Buffalo gearbox takes another step forward

The Crowland Buffalo has taken another step forward with the testing of the gearbox. Getting the gearbox to this stage is due to the amazing effort and skills of DB Santasalo UK Ltd which are based in Huddersfield in West Yorkshire.

DB Santasolo has been working on the Buffalo gearbox since June last year when it was removed from the Buffalo with the help of Crowland Cranes.

The Continental W670-9A engine used in the Buffalo drives the front sprockets for the tracks through a very short prop shaft, together with a controlled differential and final drive unit. The Torsilastic* transmission uses a 5 forward one 1 reverse Spicer gearbox.

Spicer Manufacturing Company was a manufacturer of automotive parts which started in 1904. In 1946 the company was renamed the Dana Corporation which continues to make gearboxes for a wide range of applications to this day.

In August 2021 Managing Director Steve Watson of DBS said in a local newspaper, “I was delighted with the opportunity to be involved and our specialist team are now working hard to restore the LVT gearbox to its original glory. DBS is pleased to offer our services to the historical society free of charge and ensure the gearbox is fully re-furbished while ensuring it maintains its authenticity.”

After 75 years in the ground, the gearbox first had to be cleaned before disassembly could start. One of the first noticeable issues was an inch wide hole on the top of the gearbox where corrosion had eaten away at the metal. Once apart it was found that the gears just needed a thorough clean and polish, in fact for the amount of time it had been underground they were in relatively in good condition. The entire gearbox was disassembled so every single part could be cleaned and inspected before reassembly could begin. One of the challenges come across during the disassembly were some exceptionally tight bearings.

On Friday 26 February Daniel Abbott, Chairman of the Crowland Buffalo Association, went to visit the testing of the gearbox at the DB Santasalo site. Daniel says “I’ve been to Huddersfield to witness the testing of the Buffalo’s gearbox and I’m so impressed and lost for words, it’s been an incredible experience. To think last April this Buffalo was underground and this year we are at this stage. I was gobsmacked to see all the original gears with new bearings seals and pretty much looking as though they had just come out of the factory. Thanks to everyone at DB Santasalo UK Limited.”

DB Santasalo, Huddersfield

* The word Torsilastic comes from the combination of Torsion (the action of twisting) and Elastic (able to spontaneously resume its normal shape).

The Buffalo gets a temporary home

The Crowland Buffalo now has a temporary home thanks to The Crown Pub at Great Casterton and Cool 4 hire. Today the Buffalo team has constructed a loaned marquee to house the Buffalo and allow work to continue.

If you’re a club, association or group and are interested in visiting the Buffalo please get in contact with Daniel Abbott, Chairman of Crowland Buffalo LVT Association, abbottofcrowland@gmail.com.

Additional thanks to Crowland Cranes for allowing us to stay at our current location.

The Buffalo gets some fresh paint

There’s a buzz in the Buffalo camp this week with the painting of the cockpit and hood. Work has also been done to protect the rest of the original paintwork which will be retained on other areas of the Buffalo. This is a major step forward in its restoration and could only have been done with the help of everyone who has donated. This now means that work can now begin to put the ‘control centre’ of the buffalo back together, including the controls, dashboard, electrics and seats, and then everything necessary can be connected to the engine, a big job in itself.

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Batteries removed from the Buffalo

We are currently sourcing new batteries for the buffalo after we removed the original batteries over the weekend. The original batteries made by Autolite are in relatively good condition considering how long they have been in the ground but of course don’t have any power.

Autolite itself can be traced back to 1911. During the companies life they produced a range of vehicle electrical products including batteries, today the Autolite (US) only sell spark plugs.

The Buffalo engine arrives

Some exciting news in the Buffalo camp is that the replacement engine has arrived all the way from the USA. The engine, a Continental W670-9A, has seven cylinders and generates 250hp at 2,400rpm Although the W670 series was primarily designed as an aircraft engine it was used in a number of light armoured vehicles in World War II. Developed in 1936 it weighs in at close to half a ton or 500Kg.

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Buffalo 47 Gearbox heads off for restoration

The gearbox has now been removed from the buffalo and sent to DB Santasalo who have volunteered to clean and restore it which is great news so thanks to them. Thanks also to Crowland Cranes Ltd for their help in loading.

This is probably the first time this part has been out since 1944 and is in pretty good condition considering how long it was in the ground.

Gearbox with the case removed.