Thursday, July 1, 2010

Praxis: Field Wire Dispensers

Paying out field telephone wire by hand using an MX-306/G wire dispenser.

The Wire Dispenser MX-306/G is a cylindrical canvas and tape container that holds approximately .8 kilometer (1/2-mile) of Wire WD-1/TT or WD-1A/TT field telephone wire.

Photo of MX-306/G from FM 24-20, Field Wire and Field Cable Techniques.

The MX-306/G is easier to pay out than wire on a reel because you have no moving parts to generate drag. Most often the dispenser is mounted on a packboard or ALICE frame and is automatically laid as the linesman walks along.

The wire of two or more dispensers may be pre-spliced in tandem when it is necessary to lay a wire line of more than .8 kilometer (1/2-mile) without stopping to splice.

US MX-306/G wire dispenser.

By daisy-chaining several MX-306/G's together, you can even pay out wire effortlessly by vehicle or even helicopter.

Tips for using the MX-306/G can be found on-line here in FM 24-20 Field Wire and Field Cable Techniques.

For the modern militiaman, there are two drawbacks to the MX-306/G. First, they are are almost impossible to find on the surplus market anymore and are prohibitively expensive when you do find them -- I actually saw one being offered for sale at the lordly price of $150.00 at a recent gunshow.

The second drawback, even if you can lay your hands on a surplus US MX-306/X is that once used, they cannot be reused. Indeed, in US use, the empty canvas and tape housing was just thrown away. The wire, if it needed to be recovered, was done so by one of the various sized reel machines.

But now Sportsman's Guide has a number of Swiss MX-306/G equivalents for sale.

The Swiss dispenser contains 6-strand, black plastic covered, WD-1TT equivalent phone wire, 800 meters long (approx. 874.75 yards. In the Swiss dispenser, however, the US canvas and tape design is replaced by a similarly shaped very sturdy 16" x 16" plastic container with D-rings for securing to a packboard or ALICE frame. The Swiss version weighs 30 pounds. The ones being offered for sale by SG are in brand new, never issued condition.

The best thing about the plastic dispenser is that it appears to be able to be reloadable from a DR-8 reel. This is a step above the U.S. system and has the advantage of being available from SG for $49.95 each ($44.97 if you get the SG discount).

My son ordered some of these the other day, and they just came in. I wanted to examine them before I recommended them, and they are everything I had hoped for. Although SG is apparently just out of stock on these, they expect to have more available to ship by mid-July according to an email Matt just forwarded me.


Doc Enigma said...

Once the wire is obtained, consider cutting it into 45 - 50 meter lengths, and distributing among your 'merry little band'.

Lighter, more easily packed, and can be spliced for static OP/LP's as necessary.

Light infantry, after all, focuses on 'light'.

Big Al said...

Thanks for the post.(Smiling) Seeing the 1/2 mile spools of wire reminds me of my younger days. I was the 'wire guy' during a FEX. we rolled up to an ambush, the truck stopped, and we had to bail out. Being young and studly, I did my best 'John Wayne' up over the still closed tailgate of the 5 ton we were riding in. 2 half mile spools, my gear, and M16.
I still recall being extremely disappointed when my knees folded up under my body, the additional weight throwing my balance off enough that I then fell face 1st into the road with the wind knocked out of me. Yeah, I sucked.

The next FEX I made DAMN SURE "I" was not carring that shit!

pdxr13 said...

Hey Doc,

Splices are a major source of comm failure. Wire without splices is very reliable.

If a group is able, pre-wire your AO in a star and loop network so that someone out in an LP/OP hole, barn, shed, outhouse, food storage bunker has several pair of wire to work with to call CQ/switchboard or foxholes next over (without a patch).

Carrying just a voice-powered telephone is much lighter than a spool of wire.

$49 seems like a good deal for direct-burial military quality wire.