Sunday, September 6, 2009

Foden Trucks

Foden Steam Truck, taken at the Scoresby Steamfest Rally in 2007. The Steamfest Rally, held by the Melbourne Steam Traction Engine Club, is held over the Labour Day Weeked, every year, at the National Steam Centre in Scoresby.

Edwin Foden was born in 1841 in Sandbach, Cheshire and, when he was 15, became an apprentice to Platt & Hancock, an Engineering firm, who made agricultural machinery and steam engines. Edwin completed his apprenticeship, and then became a foreman of the Company and later a partner. The Company later became Hancock & Foden and in the 1870s Edwin Foden took charge. Edwin Foden patented a Compound engine which was displayed at the Royal Agricultural Society Show of 1887. In the same year, a new Company was formed called Edwin Foden & Sons. The Company continued to produce traction engines, threshing machines and steam engines and in the late 1890s Edwin Foden began to develop a steam wagon and built four different prototypes. The most satisfactory one had the engine mounted horizontally, so that it only took up half the total length and thus the drive chain from the countershaft to the rear axle needed to be longer and heavier. In 1901 the War Office had a competition for the best powered steam vehicle for military use. A series of tests were carried out in the three ton trucks, with a £500 first prize. The vehicles were required to haul a load of three tons and a trailer of two tons over four different routes covering a total of 257 miles. A Thornycroft won the competition and the Foden was second. This Foden truck formed the basis of Foden design for the next twenty years.

Warwick Bryce's 1955 FG Foden with an 8 litre Gardner. This was taken at the Baw Baw Old Engine and Auto Club's Old Wares Expo at Lardner Park in October 2006. On the back of the truck is a V12 Rolls Royce Meteor engine.

In 1902, the Company changed their name to Fodens Limited and in 1911 Edwin Foden died and the Company was run by his two sons, William and Edwin Richard. Edwin Richard Foden left the Company in 1930 and established the ERF Company (after his initials Edwin Richard Foden). Fodens Limited supplied the War Office with steam wagons and traction engines during the First World War, and in 1929 began the change from steam to diesel. The first diesel engine truck was sold in 1931 and had a Gardner 6L2 engine, with a four speed gear box, and was rated for six tons.

A 1954 FG model Foden, taken at the Historic Commercial Vehicle Club Display Day at Sandown in 2007. It is owned by Terry Burrows.

More trucks followed of various capacities up to 15½ tons and during the Second World War, Foden supplied the War Office with 1,750 trucks as well as tanks and shells. Foden was the first to produce a dump truck in Britain, used by the Steel Company of Wales. The dump truck was based on the existing 12 ton, six wheeler model, but reinforced for heavy duty off-road use. Dump trucks then became a standard part of the Foden range. In 1958, Foden produced their own diesel engine, which produced 126 hp from 4.09 litres. The Foden engine was in production until 1977.

A 1955 FG model Foden, taken at the Historic Commercial Vehicle Club Display Day at Sandown in 2007. This is owned by Neil Roberts.

The Company’s connection with the Military continued when they won a contract to supply high mobility military trucks to NATO in 1973, this contract was worth £10 million. The Company went into receivership in 1979 and were taken over by PACCAR. PACCAR retained the name, though rationalised the range of trucks built. Foden lasted until 2006, 150 years after Edwin Foden began his apprenticeship at Platt & Hancock.

A 1961 Foden tipper, owned by Frank Latorre, taken at the 2008 Alexandra Truck Show.

Sources : This information comes from
Commercial Vehicles in Great Britain by Les Geary and the Complete Encyclopedia of Commercial Vehicles by G.N. Georgano.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for that, Heather, I enjoyed the text & think the photos are great. One small point, if I may: Fodens Limited went into receivership in July 1980, & the assets (but not the liabilities) were bought by PACCAR Inc in September 1980. Which is why they traded as Sandbach Engineering Company for a year or so, before reverting to Foden Trucks.