Bon Accord Steam Engine Club

The Brown’s new engine

The Brown family recently took delivery of a new engine, here are a few words and pictures by Mike Brown

The Brown’s New Engine


Bought in mid August of 1926 this Garrett 6 ton overtype steam waggon No 34932 was the last in a long line of Garrett’s bought by William Aitken Haulage contractors of Linlithgow and the waggon bears the West Lothian registration number SX 2395 and originally Aitken’s fleet No 20. The waggon was ordered with show finish a trend that continues in commercial circles by pimping up the lorries of today and it had to have 8 ton springs. Aitken was unhappy with this new 6 ton design which deviated from the well regarded 5 ton predecessors and after some 6 months or so the engine was returned to the Garrett factory in Leiston. The main complaint was leaking tubes and not the same readiness to steam as the 5 ton model together with a lack of pulling power, mention was made that the brakes could be better but probably the order of the day was to grossly overload the vehicle which would be outwith the braking capability.

Garrett set about rectifying these design deficiency’s by making some changes, indeed it’s a miracle the lorry went so well as a straight off the drawing board design without any real proving or testing, but money was short in the late 20’s. As I understand things they modified the piston valve timings, fitting new piston valves and sleeves with a later cut off to give more pulling power and the leaking tubes were rectified by fitting a line of stay tubes and it has a conventional boiler with a corrugated firebox crown and they increased the working pressure to 230psi. Brakes were cured by adding in a 1″ wide welded in rim around both rear brake hubs giving far greater stopping power. There may have been a conversion to roller bearing big ends and eccentrics but I am unable to confirm that at this time as I reckon the crank speed must be in the 400 / 450rpm range.


Garrett eventually sold this waggon and one other like it to Devon County Council and the engine spent its working life conveying quarry materials and roadstone to various projects around the county. The ravages of work and time adorn the rear working area with much scoring evidence of rocks being jammed between the tipping body and the cab.

This waggon ceased its work for Devon CC in the late 1950s and it was rallied for a year or so and painted to its current colour scheme by the owner who I have yet to fully identify and from there it was sold to Mr Charles Matthew Snr. of Toronto Canada. Mr Matthews was an avid collector of all type and kinds or steam vehicles and trains indeed they had a one time collection of over 110 American traction engines. His 2 sons Roger and Charles continued with the family business of house / building movers and they shared their fathers passion for mechanical equipment and when time permitted they ran the many engine that they had. Sadly Roger died before Christmas last year leaving Charles with the dilemma of what to do with all the collection and at 82 and having no heirs he is the last in the line.

This steam waggon was loaded to a Hi cube 40ft container with only ¾” per side clearance and about 1-1/2″ chimney clearance and taken by lorry to Toronto where it was loaded to a train bound for Montreal. From there on to a ship the OOCL BELGIUM and across the Atlantic where the container was offloaded at Antwerp in Belgium and reloaded to a smaller coastal vessel JANA and it arrived in to Grangemouth harbour ironically less than 10 miles from where it was originally based. A lorry conveyed the container to our good friends and colleagues the Cook family in Leven as they had an offloading ramp and without too much container removal difficulty the waggon sat again on Scottish soil after a gap of over 85 years.

Of the 693 overtype steam waggons built by Garrett’s which was a mixture of 3, 5 and 6 ton models there were only 8 of the 6ton models built and this is the 4th last overtype made and the only 6 ton left. There is a further 5 ton model in New Zealand No 34033 which has been converted to a tourist bus and the Worbey family have reconstructed from a few original parts a 3 ton model and that’s all that remains of the 693 overtypes built – we believe, with the last one being completed at the end of January 1927.

Generally the engine is superheated, a Garrett trait and fitted with 3 speed gears and a heavy chain drive through to a rear axle differential drive. The bodywork is a 3 way tipper all hydraulically powered by a Bromilow and Edwards Oildraulic steam turbine unit and as it stands the woodwork is original and probably 90% good with the original canvas roof still intact. The chassis members of this lorry can only be described as massive with a proper Ackerman steering front end and leaf springs all round.
In addition to the twin rear drum brakes there is a massive handbrake assembly where the ferodo shoes are applied to an external drum. The engine is fitted with a pump and 2 injectors together with a water lifter and its solid rubber tyres are fitted to cast steel wheel hubs. Had it not been for the fact that this engine has spent the last 50 plus years indoors in a heated shed it would not be in the good and original condition that we see today.

Our plan is to look at it, and assess it, then look at it some more, and slowly evolve a plan of attack and the only conclusive thing that we do know is that we want the boiler out to make a proper assessment. This project may take some time to complete but we feel that as custodians we owe it to our engineering heritage to treat this waggon correctly. One dilemma, do we return it to William Aitken colours or paint it with Devon County Council colours as it spent really all its working life there, we welcome your views.

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