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Leyland Retriever

Pete Ashby

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28 minutes ago, Niels v said:

Pete do you have any problems with adhesion between the gloss black and the G3?

No Niels providing you get the first top coat of G3 on within 48hrs of the gloss coat. 

I spray all my paint finishes using cellulose thinners  the idea of getting the first G3 coat on within this time frame is that the surface of the gloss coat is still slightly active (soft) so the next coat bonds with it. 

A word of warning here,  it's  best to experiment on a piece of scrap steel first using the undercoat, gloss coat and top coat you intend to use to make sure that all three are compatible and don't adversely react (sometimes known as pickling).


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12 hours ago, Citroman said:

A nice job you are doing. I did run into this picture on an belgian site. Is this civilised truck an Leyland too?



Not too easy to tell as the photo is difficult to enlarge however I think it is a Retriever with a very smart hard cab conversion nice picture thanks for posting 


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  • 3 months later...

Having called a halt to outside activities due to the somewhat unseasonable weather and needing a change from cutting out rust in the D15 cab I turned my attention to making some space in the store. So dragged the various bits and pieces that make up the Retriever spare wheel carrier and frame into the shed that I laughingly call the spray shop for the standard treatment. 

 I couldn't remember when I'd added the construction of this piece of kit to the blog,  looking back I was surprised to see it's been sitting around for nearly four years so it was high time to get it fully top coated and fitted to the truck.

A few photos of the frame and carrier installed, there's a bit of minor adjustment required and I have to make the frame rail spacers to replace the wood packing but other than that the jobs complete and working.

so to recap this is how it started four years ago


And this is how it looks today



Classic example that no matter how much space you have it's never quite enough






Edited by Pete Ashby
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  • 10 months later...

Over the last month I’ve focused attention on the Leyland and continued the theme of getting stuff out of boxes and drawers and off shelves and onto the truck so this post is all about small stuff getting bolted on.  

The large and imposing radiator carries the maker’s nameplate at the top and the model type at the bottom both were missing from this truck.  However, some years ago now I was lucky enough to have been loaned an original of both plates so that I could make silicon molds and cast resin replicas these were stored away awaiting a call to duty and some twenty years later here they are fitted.





While at the front of the cab I decided it was time to fit the side lights.  I bought these in an auto jumble back in the mists of time so they were dug out, given the treatment and fitted.  A small advance in the scheme of things but the truck begins to look a bit more complete with every item bolted on now.





in one of the posts  in this blog I described  how I went about making a replica Volkes air filter housing.  Well it’s time had come so that got bolted on as well.





Last but least for this post is the Clayton Dewandre air tank and gauge for the tyre pump,  it's yet to be plumbed in to the pto driven pump but at least it’s on the truck and out of a storage drawer.


More to follow


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Posted (edited)

After the diversion of fitting some of the smaller tasty items it was back to the heavy duty stuff once again.

The left front wheel, hub and back plate were removed, cleaned, painted and put aside to harden off.   While the wheel was off it gave clear access to the frame and road spring under the cab, which was also cleaned primed and repainted.



The tyre was removed from the rim and then the rim cleaned (see previous posts), painted, and put aside for the paint to cure.

A delve into the back recesses of the storage shelves turned up the front brake shoes and hangers that had been cleaned painted and stored away probably over twenty years ago.  Another poke about found the retracting springs, bottom adjuster and the top bi-sector unit these needed to be disassembled cleaned and reassembled in the same manner as with the rear units described in a previous post about the back axels.  With the back plate painted it was refitted and the brake gear added.


The hub was next, wheel bearings were checked and repacked with fresh grease and then adjusted for end float.   The left hand thread wheel nuts were fished out of the molasses bath after several months of soaking washed off then cleaned up, etch primed then top coated


Now it was the turn of the brake drum, this is a roughcast affair with the working surfaces machined smooth.  The drum is super quality steel so although it looks in poor condition in the first photo a bit of time with the wire wheel on the grinder brought up the working surfaces to bright steel and then it was my usual painting sequence when dry it was fitted and the shoe contact adjusted.

At the start



Work in progress



Etch primed



Gloss black undercoat



Top coat and fitted



While I was waiting for the paint to harden off I trial fitted the left hand wing those who have followed this epic story of snail pace restoration will recall my efforts to restore the wings I intend to finish grinding down the welds and get the wing preped finished and bolted on over the next month or so.


Time for tea and biscuits I'm thinking.


Edited by Pete Ashby
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You've earn't more than tea and biscuits!

It looks superb, the work is such good quality. No matter how long it takes, it is preserved and will be a real show stopper.

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  • 1 month later...
Posted (edited)

Progress has been steady and ongoing on the Leyland continuing with the premise of getting stuff finished and bolted on.

For those who have stuck with the blog thus far you may recall that several years ago I embarked on an experiment in welding fresh air, or what I laughingly called repairing the front wings.  Well that turned into an epic.  

I stuck with it, but to be honest after I’d welded a thousand pinholes and virtually reconstructed the wings from a rust flake I needed a break before I tackled grinding down all the welds and finishing them off.   So gave them a quick coat of primer to keep the flash rust at bay and put them away in store while I did other more interesting things.

 But their time has arrived so first up was the mates side front wing the finishing work on the driver’s side is currently ongoing, in the previous post I showed the mate's wing trial fitted to the truck to check for correct alignment..  

By way of a recap, here is how the mate’s side looked several years ago




Here it is after getting up close and personal with a grinder, a surprisingly small amount of filler, a coat of high build spray undercoat and last but not least two coats of G3.






And at long last after something over 30 years it’s reunited with the truck, one of those stand back and enjoy the moment moments.



More to follow


Edited by Pete Ashby
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Posted (edited)

I’ve mentioned in several places in the course of this blog the quality of build and the amount of Aluminium and Brass that Leyland used in the construction of the Retriever,  features that are noticeably missing from later war mass produced trucks from other manufactures.

This is nowhere more evident than in the positive blizzard of brass instruction plates attached to the cab front scuttle.  I was particularly fortunate in that these had not been ripped off and weighed in during its civilian life or it’s protracted stay in the scrap yard. 

They were all there with the exception of two small plates that are missing if anyone knows what they should be I’d like to hear from you.  The plates were painted over by the Show Man who operated the truck in civilian life and this had largely preserved them although something in the paint has reacted with the brass on serval plates and seems to have leached the copper out of the brass.

The plates have been carefully cleaned, then polished and a coat of clear spray lacquer applied before riveting back in their original positon on the scuttle.

So without more ado stand by for some serious Military bling.


The plates left to right as follows:

Top set:


·         Contract information, engine No, front axle No, rear axle No’s, Diff ratio, Gearbox type and No, Frame No.

·         Shift pattern, of note on this plate is the top line ground out, this should read “Leyland Motors Ltd” but this has been carefully milled out. There is another plate that fixes to the engine cover that cautions the driver not to dead sticking the truck down hill,  this also has “Leyland Motors Ltd” milled out.  This is obviously a deliberate action done at the factory can anyone hazard a guess as to why???


Next line :

·         War Department patent number

·         Volkes air filter operation and cleaning instruction


Last line:

·         How to drain down the cooling system

·         Missing

        Starter carburetor operation instructions

The 1938 and 1939 produced trucks had a different shaped contract plate shown below, sorry I can’t remember where I obtained this image from so apologies for not providing a credit.



 On the mates side of the truck there are two large brass sheets attached. The smaller top one gives the complete wiring diagram for the truck while the larger bottom one is the lubrication chart listing all points on the frame, engine and drive train and giving a description of the different lubricants to be used at each location.  Both plates are etched using the factory blue prints and the Leyland drawing reference is included on each plate.




Edited by Pete Ashby
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Hi Pete,

As you probably know, there is a Leyland Retriver for sale on Ebay at the moment.


The seller helpfully gives a picture of his data plate layout.

He too is missing the plate upper left. Perhaps, since neither vehicles has it's original body, it was a body plate?

Best Regards,


PS, I do enjoy the restorartion work you are carrying out on this early WW2 British truck, thanks for sharing it.


Photo Credit: Smiling-Jack-D.

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Posted (edited)

Good morning Adrian thank you for posting I'm pleased your enjoying the blog.

No I hadn't picked up on the fact that this particular Retriever was up for sale, I did however know of it's existence and seem to recall it was up for sale some years ago.

Your suggestion regarding the missing plate on the top left may be correct.  The majority of the early 6x4 3 ton British Army range of trucks were fitted with 'special purpose bodies' with the exception of AEC who's production seemed to focus more on the GS version with I believe a few bridging variants for good measure.

It would appear that a  number of these special purpose bodies were removed and stored for possible future use prior to the trucks being sold at auction to civilian operators as chassis cabs, the post war Albion Clansman produced as a chassis cab  used the the wartime MK3 machinery body for example., so  perhaps the military removed the data plate at that time prior to the sale of the war time trucks.





Edited by Pete Ashby
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2 hours ago, radiomike7 said:

Were the plates that should have read Leyland Motors Ltd 'borrowed' from another manufacturer?

Actually no,  on the plate that goes on the engine cover that  warns about coasting in neutral just the very top of the letters are visible and they read "Leyland Motors Ltd" and it's the same size font and spacing as the main plate on the scuttle that has been completely erased with the exception of the top of the L and Y. 

The early plates as you can see from the photos in previous posts fitted to 1938 and 1939 manufactured trucks have the rather elaborate Royal crest and by Appointment statement on them. 

The later plates don't have this detail just the plain Leyland Motors Ltd logo but it's been ground out in a manner that suggests a careful and deliberate action before the plates were attached to the vehicle.

No big deal in the scale of things but an odd curiosity all the same as it was obviously done for a reason.


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My Matador has "AEC Southall" ground off the exhaust manifold, and I think the majority of others I have seen are also the same - the same manifold fitted to pre-war vehicles has the writing on it.  Also the early Matadors had the AEC badge on the radiator, and the later ones didn't.  My Matador also has the address of Weymann (the body builders) on the contract plate, but all the later ones I have seen use abbreviations for who did the bodywork.  I assume it was a conscious thing to remove obvious details that might help the enemy identify where the vehicles were actually made.  So removing Leyland from plates would fit with that.


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Hi Pete,

Removing the name and location of the manufacturers was done to deter attacks on their factories. A lot of vehicles did not have radiator badges, Morris Commercial stopped fitting them. I have a brass plate for a Taskers trailer and only the T for Tasker, A for Andover and L for Ltd left on it.

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Posted (edited)

Many thanks chaps for the replies regarding the ground out makers name, another small detail explained.

I did have an inkling that it was connected with security concerns,  but it seemed on reflection a case of shutting the stable door after the horse had bolted as all the trucks left behind by the BEF in France would probably have had the makers plates intact.


Edited by Pete Ashby
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  • 5 weeks later...

To close this particular chapter of the blog here's an update on progress to date.   Work has continued on around the cab area see the attached photos below.

  I have also finished  cleaning, refurbishing, painting and fitting the front brake gear on the drivers side this is a replication of work I covered in a previous post so I've not included photos of this work here, the only thing of note is that I have had two brake shoe pull off springs made by the following company:

 Leeming & Peel Ltd. located at Bradford web address  WWW.leemingpeel-springs.co.uk Tel 01274 491464. 

Be warned one off manufacture is not a cheap affair but finding a company who will do this sort of one of work is not easy. These guys will make any number from 1 to 10,000 off, the result was identical to the now unobtainable original.

No connection with the company just a happy but poorer customer. 

So to the photos,

More stuff out of draws and boxes.   These are the correct fuse box, CAV regulator and Lucas wiring junction block these are all NoS items still in their original boxes and wrappings bought for a few pounds many years ago at auto jumbles and sales at a time when most people were not interested in them.

Mounted on the carrying bracket



And here fitted to the truck on the front scuttle just above the toe plate on the drivers side.



Here is the instrument panel fitted,   for the modelers among us the location of the control box and fuse box can be seen just below the panel



Last but not least, if you don't know where you came from how do you know where you're going??........ no not a bit of home brewed philosophy.... but not bad now I come to think of it............ no,  this is the NoS rear view mirror bought again at a time when, A, they were available and B, sellers didn't want your life savings and a kidney for one.  It's mounted on the original arm in the correct location. There were several different locations and designs of arm fitted to the Retriever during it's relatively short production run, the type shown here appears on mid production trucks.




That concludes this phase of the project so now it's a shift of focus back to the D15 tanker 



Edited by Pete Ashby
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Excellent progress again Pete! Good to see you are working on both the Retriever as well as the D15.


On 9/25/2021 at 1:27 PM, Pete Ashby said:
finding a company who will do this sort of one of work is not easy.

I fully agree. Not all campanies are willing to do these one-off jobs. I think it's just too much of a hassle to spend the time that can also be used to do a large, more economic, production run.



Edited by Alex van de Wetering
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