Scammell Mechanical Horse
Progress on the Scammell has continued at a reasonable pace. Work was being done as a joint effort by Bob Brown and myself, but unfortunately Bob has been recovering from major surgery and been 'on the box' for a few weeks which has slowed down the job. We all wish Bob the very best for a full and speedy recovery.
I have had to co–opt the help of Steve whenever I have been doing a two man job. It's surprising how often it is not possible to reach both the nut and the bolt with spanners in order to tighten them.
The new bonnet is now in undercoat ready for finishing gloss, and the repaired grille and front mudguard assembly have been fitted and painted too. Bob straightened the louvers so they should look better than in the picture below. — Nice!
All the cab parts we can find have been brought together and measured up so that I was able to produce a draft assembly drawing to take to York railway museum.
Steve and I went up there in mid July armed with this drawing, having obtained prior permission to measure up the cab of the 6 Ton Scammell there, so that we can dimension the drawing in accordance with the G.W.R version which we will be building. It turned out that 'reverse engineering' the cab from what parts we have supplemented by photographs, just did not give enough information to reconstruct the cab. Our thanks go to the staff at York museum for their help and cooperation.
Incidentally, it was a shame to see that the Scammell at York does not appear to be lettered–out correctly. There are plenty of superb photographs of these vehicles in the archive at York, so one would have expected the job to be spot–on. Closer examination shows the finish is not museum standard either. The reason turns out to be that the lorry went through B.R workshops in the 50's when it was withdrawn from service, with orders to return it to G.W.R condition. No doubt it had the same sort of splash-over with paint that ordinary service vehicles had, and as there were no transfers available it got none!
Modern thinking is that such artifacts should be 'conserved' which I would say means kept in the condition they are. York favours this approach and as the paint job is now 50 years old it will be left as it is. However, we will be doing everything in our power to achieve a good finish on our little lorry. Our alterations to the cab rule out the conservation approach entirely, and we will end up in some ways, with a replica. In my mind this is far preferable to leaving it in derelict condition.
With all the pieces of cab together and armed with the measurements from York, I began a list of all the pieces of wood required to rebuild the cab. Close examination ruled out reusing almost every old piece. Much of the cab was so rotten that it was useless. As a result I totted up a bill for £300.
All the timber was planed to size to give a good finish and to get the correct sections. This involved using the next size up, in many cases adding to the cost. All the timber, both frame and tongue and groove boarding, was made from Ash. I do not see the point in finishing the back of the cab with nasty knotty pine more suitable for a garden shed.
The next job was to sketch out an exploded view showing all the joints to act as an aide memoir to try to prevent me from making mistakes. Wood doesn't grow on trees, after all. Next came the tricky (for me) job of cutting all the joints, making them tight so that the whole cab doesn't creak and sway about like a ship at sea. I spent hours on this to achieve acceptable results. (I remember having little flair for woodwork at school.)
Now that the cab is progressing I am getting excited to see the final result. Its old fashioned looks should prove really eye catching and as such should be a popular exhibition piece on the railway.
The cab was designed to dismantle into three units; front section with windscreen, back section with rear side panels, and roof. I have followed this design as the cab has to be dismantled to carry out major work such as removing the radiator or engine. Hopefully this will not be necessary! At the time of writing the Scammell's cab is complete except for fitting new half doors, windscreen, and the roof. The roof is made from a single sheet of thin Aluminium. Unfortunately the original roof has lots of screw holes drilled into it to secure it to the original roof hoops which are almost all omitted on the simpler vertical windscreen type of cab.
The doors were originally skinned with hardboard. No, I'm not kidding. The Great Western used it a fair bit on their lorry cabs, and when properly painted it has a nice finish (on the smooth side at any rate), and is weatherproof. In the interest of authenticity I suppose I'll have to use it. It's really cheap so that's a good thing I suppose...
Mick Yarker. October 2008