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Elevator Engine: 1942 Ruston & Hornsby Mark CR

A 17 hp Ruston & Hornsby Mark CR engine and a brief history of Ruston & Hornsby Ltd.

| February/March 2018

  • Dierre Smith's 1942 17 hp Ruston & Hornsby Mark CR.
    Photo by Glenn Thompson
  • The original build plate on Dierre Smith’s 1942 Ruston & Hornsby 17 hp Mark CR identifies it as a special “Canadian Elevator Engine.”
    Photo by Glenn Thompson
  • To aid cold starting, a plug in the cylinder head (shown) is screwed out, a piece of paper is inserted into the plug, lit, and then the plug with smoldering paper is screwed back into the cylinder head. Special paper for starting was available from the factory.
    Photo by Glenn Thompson
  • To aid cold starting, a plug in the cylinder head is screwed out, a piece of paper is inserted into the plug, lit, and then the plug (shown) with smoldering paper is screwed back into the cylinder head. Special paper for starting was available from the factory.
    Photo by Glenn Thompson
  • The Ruston & Hornsby has a number of cold starting aids including a movable roller on the exhaust rocker arm to hold the exhaust partly open and ease compression.
    Photo by Glenn Thompson
  • A lever on the fuel injector pump allows the operator to prime and pressurize the fuel before starting the engine.
    Photo by Glenn Thompson
  • A front view of the Ruston & Hornsby showing the fuel injection pump with governor and the rocker arms for the exhaust and intake valves.
    Photo by Glenn Thompson
  • Owner Dierre Smith with the Ruston & Hornsby. A large, high-compression engine, it would take two men to start it in cold weather.
    Photo by Glenn Thompson
  • A side view of the Ruston & Hornsby shows the engine’s sideshaft and main components including the oiler, which is driven off an eccentric.
    Photo by Glenn Thompson

1942 17 hp Ruston & Hornsby Mark CR

Manufacturer: Ruston and Hornsby Ltd., Grantham, Lincoln, U.K.
Year: 1942
Serial no.: 216075
Horsepower: 17 hp @ 370rpm
Bore & stroke: 7.25in x 13.5in
Flywheel dia. & width: 45in x 4in
Weight: 2,750lb
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.

Ruston, Proctor & Co.

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.


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