Largest Portable Stationary Engine


| July/August 1998



500 HP Ruston-Hornsby engine

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.