Work has been progressing on the lorry as usual, that is as a fill-in job. Steve has paid a great deal of attention to the cab, which is now looking very presentable. Meanwhile Bob and I have been working on the body. Now that all the framework is assembled, and the ironwork that supports the drop sides has been fitted, it is amazing how big the truck actually is. Certainly big when comparing it in assembled form to the size of the bare chassis when work began in our 'tent' behind the Uffculme Building. The lorry now seems twice the size, and is beginning to look quite a beefy big truck. It is also noticeable that the free space around it in the Storage Shed is now much reduced! Having got to this stage we can see that restoring and then storing the lorry in the open would not have been a viable proposition. Our storage shed is absolutely vital to keep the lorries and the drays safe and out of the elements.
As I have remarked before, when rescued the body was missing and we are working from photographs of both sides which are sufficient to make a very accurate copy of the original G.W.R drop side body. However, the photos are not sharp enough to bring up small details like the catches and so on, also we do not have a view of the back showing the tail board. So I phoned Milestones Museum Basingstoke who have a superb indoor street scene featuring some Thornycroft lorries, with a view of visiting to take details that may help. They also referred me to Hampshire County Archive at Winchester, where I spoke to a lady named Wendy who was very helpful. She agreed to come in on her day off to meet us, and allow us access to the Thornycroft Archive. She phoned back later to say she had arranged for the museum engineers to drive over with their Nippy for us to give it a close inspection and photograph and measure up anything we need.
We drove down to Hampshire as planned, and were taken on a tour of the restoration workshops and storage buildings at Winchester. They certainly have a very fine collection of Thornycroft lorries including the lovely Nippy which arrived as we were looking around. It has a standard Thornycroft cab, and is a flat bed with provision for fitting drop sides. The lorry was in superb condition, having been carefully restored, and we were pleased to see that it carried a Worcestershire registration. The flat bed had been made by Carmichael's of Worcester (only recently out of business).
Several of the staff and volunteers before tearing ourselves away to visit the Milestones museum at Basingstoke. Again there were several Thornycrofts of interest, in particular a lovely little Handy which was in Corrall's livery. The G.W.R had a number of these smaller lorries too, but they were particularly favoured by the L.N.E.R. This lorry had the type of starting handle that ours should have (but is missing) so I took a few photos and measurements. The handle is a forging, not easy to replicate.
The result of this day out is that we now have sufficient information to complete the restoration of the Nippy, with confidence that what we are doing is correct.
Bridgnorth Bus Garage
There was a mention in the last Newsletter that a planning application had been made for the ex-Bridgnorth Bus Garage to be re-erected in the compound at Kidderminster Town Station. This application came to the attention of one of the reporters from the Express and Star newspaper, who tracked me down and asked for details for a possible story. I gave her a short history of the garage and explained our intentions for it, including the fact that we will store the Mechanical Horse and trailer inside upon completion. As a bit of an interesting angle I said we were anxious to find a good photograph of the garage in its original position, for our records. The article duly appeared on 22nd February and although we didn't get any photos, a Mr.Thompson from Walsall contacted me to say he used to drive Mechanical Horses in the 1950's. He was most interested in ours and said he'd like to see it, and futhermore still had a Scintilla Magneto which he had taken off his ex-L.M.S Scammell when it went for scrap in the 50's. He subsequently fitted it to his Ford Popular as it provided a good spark for easy starting - even if the battery was flat (unlike the coil ignition factory fitted by Ford!)
Mr. Thompson came over to see us the following Saturday and very generously donated his magneto to us for use on our Mechanical Horse. As it happens we do have a Scintilla Magneto which came with the lorry when purchased in 1974, but it had a very weak spark and the rotor and distributor cap were worn out, the latter also badly damaged by exposure to the elements over a long period of time. A working magneto is the one major part we did not have, so we are now in a position to complete the restoration of the lorry to full working order! Isn't that lucky?