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Mathewson Auction Austin K2


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Some 10years ago I looked into this actual vehicle: I will call it a wolf in sheep's clothing !   The first massed produced SELF PROPELLED appliance by the Home Office for war emergency use was the HEAVY UNIT.  It first appeared in 1938 on a Ford 7V chassis, subsequently produced on Bedford and Austin chassis plus a small number on Morris Commercials. 3 fire engineering companies produced their own version of the actual self contained pumping unit- pump directly coupled to an engine of between 29 & 33 hp , fuel tank and cooling system enclosed in a cowling all mounted on its own short chassis, which was bolted to the vehicle chassis.. The Heavy Unit had 4 deliveries and was rated at 700 approx gpm

Irrespective of chassis manufacturer the actual carrying vehicle had its body work constructed by various bodybuilders  to a fairly standard Home Office design, a key recognition feature is  one locker behind the rear axle and 2 forward of the axle to carry delivery hose and other items.   The Austin chassis used was mainly  the Austin K2 with its 6 stud front wheels. In addition to the Heavy Units the Home Office designed an EXTRA HEAVY UNIT following a similar design, but very few were built.  The EHU had a pumping unit powered by a 49 hp engine coupled to a pump of 1100gpm with 6 deliveries. To accommodate the extra weight and the need for extra delivery hose stowage  a heavier and longer  Austin chassis was used. ( also a few on Bedford chassis).  It retains the single locker behind the rear axle but has 3 lockers forward of the axle.  It has a 8 stud front wheel so I assumed it was a Austin K4.   So why would the owner display a board on the rear saying Austin K3,   In 2010 I was sent some pictures of this machine FYY288 at a show and realised it was actually a Heavy Unit pumping unit mounted on what had been manufactured as an Extra Heavy Unit vehicle. So I contacted someone and asked them if they could take a photo of the chassis number plate- I have attached that  photo.  So after years of assuming these EHUs were Austin K4s they were actually Austin K3 long wheel base.     I had never previously considered it to be a K3 as I had always associated the K3 with military single wheels and tyres with a mesh reinforced radiator grill and brushbar !  I had totally forgotten that there was a pre war K3 model sporting dual rear tyres for both civil and military use, the military version most of which were lost in France in 1940 had an open canvas topped cab, whereas the BEF also had some with an fully enclosed steel cab - most of which I believe were impressed.  Returning to the war emergency Home Office appliances the Austin K4 was employed in fairly sizeable numbers as 50Ft wheeled escape carriers, 60ft turntable ladders and mobile dam lorries-, a water carrying vehicle with an on-board light pump and often towing a trailer pump, plus some later Heavy Units were mounted on the K4.. 

 TED.

FYY 288 chassis number plate.jpg

Edited by ted angus
correction
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DVLA have it as first reg in in March '83 and built in 1941, info could be wrong and it could be that it managed to retain its original reg number. Back in 1983 when the LVLOs were in existance it was easy to pull the wool over their eyes with no vehicle checks.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I wonder why none of these wartime pumps used the vehicle engine with a pto for pumping.

Would seem much more economical on materials in wartime.

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3 hours ago, XS650 said:

I wonder why none of these wartime pumps used the vehicle engine with a pto for pumping.

Would seem much more economical on materials in wartime.

I have extracts from a huge HMG report looking at the emergency fire service in UK 1938 to 1946. the self contained pump units could be mounted in canal barges, on Acedes 2 axle trailers, on auxiliary fire boats, on hardstanding beside lakes, on bridges or on vehicle chassis. This meant with minimal modification a pumping unit could be reallocated. If a vehicle broke down or was written off the pump unit could be removed  as a complete unit. There were 3 types of Heavy unit, in terms of mounting on a vehicle it was just a few bolts and the electrical connection between the pumping unit and vehicle battery. TED.

 

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With a gearbox mounted P.T.O. they were slow speed and not suitable or able to use the full power of the engine. Compressors, hydraulic pumps, and slow speed generators  are the usual items powered by this means.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I was the reluctant seller, it was a K3, Mathewsons misdescribed it. It was built as an EHU but the pump was lost many years ago, and a Heavy unit pump added over 10 years ago now the pump is powered by a ford tractor engine. The K3 was a hybrid, K2 brakes K4 wheels, and interesting to stop, but would cruise at 45-50 on the flat (eventually)

PS the ambulance is not as good in person as it looks in the pictures

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