Vanajan Autotehdas Oy commercial vehicles
Finland from 1943 to 1971
The Vanajan Autotehdas Oy (VAT) (dt Vanaja Auto Fabrik AG) was founded in 1943 it was a Finnish manufacturer of heavy trucks and bus chassis. The factory was based in Hämeenlinna , Kanta-Häme . The company was founded as Yhteissisu Oy by the Finnish state and a number of major Finnish truck and bus companies to equip Finnish forces. After the Second World War, before the company began mass production, it was renamed Vanajan Autotehdas and received the brand name Vanaja, The subsequent production of trucks and bus chassis was mainly intended for the domestic market and only a few units were exported.
Many major components of truck production had to be imported. The Vanaja commercial vehicles have become known for their sturdy construction and customization. The VAT merged in 1968 with Oy Suomen Autoteollisuus Ab and the brand name Vanaja was abandoned in 1971. VAT's most important innovation was its tandem axle with full-load lift mechanism, which is still used in Sisu vehicles today.
In the winter of 1942-43, the Finnish forces estimated that the continuation war would continue for a long time. There was an immediate need for new commercial vehicles. In the longer term, at least 7,000 trucks and buses were needed. Neutral countries such as Sweden and Switzerland were also willing to sell lorries and buses to Finland, but they required advance payment in their own currency. Since Finland did not have sufficient currency reserves, the only option left was to handle domestic vehicle production itself.
At that time there was a single Finnish manufacturer of heavy commercial vehicles: Oy Suomen Autoteollisuus Ab (SAT). A new factory was built in Karis , because compared to Helsinki , the situation was less vulnerable to Soviet air strikes. General Manager of the company was Tor Nessling, He had suggested as a solution that the factory should be built larger than originally planned. As an option, Nessling suggested that the construction of the new factory in Finland should be done with extreme caution elsewhere. At that time SAT was already experienced in heavy vehicle production, but its economic and technical resources were limited. In addition, commercial vehicle importers and some political cliques suspected that SAT wanted to make a profit out of the war in order to gain a dominant position in the Finnish market.
Defense Minister Rudolf Walden convened a meeting on March 3 and 4, 1943 to explore solutions to the acute shortage of commercial vehicles. Participants included government and military leaders, as well as key personnel from leading Finnish industrial companies. A committee was formed to propose a company foundation in which both SAT and the Finnish state should participate. The proposal was presented at a meeting on 20 March. The name of the company was Yhteissisu Oy ("common Sisu") and the intention was to jointly produce Sisu commercial vehicles. The private owners were: A. Ahlström , Ata , Fiskars , Kone, Kymin Oy , Lokomo, W. Rosenlew & Co., Suomen Autoteollisuus, Suomen Gummitehdas, Suomen Kaapelitehdas, Tampereen Pellava- ja Rauta-Teollisuus, Yhtyneet Paperitehtaat and Strömberg. The headquarters were chosen in Erottaja, Helsinki. The chairman of the company was Heikki H. Herlin and reluctant Tor Nessling, who was appointed as managing director.
The armed forces had set stringent requirements for commercial vehicles or trucks. There was no time to develop a new model. Although the truck models were outdated, the best of the available options could be made with the truck type Sisu S-21 . Yhteissisu and SAT agreed to late the Sisu S-21 truck production at Yhteissisu. The model produced at Yhteissisu received the type names S-22nd
The first truck to be built in Vanaja was a Sisu S-22 prototype that left the factory gate on August 1, 1945. After a short and intensive test period series production started on October 29, 1945. Due to the scarcity of materials and quality problems of the components, the first vehicles could not be finished before the beginning of 1946. The capabilities of domestic suppliers proved to be very limited and the company relied on imported gearboxes, steering parts, drive shafts and electrical systems until domestic companies could replace their own productions. The Finnish suppliers were not able to meet the requirements with the available materials and were also faced with severe quality problems. The total production in 1946 was 147 Sisu S-22 vehicles, well below the target of 2,000 vehicles. The originally calculated price per vehicle had been 765,000 marks , but the cost finally amounted to 800,000 marks.
The war was over before serial production started and the armed forces did not need new vehicles. On the contrary, because after the Moscow ceasefireAgreement, the army had to reduce the number of vehicles. The frustrated component suppliers left the company one after the other, and the Ministry of Trade and Industry terminated the remaining supply contracts at the end of 1946. However, Yhteissisu agreed with the Ministry of Trade and Industry in early 1946 that vehicles not purchased by the state could be sold on the civilian market. Sisu S-22 were now available in 12 SAT locations in Finland. The company now presented a lighter and more cost-effective model than S-22K in May 1946, at the Domestic Industrial Fair in Helsinki.
From Yhteissisu to Vanajan Autotehdas
Tor Nessling resigned at Yhteissisu in February 1947. There was talk of the closure of the company. Yhteissisu sold only 103 S-22 vehicles in 1947, and some of them were produced last year. In 1947, 55 trucks were produced by the company. The capital stock of the company was initially reduced from 75 million to 7.5 million marks, then it had risen again to 50 million. The state was now with 44% share of the main owner of the company. The other owners were Yhtyneet Paperitehtaat, A. Ahlström, Strömberg and Tampereen Pellava-ja Rauta-Teollisuus.From September was Eero Kytölä the new managing director of the company. The company lost two million marks in 1947.Since the license expired on the Sisu brand in June 1948, the Sisu S -22 production as Vanaja V-48 was continued and maintained until 1955.
General Director Kytölä traveled in 1947 and early 1948 to France and Germany to buy the military remnants of the Western Allies. He could 425 White -Halbkettenfahrzeuge, 186 truck engines, 304 Cadillac - V8 engines , 4 Mack -ED diesel engines, two Hercules -DFXE diesel engines, 11,000 GMC buy with 45-ton capacity wheels and a trailer. Trade was organized by the Ministry of Supply, and the first shipment arrived in Finland in March 1948. The half-track vehicles were without armorand the idea of Kytölä was that these vehicles were converted into field or forest clearance vehicles, or the four-wheel-drive trucks, should be provided by replacing the chainswith a conventional rear axle. Finally, 359 converted VAT units as half-tracks and 60 converted × 4 were sold 4 or 4 × 2 vehicles. These trucks were sold as Vanaja VaWh . Some of the half-track vehicles have been disassembled for the use of needed parts. The last vehicle was sold in 1952.
After the original contract with the state was over, a new contract of 650 vehicles with delivery period from 1948 to 1952
The position of VAT became stronger in 1950, and the company began production of bus chassis. In the same year, VAT introduced a new product family VK series. Production was interrupted by a three-month strike, and therefore the completion of some of the 150 government-ordered vehicles to be delivered this year has been postponed to the following year. Despite the difficulties, VAT managed to achieve a profit of almost two million marks.
The Vanaja gasoline engines from SAT and Tampella were quite outdated, originally built under license by American engines. Customers wanted more powerful diesel engines. The first Vanaja commercial vehicles as diesel model were of Kämper- and Saurer driven engines. VAT also tested the Suedwerke - two-stroke diesel engines from Krupp, but only such a vehicle was built. Import licenses for diesel engines were hard to come by, and of course this limited the sales of commercial vehicles. In some cases, customers wanted to have their own engines built in, for example, Volvo or Mercedes-Benzwhich were mounted in their ordered vehicles on the assembly line. In 1955, in addition to manufacturing, VAT purchased two six-cylinder 90-hp Leyland0.350 diesel engines. These proved inefficient, and the following year, the company ordered a total of 300 strong Leyland trucks built in the Netherlands by van Doorne's Automobilfabriek .
In the year 1956 VAT was assigned the representation for Ansaldo SA and Kämper-Motoren GmbH. The performance of the Ansaldo engines was between 100 hp and 8,000 hp and they were geared for marine and industrial applications. The Kämper products were between 14 HP and 150 HP. A six-cylinder, 130-hp Kämper was available as an option for Vanaja.
Vehicles for the Finnish Armed Forces
The Finnish Armed Forces launched a winter test for potential military vehicles in March 1958. 35 vehicle candidates from the two domestic manufacturers and importers were tested in Finland. VAT sent four vehicles on the test drive, three of which were four-wheel drive and one vehicle a standard, rear-wheel-drive truck. During the five days of the test period, all vehicles were tested continuously fully loaded. For part of the route, the trucks had to pull an eight-ton field cannon. The vehicles were tested for off-road capabilities, even in 50-by-70 cm deep snow. A Vanajas truck was destroyed in an accident. The domestic vehicles had passed well in the test; and in some cases the rear-wheel drive Sisus and Vanajas outperformed the four-wheel-driven foreign competitors. None of the vehicles was significantly better than the others, but the result convinced the armed forces of the capabilities of their own domestic vehicles, and this resulted in several orders for SAT and VAT.
In 1960, VAT delivered the first Vanaja VAKS trucks to the armed forces for general use in barracks. The later versions were called AS-33. In total, 155 units were produced. Vanaja NS-47 was the first 4 × 4 Finnish off-road truck used primarily for military purposes. Ten trucks were ordered between 1962 and 1964, which were used to tow 35-mm Oerlikon anti-aircraft guns and heavy artillery.
In September 1958, VAT, along with other Finnish companies, participated in the International Fair in Greece in Thessaloniki . The vehicles shown were a Vanaja VAK truck equipped with the mid-engine VLK550 bus chassis. Due to the AEC engines, the Vanajas had found no interest in the potential Greek customers, since at that time also the relations between Great Britain and Greece were bad. The demonstration truck was finally sold in Greece. The bus chassis was returned to Finland, which was later sold to a bus company that had built there a coach body.
Engines and Parts
A good example of custom vehicles was the VKB series cab-over-truck designed for an earthmoving company in Helsinki. The company needed short vehicles with good gradeability and high payload. The wheelbase of commercial vehicles was 3.8 meters and the total weight 10.6 tons, which had a special permit.
A typical feature in Vanajas was the oversized structures that were robust rather than optimized. The main components of the trucks were sourced from established suppliers. VAT as a commercial vehicle manufacturer also showed progressive thinking in driver ergonomics ; because the comfortably sprung and hydraulically damped driver's seat was close to the door to facilitate reversing. The seat had fully adjustable. Hanging pedals set at the same height as standard in commercial vehicle construction at an early stage.The interior heating, which produced 9,000 kcal / h, was perhaps the most efficient heating system in the truck in the 1960s. Many Vanaja truck drivers appreciated the truck's particularly soft suspension. Two-axle trucks were available with 4 × 2 and 4 × 4 drive configurations; the three-axis models were produced as 6x2, 6x4, 4x4 + 2 and 6x6.
VAT was only able to offer petrol engines until 1953. The most common were the domestic SAT and Tampella-produced Hercules engines, which were manufactured under license. The produced SAT engine was called the Sisu AMG or SA5, and the engine was however manufactured by Tampella. That was the Tampella 6000 engine. The second and third most common gasoline engines for the truck models were the Cadillac V8 1G and White 160 AX, which had been bought by the CEO Kytölä from Central Europe. Some Bedford gasoline engines were used in the army's trucks in the 1960s, and Ford V8 engines were mounted in fire trucks .The first diesel Vanajas were powered by Saurer and Kämper engines. The vast majority of diesel engines were manufactured by Leyland and AEC. Some Vanajas trucks were equipped with the Perkins R6 or Ford Trader 510E. In some cases the engine was provided by the customer; therefore, z. For example, a Vanaja is powered by a Mercedes-Benz diesel engine.
In the late 1940s and early 1950s, VAT Valmet used gearboxes that were copied by Fuller. When components became more accessible, VAT began to use real Fullers and ZF gearboxes. The transfer cases were made by Timken and ZF. VAT produced the rear axles of gears made by ATA until the company began acquiring axles from Timken.
The company had several truck cab suppliers, initially produced by Tampella, Valmet, Messukylän Autokoritehdas , Auto-Heinonen , Kiitokori, and later, by the main supplier, Lahden Autokori . VAT had own finished cabins for some special or unique products. In the late 1960s, some Vanajas trucks were fitted with British Ergomatic cab driver cabs from Motor Panels Ltd. The cabins were bought by or via the AEC.
Production Bus Chassis
Bus chassis production began in 1950. VAT built its first prototypes in 1956 as rear-engined buses. The company produced two units of chassis models as VAT-4800; the superstructures were made by the bodybuilders Ajokki Oy and Nummela Oy. The solution poses several technical challenges, including sufficient engine cooling and heat transfer, to the front end of the interiors of the bus. The cooling problem in the bus was finally solved by a large air scoop mounted on the back of the roof, although this could not be considered an aesthetically pleasing arrangement. However, because a solution was found, VAT could produce ten more rear-engined chassis than the VAT-5200.
From the year 1958, all chassis of the Vanaja buses were equipped with air brakes, which were later also mounted in the truck. The decision was influenced by a serious traffic accident in Finland: 15 people drowned in Konnevesi , because a rather new Vanaja bus drove through the barrier of a ferry bridge and sank to the depth of 4 meters. The bus driver survived and testified that the brakes of the bus failed. This was confirmed by an investigation revealing that the seal on one of the Lockheed hydraulic brakes had blown up. The bus model numbering was last changed in 1966; because the front engine with VLB, LE6, the mid-engine VLK was changed to LK6, and the rear-engined VLT became LT6 The three-digit numbers on the side of the hood of the last Vanaja-trucks, equipped with engine capacity was referred to in cubic inches. They are not model numbers, though they are often mistakenly labeled as such.
In 1964, VAT began looking for a stronger partner and started negotiations with Scania-Vabis . The companies planned to use the Scania engines in the Vanaja commercial vehicles, but the plan proved too expensive for VAT. Probably the most important owners of the VAT had begun soon afterwards to lead the discussions over the merging VAT and SAT. The chairman of the VAT began increasingly to come into contact with the SAT manager Tor Nessling. In 1967, AB Scania-Vabis announced its interest in VAT and Klöckner-Humboldt-Deutz AG and was interested in cooperating with or acquiring VAT. Valmet is said to have been interested in VAT, but there is no evidence that there were any concrete discussions.
As a small producer, VAT suffered and therefore there were also problems with unreliable deliveries and with the quality problem from the component suppliers. Semi-finished trucks were often completed and serviced outside the factory for engines or other key components. The British diesel engines had more quality problems compared to their Swedish and German commercial vehicle competitors. The company's owners became increasingly reluctant to finance the unprofitable business.
The combination of the strengths of the two companies was not successful in the bus chassis production, because of the strategic wrong decisions of SAT. The Vanaja LK series with a large, centered engine was terminated, which led to the loss of the main customer, Väinö Paunu Oy. A number of other bus companies, such as TKL, rejected the Sisu options, which were offered instead of Vanaja models, the same market segment.