Allan Brothers Oil Engine on a Return to Glory

Scottish-built Allan Brothers oil engine settles in Arizona for complete restoration.


| February/March 2013



Allan Brothers Oil Engine

This Scottish-built Allan Brothers Oil Engine was completely restored by Wayne and his son, Brennen.

Photo By Wayne Peters

Manufacturer: Allan Brothers, Aberdeen, Scotland
Year: Circa 1903
Serial number: 991
HP: 19
RPM: 230
Bore: 9-1/2-inch
Stroke: 17-inch
Flywheel dia.: 54 inches
Flywheel width: 6-1/2 inches
Weight: 6,000 pounds
Ignition: Hot tube
Governing: Hit-and-miss, vertical flyball 

Circa 1903 Allan Brothers Oil Engine

I am the proud owner of an Allan Brothers oil engine, serial no. 991. It's a product of Aberdeen, Scotland, manufacturing, and was built around 1903. It is rated at 19 HP at 230 RPM. It has a 9-1/2-inch bore and a 17-inch stroke. The flywheels are 54 inches in diameter with a 6-1/2-inch face and curved spokes. The engine alone weighs 6,000 pounds. This engine, unlike most oil engines, is a 4-cycle design and is hit-and-miss governed. It has a hot tube ignition and is headless. It is a sideshaft design with a vertical flyball governor and turns counterclockwise.

The history of this particular engine dates back to World War I. The engine was used in an English shipyard to power machinery. During the World War II scrap drives, it was somehow missed for the scrap heap. A club member from California informed me it may have been too large to deal with at the time or just located inside a building and long forgotten. At some point in time it was moved to the Hunday Museum in Corbridge, in northern England.

Jerry Towers purchased the engine on May 4, 1985, at an auction held at the museum and shipped it to Kansas. Mr. Towers sold it to Sam Curry, who now resides in Arizona. In March of 2009 I purchased the engine from Mr. Curry at the Arizona Flywheelers Engine Show. Mr. Curry also gave me an article written about the history of the Allan Brothers engines. It appeared in the June 1986 issue of The Old Machinery Mart Magazine, which is published in Australia.

Allan Brothers engines were manufactured in Aberdeen, Scotland, from the late 1800s to 1925. A series of three engine types were built during that time period: continuous lamp engines with serial numbers 0-500. None are known to exist today; the more common continuous lamp engines with serial numbers 501-2200 were produced during 1901-1912; lamp-less type engines, requiring only a lamp to start, were produced during 1911-1925 with serial numbers 2100-4315. The few Allan Brothers engines that we have seen are all smaller and most have been converted to magneto ignition. We were fortunate to purchase the Allan Brothers oil engine with the original hot tube and chimney setup.

I contacted Jerry Towers to see if he had any additional historical information about the engine. He, in turn, gave me the name of Geoff Challinor in England to contact. My letter to Mr. Challinor was returned unopened.