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Surrey Vintage Vehicle Society caters for veteran cars, vintage cars & classic cars, as well as commercials and motorcycles.



:: [  
1929 Chevrolet Series L.Q. 1.5 Ton Trucks with custom made bodies  ] ::
as used by Lord and Lady Brocklehurst to cross the Sahara in 1930.

(Photos below the text.)

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QUESTION   :    Hi, Hoping you might be able to help. I am a member of a small history society on the Cheshire/Staffordshire border. We are giving a talk about a trip the local lord of the manor (Sir Philip Brocklehurst) undertook with his wife and a mechanic across the Sahara in 1930 (the first convoy of fewer than 3 cars). We have been trying to identify the cars they used and came across your website during the search as it has two fairly similar looking vehicles (1928 Chevrolet GMC and 1932 Chevrolet LT). Lady Brocklehurst kept a diary and she says they were British built Chevrolets, and was at pains to point out their Britishness. Whilst she normally calls them cars, on a couple of occasions she refers to them as light lorries. Having found Chevrolets on the internet we are coming round to the idea they were indeed some sort of light truck, but as yet have not positively identified them. I attach a few photos of them on their journey, and can supply more if it helps. Many thanks for your time. Alan Weeks
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ANSWER    :     Hi, Thanks your Email and the interesting photos. We have now had an opportunity to study the photos and can advise with the help of our friends at the AACA we can confirm that the vehicles were indeed Chevrolets. With all the hub bolts on the rear they are 1.5 ton trucks. The vehicles are therefore 1929 Chevrolet Series L.Q. 1.5 ton trucks with custom made bodies. The UK registration dates them to Autumn 1929, registered by the London County Council. This would tie in with the 1930 expedient date. These would have been sold as "cowl and chassis" and would have custom made cabs. "75 Years of Chevrolet" has a page (p.84) of British bodied Chevrolet trucks but these trucks are not shown. The wing mounted lights mark them out as British built models.  Interesting steam recovery condensing radiator cap on one of the vehicles! The diamond tread tires are Goodyear. Interesting device mounted above the bumper. Thoughts that it might be a winch or power take off, but more interestingly, suggestion that it could be an engine driven generator to provide electricity to power lights at night or to run other items in the camp. Hope this proves of interest. Kind Regards
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Bozi, What wonderful information, just what we'd hoped for. What great experts you are too! Thank you - and your friends - ever so much. Well give the SVVS a mention at the talk. I had to look up what was meant by "cowl and chassis" but as I understand it now it's just the bonnet + chassis; hence you saying the cab - and presumably the rear, luggage area - was customer built. Well, he would have had the money! Regarding couple of the other points you make: The condensing radiator caps: We wondered what they were. They were at times on both vehicles, and don't appear in all photos, so must have been detachable. Lady B remarks many times that the radiators boiled, and much of the water they carried with them was used for the cars. We assume that's why they had them. They weren't apparently very effective either. The device above the bumper: We think it's probably not for camp lights as Lady B says they ate by headlight at times. However, early on she says at one point that Phil had left his car switched on all night, and in consequence the battery was run down. They had to start it on the auxiliary magneto, - excellent design. We weren't sure what a magneto was but could that be it, do you think? Lady B also says that the Chevs finished their journey of 5381 miles in splendid condition. The only spare we had used was one valve spring; otherwise they had no need to open the bonnets. Never the slightest trouble starting up in the mornings, and the engines were always giving of their best on the entire journey. She averaged 18 miles to the gallon for the entire distance; and Phil slightly less, 12 to 14. Only one puncture all the way. The Chevrolet has again given a lead by being the first cars to come through from Algiers to Khartumn Alan Weeks
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Hi, Thanks your email and the interesting info. The mention of the magneto doesn't not help much on the device over the bumper. There are two ways of creating a spark in an engine. One is to have a battery and a coil with two windings converting low volt battery power to high volt spark power. Earlier vehicles had a magneto which was a little dynamo type device as part of the engine which generated its own spark as it turned. Some posh cars like Rolls Royce had them both because (flat) battery use makes it less guaranteed although more efficient. It would be necessary to switch from one to the other. Thinking about it..... perhaps Chevs did not have the facility/space inside the bonnet so this was an external bolt on extra??! Normal magnetos were about the size of a small loaf of bread and had to be accurately timed to the turning engine. There does seem to be a drive from the crank are into the device. Will look into. Seems the Chevs were reliable vehicles. Shame about the condensing rad caps though. Kind Regards
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Hi Bozi, I've read through the diary again and found another reference to the magneto which supports the idea that it is indeed the contraption we can see on the bumper in the photos. Lady B says: P.'s radiator is leaking, but we can't mend it till we have more time as the magneto is in the way. On a separate topic but one I thought might interest you she says: The Sultan is very keen on motors and drives himself in a Ford coupé. He was most interested in our cars and was especially delighted with the power tyre pumps. I certainly didn't realise they had power pumps s in those days. As they let their tyres down regularly to cross the sand in places, they were obviously very useful. Thanks again for your help. Alan
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Hi, Can you tell me a bit about Lord and Lady B and the reasons for the trip. My friends in US sound interested. Could the external gizmo be the tyre pump?? - not the Magneto ! I will ask them, so info on Lord and Lady B would be useful. Regards Bozi

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Hi Bozi, Thanks again for your reply and interesting suggestion - certainly if it was the pump on the front then it could easily be driven by the engine. That would mean the magneto was under the bonnet behind the radiator somewhere. Any ideas how we could get a definitive answer? Re the reason for the journey, I'm afraid we don't really know. Nothing is stated in the diary about it. Our speculation was they did it because they were adventurers. Certainly Philip was - he'd already been from Sudan to Kano in Northern Nigeria by horse and boat when he was in the army (he was stationed in Sudan after WW1). And Lady B mentions they'd been together to the Sudan in 1925. And we think a few more times as well. Philip's brother was also Game Warden in the Sudan for 10 years at least and was there in 1930. Philip also went with Shackleton on his first expedition to Antarctica. He loved cars too so we think this journey was a combination of these two things he loved. Alan
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Hi, Had a couple of interesting replies to the Pump item. One of our USA colleagues said that many larger early autos in the USA from the mid 1900's up into the 20's had an air compressor attached below the floorboards that could be shifted in and out of gear if air was required. Another contributor provided a picture of an advertisement and added: I don't know if this air pump accessory that appears on both of my cars is the sort of compressor to which you are making reference. The same style pump, made by Kellog, is mounted on the side of the transmission on both my cars. The cars are a '28 Packard and a '29 Lincoln. The Packard accessory catalog for '28 has a clear picture of the pump. The long shaft extends through the floorboard and allows the engagement of the pump gear by a twist of that shaft on both cars. The Lincoln Manual gives instruction on its engagement and operation. 1000 engine rpm in neutral is recommended as a speed for the pump.All this would suggest that the gizmo on the front of the car is probably the Magneto and that the Pump is under the floorboards. Kind Regards
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