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WW1 Peerless lorry restoration

Great War truck

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Well it is a 10HP Renault that I bought in Australia 20 years ago.  I am supposed to be working on my 1934 Riley which I bought 33 years ago but I ran out of wood for the rebuild of the wood frame so I dragged the Renault out of the bushes and rebuilt the engine (see separate thread "10HP Renault").

So, not being able to resist your request for a picture I cleared a considerable amount of tut from the chassis this afternoon.

The first picture shows the rear end of the chassis.  Ignore the casters; the vehicle came with none of its original wheels.  Everything wooden, including the body, had been eaten by the ants in the outback.  It has three-quarter elliptic springs with the correct date of 1911 on them.  There is no prop shaft.  The shaft you can see is to take the reverse torque from the back axle. The diff ratio is 80/14 so, working through the ratios/wheel size/max engine revs (1200) I worked out that the top speed is 20mph.  Given that cars on this chassis had diff ratios more like 64/14 I think I may have a commercial vehicle here.  This brings me on to the question of what sort of body should I build.  I would like to put something like an ambulance or pickup body on it as a wartime vehicle however I am having difficulty in finding pictures of WWI trucks.  Any ideas?

The second picture shows the gearbox (3 speed and reverse all working and dated 1911) plus transmission brake. The steering column is raked at the sporty angle option so may be a marriage as the antiques trade would describe it.  The under-tray is causing me some problems.  I am told I have all the bits (albeit some are in a parlous state) but I have yet to see how they all go together.  The only bits of body I have are the two rusty brackets for the driver's floor and toe boards.  I do have the bonnet however.

The third picture shows the front end.  Do not be fooled by the wheels, they have the wrong bolt spacing for my hubs.  They are however snap ring wheels such as one might have found on a commercial vehicle.  Also shown is the rebuilt engine with its splendid exhaust manifold.

Sorry to hijack your most entertaining thread.





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Thanks Alastair. That is a nice project.

Don't worry about thread hijacking. I think of this forum as a bunch of mates in the pub sitting around a table talking about a common interest. It is always nice to see what everyone else is up to.

My Peerless activities have been severely hampered by this Covid busines. I need to spend much more time in Devon but have curtailed my travelling. It is such a pain being 200 miles from one's project!

Steve  :) 

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Gone back to the Jack Shaft Brake Bands - the "hinges" to be riveted to the ends of the bands with 3/16" iron rivets - band and "hinge" drilled 3/16" first of all to take 2BA nuts and bolts which will hold them together during riveting and will be replaced one at a time as the rivets go in.





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13 hours ago, Great War truck said:

The first of the two Brake Bands now has its ends riveted on but still the second one to do. Riveting just a little awkward for one pair of hands but the "gallows! helps.

What you need is a hydraulic rivet squeezer 🙂 (I am surprised that you haven't made one?)

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As you know the plan is to restore the Peerless as a recovery truck from the 1st Mobile Repair Unit based at St Omer. Very happily we managed to locate the original blue prints for this body type. I have attached a section of them. Within the equipment description is a "mountain gun lifting tripod". You can see this on the side of the lorry and on a different version in use on a ditched lorry. We had always referred to them as shear legs. I presume they were used to assemble the component parts of a mountain gun, but i have never come across one before. We may have to manufacture a replica. Does anybody have any information on their dimensions, or possibly an original?


MRU 1.png

MRU 2.png

MRU 3.png

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On 10/22/2020 at 9:12 PM, simon king said:

Wonder if there is any link with the equipment used for the Royal Navy field gun races that were/are held at the Royal Tournament?

I know what you mean. I think that those were an improvised wooden A frame. I will have to find footage of it now to compare. Thanks

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Yours is my favourite thread on this forum - I have read it from the very beginning - several times.  The standard of workmanship you share between you is really impressive and, actually, so are your photography skills.  I very much look forward, one day, to seeing your vehicles at a rally in the flesh.  Really interesting.

10 68

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You are very kind. I am only sorry that we aren't progressing faster. Dad is keeping it all going but my contributions have been a bit lacking. I really need to keep looking at the thing and handling bits to plan the next move but have been keeping away.

You may recall that the last time I went down, we assembled some of the brakes and the brake shoes. The shoes are held together by two springs on a rod and have to be compressed to be able to fit them. I did try squeezing them up in the vice and wrapping a cable tie around but I couldn't make it work so I have made a spring lifter.

I found a couple of bits of steel in the drawer.


I bored a rebate in the ends to suit the springs.



A couple of bits of 3/8" square bar and a rivet made the hinge with a set screw between the two to jack them apart.


Next time I go down, I will be able to finish the job and it can go in the 'special tools' box.

A minor step forward anyway.

Steve  :)

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well, my planned visit has been kyboshed by the lockdown again.

I have had a box of bonnet catches on my bench for some time requiring work so I have picked them up again. The Peerless has a somewhat fancy bonnet catch that I have seen nowhere else.001.thumb.JPG.8de5c6def1c46be3c337154f55d66ed4.JPG

Dad had a rummage through the stores and came up with a few more. We will need eight altogether.




Once the bodies were cleaned up, Father painted them and turned some new spindles with UNF threads.



I then slotted them.


As we need eight catches for the two lorries, we decided to take some of the graft out of the job and get some new handles laser profiled. it was deemed worthwhile to order a couple of spares at the same time.



I silver soldered some lumps on so that I had something to file back.



Filing each one did become a bit tedious after a while at two hours apiece!


Then, what do you know but Dad found some more!


A bit of heat and gentle persuasion got them apart but, as you can see, the springs and spindles were completely shot. Well, we always like using original bits but I find that these have the dreaded UNS threads inside them so I must turn up some more spindles, Even getting a die has proven difficult and I am awaiting one from China at the moment.


In the mean time, I have wound some new springs using my home-made spring winder. This works well but I usually need to practice a few times before I get the springs just right.


This time, I was short of wire and had nothing spare to practice with. This is my progress, from left to right. The first two, the pitch was too small. Once adjusted, I had one too many coils. This was remedied by putting some coloured tape on the chuck so that I could count revolutions more easily. After that, they more or less settled down.


Finally, some primer on everything to date. These three, I filed and the fourth has an original spindle so I have a set ready to fit.


Not exactly urgent but another job ticked off the list. I am running out of bits now and really need a trip to see the thing again. Roll on Christmas!

Steve  🙂

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It was as long ago as last July that we decided to take the two wood rear wheels off the complete chassis and in their place replace them with the iron wheels that we have in stock. We had decided to fit the wood ones to the lorry that we are working on at the present and the iron ones will go on and stay on the second Peerless.
The first wood one came off easily and an iron one was fitted in its place to keep that lorry mobile but we were unable to remove the second wood one from the axle - it was very firmly stuck. At the end of that day, we had to give up on it and it was left for the next time when we could all get together - and would perhaps also give us more time to work out how to remove the stuck one.
It rather looks that we shall not be together again until the Christmas break,
Anyhow, we have decided to make a substantial threaded "Puller" to screw on the hub of the stuck wheel and try that approach to get the wheel off. The thread on that hub is 5.65" diameter and 16 tpi.
We quickly found a bit of 3/8" thick plate in the Scrap Box to bore out and thread for a trial fit - we think that the actual thickness of the Puller needs to be greater than 3/8" - perhaps 3/4" but that must be obtained.
The thread cut easily and the trial piece has been screwed on the hub of the wheel already removed and that is a good firm fit.
So the next job, is do all of that again with a thicker bit of steel.










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  • 2 weeks later...

My progress is becoming glacial which is very frustrating. However, the 5/16" UNS tap and die turned up from China this week so I have made up four replacement spindles for the bonnet catches.



There are now eight completed catches in stock for the two lorries when the time comes.

I continue to press on with the Dennis radiator pattern but there is nothing of interest to show for the time being. I would like to finish it before Christmas though.



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Still no end to the pandemic and the team has not been together for some time. Steve has continued making the patterns for a new Radiator for the Dennis at his home in Leicestaershire whilst Tim has continued with his researches and writings at his own home in Oxfordshire. Tony back at base in Devon has been working on a new threaded Puller to enable us to get the very firmly stuck second back wheel off the Peerless.

Some work now being done on the back wheel that we have taken off the old chassis and at present, work is going on to remove the wheel chain retention brackets - all heavily rusted.

This latter work is revealing the true condition of the back wheel which is not as sound as we had hoped and something for the team to discuss when we next convene. It may be that we have no choice but make a visit to the Wheelwright for a professional opinion.








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All seven of Rear Wheel Chain Brackets now removed from the first wheel - it is questionable if any of them are fit to fight again but it will be simple to get a new set laser cut - 14 so seven for each wheel.

The next job is to get the big sprocket off which is secured with 14 nuts and bolts to the Brake Drum. Again heavily rusted and coroded so more fun ahead!










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21 minutes ago, Great War truck said:

All seven of Rear Wheel Chain Brackets now removed from the first wheel - it is questionable if any of them are fit to fight again

Just an opinion, but they are original, and you are unlikely ever to need to use them, so I would keep them, patina and all. 

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1 hour ago, andypugh said:

Just an opinion, but they are original, and you are unlikely ever to need to use them, so I would keep them, patina and all. 

Will need them at Dorset if its wet ⛈️ like 2014 ,Webbys Locomobile was unstoppable with its original chains on.

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12 minutes ago, PITT24423 said:

Will need them at Dorset if its wet ⛈️ like 2014 ,Webbys Locomobile was unstoppable with its original chains on.

Maybe, I remember an Enfield Pageant in the 80's where the field was like a mud pudding, with a dry layer of turf over a squidgy base. Low gound-pressure vehicles didn't even notice, but those of us on narrow solids were completely stuck. 

But: The simple application of a Landrover was a lot less bother than putting chains on. 

Not that seeing chains in action isn't an end unto itself. 

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