Sunday, August 23, 2009

Vulcan Trucks

1953 Vulcan, with a Gardner engine, owned by Terry Burrows. Taken at Trucks in Action, Lardner Park in 2008.

In 1891 brothers, Thomas and Joseph Hampson, established a garage in Yellow House Lane, Southport in Lancashire to make motor cars. In 1893 they had moved to larger premises in Hawesside Street in Southport where they continued making their hand-made cars at the rate of one or two vehicles per week. Hawesside Street was later renamed Vulcan Street. The business grew and by c.1907 when the name of the firm changed to the Vulcan Motor Engineering Company, the company was employing 700 men at their new plant at Crossens near Southport. The First World War put car manufacturing on hold and the firm made ambulances and trucks for the War Department. Limited mechanisation saw output increase to around 100 vehicles per week and Vulcan also manufactured aeroplanes, the DH9, and mines for the War Department.
After the War, the firm’s founders, Thomas and Joseph Hampson, retired.

In 1920 the Vulcan Commercial range was introduced and generally the trucks had a 1¼cwt to 4 ton carrying capacity, 4 cylinder petrol engines, magneto ignition, cone clutches, transmission footbrakes and worm drive. Pneumatic tyres and electric lighting were available from 1920. The Photograph, above, shows a 1925 2½ ton model. 1930 models were available with forward control and the firm also made trucks for Local Councils, low loading models on small diameter wheels with solid tyres. 1933 saw the introduction of the new fully enclosed cab, in 1934 Dorman and Gardner diesel engines were introduced to the range.

Vulcan also produced buses from 1920 and started with 22 to 26 seaters on a two ton chassis. By 1930 the bus range included six models, including a double decker. The photograph, above, is a 1923 26 seater bus.
The company was taken over by Tilling -Stevens in 1938, re-named Vulcan Motors Limited, and manufacture moved to Maidstone in Kent. In 1941 6 ton models were introduced for essential civilian users with the Perkins P6 engine with forward control, hydraulic brakes, 4 speed constant mesh gear boxes and worm drive. When the Second World War ended tractor and tipper models were added to the range. Tilling-Stevens was taken over by the Rootes Group in 1950 and in the same year a new 7 ton Vulcan with a Gardner 4LW engine, servo brakes, 5 speed gear box and hypoid final drive, was introduced, however production of the Vulcan ceased in 1953.

This information comes from Commercial Vehicles in Great Britain by Les Geary and the Complete Encyclopedia of Commercial Vehicles by G.N. Georgano The photograph of the 1925 truck comes Commercial Vehicles in Great Britain and the photograph of the 1923 bus comes from Complete Encyclopedia of Commercial Vehicles. Vulcan was the God of Fire in Roman mythology and his name gives us the word volcano.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Emerson Brantingham Big 4 tractor

We saw this tractor at the Tractor Pull at Longford, near Sale, in March this year. It is a Big 4, which was originally owned by East Bland Station at Quandialla, near West Wyalong, in N.S.W and restored by Norm Johnston. Big 4 tractors were the first tractors built with a four cylinder overhead valve and the prototype was created by D.M Hartsough in 1904. Previous to this, early American tractors with internal combustion engines were one or two cylinders. This four cylinder model proved popular with Canadian farmers, who had vast acres to clear and cultivate and for this reason also had some sales in South Africa and Australia. The Big 4 was manufactured by the Transit Thresher Company of Minneapolis from 1906. This company was later taken over by the Emerson Brantingham Implement Company, who manufactured these tractors until 1916.
The Big 4 weighed 17,500 pounds or nearly 8 tons and Emerson Brantingham introduced a six cylinder version in 1913, which only lasted until 1915 as it was too big and cumbersome. It weighed 23,000 lbs, over 10 tons. The Emerson Brantingham Company had its beginnings in 1852 when Ralph Emerson became a major shareholder in John. H. Manny, a harvesting equipment manufacturer. In 1853 the Manny Company changed its name to Emerson Manufacturing Company. In 1909 Emerson joined with Charles Brantingham to crate Emerson Brantingham Implement Company. They took over a number of Traction Engine companies such as the Geiser Manufacturing Company in 1912, the builder of the Peerless Traction Engine. Around the same time they also took over Reeves Company of Columbus, Indiana. J.I Case (Case Tractors) purchased Emerson Brantingham in 1928

There is a truck connection in this story. Emerson Brantingham closed down the Reeves plant in 1925 and part of it (the Assembly building) was sold to Will G. Irwin, a wealthy industrialist and philanthropist, the backer of the Cummins Engine Company, which was started in 1919 by Clessie Cummins. In late 1925 or early 1926 Cummins moved its main production into this building. Cummins still have their head quarters in Columbus, Indiana and are a major supplier of truck engines.

I got this information from the Magic of old tractors by Ian M. Johnston (New Holland Publishers, 2004) and Encyclopedia of American Steam Traction Engines by Jack Norbeck (Crestline Publishing, 1976)

Monday, August 10, 2009

First Trucks in the Ranges by Seth Trenfield

First Trucks in the Ranges is the life story of Seth Trenfield. Seth’s grandfather, John Trenfield, arrived in Gaffneys Creek in 1871 to work with his uncle, John Wood ,who was a storekeeper. John and Mary Trenfield had thirteen children and eventually took over the Gaffney Creek store. Seth’s father, also called Seth worked as a Carrier, from the early 1900s. He serviced the area from Mansfield to Woods Point and had wagons and drays and many horses. As well as general cartage he also carried equipment for the AI and other mines. In the mid 1920s Seth Senior, who was then about 40, realised that horse transportation had had its day and learned to drive. He purchased a red 1926 REO Speedwagon, 2 ton truck with single rear wheels and pneumatic tyres. It had an Australian made cabin which was extra wide and allowed a passenger to sit on the right of the driver as well as two on the left. The REO was the first truck in the Gaffneys Creek area. The REO carted goods from the train at Mansfield to Gaffneys Creek and the A1 Mine settlement. The roads were rough and it was not uncommon to have three punctures on the trip from Mansfield to Gaffneys Creek. The REO was later replaced another REO and later by a Fargo. Seth, the author of this book, left school at 14 in 1934 and stated working with his father - when he was16 he appeared before the Children’s Court for driving the Fargo without a licence and he was fined 5 shillings. His father was fined ten shillings for allowing him to drive. When he sat for his licence at 18, the Woods Point policeman said I have seen you driving about the place for months, so I don’t need to give you a test.
When Seth married in 1942 he and his wife Mohya opened a shop in Gaffneys Creek but still owned trucks which carted general freight and livestock. They later built a garage and had the Shell Agency. They sold up in 1970 which ended the 70 years of the association of the Trenfield family with Road transport. This is an interesting book with plenty of stories of bad roads, adventures with trucks, the battle with the TRB and other tales of life in the hills around Gaffneys Creek.

The book, First Trucks in the Ranges by Seth Trenfield, is published by Histec Publications and is available from the Mansfield Historical Society . The cost is $20.00. If you want more information on Gaffneys Creek read Gold at Gaffneys Creek by Brian Lloyd. It appears to be out of print so try your local Library.

Alf Weatherhead and his machines.

Alf Weatherhead (pictured above) was the youngest son and second youngest child of Horatio and Eleanor Weatherhead. He was born in September 1895 and died in May 1976. Alf came to Tynong North, from Lyonville, with his father and five older brothers in 1909 and they operated saw mills. The brothers worked with their father, then operated various saw mills on their own or in partnership with other brothers. Alf went to War in February 1915 and returned in March 1919. He was in the 23rd Battalion, Field Artillery Brigade. The boys all had a passion for steam, for engines and other mechanical devices inherited from their father. In fact, Horatio had received a Patent in August 1890 for for an improved mechanism for operating the throttle or cut off valves of engines from their governors.

Victorian Government Gazette August 15th, 1890 issue 66, page 3253.

Alf was close to his youngest sister, Eva Rouse (my Grandma) and often spent time with her family at Cora Lynn. Here are just a few of Alf's machines over the years, which he either owned or operated. The first three photographs are of Alf's 8hp Burrell Traction Engine, which he had at Yallourn.
Alf and his brother Frank were both keen photographers and his caption on this photograph was Crane on front of engine to pick up stumps and logs etc and stack them.
The original caption on the back of the photograph above was Back wheels down 1 foot. Front wheels deeper. Camera Zeiss Ikon 200 of second fastest speed.

This was taken from a slide and taken in the early 1960s. It show Alf with his sister Eva Rouse and niece Nancy Rouse. Photographer was his nephew, Jim Rouse.

Photograph labelled Second traction engine I drove. It is a Ransome Engine, 1913. Taken at Franklinford.

Photograph taken by Alf when working at the Board of Works Quarry at Yarra Glen.

Alf and a steam truck, location unknown.

Alf and a Whippet truck.

Alf and a Sentinel truck, Malmsbury.

Frank Rouse and Jim Rouse on Alf's Indian motor cycle, taken a about 1938.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

V8 Super Car Racing

The Historic Commercial Vehicle Club (H.C.V.C.) are holding their display day at Sandown on Sunday, November 22nd, 2009 from 9.00am. To promote this event, they were asked to put on a display at the V8 Supercar Racing over the weekend. We had six vehicles displayed in all, on the Saturday, plus the H.C.V.C trailer. I have never been to car races before and the last time John went was in 1956 when Stirling Moss won the Grand Prix at Albert Park, so you can see by that we are obviously not car race enthusiasts, but it was a fun day. I don't actually know who won the Race on the day, but I can tell you that the Formula 4 race they held was won by a fifteen year old and the oldest drive in that race was only 21.

Pictured above is the 1950s International owned by Bill and Ray O'Halloran and the H.C.V.C. display tent. Pictured below is David Horne's 1934 WS British Bedford, a familar sight on the Historic Truck display scene.

Pictured above is "Red Terror" a 1955 AR162 International, owned by Bruce and Helen Paroissien and next to it another O'Halloran family vehicle, a 1950s Nissan. Below is Russell Marshall's 1941 Ford and our Volvo.

Alexandra Truck Show 2009

We took the Volvo to the Alexandra Truck Show on Sunday June 7th. Alexandra is about 170 km from Cora Lynn and it was raining all the way from Pakenham, which didn't make John very happy as he hates getting the truck dirty, however with the recent bushfires up in the area we thought it would be good to support the event, so we continued on. The day didn't really get much better, it was cold and overcast or raining all day, so the photographs are pretty dull. The numbers of the new fancy trucks were down on last year, but the number of historic trucks was up slightly, so obviously historic truck owners are made of sterner stuff than modern truck drivers. In fact, if you listen to John who has been driving trucks since 1964, modern truck drivers have no idea of what it was like to drive a truck in the early days.

Naturally our Volvo was the best looking truck there, but my second favourite truck was the 1968 245F Austin with the doors set into the rear of the cab, originally designed to make the trucks accessible in narrow English alleys (pictured below). It is owned by John Leadbeater of Kinglake.

Ian Lee's Princess Diana truck won the Best Vintage Pre 1960 truck. It's a 1956 Diamond T. My favourite Royal is Queen Victoria, but I could never imagine decorating the Volvo with a portrait of her.

John has a soft spot for old Kenworths, as he drove some of the early ones when he was working for Camerons in the 1960s.

Also displayed was the 1954 AEC Mammoth Major, belonging to Wayne Harris, which we saw last year at the H.C.V.C Display day at Sandown.

For something a bit different there was a Japanese truck, a 1974 Toyota Dyna on display, owned by a couple from Rushworth.

This truck (below) belongs Wayne Green and is a Cummins powered Ford 800, 1967 model. John thinks these were the best effort from Ford prior to the introduction of the Louisville in 1976. John was driving a Fleetways car carrier (TK Bedford with a 120hp Perkins) delivering Fords at the time of the introduction of the Ford 8000 and every time one came into the Delivery compound at Ford Broadmeadows, all the drivers would stop and check them out as they created a lot of interest.

The Ford 750 owned by H.C.V. C identity, Stephen Costorphan is pictured below. Also in the picture is the Blitz owned by Andrew McIntosh, a stand-out in orange.

This is a 1928 Chev, and pictured below it is Max Devlin's 1928 Dodge. They were parked together like a cute pair of matching book ends.

Other trucks included a1924 Benz (the only other European historic truck apart from our Volvo) and a selection of Dodges, Chevs, Inters and Fords and a White 9000 in very original condition (bottom picture).