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Thread: Sawmill diesel engine
11-04-2011, 09:32 PM #1
Sawmill diesel engine
The photos show two views of a semi-diesel engine abandoned in Minchins Cove, Newfoundland. The area where the engine lies is in the Terra Nova National Park, and a staff member from Parks Canada (and a keen industrial heritage enthusiast) spotted it on a canoe trip this past summer. Apparently the engine was used in the 1930s. It was purchased 'locally', ie in Newfoundland and I'd bet was second hand.
I have looked through what limited material I have and done a net search, without success. If anyone has any ideas on its maker I'd appreciate the information.
Last edited by Droll; 11-04-2011 at 09:34 PM. Reason: Add attachments
11-04-2011, 10:19 PM #2
Have a look online at, for example, 'Bessemer' and similar engines for the combustion styles, as well as others among the 'usual suspects' for worksite portable-power (Fairbanks-Morse and its many, many competitors).
11-05-2011, 04:17 AM #3
Yup, I agree with Bill. Plus, if you do search, this looks to be a "sideshaft" engine. Notice the cam and roller at the front of the engine. Otto's were sideshaft, but this is no Otto. Maybe an Austral?
11-05-2011, 05:33 AM #4
has similarities, for sure:
Austral - Ronaldson & Tippett
Dunno how many Austral, if any, ever left the downunder regions for North America, but Canada did import more British goods than not around that time range.
Ergo, given the Canadian geographical location, (and - admit it - having looked at many photos..) ... I'd suspect a Blackstone 'Portable'.
Stationary Engines -
11-05-2011, 06:01 AM #5
11-05-2011, 07:29 AM #6
I have had a quick look through the A-Z of British Stationary Engines by Patrick Knight, this Campbell (Halifax) has some similar features. I am not saying it is a Campbell as there were so many British oil engines and there seem to be many styles of Campbell as well, including straight and curved spokes.... Something to go on with anyway
In the attached photo, the governor seems to be driven by a long belt from the crankshaft, the belt does a quarter turn. There seems to be a "half time" gear at the crankshaft which possibly means no side shaft? Perhaps the engine in Newfoundland has a skew gear on the crankshaft (I can't see the teeth clearly enough) and thus a side shaft?
11-05-2011, 01:22 PM #7
it could also be what is known as a "halfbreed engine". that is an ols steam engine that was converted to internal combustion. they did this a lot in the oil fields.
11-05-2011, 02:12 PM #8
Much of the rest of the gear that would clarify the origin - especially the usuallly-present raised maker's name on the side of the casting -is simply missing in the two marginal photos we have.
But a 'half-breed' it certainly is not.
The layout we CAN see was never part of anything that utilized a Rankine cycle. Of that I am positive.
11-05-2011, 07:50 PM #9
Here's a pix...
11-05-2011, 09:08 PM #10
Akroyd-Stewart fathered that whole class, (also invented compression-ignition 'Diesel as we actually know it') and his various firms had arguably the highest aggregate production volume of the type.
And it IS close. Very close.
But check blowups of the head, cooling jacket, and such. No cigar, UNLESS ... it is an HA that we've just not yet stumbled on an exact photo of.
It also has the classical HA assymetrical flywheel/pulley, just as the 'mystery motor has.
So yeah -- most likely an HA in 'one of' the many variations thereof'.
Note that the large hot-bulb chamber is absent.
So .... unless it had one of the smaller pointy-pipe style, it may indeed, at day's end have been an early 'semi-diesel'.
AFAIK, Akroyd built and tested his 'true Diesel', and before Rudolf, yet - who may have been still messing with grain dust at the time, (and largely failiing at it) - but did not put it into volume production, so 'semi' would be the word.
11-06-2011, 06:30 PM #11
Thanks to everyone for their contributions. I am away from home for a couple of weeks working, but will see if in the interim I can get any more pictures. The son of the owner of the sawmill when the engine was used said that the engine was started on gas and then switched over to diesel. I know of agricultural tractors that used this system, but dont know about it being used for this type of engine. Probably a bit of a red herring and the gasoline was used the same way as we used to spray ether into the airtake to get some of the old (and reluctant) diesels to start.
Apparently, there was a large waterwheel working at the site also so the whole place sounds interesting.
11-06-2011, 06:56 PM #12
The 'tractor fuel' mix was nonetheless cheaper to use in the understressed engines used for agriculture in general. Engines of the general type under discussion could burn wider ranges of blends yet and some of their contemporaries ran on near-as-dammit road tar.
We ran those on our farm off the other end of the refining spectrum - 'casing head gasoline' - nearly pure 'octane'.
We had producing natural gas wells, and it was a 'contaminant' drained off into holding tanks before the gas was odorized and put into the collection lines. Ditto a few tens of gallons a week of 'Pennsylvania grade' crude oil that lubed the sickle bars on the mowers and kept down road dust.
EPA? Go fly a kite!
All the perps are long-since in the ground they contaminated...
Not having heard about 'carcinogens' they had the bad manners to live into their 90's in blissful ignorance of all the hazards that had supposedly killed them.
11-06-2011, 09:28 PM #13
Here is my next offer - John Robson of Alexandra Works, Shipley, Yorkshire. Photo taken from volume 2 of A-Z of British Stationary Engines by Patrick Knight.
The old engine in Newfoundland has some unusual features, for example the lip which runs around the top edge of the 'crankcase', also the cylinder and crankcase being cast as-one on an engine this size.
It seems to me that Blackstone, Hornsby etc are only similar in that they are horizontal engines, so were several hundred other makes - I can't see any close similarities.
BTW, Robson apparently continued making diesel engines into the late 1970's.
Last edited by Peter S; 11-07-2011 at 06:14 PM. Reason: removed notes about John Robson, possibly incorrect.
11-06-2011, 09:53 PM #14
11-07-2011, 02:42 AM #15
Thanks, Peter. The flange round the top of the bedplate, and the shape of the cylinder head were the only features I could see to distinguish Droll’s engine from countless other types, but I couldn’t get any further than that. Certainly your picture fits the bill.
Incidentally, I suspect Robson may have made machine tools. I have seen horizontal mill with Robson cast in script similar to that used on their engines at one time.
In searching for Robson engines, I came across a very interesting application. Near the bottom of the link below there’s a Robson diesel combined with a pair of steam engine cylinders in Thailand! Presumably the diesel part is no longer used…..
More Stationary Steam Engines in Thailand
11-07-2011, 06:26 PM #16
11-08-2011, 09:03 AM #17
Again, thanks for the information and the interesting discussion that has developed.
I saw the Parks Canada fellow last night and the group is headed back to the park next week. He will take more photographs (this time technical and not artistic!) look for any indentification marks and take close-ups of the head and cylinder.
It seems that the engine was bought second-hand and so pre-dates its time at the mill.
11-08-2011, 10:48 AM #18
Early Robson engines were marketed as *The Nonpareil* with a cast brass oval plate. I rescued such a machine from a pumphouse in which the scrapmen were steadily working towards it - started me off collecting. Later engines had the Robson name cast into the side of the bed. The serial No. might be found on a small raised flat lug on the cylinder end or perhaps on the conrod or maybe the crank end.
During 1988 in my capacity of a Museums Officer I collected the Robson records which were subsequently transferred to the Bradford archive in West Yorkshire. I also have reference to serial numbers so if you find one, let me know and I'll investigate.
Herbert Akroyd Stuart developed the hot bulb engine after accidentally spilling paraffin on molten tin.
Rudolf Diesel invented the compression ignition engine scientifically.
Please can we have more info. on the glossy Hornsby Akroyd featured - serial No., date and current location ? my own Akroyd is a similar early style with flat head and bent crank.
10-29-2015, 11:22 PM #19
Robson Dating Help
I am hoping you are still out there somewhere. I have two large Robsons. CHW Serial No. 51228 70HP and CHY Serial No. 27097 105HP and am hoping you may be able to date them for me.
That's the 70HP flywheel with me and the other is the 105HP