Workshop Wednesday – Two Weeks To Go…

….. Will the 4.5″ Gun make it to the show in time? Here’s how we are getting on with it…

One big task was to refit the recuperator. I’ll let the pics do the talking!

With that on, the next challenge was the barrel. As befits such a mammoth task, it poured down with rain all day. Undaunted, the volunteers put in a sterling effort and it looks like a gun again!

Workshop Wednesday – 3 Weeks To Go….

The 4.5″ gun restoration continues to race ahead. Mike and Rob spent a large part of Thursday getting the barrel rubbed down and into primer, also managing to reveal the markings, and free up the breech mechanism. On Saturday the barrel was flipped over so we could access the underside and spray some green on.

Paul and Alexis have been busy with the mechanicals of the gun, getting the elevation gear fitted, and the operating handle cleaned up, good as new!

Also in line for spraying was the jeep trailer (including split rim wheels), and the spades, all of which had been freshly shot blasted.

The bombed-out house has now had a few more coats of paint on the brickwork and woodwork. We’re awaiting the arrival of the wallpaper for the interior. The outside has had an initial dust coat of black to weather it.


Workshop Wednesday – More set building and the gun goes green

Kicking things off this Wednesday is the lovely little Austin 10, currently undergoing an overhaul at the hands of the GOG squad. It’s been treated to a fresh set of tyres, and Dennis has driven it around the yard!


In the workshop, the 4.5″ gun carriage, recoil system and legs have been rubbed down and painted, first into red primer, then a coat of green. In the process, the ID plate was rubbed down to reveal that this gun was formerly ‘E’ Sub!

The traverse gear has also been fitted. We were missing a handle for this, luckily the derelict 5.5″/105mm hybrid prototype we have in store was able to yield one, now installed.

More set building has taken place! We were donated a flat screen TV with speakers, our intention is for this to be in the Home Front Marquee to show 1940s films. We needed a suitable surround, and constructed a theatre-style box for it to sit in. Just needs some embellishments and red curtains!

The salvaged children’s wendy house has been given a lick of paint, too.

The bombed-out house has taken a big step forward, the brick cladding is fitted and painting has started (first a coat of primer, then several coats of various mortar and brick colours). The door and window frames are also being spruced up, and the polystyrene ‘rubble’ we made has been wired together to help prevent it blowing away!

Some more items have been dug out of the stores, ready to be sand blasted. On the pallet here is a wartime airborne-spec Jeep trailer, and the spades for the 4.5″ gun. The trailer has had wheel arches added post-war.

It’s all coming together, still plenty more to do!



Workshop Wednesday – North Somerset Show 2016

Just 5 weeks to go until we commence the move to the showground, eek!

We were very pleased to join members of the IMPS in promoting the DFVS at the North Somerset Show on bank holiday Monday. This, of course, meant we needed to get vehicles ready for the trip up to Flax Bourton.

New arrival ‘Avenger’ towed the 25-pounder and limber, whilst the faithful Bedford OY carried tentage and props. DFVS volunteers handed out tons of flyers, and the gun crew ran through training on the artillery piece and showed members of the public how it operates.

Back in the workshop, some very tasty parts have arrived for the 4.5-inch gun, which has been given a rub down and first coat of primer.


Workshop Wednesday – Going Green

The 4.5″ Artillery Gun is going into a more appropriate colour! The tube to hold the wiring is now cut to size and installed, too.

It’s amazing what you can find in the depths of the workshop – we needed a charge regulator for the QL Tipper, and one turned up! Apologies for terrible pic.


Harry’s been in and tinkering with the limber for the 25 pounder. The overrun brakes are now functioning nicely, the wheels have been swapped for better ones (hopefully where the tyre doesn’t go down every few days!), and the whole thing has been cleaned up. The modern reflectors were also removed.

Workshop Wednesday – 9 Weeks To Go…

First Workshop update in a while, plenty to report on….

Pressing on with the 4.5″ Gun, the undersides of the legs have been cleaned up and painted. We’re measuring up new tube to take the electrical cables (the brakes are electronically activated) and need to drill and tap bolt holes to take the saddles that hold the tube.

We also took the opportunity to take the whole gun outside and turn it 180 degrees to make it easier to work on.

We also did a test on one of the searchlights in preparation for the show. It fired up rather well! This is a wartime searchlight that has at one point been rebuilt with more modern internals. Mark’s also been working on the second Morrison Shelter, this has been converted into a bench at one point, so needed cutting apart as the base had become the top!

A new manifold and carburettor for the Bedford QL Tipper has arrived, this will have the faces machined and new gasket fitted.

Members of the gun crew partook in a training weekend at Larkhill held by The Garrison Artillery Volunteers. While the weather ranged from the glorious to the atrocious, a fantastic and educational time was had by all. Practical lessons and training accompanied informative presentations, all rounded off by in- and out-of action drills on Salisbury Plain!

Set building continues apace. The inner walls of the bombed out house have been clad ready to be wallpapered. The brick sheet has arrived for the exterior, and the second floor has been built, and promptly put in the fire to weather it! Paul managed to find some appropriate lead piping and furniture, as well as making Herringbone bracing for the floor joists.

We had a large chunk of polystyrene left over from the Dinosaur project, we are hoping to use this as the ‘smashed’ bricks on the end of the walls. To cut away large portions without making a mess, we made up a hot wire using the bonfire, some fence wire, and pliers.

Meanwhile Paddy set to with stencilling all the yellow tank signs Dave has painted ready for this year. Keep an eye out for these around Somerset!

Workshop Wednesday – Stuck Legs and Special Occasions

The biggest leap forward in the workshop over the past few weeks was on the 4.5″ gun.

The left hand leg has been stuck fast for a long time, and with the leg attached it is very hard to reach the underside (which has been sat in a field for many years and needs some TLC).

WSW Crew members set to with jacks, blocks, big spanners and lots of grease to try and extract the kingpin, which did come out at last.

The leg was still retained by the sleeve, which didn’t give any sign of budging. A system was rigged up with some C-channel, the 10 ton press, and chains. We used a trolley jack to take the tension off the leg by adjusting the end up and down. The sleeve eventually came out, phew!

Manoeuvring of the gantry allowed us to extract the leg and turn it over ready to be cleaned up. Just the other side to do now, then we can fix up the underside of the carriage.

Last Sunday, the crew was called upon to put on their uniforms and provide vehicles for a wedding at Clevedon Hall. A great day, and good chance to get some of the machines out of hibernation. The Shopland Collection provided the 25 Pounder Gun ‘F-Sub’, Bofors 40mm AA gun, Bedford OY, 2 Jeeps and the Fox armoured car.

All the vehicles required prep and ‘waking up’ beforehand but all went smoothly. The OY did very well running relays to deliver the big guns.



Workshop Wednesday – Blitz House Mk.III Begins

In the workshop this week, the 4.5″ gun takes another leap forward as the elevation quadrant mechanism is freed off, meaning it can swing. The whole area was then cleaned up and painted in primer. Next up are the large bearings on the recoil mechanism, and the whole lot has to be turned over and cleaned up.

The GOG squad is pressing ahead with the little Austin now it’s running. Seen here alongside another GOG squad triumph – the torpedo! Won’t be long before these guys have created their own museum around their work area.



We held our second set building day of the year over the weekend. Following on from the success of the first rubble production line, Paddy and Jon were away with making more polystyrene chunks into movie rubble!

They were so productive that I’ve nearly run out of Jesmonite dust, so will need to find an alternative coating, possibly fine grey sand.

The slightly warmer conditions (and lack of gale force wind and horizontal rain!) allowed us to make a start on ‘Bombed-Out House Mark III’. The first house was cobbled together from scraps in the first year, while Mark Brothers and 3rd Battalion made an excellent display using polystyrene bricks in year 2, seen here:


This year we want to make another go of it and combine all our assets into one house, to commemorate the anniversary of the Blitz.

Paul started by taking some leftover blast wall from The Imitation Game, stripped off the hessian/plaster concrete shuttering, leaving us with 4ft wide sections, perfect building blocks. These were screwed to a 2m x 2m base section, left over from this shoot for TV channel Christmas 24 (the base section is the base of the giant christmas present).

The idea is to make the corner of a bombed out house, and part of the brief is to make it easily transportable, so it must break down into easy-to-manage sections. The walls will be bolted together on site.

We have an oak door that was salvaged from a house fire, and found an old spare window in the heap of things that we absolutely KNEW would be useful one day.

The window section was cut in to the wall, and fitted along with a new lintel and sill to set it off.

The door section will extend the other way, with the destroyed wall holding it. The open door will also act as a stabiliser on the wall, stopping it from flexing too much.

We sawed up some spare timber (from the same pile as the window) to form some truncated floor joists. On top of this will be smashed floorboards and a small remaining piece of the 2nd floor of the house.

Just need to order the faux bricks now so the exterior can be clad, then we can incorporate the polystyrene bricks from House Mk.II to extend the destroyed walls. Also need to find some suitable wallpaper to dress the interior!

If you are interested in getting involved in set building, then please do drop me an email –

Workshop Wednesday – Braving the Chill

Great news! The GOG squad have succeeded in getting the little black Austin running and driving around the yard. Looks like it may make it to the show under its own steam, fingers crossed!

The 4.5″ Artillery Gun has had more wire brushing, paint, and attention to the bearings. These have been cleaned up of old grease and muck to try and get them turning nicely again.

The brake lines on the QL tipper are nearly done, and the last of the hubs has been primed.


Workshop Wednesday – Rust begone!

What a great step forward in the workshop this week. The 4.5″ artillery gun, which has doggedly fought us through every stage of disassembly, finally gave out and with a lift and a twist, the saddle separated from the carriage.

This revealed a rather horrid underbelly of rust and a (thankfully abandoned) rats nest.

The rust was tackled with the wire brushes, chisels and air tools, taking it back to bare metal.

Some zinc primer was duly slapped on to protect it.

Meanwhile, Rich and Mark were kept busy with the Chevrolet Field Artillery Tractor. The roof hatch, which has been bent for a long time, has been straightened and we are working on fitting a new hinge, the old one having succumbed to the elements.

This example is fitted with a Bedford 28hp engine. We suspect it has bottom end wear (Possibly caused by weak oil pressure) and have been trying to diagnose the problem. Mark removed the radiator for better access. The engine is pictured with the rocker cover off.

Over on the 25 Pounder, Jon has been removing the clamps that hold the manoeuvring handles in place (or don’t hold them in place, as Dave found out rather painfully). The springs in the clamps have worn and are not locking in properly. Some fresh grease, and packing out the springs with washers will hopefully do the trick.

Meanwhile, a few items in the collection have moved on to pastures new. The first to go was this Harvey Frost crane (removed from an AEC Matador, which is off to Scotland to be used on a recovery truck based on a Green Goddess (Bedford RLHZ).


The second was one of the Diamond T 969A Wreckers. We were sorry to see this go but it’s off to a new life in Poland. The loading process was interesting (read: gruelling) but we got it on the truck in the end with a little help from the trusty Scania.