ME 5769

Aveling & Porter steam road roller works no. 10372, built 1922.

ME5769 is a 10 ton Aveling & Porter 'E' type steam road roller, works no.. 10372, delivered new to Enfield Urban District Council on October 27th, 1922. One of more than 10,000 steam road rollers built by the world’s most prolific builder, 10372 is a piston valve engine and shows excellent economy on the road.

Jeremy Viewing rolling the forecourt for the new stable block with Aveling & Porter No. 10372 in October 1999 - 77 years old and still doing the job she was built for!

It was sold to Hickey's, Richmond, Surrey in 1947, who used it as a yard loco. It was noted at that time that the engine was in poor condition, with a bent crankshaft and a bolt through the crank holding the gear.

Hickey’s sold the engine to a Mr. Steve Neville in 1963 for 50. It was sold again, this time for 140, to Ransome cranes, who used it to place vehicles onto low loaders.

It is next recorded in Leicestershire where Les King of Milton Keynes bought it in 1974. In 1978 it was used instead of a taxi at Les's wedding.

A new firebox, requiring 100 main stays, 24 crown stays and 70 foundation ring rivets was installed by Les in the winter of 1981/2.

In 1983 the engine was acquired by the late Mr. Reg Gulliver of Souldrop, Beds., brother of the famous amateur weather forecaster, Cecil Gulliver. When Mr. Gulliver died in 1985, the engine was acquired by the present owners, and named "Gulliver" in Reg's memory.

Since 1985, ME5769 has travelled more than 100 miles on the highway each year visiting rallies in Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire. In the late summer of 1991, the boiler received a full re-tube, the work being completed in time for the last rally of the season, albeit without lagging! The lagging was replaced during the winter and a partial re-paint carried out, ready for the 1992 season.

At the end of the 1993 season, the old problem of the bent crank became apparent when the flywheel worked loose, fortunately without serious consequences. The crankshaft was found to run out by almost 1/4" at the flywheel end!

It was thought that any attempt to straighten the crankshaft by bending might introduce cracks in the material. Instead, it was decided to restore true running by building up the distorted area with MIG welding and then machining back to truth.

With the flywheel running true for the first time in at least 30 years, ‘Gulliver’ made a record run (for this engine, at least) of more than 40 miles from Northampton to Stamford, Lincs in one day!

Gulliver's long journeys to Lincolnshire have not been without incident. In 1995, the 3rd shaft failed without warning while crossing the A1 at Wansford, fortunately on a dual carriageway section, actually on the the A47 bridge. The 4" steel shaft showed a classic fatigue failure, perhaps due to defect in the original material, as there was no evidence of prior cracking.

In summer 2001, it was decided that replacement of the front tubeplate would be neccessary, along with extensive building up within the lower half of the barrel. This involved cutting out the old tubeplate, manufacture of a replacement, a new smokbox, new tubes and re-fitting of the headstock, all under the guidance of local engineer Robbie Foreman. The engine was exhibited at the end of the 2001 season without lagging and should be complete for 2002 with a new piston rod, the old having found to have a crack through the piston nut split pin hole.

Johnathan Viewing follows in family tradition, learning the trade of steam at a tender (and impressionable) age. Johnathan is following in his cousin Paul's footsteps, Paul having learned to fire and drive by the age of ten and now the family's top driver.

Today, 10372 competes for it’s owner's attention with the project to restore the remarkable Aveling & Porter traction tram locomotive, thought to be No. 235 of 1865. The remains of this engine were discovered accidentally at the bottom of a mine shaft 200 feet below ground in 1993 and rescued for preservation!