Reading back through my last report I am glad to say that progress has been good and we have reached the milestone I had hoped for, with the completion of the braking system. Over the Christmas holidays the remainder of the brake components were fitted. New connecting copper piping had been cut, bent, thrown away, re-cut, re-bent correctly and installed. The system has also now been filled with brake fluid and seems to be working correctly with only one leak to sort out. We have yet to finish off just a few small items such as pedal springs and the brake light switch arrangement before moving onto the cab bodywork.
As the front grille had become a huge stumbling block we decided to try and make our own by carefully cutting, bending and silver soldering all of the individual components together. Mick has started this and its looking like the finished article will be 'spot-on'.
I hope by the summer the lorry will be mechanically complete with the cab framework fitted, though much of the wooden nose frame has yet to be made from new, most likely from ash. Once the cab frame has been assembled the whole front end can be aligned and finalised, including the bumper and front wheel arches.
From here the electric wiring loom, equipment and control panel components will follow.
A Long Job on a Short Bench
Lurking in the darkness of our storage shed were three G.W.R platform benches, two long and one short, all with turned legs and fancy arm rests. All had been 'preserved' for a considerable time by being left out in the rain, sleet, snow, frost damp and blazing sun, and open to attack by pests mainly of the human variety who had succeeded where nature failed by smashing off some of the more fragile extremities.
In a fit of enthusiasm and total confidence in my carpentry abilities I decided to take the smaller bench home in order to attempt a repair, only to find that even the small bench wouldn't seem to fit in the back of my Astra estate! However, with a little effort the item fell apart and so would fit.
Arriving home I was hit by another snag in that I did not possess a work bench of any sort or indeed any woodworking tools other than three blunt chisels, a Stanley plane and a saw.
Some time later I acquired an old metalworking bench which after cutting six inches off the legs fitted into the back of my car and as a bonus was a comfortable height for me to work on. I also acquired a vice and with my saw was able to make a serviceable bench from some second hand timber. I was now ready to get started.
With newly sharpened chisels, a new mallet and a new supersharp saw I set about removing all the rotten timber I could find without any thought of how I would replace it or how much it would cost.
Water ingress had seriously rotted all the joints, the edges of the seat planks and the tops of the seat frames and had reduced the legs to skeletons. I decided that in order to save cost and to preserve what was left of the original bench I would use second hand timber (there is a lot of it lying around at Kidderminster) and put my faith in modern adhesives as I would otherwise be making a replica. Thoughts also turned to the two remaining benches and also others on site and thanks to Steve's dad we now have six new turned legs in case my repairs fell apart and for use replacing missing parts.
Having removed hundreds of nails, created a mountain of sawdust and repaired the joints to the best of my limited ability the time has come to paint the finished item. In the meantime Mick has renovated a sack truck which needed to be painted G.W.R factory brown and said that platform benches should be painted the same colour. Coincidentally we had a dried sample of this in an old tin. I took this to Craftmaster Paints in Plant St., Stourbridge who kindly exactly matched the colour for us and I have applied the top coat to the kit of parts which I have assembled and taken to Kidderminster. This time I was just able to squeeze it in my car!