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


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.