About the Thornycroft Nubian (1962)
Thornycroft Nubians were originally delivered in 1958 with further appliances produced between 1959 and the early 1960s. These were created by the Thornycroft Company at the Basingstoke Factory in England (U.K.). This was during a take over by the ACV group who then ceased production on all vehicles competing with their own and focused on the Nubian and two other models. This particular appliance was shipped from England to the Wormald Brothers (Aust) PTY Limited (453 Williamstown Rd Port Melbourne Victoria).
These trucks were based on the plans of the British War Department’s vehicles. The 1962 Thornycroft Nubian 6×6 was powered by a straight 8, 6.6 Litre Rolls Royce B81 petrol engine that could produce 225 horsepower. It had a 4 speed crash box with high and low range and was mainly composed of fibreglass and aluminium. The bull bar was fitted with ‘knife blades’ so that it could be driven through an airport chain-link fence to reach an aircraft that might have crashed outside the airport boundary. Unlike some others of the Nubian range, the Wanneroo Brigade’s Thornycroft was a water tanker style appliance with an 8,000 litre water tank capacity.
The main form of Nubian carried 3,600 litres of water and 200 litres of foam. They also had roof mounted monitors for rotor and fixed wing accident fire suppression (to fulfil their crash tender role). This particular Thornycroft Nubian of the brigade’s could only deliver water by use of various lay-flat hose lines or via the passenger side mounted hose reel (it did not have a monitor). She also had a large flood light that helped her to fulfil the role of an air-craft crash and fire suppression tender.
The Brigade and Thornycroft
The City of Wanneroo Fire Services acquired the appliance in the early 1970s from a Perth Airport after it was deemed that she could no longer serve effectively as an airport crash tender. Thornycroft was affectionately known as ‘Big Bertha’ in relation to her 8,000 litre water capacity. The Wanneroo Central Bush Fire Brigade used her as a water point appliance which made her a great resource due to the scarcity of water in regions outside of the rural-urban fringe. Apart from being a mobile hydrant, the durable truck was also able to be used as a direct firefighting means in terms of the hose reel. Thus she was a versatile appliance. Unlike contemporary bulk water tankers, she could be used to fight the fire itself, rather than only being able to supply water through lay-flat hoses.
In 1994, after eleven (11) years of service, Old Thornycroft was pensioned due to high maintenance costs and rarity of parts. She was officially decommissioned in 1997 as parts could no longer be acquired and cost of maintenance and repair was inefficient. Since then attempts to restore and maintain Thornycroft as a heritage appliance for the City of Wanneroo Fire Services have occurred. The Wanneroo Fire Services Compound still houses the partially restored, partially stripped down Thornycroft Nubian.
Restoration action – Stripping and Repairs
- On the 6th of April, 2005 she was inspected and parts stripped, tagged and
stored in an attempt to begin restoration
- On the 13th 2 77ZR batteries were fitted and the lights were checked. All along
with the siren were working. Parts stripping and tagging continued. Factors Checked on the 13th were:
R/H front park light (OK)
- The 20th of April saw further stripping. The crash bar and bottom guard plate were removed with the guard plate needing repair due to rust. Electrics work was also continued.
- April the 27th included a meeting on the needs of the project. A sea container to store parts and tools, the need for better lighting and the requirement for jack stands were the main things that came out of the meeting. Further work on the truck was done and the grill housing was proving an issue.
- The 29th of April 2005 saw the sea container collected and placed in the depot. compound with help from Bill Street – local tow truck driver.
Work on Thornycroft had been fairly static since due to lack of parts, time, money and equipment.
- On January the 8th, 2012, in an attempt to restart the restoration process and ready Thornycroft for the 50th Celebrations, the cab was placed back on the chassis of the truck.
- February the 5th, 2012, saw the cab bolted down and the grill, and bull bar, re-attached. Work is still continuing.
- The activation lead for the 6×6 wheel drive, steps, and battery box, and driver’s side inside-lock were reattached on the 26th of February and;
- The flood light, hose reel (with hose line), inside and outside passenger’s door lock/handle, the driver’s side outside lock/handle and the equipment box cover, and panel, were reattched to Thornycroft. This occurred on the 11th of March 2012.