SVL185SVL 185 - 1961 Austin Gipsy Fire Tender

Ruston & Hornsby, Lincoln

This factory fire tender with a 2.2 litre petrol engine was owned by Ruston & Hornsby and used at its Waterside factory in the City. It was donated to the Society at the end of its working life and is currently being restored.

The Austin Gipsy was in production from 1958 to 1967, a successor to the military Austin Champ (see FUT 947C), and was Austin's four wheel drive vehicle aiming to compete with Rover's Land Rover Production of the Gipsy ceased under British Leyland, who concentrated on the Land Rover.

Short and long wheelbase versions were available, and diesel and petrol engines were offered.

Restoration History

December 1999 - 'On blocks' in the Workshop for brake overhaul, which also commenced after the November Open Day.

SVL 185July 2000 - Work continues tidying the interior of the vehicle ready for a repaint.

January 2001 - The brakes are now receiving attention as is the bodywork, the rear section (fibreglass) being removed recently.

April 2001 - The rear of the bodywork is being cleaned and repainted.

1961 Austin Gipsy Fire TenderJanuary 2002 - The front end of the chassis has been stripped prior to cleaning and painting.

April 2002 - All four wheels have been removed and the body is about to be taken off the vehicle.

May 2002 - Work is progressing slowly. The body has now been removed and the chassis is on axle stands. The prop shafts have been cleaned and painted and the handbrake mounting cleaned and resprayed.

July 2002 - Now down to chassis only, which is being thoroughly cleaned and painted.

October 2002 - Work has been done on the rear brakes and suspension and the chassis has been cleaned and painted.

January 2003 - Ken Allen continues to work on cleaning and refurbishing the chassis.

April 2003 - Ken Allen has now started to paint the chassis and chassis components.

July 2003 - The engine has been cleaned, and the chassis is being painted.

October 2003 - Ken and Brian are painting the chassis and suspension components.

January 2004 - Ken Allen has been cleaning the underside of the body, and work is ongoing on the suspension components.

April 2004 - The engine has been repainted in the original BMC green. The bodywork is having rusted sections removed and repair sections fitted.

July 2004 - The engine has been lifted out of the chassis so that the "out of reach bits" of the chassis can be painted with ease.

October 2004 - A lot of work has been carried out to the chassis including a wheel repaint. A brake pipe has been cleaned and refitted.

January 2005- Brian B has welded new sections of the body and it has been refitted onto the chassis.

April 2005 - The body is now receiving some paint to the bulkhead area. The rest of the body will follow in the coming weeks. Some work on the electrics is also planned.

October 2005 - The front mudguards are receiving repair with the old rusted sections cut away and new metal MIG welded in. The dash panel and front floor area is also receiving a paint.

April 2006 - Brian B has been hard at work on repairing the front wings. This involved cutting out rusted and rotten metal, making up repair panel then MIG welding said panels in place.

July 2006 - Repair of the front wings is now almost complete which has proved to be a little tricky, but a little patience has paid off in the end.

Oct 2007 - New member Chris has painted the undersides of the mudguards ready for refitting to this vehicle.

A similar - but complete - Gipsy, 336 KOM, originally with Morris Motors' fire department is in preservation - this gives an idea how ours will look when it is finished. -

Austin Gipsy 336KOM Austin Gipsy 336KOM

July 2011 - Various small body panels have been cleaned, primed and then top coated in red or black as required. It's now starting to take shape.

October 2011 - Brian and Lee have put a lot of time and effort into cleaning and painting small parts and units of the Gipsy; too many to go into detail.

July 2012 - Work is progressing well with the Gipsy. Brian and Lee have now reinstalled the instruments and dashboard controls and have had the engine running. Unfortunately on running up the engine the water pump was found to be leaking, however this has now been reconditioned by EPS services and reinstalled and the Gipsy now runs a treat.

The next job to be tackled was the continuation of preparing the bodywork for paint. New member James has been progressing well with the filling and sanding work on the main body and we are currently in the process of getting estimates to have the prepared body painted professionally - hopefully we should be in a position to go to primer in the next month which will be a great step forward. Another job to be tackled prior to painting is the repair and preparation of the glass fibre hardtop which is now in hand.

October 2012 - The Gipsy is still in the process of being prepared for paint but we can see light at the end of the tunnel now - we can soon stop sanding and move on to paintwork.

January 2013 - After many months of bodywork preparation the Austin Gipsy is now in paint, after the decision was made to send it out of the museum to be painted by the Co-op it has now returned looking shiny and bright red. Having it painted professionally has made a huge impact on the look of the car and once completed it will look like new again.

It is now back in the workshop and being reassembled to get it prepared for its first MOT in a while! We plan to have it all finished ready to be on display at the Easter open day.

April 2013 - Work has continued on the Gipsy, Brian and Lee have been building it back up since it returned from paintwork at the Co op. It now runs and drives, its windows have all been fitted up and its seats are away at the upholsterers having some stitching replaced and a few small repairs - the Gipsy was on display at our Easter Open Day, and passed MOT in mid April.

October 2013 - Brian and Lee are working on the wooden shutters that fit in the sides of the rear compartment. Attention is also being paid to a slight malady in the rear suspension.

January 2014 - Brian and Lee continue fitting out the rear of the vehicle. The rear dickey seats have been repainted and refitted. Prices on fire pump parts are still awaited.

April 2014 - The Austin Gipsy has reached a point where the vehicle is finished, but we now need to source the fire pump that mounts on the front.

January 2015 - The minor paint damage sustained at Waddington has been repaired.

Austin GipsyJuly 2018 - The Society has been searching for quite a while for a fire pump for the Gipsy.

After being outbid on several occasions, we have now managed to acquire an extremely rotten but complete Gipsy from which the pump has now been stripped off and the rest broken for useful parts.


Austin Gipsy Owners Club

page updated 29.7.18