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Mack Gardner
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By Tatra - Friday, January 08, 2010 12:31 AM
Good Day All,

This is supposedly a 1945 Mack EQT with an English Gardner engine in it (see more under

Although Mack had an English branch at the time I believe, the pic seems to have been taken in the US. The question is why? The Lanova was well established at this time, wasn't it? Why would a US operator want to have a funny English engine in its truck (it was different in Australia, where White fitted Gardners as late as the 1970s - see Werkhorse's info on the HCVC forum

Just another one of these mysteries...



By Steve Rosemond - Friday, January 08, 2010 2:20 AM
Tatra, This truck is a hybrid/ highly modified/ homebuilt truck operated by Turner Transfer of Greensboro, N.C. ,U.S.A. Part of it is indeed Mack, but how much I don't know. It obviously has Mack doors, and since other photos of this truck exist, I seem to remember that the grille was Mack as well. The story ( unconfirmed, but believed to be accurate ) is that Mr. Guy Turner, owner of Turner Transfer, was on vacation in England and noticed a truck with it's engine idling smoothly on a jobsite. When he passed again some hours later it was still idling smoothly. Mr. Turner was interested in this engine because he was not satisfied with his Cummins Diesel's perfomance when idling on his rigging jobs for extended periods. Mr. Turner had several inline eight cylinder Gardner " Oil Engines " imported to the U.S.A. for installation in specially ordered Corbitt  COEs. These trucks are quite tall and as far as I know exist only in the collection of Mr. Donald A. Smith of Greensboro, N.C.,U.S.A. I believe this series of Corbitts to be the only users of factory installed Gardner diesels in the U.S. I own one of these trucks, I just don't know where it is. I bought it in a junkyard near Kinston, N.C. many years ago, and when I returned to pick it up, it was gone. The caretaker of the property had an argument with the absentee property owner and was no longer taking " care ". I hope this helps.
By chocko - Friday, January 08, 2010 5:26 AM
Tatra and Steve thanks for the picture and info. of the EQT Mack. It certainly is interesting. Whoever did the modifications did a nice job. Joe D.
By Richard - Friday, January 08, 2010 7:13 AM
So Steve, you "own" a Gardner powered Corbitt.  Now that is a rare truck indeed --rarer since it can disappear.  Seriously, too bad that it did disappear.   As I recall the Gardner Diesels from my years in the UK ( 1970's) they were very low rev'ing engines.   Some were fitted into the ubiquitous red double decker buses.  Seems to me the drivers  shifted  them just a little above what sounded like the  engine  idle speed -- something like 1200rpms comes to mind
By Tatra - Friday, January 08, 2010 9:02 AM

Thanks for the info - I learned something new... I saw pictures of these very tall Corbitts and it seems to me the Mack was also "lifted", perhaps because of the height of the Gardner? An 8LW would make more sense than a 6LW for US conditions (I think hp was something like 140 for the 8 cyl. engine, less than a Cummins NHB but better fuel consumption. The 6LW had... What? 112 hp?). Gardner was a very good engine if your main concern (apart from reliability) was using as little as fuel as possible but they got caught asleep when the turbo revolution started and their turbocharged engines ruined their reputation... Lovely things to look at, lots of alluminium and brass to polish and like Richard said, you change gear at 100 RPM above tickover:)

Pic from the internet.



By Murray - Friday, January 08, 2010 11:36 AM
Hi Tatra,

We've been a bit slow on this one, should have it finished this year though.

This is the 6LW in our Foden FG, a great engine for the time as you say. They were mostly used in fishing boats around here.


By Geoff Weeks - Friday, January 08, 2010 12:27 PM
The 6LXB had 145 hp with a gov speed of 1700... Great engines. You could lock off individual cyl at the Inj pump (note handles on the pump) and idle on 3 (or less, but nicely balanced idleing on 3) The LW was a smaller (I think) version. The had the best Lbs/hr of any diesel at the time. Worked on many, and much prefered them to the Leyland 680's  I wish I had one now.... Not sure what to do with it.... but wonderful (if low power) engines.
By Tatra - Saturday, January 09, 2010 2:56 AM
Geoff Weeks (1/8/2010)
Not sure what to do with it....


Recreate this (once again, courtesy of BLB)?

Murray, you probably know all about it:). Lovely old Foden by the way. Did all Aussi ones have tropical radiators?



PS: If I'm not greatly mistaken, there were originally two "families" of Gardners, marine ones (L-series) and automotive ones (LW - "Light Weight"). The marine ones were more heavily constructed but what Murray says about LWs also being used in boats would not surprise me. There are a lot of these engines still in use and it's possible to get bits for them... 

By Geoff Weeks - Saturday, January 09, 2010 3:32 AM
There were several "familys" of engines. I know the ones I worked on were LX's and not LW's  I know they also made  8LX's  as well. I remember the 145 hp also. Parts were not a problem but had to come from England as there was no supplier that we knew of in the US.

   The LX's looked similer to the LW shown... Somewhere I still have piston out of an LXB.

By Richard - Saturday, January 09, 2010 5:01 AM
Did Gardner make a 5 cy engine --or did I think that one up??
By Geoff Weeks - Saturday, January 09, 2010 6:44 AM
I'm not sure... I only saw the 6 cyl versions. They are kind of intresting in that they have no internal oil passages (except in the crank from the mains to the rods) everything else is external pipes.  The crankcase is  cast aluminum while the block and heads are iron. You could pull the block and heads as a unit, fit new pistons to the rods and drop a overhauled block back onto the crankcase.  I have also heard (but never seen) that some of the earlyest engines had replaceable cam lobes on the cam shaft ( which was just a shaft, to which the lobes were keyed onto).

   The crankcase had tie-studs running across the main bearings to keep it ridged.

   The injection pump was their own design with CAV barrels fitted.

   The place I worked once had a rebiult "short block" air freight'd in... I always wondered what that cost! We pulled the heads and block, replaced the pistons and rings, and dropped the new block onto the crankcase without pulling the pan ( it had good oil pressure). I knurlled the valve guides, and went back together with it... took a whole lot less time then putting liners in a 680...

By Tatra - Saturday, January 09, 2010 7:25 AM
Richard, Geoff,

A 5LW (marine version but they were fitted to trucks and buses too):

I think they came in any variety between 1-8 cyl. All Gardners were straight, no V engines ever (although there was a horizontal installation for use in buses). I think the turboed ones always had a "T" added (CLXT?) but you probably would not want one anyway...

In case anyone asks, the White had (possibly) a straight 8 and was an Aussi conversion (unlike the Aussi Road Commanders which had them fitted from new), see here for more pics of these handsome Aussi trailer coaches:



By Geoff Weeks - Saturday, January 09, 2010 7:37 AM
Ah, you are blowing the cobbwebs out of my brain... I do remember the odd cyl Gardner's now... Never ran across them tho. A guy I worked with told me about a  single cyl Gardner he worked with as an aprentice.

   The ones I worked on were all vertical, some were mounted transverse across the back, while others (like used in the Bristol FLF) were conventionally mounted in the front.

  We also had  3 of the Bristol VRL's which all had 680's mounted long ways on the right side rear... Odd duck of a bus..

By Tatra - Saturday, January 09, 2010 8:20 AM

The VRL is indeed a weird creature and rare, too - I never had the chance of spotting one in my 11 years in the UK, which is more than you can say about Gardner LXB engined VRs - there were some in service as late as the early 2000s - I think there might be one or two used as tourists buses still...

I must confess I have also been aflicted with a terminal case of Leylanditis, what with all the 400s, 600s, 680s we had around in Israel when I was growing up:)

Leyland also got caught sleeping when the turbos came - in many ways, the English manufacturers did not understand it was not enough to come out with a basically good design, there was this little thing called "development":w00t:. Both Leyland and AEC (Leylnad 900, AEC 1100) had Cummins 855 and KT sized engines in the 1950s and the 1960s and simply did not do anything with them. When Scammell introduced the Contractor (which was supposed to compete with bigger US made conventionals) in 1964, they had to offer Cummins 290 and 335 in it... As for the car industry, best not to even start.



By Geoff Weeks - Saturday, January 09, 2010 8:33 AM
From what I was told, the VRL's had a tendance to flip over on rain slick roads and were killed off with only a few being made. We had one running out of the three we had.  The were a long distance coach vs. the VRT (transverse mounted rear engine) transit bus. We had  many VRT's and Fleetlines, both with a mix of the 680's and LXB's.

   All the buses had a fluid coupling between the engine and trans (which was air operated planetary) the VRL's had a centrifical locking clutch on the fluid coupling (no doubt to prevent heat biuld-up on long runs).  All the VRL's had the 680's with an inline CAV pump, while the Fleetlines and VRT's with 680's mostly had CAV DPA's on them.

  We also had a small selection of Bristol FLF's (which I liked better the the Fleetlines) a few with 5 speeds (stick) and at least one with a planetary trans.

  Oh yah, one Routemaster with a Leyland 600 in it.

   Fun work, but the company was always broke and you never knew if your paycheak was good or not.:w00t:

By pursy - Saturday, January 09, 2010 8:37 AM
Geoff. the 6LXB was the 180 Gardner it was the mainstay of British road haulage during the 1960s. Tales were that there was a premium on a Gardner over a Cummins or Roll Royce but you could get that money back in 12 months with the fuel you saved. They had a near flat torque curve,and if I remember topped out on revs at 1850rpm,a lot of drivers couldn't drive them properly as they had to let to let them die to a 1000rpm before changing down. The company I worked on in the 70s ran some straight 8 240hp Gardners, they ran them day and night, the night run was about 450miles,when they were worn we would put a gallon of oil in it every night but they still went the same and still returned good fuel consumption. They used to wear the exhaust valve guides too and we had a few dropped valves. Although I liked the engines they were hard to work on compared to most and I dont think they lasted that well but the sound of 1 of those straight 8s pulling through the gears was always a bonus. A lot of the Gardners went to Hong Kong and China to go in boats and as long as the engine would turn they would fetch good money but that trade has about died not too sure why someone mentioned emissions but I dont think the Chinese are too particular. Mark
By Geoff Weeks - Saturday, January 09, 2010 8:46 AM
The buses were bought outright and shipped to the far east, where they would break them up for scrap and the engine  would go into marine service... My boss would out bid the far east bidders but we only inported a few ever so often.

 I never had a problem with the LXB's valves  but have pulled more then one 680 valve out of a piston... could just be how tired they were... IIRC the valve spring cap ( on the LXB) threaded onto the valve stem, and locked with a cotter... May be that had something to do with it. The LXB would sip fuel in a bus... I think I got close to 13-14 mpg on one I drove from Columbus, OH to Chicago... but its hard to tell as it was just one fill and you could be off by a lot on one fill.

By Geoff Weeks - Saturday, January 09, 2010 8:56 AM
Speeking of AEC... We had one pre-war bus with  (I think) and AEC engine and vacuum brakes... it could sit for years, fire it up, and was so quite you could tell it was running... that bus was sweet! It had a weighted damper on the intake to help the vacuum pump.. I never got to drive it, but did run it  a bit.
By pursy - Saturday, January 09, 2010 9:16 AM
I would say 13-14mpg would be possible as we could get 10mpg in a truck. yes I remember that threaded valve stem. I think a lot of valve trouble was due to the the operators trying to save money they would replace the guides but not the valves as the wear wasn't too bad. Geoff do you remember how black the oil would go in a short time, if you had to rebuild 1 it took weeks to get it out of your pores,some of the guys called them "old oilers". When I first pulled an E290 Cummins to bits I couldn't believe how clean it was inside. The threads were Whitworth too,we had Cummins on UNC/UNF and Scania and Volvo on metric threads so we needed a few drawers in the tool box
By Tatra - Saturday, January 09, 2010 9:40 AM
Geoff Weeks (1/9/2010)
The buses were bought outright and shipped to the far east, where they would break them up for scrap and the engine  would go into marine service... My boss would out bid the far east bidders but we only inported a few ever so often.

...I think I got close to 13-14 mpg on one I drove from Columbus, OH to Chicago... but its hard to tell as it was just one fill and you could be off by a lot on one fill.


Funny you mention that - apparently there are still ex-Israeli Royal Tigers working in Burma... and IDF Leyland Contractors in Laos (probably with Cummins 400s instead of the English made NTC335s)...

Re. fuel consumption: was that a VRT you drove to Chicago? That's good on the short city gearing - what speed where you doing? I can't imagine one could get more than 55 MPH flat out on one of them, lol.



By Geoff Weeks - Saturday, January 09, 2010 10:47 AM
No, It was a Bristol FLF with 5 speed manaul box. About 50 mph at gov speed. Slow trip, but back when the "National Speed limit" was 55 so not so bad.

   I never had the VRL out on the highway, just around Chicago so never found out how long its "legs" were.

  All the transit buses would top out between 45-50 mph with 11X 22.5 or 10.X20 rubber on them.

By Geoff Weeks - Saturday, January 09, 2010 11:28 AM
pursy (1/9/2010)
Geoff do you remember how black the oil would go in a short time, if you had to rebuild 1 it took weeks to get it out of your pores,some of the guys called them "old oilers".

The threads were Whitworth too,we had Cummins on UNC/UNF and Scania and Volvo on metric threads so we needed a few drawers in the tool box

I remember everything was black when you opened them up... But our stuff didn't get what it needed... in the Summer season it was go-go-go, in the off season there was no money for any repairs. We had been known to pull liners out of a "blown" engine to re-use in another engine that had a different problem.

  I don't think any but a few lucky 680's ever had a thermostat in them... so operating temp wasn't anywhere near where it should be... or they were overheating!!! no in between!

   I did things like replace a broken valve spring on a hot engine with a load of tourists sitting, waiting on the upper deck...

   There were also some Graf-Stif (Sp?) buses  (propane fired) in the mix, so yeah, I had a draw full of wrenches.. the hard part was finding Whitworth/ BS bolts when we needed them, Also Paralle pipe fittings were hard to come by.

   It was the best and worce place I ever worked. I loved the work and hated the way it was run.

By Richard - Saturday, January 09, 2010 12:22 PM
Oh my --Whitworth spanners, Gardner engines --everything but British Cycle Thread --26 TPI.  Regarding buses, I  seem  to recall some had tiny gear shift levers that apparently were electric or??  --seemed the driver could pre-select.  Help me out here.  Also, back in the 1970's when I lived in the UK, one of my  friends  told  me  the British  way was  --small engines, large gearboxes!  He was comparing our trucks  to his lorries.
By Geoff Weeks - Saturday, January 09, 2010 12:45 PM
They were electric over air... the little shift lever (with its own little "gate") operated switches that then controled air valves that fed air pistons that applied the bands in the transmission... top gear was a  just a clutch pack.

   Orignally they were designed to be "self shifting" with an analog "generator" and a controller, but all ours were reverted to full manual control... I guess the system didn't work very well. some of the "automatic" parts were still on the buses when we got them, but none of them were working autos.

  As far as I know, none were pre-select.

By Richard - Saturday, January 09, 2010 1:01 PM
Thanks Geoff    I can picture the shift "gate" with the  stubby shift lever ==looked like something out of an exotic Italian car.
By Wolfcreek_Steve - Saturday, January 09, 2010 5:00 PM
pursy (1/9/2010)
The threads were Whitworth too,we had Cummins on UNC/UNF and Scania and Volvo on metric threads so we needed a few drawers in the tool box

I have seen Whitworth wrenches for sale in various places. The only Whitworth thing I've worked on was a 56 MGA, and standard fractional wrenches seemed to fit just fine. Whitworth threads have a 55 degree thread form and some have a different thread/inch count, but the diameter is fractional inch. Am I missing something?
By Tatra - Saturday, January 09, 2010 9:25 PM
Geoff Weeks (1/9/2010)
 There were also some Graf-Stif (Sp?) buses  (propane fired) in the mix

Crickey Geoff, now you made me fall of my seat - Austrian Gräf & Stift or (later) Gräf Steyr buses in the US - that's the first time I ever heard of this! Can you remember who was the previous (Austrian) operator? Would not surprise me if it was Vienna Lines (Wiener Linien), they run all their fleet on gas. Did it look anything like this?

or this..

or even a double decker?

(pics from and - the pic of the double deckers is from the cover of a book co-authored by the chap running the last site)

As for all those spaners, stil got my three sets somewhere:)



By Park Olson - Sunday, January 10, 2010 1:10 AM
Steve, before the MG A period several common bolt head sizes were in 32's of of an inch for the Brit stuff. By the 60's all BMC stuff was common inch size. SU carbs hung onto some odd sizes for a while,  IIRC  ;)
By Geoff Weeks - Sunday, January 10, 2010 3:58 AM
They were all double deck models ( The company I worked for only had double deck buses... Including a 5th ave Yellow Coach... retrofited with a 6-71 Detroit). I'm not sure where they came from (what city) but they were more modern looking (less "rounded... more squared off) then the pictured. They had M.A.N. engines layed over on their side.... We used to joke... If they pulled the dip-stick over there and found any antifreeze in the oil, they called Jim (our boss) and said " We've got another bus for you!" They were a lot more problems then the English buses. Both the English and Austrian had to be "DOT'd" which ment changeing headlights and adding seat belts for the driver.. This was back when 12 volt sealed beams were the only DOT approved headlights. 

   I was never involved to bringing them to Chicago ( I was too expensive an employee to go on road trips) but they were off loaded in Baltimore, MD and driven to Chicago... with a top speed of about 45 MPH... As Opposed to the English buses which were off loaded at the 95th st docks in Chicago... I don't know why they had to be off loaded in MD but they were.  They didn't last as well as the English buses, partly because there were steel as opposed the the wood and aluminum used in the English buses. Partly because they were far more untilitarian then the English buses... In England (as I'm sure you know) the buses had to get a C of F (certi of fittness) every so often (IIRC it depended on age) and they were torn down to the frame rails and re-biult.. so everything was made to be dissassembled and re-assembled... The Austrian buses were more or less a single use bus... replace (or sell to Jim !!!) when it becomes too expensive to maintain!

By Geoff Weeks - Sunday, January 10, 2010 4:05 AM
The 1st bus pictured looks the most like our double deck versions. They had a pusher axle ahead of the drive.  I don't have the same fondness for them that I do for the English buses...
By Tatra - Sunday, January 10, 2010 5:39 AM

Many thanks for the reply - it must have been a DDH 200/43/16, like the one below. Very rare bird - was the last ever double decker bus made by Gräf & Stift (and there won't be any others, ever, as MAN took over the company completely). Also, I think they were amongst the biggest double deckers ever, I think only the Hong-Kong Leylands were bigger. They were all built between 1976 - 1979 and pensioned off in 1991 (obviously your boss got word of that). No double deckers in Vienna nowadays, only articulated ones:crying:

Agree with what you say about the tendency to rust but I'm surprized you had such problems with the MAN engine, they were thought of as fairly reliable unit here. Did they have Voith fluid boxes? Very low geared things for sure, I think they only had 3 "ranges" (I'm not sure you can use the word "speeds" for these). The bus in the pic I think belongs to Wiener Linien's own historic fleet. Pic from the net - I assume you don't have any pics of them in US service?



By Geoff Weeks - Sunday, January 10, 2010 6:56 AM
Yes, you nailed it. ANd yes they had the Voith boxes.. The buses were so "low slung" that they would often get hung up pulling into the garage... The drain plug on the trans took the worse of it...  often would work loose after being hit and dragged on the pavement dumping all the fluid on the pavement somewhere out in the city!

   I don't know why we had problems with the M.A.N's but all seamed to have coolant in the oil pan at some point or other.... After I had left the company, one of the "Mechanics" rebiult one of the M.A.N.'s useing diesel pistons instead of the LP pistons with bad results... To be fair, they both looked the same, with the combustion chamber in the head of the piston.... but the C/R is very different... LP being around 12:1 vs. 16 or 17:1 for diesel!

By Geoff Weeks - Sunday, January 10, 2010 7:09 AM
I don't have any pictures of any of the buses... I don't know why it didn't take any... I guess if you are around them enough you don't think of it.

   Many of the buses had the roof cut off (both for sight-seeing and to make it under Chicago's famous low bridges)... no engineering was done and I was always afraid that they were structurally weak. On some buses just the center was cut and the full roof at the front and rear was retained... (which I never saw the point in).

  I remember one very cold morning... comeing to work being told they couldn't start on of the M.A.N. engines.... I pulled the air intake and 1/2 gal of liquid propane came out!!! Nearly froze my hand right thru the gloves...

   We used to start the Leylands that were storred outside, by pulling the intake hose, pouring a little laqure thinner into a "bend" in the intake, and lighting it.... let it burn for a miniute and hit the starter... It would snuff out the flame, and the vapor would be injested and the engine would start right off.... then cough and sputter as the the -20 deg air hit.... A lot easyer on them then "starting fluid".

By pete - Sunday, January 10, 2010 11:36 AM
Smith Transport the largest Canadian Carrier in the 50's had some,I never saw one,don't know what trucks they were in.A fellow that worked there  years ago  mentioned them once rather disdainfully.
By Jeff Lakaszcyck - Sunday, January 10, 2010 3:37 PM
Back to the original question about the Gardiner Mack, here is some Gardiner info I copied off the old site (I think) several years ago. It took me a couple days to find it.
By peterj - Sunday, January 10, 2010 3:52 PM
The "home made" hoods make for strange looking Macks..
By CarlBesola - Sunday, January 10, 2010 8:45 PM
What was the deal with the Gardner engines? Did they burn a less refined heavier oil than a normal Diesel? If so, is that what may have gave them an economic edge? Just wonderin':)
By tundra - Sunday, January 10, 2010 9:00 PM
most all macks are ;;;strange lookin.....[dont matter what pwrs em]
By Steve Rosemond - Monday, January 11, 2010 2:55 AM
Carl, I asked this question some years ago and the answer was that the English, after having been in two altercations with the Germans known as World War I and World War II would not use that very German name " Diesel ". The Gardner engines are normal in the fuel they use. Steve
By Geoff Weeks - Monday, January 11, 2010 3:12 AM
The burned diesel, but had very low fuel comsumption for the power. Acroyd-Stewart invented the direct injection ( commonly called "diesel" injection) but his engine didn't have high enough compresion to "light it off" ( it used a "Hot bulb" and later spark plug) Rudolph Diesels's 1 st engine use high pressure air to inject the fuel but had high enough compression to light it off when it did. Once the two principles were combined, we get the modern diesel... Some in the British empire feel that Acroyd-Stewart should have got the credit, and not Rudolph Diesel... so there is some reluctance to use Diesels name.

  Engines that burn "Diesel" in England are commonly called "Oil engines" as opposed to "Petrol" engines ( gasoline). Much the same way were refer to "home heating oil" as oil, even though it is diesel fuel.

By Tatra - Monday, January 11, 2010 3:47 AM

Thanks for the pics - for once Mr. Tomer is right, the L-Series looks like something that could have come from Germany with that snout - I'm surprised they went for such a set back axle, not popular in the US.

Anyone interested in the downfall of Gardner in the later years, see this discussion on BLB:

By the way, in addition to oil engine, the English also used the expressions DERV (to refer to "Diesel Engine Road Vehicle") or compression ignition engine.



By Geoff Weeks - Monday, January 11, 2010 4:12 AM
I am suprized at the wonder people have that a diesel will run backwards... Any diesel that uses a piston or diaphram "lift pump" to supply the I-P will run backwards... Even a 2 stroke Detroit will for a short time ( Although with its gear pump, it will not supply fuel to the injectors to run long the wrong way) However, most all engines use a gear or gerotor type lube pump which will not supply lube oil to an engine running backwards.

   Gardner's reliance on triple row roller chain worked for them for a long time... I wonder why they had problems in the later engines? I am a fan of gear driven cams  etc.. but you can't  say it didn't work judgeing on the LW- LX engines.


By Richard - Monday, January 11, 2010 6:51 AM
Tatra  You shook some  more British words from  my memory banks.  I bought an Austin van in the mid-70's while living in the UK.  It was front engined and about the size of the VW vans.  I was told it ran on DERV --hadn't the slightest idea what DERV was.  It sure sounded like a Diesel, although a very small Austin/BMC 1.5 or so  litre, I think.  I also learned what red DERV was --for off road use ONLY  --some 30+ years before we had it here in the US of A.  I also had to learn what "pink parfin" was --kerosene to Yanks.