One of the major projects currently being undertaken by the Friends of Coventry Transport Museum alongside Museum staff, is the restoration of a 1916 Maudslay Subsidy Chassis.
The Friends of the Museum are recording their work on this project on a separate Maudslay Project Blog, but we asked Curator of Vehicles Christiaan van Schaardenburgh to give an overview of the project so far, for readers of this main Museum blog:
In the period before the First World War, the government set out specifications for lorries for military use. Several commercial vehicle manufacturers actually built these vehicles, including: Daimler, Thorneycroft, AEC and Maudslay. Although they were all different, they were built to the same requirements such as weight, horsepower, dimensions, etc. Different body styles were fitted to these vehicles, depending on their use. Large numbers of these military lorries were sold as surplus at auctions after the Great War.
This particular chassis would have been built by Maudslay at Parkside for the Royal Flying Corps during the First World War. The vehicle is believed to have been used by the War Department on an airfield in the Angus region of Scotland. Four identical Maudslay chassis were purchased by Coventry Corporation Tramways after the war in 1921 for conversion to buses.
The Museum’s 1916 Maudslay Subsidy chassis was acquired by the Museum in August 2000 from a farm in Dundee, for £10,000. The vehicle was mostly complete, but in a totally unrestored condition. The Great War, Model B three-tonner, was last used in the mid 1970s as a holiday home at Crathy on Deeside, and before that it had been a showman’s living van until 1932. It was stored for many years until being sold to the museum.
Ever since the purchase of the Maudslay chassis, the Friends of Coventry Transport Museum have been raising funds for the restoration of the Maudslay. Restoration of the chassis started in July 2007, every Friday a dedicated team of Friends work with the museum’s collections care team on restoring the lorry to its former glory.
Although the chassis is largely complete, because of its long life as a showman’s vehicle and subsequently as a holiday home, almost every component has a significant amount of wear and tear. It is our goal to rescue as much of the original items as possible - rather than just replacing components with newly made examples, we try to repair the original items, this always adds to the authenticity and gives it ‘the right look’ when inspected closely.
The restoration started with making a detailed photographic record, which has already proven invaluable when the re-assembly started. Once a complete condition survey had been written, the Maudslay was completely disassembled into its main components.
Due to the impending centenary remembering the start of the First World War in 2014, we are aiming to complete the Maudslay during that year. Should we fail to do so, and it is always a difficulty to put a completion date on a restoration project, then we aim to finish the project during 2016 - the 100th anniversary of the chassis.
Follow our progress on the Maudslay Project blog.
The following companies have provided us with their services so far, often with a favourable rate:
Lenoch Engineering, Ramsay Precision Engineers, Matrix Lasers, CMR Engineering, Clifton Rubber.