A steam-driven English truck

Pictured above is a steam-driven English truck that I saw for the first time this spring.

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Cross-Country Ink, Inc., Box 3660, Los Angeles, California 90028).

This well-preserved 'van', which will be 50 years old next year, was on the first leg of an around-the-world tour and had just been unloaded from an ocean-going freighter in San Francisco, California, where it was on display along The Embarcardero . only a stone's throw from the famous Fisherman's Wharf.

In talking to the very obliging three-man crew (driver, mechanic, and I presume relief driver) whose accents gave away their New Zealand origin, I learned that the truck is to cross the United States this summer and will visit several steam shows; they had no definite itinerary, however. When they asked me for suggestions, I of course put in a 'plug' for my own favorite show, the Midwest Old Settlers and Steam Threshermens Reunion that meets in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, over Labor Day weekend. I imagine though that the Britannia may be as far east as Williams Grove by then!

Top speed of this rig is 16 miles per hour. The fuel is slab wood, and a supply of it is kept in a small bin behind the driver. The body on the rear provides very comfortable living quarters for the crew. I was told that England's Foden Motor Company, which built this beautiful vehicle, is still building trucks .... but now they are all diesels!

The truck's arrival in San Francisco was very timely, as opposite it across the street was stored Mr. Alan Pegler's 'Flying Scotsman' train where it had been stored for the winter. The familiar green 4-6-2 steam locomotive and cream-colored cars were being made ready for a regularly scheduled 3-mile sightseeing trip along the waterfront to the Oakland Bay Bridge .... a service which is now operational. Courtesy of F. Clayton Snyder, 6633 North Drake Avenue, Lincolnwood, Ill. 60645.


Britannia is a 1926 Foden Steam Wagon (truck) which is being driven, solely under its own power, round the world by two Englishmen. The aim of the tour is to encircle the globe, thus creating a record of being the first steam powered land contrivance to do so.

Britannia left London, England, on October 16th, 1969, and has traveled through France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Luxemburg, Italy, Yugoslavia, Greece, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, West Pakistan, India and Australia. The vehicle is now undertaking the last stage of the trip and traveling west to east across the United States of America. To date, 15,000 miles have been covered, some 75 tons of coal have been burnt, and 100,000 gallons of water used.


San Francisco
St. Louis
Los Angeles*
Kansas City
New Orleans
New York
*Present location.

Sponsored from England by Balfour Williamson, (a London merchant bank), and several other British companies, the two young Englishmen are now approaching American companies to sponsor this leg of the tour by promoting their products.

The United States advertising and business contact is:

Cross-Country Ink, Inc.,
P. O. Box 3660 Los Angeles, California 90028 Telephone (213) 466-1630

British Press Agents:
M. G. Stevens
Rodmersham Green, Sittingbourne, Kent England


Michael List Brain
Leader of the tour, and driver of Britannia
Age 26
Home address: Kent, England
Profession: Journalist

David Trussell
Stoker of Britannia
Age 22
Home address: Birmingham, England
Profession: Chemical Engineer


6 Ton overtype steam wagon (truck), built 1926 by Fodens Ltd.
Weight :  8 tons
Length:   25 feet
Width:    7 feet
Height:   12 feet
Speed:   6-30 mph
Fuel: Bituminous coal. Approximate
consumption: 8 miles per 100 lbs., 6 gallons water per mile.

Boiler: Hand fired, locomotive type. Pressure 220 lbs. per sq. inch.

Engine: 2 cylinder compound 49 B.H.P. Reversible.

Transmission: 3 speeds, chain drive.

Braking: Mechanical foot brakes, screw operated parking brake and reversible engine.

Tyres: solid rubber

Original purpose: general haulage in England.

Crew: 2 man crew required; one driver (engineer) and one fireman.

Some 3,000 similar vehicles were built in England between 1903 and 1930. About 10 wagons of this type still exist.

Body: Period box van, fitted during rebuilding in 1968, containing 4 berth camper equipped with all modern facilities. (e.g., hot and cold water, refrigerator, gas cooler, electric services, etc.)

Departure date: 16th October 1969, from the London Motor Show

Estimated return: February 1973, London

Mileage to date: 15,000

Estimated mileage to completion: 8,000 (i.e. 23,000 total)