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1917 Foden Steam Wagon


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7 hours ago, QL Driver said:

I rather like the Devon CC livery! The WD livery would presumably have to be a guess (and Michael Wilkinson’s is already painted that way), and we’ve already established that it has the wrong body for the WD days.

Sorry. I was joking really. It looks better in its DCC livery.

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Thank you for your comments. 

In 1937 the Foden was fitted with a set of Pickering Governors for driving a stone crusher in the quarry, so as these are on the Foden now I feel that it would be chronologically  incorrect if I were to return it to its WW1 guise. 

After it’s life with Devon CC It was sold (in 1950) to Mr Shambrook of Devon (for £18) and then in 1962 to Paul Corin if Cornwall. During this period of ownership it was painted maroon and that is how it was when sent to America in 1966, and likewise when it returned in 1991.

When it was painted maroon, thankfully (for us!) the paint work was not taken back to bare metal. And upon stripping the Maroon paintwork (whilst in the ownership of Colin Wheeler) much of the Devon CC livery was discovered. 

personally I have always been an admirer of “the WD Foden” (now owned by Mr Wilkinson) and saw it several times whilst in the ownership of Dennis Brandt. (Incedentally a friend who I help with his collection of Veteran Cars viewed the Foden when it was still in France and has photos of it from that period) 

I’ve attached a few photos which may be of interest. The first two are of it around 1950(ish) as it is minus the body, and has the Devon CC “curtains” around the cab - these were a pair of sheets which slid along a wire (visible in the photo if you look carefully) and I would imagine very welcome when working in the quarry, however some work appears to be going on, as the motion sheets are removed and not in the photos. The third photo is of it when painted Maroon and in the ownership of Toby Slingsby. This was taken at the Parham Rally in West Sussex sometime between 1995 - 2000


hope this is of interest. 


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  • 2 weeks later...

A few days off this week has meant I could do some more Foden work. Firstly I got the flywheel off the crankshaft, this now leaves the roller bearings eccentrics to get off then the crank can go for grinding, the journals aren’t in great condition so will definatly benefit from being ground. 

Having got the cab off and home a couple of weeks ago today I have been stripping the cab with help from a carpenter friend. The cab has certainly had major work in the past, as both the roof and rear boards are clearly not the origionals. There are more than one set of nail holes in the roof cross members, and on the rear planks I found maroon paint down behind the rear cross member, so these were clearly painted prior to being fitted. 

The roof cross members are Ash, and due to water getting under the roof canvas several have rotted on the ends (indeed some ends are totally missing!) the roof and rear boards of the cab are tongue and groove pine and are all reusable. The big rear cross member at the bottom of the cab is oak. The is reusable but with some attention! 

my aim is to conserve the cab as much as possible. We are going to scarf new pieces of wood into place rather than replace completely, to try and keep the cab as origional as possible. My jig for holding the shape of the cab together has worked well, which I am very pleased about!


Something which interested me is that the mortice and tenon joints on the rear of the cab have a 1/2” bolt going up through them, with the bolt neatly recessed into a pocket (with a piece of wood plugging the hole) to pull the joint tightly in together. These proved a pain to undo, but I managed to weld a handle onto the nut, the heat helping to break the rust and then being able to hold this to stop it trying to turn and chew the wood. 

hope this is of interest and that the photos help explain today’s work better than my description!



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  • 1 month later...

Progressing with work on the Foden, the latest struggle has been trying to get the eccentrics off the crankshaft, they were a right bugger! I ended up using the handy 100 ton press at the farm workshops, which although we weren’t on max pressure it was wound up quite high, so at a guess 60+ ton of pressing and that shifted them! I forgot to take photos of the job in progress as I was on a mission and frankly was so pleased how it went I forgot! Unfortunatly I had to remove the ballance weights to make it fit into the press, something I didn’t really want to do, as the crank grinding firm said they could grind with them attached but in the end I had too! 

interestingly the crank has always been a black colour, this turned out to be 100 years of oil and dirt, once this was removed I discovered that the crank was never painted, there isn’t a single spec of any undercoat, red lead, or colour of any sort on the crank, just the machining marks, so this is how it’s going to go back! 

Today I’ve mainly been cleaning up the crank, and then crack tested all the radi and key ways, thankfully all is looking good with no flaws being detected, so now I have to wait until the grinders are ready which I was hoping would be this side of Christmas (that dreaded word!) but with lockdown etc coming back I fear it may roll over into next year. In the meantime I will start to work on making new eccentrics with non-knackered rollers and work continues on the cab.


sorry for the lack of photos 





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32 minutes ago, 8_10 Brass Cleaner said:

Dave, having suffered a broken crank on the Marshall, I would check the centre portion between the webs also. Thats where mine broke

Thank you Hedd, that’s much appreciated. I assumed the radi and key ways would be the weak spots, but will certainly follow your advice and get the cans of die-pen out again and do the centre of the webs. 

Many thanks


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Crikey! How did this show itself, whilst under restoration or in steam? Did it do much damage? I’ve heard of a couple of engines have their flywheels fall off (a Garrett near me had this happen only a few years ago, when the crank sheered next to the main bearing and the flywheel shot backwards and down the road, which must have been very “exciting” for all concerned)

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Dave, bust going up a rather large hill.

The crank had bust and been welded in the 1930's, we believe after a full astern + steam incident with a child. This broke the crank, a trunk guide and a cab upright (2 1/2 square ash) at least.

No other damage the second time. Though the engine did start to run backwards down the hill, got enough momentum to go over a chock. But it jackknifed the trailer and put a stop to things very quickly.

About a month earlier father experienced a very large noise like something breaking whilst driving down the road, but despite spending half an hour couldn't find any problems. Hindsight suggests that this was the crack getting bigger.

Also during its restoration, as a boy of about 15 I cleaned the crank in a bath of petrol, I swear blind I saw the crack, you know the petrol stayed wet in the crack despite the surface flashing dry. I got dad over and told him, but a lot of studying later the conclusion was that I was seeing things. Clearly I wasn't, but there you go. 

Mammoth has got it in one for this break. Had been cracked many years clearly. Interestingly Marshalls had 4 designs of crank drawn up, we went for a modified Mark 4 with the manufacturer choosing his own radii (which were larger than drawn). A friend with another Marshall tractor suffered the same failure some 5 years later, in the same place. 

I have to say the machining in the middle of a Foden crank looks very sharp also. But the roller eccentrics are ace, usually the limiting factor on a 5 tonner.

My mate is about to take delivery of a new crankshaft for his Foster Wellington tractor restoration. He has started with a bare but original boiler. He has had the cylinder made allready (a compound). 

Edited by 8_10 Brass Cleaner
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The roller bearings eccentrics are certainly a very favourable item my foden carries, as you say Hedd this is usually the limiting factor with the plain cast iron eccentrics other 5 ton wagons have. 

The roller bearings are a bit of a puzzle to me at the moment, having looked at most of the other surviving 5 ton Fodens mine seams to be the only one carrying them. Mike Wilkinson’s WD liveried one is slightly newer than mine but is on cast iron. There is nothing on the build sheet saying they were special order, or an experiment etc, and likewise there’s no comment on the build sheet about them being ordered later in its life, where as the fact that Fodens  supplied the Pickering Govenors in 1937 is recorded. As the history of the wagon during preservation is well know, and the fact it spent several decades sat in a museum certainly tells us that they are a pre-preservation fitment. 

What’s the chances of finding a nice convenient date stamp on them somewhere...?!


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