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WW1 Peerless lorry restoration

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The Fight Continues!

A pal has very kindly loaned me some proper oxy-acetylene kit with sensibly sized bottles.


Listening to the advice, I started by welding the end of the puller to a piece of tube.


My best pigeon was on duty today.


Then welded the tube to the bearing.


I screwed the puller in and tightened it up.


Of course, the weld immediately failed so I went around again gobbing on as much weld as I could. I leaned on the puller and it held although the bearing didn't move so out with the heat.


After having a good go with that, we gave the handle a turn and after a while felt a definite 'give'. 'Hooray, we thought. However, the joy was short lived as we soon found that the puller had failed instead and the seals had blown.


I had kept my hand on it to make sure that it didn't get too hot but obviously it did.

Back to the drawing board.

Steve  🤔

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Yes, it is strange. I have managed to acquire a wide variety of skills but welding just completely escapes me! Probably because I can't see and do it all by feel!

I shall see if I can borrow the big puller again and have a final go. If that fails, I shall have to gas the end off the axle and scrap it. This job is getting very painful.

Steve     🙁

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1 hour ago, Old Bill said:I shall see if I can borrow the big puller again and have a final go. If that fails, I shall have to gas the end off the axle and scrap it. This job is getting very painful.

Steve     🙁

Hi Steve,

Before you do anything drastic, see if you can find an experienced gas welder who can use a cutting torch down the side of the bearing. It should be possible to cut down the side of the inner race without harming the shaft, it will then lose its grip on the shaft.

regards Richard

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2 hours ago, Old Bill said:

Yes, it is strange. I have managed to acquire a wide variety of skills but welding just completely escapes me! Probably because I can't see and do it all by feel!

I shall see if I can borrow the big puller again and have a final go. If that fails, I shall have to gas the end off the axle and scrap it. This job is getting very painful.

Steve     🙁

Weld quality is normally just a question of practice, as long as you are getting some feedback on exactly what you are doing wrong.  I have spot, stick, and MIG welders here, but the MIG is my choice for almost all welding.  If drastic action is needed just have a socially-distanced open day and invite a few local members with tools.  Cutting up an axle over a hundred years old isn't really a sensible option even if you have spent weeks on it.

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9 hours ago, Old Bill said:

Yes, it is strange. I have managed to acquire a wide variety of skills but welding just completely escapes me! Probably because I can't see and do it all by feel!

Seeing what the weld is doing is rather important.....
I actually have lenses inside my welding mask to compensate for long-sightendness. 

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I have found it possible to blow the seals on one of those same pullers without heat.

In the same kit I have (Chinese copy) there was a solid version. (basically,  just a huge bolt). That has never failed me. 

Plenty of quiet lurkers following with interest and wishing you well with your endeavours. 



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14 hours ago, Richard Farrant said:

Hi Steve,

Before you do anything drastic, see if you can find an experienced gas welder who can use a cutting torch down the side of the bearing. It should be possible to cut down the side of the inner race without harming the shaft, it will then lose its grip on the shaft.

regards Richard


Agreed with the above. I don’t like to speak out of turn, but I could easily cut that race out with no damage to anything else. You need an experienced under car mechanic that is over fifty years old. They will have the needed skill. Back in the day we would cut off nuts off  ball joints without damaging the threads or overheating the joint.......today skilled mechanics that have hundreds of hours of using a torch are hard to find. I expect I could have that done in under fifteen minutes. I still like the advise I gave a while back........an air chisel and heat the race glowing red......it will zip right off. Cutting it while fairly easy will blow slag and cause a possible small grease fire. I wish I could fly over and give you gents a hand.......Best, Ed.

Off topic, but semi Peerless related........I purchased another White. Made right down the road from the Peerless factory in Cleveland . It’s a 1915 with 82 horsepower........quite the speedy machine. You need to find a WWI White to restore, they built well over 12,000 units. 👍



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Success! (Eventually!)

Well I am back in Devon to return to the fray. I have borrowed a monster hydraulic puller and still have the borrowed acetylene equipment so off we go again. I started by beefing up the weld with some big rods, mainly to get some heat into the system.


Then it was out with thte big borrowed puller.


Once fitted, I aimed the torch through the gap to get the bearing hot and then wound on the pressure.




A good bang at this point indicated that the weld had failed. Surprisingly, this was not the joint with the bearing but the fillet around the top face which I had done down-hand on the bench. A bit disappointing but I had wound the puller well up and it hadn't a lot more to give. Strip it down and then onto the final string in my bow and that was to cut the bearing out.


My experience of oxy-acetylene is limited to a bit of gas welding at college many moons ago and cutting is a new skill completely! Fortunately, my good friend who had loaned the puller had given me some tips in advance and Dad had gone out and bought some gas-goggles.


I spent a lot of time with the torch and had been expecting to cut a simple slice in the race. Sadly, it was not as easy as that as a lot of my arc-welding slag got in the way and I made a real mess. I think I owe my other pal two bottles now as the acetylene is nearly empty again! Anyway, after a lot of persistence, I eventually managed to go right through and a good thump with hammer and cold chisel saw it move.


A lot of waggling with the stilson wrench saw it moving and freeing up and it came off at last!


I had made quite a mess of the bearing!


The cage can be seen inside.



Once the bearing was out, we pulled the crane back and the wheel came with it!


Amazingly, apart from a little divot, I had done no damage to the axle.


We pulled the replacement wheel out of stores and gave it a good brushing.


We then put it onto the axle with a bearing from the collection and all was well.



Even the hub cap went back on.


After that, the chassis could be put away, much to Mother's relief.

Tomorrow, we will inspect the wheel and see about getting it ready to fit on the chassis.

What a relief, we can make some progress again!

Very many thanks for all of your kindnesses and support and to my pals who have loaned me tools and equipment. This has to be one of the most painful jobs we have ever done. Certainly, there was no joy in it but we can start making progress again which is great.

Steve   😁

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Thanks Chaps! I can't see us getting acetylene equipment in the short term as we just wouldn't use it enough. However, there are some jobs that when you need it, you need it! Anyway , that road-block is gone and we are moving again.

Next job is to get the tyres off. This is hard work as they are remarkably tough, even after sixty or so years. The rubber is bonded to a steel band which has to be cut with the disc cutter so the first task is to groove the rubber so I can access it with the disc. A hand-saw put a couple of slots in it and then I attacked it with the Stanley knife.


A cold chisel was driven in behind which is tricky as it bounces!


Then we managed to get the jemmy behind and lever some lumps out.



Run the disc through the gap and cut until the band breaks with quite a bang!



Lifting the wheel out of the tyres.


Even without the tyres, the wheel is far too heavy to lift and I had to stand it on edge with the chain block.


Dad has been busy today removing the chain hooks from the spokes. That will make cleaning the wheel very much easier.


The wheel is Dad's problem at the moment with lots of miserable cleaning up work to do. Go to it Dad!

Steve   🙂

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  • 2 weeks later...

Now the wheel is progressing we have been thinking about other things. One of our local friends is a wood turner and has offered to make us a steering wheel. As luck would have it, we have two wheel centres but they are of different patterns. The puzzle for us is how were they put together?

This is the first. There appear to be some bits of steel soldered to the ends of the spokes so the question is how was the wood attached? Would the rim be made up in segments or be a bent laminate?





The second one is of a different pattern. I suspect that the steel ring used to be a complete circle and we can replace that. It looks like the top half was screwed to the bottom half through the end of the spoke. However, was the steel ring the outside diameter or was it hidden in a central groove in the timber? Either way, it is going to be an interesting turning job!




The challenge now is to get the wheel centre off the top of the column so it can be repaired and the wood fitted. Some pondering needed!

In the mean time, Dad is getting on with the wheel and attacking the paint. He says it is very good stuff and certainly takes some shifting. It's probably pretty poisonoud though!




Will have to have a go at the steering wheel on the next visit.

Steve  🙂

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Guesses only here ...

The first wheel would be a full wooden rim, just like a buggy wheel, in four sections ( felloes) with the joints halfway between the spokes and a rim bolt or similar at the centre of each section.

The second wheel looks like a metal rib with eight turned fello sections, each with a groove that just slotted over the metal rim.  Again the through bolt would be at the end of each spoke but the mid point of the fello pair.

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Would the first steering wheel also have had a complete steel band held within the wood rim? If I'm passing the local infamous scrap yard I'll have a look for something similar. A lot of early parts have surfaced recently as they re surface the yard.

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  • 1 month later...

Thanks for your thoughts chaps. The jury is still out at the moment but it does depend on Roy, our wood turner pal, and what he can do for us. Roy is getting very keen to have a go at this one so last weekend, I took advantage of the good weather to pull the steering column apart.

As the column wouldn't turn, we started by clamping it to something solid so we could get some purchase. Unfortunately, it wouldn't move so we started to strip it. You can probably see in the pic that the column is bent so that did make it trickier.101.JPG.57dc25b8ba2abcc20ff41de0f1ccb609.JPG

The objective was to get the wheel centre off and this was secured with a nut beneath the hand controls so these would have to come off first. On closer inspection, it could be seen that these were secured at the other end of the column.


A good trick for removing very rusted nuts is to use a cold chisel, just off centre so that a torque is imposed on the nut. The nut will often split but otherwise just unscrew. Remarkably this is a trick we have only picked up in recent years but it does work well.


The two throttle levers had pinch bolts which were released in the same manner.


This is the throttle lever which is keyed on. The ball end has corroded off but we can soon sort that.


The advance lever sits on a spline. The entire lever end has gone from this one but I must try to save it to re-use the spline which is sound.


The steering column end float is adjusted by a screw-in ring from underneath. This is nipped up and then secured by a grub-screw through a notch in the outside edge. Remarkably, it just unscrewed.


We couldn't move the adjuster ring so we set about parting the box to take the pressure off the thread. Some of the nuts moved with a socket but others required the cold chisel treatment. It was at this point that I severely miss-hit the cold chisel and did a good job of flattening my thumb instead. It is getting better but has gone a very funny colour!



With the pressure relieved, the ring unscrewed.


That will fight another day.



Nice grease inside although nothing would move.


The adjuster ring bears against the slotted steel disc to push up the thrust race. The slotted disc also has slots and a tapered thread lower down to trap the throttle quadrant tube. This one took a bit of heat but also let go.



The throttle quadrant tube, advance tube and throttle control rod could all be driven out then.



Well, almost. The Throttle quadrant was fitted to the end of the tube with a white metal bush which I broke. The tube was hard to get out due to the bend in the main column but it did come eventually.


Now, the steering wheel nut. Of course, I didn't have a socket that size but my 1 1/2" BSW spanner with a piece of shim did the job once I had put some heat on it.



I lashed up my hydraulic puller from the wheel pulling exercise and started winding.


It didn't fit very well and I fully expected a mighty bang as it fell off. Well, I got my mighty bang and bits everywhere but it was as the steering wheel let go so success was achieved! Very satisfying.



Both plain bushes were seized and the bent column meant that they could not come off even if I could get them to move. Well, fortunately, there was a plain section of column between them.


I made up a C-spanner to locate in a grease hole and then heated the first one. Once the grease started to run, I could get it moving and managed to wangle it along to the cleaned-up centre area. That allowed me to polish its running surface which proved to have little wear although it is a bit pitted.


Same again for the upper bearing with success. The next challenge for the column is to straighten it so the bushes can be taken off.


This week, when not working on the wheel, Father has cleaned up the wheel centre and ordered up a laser cut ring to be welded to the spoke ends.



Once we have the ring Dad will be talking to one of our welder friends to repair the wheel centre. After that, it is over to Roy!

Steve    🙂

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  • 2 weeks later...

Dad has been pushing on with the miserable job of cleaning the wheel up and is now very pleased to say that he is on the home straight! After a lot of scraping, he invested in an electric heat gun and that made all the difference.


Then some heavy wire brushing to shift most of the rust. We didn't want to pull this wheel to bits as the ironwork is generally sound.


It has come up pretty well all round.



Hopefully, the Bondaprime will cope with the grease which has soaked into the wood with age. No doubt we will find out!


Now we need the other one back from the wheelwright so it too can be painted up and we can get the tyres fitted. Then they can go on the chassis. Exciting times!


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In between times, progress is being made on the steering column. Dad has had a new ring cut for the rim of the steering wheel and that now awaits welding on.195.JPG.682b6af52c887ed9199f5a40f46cba2a.JPG

Unfortunately, the spokes aren't flat and will need some attention.



It is, however, looking promising although I might have to get it hot to bend them. We shall see!


Our good friend Roy has taken up wood turning in his retirement and very kindly offered his services to make up a new wheel rim for us. This is outside our skills and equipment so we accepted with alacrity! This is the machine for the job.


First job was to glue up some softwood and have a trial run using a plywood faceplate.



That went OK so he reversed it to cut the groove in the underside for the steel rim.

"How big is the wheel?"

"18 5/8" diameter " say I.

" 18 1/2" is as big as I can do!"

"18 1/2" it is!"


Success here too. Worries about the glued joints failing proved groundless.



Roy and dad then had an afternoon out and went and bought some Sapele. No doubt a hostelry was found on the way but I haven't heard the full story yet.....

This was cut and glued up.


And the process was repeated.






Roy has just brought the two halves over and Father couldn't resist resting them on the spokes.



It is now up to me to sort the spokes out and then cut grooves in the timber to clear them before gluing the whole lot to the steel. I will have to pluck up my courage before cutting into Roy's beautiful work.

Thank you Roy. A wonderful job!

Steve   🙂

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Thanks Bill. We really couldn't do this without our friends.

Dad has been pressing on with the wheel and now has it in undercoat.100.JPG.9f6cc082aa9bdcca4f5fb7601145b234.JPG

In the mean time, Roy has inspired us to get on with the steering box. Tim and John have been up to help straighten out the steering column. We dragged the press out and then had a trial fit to see how we were going to handle it.


As it is a 2" tube, we decided to try to bend it hot so out with the propane.


I didn't want to press directly on it and cause a flat and so tried using a piece of softwood  to cushion it.


Unfortunately, it crushed before the tube bent so I had to resort to a piece of hardwood.



This worked and we persisted until it was all but there. Unfortunately, I did squash the tube a bit and had to give it another squeeze to round it up again.


This moved it of course so we had a lot of small pushes to get it just right. We rested the bearings in the vee blocks and rotated it looking for any wobble at the end before giving it another push. This was pretty painstaking but we got there in the end and John was pleased!


It certainly looks a lot better now.


A good wire brushing and a coat of primer and it is ready to return to Devon.


Throttle and advance levers next!

Steve   🙂

Edited by Old Bill
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The hand controls are an interesting exercise. They are concentric with the column but do not turn with it. This is arranged by having a 1" dia tube clamped into the steering box below the worm and running the throttle and advance controls inside it. The throttle quadrant casting is mounted on the top but as you can see, was a bit poorly.


As well as the rust, I had managed to break its mounting spigot off whilst trying to dismount it so plenty to have a go at.


I started off by giving it a quick wire brushing and then pickled it in citric acid.


Two weeks later, something had definitely happened but I had to take it out to see what!


The rust had gone but I had overdone the acid crystals and they had settled out on the iron.


I boiled it up in water to remove the acid crystals and then gave it a good scrub. It came out rather well but was so clean that it soon started to go ginger.


It should have a lid on it and close inspection revealed that a piece of it was still present. A bit of heat and some encouragement and the screw started to undo which was a great relief.


A new lid with oil hole was soon made up.



Next step was the mounting spigot which is cast iron. I bored out the centre and turned up a replacement from an exceptionally tough bit of bronze that I found in the drawer.



The centre tube had the same bend as the main column so resolving that was the first step.


I drilled a couple of blocks of wood and cut them in half to use in the press. These prevented me from crushing the tube and I should have done the same for the main column.


A bit of persistence and it came out quite well.


The quadrant could then be fitted.


Looking quite good. On to the levers.


One was missing and the other bent. They were rusted together and the detent plungers very stuck.


Some heat and gentle persuasion sorted them outeventually without breaking anything else.


one side of the plunger tube was corroded right through.


I cut it off and silver soldered a new one.



What should the missing lever look like? Well, we are fortunate that Tim had found a manual and it has this picture in it.


A pencil sketch soon had it looking right and I transferred the shape to a piece of 1/4" plate.


This was hacked out using centre punch dots to highlight the shape.


Before it was attahced to four feet of tube, I took the opportunity to rough out the form.


Then my favourite silver solder was used to attach it to the remains of the original article.


A considerable amount of filing and finishing later and I quite pleased with the result.



The column can now go back to Devon ready for when we finish the other bits and the steering wheel.

Steve  🙂

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  • 3 weeks later...

Progress on the column continues and it is coming on well. You may recall that the drop-arm on the box we stripped down was broken off.


We were extremely fortunate in that, in the spares pile, we had another half a box with a complete drop arm fitted.


Dad set about removing it. I was very pessimistic about how easy it would be to remove but in the end it was quite straightforward. Just a load of heat and a thump!


It all looks pretty good apart from the pin at the end which is deeply corroded. That needs a bit of thinking about.


In the mean time, some persistence and penetrating oil saw the removal of the split pin from the broken arm.



Then it was back to the blowlamp and a cold chisel.


Eventually, it let go and we were away.


The wheel came out and the bearings were good.


No signs of wear at all.


Two studs in the case had suffered from the weather and my attempts to remove them but Dad got there in the end.




A good wire brushing sorted out the casing. We avoid sand blasting bits of mechanism as far as we can because we can never get all of it out again.



First coat of Bondaprime:



The bearings and worm showed no signs of wear so we set about greasing them all up and starting the reassembly process.



It all went surprisingly well.


We had somehow managed to bend one of the dowel pins and that took a bit of identifying but all was well in the end.



Dad had very thoughtfully got in a stock of new UNF bolts. The originals were UNS but some were shot and we didn't want a mixed set on it so we have settled for UNF. The text was machined off the heads before they were cut down to fit and the result was very pleasing.


Tim then gave the whole assembly another coat and it all turns smoothly.


I took the opportunity to cut the steering wheel spokes back to fit the laser cut ring.


Dad saw one of our welder friends yesterday who TIG welded it together.





It is all looking very nice so the next visit should see the wood cut to fit the spokes and be glued up.

Steve   🙂

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