Cold War, Israel, USA, WWII

The Restoration of Eden Camp Museum’s M50 Sherman

Recently, Frank Wood, the head of site and restorations at Eden Camp Museum in North Yorkshire, kindly gave us the fascinating history of their freshly restored M50 Sherman. Just making it in the nick of time to TANKFEST 2022, their big blue Sherman has already gained quite a bit of fame in the tank world.

In this second part, Frank goes into more detail about the restoration process that transformed their M50 from a tired and broken static display piece to a fully running vehicle that you can see today.

If you haven’t already, we would definitely recommend that you check out the history of this M50 first, which you can find here.

Over to Frank, from the Eden Camp Museum.

Eden Camp Museum’s M50 Sherman

The M50 has been part of our collection since 1991, and was always intended to be a static gate guardian.

It was acquired by the owner of the museum from the Budge Collection at an auction in 1988. We came into possession of the tank in 1991, where it was used as a guardian under our Hurricane fighter, and only started to restore the M50 in 2019, with it being the first large vehicle Eden Camp Heritage Restorations has undertaken work on.

Eden Camp Museum M50 Sherman, before restoration.
Eden Camp Museum’s restored M50, running the ring at The Tank Museum’s TANKFEST 2022.

Our vehicle has had a wild and varied life, originally being built November 1942 as an M4A4 by Chrysler at its Detroit Defence Arsenal in the US. From here it was used by the UK, then France, then Israel, heavily upgraded with new suspension, engine and gun, before being gifted to the South Lebanon Army in the 1970s. Click here to read our M50’s full background.

The restoration of the vehicle started in 2019, and we made a promise to ourselves to fully restore it to running condition and drive it for our visitors to see. We managed to finish the restoration one week before TANKFEST 2022, where it was one of the stars of the show.


When the restoration began our M50 was in a rather sorry state, with broken suspension, a broken engine, no clutch, no prop shaft and no primary output shaft. Some parts were likely broken in Israel, and some bits purposefully sabotaged to allow export. In addition to the vehicle itself, all sorts of items from its past were left inside!

The stuff was actually a treasure chest, and our tank told her story once we got it stripped out.

When we started we were fairly confident we could fix the tank; we knew it rolled and we were sure we could have a good go at the engine so the mechanical side of things was pretty much okay for us. What we didn’t consider was just how hard RESPONSIBLE restoration is on a vehicle this size.

M50 static display.
The M50 before restoration.

We are a little different to most restorers – as a museum the history of a vehicle is as important as the finished running product. It is our job to protect this history and not lose it in the restoration process. For example, the tank contains 100s of bolts, each one is easily replaced and this may take 5 minutes. However our tank has bolts stamped with IDF markings.

As mentioned above, we could simply replace them, but our mantra is to keep these bits exactly where and how they are.

Eden Camp Logo

Therefore we would sometimes come to work and remove and clean 10 bolts in a day and put them back exactly where they came from – this is obviously much more labour intensive but we are so proud of the approach and the result we have.

M50 turret gunner position.
Inside the turret, looking forward at the gunner’s position in the unrestored M50.

This is the same for scars on the tank, which to the untrained eye look ugly and out of place, but without them we couldn’t show our visitors the tapestry of our tank’s history and point to the bits that show us why, when or how. The other major problem we had was…. we were closed! Coronavirus shut our site and we had no visitors – no visitors meant no tank work!

Our process for all our vehicle restorations is the same: we first document and photograph the vehicle in its entirety, then do our research. We don’t take anything to bits until our research is completed enough to ensure we can carry out an accurate and responsible restoration. After that we strip, and as mentioned, keep every component we can, as we are very keen to restore original items rather than replace.

The driver's position in an M50 Sherman.
The driver’s position.

The tank gets mapped out with different sectors and a code/number and the components logged accordingly. This process is the same way we run our archive at the museum. Once the vehicle is stripped we basically have a hull and a whole vehicle in component form on a shelf!

As hinted at earlier, we found large quantities of items and personnel effects inside the tank during the restoration process. Because it had been fairly poorly maintained, it contained upwards of 300 spent brass cases from both machine gun and pistol.

M50 artifacts removed during restoration, including .50 calibre bullets and links.
Artifacts removed from the tank during the strip down process.

It also had a 1942-dated .30 calibre loading belt tucked away under the starting panel. Of particular interest in our finds were the items of uniform, from buttons (IDF) and t-shirts made in Lebanon to socks that were being “repurposed” as filters on the differential breather. All these items have been cleaned and conserved and now live in our archive.

The sock remains in our tank, in its place on top of the differential breather.

Once stripped and catalogued, we ask our fantastic Heritage Volunteers to help us restore components and together with our staff we get everything ready to put back together.

Cummins VT8-460 diesel V8 in the M50.
The Cummins VT8-460 in the engine bay before restoration.

Reassembly starts and finally we end up with a working vehicle. We obviously hit a few hurdles along the way – hard-to-find parts are a problem for every restoration, but we managed to source most items (we still need periscope holders, if anyone has any!).

The engine was probably our biggest hurdle, as it was in very poor condition. It is a Cummins VT8-460 V8 diesel engine, a post-war upgrade. It was missing primary parts such as the clutch, primary output shaft and the block was holed in 3 places. As I’ve mentioned, we are primarily interested in conserving and using original parts, from bolts all the way up to engines, so we wanted to repair the original engine.

A Cummins VT8-460 at Eden Camp Museum.
The team working on the engine.

We were confident we could fix the holes in the block – we’ve had experience of a technique called cold stitching where the hole is drilled and tapped and then a tapered screw inserted. This technique actually didn’t work for our vehicle, and we ended up having to fix it again by patching the first fix.

Eden Camp Museum banner.

The most difficult part of the engine restoration was finding missing parts like injectors. I ended up finding a private source in the USA who was very helpful. After lots of hard work we were very pleased to be able to reinstall the original engine, now fully rebuilt and running like a dream.

Sherman without turret.
A turretless test run!

I’ve been fortunate in that I got the first drive after restoration – the first one since 1985-ish! It was a real honour to sit in the driver’s seat, which is still a 1942 original fitment. To sit where many others had sat before me and drive this machine really hit home.

Where to See the M50

Our Sherman is kept in our Heritage Hall, along with our other vehicles in the collection. We try to drive it at least once a week in summer, if not more. We man our hall 1-3pm every day and although we choose a vehicle each day to focus on, we are always happy to show visitors around our Sherman – after all, that’s what she is for!

Apart from the M50, we have more projects on the go. Our T34 is nearly finished but we will need to source some equipment for it, the Burma jeep is still ongoing, the Churchill Crocodile is on the list for the next big one and in between all that we have 36 vehicles and artillery to maintain and run for our visitors at the museum.

Restored M50 Sherman.
The M50, freshly restored.

The Eden Camp Museum opens on the 3rd of April 2023 for our new season. We have some great new features, such as a new play area, and of course new vehicles for our visitors to see, including the running Abbot SPG, and the fully restored OT810. The T34 should also be back ready for the new season but watch this space!

Check out the Eden Camp Museum HERE, and purchase tickets HERE.