What is it?

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Sir,

With reference to the letter in May issue I was interested in the “What is it article ?” I remember the vehicle quite well as I was working in those days at Messrs. Lloyd & Minster Ltd., Station Road, Wood Green and worked several times on that particular vehicle, before the First World War. It was a monstrous affair, reckoned to be the longest in the World; the 100-h.p. engine you quote was a Simms four-cylinder with a bore of 7 in. and it stood about 5 ft. high in the chassis. The vehicle it was a demon to skid no doubt due to the high centre of gravity and tremendous weight, and it knocked many a standard (for the electric trams) down as they were in the middle of the road in Tottenham then. The old station you mention is no doubt what was then called the Coombs Croft Fire Station. The driver was an ex-sailor and stood over 6 ft. and weighed about 15 stone of brawn which was needed to handle it and of course the solid rubber tyres on the wood-block road did not make matters any easier in such conditions. The pumps could throw a jet of ‘water through a 1 1/4 in. nozzle mounted on a monitor up to over a 100 ft. high and could swivel all round. I remember one particular job we did about 1912(?) was to alter the drive for the pumps from a cone clutch, which used to slip a lot under load, to a positive dog clutch. We had to take the gearbox out of the chassis and that weighed about 1/2 ton as it was a casting of solid phosphor bronze and nearly 3/4 in. thick, hence the enormous cost and weight, and the gears were hefty too.

I have a recollection of a .court case over the cost etc., and Mr. Lloyd of Lloyd & Plaister Ltd. was called to deal with the case; I do not know any details of it. Tottenham Council also at that time had what was reckoned to be the oldest fire engine, a Merryweather, at Conway Road Station, off St. Annes Road, a real veteran with large wheels at the rear and small ones in the front and an upright steering column and controls. Merryweathers could no doubt supply you with some details if you wish.

Perhaps Tottenham Council might have some details of the “Zwicky” collossus stowed away somewhere; he was a Swiss, I believe.

London, N21. E. V. Akhurst.