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WW1 Dennis truck find

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I have not updated this for quite a while now, but i hope that we will soon have some more progress and interesting photos. Tony has not been idle. he has finished off painting up the cleaned cylinder blocks:




Taken the inlet manifold and carb off the engine:




Dismantled it and given it a good clean up




Our next big step is to get the engine rebuilt and back in the frame, although there are lots of other little things that we need to do first.

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  • 4 weeks later...
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Well, despite evreryone's kind thoughts and suggestions, I still don't quite have my head around the bottom tank even though it looks easier. I have, therefore started on the pattern for the top tank!

I am not much of a wood worker and was getting a bit fed up with it so I gave it a break and did some other things. However, the feeling has come upon me again and it is time it was finished off. I to

Pattern making continues and now I am into core boxes. As you can see, there are two cut-outs in the back with return flanges, necessitating a core box each. The flange requires that the core protrude

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Steve "The Legend" :bow: has been busy again. This is what he has just sent me. Hopefully i can get all the pictures in the correct order :computerterror2: before the compter crashes on me.


I am not worthy :bow:


Tim (too)


In the Dennis 'Susidy' engine, the fan is driven by a disc covered with friction material and mounted on the front of the timing case. Whilst we were dismantling the engine, this had to be removed to allow the governor to be taken off. Unfortunately for us, it was very tight and defied the combined efforts of a three-legged puller, a propane torch and a jemmy behind it until, with quite a bang, it broke off altogether. This caused much consternation as, up until that point, we had a perfectly serviceable fan drive. Now we were faced with removing it and making a replacement.


First task was removal. This was achieved by using a 'Dremel' high speed abrasive disc to cut it lengthways and then by splitting it off with a cold chisel. All very brutal. Then, of course a replacement had to be made. This was done by silver soldering two bits of steel together to make a blank and then turning it to shape. The biggest challenge was the internal spline which was not something we had done before. It was felt that our home-made slotting attachment might be used to cut the grooves but the problem was that there was no way to accurately index them. To achieve that, an indexing attachment was made which screwed to the lathe headstock and picked up on the teeth of the gear wheel mounted on the main spindle behind the chuck. You can see it in the top of the picture. The challenge here was that the gear has sixty teeth which is not divisible by eight! To get over that, the detent was slotted cross-ways so that it could sit on the top of a gear tooth as well as between thus doubling the number of available indexes to 120. Problem solved! The splines were cut with great care using a vernier caliper to get the depths right and then, heart in mouth, the disc was removed from the chuch to try. It fitted first time so we are very pleased as it could not have been returned to the chuck for modification as it would never have been quite in line again. One more piece ready for reassembly.

















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I have found this thread only by accident , I didn't think I had much to learn in the " British Vehicles " category I was wrong .

I must say , I m amazed at how much work and creative engineering have been used to rebuild and restore a long lost and rightfully described Historic Military Vehicle !!!

By God don't you worry about any one being able to fault any of your work , They Can Not !!! I don't think there is a truck mechanic Veteran still alive from WW1 .Even He would have to admire how hard you have worked and been so very careful in trying to get every detail's right.

What with the collection of Photograph's and details of your restoration no that's not the right word, the "rebirth" is as close as I can come to find a word that might do it justice .

You have had set back's true, but you have found a way foreward each time , I m sure the day when you fire it up for the first time and it is put into gear It will be a glorious event No one there will ever forget !!!!

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Thank you, you are very kind.


True, there are no longer any motor mechanics from the war. However, we have the great good fortune to know a chap who did his mechanics apprenticeship in the 1930's when the last of the solid tyred lorries were still on the road. His advice and assistance has been invaluable over the years. On one occasion, the FWD just wouldn't run properly so we asked Alec's advice. He came over and had a look and a listen and then uttered the immortal words'


"I think you are retarded!" Probably more truth in that statement than he intended!


Actually, Alec is a most interesting man. He was a Sergeant in the Royal Engineers and was there at the fall of France in 1940. He was heading back to Dunkirk with another Sapper when an officer in the Gloucesters (I think) stopped them and asked them to loophole a barn where they planned to make a stand. This they did. The officer then said that as there was nothing more they could do, they should scarper. They had a vehicle so they went, foot to the floor under shellfire! They eventually made it to Dunkirk from where they escaped on a destroyer via the Mole. Alec later heard that after a stiff fight, the Gloucester officer and his men were lined up and shot by the SS.


It's amazing who you meet in this hobby.



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True , very true . Some are drawn by the History some by the Mechanical aspect some by the Memories either having served or had a connection to someone who did. What is the more important reason ? All are equal , its the fellowship of sharing and adding to the experience I think that keep's a Group going and others wanting to be a part of it .

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  • 4 months later...

It has been four Months since i last updated this topic and quite a lot has gone on. I will add to it in small chunks as my PC has a habit of crashing mid post.


You will remember that we found one of the oil filters had been crushed and badly damaged by someone armed with a screwdriver. Basically, after we cleaned of the dirt and removed the gauze it looked like this.



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Thanks for that Degsy. There really are so many photos i dont know what to exclude, but i will just give you the basic ones to preserve your sanity.


After cleaning up the block, we started reassembley. Here is the end cover.




After cleaning up all the valve guides and valves we realised that the valves were not in that great a condition, so we had some new ones made. We then set about putting these in.




Steve had to adapt a valve spring compressor that he had bought for the job, as its reach was not quite enough.




Now all in place




And with the covers back on it is looking more like an engine once again.



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With the sump back on and the engine now mostly assembled we could now look at putting it back in the chassis. We had to remove the radiator and bonnet of course.




Luckily we have all the gear to do a gentle lift for the engine:




Until we finally got it in to place. It does look a little lost in there, but there is still plenty more to add to the engine assembly yet:



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It has to be said - that standard of workmanship transcends engineering and is firmly in the realm of a work of art!!!!



Hey thanks for that Neil. It is all very pleasing to the eye. Do you remember that full size replica nuclear submarine they made from old tyres. We must be in with a chance for the next Turner prize. :angel:


Tim (too)

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It's only the truth Tim. :-) The finished item should be something to behold!! :-)

I'm actually a toolmaker by trade and the standard of workmanship reminds me very much of a chap I used to work with. Everything he produced either had a mirror finish or looked as though it was sprayed.

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Thanks for the update, all I can do is echo what the others have said, you've made something as utalitarian (did I spell that right?) as engine parts look beautiful, I bet i'm not the only one here to see it finished - nice to see the FWD in the background too

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Thanks for your kind comments again Chaps. Just wait and see what it looks like after we have run it. They don't call the lubrication system 'total loss' for nothing!


The question of how many is a very interesting one. As far as the Dennis is concerned, there is our 'bitsa' and another which is a fairly original vehicle heavily rebuilt to a civilian operating standard. There is also one other of, we think, 1919 vintage in unrestored civilian guise. I think abut 5000 were built in total but Tim will give some more precise figures later.


In terms of how many vehicles in total, it is rumoured that the War Department had bought 120,000 by the end of the War. Of that 120,000, we believe that there are of the order of 83 survivors in this country. Of those 83, 34 are in military guise or are to be restored as such. Of the 34, there are 23 in working order and of those 23, 14 have been out and about in the last ten years. These are those:


Autocar UF21 1917 DS8904 British G/S Gosling

Daimler Y British G/S Harris

Foden C (Steam) 1917 WD Roads Brandt

Ford T US G/S Aran

Ford T UK Machine gun car Groombridge

FWD B 1918 DS8575 US G/S Gosling

Hallford 4 Ton XA8987 British G/S Weatherhead

Liberty B 1918 US G/S Dodd

Locomobile 1914 British G/S Webb

Nash Quad British G/S Moores

Pierce-Arrow R British G/S Grundon

Saurer 1914 French G/S Webb

Thornycroft J 1916 British G/S Hampshire Museums

Thornycroft J British G/S Turner


This list omits cars and motor cycles of which there are a handful. It represents a pretty small survival rate although there are still quite a few in France if you are keen to get hold of one.


I should be very pleased to hear of any more.






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Wow, thanks for the listing Steve, interesting to see what's out there - are there many restored British vehicles in France/Belgium that get out and about much? I'm off to Belgium in April for a large WWI living history event, be interesting to see if anything turns up to that. Don't know if it counts as it has a 13 pounder AA gun on the back, but there's also the Thornycroft J type at Duxford

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Hi Richard.


I counted the Duxford J as one of the 23 as I haven't seen it out and about since the Brighton run in '84 or 85. It is a nice wagon though although the interactive information panel next to it does show a Peerless AA lorry!


I don't have any French contacts, unfortunately, so my info is just what I have seen. There is certainly a restored Nash Quad which comes out and a group of Frenchmen drove a 1914 De Dion three-tonner from Nantes over for the Brighton run a few years back. We have picked up photos of various ancient lorries either at shows or derelict over there but I'm afraid I cannot point you at any specifically. The survivors all seem to be French or American built. I guess the British stuff mostly came back to the UK. I should be most interested to see what you find.


Have a nice trip!



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  • 2 months later...

The engine still has a lot of work to do on it, including the making of a new water pump. Steve has been slighlty side tracked on another project so that will take a bit of time to get finished. In the meantime, Tony has started work on the gearbox. We have the remains of three gearboxes, two of which have smashed casings and the third one is "delicate" to say the least. Steve is confident that it can be brought back. I am a little wary, but have every confidence in Steve. Anyway, this is how it looks with the cover off and you can see the gears inside.








The gears all look to be in good order, but i still have reservations about the casing. Ever optimistic, we proceed ever onwards.


Tim (too)

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Such a shame someone long ago left the one shown where water could get into the housing:argh:. The mounting pedistals look solid on the sides of the casting are they ? I 'd be very worried about the state of the bearings.:cry:....I know they can be replaced its the getting them out of the housing and off the shafts with out rendering the remainding parts useless! I m guessing after a good flushing that the assembles will be put into drums of oil for a good long penatrating soak.

Thank You for the update , the workmenship is fantastic:clap::clap:

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Tim has kept you very well up to date with our endeavours - and I have just gone back to the Gearbox after other diversions! The first of his last three photos shows the lid coming off the gearbox for the first time last Christmas - and the two other photos shows it after its first "scrape" to get surface grease and muck off before we get down to some serious cleaning. The "feet" to bolt it to the sub chassis are still sound, but there is a Transmission Brake with its mountings cast into the gearbox and these are looking very fragile. The most sound of the three gearboxes that we have already has one of these mountings broken off - so we think that there must have always been a problem of fragility in this component - i.e. - the harder you brake, the more stress you place on the alumnium casting and something will ultimately break!


The Gearbox is in a terrible state with all external fittings badly rusted and corroded so getting it apart is not going to be an easy exercise. But we shall persist and I guess, will eventually get there.


Since Christmas, we have worked on other engine components so that they are ready to fit - and all we really need now is the water pump to complete the engine - Steve ands Tim have seen an original on another preserved (albeit in pieces) lorry - have photgraphed and measured the components so we are ready for pattern making. This will be Steve again - we shall get the bits cast at our local Foundry and Steve has already given me the final drawings so that I can machine them up here at "base" in Devon as soon as they have been cast.


It is an interesting exercise and has kept the three of us very amused and occupied - and all "pulling together", which to me, as the "Patriarch" of the family has given me a great deal of pleasure.



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