The Belhaven and other vintage lorries
Sir, In letters referring to lorries I have never seen mention of the name Belhaven. I only ever met one and that was around 1927, and the poor thing was pretty ancient then I should say, and often did.
Still I loved the old ‘bus and it provided me with a certain amount of fun and excitement. I was only 15 at the time!
Quite illegally my job was driving this one and only of ours and she taught me a trick or two.
Built to carry about 40/50 cwt., it was chain-driven, had wooden wheels and solid tyres. A very Rolls-like bonnet complete with lines of rivets all blued steel and about 5 ft. long, a brass radiator (a cross between Rolls and 1914 Darracq) and lovely long i-elliptic springs.
She ran like a Rolls and rode like one; quietly and smoothly, and when travelling along roads in nearby villages which were merely rock foundations filled in with ashes one watched the wide front mudguards move up and down as she rolled quietly from side to side in and out of the terrific holes and over the immense stones.
The lorry platform was about a foot wider than the cab which had doors only about a foot high. As the brakes were non-existent, these projecting body corners were very handy to keep a 56 lb. weight on for the use of the second man, when one had one. Hurried stops were dealt with in the following manner. Travelling at 18-20 m.p.h. one changed from top (4th) gear down to first at one change, having a box full of” dogs “was very handy for this as this being so one couldn’t miss the change, a elonk of chains, a terrible groan and down you were to 5 m.p.h., then the second man came into his own rapidly baling out together with the 56 lb. weight which he slung under the back wheels and there one was, stopped!
It had another trick which was a little disconcerting till one got used to it, once or twice a week the steering would jam and refuse to go on more than half lock, this could be quite exciting.
One evening, having dropped off my second man, I was gaily swinging round a sharpish bend when I suddenly woke up to the fact that this was one I was not going to make. Having but two choices, a wall or four lovely tall poplar trees I chose the trees (how I missed die second man and his niftiness with the 56 lb. weight), I flattened all four-of those tall trees and the owner was very annoyed but the old girl hadn’t a scratch, as usual, when I got her out of the man’s garden. On these Occasions ditches could be quite a nuisance to get her out of.
In spite of repeated stripping down, etc., of the steering we never even found the trouble let alone cured it.
She was ,8 grand old ‘bus though, smooth as silk and beautifully built., in Scotland I believe; perhaps somebody knows amongst your readers. Together with several more Leyland, Mandslay, Fiat, Karrier,
Garford, Peerless, Maxwell, Model-T FOrd. Austin (shaft to each rear wheel, diff, under seat, radiator in cab) we also had a Seldon, a good one that, though it had a habit of dropping its prop.-shatt in the road with a clang which effectively broke up one’s day dreams.
The Maudslay, with o.h.c., I remember as a five tonner fit fora lady to drive. The Ranier I remember at 12 haying to use -both feet to push the clutch out and then gingerly take one Off to push the gear-lever through into reverse.
Much more fun learning to drive in those days of peaceful roads, even if they were apt to be dusty. F. C. H. [Name and address supplied—En.]