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1914 Dennis Lorry


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  • 2 months later...

With things slowly returning to normal and a dry forecast we decided yesterday would be a good opportunity to take the lorry out for a small drive. It has not been out of the garage for six months; not at all what we had planned back in January.

We emptied the petrol out last time we used it so put four gallons in the tank and it started first swing. I have added a felt seal behind the fan belt pulley since the last drive; it has slowed but not eliminated the oil leak so I will need to revisit that at some point.

Another task completed recently has been the reshaping of the headlamp bracket I made to fit a Powell and Hanmer self generating acetylene lamp. The in-service photo showing this model of lamp arrived after the bulk of the restoration was complete and I managed to find the correct lamp at the start of this year. The lamp is slightly narrower than the ECL but needs to sit higher to clear the water trap.



Another detail I was missing was the canvas sheet "roof".



I have been collecting period photos of fruit vehicles and found there appear to be three standard types of gathering baskets; these have been meticulously recreated by Pascal Carr of All About Willow.



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  • 3 weeks later...

Thanks for the kind comments on this project. It is a lovely little lorry to drive, managing quite a high top speed, pretty light steering and clutch, fairly good brakes and half decent visibility with reasonable weather protection .

The Aster engine is half the power of the engine originally fitted so you get the fun of changing down at least one gear for every hill; at least it gives good miles to the gallon (more than 10).

When I started putting the Dennis projects together I was working out of prefabricated concrete garage adjoining my end of terrace house. We looked for a house where we could build a suitable home for the lorries but ended up buying the Edwardian printing works in the photo, this gave what I thought would be enough garage space but I needed to spend two year converting some of it into suitable accommodation for the glamorous assistant. Another task for this year is planning the next garage.

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  • 4 months later...
On 8/9/2020 at 8:00 PM, alsfarms said:

Hello Ben,

I am curious as to the depth, front to back of your nice facility.  What a proper backdrop for your Lorries!


It is less deep than a War Office Subsidy 3 ton vehicle at 18 feet. Still planning the next garage.

As there are no events on the horizon I have been trying to finish off as many small jobs as possible on the vehicles. Having bolted the speedometer to the dash a couple of months ago I pondered how best to link it up.

My gearbox is from the early 1920s; the only difference from the original being the addition of a speedometer take off. It is quite corroded but probably repairable, however it does not match the speedometer ratio. The original speedometer (if fitted) would have been belt driven so I have started making the patterns for that instead. It consists of a split pully to clamp onto the prop shaft and a hinged arm with spring carrying another pully (not yet made).




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50 minutes ago, BenHawkins said:

 sanding and painting before the whole lot gets a coat of pattern coat.

Why paint before pattern coat? I have found that a coat of pattern coat (sanded) is all that is needed. 

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On 1/10/2021 at 7:53 PM, andypugh said:

Why paint before pattern coat? I have found that a coat of pattern coat (sanded) is all that is needed. 

There are a few reasons I put the primer on first:

1. I find the pattern coat does not sand easily, clogging the sandpaper. The primer seems to be better in this respect.

2. Bondaprimer is quite thin and runs into any porosity left in the print. I know I should really run the print again if I can see a poor layer but as my patterns generally only need to be good for one casting it seems adequate.

3. I virtually always have something to prime that I have made in metal so I like to paint everything I can without cleaning the brush.

Anyway, they are now in pattern coat and have been given a quick polish with a nylon abrasive pad. I will have to see if I can drop them at the foundry as part of one of the permitted essential journeys.


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  • 3 weeks later...

I was able to get the patterns dropped off at the foundry, and collected the castings as part of an essential journey on Friday. Quite pleased with how well they have turned out as they had some of the thinnest walls I have attempted.



The large pulley is now finish machined, there are still a few hours of work in the other parts. 



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On 2/7/2021 at 6:48 PM, QL Driver said:

Looks great, Ben! What is the speedo you have fitted?

It is a 30mph Smiths speedometer. I purchased it at the Banfield auction right at the end of the first day. The auctioneer really wanted to finish so ran through the final lots at a fast pace; I think this is the only reason I could afford it. The red 12mph speed limit is quite faded and I cannot decide whether to paint it back in. One of the things I really like about the speedo is the second pointer that records the maximum speed achieved. The rest button can be locked off with a lead tag. The owner of the lorry (Ernest Shentall) was a JP so I could well imagine him choosing this model so he could keep an eye on his drivers. 



After drilling and tapping the split pulley I mounted it up on the milling machine and bored it out to fit the propshaft. I clamped some packaging card between the two halves to make sure it would clamp at the nominal diameter.



I skimmed a bar end of steel to the same diameter as the propshaft and clamped the pulley onto it. This may have been good enough for the turning forces but I decided to drill a radial hole in the steel and tapped the hole 1/4BSW, then fitted a screw  so the pulley could not rotate on the shaft.



I skimmed the belt surfaces and gave them a bit of a polish, just following the shape of the casting by eye.



I also started machining the belt tensioner parts. The bearings are in the post; I will finish it when they arrive.


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That’s a lovely item! I think the accessories can add so much to a restoration.

12 hours ago, BenHawkins said:

The red 12mph speed limit is quite faded and I cannot decide whether to paint it back in.

Robert Mikesh, in ‚ÄúRestoring Museum Aircraft‚Ä̬†refers to having used microcrystalline wax on the paint of the Wright Flyer engine to allow the original finish to be preserved whilst still allowing repainting. Perhaps a thin coating of wax could be used on the dial and then the red repainted over it? If you want to restore the finish you melt the wax off and the original finish is intact underneath.

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Thanks for the suggestions, I think the face is celluloid. I am much more at ease with metals and not sure if pigments in wax might transfer into the face


Some time ago I cheaply purchased a pocket watch holder, it was missing the majority of the insides but still had the velvet in the front section so I purchased some more to match. One turned up on eBay recently so I was able to see how the cushions should look. There is an outer ring of wood that is fastened in place with two wood screws; covered this with wadding before fitting the felt and then stitched a small circular cushion to fit in the middle.


Then there was the simple job of fitting it in the cab.


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I have been a bit distracted this week, the weather has been good so I did some trench digging for the smithy and repointed approximately 20m2 of brickwork (long overdue). One of the modern cars needed some work for the annual MOT test (perhaps modern is the wrong term as our everyday cars average over 20 years old), but I did manage to machine the coupling for the speedo drive. The speedo cables were threaded 3/4x26tpi and the drive I am copying had the bracket threaded 1-1/6x26tpi. 


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