm

That's an interesting story, and we seem to be progressively pushing the date of introduction back. But as I stated earlier, the Signal Corps did not use dates (years) imbedded into its nomenclature like Ordnance and Quartermaster did. At least it didn't from WW-I on. Even during the lean years of the 20's and 30's, it was producting too much new equipment each year for such a system to survive. I think that it did use such a system in the 19th Century but with the advent of radio, the system became unusable. Contrary to popular opinion, the Signal Corps built quite a bit of equipment in the 20's and 30's. It just didn't build very much of it. For example, both the SCR- and BC- sequence numbers were both over 200 by 1940.

The "16" in RL-16 was simply the 16th Reel nomenclature assigned. Which does not, BTW, mean that it was the 16th built and taken into service. Typically, 1/3 to 2/3 of all numbers assigned never got built for one reason or another.
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RL-16

Post by campcallan » Mon Jul 02, 2007 12:03 am

Thank you to everyone who has responded regarding the cart. I apologize for responding so late, but I've been on TDY for the last week and away from my computer. The 1942 Date is part of the Signal Corps data plate which is actually quite decorative compared to other US Army data plates I have seen as it displays the Signal Corps insignia above the information. I think the late 20s early 30s is a fair guess for the cart's introduction although the bicycle wheels were also seen on the Newton Trench Mortar cart that was used during WWI so the I still think the design of the cart could be a bit older. I think my next step is to contact the Signal Corps Museum at Fort Gordon and inquire about the cart. Chances are slim that they will respondbut you never know.

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Post by 68427vette » Thu Oct 18, 2007 5:49 pm

sweet cart
Last edited by 68427vette on Mon Dec 08, 2008 8:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Photos of the Cart

Post by campcallan » Sun Dec 07, 2008 11:40 pm

The cart is finally in my possession. I was moving from an apartment here in San Diego to a house and I now have a workshop to work on the cart so it has come south from my parents garage. I plan to restore the cart. It is from a USMC contract, but I doubt that it was used by the Marine Corps. The remaining paint does not look like the darker shade of paint normally associated with the USMC. The cart was also purchased shortly after the war at Camp Roberts in the Central Coast area of California. Other than some rifle training at Camp San Luis Obispo, there were no Marines anywhere near Camp Roberts or Fort Hunter Liggett. During WWII, there were several manueuvers in the area the testing lightly equipped troops of the 89th Division. The RL-16 was also assigned to each Infantry Regiment's signal platoon early in the war. My research shows that there were probably 3 in each signal platoon. I collect WWII wire equipment so this is a great addition to my collection.


Here is a pic of the front view of the cart:

Image


The view of the side of the cart with two DR-4s. I also have a DR-5 reel and a spare DR-4.

Image

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Post by brian in denver » Mon Dec 08, 2008 11:51 am

the RL-16 is listed in the 1920 signal corps storage catalog. as a pack cart.
theres a picture posted on the horse forum of one of them on the mule.
the cataloge lists 1 thru 16.
http://www.g503.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=124157

http://www.militaryhorse.org/forum/view ... f=3&t=5286
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Post by campcallan » Thu Dec 11, 2008 12:03 am

Thanks Brian for that information. That's what I thought as the construction of the cart looks much earlier than WWII. As I am slowly taking the cart apart, I can see that it was meant to be broken down for packing. Mine does not break down too easily with all the rust but with some TLC, I will have it back in shape.

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Post by brian in denver » Sat Dec 13, 2008 11:16 am

sweet article on the rl-16 wire cart.
http://sill-www.army.mil/FAMAG/1928/JUL ... 51_357.pdf

love those artillery types, thay have more to say on signal corps stuff, than the signal corps.
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