Hornsby Petrol Engine, No.48064

Oct 17 2022

This single cylinder engine was installed in the Gas Engine House at the same time as its big brother in 1914. The engine has a direct-drive compressor fitted and the purpose of this was to charge the air receiver to power the start-up of the large twin cylinder engine which drove the pumps which lifted water from the river and sent the clean water out to the customers, both industrial and private.

Also this small engine drives a generator which provided electrical power for the site including the Superintendant’s cottage. This engine was thought to be originally powered by gas produced on site, but at some stage was converted to run on petrol. We suspect that the original magneto was replaced fairly early on, too.

The engine was running in the early 1980s but since then had been standing idle.

In 2017, it was decided that this engine deserved to be seen working again and so a programme was embarked upon, not a ground-up restoration, but an overhaul to get it running again.

The valve-gear was overhauled, cylinder de-glazed, con-rod and piston retrieved and fitted, petrol tank topped-up and it fired up and ran raggedly, but it ran. Over the next 2 years many adjustments were made; valve timing reset (the camshaft was one tooth out on the drive gear), the magneto arm extended and adjusted and still she ran erratically. The mixture was too-rich and we fiddled with the 1920s carburettor, noticing that it ran better on warm days. The carburettor had a facility for warming the evaporating chamber via a water jacket, so hot water was piped from the cooling-water outlet through the carb and it now runs beautifully, hour after hour.

The generator was overhauled, the distribution board dismantled, new stepped resistors made “in-house” and re-assembled and it now produces electricity, enough to power a couple of bulbs anyway. A kettle plugged into the system took all day to almost boil, so we still have to go to the tea-room for our coffees.

So now this lovely little engine can be seen and barely-heard running on our open days.