Largest Portable Stationary Engine

By Staff
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500 HP Ruston-Hornsby engine on trailer.
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Another closeup of the 500 HP.
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42 HP Ruston.
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Closeups of the 500 HP Ruston-Hornsby.
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142 HP Ruston.

R. R. #3 Ilderton, Ontario, Canada NOM 2AO

Although this may sound like a contradiction of terms, it is the
only way to describe the 500 HP Ruston & Hornsby engine owned
by Walter Dedman of Cambridge, Ontario. Watching this massive
engine coming down the street is a sight to behold.

Walter is a collector of Ruston engines. However, unlike most
engine collectors, Walter wasn’t content to play with the
regular 5 or 10 HP engines. He fell in love with BIG engines. His
first challenge was to make his 42 HP Ruston portable so he could
take it to shows. Being a professional building contractor, he knew
he could do it. By using the right kind of steel framing and the
right kind of construction, he man-aged to mount this engine on a
trailer he could pull behind his truck, much to the delight of
spectators at the various shows around Ontario that he attended. He
designed the trailer with sides that could be opened, giving a
clear viewing of the engine from both sides. However, having
succeeded in this endeavor, his next challenge was to see if he
could do the same with his larger 142 HP Ruston engine. Once again,
man and steel worked together to put this engine onto wheels, in a
carefully designed exhibition trailer. This time, however, Walter
decided to make use of the goose-neck of his trailer by building a
comfortable ‘home-away-from-home’ compartment, complete
with couch/bed, sink, refrigerator, and even microwave.

Now, most would be content with these accomplishments. However,
Walter isn’t like most. He began to wonder how big a stationary
engine could be made portable? His answer came in 1978 when he
learned of a 500 HP Ruston for sale. Was he up to the challenge? Of
course he was! However, his first challenge was to get it out of
the building in which it was housed.

This engine was the standby unit in the pumping station of the
city of Kitchener, Ontario. In the winter of 1927 it had been
shipped to Kitchener by rail and then moved to the Green-brook
pumping station by horses. It was hooked directly to a GE
generator, 375 KVA at 2200 volts. It is a four cylinder engine, 20
inch bore and 28 inch stroke, giving it 27,135.29 cubic inches,
four cycle water-cooled, dry sump, 500 BHP at 214 rpm. It is
capable of running 10% overload one hour out of twelve, and its
fuel consumption is .414 lbs. per HP per hour.

Walter began disassembling the engine in the winter of 1978,
just before Christmas. He removed the last piece in April of 1979.
He had to tear down a wall to get it out, and of course rebuild the
wall when he was finished. He used a crane to load the pieces onto
a railway car set on 40 feet of track. He then used a large loader
to transfer the pieces to a flat bed trailer.

Once again Walter had to build a frame of steel and cement to
carry this monstrous engine. Over 30 tires were needed to support
its weight. A series of stairs were built onto the frame to allow
Walter to climb up to reach the top of the engine. Watching Walter
start this engine is entertainment to young and old alike.

A sign on the side of the trailer tells some interesting
information about Ruston engines:

‘Ruston Cold Starting Engines, when compared with oil
engines of other makes, will be found to possess many outstanding
advantages. Among the chief considerations when installing an
engine are those of safety, reliability, and economy, and in these
respects the Ruston Oil Engine is unique.

‘Starting’: No lamp is required. The compression
pressure being sufficient to ignite the oil with certainty, the use
of a lamp or any external or electrical starting appliance is
unnecessary with the Ruston Oil Engine, even in cold weather.
Further, the compression pressure is sufficiently high to dispense
with all unjacketed surfaces and bulbs, an essential factor in
reliable starting.

‘Durability’: The absence of a high-duty air compressor
increases the reliability of the engine, and decreases the general
wear and tear, besides making the engine safe in the hands of a man
of average intelligence.

‘Fuel Oil’: The range of oil that may be used in these
engines is wide, and includes tar oil, residual, crude and refined
oils. Engines are specifically fitted when required to run on tar
oil. Where obtainable, such fuels as palm oil may be used.

‘No Air Compressor’: The system of fuel injection and
atomization excludes the use of mechanically operated fuel valves
and high-duty air compressors, thus completely eliminating the
dangers arising from these two sources.’

Walter has kindly agreed to bring this engine, as well as his
other ‘smaller’ (!) engines, to this year’s Heritage
& Antique Show in Ilderton, Ontario, Canada on July 11 &
12. The show is featuring stationary engines and vintage garden
tractors. These three engines are certainly a ‘must-see’
for anyone interested in engines of any kind. Their
‘portability’ is certainly a work of art. Come meet the man
who doesn’t believe that a challenge cannot be met!

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