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It is just so Super (Sentinel).


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Wonderful thread.   And a very humbling one to a person not a million miles away from my laptop who has yet to fix a broken mass-produced piece of tinware for which parts are available in the motor factors over the road..... 


HMS Sultan down in Gosport run a Sentinel and its often out and about in the area - I think Squire Dawson has some first-hand knowledge of it? 



Here is a link for those who relish more waggonery - 



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I'll put this here because it is hardly worth a new thread and I didn't see one on tin bashing. One of the longer term projects is a Merryweather steam fire engine which has been in the family for a fair few decades now. This is in need of, among other things, a new boiler. Oddly the one task which was putting a mental block on proceeding with the design and documentation of a new boiler was the cladding. The cladding? Surely such a trivial thing as insulation would be a doddle compared with manufacturing a new boiler.


Aye well this has bothered us for many years decades because the cladding is entirely brass and that age hardens and cracks. The chemicals in polishes doesn't help this process (apparently). The upshot is that after 110 years or so the cladding looked like this. Notice all of the cracks? One option was to have it heat treated and start silver soldering up the cracks. Then a more skilled basher than I could sit there with a soft faced slapper gently dressing out the ripples and dents.




Here's a thing. When researching the availability of panel beating tools don't type "leather faced slapper" into Google and expect anything useful back. Ho hum.


Anyway. The problem with this job is that rather simple looking radius at the top. You need to lose metal to fold it in which is tricky. An option is to spin it. This was no good because it was too deep for all of the spinners we spoke to. We could have made it in two sections with a band round the middle but that is hardly pretty. Hell, they managed in 100 years ago so we can't let it beat us. Again, maybe a better basher could have sat down with hammer and dolly and just keep dressing it down until they got there. I suspect this is the approach taken originally. The offending curve and the offensive cracks.






So where to begin? First buy a big sheet of brass, roll it into a cylinder and silver solder the butt joint. So far so easy. Then, taking the largest sledgehammer to crack a nut you acquire some slabs of polypropylene from a plate heat exchanger and bolt them into a large plastic block. Then you put it in your big lathe and turn the curve on it. This was done by calculation. Yes kids, maths in action!


This is the plastic guide mounted on a big piece of pipe the right distance from the ground.






Then all you need to do is anneal the brass, slipin onto your guide and off you go with your hammers. The results speak for themselves.




Shite. This sorry mess is what we keep hidden behind a bench after it was cut off. Luckily we made the cylinder much longer than it needed to be. We reckoned we had another four attempts before another sheet of brass was needed. After some thought and discussion we came up with the idea of crimping the top of the cylinder to make a nice even start to the curve. So taking a body jack we made a funny looking press to form ridges. After that the cylinder looked a lot like we were going to be investigated by the CIA and MI6 for building a nasty weapon.




A shell casing from a super gun?




So, with the crinkles to help guide us when we are hitting it maybe this attempt will be more successful. So you break out the body hammers and start hitting hard (but controlled). Things are looking hopeful...





The massive problem with brass is that it work hardens. Steel or aluminium you can just keep hitting and biffing and bashing until it is where you need it to be. Brass on the other hand does not like being moved and you need to anneal it regularly. In a patch you would get half a dozen hammer blows before it went hard. What this meant was that you got a hammer blows once aroud the circumference before you had to lift it off with the floor crane, turn off the workshop lights and heat it to a dull red with the gas/air torch (oxy-propane is a bit too hot). Then you waited for it to cool to slip it back onto the guide. This is a painfully long process but s  l  o  w  l  y you start to make progress.




Keep going...




Starting to look hopeful...You can see the bit that keeps getting heated.




And eventually, after a couple of scares, you get there. It's got a curve and you feel pretty bloody pleased with yourself I can tell you. The black line marks the overlap of the chimney.




We are only part way there because what you have is a pretty bashed bit of brass. So you go to the cupboard and get the stack of tinsmith's wooden hammers that you bought a few years ago with this job in mind and start to work out how to use them to dress out all of the dents. So you biff and bash and rub chalk on it to see where you need to hit and in the end it looks like this. Ignore the crinkly section - that bit gets cut out to take the exhaust pipes from the engine so we didn't finish that. 




Now it is time for more filing and using miles of abrasive tape until it looks like this...




And then it is buffing wheels and soap time and after only a few hours one small patch looks like this




By now you feel like you can do anything so it's time for a brew. And then, as if by magic after only a couple of weekends' more polishing you end up with this.




The grubby bit at the bottom is the excess we had to play with. It will be cut off. All the holes in it will have to wait until the shell is made because the cladding has to fit very tightly to the shell couplings and we only have one go at it. Wreck it now and there's trouble.


So there you go. How to make a new boiler cladding for a 1908 Merryweather Gem in ony thirty years or so. Sadly about this point it was decided to build another waggon so this just sits in the workshop for another day.

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You know, one of the best things about involvement in a project like this is the knowledge that, years after we have all kicked the bucket, something gets left behind that bears our handiwork for future generations.   Like I said - a very humbling thread!

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There is a load of stuff to do today and a rapidly looming deadline so let's have an update. That will put food on the table.


So the chassis is bolted together, the holes reamed and the rivets in the bag. Now all we need to do is heat them up, pop them in and job done but first you need a rivet gun. This is a McDonald gun made in Glasgow and these things have built a lot of ships. This was last used when we put a new tube sheet of the Fowler roller back in 1985 when we had two ex-riveters to help us out (YCRTA two ex-riveters to actually do the difficult bit) but now we were on our own.




There were five of us this time. Someone on the gun, one with the hydraulic holder, one on the pump, one heating rivets and one running with the white hot rivet. I got to play at being a manly proper man and work the gun. I got to do that because of my in depth knowledge and understanding of rivetted joints. Ha ha ha. We only had to put 30 5/8" rivets in. We all had the impression of long departed riveting gangs looking down on us from above pissing themselves laughing at our pitiful efforts. After a bit of arsing around I reckon we got there.




This is the front one. That keeps some bolts in it because it needs to be removed to get the boiler out.




It is hot, bloody noisy and not exactly easy work. It is no wonder that people who did this for a living were worked to death by their forties.


With the frame bashed together the next bit is the footplate which is made in two halves so you can get the boiler out. If you look back you'll see a picture of a pile of bits of plate. The footplate is made of admiralty pattern chequer plate which has diamonds rolled into it which hasn't been available for a long tie now so you have to take what you can get. We were very lucky to get a load out of an old mill and then we spent an irritating Saturday playing jigsaws with tape measures and french chalk trying to work out the best way of joining the plates in a way that minimised the number of joins and hid them as far as possible. After a full a frank exchange on views on the subject of how to do it we came up with something that made the best of a bad job.


Then it needs tacked together, turned over and marked out as per the drawing. There are a few curves that take a while to get right. Also, because you only have one go at this you do get a bit checky. Once you are happy, cebtre dab all the cut lines and break out the NM250 oxy-propane cutting torch and off you go. Then you lay into it with big angle grinders and you end up with something with lines and curves all over the place.


In the picture below you can see two short join lines on the front plate  - these will be hidden by the boiler. You should be able to make out the join down the middle of the rear plate. This is annoying but hey ho. The join that runs from side to side across the hole is meant to be there. That gets bolted up.


Note how the lines of the front plate match the lines of the rear plate. It took a lot of cutting and grinding to make that happen. This is the somewhere near finished plate lifted up into position on the chassis. The cut on the hole looks scruffy because it hasn't been tidied up yet - we are working close to the S4 and we are waiting for a couple of welding screens to arrive to keep the sparks off the finished one.


This is an important bit because that set of curves across the front kind of define a Super Sentinel.




The big hole is what the boiler sits in. As you have probably worked out by now the boiler does tend to dominate the cab. And makes it very hot in there.




The axle beam waiting for the jig to be finished.




Fairly stout weld needed to hold it together.




A somewhere near finished steering box bell  crank. The big straight arm hangs down and connects to the drag link.




The start of the track rod ends. These have bronze spherical seats which provide movement. There is a fair bit of machining left to do on these to make them look convincing.




The bronze seats have small springs behind them to keep enough load on things to keep them together. These are those small springs. This is very cack handed engineering. Nice springs, though.





One for the woodworkers in the audience. I found this photo of the spring hanger and slipper plates. A dovetail joint in half inch steel plate.




Drive sprockets on the carriers. This is the rear face of them. The bronze rings are a modification. When these were made the used a super crude mechanical seal on the main bearing housing which wouldn't hold small coal so we ditched them and went for a design of modern lip seal like an oil seal on a car hub. Once the carriers are on no one will see any difference. The little sprocket you see fixed to the one on the left is the drive sprocket for the dynamo. The original set up was appalling and because we tend to drive at night a lot we need something that works. This layout allows us to run a much bigger sprocket and get more speed out of the dynamo without it looking awful. Once the carrier is on the drive chain should hide almost everything.




Steam engines need a lot of oil both in the crankcase and the top end. This is the start of the mechanical lubricator that pumps something that looks like treacle into the steam supply to keep the cyliders oiled. It is driven by the engine.




A pile of boiler bits. These are the hinges that take the grates and the ash pan. They look like crude bits of tat because they are crude bits of tat.




And this finally arrived from Aus. This is the body for the valve that controls the boiler feed pump. The water pump runs all the time that the engine is running so when you don't want water in the boiler you have a bypass  - sorry, in old speak - bye-pass valve that sends the flow back to the water tank. This is worked from a lever in the cab. This is a right fiddly thingwith internal ports and it had to be cast. Making a pattern for this was waaaaay beyond what we could do so we had someone quote to make one for us. Let us just say that we were glad that a nice man in Aus had already had a pattern made and got us one cast at the same time. This was very, very much cheaper. There is a lot of machining to make this thing into a finished item.




It the background you will see a shiny thing with a sphere on the end. This is the start of the other bit of the track rod ends.


Next jobs:

Carry on with front axle

Get some stock bar to start building up the front of the cab

Work out what wood is needs to make a start on the cab









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Sentinel engaged Doble as a consultant in a last ditch effort to do something with steam road haulage. He designed some interesting engines and boilers but as with his cars he was banging his head against the stone aged control systems and metals that were not up to the temperatures and pressures he needed. These days it would be very much easier were it not for the fact that the IC engine would still be about eight trillion times better.


I saw the Doble steamer in the museum at Donnington. However, when I was there it was sitting next to the Bugatti Royale so the Doble looked a bit crap and teeny weeny.


This is a great thread. Very impressed.


I first heard about Abner Doble whilst reading LTC Rolt's autobiography. Rolt's time at Sentinel coincided with Doble's stint there doing consultancy. Rolt recalls his encounter with Doble and held him in high regard, as you'd expect, moreso as the market was being lost to the ICE.


My only experience of steam was with the collection of my step-mum's late father. He had a number of engines and rollers (Fowlers, Marshalls) over the years and a Fowler ploughing set. He also had some steam cars too. A White and a Gardner-Serpollet...

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That brass cladding is beautiful. Strangely, crude though many of these components are, they too are quite beautiful, in a way that something more advanced and finely made just isn't.

I think that's cos form actually follows function in these cases..


Nowadays, you can make it look however you want, cos the small plastic control box that makes it all happen is a small black rectangle..


This is a fascinating thread - great work and some mind-blowing engineering:)

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We know quite a lot of stuff about the history of this particular Merryweather. One of the things we know is that the fire station Beeston Council had built to house their lovely new engine cost £8 more than the new fire engine did. These things were incredibly expensive in their day and represented a pretty scary investment. This is one of the reasons they were often gold leafed to buggery and went round looking like a fairground ride - there is a lot of civic pride wrapped up in them. 


We are pretty certain that the cladding was originally made by someone sitting down with leather bags, dollies and hammers and beating it out freehand - something that would need a fair bit of practice. When you look at the inside of the cladding it is pretty heavily beaten.

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Looks like you did a lovely job of that brass work in the end. My mate's an old school blacksmith and works with all sorts of metals. He uses sand-bags, a large slab of lead, holly hammers, formers of any description he can make up etc. He forges brass too on occasion, not at all intuitive as you found out. One of his customers is well into his eighties and only uses him as the knowledge otherwise seems to have sadly been more or less totally forgotten.


Loving this thread, thankyou for taking the time to document it and share it.

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If any one is interested in other stuff we've done and simply cannot wait for the next exciting update take a look here: http://hmvf.co.uk/topic/8226-another-pioneer/


It's the log of the restoration of a 1945 Scammell Pioneer we did a while back. I managed to keep this record pretty complete except for towards the end where it should become clear why there was a bit of a jump.

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The Scammell was sold to a nice man in Holland. It was hard work on the road - much more tiring than the steamers - and as a result we were never mad keen to take it out. After a while you twig that it's been a year since it was last out so that is usually a sign that it is time to move it on.

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  • 3 weeks later...

No update yet because there isn't anything terribly exciting to photograph other than bolts fitted and bits of angle shaped. The front axle is in one piece now which is good. I'll get some photos later. 


There needs to be a descision made soonish about what this thing is going to look like. The cab is pretty much set in stone other than length which will be tweaked slightly but the body is still up for discussion. One thing is that while there is a lot more work/cost involved in them big bodies always look the part and certainly make them a lot more appealling to people when we get bored with it and sell it on.


Up to this point our thinking was a large, fixed coke body like this one here.




The benefits of this are that the body is relatively simple to build and would allow us to, with a reasonably straight face, to paint it in Gas Light and Coke Company colours to match the other one (GLCC ran Supers).


However, waggon 6982 from which the engine we have comes was built originally as a three way tipper and while it offends me not rebuilding it as that we are utterly sick of tippers as they are ugly pains in the the arse, never get used as tippers and we've already got one. The point is that if it isn't going to be a tipper then all bets are off and to hell with originality. On top of that many of these waggons had several bodies/uses in their lives and many were returned to he factory on more than one occassion to be returned as something else. Getting flexible with history is nothing new.


One photo that took my eye was this one here. This was owned by the Sheffield grocers (they must have been more than that to justify the massive investment in one of these things) Arthur Davy and Sons...





I really like the big box body and butch looking tail gate and doors. Unless some Sheffield local historian knows different it appears that the waggon is painted mostly red. This is a problem because not only do we not want a tipper, we reeeeeeeally do not want a red waggon. Red is a foul colour and always ends up looking like crap. So, some artistic licence is required. It would help if I had an artistic bone in my body but I'll just have to work with the hand I've been dealt.


What I'm looking for is some ideas of suitable liveries for a waggon like the box van above. The rules are:


- Preferrably black, dark blue or green. However, other colours/ shades will be considered.

- Absolutely not red, yellow or white as the main colour.

- Household names are good but not mandatory

- The livery needs to fit in with the box van body - a quarrier would be unlikely to have a box van

- It would be nice if the nature of the buiness was nice. I'm not sure I fancy having a box van owned by Scruttocks Maggot Farmers and Rotten Carcass Disposers Ltd. That said, I really fancy a fag company livery but I haven't found one yet.

- One oddity about the livries for most steam waggons is that they have a big, featureless front apron where most lorries had their radiators. This brings both benefits and drawbacks when designing a livery.


Already under consideration:


- Lipton's Tea (Lyons has already been done)  - Dark green, gold leaf lettering, black chassis

- Tate and Lyle Sugar Refiners - Dark blue, gold leaf lettering, black chassis

- Boots Manufacturing Chemists - Dark olive green, gold leaf lettering, black chassis

- Shore Porters' Society, Aberdeen - Dark blue, white lettering, red wheels, black chassis

- Pickfords Removals and Storage - Dark blue, white lettering, red wheels, black chassis

- Just making up some shit that looks nice.


Thoughts, suggestions and pointers gratefully recieved.

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your asking the autoshite forum how you should livery your lovely steam waggon?


you do know its just going to end up painted several shades of Beige with "Autoshite" in big stylised words across the sides right?  :mrgreen: (not gonna lie I would vote for that, imagine all the funny faces when you pull into a steam fair with it)


on a more serious note


how about something from an old British lighting company like Osram GEC or such? no idea if any of the old companies ran steam wagons tho

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Beyond awesome - I've not seen that picture before.


Boots had Sentinels. Their Sentinels had van bodies. My mother worked for Boots many years ago and we're all Nottingham folks.


Perfect. Just perfect.


ETA: There seems to be general agreement on that. The question was asked, however, what is the legal position with using an existing company's IP for your own use? Any ideas?

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ETA: There seems to be general agreement on that. The question was asked, however, what is the legal position with using an existing company's IP for your own use? Any ideas?


As far as IP is concerned, commercial names and logos remain the property of the business concerned even if they're historic versions, and companies can and do start getting arsey if they hear that someone's using their name on something without permission. Some are maybe more relaxed than others, especially if it's not on some sort of profit-making venture (I'm guessing that the reconstruction and eventual sale of these leviathans doesn't keep you in Dom Perignon and Rolexes?); but because Boots UK is now owned by giant US conglomerate Walgreens, I'd have a care since giant US conglomerates aren't exactly renowned for a breezy, carefree approach to IP law.


It's probably worth contacting Boots' Head Office and asking to speak to someone in their communications and marketing team. Emphasise the local and family connection; stress that you're not going to be using their name in a pejorative way or to pretend you're in any way a Boots employee, just an enthusiast who wants their project to look historically accurate.


Any business with half a clue would be all over this like Billy Bunter in Asda bakery aisle when the 'final reduction' yellow stickers appear, as a golden opportunity for free positive publicity, the chance of borrowing it for promo purposes once complete, connecting with 'heritage' and 'core values' and all that marketing-guff, etc etc.


If you're really lucky and they've got community engagement cash swilling round unspent for this financial quarter, they might even chuck you a few pennies for the paint.


Unfortunately, not all businesses have half a clue... so success is not 100% assured. But the old phrase "better to beg forgiveness than to ask permission" may well work for some situations, but most assuredly does not cut a great deal of ice in a registered trademark lawsuit.


But hey, if you try approaching them and they don't go for it, then how about a very similar livery for the totally fictitious 'Poots The Chemist'...



(Source: Datsuncog Minor is a commercial solicitor for a certain high-profile Oxford Street retailer, with a particular focus on Intellectual Property law. He is not, it has to be said, a shiteist.)

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