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Leyland Retriever

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  • 7 months later...
On 3/10/2017 at 8:44 AM, Pete Ashby said:

Time for anther update, progress has been slow over the winter due to a combination of a cold workshop and a good wood burner in the house :). Having said that I have dug the intermediate axle out of the barn and moved it into the workshop ready for cleaning and strip down a few more pictures of work on this item will follow in due course.




After an epic struggle due to the brake shoes rusting onto the drums the brake drums were removed




I had to undo the pivots, anchors and wheel cylinders on each side to give some free movement if and when I could un-stick the shoes then with a combination of very controlled heating tapping and rotating the drum a fraction back and forth at last they came off and despite the effort needed to remove the drums the condition inside was not too bad.


Time for an up date I think on this project.

Back in March last year I started work on the intermediate axle everything has been taken apart checked for ware cleaned and the threads run over with the appropriate sized BSF dia or tap as required then put into various labeled boxes and bags awaiting reassembly. 

 I'm fairly certain this was the first time in 78 years that the oil and grease that had become baked onto the axle housing and various components had been cleaned having been mixed with paint and road dirt it had set like concrete.  I  had to resort hacking it off with a sharp knife and then rotary and hand wire brushing to remove the paint and rust a long job with a heavy piece of kit however it's come good in the end........ here it is with a first coat of etch primer and one hub and back plate refitted and the diff housing bolted back in place.


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  • 1 month later...

A little more progress to report the axle now has both back plates and hubs refurbished and refitted along with the brake pivot and bisector units.  The whole assembly has now been given a coat of red oxide undercoat on top of the etch primer.





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  • 1 month later...

Time for an update, the spring packs for the rear bogie have been disassembled, cleaned, painted and re-assembled with new plain steel bushes fitted into the spring eyes.

The intermediate axle that I was working on in the last post has been craned into position and new shackle pins fitted, time for some photos.

Spring pack and axle in place



The new shackle pins, plain bushes and lock keys were machined by Jim Buckle ten years ago now and have been stored away awaiting their call to duty, Jim is Handy 18882 (1927 Vulcan 6x6 on this forum) Dad and an expert craftsman and machinist the quality and accuracy of Jim's work were self evident during assembly everything fitted perfectly without any need for reaming or adjustment.

Example of Shackle pin and lock key



Lock key shown in position,  everything needs to line up perfectly to enable the lock bolts to pass through the axle brackets, shackle pin recess and lock key and of course with anything of  pre-war British design all the lumps are massively engineered and very heavy.



Here is the finished job,  lock bolts in and locked off, in this photo the spring pack is not sitting equidistant on the pin as the weight of the axle is still held on the crane when the rear axle is fitted and the weight of the truck is on the spring pack the bogie has a degree of side float controlled by torque rods on top of the diff housings and will self center.  




Edited by Pete Ashby
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  • 4 weeks later...

Work has continued on the intermediate axle with the fitting of the refurbished brake gear like a number of British trucks the braking system is a blend of old and new technology.   The service brakes are hydraulic servo assisted but the hand brake is rod and cam operated the operating rods running through the hydraulic cylinders into mechanical expanders attached to the shoes here’s a page from the factory manual showing the set up.


The brake linings on all the wheels are in very good condition so it was just a case of cleaning and painting the hangers and then a wipe over the linings with some brake cleaner fluid.  The pull off springs (two per set of shoes) were in good condition and only needed cleaning and a splash of paint.


I have decided to refit the hand brake linkage without the hydraulic cylinders for now as these will need some serious renovation and re-sleeving so I’ll tackle them all together as a separate exercise in the future.


More to follow



Edited by Pete Ashby
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So everything cleaned up and ready for fitting the shoes. The factory manual as is the way with most British workshop manuals of the period is fairly vague on detail unlike the North American productions that break every task down into its simplest form.  one thing the Leyland manual did stress was that the pull off springs must be located behind the shoes and NOT in front to prevent the shoes tipping forward on the pivots and making proper adjustment impossible….. All very sensible but an absolute B###er to try to fit unless you are blest with at least three pairs of hands. The manual says helpful things like “leave the hangers off the pivots and attach the springs to the top hanger then attach the bottom” then and leaver the hangers into position on the pivots.   

A couple of helpful photos from the manual,  looks so easy, look he’s even doing it at arm’s length !!


In common with a lot of larger trucks the Leyland brake hanger and shoe has a cut out in the face to hook a wire through onto the spring and by using a leaver on top of the shoe the tension can be taken off the spring but you still need three pairs of hands or a fitters mate as the springs are fitted from the rear of the shoes.


I work alone as I suspect most of us do and the hangers are heavy, the room behind the hub is limited, and the pull off springs are very strong with very tight bends on the hooks so after I’d used up my fairly extensive vocabulary of swear words and then invented a few more for good measure I decided I would try something else. 

There were two options one, take the hubs off to give more room, didn’t want to do that as the bearings were greased and set or two, find a way of taking the strain off of the the springs while I had two hands free to encourage the end of the spring into the very small hole from the back of the hanger enter the faithful workshop crane a couple of lengths of 14 gauge wire and a torch. so the crane dose it all with no sweat and a couple of mm at time if required



Job done in 2 minutes with no bad language one thing I would say when working with springs  it's best to use eye protection, if they do decide to let go even a jeep return spring could do a lot of damage.



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Flushed with the latest bit of success I decided to get the fuel tank out of long term storage and fit it for no other reason than I could and I was fed up of walking round it in the barn restored and painted the tank over 15 years ago it's not steel it's made from plated brass not something that would be found on later war time vehicles, the straps I made from original patterns using the correct rivet pattern. For good measure I fitted my 1940 dated shovel into the bracket on the side of the cab as well..... "all work and no play"..... and all that.



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  • 5 months later...

The temperature has not been too conducive  to working in an unheated workshop recently however some progress has been made.

  The rear axle the differential worm and wheel assembly has been  lifted out and put aside for checking and cleaning, meanwhile the case and axle tubes have been cleaned ready for painting once the weather improves


I’m working on one side at a time so the next set of photos show the right hand axle hub and back plate wheel bearings and races are in excellent condition as are the leather grease seals so these will be cleaned and reused. 



Hub cleaned and etched painted right hand wheel nuts sorted out awaiting cleaning painting and thread chasing 



It’s the small parts that take the time in any restoration project here are the brake shoe adjuster and bisector unit that h ave to be cleaned, disassembled, checked, greased with a smear of copper grease and then reassembled


Here's the same bisector unit cleaned and stripped ready for reassembly.


. Leyland made a large amount of fittings in house including nuts, bolts and spring washers all made out of high grade steel and stamped Leyland Motors with the specific part number for the application.   Where ever possible these fixings are being cleaned and the threads chased with a BSF die or tap and a dab of thread cutting paste then reused.

Cleaning nuts and bolts is a mind numbing job so this is the tumbler I made out of some scrap laying around in the barn and a coffee tin donated by my son ( I drink tea) .  I use it for cleaning nut's, bolts and washers using sharp sand while I get on with something more interesting.



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  • 3 weeks later...

Following on from the last update both hubs have now been completed and refitted. 

 The wheel bearings were in excellent condition and have been repacked with fresh grease and set according to the manual,  the pre-load is set using shims on a spacer tube that fits between the inner and outer bearing then the one hub nut is done ( the ends of the axle tubes are handed threads left and right) up 'hammer tight' and a threaded lock pin fitted through the nut and a corresponding slot in the axle tube.

Taking advantage of the 18'c with full sun we have had in the wild west today I moved the rear axle case and diff housing outside the workshop and and set too with the spray gun to put a coat of red oxide over  everything.

Axle case on the crane soaking up the sun 


Diff housing left hand side


Diff housing right hand sideSDC18535.JPG.57800d270c0b6208d4d0f5d4106e77a5.JPG

Diff housing Rear


The next task will be to reassemble the diff housing on the axle get the drive shafts out of storage and fit them then mount the whole assembly on the truck and fit the brake shoes.


Edited by Pete Ashby
removing an extra word
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15 hours ago, Skint George said:

Just want to say I'm full of respect for you lads that take on these massive jobs and can only imagine the pride you feel on completion.

Keep it up as it gives us mere mortals so much pleasure and jealousy 👍🏻


Thanks for the encouraging words I'm pleased your enjoying the blog it's a useful spur to keep plodding on.

A full jeep restoration will require as much input in terms of time as a truck like the Retriever the difference is in the size of the kit that has to lugged about without a gantry crane, pallet truck and tractor it would be very hard work indeed.



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  • 2 weeks later...

Taken advantage of the bad weather to hide away in the workshop and continue with the reassemble of the rear axle instead of doing all those outside jobs that need doing before Spring arrives  .:S

So all the diff housing studs have been removed, a new gasket made and while the studs were out all the threads were cleaned greased and then the suds replaced.

The differential drive is an overhead worm drive with  solid phosphor bronze ring gear this was cleaned disassembled and checked for ware the carrier bearings were in excellent condition so everything was put back together the tooth contact being set up as per the manual using engineers blue, the photo below shows the reassembled unit upside down on the pallet truck


The unit was then craned into position and the case bolts nipped up evenly then tightened down this is another 'Hammer tight' job according to the manual but I used a torque wrench two views of the completed unit below first rear view while the second photo shows the driven end




Last job for this session was to take the drive shafts out of storage grease them up and fit them into the axle tubes, this type of drive shaft does not have an end flange the castellated ends lock into the hub cap which is then bolted up to the hub 




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  • 1 month later...

This entry to the blog concludes the sub project to get the rear axles cleaned, diffs checked and set up and all brake shoes, drums hubs and brake linkage cleaned adjusted and refitted effort will now be switched onto the D15T project with a view to getting the frame, brackets axles and springs blast cleaned and undercoated so this thread will be dormant for a few months while attention and focus shifts to that project.

A few photos to be going on with.

Brake drums awaiting there turn for cleaning



After a session with the wire wheel on the angle grinder fortunately the inner drum surfaces were in good condition with no scoring or permanent rust damage, without doubt the quality of the steel used in the construction of the truck has played a major part in it's survival.



After a coat of phosphate rust killer on the outside surfaces a coat of etch primer is applied 



And to close this chapter in the restoration saga a photo of the reassembled axles and drums along with the WD articulated bogie system.  This basic design was common with minor modifications depending on manufacturer for all 3 ton 6x4's produced from the mid thirties onwards up to the point the type was phased out in favor of 3 ton 4x4 variants around early 1942





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  • 11 months later...

So for the past eleven months effort has focused on getting the the D15 up to the rolling chassis stage but now it's back to working on the Leyland. 

This phase is all about wheels and tyres and working towards getting the truck moving under its own power for first time in nearly 60 years.

A journey into the unknown at the back of the barn was in order to unearth the rear wheels and tyres that had not been touched since I bought the truck nearly 30 years ago safe to say they had not improved with keeping however the rats’ mice and spiders had found them most accommodating.

The Retriver runs on 900.20 tyres mounted on split rims held in place with a locking ring like a ginat snap ring this type of system is known in the trade as the ‘Widow Maker type’…….. well there’s encouraging then. 

First job was to remove the valve core completely and after the tyre had deflated poke a length of wire down the stem and into the tube cavity to ensure that there was no blockage that could result residual pressure in the tube.

If everything works as it should the outer rim is pushed down a little to start to free the locking ring from the groove then using two tyre levers the locking ring is prized out of the groove in the outer rim, turn the tyre over and the main part of the rim just drops out…..oh how we laughed!.....the only way to do it after 80 years was to cut the tyres up with a Fein saw fitted with a course blade which actually made very short work of them to be fair.

Here’s a tyre after having a close encounter with the Fein saw



This is the pile of inner and outer rims and locking rings ready for de-rusting



After rust and residual paint removal an undercoat of zinc rich primer has been applied





Edited by Pete Ashby
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  • 2 weeks later...

So practicing social distancing and walking across the yard seeing only the chickens and the donkeys on route to the workshop I've spent a couple of days in useful productive restoration activities.

First up the the wheel rims that were glossed in the last post have been given two coats of G3 top coat and now put aside to harden off for a few weeks prior to fitting new tyres.



The next mini project was to clean, strip and then rebuilt the main prop-shaft that runs from the output shaft of the auxiliary gearbox to intermediate axle this is another piece of kit that has waited it's turn in the store for far too many years.

First job was strip out the UJ's that surprisingly were in perfect condition and were good to go again, as I think I've mentioned before the Retriever is massively over engineered using the best of materials available before war time restrictions became an issue for manufactures another plus point is any work it has done in it's life  it has done slowly thereby limiting stress and ware.

Prop-shaft stripped and ready for a close encounter with the wire bush


After a session with the wire brush on the grinder



After de-rusting a coat of phosphoric acid was applied and then a coat of etch primer then two coats of gloss black sealing coat



Then two coats of G3 and then reassembled ready for fitting,  the bearing caps are not held in place with snap rings.  Leyland however have a system that employs end plates having a raised ridge machined into them that locate in a corresponding slot in the bearing cap, the end plate is then bolted down to the yoke thereby locking the the bearing cap in place and preventing it rotating in the yoke. 

All good stuff but it makes pressing the end caps into the yokes tricky as everything has to line up perfectly. The bolts should then have spring clips held in place by small split pins ( 16 of them) added to prevent them from working lose another example of good engineering practice but a potential problem for field maintenance I imagine.  Unfortunately the clips had corroded too badly to be used so I have wired the end cap bolts in place instead.



Edited by Pete Ashby
missing word
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  • 2 weeks later...

Some more progress on the rear bogie  the under coated axles, diffs and hubs have been given a sealing coat of gloss black then two coats of G3 top coat. 

One of the wheel rims that had been cleaned and painted in the previous post have been fitted with a new tube, flap and  one of the four very good second hand tires that I have had in store waiting for this occasion.

Wheel studs have been cleaned and chased and the wheel nuts have been soaking the Molasses tub in the poly tunnel (reported on using Molasses in my D15T thread previously) for two months,  it made a good job of cleaning the internal  threads on the nuts so all they required when I fished them out was a wash off with water and a quick going over with the wire brush on the external surfaces.

The assembled wheel and tire  was fitted to the rear axle, the rim and tire for the other side of the rear axle will be assembled over the next couple of days but until I can get the other two rims to the blaster I'll have to call a halt on finishing the leading axle.   


Right hand side WD axle in gloss coat



Rear axle diff and stay rods in gloss coat the small rods left and right at the bottom of the axle are for the hand brake actuation and operate via the bell crank pillar on the left of the diff housing then by a series of rods, cams and levers mounted across the frame that can be seen in the first photo this is then connected by a long connecting rod and more activating levers to the hand brake leaver in the cab.



Rear axle and completed wheel and tire in G3



Rear axle left hand side completed wheel and tire in G3






Edited by Pete Ashby
removal of stray photo heading
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  • 1 month later...

Done some work on the Leyland frame recently,  right back near the start of blog there are some photos of the major work carried out on the frame and as that effort was nearly twenty years ago it was time to give it a little cosmetic attention. Another reason is that information regarding the correct colour and also the accuracy of paint matching technology has advanced subsequently it has been determined that the initial colour I used on major components was too light. 

So after a light rubbing down (320 grade paper dry)  to provide a key for the new paint a gloss black primer coat was applied followed by two coats of G3 the front of the frame under the cab and the cab itself will be done next.

Just for comparison this is how it all looked when the truck first arrived. 

Left hand frame rail and running board



Mid frame brace and cross member (front of the truck to the left of photo)



All the handbrake linage and gubbins (front of the truck toward the top of photo)


And this is what it looks like today first three photos in gloss Black



(Front of truck towards bottom of photo)



And then in G3


Refurbished main prop shaft fitted 





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On 5/17/2020 at 7:16 PM, Highland_laddie said:

Quality Job as always.  Had a little laugh to myself when I re-read your opening line in the first post 🤣


Not one of the fastest restorations I've ever done for sure,   as other projects have come and gone over the years this one's drifted on in fits and starts and it's very much a case of it'll be finished  :whenitsdone:.

Like the paint matching I mentioned in the previous post technology, information  and the supply chain have developed and evolved over the duration of this restoration. Things that were just not possible or affordable 20 to 25 years ago now are common place and can be found on a well known search engine at the press of a button so as time has gone on it's actually become easier to tackle marginal projects like this one and I'm firm believer in  the getting there can be as enjoyable as reaching the destination.


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