A Ruston & Hornsby Teaches The Three R's


| October/November 1996



Ruston and Hornsby 3 HP engine

This Ruston & Hornsby taught Ken Evans, 130 Malcolm Drive, Pasadena, California 91105, the real meaning of the three R's.

130 Malcolm Dr., Pasadena, CA 91105

If you think this is a story about Reading, Writing and Arithmetic, you better stop right here. But if you are interested in a very detailed accounting of the Research, parts Removal and the Restoration of a Ruston and Hornsby 3 HP engine made in 1941 in Australia by Harris, Scarfe & Sandovers Ltd., then read on.

Bill Young, a good friend and fellow member of the Western Antique Power Associates, has lived for many years in Japan with his Japanese wife. He finally decided to make Japan his permanent home and decided to sell his property near me here in Southern California. I volunteered to help him with a massive yard sale in August of 1994 that was needed to clear the property of the items he did not want to ship to Japan. Among the hundreds of items to be sold were several old gas engines. By the end of the sale there was only one remaining engine and nobody seemed to be interested in it. It was a horizontal single cylinder, hopper cooled, throttle governed, sideshaft driven rotary magneto with spark plug ignition, fully enclosed crankcase, self oiling, spoked flywheels, heavy, stuck, 3 HP engine. I took pity on Bill, since he urgently needed to sell everything, and made an offer on it that he accepted. If you want to know more about Bill and his experiences in Japan, read his article on page 20 of the August 1994 issue of GEM.

The engine appeared to be complete as it sat there on a wooden platform. The magneto mounts on a bracket near the front of the engine and is driven by a rotary sideshaft from the crankshaft. Prior to the sale days, Bill had me help in arranging the engines and I had found the magneto near the engine and bolted it on the bracket so it would stay with the engine and not become a neat single piece treasure. The magneto drive sideshaft was slightly bent and would not mate with the magneto, so I turned the magneto backwards when I bolted it to the bracket. The engine was also very much stuck. Nothing would turn except the magneto.

My brother Larry lives near Bill's old place, and we moved the engine to his house using my low bed trailer and a portable 'cherry picker' hoist to load it. I began to question my sanity in buying the engine because when we picked it up, it sloshed from inside, which meant that the enclosed crankcase was full of rain water. You see, Bill had it stored in a makeshift cover and I believe it was more shift than make. Anyway, the engine was mine and it had to be moved. Off we went to Larry's house. We off loaded it onto a small platform with casters so we could move it around until a proper cart could be built.

The first order of business was to remove the rear crankcase cover and see what I had really bought. There are four bolts that hold the cover on. My American wrenches fit one bolt head, but not the other three. Neither did the metric wrenches. So off came the bolts with an adjustable wrench. Sure enough, the crankcase was full of water and mucky oil. I drained the fluids out and left the cover off to start the drying process. I also took the head off to see what problems lay ahead there. The head gasket is copper clad and was in good shape. Since everything was stuck and wet, now was the time to start the Research into what I had purchased in order to determine whether I should restore this engine or just try to resell it at a later date. So here we are at the first R, of The Three R's.