Bristol Crawler renovation

T

Tractormike

New member
This is my first post to this forum, so please indulge me.

I arrived at this forum after a journey that has taken about 4 months! It started when I was offered a Bristol Europa Overloader as a renovation project. It has been ‘resting’ for the past 20 years or more and I have no doubts as to the scale of the challenge. Although I have always had an interest in such behemoths, I am a complete beginner. With a knowledge base that was zero or less, I have secured the occasional support of an experienced agricultural engineer who agreed to be my mentor – or possibly tor-mentor…..

I then started my investigations. My initial concerns covered the physical transportation (dead weight – and I mean dead), availability of manuals/spares and awareness of others who had followed a similar path with whom I could share experiences and ideas (not only what to do, but also what NOT to do). Some of these items are show-stoppers, so I had to be sure before I committed to the purchase.

Google was some help, but Bristol tractors ceased production about 50 years ago, so there was limited information. I did manage to locate both an Operators Guide (which had the weights) and a parts manual that covered the Europa (and others based on the same basic platform). I also acquired a copy of a 2013 magazine “Classic Plant and Machinery”, which contained an article by two people who had just completed the renovation of a Bristol Europa.

When it came to contacts, I found two sources. The first was a forum just for the Bristol 10, run by Jeff Steed. He pointed me to another register for owners of all other Bristol tractors (no website) but when I eventually made contact, I found that the co-ordinator had sadly passed away as a result of COVID, and that the register had lapsed.

The second was a forum “British Construction Equipment” (BCE). This had several helpful threads but in order to view them fully, I had to register. Any attempt to register was met with the message that registration had been disabled by the administrator.

Further Googling led to a long shot – the Vintage Horticultural and Garden Machinery. This allowed me to register, and I posted a ‘can anybody help me?’ message relating the above events. It is not a very active forum, and it was some time before I had any responses. One of them indicated that the BCE Forum was essential dormant and that some of the more active members had migrated to here.

Now I get to the substance of my post here.

I would very much like to make contact with any of those who contributed to the 2011 ‘Bristol’ thread on the BCE forum who are active on this forum. The BCE forum names were:-

d4c24a, ianoz, Mintsauce, fowler man, Hi drive, old operator, woodfud and bulldozerD11.

Any advice, warnings and suggestions would be gratefully received.

Thanks for reading so far.

TractorMike
 
Bri963

Bri963

Well-known member
Impressive bit of detective work, Mike. Welcome to the forum and I hope you find some help here.
 
V8Druid

V8Druid

do it as well as you can,but learn to do it better
sadly @Tractormike I think only Minty is on here , but not for a while (Conrad Culverhouse - lives Thornbury way - I have his no. somewhere ... D4C is on FB - graham rush - on many of the old m/c pages
Oh and Ian oz --- is here - used to 'talk' regularly - and knows fred (fowlerman) well --- he's from around my area, but not seen him put much up in some time - fred must be pushing 80 now ... if it's the same guy, Old Operator is here too - occasionally ... the others barely ring a bell

what threads're you looking at in BCEF ... I'm still able to log in there - (the owner just lost interest, but continues to float it ... God knows how long for though)
I could screen shot stuff for you ;)
there's also a guy up the road here from me used to have a few Bristols, but the baby ones ....
 
V8Druid

V8Druid

do it as well as you can,but learn to do it better
T

Tractormike

New member
There is really only one thread that I found that was quite useful. It was entitled "Bristol" and it was under the Vintage and Classic Equipment heading - and it had 41 posts! There are references and links to pictures, but Cos I'm not registered, I was not permitted to view them. They could be useful, since it may help me understand what this machine is meant to look like! At the moment it is smothered in brambles and there are two smallish ash trees growing up through the tracks!
 
T

Tractormike

New member
See what I mean!
 

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V8Druid

V8Druid

do it as well as you can,but learn to do it better
this might be of interest ... there are a few Bristol threads but only a few posts in each, aside from the one you refer to ... pretty sure @muckyman is here

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the two above are the sort of size Simon the JakieB fitter used to play with

wodfod's pic -- the right way up :giggle::giggle:
 
V8Druid

V8Druid

do it as well as you can,but learn to do it better
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fowlerman's pic post #26
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looks like the playground/top field at Welland to me, along the hedge
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post #29 "This little beaut was at Welland this year......."
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post #31
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post #34
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post #35 ... say if you want any of the others (not Bristols though)
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post #38
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this is deffo what Simon had

hope it all helps Boyo
 

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M

muckyman

New member
The crawler tractor scrap book part one is a good reference or maybe part two i think johnson had a register for bristols i got the bug a few years ago got about ten now even had one stolen which really pissed me off
 
T

Tractormike

New member
The crawler tractor scrap book part one is a good reference or maybe part two i think johnson had a register for bristols i got the bug a few years ago got about ten now even had one stolen which really pissed me off
Stuart Johnson is the person mentioned in my first posting. He passed away early on this year - a victim of COVID. I managed to leave a message on a his mobile which was fielded by his sister. She returned my call and that is how I found out.

I have found and ordered the Crawler Tractor Scrapbook. The website indicates Vol 1 covers UK tractors including Bristol. Thanks for the tip.
 
T

Tractormike

New member
View attachment 25178
fowlerman's pic post #26
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looks like the playground/top field at Welland to me, along the hedge
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post #29 "This little beaut was at Welland this year......."
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post #31
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post #34
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post #35 ... say if you want any of the others (not Bristols though)
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post #38
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this is deffo what Simon had

hope it all helps Boyo
Thank you for looking out the photos. They are very helpful. I have a feeling that "my" europa is based on a PD52, but I shall have to clear away the debris to resolve that.

On a different note, is "Introductions" the appropriate forum for this thread, or should I move it to another? If so, How?
 
V8Druid

V8Druid

do it as well as you can,but learn to do it better
Thank you for looking out the photos. They are very helpful. I have a feeling that "my" europa is based on a PD52, but I shall have to clear away the debris to resolve that.
On a different note, is "Introductions" the appropriate forum for this thread, or should I move it to another? If so, How?
no sweat Boyo .... I'm one of the 'fortunate few' who can still get into BCEF ...... bloody search facility was fooked again though, so yon thread took a bit of page searching to find :LOL: ... anything else, just shout ;) (and ideally give me a link too :):)) http://www.ceforum.co.uk/showthread.php?t=2195

create a thread title in the relevant area and ask Ross (@Regy53) to move this lot into it for you -- he's the guvnor here and has the power to do anything he likes with his forum ;):giggle::giggle:
 
O

Old Operator

Member
I drove & did some repair work on one of these it must have been about 1977! Our gearbox had cracked from the top, down so far each side - was welded but cast iron I think?? It was said that the 'Europa' loader was too heavy for the tractor but I think it was the fact that the engine hung off the gearbox front face like a flange mounted elec motor does. It was perhaps the shock loads associated with the loader being used on hard ground being transferred to the gearbox casting? rather than the weight? as I thought the cracks had developed forward of the track equalizer cross bar & from the top down. I was told this was a common fault in Europa's - it did not occur in the 'overloader' rear tipping gravity crowd version because the bucket arms were fitted directly to the track frames, transferring forces directly to them. & did not occur on the ag crawler version because it was mostly used on soft ground so the shock loads of say demolition were not present. A man on the VHGMC was looking to buy an ag version without an engine he had spotted. Don't know how this went. The Europa was only made for a few years & superseded by the Taurus Mk 1 in about '64? Back in '77 a firm called W.T plant of Leigh Sinton specialized in the make & later I heard there was a man in Symonds Yat with many Bristol for spares in a field. Sorry I did not see this before but would not have expected it in introductions, would have picked it up in the vintage section. Not on here so much now owing to my very elderly dad taking much time.
I do remember that there was an adjustable chain link between the arms & control valve to set the angle at which the arms lift automatically kicked out. This was settable to overload to rear or not, dependant if the tractor had any rear equipment fitted that would be damaged.
I was told that the rear area was designed to take the backhoe designed for the Thwaites Digger Dumper - & its slew rams went in where the stack of counterweights normally are kept. I cannot say if this is true - but did from a distance later see another Europa with this very hoe mounted, Also later a Mk2 Taurus with the same hoe fitted.
I see the tractor is said to weigh 5200 Lb, would guess this is without the loader equipment because ours was thought to weigh 4 tons.
The 5mph 3rd gear would seem very fast! A guy in NZ ran an ag version on youtube & also had a Chinese Guilin 3t crawler but rated the 60 yr old Bristol as much better made! The above is how I remember things but it was 44 years ago. I think all before were learning curves & prototypes to building the Taurus which lived on as the TM 1100 until 1980 - this was about 5 tons, it competed with the MF 200 & Deere 350.
Telford Development Corp (DLO) ran a Taurus - Later replacing it with a TM 1100 so they must have rated it. Away for a few days - back Sat
PS machine was positive earth (only one I ever saw) - It may have been the act of banging arms on stops? when ejecting sticky load to rear that used to cause the cracking. (Cracks were level with gear lever) Powered by Perkins P3 & hyd components Dowty.
Had a further look at your pics & notice that the front track adjusters are on pretty well max adjustment, & track sprockets worn. Also that the roll back ram rod is pitted in its chrome, & that the protective cab they had because of the load over system is not there.
lovely pic of the 1.5 yd scraper, - I only knew of the 'Clarke Airborne' having a small box. Pete
 
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O

Old Operator

Member
I first thought because of all problems maybe this is not a project, particularly the very worn tracks. I suspect that both rust & wear going too far to make turning pins & bushes through 180 deg an option? Even if so it would mean new sprockets at least. On the old ceeform site Lord - Sean put £8K into re tracking a B100 with steel & that was 20 years ago. I came to the idea of re tracking with rubber tracks. First thing would be to know the sprocket to idler centre distance with the adjusters at minimum setting. (Perhaps from another restored Europa) From that a likely system may be found - it would probably mean different front idlers & sprockets, different bottom rollers. It may need making & packing out new roller carriers. The thing is there are a lot of rubber options from say for instance a midi excavator out there. One thing in its favour is that the track frames do not pivot off the sprocket shafts. (unlike a B100). A bonus would be that the tractor could be used on any surface without doing damage. Rubber has been used on the Guilin / Dongfeng crawler & on the Marooka. It would depend on the condition of the rest of the tractor - The (missing) cab used to support a 'drop in' silencer, this makes me wonder if the exhaust has been left open to the elements letting water into the bores. If the engine is manually turnable might give an idea. The boom lift rams are naturally under cover I think. The two spools may well be shot but a budget valve from Flowfit may sort that. Do you know why the tractor was parked up? I would guess the tracks, but maybe not. Otherwise other projects are out there - inc a working Digger Dumper on ebay, crying out for restoration, probably an easier project than this, if less challenging. The Europa might depend on what kind of workshop tools you have access to. Others may be better able to say re the rubber idea being viable?
 
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