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WW1 Peerless lorry restoration

Great War truck

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I have just had a nice weekend in Devon where we did a little more. The 1 3/16" x 12 tpi tap and die had turned up so I set to on tidying up the track rod.


The die is a metric diameter for an imperial thread and we don't have a die stock that size. Fortunately, the thread wasn't too garbled and I managed to pull it around by hand and strap wrench to clean it up. The die isn't of the split pattern so it took that treatment.


A good greasing this time with the thickest grease I could find (Rated ' Consistency 2' on the tin).


I screwed it into roughly the right position and tried it for toe-in. It is 1/4" on a 30" wheel so following the advice above, I don't think we are too far out.


I tightened up the locking nut and passed the rod over to the paint shop for some remedial work.


Since last time, Father has cleaned up the other radius rod end and painted it so I soon hung that on the chassis and fitted the brake drum back plate.


The brake levers went on next. The cams showed some signs of wear so I swapped them side to side to allow the unworn faces to come into contact instead.


Whilst tightening the second pinch bolt, it just didn't feel right. Closer inspection revealed that is was a BSF bolt wound into a UNS tapped hole.



We found another bolt which could be cleaned up and modified for use but Dad's brand new UNS die made a mess of the thread. After all of the lorries we have done, we thought that by now we would have all of the tools we would need to do these but UNS threads have really caught us out. Does anyone know where UNS fasteners may be obtained? They are very tedious things to make and getting decent dies is proving difficult as well.

Next job was to screw the wear plates onto the ends of the brake shoes. Quite fortuitously, when Father replaced the linings on the shoes he replaced the countersunk screws and slot nuts with new UNF versions. He kept the originals which turned out to be UNS and there were enough left to secure the wear pads using holes tapped into the castings. At least we didn't have to make these!


Again, the pads are worn on  one side so I have carefully arranged them so that the unworn edges of the cams contact the unworn part of the wear plates.


We hung these on the axle ends.


Then there was the next challenge. How to compress the return springs to fit them!


I think I am going to have to make a bespoke spring compression tool. Something else to ponder this week.

Steve   :)  

Edited by Old Bill
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Just looking at bits at the moment before we return to the Transmission Brake Bands and linings to finish them.
There are Stuffing Boxes on the ends of the Jack Shafts and the cover on each is secured by 6 bolts. We have seven included with our bits which are reusable so five to make and this mainly done today - screw driver slots still to put in the heads. Steve already has a set up to do that so these bolts will go back with him to his place when he next comes down west again.
Interestingly, the Parts Book shows studs on this set up with separate nuts but we had the bolts with cross holes drilled in the head of each for securing wire so this has been replicated by us. Presumably a later modification.





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Sill looking to replace some of the missing bits and in particular, the braking system at the present time. The Transmission Brake or Foot Brake is known as the Service Brake in the Parts Book - there should be two adjustable Anchor Rods for this and we only have one original. That original is fit to use again and a new second one is being fabricated as a copy of that original - the eye at the end is to be welded to the rod but screwed in now to hold it all together. The hole for the pin can be opened up to the final diameter after welding.
All straight forward but there are UNF threads on this where we were anticipating UNS again. Keeps you on your toes!




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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 three but, of course, we will eventually need four. They screw into the top of the king pin and , when the knob is turned, a piston is driven downwards expelling the grease and pushing it down the hole in the king pin. I took them apart for a clean and to assess what parts were missing.


This was the most complete example having both the knob and locking clip.



We have two pistons which have leather seals.


The internal springs have ends bent so that they locate inside the cylinder and in the top of the piston to stop it rotating as the knob is turned.


For a bit of light relief, I filed up the three missing clips.


The fourth knob was next. A rummage in the stock drawer found alump of brass which would just do with a bit of judicious hole-dodging.


Roughed out and with filing guides bolted on.


An hour or two with a file and emery paper and there is a respectable replacement.


Of the three centre spindles that we have, one is wobbly in the knob and has a poor thread. As usual, the thread was a UNS example but this time left handed! I don't have a die for that as you might expect. However, 3/8 UNS has 18 tpi but 3/8" Whit has 16. I opted to make the two replacements with 3/8" LH BSW threads. Well, there is a limit!



We are missing two pistons. They were a simple turning job with a LH thread in the middle. I have used O-rings instead of leather washers and I am sure they will be fine.


First complete original cleaned up and reassembled.



We have only three original cases so I had to turn up the fourth. A rummage in the stock drawer turned up a 3 1/2" length of 3" brass bar. I have no idea where it came from but it was absolutely just right for the job.


Lots and lots and lots of swarf with a bit of knurling thrown in.



The excitement of parting off without damaging it.


The slot for the locking clip.


Pinning the knob to the spindle. I turned up a pin and tapped it into the hole before peining the ends over and dressing off.


Nearly there now but still missing a spring for the new one.


I wound this on a tapered mandrel. Unfortunately, I didn't allow enough for the spring to relax at the small end as it moved more there, reducing the net taper.


Not quite perfect but I think it will do the job.



Final assembly.


The final three cleaned up and assembled.


The fourth one is already on the lorry!


It is amazing how long these silly little bits take. Fortunately, the remaining greasers are a lot simpler which is good news as there are dozens of them of a special Peerless pattern!

Steve  :) 

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New bits and pieces were completed a week or two ago for the Transmission Brakes but now we wish to get on with them and get them completed. We either had no original parts of them in the "Spares Department" or those that we did have were beyond repair but fortunately could serve as patterns.

Initially, we found only one of the two brackets that are riveted to the ends of the Brake Bands so that one was "tarted up" to serve as a pattern for the Foundry so that four new ones could be cast. That worked out acceptably but the new castings proved to be hard and were not a lot of fun in machining them! We are not sure if they became chilled or perhaps there were inclusions - but it all worked out.

New steel for the Bands was obtained and we had these rolled to fit - but they still need shortening to the required final lengths,. New linings were also obtained and are now ready.

The next task before fitting the linings to the steel bands is to make two new "Releasing Springs" which have to be riveted to the steel bands before the linings are attached. The pictures will show that the originals have "had it"!





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Took the two Jack Shafts with their Sprockets to the Sand Blaster to get them cleaned up before an initial examination. Was surprised to find three small nails jamed in a Key way and it rather looks as if they were deliberately placed there at some time in the past to fill a gap - or something. They were easily removed. It will probably all be come obvious why they were there when we come to put the thing togther again!

Also removed the rather shabby Release Spring assembly from an old Brake Band so that two new ones can be made, using that original as a pattern. The Spring is of a square section wire and is there a significance in that?









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I wish I had the time to do this. It's an awful lot of bench fitting and a labour of love.

My farhter has restored several WW2 trucks and I'm in possesion of a 1942 Ford GP......It's just time I'm short of at the moment.

Top Job!

I'll be following this going forward.

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Hi all, 

            I occasionally chime in here, and also occasionally bring a car over from the states to drive through the Cotswolds, so I though I would share my new adventure, as it’s in the family of WW1 truck history.

Recently I uncovered and purchased a 1917 White Motor Car, from the same company that built White Motor Trucks. In mid 1917 the company stopped building cars, and began truck production for the war. They made lots of parts and assemblies for the Liberty Truck, as well as their own trucks for the US Government. They never built cars after the Great War, and the car below is the “newest and possibly one of the last fifty they ever built. It’s the last of its kind. I found it in the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. It was last run in 1940. It has 11,223 miles on it. Except for tires and radiator hoses, it is how it left the factory. White Motor Company went on to make most of the WWII American M3 Halftracks, among many other military vehicles. Production for White ended in the early 2000’s. At one time they made more trucks than any other company in the USA. They became part of Studebaker for a short time in the 30’s. Anyways, after 81 years we now have it running. The finish on the car is the original 1917 varnish.....before lacquer. It’s quite a machine, costing 5000. US at the time, much more than Cadillac’s, Packards, Pierce Arrows, and many others. Photo of the car taken the first day it ran in 81 years. It shall remain in its current condition and will be used, enjoyed, and displayed for others to enjoy. So, while not a Peerless.........it certainly is a close cousin! They were both built in a Cleveland Ohio......probably in the same year. It’s a small world. Hope you enjoy the photos of the car. Also, a photo of the actual car in the New York Auto Show........in the Astor Hotel.........Mr. Astor, went down with the Titanic. 

FYI- It’s a custom aluminum body, by Ruby Carriage Builders. It has a Dual Valve engine.....four valves per cylinder. 75 Horsepower. Four speed, 140 inch chassis, and it stands 7 feet 9 inches tall.


I thoroughly enjoy the restoration blogs here, and while I don’t comment too often, many of us Yankees watch with fascination at the work being done. Bravo to all here.........brothers on the other side of the pond!




Edited by edinmass
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1 hour ago, jpsmit said:

that's amazing! and immense

Nothing like a 37 inch tire to smooth out the bumpy roads......while it’s a bit faster than a war lorry, it will easily do 70 mph, it’s about the same size! 

Peerless car production lasted until 1931.........then they became a brewery and made Black Label Beer. They are still in business. Here is one of the last cars they built....a 1929 Peerless eight. I had the opportunity to work on it when they had a few issues. Now......back to the trucks.👍




Edited by edinmass
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Good to hear from you Ed and that these truck restorations still provide interest in the USA. That White is a beautiful car. What an amazing find. I am told that of all the early US built luxury cars that Peerless are less preferred than say Packard, Pierce Arrow and Locomobile. Is that your impression? Why do you think that might be? I think that they are very elegant.


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Hi Ed!

Thank you for your most interesting and fascinating posting - what a lovely car and a what a marvellous "find" - however did you manage to find such a beauty?

I remember that you have said in the past that you come to England from time to time and that you favour the Cotswolds - should you do that again, then do please let us know as it would be great for us to catch up with you during your visit!



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I'll answer Tony's question first.Like most things, I found it by accident. Over at the AACA Club Website there is an extensive post about 30 pages long in only 8 weeks. It covers in detail how I found it, and what it required to make it run. Like your truck restoration posts, it can take a while to read it all...but it's worth the effort. The post at the AACA is in the general interest category, and the title is "The phone rang.......and the next car adventure starts. You can also search for it under my posting name...."edinmass".  Be sure, the next time I am in the UK, I will stop to see you and your collection. We were planning on three weeks in June this year to visit, but the Covid 19 put a fast stop to that. Maybe next year. I very much enjoy the family restoration projects you all take on........a great way to spend time with ones loved ones, and save history at the same time. Best, Ed

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10 minutes ago, edinmass said:

Be sure, the next time I am in the UK, I will stop to see you and your collection. We were planning on three weeks in June this year to visit, but the Covid 19 put a fast stop to that. Maybe next year. I very much enjoy the family restoration projects you all take on........a great way to spend time with ones loved ones, and save history at the same time. Best, Ed

Wonderful - that's a date!


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Now....the truck question of Packard, Pierce Arrow, Peerless, and Locomobile ..........The war had a great effect on all the companies.......some positive, and much more negative. First thing to remember is all the previous companies listed were VERY high end automobile manufactures..........the sales prices of the cars were much more than the cost of three or four homes......they were that expensive. Production at all of them was rather low........certain engine/chassis combinanations were often in the single or low double digits. Around 1915 lots of changes began in the states with car manufacturing. Packard and Pierce had always made trucks.....but they tended to be sold locally to the plant that manufactured them.....car and truck sales were most often a regional product.......they didn't often travel far from where they were built. The west was still mostly open country, with little population. The East coast, and Chicago were big agricultural and manufacturing hot spots. Basicly when the war started in Europe.......the companies realized they could make hundreds and even thousands of sales to government contracts.......guaranteed high profit and high volume and there was no question of getting paid. Truck production cut in very heavily to the car manufacturing.......White gave up on cars altogether. Peerless, Packard, Pierce, and Loco did build a small handful of cars and kept them in production, but they were interested in making money. Right after the war we had the depression of 1921. So car sales were not high on anyones requirements. By the time everything was sorted out Peerless was a shell of what it once was....and started using off the shelf engines from suppliers instead of making their own units. They went from a super high end car to middle of the market very quickly...and they never recovered. The Great Depression finished them off. Loco became a company that had troubbles and the stock market boys tossed it around and killed it.......it really was never a viable company after WW1. Pierce made it out of 1922 with two different car lines.....but they were  rather lower quaility than what had came before. They got it back together again by 1928 and were off to the races, until they died a slow death from the depression, closing in 1938. Packard came out of the war truck production in good shape and hit the road running with a great line up of cars......production increased in huge numbers, and they became the dominant player in high end cars in the states.......often making five times more cars than all the other high end makers combined. also....add in that the US started income taxes for the first time in it's history to pay for the war......and many people were just didn't have the extra income to buy great and expensive cars. At the same time, car prices were dropping........it was a crossroads of manufacturing, economic upheaval, political changes....... many things changed how Americans made and purchased cars.......automobile financing came into vogue in 1924. So, now some opinions as to the companies and their cars......

Peerless came out with a V-8 in 1915 that someone else designed and built them.(Northway) It was the beginning of the end for them in quality and prestige. By 1922 when car production began, they were much more in the "Buick" lower end of the market segment. They just slowly faded away. 

Pierce Arrow had it's major success from 1904 to 1919 in cars. Everything built afterwards was a great product, but no where near what was built before the war. I have owned countless Pierce Arrow cars.........and they were always comperiable to Packard in fit, finish, and quality. Cars became much less expensive after the war, and thus they were more of a "mass produced" high end product.

Packard was the strong man of the high end car industry......can't be denied. The made a fantastic product, and in numbers that crushed everyone else numbers. The had a great dealer network, which also was a huge reason for their success. Bad planning during WWII is what caused their failure after the second war.......old guys smoking cigars looking back at the past.......and poof, they were gone. 

Locomobile was always a great car, and a company that had money and production issues. The never made many cars, and seemed to cater to the wealthiest of clients. Compared to the three above, they really were just a footnote in history. It was their excess manufcturing capacity that allowed them to make vehicles for the first war.


All the above is a quick and short explanation of what happened. All of them made good products. They found it hard to keep up with modern manufacturing techniques. Best, Ed


Edited by edinmass
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Thanks Ed. That is very interesting and explains a lot. Next question, why are there no surviving Peerless trucks in the USA? We know they didnt all come to Britain during the war and have seen hundreds of photos of them in private ownership during the teens and twenties, but no survivors?



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