A 17 hp Ruston & Hornsby Mark CR engine and a brief history of Ruston & Hornsby Ltd.
Manufacturer: Ruston and Hornsby Ltd., Grantham, Lincoln, U.K.
Serial no.: 216075
Horsepower: 17 hp @ 370rpm
Bore & stroke: 7.25in x 13.5in
Flywheel dia. & width: 45in x 4in
Ignition: Diesel compression ignition
Governing: Centrifugal, throttle w/hand speed regulation
Cooling: Water, tank
Dierre Smith of Fredericksburg, Texas, in the Texas Hill Country west of Austin, is a collector of vintage engines. One of his more recent acquisitions is a Ruston & Hornsby Ltd. Mark CR diesel engine. The engine was originally imported and sold by Mumford, Medland Machinery, Ltd. in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canadian agents for Ruston & Hornsby Ltd. of Lincoln, England. J. R. Smith (no relation to Dierre) of Tatum, Texas, purchased the engine from a man in Indiana and Dierre acquired it from him in 2012. In Canada, this model engine was popular as a source of power for large grain elevators. Its tag is stamped “Canadian Elevator Engine.” It was most likely installed in a pit or a separate room to isolate it from dust, and was likely connected to a water tank for cooling water.
Ruston & Hornsby built the 597-cubic-inch Mark CR engine from July 1936 to June 1943. Dierre’s engine is serial no. 215075 and left the factory on Nov. 4, 1942. It has a 7.25-inch bore and a 13.5-inch stroke. The engine generates 16 horsepower at 360rpm or 17 horsepower at the factory-rated speed of 370rpm. The flywheels are 45 inches in diameter, with 4-inch faces. The total weight of the engine is approximately 2,750 pounds. It is water cooled, usually using a tank. An engine of this size is usually started using compressed air from an auxiliary tank. However, the Ruston & Hornsby can be started by holding the decompression valve open, inserting a smoldering piece of paper into a special port on the engine, and then turning the engine over with a crank. Ruston & Hornsby sold special papers for this purpose. The engine can also be started by belting it to another engine.
The Ruston & Hornsby engine goes back to Joseph Ruston, who was born in Cambridgeshire, England, in 1835. After serving an apprenticeship in a cutlery firm, he joined the firm of Burton & Proctor as a full partner. The firm produced a variety of agricultural machines and implements, including steam engines. In 1857 Ruston purchased Burton’s share in the company and the firm changed its name to Ruston, Proctor & Co. Ruston was a gifted entrepreneur, and by 1889 Ruston, Proctor & Co. had established itself as a major producer of traction engines, steam rollers and locomotives. The firm’s products were exported to foreign countries as well as sold domestically. Ruston, Proctor & Co. went public in 1889.
When Joseph Ruston died in 1897, his eldest son, Joseph Seward Ruston, assumed his position in the company. Ruston, Proctor & Co. had developed an oil-fueled engine, and the Ruston fuel injector introduced in 1912 became a standard in the field. By World War I, the company was producing more engines than any other firm; these included cold-start engines.
Richard Hornsby was born in 1790. He was employed by Richard Seaman in 1810, and the two opened a blacksmith shop in Grantham, U.K., in 1815. When Seaman retired, Hornsby established the company R. Hornsby & Sons in 1828. This firm produced agricultural machinery, steam engines and traction engines. The firm began building oil engines in 1891 when it became the sole manufacturer of an engine designed by Herbert Akroyd Stuart. This was a low compression, kerosene-fueled engine that was started by heating a hot bulb with a torch. The Hornsby-Akroyd engine was an immediate success and enjoyed sales in other countries as well as England. For example, a Hornsby-Akroyd engine powered the generator that produced electricity for lighting the Statue of Liberty.
In 1896, R. Hornsby & Sons began producing the world’s first oil-fueled engines. Designed by Herbert Akroyd Stuart, they were sold and known as the Hornsby-Akroyd. The company also built engines for submarines, lighthouses, radio stations and more. In 1905, R. Hornsby & Sons built the world’s first fully tracked vehicle, the design for which was sold to the Holt Mfg. Co. (later Caterpillar) in Stockton, California. During World War I, R. Hornsby & Sons produced guns, ammunition and fighter aircraft – including the famous Sopwith Camel.
Rustin, Proctor & Co. merged with R. Hornsby & Sons in 1918 to form Ruston & Hornsby Ltd. The merged firm produced Ruston high-compression oil engines, Hornsby Safety Paraffin engines, gas-fueled engines, steam boilers, traction engines, road rollers, pumps, farm implements and more. A Ruston & Hornsby automobile was introduced in 1920, but it was too expensive to compete with automobiles produced by more established firms and was discontinued in 1925. Likewise, a British version of the American Wallace tractor was also introduced in 1920, but only 300 were built before it was discontinued. During the 1920s, Ruston & Hornsby began to specialize in large, multi-cylinder oil engines such as those used in ships, and small, gas/kerosene engines used on farms and in factories.
Products produced by Ruston & Hornsby were so extensive that a decision was made to persify, and agreements were worked out with a number of other companies. For example, Ransomes, Simms & Jeffers in Ipswich produced steam engines, threshing machines and other farm implements; Barford Perkins of Peterborough and Aveling & Porter of Rochester merged to build road rollers; Ruston and Listers jointly produced small, vertical, high-speed diesel engines; and Ruston affiliated with Bucyrus Erie in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1930 to produce large equipment in the United States.
In 1931, Ruston & Hornsby developed the first successful underground oil locomotive. The firm also introduced narrow-gauge railroad locomotives and later expanded to make standard gauge shunting locomotives. During World War II, Ruston & Hornsby produced stationary engines of all sizes and engines to power boats, ships, tanks and more. A gas turbine was developed for jet aircraft, and after the war, gas turbines were produced for use in oil and gas fields.
In 1966, Ruston, Hornsby were taken over by the English Electric Co., which, in turn, was taken over a few years later by the GEC Group. After that, the various pisions of the original company were split up, losing their unique identities. Ray Hooley in Great Britain has compiled a large body of information about the products, inpiduals and firms associated with the Ruston & Hornsby Companies.