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WW1 Peerless lorry restoration

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Can't leave Dad to have all the fun! Now that the front wheels are on along with the track rod, king pins and stub axles, the king pins need some greasers. We are fortunate to have the remains of

Guy, a forum member put me on to a recent auction in case there was anything there that caught my eye. Something most certainly did, four Peerless front wheels. I put in an on line bid and was delight

A Genie! Gosh that made me laugh. Nothing quite so exciting really. Here is a picture of the store room.

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These are the front springs - they have been sand blasted to clean them and to make a full examination of their condition easier to assess. You will see that they are in an indifferent condition - heavily rusted, one leaf broken, the leaves have spread and the bronze bushes on one are heavily worn. We have decided to send these to a Springs specialist to look at - repair if possible or to be used as a copy for new ones to be made. Fortunately, the rear springs are in good condition - we have two sets of those but only the one pair of "fronts".






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  • 2 weeks later...

Wow. £295. What a bargain. The first batch from the end of the war were offered at £400 and they had not been reconditioned.

Dad has not been able to find any reusable (or reconditionable!) front shackle pins so has been making them. Still a lot to do though -  the caps to be silver soldered on and machined to correct final profile. Feathers to be made and fitted.





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  • 2 weeks later...

All Shackles, Hooks and Shackle pins - now cleaned or replaced with the exception of the one Shackle that Steve took away to press out the old warn bronze bushes (now done) ready for fitting. Steve will bring that one missing Shackle with him back to Devon when he next comes down for new bronze bushes to be made and pressed in.









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Now that the Thornycroft has gone, one of the aims for this Christmas was to straighten the Peerless chassis. It was well jammed in behind the FWD so we had to get that out of the way first. Although it is very rarely used I am pleased to report it started on almost the first swing. We then had to move all of the junk that has built up around it and then with an engine hoist controlling the lift we gently dropped it to the floor. We then rearranged the strop on the chassis and moved the Peerless across the floor, brought the FWD back in and then eyed up the chassis. Straightening the chassis - tricky or difficult. What do you think?















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What do you think of losing just enough rivets to get that third crossmember out of the chassis, then straighten and reinforce each chassis rail in turn, then refit the third crossmember?

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Here's how I straightened my not as big as yours chassis, Put the x members back afterwards, using wood to prevent point pressure helps a lot.

Like yourselves I usually find most things are possible at home with enough thought.


Edited by gritineye
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If you make a loop of rope diagonally across each part of the chassis, from one end of a cross member to the opposite end of the next cross member, poke a piece of wood through the middle of the loop and twist the rope by turning the wood, it is possible to exert a huge amount of force. I would expect that a triple loop of 12mm blue polypropylene rope would easily pull the chassis into line. You would probably have to pull two adjacent sections of the chassis in opposite directions at the same time or you will just parallelogram the whole thing but doing it this way is very controllable and is not trying to rip the joints apart but to pull them together so is much safer than a Portapak.


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Agree with Gordon and Bernard, the chassis rails are bent not lozenged so remove the crossmember, straighten the rails and refit the crossmember.  The rivets will have been stressed and will hold a lot better if hot riveted once the rails are straight.

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A couple of further thoughts, it might be tempting to use heat, but I'd avoid that if possible.

Although metal can be straightened using heat, on that size metal unless you have two rosebuds going together to get an even heat and an experienced chap in charge, there's no guarantee that unwanted twisting in an unintended direction won't be the result as it cools.

I used a 'floating' beam to pull against as it aligned itself with the chassis as it straightened, then I could move the jack and do a bit more. Pulling against a fixed object would mean straightening two bends at once and might need a lot more force.

As the webs and the flanges of the rails will have stretched at slightly different rates, it might mean one side of the chassis will end up ever so slightly longer than the other, but not enough to obsess about IMHO.

As Mike says hot riveting will take care of any stretched holes, as long as a the one hole in each that's still round and lines up is riveted first it should be fine.

Best to get as much input from a few others as you can, but it shouldn't be as daunting as it appears at first, good luck.

Edited by gritineye
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As and apprentice - I took part in such straightening of bent  "solebars"  on such as bogie-bolster .  These solebar could be UB, RSJ, RSC , RSA  and often involved a 'bulb-iron' of some description.   It would be done by a pair or two pair of fitters and one or two burners using oxy-propane.   The rule was - if they could not do it , then rivets were burned off and it was then a blacksmiths job to straighten .  Depending - it could have new material or the lot scrapped.   IMHO  - this lorry  RSC section is far to slight and you would endanger insitu.      At the mill after the straightener rolls , this size section would be bundled to abt 5 ton and lifted using a pair of wire strops ,  it would be very floppy when craned ,but it's memory would straighten.   These solebar removed are going to be kinked  -  but you have a good chance to get very straight again if removed.   Truly amazing the quality they got from open-hearth steel 100 years ago , I would say the grade will be a bit better than cooking stuff.

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There are modern techniques for straightening chassis' nowadays and I remember when we were rebuilding crash damaged DROPS vehicles during the Bosnia conflict (c.1993), a company from London straightened a chassis by a method whereby it did not even have to be stripped out and it was aligned by laser. This is done cold with hydraulic jigs.

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6 hours ago, Richard Farrant said:

There are modern techniques for straightening chassis' nowadays and I remember when we were rebuilding crash damaged DROPS vehicles during the Bosnia conflict (c.1993), a company from London straightened a chassis by a method whereby it did not even have to be stripped out and it was aligned by laser. This is done cold with hydraulic jigs.

Quite true what you describe - certain there must be commercial vehicle versions,  I would not say that the days of such as the Celette are obsolete (I believe they hired  a hessian sack of the unique attachment points, these were often circular for original factory welding fixtures + gripper pads for sills , boot rear flange & engine/beam front X members - for each model of monocoque) Much was left to up to. hydraulic ram control using laser input against factory alignment data .  It is about 20 years since I watched this at a firm at Durham that specialized in car body repairs (often what you would consider a write-off) - that business -I believe was financed by a pool of insurers to do this in-house.


For this project , if it were I - I would buy/borrow a heavy bearing press min. 20 tons and probably 30/40 tons better . Set up the  'longitudinals'  on press table supporting ends on a pair of DIY trestles made from sleepers, fence-posts, whatever. Then quite simply straighten using the minimum of heat to just the flanges.

Edited by ruxy
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Hello Chaps.

Many thanks for your thoughts and observations which are all much appreciated. As we haven't done anything quite like this before, we thought we would just have a go and see what happens as a learning exercise! First job was to make up a a Jim Crow. I had a rummage in the undergrowth behind the shed and found the remains of the Dennis skid-pack on which the engine had originally been mounted. A brush off and removal of the bolts left me with two two solid pieces of C-section.




I spaced these two apart with blocks of wood and mounted the ram from our 10 tonne hydraulic press in the middle.

This is the challenge. The chassis is lovely and crisp and unworn but was kinked when they pulled it out from under the house in Salisbury. We want to try to reduce this a bit.



We rigged up the beam with a couple of bits of wood to make sure it stayed where we wanted it and then looped some chains around the ends.




Install the ram and give it a push.


Stand back. This could get exciting!


At about 7 tonnes, it sprung noticeably the other way.



It didn't look too bad and we moved the beam up and down and had a couple more pushes in other places. The net result is that we have removed the kink but the rails now have a slow curve from end to end giving us an offset in the middle of about an inch.


The question now is does this matter? Experience is telling me that the only way for us to get it perfect is to strip the rails from the assembly and bend them individually as has been suggested above. To be quite honest, this would be a real pain and I don't want to do it! There is a long propshaft between the engine and gearbox so the alignment is not an issue so what do you think? I would value some opinions!

Steve  :)

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Good job chaps, glad that worked well. 

Over that length an inch is probably within original build tolerates, I wouldn't worry if it doesn't make any bodywork look wonky.

I would check the rivets and give any loose ones a rap with an air hammer before painting.


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It looks "good enough". but sometimes good enough- isn't.  If you weren't intending to use it immediately I'd put it up on its side and load it a little to encourage the curve to come out.

Definitely agree with checking the rivets, particularly around that third crossmember where I would have expected some to move.

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1 hour ago, Old Bill said:

 Experience is telling me that the only way for us to get it perfect is to strip the rails from the assembly and bend them individually as has been suggested above.

Can you borrow an I-beam as long as the chassis and repeat the process above but anchored at the ends and pushing in the middle, probably with a relatively flexible wooden spreader? 

(Or, turn the chassis upside down on the floor and use concrete anchors as the fixed points) 

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