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Post Info TOPIC: Commer Horse ambulance


Hero

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Commer Horse ambulance
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I've found an old magazine article about this vehicle "Commer House Ambulance"... are there any period pictures of this vehicle? Were these ambulances common enough or just a few conversions on Commer chassis?

D.



-- Edited by Rectalgia on Wednesday 29th of August 2012 06:39:09 AM

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Rob


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It also gets a page and illustration in the superb Blandford book, reproduced here;

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/FWWambulance.htm

A horse ambulance that certainly looks like a Commer also features on a 1916 Wills cigarette card in the 'Military Motors' series

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/ORIGINAL-1916-MOTOR-HORSE-AMBULANCE-WORLD-WAR-ONE-MILITARY-VEHICLES-CARD-WW1-/300650856173#ht_981wt_1037

Aside from that I can't find any images of a motor horse ambulance - only the horse-drawn horse ambulance. I did see a photograph of one yesterday as part of a large collection of WW1 images but it was part of a slideshow, so can't find it or tell you for definite what it was

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Ah! Found a painting - looks like a Commer to me

http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/20370

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And a photograph but not much hint of the chassis make

http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205072048

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http://www.small-tracks.org/t5384-commer-horse-ambulance-ww1-1-72 and a nice model of one here

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Brigadier

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Your previous post but one Rob is also a Commer. You can just make out the chain case. There is some film of one on the IWM website

http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/1060005354

Very good but it crashes after a while on my old machine.

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Hero

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Some interesting links... thanks! They shed also more info on the basic plans as I got them.
a) The cig card and the film show that there's a small door from the cab to the rear horse cargo area. You can see the "driver" walking from the rear to the front cab in most of the scene. However, on the final take this area of the cab is occupied by the crew bench up front.
b) the cog card shows a double rope holding the ramp open. On the film, the entry ramp has no ropes whatsoever and the ramp is lifted by some sort of winch... you can see the man who's operating the lever behind the truck in the film. And the winch handle are to be seen in http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205072048... now, where would be the reel of the winch? Inside the horse compartment, I suppose.
c) you can also see in that pic the front "door" to the cab open. No hint how the seat is deployed in front of it once closed... There's some inclined thing inside the cab... it could well be a hingd portion of the front seat?


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Rob


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Great War Truck wrote:

Your previous post but one Rob is also a Commer. You can just make out the chain case. There is some film of one on the IWM website

http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/1060005354

Very good but it crashes after a while on my old machine.


 You're doing better than me - doesn't work at all on my brand new one, just get connection error!



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Brigadier

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I can post stills from the clip. I dont think that will infringe copyright under fair dealing rules. what do the moderators think?

 

Just read the user agreement. Thats a definite no then. Oh well.



-- Edited by Great War Truck on Tuesday 22nd of May 2012 09:07:18 PM

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Major

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These horse boxes were well documented in contempory publications - all the articles I've seen were published in June 1915 and are broadly similar in content.

The reports indicate that four CommerCar 4-ton RC chassis were supplied to Messrs. Osborn & Co., automobile engineers, of Great Marlborough Street, London who had approached Commercial Cars Ltd. on behalf of the Home of Rest for Horses, the bodywork being built by Messrs. H. J. Mulliner and Co., the well-known coachbuilders of Long Acre, London. The vehicles were used for the conveyance of wounded horses to the Base Veterinary Hospitals at the front.

One of the reports goes on:

"The two horses will be kept apart by means of a swinging rear partition, to the forward top end of which is attached a hinged dropping bar, making altogether a length of 8ft. 3in., including the rear post. The horses are loaded on the vehicle by means of the rear tailboard hinging on its bottom edge forming a slope, and they are unloaded by means of the front partition of the near side of the body for a width of 7ft. falling to make another exit slope, 7ft. 6in. wide, extension 10ft. 6in.; the hinges on this slope being specially strengthened.

Access to the interior of the body is gained on either side from the driving seat by means of two sliding doors, these being on rollers to allow of constant easy working. The extremities of the driving seat fold up to allow of passage through, whilst a manger is fitted in the centre of the forward partition. A forage locker is arranged immediately below the manger, being the same length and breadth, but deeper and extending right down to the floor. Access to this locker is by means of a divided vertical door at the back of the driver, hinging on its bottom edge. Ventilation is provided by means of large louvres, there being four over the cab front and two either side of the body. A lifting bar is located on either side of the body on a level with the top edge of the manger, and forming a continuation of this, means being provided for securing it. An entrance step is fitted for the driver on the near side, the seat being equipped with a War Department pattern driving apron.

Both the entrance and the exit slopes are covered with suitable cocoa matting and permanently fastened down. The interior has been padded to a certain extent, the padding being covered with brown Willesden canvas. All the windows, namely, those in the sliding doors and the side lights in the cab front, are of celluloid. Two sets of block and tackle for lowering the slope are included in the equipment, whilst very necessary trap doors in the floor are fitted to give access to the usual chassis components."

Another report, clearly drawing on the same briefing material, indicated that the padding, "went from a height of 5ft. above the floor, for a vertical depth of 21in. downwards."

The reports have three different photographs between them, one of which also appears in the more modern "Wheels and Tracks" magazine, issue 14. The copies I have aren't particularly clear, but if someone would like them (and post them on here) do send me a message.



-- Edited by Runflat on Tuesday 22nd of May 2012 11:54:28 PM

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Hero

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Great post Runflat! Thanks you very much. I'd love to see those photos if you can!
I'm actualy conidering redrawing the magazine plans, as I've found some of the shapes suspect, and many more details that the author didn't had.

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Major

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Looking at the IWM photograph and film again, it's (now) clear that this is a totally different vehicle to the one described in the article that I quoted from previously. In brief:

- The IWM film opens with the statement that the horse box in that film is owned by the Royal Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), rather than the Home of Rest for Horses. You can also see RSPCA on the side of the vehicle - and it's this vehicle that is depicted and modelled in the MM magazine article that Diego published at the start.
- The RSPCA horse box has spoked wheels, the HRH has disc wheels
- The cabs are slightly different
- The RSPCA horse box doesn't have a rear entrance
- The vents are different - one large one on the side of the RSPCA horse box, whereas the HRH horse box has two (in similar overall size); and the HRH horse box has four at the front, rather than the two (or perhaps one) on the RSPCA version
- The winding mechanisms for the side door are different - the RSPCA horse box appears to use a single rope attached to the centre of the door, with a winding mechanism on the far side; the HRH appears to use two ropes attached to the sides of the door, and a winding mechanism on the near side.

The Wills cigarette card looks much like the RSPCA version.

So a challenge for you keen modellers is to make one of each!



-- Edited by Runflat on Wednesday 23rd of May 2012 07:00:01 PM

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Rob


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I'd definitely be interested in seeing the images

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Major

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Here you are:



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Hero

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I'm working in a new set of 3 view drawings, based on the new information I gathered. It's interesting to see how the basic layout of the truck is unchanged since WW1. Anyone has a measurement of the distance between the axles, so I can check the scale accuracy of the magazine drawings? I'm basing the new renderings in those published drawings, but I already suspect a lot of them...
D.

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Legend

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I agree that the drawings look a little off. The ambulance body is a little too tall in the drawings, and of course the vents in the front are different - although this may be a design feature which changed during production, so without research it's hard to tell.

You may already know this as your English is very good, but if not, the word for the distance between axles is "wheelbase"; sorry I don't know the measurement.

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Brigadier

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The photos just keep turning up

Removed - potential copyright issues. But see Robs link above.



-- Edited by Great War Truck on Monday 28th of May 2012 09:59:06 PM

Interestingly, a copy of the same photo is up for sale on E Bay.



-- Edited by Great War Truck on Monday 28th of May 2012 10:01:50 PM

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Legend

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Right then - the photos Runflat posted in his last post are of a Home of Rest for Horses ambulance, according to the criteria he has previously posted; I say this because there are four front vents and disc wheels.

GWT meanwhile, has just posted what must be an RSPCA ambulance, identified by the spoked wheels (nice photo, BTW). I notice on this one that the back axle is set well aft, with very little overhang.

Edit - ah yes! you can make out the end of 'RSPCA' on the cab door - clearly it pays sometimes to use your eyes!



-- Edited by TinCanTadpole on Monday 28th of May 2012 09:59:09 PM

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Yes, TCT, that's correct.

The photo that Tim (Great War Truck) has posted is the same as the one linked to by Rob and the same vehicle in the IWM film linked to by Tim in his earlier post.  You'll see all the differences I mentioned if you watch the film.

To put the cat amongst the pigeons a little, there was also a horse box built on a Thornycroft J chassis with bodywork by Dennis Brothers of Silchester Street, Notting Hill, London - who I assume to be a different outfit to the Dennis Brothers lorry manufacturers!  The information I have on this vehicle dates from November 1917 but isn't great and essentailly confirms that the body is carried on a turntable, supported on the chassis, and can thus be brought into any required position for loading.  Self-evident from the photos, really!



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Legend

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That's rather nifty - I presume they could attach the ramp at the side too, otherwise it would be a waste of time

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I'd assumed that the idea was the body was turned through 180 degrees so that the horses don't have to back out.  The last photo shows horses heads, so they have clearly been spun round.

But it may also be able to be used as a side loader as the situation demands...

Anyone care to try and find the patent?



-- Edited by Runflat on Monday 28th of May 2012 10:34:31 PM

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The patent can be found here - the brothers being Mark Robert Dennis and Charles George Dennis:

http://worldwide.espacenet.com/publicationDetails/biblio?DB=EPODOC&II=0&ND=3&adjacent=true&locale=en_EP&FT=D&date=19171029&CC=GB&NR=110782A&KC=A

110,782. Dennis, M. R., and Dennis, C. G., (trading as Dennis Bros.). Oct. 27, 1916. Animal-carrying ambulances and other vehicles.-The body of a motor horseambulance is mounted upon a turntable so that in unloading the front end of the body may be brought to the rear and the horse be led out therefrom on to a ramp hinged to the rear of the chassis. The turntable comprises upper and lower wheel-plates m, g, the lower one of which is secured to bearers a, b, c on the chassis d. End bearers n, e also are provided and bolts o for fixing the body in position. The ramp p hinged to the chassis folds against the back of the vehicle as shown. A second short ramp r is adapted to extend between the body floor and the ramp p. The body is provided with end doors. The ambulance may in some cases be drawn up alongside a platform and the body be turned into a transverse position for unloading.

See the patent for detailed drawings.

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Hero

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The latest one,isn't that a Thorneycroft lorry chassis ????



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Barry John


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Yep - as per my post.



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Hero

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TinCanTadpole wrote:

You may already know this as your English is very good, but if not, the word for the distance between axles is "wheelbase"; sorry I don't know the measurement.


 

Thanks! As you know, Englander is not my everyday language (hell, if posting on forums didn't counted) and I was doubtful if the little word really applied to what I wanted to know.
BTW I found a Commercar appreciation society out there in the internets, and asked if measurements of this chassis could be retrieved... awaiting a answer...

Here's a nifty picture of a similar lorry that shows the front end detials quite well: http://gbt01.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/myra-20photo-201-13.jpg

And this as well: http://www.rootschat.com/forum/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=461470.0;id=184044;image

(which is just a detail of http://www.rootschat.com/forum/index.php?PHPSESSID=0a3fuf44hjq7fe5ct3ms301hp4&action=dlattach;topic=461470.0;id=184017;image

 

BTW I found a broken link in the Landships website, that is the link to the PDF of British trucks at http://www.landships.freeservers.com/jpegs_new/number_18/WW1_Lorries.pdf

Can Peter fix it?

D.



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Another picture of the Thornycroft horse box can be found here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nlscotland/4700016429/

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Hero

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Neat!
Here's another type of horse ambulance, or motor transportation. I'm starting to believe that CommerCar ambulances were just one-offs like the rest of the contrivances we've found in the last few days.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/22719239@N04/2197806140/

Note that this one is an American Horse ambulance. They have their ambulances designed to carry more horses than the Britische. These Amerikaners, always boasting!

D.



-- Edited by d_fernetti on Monday 4th of June 2012 01:38:01 AM

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Legend

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A crude-looking horse ambulance compared to the Commer, but it does seem intended to carry horses - I initially thought it might just be an ordinary truck back, but there are divisions across the width to form stalls.

Quite a handsome truck, more so than the Commer. Looks like it says GMC on the front bumper - an early offering for them, but I understand General Motors was formed in 1915.

D - perhaps you're right about Commer ambulances being one-offs; obviously horses were vitally important, and the blue cross seems to have been in existence to care for animals, but how much were horses actually looked after if they were sick or injured? I read an account on a newspaper website a couple of months or so back about one sergeant in the BEF who was ordered to finish off his sick or injured horse, but having become attached to the animal, hid it away to tend to it, the horse recovering and returning to duty. Were horse ambulances very common though? I don't think I was aware of them before the thread about the model horse ambulance in Harrogate; it also occurs to me that using horse-drawn horse ambulances would take horses away from other duties like towing artillery, so you effectively risk losing two horses rather than the one if a sick/injured animal went untreated.
Perhaps use of horse ambulances was moderate or light? Thus few motor horse ambulances being built?

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Another couple of pictures to add to the morphing mix.

The first shows three horses at a rear-loading (and apparently two place) horse ambulance. The legend on the side of the vehicle reportedly reads in part 'Horse Ambulance St Omer'.

The second photograph shows a barge being used to transport injured horses.



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Hero

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TinCanTadpole wrote:

Perhaps you're right about Commer ambulances being one-offs; obviously horses were vitally important, and the blue cross seems to have been in existence to care for animals, but how much were horses actually looked after if they were sick or injured? I read an account on a newspaper website a couple of months or so back about one sergeant in the BEF who was ordered to finish off his sick or injured horse, but having become attached to the animal, hid it away to tend to it, the horse recovering and returning to duty. Were horse ambulances very common though? I don't think I was aware of them before the thread about the model horse ambulance in Harrogate; it also occurs to me that using horse-drawn horse ambulances would take horses away from other duties like towing artillery, so you effectively risk losing two horses rather than the one if a sick/injured animal went untreated.
Perhaps use of horse ambulances was moderate or light? Thus few motor horse ambulances being built?


 By the several shots of different types of transport, I see that most of these are designed to carry standing horses, capable at least of walking inside the stalls, thus, the injuries would have been slight. At the same time, the treated horses had bandages on their legs, and I suspect that horses with more serious injuries were put to sleep or treated "in situ" in the case of injuries that didn't affected their capacity to walk distances by themselves (a saddle rash, for instance).

In those years, there was a public concern about the fate of war horses. There were romantic notions of the mounted soldiers, and the glorious deeds of cavalry, back then. However, the military brass saw them with the same regard as other expendable materiel (canons, lorries, soldiers sometimes). I guess that they thought of the loss of money everytime a wagon took a good hit from a Jerry battery. Measures to keep the horses in "good running order" must have been taken, but surely limited to the cost of tending them not being superior to the cost of getting just another one to do the same.
Men shouldn't be distracted caring for their animals instead of spending time in more martial duties. Thus, a wounded horse that could have been spared in peacetime would have been shot in order to save time.
Running a war is awfully expensive.

Perhaps horse ambulances were much less common than human ambulances, but sure these vehicles are useful reminders of the foolishness and horrible waste that any war is.



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Hero

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By the way, I kept drawing and correcting the Commercar drawings. Still no info about the wheelbase or the method of power transmission from the engine to the rear gear... I might take the details from some other car of the era? I recall that the Mack truck had a similar chain drive...

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d_fernetti wrote:

In those years, there was a public concern about the fate of war horses. There were romantic notions of the mounted soldiers, and the glorious deeds of cavalry, back then. However, the military brass saw them with the same regard as other expendable materiel (canons, lorries, soldiers sometimes). I guess that they thought of the loss of money everytime a wagon took a good hit from a Jerry battery. Measures to keep the horses in "good running order" must have been taken, but surely limited to the cost of tending them not being superior to the cost of getting just another one to do the same. 

Men shouldn't be distracted caring for their animals instead of spending time in more martial duties. Thus, a wounded horse that could have been spared in peacetime would have been shot in order to save time.
Running a war is awfully expensive.

Perhaps horse ambulances were much less common than human ambulances, but sure these vehicles are useful reminders of the foolishness and horrible waste that any war is.


 Well said.

As for the transmission on the Commer, the last of three pics in a previous post by Runflat seems to show a propshaft below the cab floor, so I agree that something similar to the midship gearbox of the Mack would be appropriate. Not sure if the chain is actually encased though, as I think was said in earlier posts. It may have been open.



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Diego's recent link is to an American Packard truck. It will say "QMC" on the bumper - for Quartermaster Corps.

Bythis time, Commercars were well known for their encased chain case. And the HRH example clearly has such an arrangement. Pictures of chain caes (or their remains) can be seen here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/elsie/487812592/in/faves-10482689@N05/
http://www.commer.org.nz/Commer_Connections/DerekHaycock.html

GeodLA's post shows another view of the Thornycroft - the same picture as I linked to earlier.

I think folk are right in saying that the horses conveyed in these boxes are more likely to be ill rather than seriously injured. That's particulaly so given the incline of the loading ramps - the horse-drawn versions were much lower-slung to the ground.

With regard to numbers built, this site suggests there were 14. It would be interesting to see official information on that: http://www.gallopmag.co.uk/Horse%20Welfare.htm

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Hero

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commer horse ambulance - disc wheel type

This picture is interesting... it shows the "late" (so to speak) of H.A. with disc wheels, and four-panelled louvred body top front. What shows distinctly is that the side panels of the cab seem to be made of... painted canvas? (like the drining apron material, perhaps some sort of linoleum) Those wrinkles could just be a well weathered plywood panel? The doors accesing the body from the cab can be seen as well. The interior arrangement of the body is alos slightly different from that of the footage we've seen a few days ago.

The control od the lorry seems to be exactly the same as in the "early" model, with a vertical "lever", a brake lever and the steering wheel. I suppose it has two pedals as well, for changing gears and an accelerator. Would the cab have another instrument, like a speedometer or a RPM counter? What about a switch for starting the engine? Maybe a crank for a magneto starter (apart from the lever below the radiator?)

The mechanism to open the side door seems also improved, even as the crank seems more or less the same (perhaps the same rod was before placed inside the truck body, under the coir mats?) This gives better access of the mechanism and perhaps prevented tangles of the ropes to handle the doors.

D.



-- Edited by d_fernetti on Monday 4th of June 2012 11:34:37 PM

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Legend

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Look at the diameter of the rod that the hoist rope winds around - you'd be winding all day to raise the ramp!

For the cab side, I'd go with something like canvas, like the weather shield draped over the dashboard. I think you can see hints of fabric wrapping onto a frame at the leading edge.

Inside the cab I doubt there would be a rev counter in a truck at that date; you'd be lucky to have a speedo. Electric starting was first used on a car around 1912, IIRC, but I don't know about trucks - most likely the starting handle at the front is the only way.

Inside the cab don't forget the footbrake - the brake lever will be more of a parking brake.

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Legend

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The American horse ambulance on Flickr that el señor Fernetti linked to ( the one I thought said GMC - Runflat i.d.'d the writing as QMC) looks to be a 1.5 ton Packard.

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TinCanTadpole wrote:

Look at the diameter of the rod that the hoist rope winds around - you'd be winding all day to raise the ramp!


  This very smae car was posted earlier in the thread, and one of the pictureshas the body of the lorry with the door closed. Yes, it must have taken ages to wind up that bloody door up. One thing for sure: horse ambulances were never in a hurry!

D.

PD. The last picture shows a bit more of the under chassis thingamagigs. There seems to be a sort of fences around the exhaust pipe and the transmission yoke. Where would these fences be attached to? Chi lo sa!



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Hero

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Here's a civilian horse ambulance from the 20s.
http://www.britishpathe.com/video/our-friend-the-horse/query/horse+ambulance
(see it at 8:59)

OUR FRIEND - THE HORSE

?id=83188&num=10&size=thumb

Here's a screen cap (attached) and it looks much like the ones in khaki, except that this one is neatly painted and lined, has a rear door and perhaps it's not the "improved" model where the lorry body could be rotated. Here's something from a 1918 magazine as well (attached) which looks more martial (yet it's not one of the previous)



-- Edited by d_fernetti on Tuesday 5th of June 2012 02:04:39 PM

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Legend

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d_fernetti wrote:

One thing for sure: horse ambulances were never in a hurry!

D.

PD. The last picture shows a bit more of the under chassis thingamagigs. There seems to be a sort of fences around the exhaust pipe and the transmission yoke. Where would these fences be attached to? Chi lo sa!


 Life moved at a slower pace in those days - it had to when you couldn't jet around the world in hours, or phone someone on a mobile from thousands of miles away; perhaps the frantic pace at which we now live has much to do with our widespread interest in days gone by.

There do seem rather a lot of guards and other parts hanging down under that ambulance. Some of them will be brackets to support the exhaust, there may be a cable run to the rear brakes (I assume it has rear brakes!), although perhaps that would have been tucked up higher to protect it. 

There's a fairly sturdy rod slanting downwards from left to right that may or may not be near the centreline of the truck. This may be the linkage to the mid-mounted gearbox - it's hard to tell without a higher res image.

Generally I'd expect these 'fences' to be attached to the chassis rails, and they look likely to be nearer the sides of the vehicle than the middle. Looking at other trucks of the same period is probably best to get an idea of what goes where.

 

BTW D - did you mean "PS" when you wrote "PD" at the end of your post? It means 'post script', an addition after the main body of writing.



-- Edited by TinCanTadpole on Tuesday 5th of June 2012 05:07:24 PM

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Hero

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TinCanTadpole wrote:
 BTW D - did you mean "PS" when you wrote "PD" at the end of your post? It means 'post script', an addition after the main body of writing.

 Oh yes, it was a typo (the S key is right besides the D) and probably it slipped off my mind too, as in Spanish, we use "post-data" instead of "post script".

About the rear brake, here these remains show what could be a hint of how the brake rod (or cable) could be attached to the rear wheel brake drum:Commer lorry rear wheels



-- Edited by d_fernetti on Tuesday 5th of June 2012 09:57:16 PM

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