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mammoth

1911 Dennis Fire Engine 3035

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I have recently acquired the remains of an old Dennis which, although not the oldest extent Dennis, may possibly be the oldest (by a small margin) fire engine. Apart from it being in the Bathurst, NSW region for a long time I have no knowledge of it's provenance. It is missing the Gwynne pump,  tie rod and steering arms,  engine, and other details. As cab seen the wooden wheels have been sawn off at the hubs. The front  right wheel looks like it might have come off a car (had a 24-5.00 tyre on it).

I can't locate the chassis list on the Surrey County archives so if any one could help I would be grateful.

 

Steven

 

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Posted (edited)

It appears that it was converted to drive a pump fitted amidships, the Mercedes diesel engine grafted into the engine bay.

Prior to purchasing the Dennis I thought I would be really clever and buy this Dennis engine and spare gear box at a big collectors auction in the same region. Alas, the engine numbers tell the story that it is not the missing engine (No 4725). Any ideas about the clutch?

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mystery wheels and leyland 005.JPG

Edited by mammoth

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Posted (edited)

    number 3037 is listed as in preservation,  former London fire brigade

Edited by Nick Johns

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6 hours ago, mammoth said:

 

I can't locate the chassis list on the Surrey County archives so if any one could help I would be grateful.

Steven

 

 

 

 

 

Hi Steven,

A few years back I contacted Surrey Archives on behalf of a friend in NSW who had a 1929 Dennis fire engine, ex-NSW Brigade. They were able to send me a photocopy of the build sheet for that actual chassis number. I don't think they were available off the website at that time, you had to get them to locate and copy it.

regards, Richard

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Well, that is a super find! The engine is very nice and will certainly suit it better than the Merc!

I am now eagerly awaiting some comments from Barry and Ben as if anyone knows anything about it, it will be them. Ben, I think, is at Brooklands today with the lorry collecting a well-deserved restoration award. Prince Michael has asked to drive the lorry but that depends on how Ben has progressed. It wasn't driveable two days ago but getting very close!

Good luck with it. We are all here to help!

Steve   :)

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Hi Steven,

I am so pleased you have taken this on; it was on Gumtree several years ago and I would have purchased it if I had been able to get it home.

3035 is listed as "Haes & Eggers" who I believe were an exporting agent. The original engine was a 120x130 White and Poppe (number 4729) the same as in my 1908 lorry. The body was built by Dennis (number 3262) and the production date is recorded as 12-11-1911. I need to look through the works production orders as there might be further information in those. Despite the earlier chassis number it looks like it was finished slighter later than the preserved London Fire Brigade pump.

The engine and gearbox look like they would have been a pair and look like they belong to a 1912 30cwt. Engine number 4725 was fitted to a vehicle (Chassis Number 2207) purchased by C Walker Esq, the engine is a 90x110mm White and Poppe (nominally 18hp). Chassis 2207 was not fitted with a body by Dennis so was probably bodied locally.

What a fantastic collection of bits, I look forward to more photos and information!

Ben

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Can I offer the perhaps unpopular suggestion that you could consider keeping the Merc engine, and restoring it as it was late in life? The Merc is a presumably significant part of its survival, and it’s an authentic part of its unique history. Grafting an incorrect Dennis engine in there is making it into something that it never was. We sometimes as restorers have a tendency to want everything as original. My grandfather used to own a Fowler ploughing engine from 1868 that had been fitted with a Burrell cylinder in its working life. When I was young I’d always wanted to see it as original, but in fact it’s much more interesting and a unique survivor as a hybrid.

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The comments from QL Driver hold merit. A check on the dating of the Merc engine would perhaps give a link as to its status. Is it an uncommon engine now? It is often too easy to say a restoration of a commercial vehicle is to be as original, when during its working life so many trucks were modified to suit the need required, or as parts needed replacing. 

 Like so many restorations its a matter of how much money is available to be spent, and to what state of finish is one wanting. In this case is it to become a fire engine in a high state of finish, or as a industrial pump unit as in latter life. Both can be seen as important aspects of history.

 Doug W.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thankyou gents for the interest in this project. The engine No I got from the plate on the scuttle, so I will check it as well as the body No which is also on the same plate for what appears to be an anomaly between the record and the physical..

Re; keeping the Merc engine: Some of you are up to speed with the thinking now enshrined in the Turin Charter promulgated by FIVA, and which is especially relevant to commercial vehicles which more often than not changed over their working lives. However, the engine transplant although well executed does not appear quite complete and may be an unfinished project. 

The engine as described by Ben would be the 35hp 4 cylinder T head type which would suggest the fire engine was one of the smallest versions with a 150 gallon pump . The radiator brass work on mine appears to be plainer than in contemporary photos and no sign of a badge - how were these fitted? The wooden wheels can be rebuilt but I will need the steel /rubber rims. The Dennis brochure states 32" , and is not clear as to whether this is the rim or outer tyre diameter.

Google found an entry for 'Haes & Eggers' as importers in a Sydney directory of the time with Gwynnes of London sharing the business (not Dennis!?), so the next step will be to see if NSW Fire Brigade have this one in their records.

So many questions.

 

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+
Aaaarrgggh... A check in better light reveals that the chassis is 3033, verified by the actual stamping on the chassis rail. On the scuttle plate is engine No 4726, body No 3259.

The spare engine has No 15049, and the spare gearbox 7204

I have been referring to brochures which can be downloaded off "Fire engines in preservation" web site, specifically the White & Poppe 1911 and the Dennis Motor Fire Appliances circa 1913. This was a time when nomenclature was far from standardised so for example Dennis give wheel sizes in inches rather than the later standardised metric range. It also seems that W&P label their engines on the RAC rating while Dennis have used the bhp rating for the same engine.

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On 6/6/2018 at 12:35 AM, QL Driver said:

Can I offer the perhaps unpopular suggestion that you could consider keeping the Merc engine, and restoring it as it was late in life?

I think that this might make sense sometimes, and arguably is not done enough. 

But I suspect that this engine transplant was done when the vehicle was being used as a mobile (probably agricultural) pump and anybody with a fire engine is (quite reasonably) most likely to want to  restore it as a fire engine. Because Fire engines are the Acme of the preserved commercial world 🙂

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Andy,

I totally understand and don’t disagree. Another way of looking at this is “period of significance” - as a fire engine it was a prominent vehicle, rather than a cobbled together piece of agricultural equipment.

To share a personal story, the Garrett steam wagon that my family owns worked for about 8 years commercially, was laid up for about 6, and then spent about 35 years sans boiler and engine as a trailer for a sterilising boiler in a nursery. Of course, it’s restored to more or less “as built” condition, but my Dad has wryly observed that it spent most of its working life as a trailer, and that’s almost certainly the only time it actually would have been profitable for its owner!

Ed

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47 minutes ago, QL Driver said:

e a personal story, the Garrett steam wagon that my family owns worked for about 8 years commercially, was laid up for about 6, and then spent about 35 years sans boiler and engine as a trailer for a sterilising boiler in a nursery. Of course, it’s restored to more or less “as built” condition, but my Dad has wryly observed that it spent most of its working life as a trailer, and that’s almost certainly the only time it actually would have been profitable for its owner!

The vehicle I play with spent 19 years as a fire engine with the LFB then 20 years as a fire engine at a Chemical plant. Then 62 years (and counting)  taking students on pub crawls 🙂

(But it hasn't ever really been "restored" so the question of what to rebuild it as is moot, It has, however, had the "wrong" pump a lot longer than it ever had the "right" pump)

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One other aspect in considering restoration formats is how many others are the same. If set out in a display line say twenty Dennis Fire Engines all look the same. The industrial pump will probably be plainer and of a different colour scheme, and the agricultural pump would show as receiving less cosmetic attention.

If people walked down such a row of engines on display, it is interesting note the length of time each engine receives. The multitude of red and brass gain passing glances, while the odd or different one tends to receive a longer look. These comments reflect my own observations at events, where the line up of identical display items  can be any  of vintage  type. Some people prefer to restore an item to be the same as others, while some will take a different approach.

Doug W. 

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I agree Doug but that assumes that we restore things for the benifit of the moron public. In that world a rat rod will always get more attention if parked in a line of historic fire engines. Do we do this to get attention at all? Or do we just have an emotional link to our chosen piece of metal , feel a need to put it back as it 'should be' and then having done that we take it to a show so it can be with other treasured bits of metal. We also get to network with other owners and interested public.

I much prefer shows that are not catering to the general public but of course there is now so much investment in any show that the public have to be admitted for to pay for it all. That means that catering, toilets, security, etc become a much bigger part of the equation and the core point of the show becomes insignificant.

Sorry to stray so far from the point of this thread, now that Mammoth has found the true chassis number, presumably a lot of the info relating to 3035 is not applicable. Do we know what is known about 3033 ?

David

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 David your points regards emotional links in restoration as so true. It's the physical effort with different attempts at solving problems , the second and later attempts, the research and the time occupied that give that feeling of endorsement for me.  That link to it's earlier  use is so important.

 To me a rat rod is a recent creation object extending a persons realm of fantasy!  Park it in the middle of the paddock, set fire to it and then  use the vintage fire engines to on display in a role they were designed for.

 Harsh words towards non historic items.

 Doug W 

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On ‎6‎/‎7‎/‎2018 at 11:14 PM, mammoth said:

+
Aaaarrgggh... A check in better light reveals that the chassis is 3033, verified by the actual stamping on the chassis rail. On the scuttle plate is engine No 4726, body No 3259.

The spare engine has No 15049, and the spare gearbox 7204

I have been referring to brochures which can be downloaded off "Fire engines in preservation" web site, specifically the White & Poppe 1911 and the Dennis Motor Fire Appliances circa 1913. This was a time when nomenclature was far from standardised so for example Dennis give wheel sizes in inches rather than the later standardised metric range. It also seems that W&P label their engines on the RAC rating while Dennis have used the bhp rating for the same engine.

Chassis 3033, Engine 4726, Body 3259 is again 120x130 Haes and Eggers but dated 21/3/1911. Most work production order cards survive for fire engines but I will need to visit the archive to dig this one out (I have only photographed a small proportion of the early ones)

Engine number 15049 is quite a bit later so appears in the surviving White and Poppe engine book. It is a 90x130, ordered on 13/10/1922 at a cost of £100. It was supplied with a Simms magneto but without carburettor. The end customer is marked as Davies Fehon and recorded as fitted to chassis number 139. This is a strange range of early chassis numbers issued by Dennis for the 25/30cwt. Only chassis numbers 50-150 were used and then there is another series of 25/30cwt (50000 to 50026) before the much more popular 30cwt (50030 on).

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I said earlier that the modifications to the chassis were well executed. As it turns out 15 minutes with an angle grinder was all it took before the rest of the welds simply broke off, so very reversible modifications. The Merc engine has been installed without chopping away the sub frame, so what I now have is the most un-molested and complete chassis of this era I have ever seen. The bonus is that all the original tin-ware is there and can be dealt with by way of some sessions with the english wheel, hammer & dolly.

Where to now? I think the Merc engine can stay where it is as it is doing no harm, and as Ben has found, scouring the world for a spare T head engine is no mean feat. What hope of securing a Gwynne pump which is what makes a fire engine a fire engine. Do I go ahead and build a replica of the original braidwood body on the assumption that a younger generation won't notice the gaping hole. Or take the easy option to a quick finish by presenting it as a commercial lorry. After all, quite a number of engines did end up this way after end of service life. (reality in Australia was that as they aged they were re-allocated to smaller towns, then villages and not unknown to rack up a service life of 40 years). Incidently,  these old hard rubber Dennis had overdrive and thus were good for 30mph at a time when trucks were rated at 12mph and pushed at 18mph.  Must have been quite impressive back in the day.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, mammoth said:

Where to now? I think the Merc engine can stay where it is as it is doing no harm, and as Ben has found, scouring the world for a spare T head engine is no mean feat. What hope of securing a Gwynne pump which is what makes a fire engine a fire engine.

Barry has one, but I imagine he wants to keep it with its pumping set. 

Our 1916 has the later Tomini(?) pump (1920-ish, Dennis No 2 I think they call them) and it looks the part, despite not being right. (It has been there rather longer than original pump was by now). 

https://goo.gl/images/ZyZX8i

They made a lot more of those, though they switched to aluminium at some point, and that wouldn't look right. 

We have a reversing and speed-up gearbox mounted where the priming pumps should be, though if I was doing it now I think I would look at changing the ratio in the transfer box and flipping the pump rotors instead. (It's nice that you still have the transfer box)

If you happen to find two Gwynnes in your search, we will take one off your hands. 🙂

Edited by andypugh

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Steven,

This is my 1913 Dennis. The points of interest is that it does not use the White and Poppe engine with the four separate cylinders but a two block engine with thermo-syphon cooling. The fire fighting pump is not the larger size found on the later 'N' types but a smaller Gwynne. The standard piston primer is contained in the rear locker, but it is just single unit and not paired up as on the 'N' Types. The radiator cap mascot has no relevance to the discussion, but what a super mascot for a Dennis!

(The brochure extract is my actual machine as it was originally supplied to the John Dickinson works fire brigade. You will notice that there has been a change of radiator and wheels).

 

Barry.

 

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Edited by Asciidv
Additional picture added
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There are so many features that interest me on 3033. I need to do some more research before commenting on all of them; I will limit it to where I am confident of the answer for now.

The radiator is a later fitment, probably dating from the twenties. However, even that is quite interesting. The crankshaft axis and chassis width is different on the early fire engines so they appear to have cut the cast trunnion mountings from the cast sides and riveted on the cast iron trunnions (that were originally fitted to a sheet brass radiator). I would certainly think that keeping this radiator would be a good plan; they are much more reliable than the original.

Fitting a different engine to these chassis is a bit of a dilemma.

Commonly, later engines sat on top of the 3" channel false frame. This placed the crankshaft axis on the plane of the top face of the channel.

The engine originally fitted mounted between the channels; the crankshaft axis being (approximately) on the lower face of the channel (3" lower). 

There may be a lot of work involved with fitting a later Dennis engine; I purchased a narrower marine engine as a last resort for my 1908 Dennis but modifying that would also have been quite a task.

That is it for now but I will pull some more information together as soon as I can!

Can you post some pictures of the 1911 Gearbox and PTO? They are interesting features as well. It will remind me of what you are missing and where I can help.

 

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It is not impossible that NSW Fire Brigade did a rebuild of the vehicle at some stage, either for further service or even just for parades and the like. As it appears that the radiator header tank has never carried a badge I thought that maybe it was a reproduction but the plumbing on the reverse side is too good for that. Maybe is was supplied as a spare part?

I have done some internet search on the Daimler Benz OM65 engine and it is a ringer for the 1942 version which was used in the L300 truck so loved of war movies. The design first started around 1932 as the 105 x 140mm OM65/3 giving 4846cc and 65hp. Then OM65/4, and then the 110 x 130 OM65 giving 75hp, finally ending production in the mid to late 50's. All figures are woolly or back to front as there are inconsistencies across different web sites. It uses an in line Bosch distributor pump.  In case we have Merc guru the engine No is 306535156.

Barry, I was not aware that there were different sizes of Gwynne pump, so the whole business was about customising to the customers needs, which is not surprising considering that motor fire pumps only became available in 1905.

More pics for Ben. There are no serial numbers on the gearbox - just "H&L  gears" Does this refer to over drive gear set?

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1911 details 001.JPG

Edited by mammoth

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