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When I was an undergraduate in the 1980's many students would go inter-railing during the long summer holidays. I did not. Instead I worked at the Elmswell Bacon Factory. 

Pigs came in at one end (around 3,600 per week) and everything you can make out of a pig came out the other end. They say you can use every part of a pig except its squeal; the maintenance staff found a use for it: the noise that came from the steering of the pallet trucks... but the place was awash with brine, so everything rusted.

Eric King would come on shift at 6am, muttering to himself "f*  job, f* job, f* hate this f* job; f* off f* home in a f* minute." This would continue until breakfast (8.30am). Well, he eventually got his wish, retiring from the job he hated, aged 65. 

He has since become a part of the folklore of these parts, usually invoked in a phrase such as "This is turning into an Eric King job."

Why am I sharing this now? All will become clear...



Here's the throttle / advance and retard quadrant. The notched plates are badly rusted so I set about making new ones.  They appeared to be about 4mm thick (5/32" in all likelihood). I found some off-cuts of 3 mm and 5 mm plate under the guillotine and, since my putting on tool is away for calibration, selected the 5 mm and proceeded to machine a circle out of it. 



Actually, before I started I had to make some tee slot nuts to fit the rotary table.


I digress... Next I milled the basic shape of the two plates.


And then the job had to wait for the cutters to mill the slots in.


And this is where it felt like it was turning into an Eric King job. I had ordered 2 three flute 60 degree cutters and succeeded in breaking the first one after around 10 notches. They were on an approximately 2 week lead time and I was starting to regret being so mean as to have not ordered more.


But I finished the first plate,


started the second...


and finished it, all on the one cutter. So I'll put it down to "operator error".

Next job was to release the plates from the bulk material.




After a bit of fettling, they're looking pretty respectable.


In closing, I will bring the story of Elmswell Bacon Factory up to date. It closed, has been demolished and developers are building houses on the site. I wonder if the street names will reflect the history of the site: 

Lairage Road, Tray-wash Close, Lard Room Drive, 

I guess not. 

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Posted (edited)

Time for a quick update. Sorry, no slaughterhouse stories this week. 

I took the grinder to the rivets on the old quadrant plates, so I could see where they were. Then dot-punched and drilled part way through the rivets before punching them out. 


After giving the quadrant a bit of a spit and polish, I glued the new plates into position before clamping the quadrant onto the bed of the mill to re-drill the rivet holes.



I thought I had some rivets in stock but you no what thought did... so I ordered some from our favourite online retailer; they arrived in the post two days later. Can't complain about that.



A satisfying job, all in all.



Edited by Doc
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Back in January 1918, when the reporter from the Agricultural Gazette visited, what I have referred to as Elmswell Bacon Factory was known as The St. Edmundsbury Cooperative Bacon Factory. This is how it looked then:


Any squeamish readers might want to skip over the following interior view:


Among the subjects that have not been discussed here are veganism, the environment and the choice of paint shade for my lorry. I may have said previously that the log book recorded the colour as green. Well, green comes in many shades. I wouldn't claim to be good with colour but I figured that a strong vehicle would benefit from a strong colour. I bought a few test pots:


dark and mid Brunswick green, pre and post war SR malachite green, but none of these were really what I had in mind. 

The shade I have chosen seems to suit the vehicle and, if it were to be parked alongside its military cousins, it wouldn't stick out. 

With warm weather forecast for the rest of the week, I've just sanded off the inside of the bulkhead and hope to get another coat of green on sometime over the next day or so. While doing this I couldn't help that notice that, despite being a civilian vehicle it has recently come under aerial attack!



I have yet to identify the enemy. 

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Thursday was warm. I took a day off work to get some jobs done and also got a coat of green on the inside of the bulkhead. 

This weekend was a fun job that I've been looking forward to, but before I talk about that, I have to turn the clock back. Here's the throttle and advance and retard controls. They comprise concentric 1/2" and 5/8" mild steel tubes, the outer of which is the ignition, the inner being the throttle.



I cannot now remember when I repaired them but it was long before I had thought about writing this account, so sadly there are no photographs.

 The outer tube was so badly rusted that it needed to be replaced. The crank on the end is a curious shape, designed to snake around the steering column. Ideally I would have held this and bored out the old tube, but I couldn't get a purchase on it. Instead, I held the tube in the 4 jaw chuck on the Harrison and carefully bored the tube out.

 I had managed to source new steel tubing, so I cut and faced a length of 5/8" tubing and turned a brass plug to go up the end. A 4" nail was just the right diameter to pass through the rivet holes so after drilling the holes through the tube and the plug, I pinned everything together with a nail before silver soldering the parts together. The nail was then cut off short and both ends peened over. Next it went back in the lathe to be drilled and bored out.

When it came to the throttle tube, whilst the top had rusted off at quadrant height, the rest didn't look too bad.

We do a lot of high purity plumbing at work and have a rather natty orbital welder, normally used on 316L stainless steel.

Stuart very kindly experimented with the weld parameters using short test pieces of the new metal, sectioning each one afterwards to gauge the quality of the weld. Then I cut the rusty end off the throttle tube and faced the ends in the lathe. Then we did a test weld of new metal to old metal, using the off-cut, before finally doing the repair. It was worth all the messing about to save another original part.


and there's the weld, just below the part number.

So this weekend has seen the trial fitting of these parts. First task was to account for the length of the throttle tube.



then the ignition tube




The detent doesn't touch the quadrant for a couple of possible reasons: 1) the lever is bent 2) the detent is rusted.

 I know that the levers are bent. I heated them in the forge and straightened them as best I could but didn't want to break them, so quit before that point.

 They look a lot better now than they did!




Anyway, back to the story... I drilled out the rusted detent and turned a new one, filing the flats by hand.



I fitted it with some of that magic riveting solution, that comes in small red plastic bottles, so I didn't end up with the flats pointing the wrong way before peening the end over.


The throttle tube has a slot cut across it to clear the clamping bolt in the lever. 



and that's about it for the time being. Need to wait for the paint to dry before I can get any further...




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21 hours ago, alsfarms said:

Nice work on the quadrant.  You will certainly be happy when you run the truck while the throttle and spark adjustments will stay in place!!!!!


I can confirm that the levers do stay in place and make a reassuring noise as they move over the quadrant. 

1st coat green was hard (should be, was drying in my small machine shop which I heat to avoid condensation) so I have refitted these parts. 




With the ignition lever in the fully retarded position and the cam ring of the magneto similarly placed, I was able to complete the last piece of linkage. 


This has now been removed for painting. 

Next job? Well, there's top coat green to apply to these parts of course. I keep looking at the naked rim of the steering wheel and thinking that a covering of wood might afford it some dignity. 

Before that, perhaps I should wash the bird sh*t off the flywheel. Incidentally, by the sound of things we have robins nesting in the crane shed again this year. Don't get me wrong; I like robins but they are indiscriminate sh*tters!

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As I contemplated my return to the city, my mind turned from the practical to the aesthetic. Some might consider all these items practical but you have to admit brass does look good against the green.


This is a Lucas horn; ok for now but will be replaced when a suitable Howes & Burley one turns up.



I had to shorten the coach bolts and remove all reference to messrs Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds. Fortunately their branding was confined to the cardboard box for the 6 x 1/2" countersunk screws.


In due course the gas generator will sit on the end of the step.


Very last job of this extended stay in the East was a dab of primer on the screws and bolts.


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I was in work today, the first time since October. Here's some pictures of the orbital welder used to repair the throttle control tube. 

The parts to be welded are mounted in this jig:


The TIG head is clipped into place in the gap in the jig. Not the tungsten electrode. This needs to be at the correct height relative to the work. 


The rotational speed and weld parameters are controlled by this box of trickery:


Here's an example of a test weld that's been sectioned:


Thanks again to Stuart for his time and patience in setting everything up, experimenting to find the optimal weld parameters and executing the perfect repair. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

It's been a beautiful weekend here in Suffolk. Sunshine, blue skies, perfect weather for a steam rally but for the fact they're mostly cancelled. 

Been in the shed for some of the time, continuing from where I left off a few weeks ago.


Here's the base for the gas generator, screwed down to the front of the step. 


The bottom part of the generator clips into place


followed by the basket that contains the calcium carbide. The thimble in the centre appears to have been for water distribution but is quite corroded.


all topped off with the water container and gas collector. There's the remains of a rubber gasket between these parts; I'll make a new one when I get a moment.


rubber hose fitted to the delivery pipe-work and eyed up before cutting to length 


all connected and looking fine.

 I keep looking at the hideous yet authentic mudguard brackets and thinking they would be less of an eyesore if they were covered up. So today I've had a trial fitting of the mudguards. 




They actually don't look too bad. Once I'm happy with the position I'll be marking and drilling the bolt holes. No hurry; I want to walk past them a while and get used to them before I commit. 

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Woolpit Steam was sacrificed at the altar of the new world religion again this year. My apostasy aside, I have gained an extra week of holiday to spend on my own projects. 

This week's task: mudguard fitting.

Having satisfied myself with the positioning, I first marked and drilled the front holes before bolting the mudguard in place. 

Then, with the aid of my wooden prop, I got the back clamped roughly in position before wiggling and tapping to get the thing to sit right. 




I marked the position of the rear bracket against the inside of the mudguard before removing them once more to mark out and drill the bolt holes. 



Nearside was the repeat of the above save for the lack of photographs. 

The bolts are only temporary; I found some 3/8" x 1" coach bolts in the stores, that have now had the squares filed off, which I plan to use. 

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Looks very good.

Due to the ongoing pandemic my company have decided to let holidays untaken so far roll over to next year. So, like you I have now got an extra weeks holiday next year and hopefully it will be spent on our project!

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In the summertime, when the weather is hot

You can stretch right up and touch the sky

When the weather's right

You got painting, you got painting on your mind...






though mainly early morning / late evening when it's not too hot. 

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Top man, Doc.  Mungo Jerry lyrics, you can live your life by them!    Although, an acquaintance of mine ("the thirsty farmer" as he was known), found the defence of "have a drink, have a drive" as a legal recommendation, not to be admissible in court.   Huh, the vagaries of the British Legal system.   

Looking good there.


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12 hours ago, Scrunt & Farthing said:

Mungo Jerry lyrics, you can live your life by them!

Glad you liked them. The Karrier was still languishing in the raspberry patch when Mungo Jerry were enjoying their chart success. 

Tis true, some of the lyrics don't stand up to the scrutiny of this modern age... But I hung the mudguard brackets outside in the sunshine to harden off between coats and the tune popped into my head. 

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2 hours ago, Doc said:

Glad you liked them. The Karrier was still languishing in the raspberry patch when Mungo Jerry were enjoying their chart success. 

Tis true, some of the lyrics don't stand up to the scrutiny of this modern age... But I hung the mudguard brackets outside in the sunshine to harden off between coats and the tune popped into my head. 

If the paint is wet you  better let it seal

If the paint is dry you can do what you feel 🤣

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  • 1 month later...

Hi.  Not posted anything for a while as I've been back in the big city, far away from the Karrier. 

Sat at my kitchen table, working from home, mask free, there was a knock at the door. Royal Mail delivering this shiny piece of loveliness (courtesy of our favourite online auction site):



Hopefully I'll soon be able to return to Suffolk and see about fitting this in place of the Lucas horn. 

Need a replacement bulb of course but I pursed my lips and gave it a blow; a pleasingly resonant tone was produced. 


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1 hour ago, Doc said:

Hi.  Not posted anything for a while as I've been back in the big city, far away from the Karrier. 

Sat at my kitchen table, working from home, mask free, there was a knock at the door. Royal Mail delivering this shiny piece of loveliness (courtesy of our favourite online auction site): ...................

Need a replacement bulb of course but I pursed my lips and gave it a blow; a pleasingly resonant tone was produced. 




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Hi Doc, the horn looks good, but I wonder about the badge which sadly looks like an 'added value' item. I have become very suspicious of such additions, especially when soldered on, the originals were rivetted. Caveat Emptor !

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All looking very nice Andy. Better than working!

This is the Howes and Burley we have on the Dennis for comparison. We were even more fortunate in that it is WD marked!





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