Author Topic: Suction Gas Engine  (Read 3063 times)

Rob Cook

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Suction Gas Engine
« on: 25 April, 2018, 05:18:28 pm »
I am from Paynesville on the Gippsland Lakes and about 1903 to 1937 the ice making plant at the local fish co-op was driven by a big engine which locals referred to as the suction gas engine and it ran on charcoal.
For our local museum I am trying to find more about the likely type and (hopefully) a guide as to what make it might have been.
To fuel the engine the operator would climb up a ladder and tip a bag of charcoal into the hopper and then (magically) the engine could run. Sorry but that is their description.
The engine itself is described as having a horizontal cylinder and a very big flywheel that they had to break up when removing it for scrap.
Any help would be appreciated as we are trying hard to properly document the history of the town and the ice works was a major component.
Just in case anyone knows of a similar installation the engine drove an ammonia compressor/pump and the  pump used in1960 when electrically driven was a Warner, but it might not have been the original pump.
If nothing else can someone clarify the term "suction gas" engine? Does it mean internal combustion or a hot air engine?
Rob

tractorfan

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Re: Suction Gas Engine
« Reply #1 on: 25 April, 2018, 06:15:51 pm »
Rob,

I'm far from an engine expert, although I would have said it was an IC engine running on gas. My grandfather used to tend a suction gas engine in the 30's that provided irrigation water to a large orchard. I do remember driving to Mildura once from down South, and seeing one in a public park along the way, although not far from Mildura.

I *think* only the larger, mostly British manufactures made the engines that were used in Australia; ie, Hornsby, Tangye, Crossley etc. and that there were a few in use in Australia at one stage.

Kim S

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Re: Suction Gas Engine
« Reply #2 on: 25 April, 2018, 06:48:27 pm »
Hello Rob, a suction gas engine is certainly a I C engine, what type is hard to say? the most common were Hornsbys in Aus, Crossley used I think? the Dowson gas plant early on then moved onto the more conventional suction gas plants later?, could also have been a number of other engines more than likely of English manufacture, perhaps asking the holders of the engine records of Hornsby and so on if there was a engine sold to the business in question?


Rob Cook

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Re: Suction Gas Engine
« Reply #4 on: 26 April, 2018, 10:49:11 am »
Thanks for the pointers.

I downloaded the attached suction gas from Crossley as a sample and showed it to the old guys this morning and they say that it was something like that.

Now to try and refine it by finding more information on Crossley and then look for other options. I don't think we will ever be able to definitively say the brand and size but at least we can leave good information for future generations.

Next direction is to try to track down Warner or Werner ammonia pumps.

Rob

winnock

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Re: Suction Gas Engine
« Reply #5 on: 26 April, 2018, 02:56:07 pm »
Very few examples of suction gas engines and their gas plants still exist. One can be seen at Chewton Vic. I remember seeing this gold sluicing plant operating. A large stockpile of wood was always stacked behind the rail line behind the producer. The engine was a Hornsby, or may be a Ruston Hornsby, double cylinder ? that is two separate single cylinder bedplates lined up for a common crankshaft. Low tension ignition.  150 BHP I think. The photos were taken in 2009 and I have not been back since.  There is also a gas producer plant in the old Murtoa Freezing Works where the original Hornsby engines are preserved. 
Hugh
Diesel fuel injection equipment & vintage windmills.

winnock

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Re: Suction Gas Engine
« Reply #6 on: 26 April, 2018, 02:57:53 pm »
More pictures.
Hugh
Diesel fuel injection equipment & vintage windmills.

Kim S

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Re: Suction Gas Engine
« Reply #7 on: 26 April, 2018, 04:06:28 pm »
Interesting to know a few are still around Hugh, there were many in Sydney years ago in factories ,now long gone. You would think why they used them in the city with mains gas available, it was just the mains couldn't keep up with the necessary volume to run the bigger engines, a pic of  Shearers factory engine SA, appears to be a Hornsby with the producer and the compressor starting engine and a Cooper advert.

cobbadog

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Re: Suction Gas Engine
« Reply #8 on: 26 April, 2018, 04:10:00 pm »
There was a story about one of these ammonia plants being taken apart and moved in an old TOMM a few years back. Everything was big and heavy and very interesting as to how it worked. Sorry I don't have a clue how far back the story was.
Cheers, John & Dee. Coopernook. NSW.

Scott

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Re: Suction Gas Engine
« Reply #9 on: 27 April, 2018, 07:13:30 am »
Was that the story about the Nanango Butter Factory Cobba?

Cheers Scott

cobbadog

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Re: Suction Gas Engine
« Reply #10 on: 27 April, 2018, 02:22:04 pm »
I think it was Scotty.
Cheers, John & Dee. Coopernook. NSW.

Rob Cook

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Re: Suction Gas Engine
« Reply #11 on: 07 May, 2018, 09:57:01 am »
Thanks to all for the inputs thus far.
We have now located the original compressor that was attached to the engine (an Australian made Werner) and from there have found Werner selling refrigeration units in 1909 that used a Ruston suction gas system and engine.
As our iceworks was established around 1903 it is a reasonable direction to proceed to try to find a register of Ruston systems and see if we can identify those sold to Werner and (holy grail) a notation that Paynesville Iceworks (Christian Gronheit was the owner) was the customer.
A lot more optimistic than when I started on this project, now to take a deep breath and go look for Ruston information.

Rob

Kim S

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Re: Suction Gas Engine
« Reply #12 on: 07 May, 2018, 10:30:56 am »
Also Keep in mind Werner units were supplied by sub agents at the time,  J S Corden  & Co PTY LTD were one of the more prominent ones and appear to have supplied a number of Crossley suction gas engines to customers.