A Small Australian Collection Grows

| March/April 2001

  • 5 HP Bartram Engine
    5 HP Bartram.
  • Root & Vandervoort
    12 HP Root & Vandervoort.

  • 5 HP Bartram Engine
  • Root & Vandervoort

6 Hill Street Leichhardt NSW 2040 Australia e-mail pml@bigpond.com

Some of you may remember my article in the July 2000 edition of GEM. Since that article was written a few more engines have followed me home, including two large and interesting ones.

First up is my 1915 Bartram. It was built by Kelly and Lewis in Victoria for J. Bartram & Son in Melbourne, who were large machinery merchants and distributors. Kelly & Lewis built engines for a number of different companies (including names such as Bartram, Hornsby and Triumph). My Bartram is a type A-K and is mounted on the original factory transport which has 'J. Bartram & Son Melbourne' cast into the wheel hubs. Cooling is via a large water tank with a screen for the water to run down. The water is circulated by a water pump driven off the camshaft, this eccentric also has the magneto flick attached. It is a vertical hit and miss engine, which is governed by not allowing the intake valve to open. The big end is splash lubricated, the piston has a drip oiler, and the main bearings have their own oiling points and also get some of the splash lubrication. The ignition is from a high tension flick type Dixie magneto. My parents (Michael and Gwen Livingstone) paid the deposit on this engine as my 30th birthday present. They also brought it up from the country for me after picking it up, a round trip of 1000 kilometers. It was seized when I got it home, but after about four hours work I had it running. This engine had won best original engine at a show in 1996, but had been stored outside for some time. The water tank has a small leak, which meant it would fill with water during the rain, then slowly leak out of the timber frame of the transport. This has resulted in very rotted timber under the tank. I now have two nice beams ready to go under the engine, and the fuel and water tanks are currently being repaired. I hope to soon have this engine ready to show. It is currently stored at my friends Ron and Liz Sullivan's place due to my lack of space.

The other large engine to come into my life just shows how badly this 'old iron' disease can take you. I was e-mailed about some engines for sale, which were not too far from Sydney, so I went up to have a look. I was after something small, as I have very limited space in my yard. Sitting out front, wrapped in a tarp was a large engine. I made a quick peek under the tarp, decided it was too big, and went to look at some smaller engines.

On my next trip up there (Ron had bought an engine, so I went up for another look) we took the tarp off the big engine for a proper look. It turned out to be a large, hopper cooled, Root and Vandervoort Triumph line engine in fairly good condition. I took a number of photos of the beautiful looking engine, but decided it was too big for me. Ron said 'One of us will eventually end up with that big engine.' It was thought that this engine was around 8HP or larger, but its true rating was unknown, as the tag is missing.

On the trip home, and in the following few days, I thought about the R&V. Finally I couldn't stand it anymore and rang up and made an offer on it. So I am now the proud owner of a R&V. The next weekend I made a trip up to work out how to get it home. I had my (well it is my father's) 6x4 trailer with me, so I thought I might as well bring part of it home.

I must add at this point that the engine is painted ghastly colours. It had been a garden ornament during recent years, and has about six layers of house paint covering every part of it. This appears to have protected the engine extremely well, but it does make removing parts very difficult. The other modification to the engine is that it has been converted to high tension. The spark plug adapter is very nicely done, but the mount for a high tension flick magneto looks awful, though it obviously worked.

On the first trip I brought home the piston and rod, rocker arm and pushrod, and the flywheels and crank. The flywheels and crank almost completely filled the trailer, but at least I had part of the engine home.

Armed with the engine number and some part numbers, I contacted Peter Lowe who is compiling a register of surviving R&V engines, and trying to piece together the history of these engines. I gave him the engine number (which is GL46667) and he happily informed me that I did not have an 8HP R&V, but a 12HP. I was pretty excited at this news (as was he), as so far he knows of only two surviving 12HP engines mine and one in the USA. As far as is known, 12HP is the largest surviving size, but I am sure there are some more large R&V engines out there.

If anyone would like to be added to the register please contact Peter Lowe, 9 Jamefield Drive, MacLean, 2463, Australia.

On the next trip I brought home the rest of the engine. This really made the trailer sit down, but it did not seem to worry my old Ford, and the engine sure looked impressive traveling along behind me.

Now that I have the engine at home I am making slow progress on its restoration. I hope one day soon to be able to write an article about its successful restoration. I do need some help, as I am missing a few parts. The most pressing problem is the fact that the governor has been snapped off the engine, leaving only the mount. So I am missing the entire assembly. I am also missing the crank-guard, magneto, and the air pipes off the kerosene attachment. The only thing which is really keeping me from getting the engine going is the missing governor.

If anyone can help me with locating any parts, or information, or would just like to discuss Root and Vandervoort engines, please contact me.


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