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WW1 Peerless lorry restoration

Great War truck

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You could try Osmo oil, I’m rebuilding a wooden steering wheel at the moment for a tractor and I intend to use matt Osmo oil on it as it doesn’t flake off and has excellent protection against stains etc. I used it on my dining table years ago and it still looks great. I suspect that your steering wheel would probably have been painted originally, though. Of course, you could just leave it in its natural finish and wait for a patina to build up!


excellent work all round, though. I can’t wait to see it on its wheels!


all the best,  Adrian 

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I wouldn't have thought there would be a discussion about coating ...  To me it would either have been painted to match or just coated with boiled Linseed Oil

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Gosh, that has caused some comment! Many thanks for all of your thoughts. My logic is that the wheel will be out in the weather and needs some waterproofing. Not sure about oiling it as my experience of oiled timber is that it remains sticky for months. Perhaps I am not doing it right. Anyway, I have opted to varnish the rim and it has now had three coats. It will need a few more but isn't looking bad.

Having to go back to work has slowed things down again. However, i am very keen to get all of the steering gear completed so that we can fit it and put another tick in the box. After the wheel, the last pieces are the throttle and advance actuating levers from the bottom. 401.JPG.ad076e6ede5ff0dbfb5b2c76df7d5f07.JPG

These came off OK but were pretty ropy. One has a keyway and the other a spline so I want to use them again if I can.



As you can see from this picture in the manual, each should have a ball joint on the end.


I wasn't sure how this should look until I remembered that we have a magneto advance lever which has just one still attached.


With some heat and persuasion, it all came to bits and I could measure the ball. I am going to have to make some more of these joints too but that will be a job for another day.


I filed a scarf on the column advance lever.


And turned up a replacement ball.


This was bent hot and a matching scarf filed onto it before silver soldering it to the arm.


One down!


I did the same thing for the throttle arm.


Job done!


Whilst I was in the mood I thought it the right time to do the magneto lever as well.



Once the wheel has had its last few coats, the whole lot will be ready for reassembly.

Steve    🙂


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Dad is pushing on as well. He has painted the drop arm and drag link ready for fitting.500.JPG.ceea3046bf8c20342431caeda80b99cf.JPG

He is also getting on with painting the second wheel.



The next target is a steerable rolling chassis and it is coming into view!

Steve    🙂

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I thought  that some discussion about how to treat the wooden steering wheel would be useful as this thread and others like it cover a multitude of really very useful information, which we can use in numerous different ways. With regard to the suggestion of using Osmo oil, it dries perfectly within the same timeframe as paint however it doesn’t chip or peel. It’s also a breathable barrier that prevents any future rot built up which can remain unseen if using paint. 

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Incidentally, I totally agree with you about the wheel being out of the weather and a varnished finish will no doubt be absolutely fine. My qualification for making my comments is that I spent several years helping to preserve Cutty Sark and we had a lot of bother with the high sheen varnished finish, it all had to be stripped off and coated with Osmo oil instead! Not cheap but very effective.

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Thank you for your thoughts Adrian. You are absolutely right about discussing ways of doing things. You have to know so much to do a restoration that it is impossible to know it all! All of our friends on this forum have been tremendously helpful over the years and we really appreciate all of it, even if I don't take the advice!

I must admit that Osmo oil is a new one on me so thank you for bringing it to my attention. I will try it.


Steve   🙂

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Progress has slowed a bit but we are still moving on. I have finished the steering wheel with four coats of varnish and it is currently hardening off. Unfortunately, the green will now want touching up!601.JPG.1f67515f4d37c3f8fad670833427ab67.JPG

Dad is still pushing on with the wheel and has reached the undercoat stage:



Slow but sure!

Steve   🙂

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We have been doing some more but I don't have any complete stories at the moment! Give me a few more days.

In the mean time, Dad now has the wheels in green.



They need one more coat but that can wait until the tyres are on so that any damage can be tidied up at the same time. Now we need to plan how to get the things loaded and shipped to the press!

Steve   🙂

PS Our wheelwright was made MBE as part of the Jubilee honours list! Well deserved!

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2 hours ago, Old Bill said:

We have been doing some more but I don't have any complete stories at the moment! Give me a few more days.

In the mean time, Dad now has the wheels in green. They need one more coat but that can wait until the tyres are on so that any damage can be tidied up at the same time. Now we need to plan how to get the things loaded and shipped to the press!

Steve   🙂

PS Our wheelwright was made MBE as part of the Jubilee honours list! Well deserved!

Do you still use the press at Woburn and have you ever had to tack weld the tyre band to the wheel band due to insufficient interference? I seem to remember Barry going to the rescue of a vehicle that had a tyre slide off the wheel.

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, radiomike7 said:

Do you still use the press at Woburn and have you ever had to tack weld the tyre band to the wheel band due to insufficient interference? I seem to remember Barry going to the rescue of a vehicle that had a tyre slide off the wheel.

We had one tyre which was a bit of a sloppy fit on one wheel of  either the Dennis or the Thorny - I cannot remember which one it was but some canvas was inserted between wheel and tyre as they were pressed and that seems to have worked well and took up the slack. I believe that that was an age old remedy for that problem.

Edited by Minesweeper
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We had the same thing happen with a front tyre on the Garrett (it was an old band that had been pressed off, had the rubber removed and polyurethane put on); on the road the band slid over about half way. The canvas between the wheel and band entirely resolved it.

Some of the dismal tyre stories are related here:


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Just found some old photos of one of our Peerless trucks prior to recovery. We have had it exactly 30 years and we know that it changed hands at least twice before we got it, so goodness knows when these photos were taken. Photographer was not very good at getting the truck in the centre of the picture it seems.







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Tim is amazing at turning up photos. I haven't seen those before but they are certainly our lorry!

As you saw above, I found an original ball joint on the magneto base casting and copied it. However, the broken casting has been bugging me so I have made up a pattern for it ready for Father's next trip to the foundry. it mounts on the side of the engine. Until we managed to remove it, I thought the crank case flange was bent as well but fortunately, that is OK.


The casting, however, was very sick.


I looked at it for quite a while as, despite appearances, it is not a simple one with an obvious split line. It will have to be cast as an 'odd-side' where the moulder hand cuts a split line to follow the shape of the pattern. After pondering how to make it, I opted to carve it from the solid so the first job was to glue up a block.


Using my lovely new mill with digital read-out, I carved out the top-side before reversing it and cutting underneath.




Lots of hand-finishing ensued with some extra bits glued on and some filler applied. Once I had dressed back the filler, I filleted the inner radii using wax fillets.


Two coats of Bondaprime and it is ready to go.


I am sure that the moulder will curse it but fortunately, there is only one to do!

Steve  🙂


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Thanks Andy. I may be in touch!

Dad decided that it was time we sorted out the silencer so he dug the remaining bits out of the pile for inspection.


The case had long gone but the somewhat fragile brackets remained along with the cast end plates and enough of the studs to determine the length.





One bracket will fight again, for a while at least but the other one had insufficient metal left so I cut out a new one.


Done the old fashioned way by chain drilling and sawing wire!



The castings cleaned up OK but we couldn't make out the text on them.



Interestingly, they are 1/4" different in diameter so perhaps they are not a matched pair. Also, this internal flange looks as if it should carry an internal tube but the other end has no way of supporting it. There was no sign of any internals left.


Dad had a tube rolled up.


And made up some new tie bars.


He also bought in some spacer tubes to mount on them and then presented me with a silencer kit!


I marked out and fitted a row of rivets to seal the tube.


My Cleco sheet metal clamps came in handy once again.


Then a length of 4" x 1/2" steel bar held in the vice was used to support the rivets whilst they were set.


Looking promising!


In the end I decided that the easiest internals to make up would be three baffles, mounted on the tie rods.


I cut the tube into lengths to space them out.


Assembling it all was a bit of a juggle though, especially with a line of rivet heads to dodge!


All ready for the paint shop!


Steve   🙂

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  • 2 weeks later...

We have had some time in Devon and have made some more progress. dad has started to top-coat the silencer brackets.401.JPG.fcac1e2ac805f8d39a760679479d5edc.JPG

In the mean time, we fitted Roy's beautiful steering wheel to the top of the column.


Adjustable spanner came into use, I'm afraid. I couldn't find a socket for less than £100- which, for one nut, I felt was a bit much!


Then the throttle and advance levers.


The toothed wheel is the end-float adjustment. I am very pleased to see that it has never been attacked with a punch and that all of the teeth are crisp. I used a C-spanner to tighten it up before fitting the repaired ball-joints.


Then we had to lift it into place. It is blinkin' heavy and awkward with all of the weight at one end. Driving a desk is not good practice for this sort of exercise!


Not helped by being bolted up to the underside of the chassis rail.


All successful in the end. Dad had very thoughtfully obtained some nice new bolts and nuts for the job, all UNF as UNS is well-nigh unobtainable and there are only so many we are prepared to make!


Column in place and looking nice. Time to make it functional.


The drag link had been previously repaired and painted.


I shimmed up the springs to make sure they had a little tension on them. The C-ring prevents the end collar from unscrewing.


Axle end with greaser.


The bottom of the drop arm, all tightened up and pinned with a stauffer fitted.


All fitted and another tick in the box. We have a functioning control to play with!


Only one piece missing and that is a very large brass Stauffer to go on the back to lubricate the worm. Something else to make!

Steve   🙂

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It is an oil hole! The whole casting is beautifully cross-ported to allow the oil to run into every moving part and joint in the complete assembly. The outer column tube rotates with the wheel. The next tube is fixed at the bottom of the column and has the quadrant casting on the top. the throttle lever (the longer one) rotates a tube inside it and and inside that again is the advance rod rotated by the shorter lever. Every sliding surface is lubricated and it is a work of art!

Steve 🙂

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