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The Diesel Engine in narrowboats

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Whilst much has been discussed concerning the use of semi diesel engines built by Bolinder, in Sweden, British manufacturers also provided engines of the diesel type. It is their development for use as power for narrowboats, which might  deserve further examination.

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Petter made the S model, and one is (or was) exhibited at the Waterways museum in Gloucester:

 

https://www.gracesguide.co.uk/File:Im20111218Glos-i151.jpg

 

Note the narrow boat photographed by the engine.

 

Petters:

https://www.gracesguide.co.uk/Petters

 

Some mention of Petters in this old thread:

https://www.canalworld.net/forums/index.php?/topic/45492-petter-s/

 

Gardner also made single hot bulb engines, and one is fitted in SWAN:

 

Widdop engines were fitted in some Leeds & Liverpool boats, and I'm sure Mike (Pluto) will endorse their superiority over the Bolinder!

Here's another earlier CWDF post on Widdops:

Edited to add:

https://canals-list.yahoogroups.narkive.com/yIEEJKlb/widdop-diesels

Edited by Derek R.

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Thank you for the information, Derek.

 

I understand the Hot bulb, or semi diesel, was different to the diesel engine, in that it required an external heat source, such as a blow lamp to commence the ignition cycle, whereas the diesel engine relied on ignition through compression. It is this form of internal combustion which has become such a concern through the waste gases produced.

 

Both types of engine were, in the early periods of development, adapted as stationary engines, as were the gas engines that ran on town gas.

 

I  was curious if the types of motor has been fully documented in the working boat fleets, especially noting the difference.

 

for example 

Shropshire Union Co

Adonis & Water Lily were briefly a motor boat in 1910, whilst Hoogley  fleet 709 , reg Chester 709 was a long term conversion, I believe. Had the SURCC continued, there may have been more diesel powered, or semi diesel powered craft under their control

 

Internal combustion development seemingly increased in the 1920's and several carriers adopted this form of power. Cowburn and Cowper had Seagull, Skylark, Snipe. Starling, Stork. Swallow, Swan and Swift 

 

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8 minutes ago, Heartland said:

Internal combustion development seemingly increased in the 1920's and several carriers adopted this form of power. Cowburn and Cowper had Seagull, Skylark, Snipe. Starling, Stork. Swallow, Swan and Swift

Except that none of those Cowburn and Cowpar boats are 1920s, I think.

They are 1930s builds by Yarwoods in a similar time-frame to the start of the build of masses of GUCCCo "Star" class boats.

These boats I believe had Gardner hot bulb engines, so again semi-diesels on the same principle as Bolinders, whereas the GUCCCo boats had Nationals and Russell Newberys, so proper "full" diesels, which was surely the decade when developments were moving towards more modern engines.

 

Unlike the 9HP and 15HP Bolinders, I believe those Gardners did have a reversing gearbox.

Are any of the Gardner hot bulb engines still in use in any narrow-boat?

Along with Bolinders I'm aware of Seffles and Petters, but I'm not sure about other makes of hot bulb engines.  I know that Mike the Boilerman's "Reginald" briefly had a Skandia, but what its fate was I'm not sure.

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Thanks Alan,

 

Yes all the C & C were 1930's and it is of use to note that the GUCCC were keen to use Diesels

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This is the first diesel to be installed in a boat - it was trialled on the L&LC in 1905. It was a standard design made by Sulzer, and not a marine version, the need for which becoming obvious after the trial. The engine was removed from the boat and reinstalled at Finsley Gate workshops to drive the sawmill, as seen in the photo. The full details of this pioneering use of diesel power can be found in my article in the Autumn 2016 edition of Narrowboat.

Finsley Gate diesel.jpg

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Should any one wish to see an early Sulzer running, then the Internal Fire museum in Wales is well worth a visit.  Theirs runs daily.

There were not only town gas engines but also producer gas engines.  From National, and Crossley among others they had their own gas producing plant (Crudely a coke fire through which syeam was passed) so could be installed where no town gas plant was handy.  I believe one at least of the FMC steamers was so fitted.

 

The trigger to cold starting diesels rather than the Ackroyd  semi- diesels was the development by Robert Bosch of the solid injection pump. He was German and during and after WW1 companies liks CAV were able to develop similar pumping arrangements.  This produced demand for mobile CI engines which developed Diesel Technology and in some cases were the basis of the small marine engine.  As a rezult most successful early small diesel engine designs date from the late 1920's and early 30's.  Names like Gardner, Petter, Kelvin all introduced Diesel engines in this timeframe, to complement earlier designs of petrol engine.  Firms like Ruston and Fowler went from steam to Diesel.

 

The internal Combustion Engine by Harry Ricardo is a good read,  if a bit technical in places, as is the Caxton Press book High Speed Oil Engines. In 3 volumes.  The Ricardo Book is on the web, but you will have to look for the Caxton book in hard copy AFAIK.

N

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1 hour ago, Heartland said:

Thanks Alan,

 

Yes all the C & C were 1930's and it is of use to note that the GUCCC were keen to use Diesels

Although some of the Royalty boats had semi diesels.

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"Petter made the S model, and one is (or was) exhibited at the Waterways museum in Gloucester:

 

https://www.gracesguide.co.uk/File:Im20111218Glos-i151.jpg"  Post 3

 

If  this is the engine out of "Oak" that was at the museum it was given by Dad and was from Charlie Ballinger's boat "Olive"

 

He was good at giving away engines he also gave a 9hp Bolinder to the Boat museum, I remember it on two railway sleepers

dancing up and down the drive when he ran it

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Alan asks: " Are any of the Gardner hot bulb engines still in use in any narrow-boat?" I think just SWAN, post #3 above.

 

Doesn't GEORGE still have a Kromhout?

 

RN, National, Lister - all fitted during the thirties. I was told ages ago that BW in seeking to replace worn out Nationals, took the opportunity to avail hemselves of ex-government stock of the Petter, mostly PD2 - the 'Chip fryer'. The one that got fitted to YARMOUTH in the eighties came from a former ships lifeboat, from a breakers somewhere in East Anglia. Others may have been sourced from ex-landing craft post WWII.

 

Speaking of engines bouncing around:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AG1MnXkHhlM

 

The Third attempt, which follows on that clip, sees it running very well. It has a clutch and reversing gearbox, so must clealty been intended for a boat, most likely a fishing boat of sorts.


 

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The Seffle from my ex boat "Lily" is in Jem Bates boa "Severn" Mr owl had a similar motor up to fitting his Scottish lump dont know what other boats if any have the 25HP gearbox model there are several 9HP Seffle's both in bots& on the bank for sale Norbury had a 9for sale

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1 hour ago, Derek R. said:

Alan asks: " Are any of the Gardner hot bulb engines still in use in any narrow-boat?" I think just SWAN, post #3 above.

 

Doesn't GEORGE still have a Kromhout?

 

RN, National, Lister - all fitted during the thirties. I was told ages ago that BW in seeking to replace worn out Nationals, took the opportunity to avail hemselves of ex-government stock of the Petter, mostly PD2 - the 'Chip fryer'. The one that got fitted to YARMOUTH in the eighties came from a former ships lifeboat, from a breakers somewhere in East Anglia. Others may have been sourced from ex-landing craft post WWII.

 

Speaking of engines bouncing around:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AG1MnXkHhlM

 

The Third attempt, which follows on that clip, sees it running very well. It has a clutch and reversing gearbox, so must clealty been intended for a boat, most likely a fishing boat of sorts.


 

George has a 20HP Bolinder, which unlike most of the 9HP and 15HP ones has a reversing gerabx fitted.

Minnow, I think has a 15HP, (could be wriong), unusual I think in that it also has a reversing gearbox.

 

Severn certainly has a Seffle.

Crane, (one of my favourtite Joshers) unusually has a Petter - see here....
 

 

 

I'm not aware of any Kromhouts in historic narrow boats, but there is a massive Kromhout M1 in new build narrow boat Sonantis.

 

 

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On 10/02/2019 at 10:21, Heartland said:

Whilst much has been discussed concerning the use of semi diesel engines built by Bolinder, in Sweden, British manufacturers also provided engines of the diesel type. It is their development for use as power for narrowboats, which might  deserve further examination.

If you have an interest in engines used in Narrowboats, may I suggest that you try and precure a copy of this book by Kevin Whittle

 

image.png.6f847d221733f7f0aad37cce883233bf.png

 

I am  not sure whether copies are still available but you could try contacting  Kevin. Last known address :- 1 Sytch Lane, Waters Upton, Shropshire, TF6 6NT.   Last known email address :- [email protected]

 

 

 

 

Edited by David Schweizer

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1 hour ago, Derek R. said:

Alan asks: " Are any of the Gardner hot bulb engines still in use in any narrow-boat?" I think just SWAN, post #3 above.

 

Doesn't GEORGE still have a Kromhout?

 

RN, National, Lister - all fitted during the thirties. I was told ages ago that BW in seeking to replace worn out Nationals, took the opportunity to avail hemselves of ex-government stock of the Petter, mostly PD2 - the 'Chip fryer'. The one that got fitted to YARMOUTH in the eighties came from a former ships lifeboat, from a breakers somewhere in East Anglia. Others may have been sourced from ex-landing craft post WWII.

 

Speaking of engines bouncing around:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AG1MnXkHhlM

 

The Third attempt, which follows on that clip, sees it running very well. It has a clutch and reversing gearbox, so must clealty been intended for a boat, most likely a fishing boat of sorts.


 

I thought Skylark had a Gardner semi diesel in there. Maybe its been replaced. I've got a lovely memory of Skylark motoring up the Thames at Staines against red boards conditions in 1994.

It had no trouble at all. Swam like a fish. That was a while ago so maybe it has lost the engine in the meantime. 

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A publication from the Boat Museum Society, and dated fairly recently in 2015, suggests that three of the boats, Skylark, Stork and Swan have all retained Gardners.

 

However, I must be quite unobservant because I have seen two of those boats quite regularly, and can't say I have been aware of single cylinder hot bulb engines!

 

 

Edited by alan_fincher

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This is Skylark's Gardner 4VT

 

 

And here is Swsan's being a bit more reluctant to start!

 

 

And finally Stork on the move......
 

 

Edited by alan_fincher

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10 hours ago, alan_fincher said:

Except that none of those Cowburn and Cowpar boats are 1920s, I think.

They are 1930s builds by Yarwoods in a similar time-frame to the start of the build of masses of GUCCCo "Star" class boats.

These boats I believe had Gardner hot bulb engines, so again semi-diesels on the same principle as Bolinders, whereas the GUCCCo boats had Nationals and Russell Newberys, so proper "full" diesels, which was surely the decade when developments were moving towards more modern engines.

 

Unlike the 9HP and 15HP Bolinders, I believe those Gardners did have a reversing gearbox.

Are any of the Gardner hot bulb engines still in use in any narrow-boat?

Along with Bolinders I'm aware of Seffles and Petters, but I'm not sure about other makes of hot bulb engines.  I know that Mike the Boilerman's "Reginald" briefly had a Skandia, but what its fate was I'm not sure.

Kromhout m1 were used to, but seamed to have all be replaced, i beleive these were british engines.

 

I think 2 early gu boats had one

and the tunnel tug worcester had a twin but not sure if this was diesel?

 

Edited by billybobbooth

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reference minnow above has a 9hp bolly, along with clent.

 

there is petter in finch (Tony will kill me if I've got it wrong the times ive looked at it at his)

 

There are a few others about as i think a few of the big barges at the port have some semi diesels in but I've never seen them running.

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Regarding Kromhout, though an Amsterdam manufacturer, there were engines built under licence by British builders, presumably the three supplied to the Associated Canal Carriers motors were British built (Duke, Victoria & William),

 

Regarding the other ACC motors ( apart from George and the earlier wooden motors), have the original engines for Prince, Edward and Henry been recorded. 

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