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RAF Leyland workshop lorry

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It's that time again...

Are you sitting comfortably, then I will begin.

It's now early May, 2018 and time for a trial fitting of the back board and it's new hinges. First the backboard was clamped into place then the hinges fitted on their long pin and clamped up against the backboard, before the holes were drilled through for 1/2" Whitworth coach bolts to secure the hinges in place. One fixing in each hinge forms the pivot for the legs; this is screwed into a nut, rebated into the back board, and the thread peened over to prevent the nut from coming off. Rebates were also cut for two steel catch plates that protect the backboard as it is closed over the securing pins.







I recall staying late at work to make the hinge bolts for this and the upper panel, also the legs. Not done that in a while...

Slightly out of sequence, chronologically, but here's the trial fitting of the hinges for the upper panel.


May 19th: trial assembly of the front wall framing prior to a quick sprint across to the paint shop.


We're now into the last week of May. This was the week before Woolpit Steam. So we've all taken the week off work and are up at the showground from dawn till dark getting everything ready. By rights, the evenings (well from about 9.30pm) would be spent in the pub. Remember when we used to do that? They'll write books about it... Anyway, we voluntarily forewent beer drinking and spent a couple of hours each night on carpentry instead.




With the show out of the way, we were able to dedicate more time to the workshop body and complete the boarding out of the front wall.







As this weeks instalment draws to a close, I'm going to give my full attention to a glass of Shepherd Neame & Co's India Pale Ale.




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38 minutes ago, Doc said:


...........  As this weeks instalment draws to a close, I'm going to give my full attention to a glass of Shepherd Neame & Co's India Pale Ale.....

At least you didn't say their Master Brew!!   Awful stuff, it's not called Sup it and scream for nothing 😁 Seriously though, nice bit of carpentry work there



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11 hours ago, Zero-Five-Two said:

At least you didn't say their Master Brew!!   Awful stuff, it's not called Sup it and scream for nothing 😁 Seriously though, nice bit of carpentry work there

Indeed, Rob.  My good friend "Radiator Roy" once told me that when faced with the situation one Sunday afternoon of only Master Brew in the larder or a bottle of Fernox Central Heating de-scaler in the van, he felt it best to take his chances with the Fernox.  It's advice I have heeded ever since and as a consequence I am free of Limescale and operating at full efficiency.

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Who knew that "beer shaming" was a thing. It's a bit earlier in the day and as I'm sat here contemplating this weeks update, I'm finishing a cup of tea. Comments, criticisms...

Anyhow. I start on 23rd June 2018, GDSF is looming ever closer and there's still loads to do. Woodwork was generally an evening job after Ian had spent all day on the refurbishment of the house; generally speaking, he would set up the morticer and David would chase in the mortices, meanwhile Ian would be cutting the tenons. Between them they would complete the necessary parts.

This first section concerns the upper rear panel. In reality, many components are common to the analogous side panel and were therefore made as a batch. The offside top panel was beyond repair and was thus replaced. Actually, I should clarify that by saying the woodwork was replaced; all the iron fittings are original. Around this time we bought all the remaining stocks of 1/2" Whitworth coach bolts from our local iron mongers, and by the time this project was completed, had got a good way through them.







The completed frame was offered up into the body for a trial fitting, then removed and boarded with 3/8" tongue and groove as per the original.


Then back in place to transcribe the bolt holes for the hinges. Note the steel reinforcing strip on the bottom edge.


Now it was our first attempt at applying canvas. Thanks to Seb Marshall for advice on what to use and where to get it, also such vital advice as "make sure they send it rolled up - if it's folded you'll never get the creases out."





Now some pictures of the construction of the off side top panel:




Note the dowel holes (and no wedges). Only the intermediate timbers had wedges fitted.









So I'll close this instalment with a couple of pictures of the off side top panel in position. Looks much better without the window!




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Hi. Good question. The tongue and groove is nailed to the frame. Nails at the ends of the boards are driven in at an angle. 

When I post pictures of the repair of the near-side top panel, this detail may be more visible. 

While we're on details, there's a thin wooden strip on the top edge of the rear bottom panel. This was fixed with alternate screws and panel pins, just like the originals on the corresponding side panels. 


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 Cheers for that, just curious as to how it all goes together.

All that lovely craftsmanship and then just nailed on, as per back in the day!  As its being covered with canvas no one is going to see the heads. The nails aren't driven into through the tongue are they, secret nailed? Is the tongue uppermost and no groove on the lowest board? Are the dowel holes slightly offset so that when the dowels are driven in they pull the tenon into the joint?

Haunched mortice and tenons, with a rebate too! My woodworking lessons weren't wasted on me.

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Correct: tongue uppermost, no tongue on top board, no groove on bottom board. No secrecy so far as nails are concerned. Subterfuge, maybe. Nails and screws were all sunk below the surface of the boards and hidden with linseed putty.

Elsewhere (e.g. floorboards, front wall boards) screws were used. So we sourced genuine slotted screws as per the original construction, not one of which will ever be seen!

We rightly consider the carpentry craftsmanship, but it was simply how things were done. 

Ian, our builder friend, was able to read the remains of the original joints and know exactly how the thing had been built and why.

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2 hours ago, Doc said:

Nails and screws were all sunk below the surface of the boards and hidden with linseed putty.


I recently watched a YouTube video of a chap making a new front door for his Victorian house and painting it in the Victorian manner. An interesting take-away was that you can fill with linseed oil putty then paint straight over. Both the paint and the putty are a mixture of linseed oil and whiting, so it shouldn't really be a surprise. 

Here is the video


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I have a theory, born out of experience that if you look forward to something too much, it inevitably disappoints. So if you were expecting another carpentry instalment... sorry. No crane either. But some heavy lifting.

It's now 4th August 2018. Careful measuring had determined that the roof trusses were tall enough for the workshop body to pass comfortably underneath. More careful measurement revealed that the doorway was lower than the roof trusses and it was not going to come out of the shed where we had built it. Well, not on the railway sleepers we had used as a base. So we had to jack the body up - one end at a time -  drag the sleepers out and replace them with pieces of 4x2. Then, with inches to spare, slowly... the body was out in the sunshine.




Then over to a flatter part of the yard where there's room to manoeuvre...








Then with the trailer out of the way and the Leyland chassis shunted into place, it was time for the lift.

Note the temporary timbers bracing the structure. These formed the base of our makeshift roof to keep the sun off at Dorset. Kept the rain off too.







The following weekend and it was back out into the fresh air to lift the top panels back on. First, the as yet untouched near-side panel.







Followed by the new rear and off-side panels




There was still a myriad of small tasks to complete, which saw all of engaged in "essential war work". Finally we were ready for Dorset.



200 miles to go...

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  • 2 weeks later...

Evenin' all. Sorry no post last week. Was busy with other things... So we had our week in the sunshine at Dorset; rain too but we stayed dry under the temporary roof. At least it didn't snow, unlike here. Yes, it snowed in our little corner of Suffolk this Easter Monday morning.

So having returned from Dorset, with "I'm envious of your body" still ringing in his ears, David proceeded to remove the near side top panel for repair. The following photographs chronicle the process.

This is the bottom rail, feeling a little fragile and sorry for itself.




The top rail was basically intact but did have a section of rot in the middle.


To repair the bottom rail first the damaged timber was cut away


And a repair piece cut to fit


Along with a false tenon that was lap jointed to the original timber




And the whole lot glued and clamped together. While the glue was setting, attention turned to the top rail...IMG_6209.thumb.JPG.7d4d3817dfb1554c36b7f60573d6ea9b.JPG

Out with the rotten. (If only we could do that right now. Matty Hancock... Just saying...)


In with the new


Glue and clamps. Repair patches were cut over size and planed to finished size once the glue had set.

We ummed and arrghed over the tongue and groove before deciding, reluctantly, that it was too far gone. Rest assured the replacements are exactly as the originals.



To support the repaired sections, we had these reinforcing plates laser cut from 6mm steel. They're clearly not original but they allow people to "read" the repair. We're actually rather pleased with them in that respect. They point to the originality of the underlying structure but say "it wasn't really strong enough, but we elected to keep it anyway." Any of us feeling a bit fragile in these difficult times could hope and wish for the same.


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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi! It's only me...

Sorry I've not posted for a while - been busy with other things. Hopefully many of you have been able to get on with your own projects too.

I don't know about you but I'm getting completely muddled by dates and times. Turns out these pictures date from April last year when lock-downs were still a novelty and the government's furlough scheme was paying David 80% of his salary to stay home and work on the Leyland subsidy lorry.

This is the lower near-side panel which, when folded out, forms a working platform. The timbers were mostly in good reusable condition and cleaned up nicely with some wire brushing.



The bottom plank had some rot, but we decided to repair rather than replace in order to retain the witness mark where the serial number plate had once been.



The rotten wood was chiselled out and a repair patch glued in. We managed to save the outer surface with it's 100 years of weathered patina - this would have been near impossible to try and recreate.



Meanwhile some bad screw holes were repaired by drilling them out and glueing dowels in the enlarged holes.



This is where a steel edging strip is fitted to protect the timber from wear. 

Next, the panel was masked either side of the hinges with thick polythene in preparation for sand blasting.





Quick coat of red oxide primer on the exposed metal before the panel was brought into the workshop for painting.




This is one of the side reinforcing strips. I'd read about "Best" and "Double Best" steel in Professor Jamieson's textbook on steam and steam engines, but had not seen the mark before...


After painting up to top coat, the stencils were marked out through a paper template before being hand painted.





Underneath the word "Workshop" should be the serial number. Until such time as the brass plate turns up, this will have to remain blank.

Finally, once the paint was hard, the panel was man-handled into place in preparation for the painting of the inside.


And that fairly well brings us up to date. I have enjoyed writing this; I hope you've all enjoyed reading it.






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Hi Andy.

Yes, I have really enjoyed reading it. Thank you for taking the trouble. Once at a show, nobody knows the efforts you have made to save original bits and get it all 'just right' and it is great that you have documented it. I am now looking forward to seeing it out and about!

Steve  😀🙂

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That's the ruse, our cunning and slight of hand; we go extraordinary lengths to make it look as if we've done very little. Can hardly blame people for not realising in the circumstances. 

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What an excellent thread, Andy.   It is the quality of threads like this, and the Gosling gentlemen documenting their projects, that drove me to register on HMVF and post my own limited efforts.  I have enjoyed it enormously.  Having seen the lorry in the flesh I can say how good it looks in the "flesh".



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  • 2 months later...

Hi Doc, Just love the workmanship & progress on this outstanding vehicle. Being an ex toolmaker I'm taking special interest in the workshop machinery that will eventually be installed in the vehicle. 

Just going back to your previous posts where you made repairs to the wooden bearers.

I need to do a similar thing to the ends of the main beams on the tray of my civilian 1953 Bedford K model.

Like you I want to retain as much of the original timber as possible, repair rather than replace.

This may seem basic questions, but just wondering what type of glue & wood screws you used.

In the example photo how many screws would you have inserted into this piece. I assume it was screwed & glued in one operation.

Also is the angle of cut important or did you just make the cut that best cleans up the rotten wood without losing the hole datum location.

I'm not a wood worker & have limited wood working tools, but I can make things happen!😁

Keep up the great work




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Hi Pierre,

I've had a chat with my brother. He used Gorilla glue. There were some screws were the timber was thick enough to take them. The joint was cut to give maximum glues surface while retaining as much of the original timber as possible. That and he's far more comfortable working in metal than wood. He commented that the two  bolt-holes visible in the picture are for an  angle-iron bracket which spans the joint, adding strength. Were this not the case he says he would have cut a notch across the joint.

I hope this makes sense. Good luck with your project.

Andy (Doc)


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  • 2 months later...
  • 1 month later...

Just returned from a 180 mile round trip (passing signs for places without any vowels in them) to recover this:




In case there's any doubt, here's another one:


There was "SLOW ARAF" painted on the road in various places but we never saw one; guess they're some sort of wild animal peculiar to those parts. 

A bit like a giraffe but sturdier, perhaps?

Thanks to Sam for the driving. 

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