Aveling & Porter tractor


The Aveling & Porter Tractor was acquired from the West Country in April 2006. It has been "resting" outside in a yard for around 30 years, and is in need of considerable work.

Start of the story

September 2008.

All good things come to an end. External pressures have conspired, and the engine sadly has had to go. We wish her new owner good luck and we look forward to seeing the finished job.

August 1st 2008

Riveting the smokebox over the barrel. This is a fairly full sequence of pictures showing the whole riveting process.


July 22nd 2008

Fitting the smokebox. The smokebox is lifted on a chain block and pushed into position. We used a hydraulic jack to ease the shape to match the barrel exactly.

A couple of taps with the big hammer brought it into position, with a podger used to get the holes exactly in line.


July 12th 2008

The tubeplate is now fully drilled and pulled up with bolts to make it a snug fit. Suitable application of heat and a big hammer made sure that it was!

We then made up some tapered plugs to hold everything in position ready for the smokebox.


July 6th 2008

The tube plate is now positioned. Rivet holes round the rim will be drilled, and the barrel pulled snug to the tubeplate. We will temporarily bolt round to make sure all the holes line up when the smokebox is refitted.


July 3rd 2008

Time to fit front tubeplate to boiler barrel. During the barrel refurbishment, and subsequent handling, the barrel front is slightly out of shape, so the tubeplate will not just slide in.

We made up two pullers (just like long bolts) that reach through the front tube plate, through the throat plate and through the backhead. The barrel need pushing out across its width, so we use a small bottle jack operated through the main steam take-off hole.


June 27th 2008

Managed to get the holes for the long stays drilled in the front tubeplate. Should be complete now and ready to fit.


June 26th 2008

Been busy on another project for a week or so, but we're now setting up to drill the tubeplate holes.

We tag the tubeplate to bolt it to the table on the Bridgeport, then set the DRO (digital readout) to X zero on the left/right centreline, with Y zero on the edge of the plate.

The drawing references all hole centres to these 2 points. After a double check on all positioning we can start the drilling process using the rotabroach we prepared earlier.


June 11th 2008

The new tubeplate needs all its tube holes drilling. That's 27 holes at 48mm diameter. In order to get the accuracy required we are going to use a rotabroach cutter. We will adapt it to fit the Bridgeport mill so we can use the digital readout for fine positioning.

Looks like time to make the adaptor from R8 (Bridgeport fitting) to 19mm plus 2 flats (rotabroach fitting)


May 8th 2008

In April I ordered the new tubeplate from the old firm of Isaac Newton. When I got a call from Gordon Newton to tell me he was pressing the plate I asked if I could visit him to see the process.

He kindly invited me up to Bradford - here are the pictures I got.

My thanks go to Gordon and his expert team for their hospitality and explanations.


March 17th 2008

I have had a few emails asking about hardening and tempering rivet sets, so I thought I would illustrate the process I use. The material I make them from is EN24T


February 28th 2008

It has taken some searching to find the right tools, especially the hammering pneumatic holdup, but we got there eventually. The snaps are very similar the standard snaps we made before.

The great day has finally arrived - we are starting the re-riveting. All the internal refurbishment on the barrel is now complete and it is time to drill out the tired rivets along the barrel seam and replace them.

This is the first time we have done large hot riveting (¾" rivets) so we had a couple of dry runs with cold rivets to make sure it would go smoothly.


October 12th 2007

The good news is that we finally found a proper rivet gun that we can have on loan. The bad news is that it is missing the right snaps.

Looks like its back to the lathe then!


July 30th 2007

The little studs in the saddle that hold the cladding on are in a mess. We make a new set here.


July 20th 2007

As the block studs came out they left some raggy bits in the thread. Of course it is a thread I only have a die for, so I'll need to make a suitable tap, then harden and temper it.


July 6th 2007

The boiler inspector has asked us to replace all the studs on the saddle. They are very tight, as they were caulked steam-tight originally, and have then locked up with rust over the last 80 years.

Drastic measures are called for!


June 14th 2007

Some of the boiler feed pump carrot bolts need replacing, so we have decided to make up a full set of new ones. We use a length of our certified boiler bar.


May 17th

Making the long stays


May 16th 2007

Stay nuts for the longitudinal stays


May 14th 2007

The fusible plug for the Aveling tractor is a two part device. The old one was quite tatty so we made up a new one.


May 5th 2007

Remedial work on throatplate - apparently a common problem on the Aveling Belpaire style boilers


April 30th 2007

Back to the Aveling tractor, and time to install the new crown stays


April 20th 2007

First steam trip of the new season. Mick and Gill came down from Herts to celebrate Gills (special!) birthday.

A great time was had by all!


April 15th 2007

We have needed to spend some time on preparations for the annual steam test for the Wallis Advance roller. Besides the normal strip, clean and wirebrush we were due for a new fusible plug. As the old thread was looking tired we have re-made the thread and made and fitted a new fusible plug.


April 9th 2007

First trip of the season was a visit to Langford Museum of Power. Nice relaxing day. John G spent some time with curator Phil Stevens, as John G has his Ransom stationary engine on temporary loan to the Museum at present


March 21st 2007

I managed to strip the small gear on the end of the drive motor for the magnetic base drill. We decided modify it to take a high-torque DC motor and made provision for a chuck or a Morse taper fitting.


March 9th 2007

Back to the lathe to make the new side stays. Because there was some damage to the stay threads in the outer wrapper we have gone up a size for the replacements.

The turning sequence and setup is the same as for the crown stays, except that as the old side stays were smaller, the new ones are waisted down to match the originals for stiffness. The boiler is redrilled to suit the tap, and then tapped right through from one side to ensure that the threads are continuous (so the stays screw into both skins easily)


March 7th 2007

The boiler has to be turned over, so are turning it onto its top to get all the accumulated junk out of the water spaces. We can easily remove any old scale, stub ends of removed stays and general rust, and get the whole thing empty.


March 3rd 2007

Our boiler inspector noticed a minor crack in the throatplate, probably caused when the engine was originally built. He says it is a well-known issue with Avelings with Belpaire boilers, but that we should get it repaired while the area is accessible.

This sequence shows the weld preparation, welding, fettling and crack testing sequence that will ensure a sound repair and a sound boiler.


February 26th 2007

The pressbrake is now set up, complete with light guards, and is in operation. We can now get back to the Aveling at last!

We have decided to test the stay fitting operation on a test jig before we actually fit the new stays to the boiler. As usual the first job is to make the tools to do the job. To caulk the boiler sheet into the stay thread we made up a curved caulking tool from am old piece of tool steel. Then we ground an old drill to a nice radius profile to make a suitable shallow section rivet snap.

The test rig is made from a piece of thick wall tube suitable blanked off, and with BSP fittings for filling and for the test pump. We threaded a short piece of offcut stay material and screwed it into the test rig, caulked it in and tested it. It tested OK so we drained the water and rivetted the stay end before retesting. We pumped up to 400 psi and held that for 5 minutes. All looks OK so we must be close to doing a real one.


February 8th 2007

We got the sheeting and cladding on the pressbrake shed, and some temporary lighting running. Then back to the other machine shop to position and level the guillotine.


February 4th 2007

New purlins fitted. This was done by bolting plate to purlin, then welding plate in situ. A little adjustment was needed, then the sheets went up.


January 28th 2007

Now the machines are in place we need to raise the shed roof about 600mm higher than the old roof to accommodate the new pressbrake. We are producing new legs and trusses, and will fit new purlins before refitting the sheets.


January 25th 2007

Delivery day for the bigger machines. We meet Gerald from Milbank Trucks again. Gerald (and Milbank) did the excellent job of delivering the Aveling tractor from Bristol back to Maldon last April, so we have got them to deliver the machines for us.

This batch comprises 60T pressbrake, 2.5m guillotine and a power press


January 21st 2007

We have been very busy over the holiday period and into the New Year with workshop machinery, and workshop preparation. We have managed to get hold of a Bridgeport mill, a power press, a surface grinder and a spark eroder (EDM) to enhance our capabilities. Pictures of these are here.

We have also got decent guillotine, a 60T pressbrake, aand a few other smaller goodies. I will put those pictures here as we get them.


December 16th, 2006

The crown stays and the main cross stay are now done and ready for fitting. The side stays and the three main longitudinal stays may have to wait till after the holidays as we have some machinery to move and a Steam Trip during the next week


December 10th, 2006

Thanks to a smart suggestion from Adrian in Camborne I'm now taking the waist out of the stays before cutting the threads. It is now quicker to cut the waist as its not a 'lumpy' cut and its also quicker to cut the thread (3 inches of thread instead of 13)

I always welcome constructive comments - after all we are all learning something new all the time!


December 7th, 2006

The Colchester is installed and working. I've got some pics of the setup for my stays.


November 27th, 2006

Having a bit of a struggle at the moment! We're having to move some equipment from John G's old workshop (20 miles away) back home - however the old Cardiff is past it's best now. We have managed to source a nice little Colchester and get it back home. It should get installed this week.

My engine shed is also getting a bit cold, so I've knocked up a little stove to keep stuff warm and dry.


November 11th, 2006

I'm plodding on with the new stays. I've just got the new chaser so I can actually finish some and get them fitted soon.


November 1st, 2006

Finally got round to setting up the Cardiff lathe (in JohnG's workshop) to do the new boiler stays. They will all be screwcut with a single point tool and have their thread profile finished with a chaser. The first setup is for the crown stays, and I have got the first one done today, all except for the chaser!


October 21st, 2006

A slow week, continuing to remove crown stays. Some come out in the prescribed manner, others are just plain difficult! These are the ones that won't unscrew and eventually shear off flush with the boiler crown and then have to be drilled out. To cut the crown stays in the water space gets increasingly difficult as you get closer to the back of the boiler, so I've made up a broomstick handle for the plasma cutter to reach.

I've also started on the bolt-on bits, cleaning them up and priming them.


October 15th, 2006

After too much overhead welding (and some rather painful little burns!) I've decided to turn the boiler over. It will make several jobs much easier to do. First its lowered down off its blocks, using the chain blocks and doing one end at a time. Then the boiler is tipped under the control of two chain hoists and some blocks to ensure a safe movement.

The rotabroaches used in the magnetic drill to drill out the ends of the stays needed sharpening. I couldn't find a local tool man to do it, and our Clarkson tool and cutter grinder didn't have the right kit, so I had to spend half a day making up a fixture to sharpen them.


October 8th, 2006

Back to work again after a family wedding. My nephew Richard married Sophia in (as is traditional) her family church - in Athens! We decided that we might as well take a few days break and have a wander round Athens while we were there.

And that's my excuse for not achieving much on the engine for nearly 3 weeks! However I have managed to find a source of certified boiler stay material. They keep a good range of sizes in stock and provide a quick and efficient delivery. I now need to set up the threading machine and get some stays made.


September 24th, 2006

I've been continuing the boiler work and removing more of the crown stays. The outer ends are fairly straightforward as described before. However the other ends inside the firebox are a bit harder work. I got Eileen (SWMBO) to stick the camera through the firebox door to show what I was doing inside. As the firebox crown has been caulked into the threads these are always going to be quite tight to remove. The locknut is available, so we decided to use it! First the stay ends and locknut are cleaned up with the small angle grinder, then the nut is firmly welded on. Next comes the 1" air spanner. This is a lovely powerful tool, but a bit awkward to handle in the confines of a firebox. It does the job nicely though. There is still quite a few to remove, so I will just plod on.


September 16th, 2006

Haven't got much done on the Aveling tractor for the last couple of weeks. As we steamed up for a day out we had a tube leak on the Wallis, too bad even to plug it for the day! As we were due at Barleylands we had a hectic time getting tubes and refitting them. We've put a few explanatory pictures on the Wallis page. We did just make it to Barleylands, thanks to the efforts of our tube suppliers and our boiler inspector, and it was good to meet up with a few of our website readers.

There will be more progress pictures on the tractor here next week (hopefully!)


August 27th, 2006

Back to serious stuff, and a whole bunch of stays to replace. Now that the front tube plate is out and we can crawl down the barrel we can see how many stays we need to do. While we're at this stage of stripdown, it makes sense to replace any with signs of wear or damage. The removal sequence is interesting, but does take a while. It does do a nice job though, and should avoid damage to the threads. I fear I may be at this part of the job for some time.


August 23rd, 2006

Boiler inspector visited early last week and agreed details on local repair to the barrel pitting.

We've had a bit of a busy week away from the engine as it was Mrs M's big birthday party. All the loose bits and pieces had to be moved and neatly stacked at the back of the engine shed, as the front half of the shed was commandeered for the bar. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and it was a great family get-together. Here's a couple of snaps of the birthday girl (she is the lovely redhead dressed in black)

We've now got everything back in place, and the boiler welder has started the pitting repairs.


August 13th, 2006

Got stuck into the brass that I have got (I'm still missing a few bits). It comes up really nicely with lots of work (a buffing wheel and some tripoli helps quite a lot!) as the 'before' and 'after' pictures show.


August 9th, 2006

Still no date for the next boiler inspection yet, so I'm continuing with dismantling smaller bits and cleaning up. The last few bits are now off the boiler, and it is all scaled and wirebrushed. Here is a few of the small bits cleaned up, and a overall boiler shot taken from on high.


August 3rd, 2006

I haven't got a date for the boiler inspection yet, so I'm continuing with dismantling smaller bits and cleaning up. There has been a few broken studs to remove, a load of threads to clean up and some needle scaling and wire brushing for rust/paint removal. This should keep me amused for a week or two at least!


July 28th, 2006

A couple of weeks ago I asked Derek Rayner, well-known steam archivist of The Road Roller Association for help with identifying the engine. With help and information from the Road Locomotive Society he has got back to me to confirm that the left hand number (shown on July 8th) is the boiler test number. On that basis he considers that this engine was once a roller (1920) with a royalty number of 9212. Unfortunately there is no reference to the other number, so that's still a mystery! Using the boiler number specified, this information agrees with that shown in the Aveling and Porter archives at Lincoln. Derek tells me that he can't help me get the original registration back unless and until I get it converted back into a roller. This is as expected, knowing Derek's robust attitude towards conversions! His personal feelings are expressed in the PDF document referenced here.

Work on the engine continues, with the removal of the front tubeplate and the three main longitudinal stays. We are also continuing with the wire brushes on the removed bits. The boiler is now stripped and cleaned far enough for another look from the boiler inspector, and I'm waiting for an appointment with him.


July 21st, 2006

The joint material was VERY well stuck to both saddle and block, and all the studs were tight in the block, so it took some effort to free it. Another bucket of WD40 for the studs and a jury-rigged hydraulic jack finally managed to break the joint. Then the hoist and a pair of big bars got the block lifted off the saddle. Its now resting by the tender, waiting its turn for restoration.


July 19th, 2006

The nuts holding the block down have proved a bit difficult to undo, especially the ones that you can't get a spanner on at all! A close inspection of the rear nut on the LP side shows that it was done up with a cold chisel, so I took the hint. I tried spanner, flogging spanner, red heat and large air spanner, with varying degrees of success before removing the last few with the cold chisel. The next task is lifting the block itself.


July 16th, 2006

Those big cast cheek plates are now removed, along with the steering worm and brackets. To ensure the cylinder block goes back in exactly the same position (relative to the crankshaft) I've built a heavy angle iron jig. It's located on the horn plates, using the same fitted bolts that hold the cheek plates on. At the front end it's bolted flush to the machined face of the block that the trunk guides were bolted to. There is also a cross member with pads that pick up on the bracket which normally supports the remote end of the trunk guides. Once that is securely located, we can start the onerous task of removing the block. That plasma cutter I mentioned recently has been very handy for cutting all the bits for the jig!


July 8th, 2006

More big lumps have come off over the last few days, some easier than others! The big cast cheek plates (the ones that bolt onto the top of the horn plates, and carry the crankshaft and first motion shaft) and now undone and cleaned ready for removal, and I've finally managed (with JohnGs help) to get the first motion shaft and rear axle off and ready to clean.


July 1st, 2006

We've been testing a new plasma cutter today. It's one of the new invertor types, so only weighs less than 15kg. It gives a really nice cut on all sizes of mild steel from 20g (haven't got thinner to try) up to 20mm. I'm so impressed by the performance that I am importing a few more. They will be on EBay shortly, but I will sort out a special deal for Essexsteam enquiries to save the EBay commission, so if you want one contact us now.


June 30th, 2006

Heavy duty day for both JohnM and JohnG. We got the smokebox off and onto the floor. The rivets and bolts weren't too bad, but a shrink fit plus several years worth of rusting makes a mighty tight fit! However judicious use of hydraulic ram, plus 7lb hammer and oxy-acetylene torch did the job.


June 29th, 2006

John G's hydrovane compressor is re-installed and plumbed up. We need something a bit powerful to drive the 1" air spanner. Took a bit of a search to find proper oil and spares, but found everything I needed at pmj international ltd in Harlow. If you need anything for Hydrovanes ask for Paul and tell him you found him at EssexSteam .


June 24th, 2006

More bits coming off. Second motion shaft and final drive shaft are both quite tight. The gear rings from both are removed for cleaning and re-furbishment. Two more wire brushes worn out as the bits all get cleaned up. The steering worm and brackets will all come off for clean up. The Rotabroach drill bits are now here so I can tackle boiler stay removal next.


June 17th, 2006

Pressing on with removal, the first motion shaft clears the top of the boiler, and the tender clears the back of the boiler. New drill is here, just awaiting drill bits to remove stays. I've ordered a plasma cutter to cut replacement bits for the tender. The second motion shaft needs to be freed up, seems to be very tight at the moment.


June 12th, 2006

Sorry for the delay, but the local virus seems to have bitten me! Glad to say I seem to to be back in operation now. As you see, that plate on top of the boiler is now removed, and I've started to clean up. The chimney is also off and ready to clean up. The next heavy bit was the whole forecarriage, which is now laying safely unber the boiler barrel, ready for cleaning. I've got a big drill coming to help remove the boiler stays where required.


June 2nd, 2006

Other rear wheel is now safely off and ready to clean up. Managed to get the flywheel pulled from the crankshaft, using a puller made from odd bits of stock steel and a bottle jack. Seems to do the job very well though. While looking at the crown stays that need changing I discovered that the front cross-member tying the hornplates together needs to be removed as it covers the tops of the front crown stays. It appears that every apparently straightforward job generates 2 0r 3 OTHER jobs before you get started.


May 30th, 2006

Bit of a struggle getting the crankshaft and flywheel clear - needed 3 tries to get the rigging right (and safe). Still its done now and the flywheel and crankshaft are on blocks awaiting a big puller. Looks like another fabrication job!

I'm now working out how to physically remove the cracked boiler cross stay, so let me know if you've got any ideas! I've cleaned up the boiler shell in the general area of the stay. May have to remove other rear wheel as well.


May 25th, 2006

… and so it goes on! To get the flywheel off requires removal of the nearside rear wheel. Well it has to come off sometime, I suppose. Hydraulic bottle jack, plus sleeper ends and steel shims support the boiler foundation ring. A few hours work produces a hydraulic-powered puller and the rear wheel is free. It's now at the back of the shed awaiting refurb


May 23rd, 2006

At last I can get at the engine itself. To get to the side boiler stay needs the flywheel to be removed. Oh well, it has to happen anyway, as the crank won't turn at present. As can be seen in the first picture (taken before delivery!), the flywheel is seized onto the crankshaft, and the flywheel key is seized into the flywheel.


May 19th, 2006

Spent a day and a half sorting out a decent bench. 3 inch angle legs and an oak sleeper top should be up to anything I need to put on it


May 17th, 2006

Sorted out a design for the gantry. Steel delivered and cut, gantry assembly doesn't take too long. Some careful planning needed to get it erected solo! It has now been fully load tested, and just needs painting (sometime soon hopefully!)


May 12th, 2006

A dull week, full of boring building work. Still we've now got the floor finished, the personnel door finished and the building is now secure with a dwarf wall around the base. The electrics are now done including some really nice lights from EBayer peterchem

I know the more observant of you will notice the odd build sequence for the shed. We are sometimes constrained by availability so have to work with what we have at the time. It seems to have come out OK at the end!


May 3rd, 2006

Boiler inspection day. Four hours of 'thorough inspection' reveal the news. The good news is that we don't need a whole new boiler! However there are four crown stays to replace, three longitudinal stays to replace, one side stay to replace and one back stay to replace. There are also a few small tidy-up jobs to do. The worst news so far is that the front tube plate appears to have been replaced, and fitted at a slight angle, which will need re-alignment before the new tubes are fitted.


May 1st & 2nd, 2006

Two days of hard and dirty work on the boiler, with scraper, needle gun and wire brushes getting ready for the first visit from the boiler inspector. It's always a slight worry awaiting his verdict, just in case he calls for a new boiler!


April 28th to 30th, 2006

The side sheeting finished, we start to make the doors


April 27th, 2006 - late afternoon

John G and the lorry available, so we can push the engine back into the shed


April 26th and 27th, 2006

Just me and the boss available, so I can get on with the roof and trims, then we continue the side panels


April 21st to 25th, 2006

Mini-Digger hire day, followed by a few days of heavy work as we get the floor down


April 19th, 2006

With everyone gone back to work/school, I'm on my own, with valuable assistance from wife Eileen - first with the camera, then with the tools!


April 16th and 17th, 2006

Excellent and valuable assistance from John G, Alex and Chris help me press on and complete the framing out of the new shed. All these pictures were taken by daughter Janet (Chris's Mum)


April 13th, later afternoon

Gerald got the rig back to Maldon for unloading, also a very smooth operation, and the engine is now safely on the drive. All good so far, but some pressure now to get the shed finished!


April 13th, 2006 Early morning

I drove to Bristol, leaving home just before 5 am to meet the man from Millbank Trucks who we are using for transport to fetch the engine home from Dreweatt Neate the auctioneers.

As you can see, a very efficient load from Gerald the driver, and with the assistance of Graham and his staff at the auction yard.


April 12th, 2006

The new engine shed is progressing well


April 8th, 2006

After a few days of frantic shopping, the new engine shed gets started


April 4th, 2006

The Aveling & Porter tractor was acquired at auction in the West Country in April 2006. It is very dilapidated, and needs a complete overhaul and restoration.