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Hi All

I am restoring a 1950's Thornycroft Big Ben, 6 cyl 11.3 liter petrol engine.

Its been lying up for the past 25 years, it was a commercial recovery truck before that and started life as a military vehicle.

In good shape considering its age.

The plan is to restore it as a commercial vehicle.

A few pictures before I started

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inside.jpg

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Lovely old beast, it'll be an absolute cracker when you've got her done up. Not sure about the 3 Miles to the gallon job though.  Looking forward to reading the restoration work and loads of pics please.  Best of luck with it

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Good luck with that. We shall follow with interest!

Steve :)

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a few little pointers

(1) the vehicle you have was i believe never offered in a civilian version although the the name was  applied to other versions

(2) the back window is civilian conversion  that was much required  as the original three window  with guards set up was absolutely useless

(3)  the engines were exceptionally prone to frost damage not just externally but internally about 5 inches up from where the sump bolted on  to the point every one i saw sold at ruddington had a reconditioned engine sat on the back or assigned to  in a crate along side

(4) the winch i said in previous  post could be a garwood is not  but an ex martian recovery one or derivative. If it has been set up correctly it will completely  gaffer or destroy the truck if you ever anchored it the same winch was fitted to latter versions  of antar made in the newcastle area but forgotten the name it is a civillan conversion as non of the mod trucks ever had a winch fitted

(5) they had a gear stick with 4 speed plus reverse behind this was a second gear lever with high low and pto on . To engage Pto you had to sort of two handed manovre  lifting the rear of the stick with one and pulling back with the other to engage PTO the one i had usually ended having to jump  on back undoing a tower assembly  levering selectors back into place refitting then having another go

Anyway best of luck if you can cope with no power steering  they are an absolutely bullet proof  piece of kit  

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Good pointers cosreg, I am about 3 months into restoring it and have come across a few of the issues.

  • The block sure enough is cracked, also one head and radiator housing. Got the radiator welded but haven't planned what to do with with the head and block, I think I may plate them or was thinking of a good resin, don't want to chance welding. lucky no water leaking into sump so hopefully ok internally.
  • Good pointer on the winch, I had already cut the chain link as the winch looked seized but with your advice I think it will remain as a display.
  • I mentioned i was restoring it as a commercial but it won't be a working commercial just for fun. At 3.5 mpg and no power steering I won't be going far in it
  • I was wondering how to engage the PTO and from your description I'd say it has slipped out of the selector, good to know

Any idea where I'd get a distributor cap? I cracked the original and for reliability would like to replace it, I have a Delco Remy part number but can't source on the internet.

Many Thanks

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Have remade a few of the body panels and fitted them


 

I'm not sure of the blue, early days maybe I should stick with yellow. 

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A great start, how long have you been at it?

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Since mid January, 3-4 months. I work full time so only get a chance in the evenings and weekend. Its the first I have ever tackled a restoration and I didn't think there would be so much involved but it has been great. I can't believe how its in such good shape, these Thornycrofts were built of quality material and to a high standard, a credit to the workmanship in that era.

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12 hours ago, Boley said:

The block sure enough is cracked, also one head and radiator housing. Got the radiator welded but haven't planned what to do with with the head and block, I think I may plate them or was thinking of a good resin, don't want to chance welding. lucky no water leaking into sump so hopefully ok internally.

Have thought of metal stitching?

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I had looked it up online and it looks quite specialized, the areas where its cracked are thin and I don't think its something I would attempt so I would have to strip the engine and send for repair.

I may consider at a later stage but hopefully get a season or two out of a temporary repair with a resin, I was considering Belzona 1111 but mixed reviews on it.

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Interesting, had a look at a few videos and it doesnt look too bad, I don't think I could make it any worse. My biggest concern is the head, when I stopped drilled the crack it seemed very thin in places, about an eight of an inch. I might remove one of the brass plugs and see what thickness it actually is. It could be worth a try and would be a nice permanent repair. Thanks

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First of all it does indeed look as though you are making a good job of restoration.

if you should ever decided to remove the cab eg to remove engine as long as you a means of lifting it vertically it is simplicity its self. the only things to detatch are the air pipe to wipers one wire to interior light and four mounting bolts put ratchet handbrake as near vertical as poss and lift straight up. This leaves a chassis that can be driven about. seats etc stay with chassis.

May have put you off with winch. The winch is a fantastic piece of kit extremely power full plus smooth and controllable. i was trying to hint that if you use it and the chassis rears up do not try tethering it down with a crawler or some thing at front end it will damage the chassis big style (guess how i Know ?????)

From memory the Big Ben was supplied in two forms. Artic with 3" ocilating fifth wheel chassis was very short at back end Rigid with troop caring body this was longer wheel base and had larger over hang at rear. From your pictures your truck is the longer one shortened over hang when converted in civilian life.

if you have any more pictures of winch which is certainly been added after leaving army/raf service i will have some more tips.

block had great success with a product called ?steel stick?  and some friends supplied us with a paint on substance that was used in for sealing air craft fuel tanks as a backup

Keep up the good work i for one would like see the old lady doing the rounds

  

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The military had two versions of the BIG BEN FVII401 fitted with a fifth wheel and the FV11402  cargo some were l have the drawings of the  FV11401 and the trailers FV 2700 it was going to tow

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3 hours ago, wally dugan said:

The military had two versions of the BIG BEN FVII401 fitted with a fifth wheel and the FV11402  cargo some were l have the drawings of the  FV11401 and the trailers FV 2700 it was going to tow

am i correct the trailer was a command  centre or missile carrier chassis  that had a dolly with it to allow fifth wheel or draw bar operation my hobby is making 1/24 models and i have made models of every wrecker i have constructed in real life the Big ben was the only on i missed out would love line drawings as an aside 11 years ago i saw a BIG Ben in i believe army service in Sri Lanka. with a low loader carrying a tracked machine at 2 mph  up a steep incline between Bentota and Kandy followed for 1/2 an hour

 

 

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I made a 1/76 scale scratchbuilt model of a Big Ben cargo about 40 years ago, just found it, a little dusty. It bears the number and markings of one that came in the Workshops at that time, never saw another one in army service after that.

Big Ben.JPG

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7 hours ago, cosrec said:

May have put you off with winch. The winch is a fantastic piece of kit extremely power full plus smooth and controllable. i was trying to hint that if you use it and the chassis rears up do not try tethering it down with a crawler or some thing at front end it will damage the chassis big style (guess how i Know ?????)

Just had a look at the winch and found a plate with Turner manufacturing limited, Made in England. battery died and I couldn't get a picture but will get some later in the week.

Good to know the cab comes off in one piece, If I decided to strip the engine this would be the only way to get it out.

Thanks

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6 hours ago, wally dugan said:

The military had two versions of the BIG BEN FVII401 fitted with a fifth wheel and the FV11402  cargo some were l have the drawings of the  FV11401 and the trailers FV 2700 it was going to tow

I will have to measure the truck, I think it may be a tractor version with the fifth wheel, going by the drawing I have.

new doc 2018-04-29 19.06.28-20180429190717.pdf

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2 hours ago, Richard Farrant said:

I made a 1/76 scale scratchbuilt model of a Big Ben cargo about 40 years ago, just found it, a little dusty. It bears the number and markings of one that came in the Workshops at that time, never saw another one in army service after that.

Thats amazing Richard its exactly like the picture from the drivers handbook ,very well done.

Would you sell this I would be very interested.

Thanks 

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41 minutes ago, ploughman said:

Metal stitching is quite common in Railway preservation circles.

The firm linked have worked on stitch repairs to steam cylinders on locos.

https://www.metalockengineering.com/en/typical-repairs/metal-stitching/

Good to know there are firms specializing in these repairs, I think it would be a job best left to the professionals. 

For now I will do a temporary repair and maybe in the future I can lift the cab off and remove the block.

Thanks

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On ‎29‎/‎04‎/‎2018 at 7:25 PM, Boley said:

Thats amazing Richard its exactly like the picture from the drivers handbook ,very well done.

Would you sell this I would be very interested.

Thanks 

 

 

Thought you would like to see it. Sorry, I would not sell it.

regards, Richard

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