Wiltshire Publications

100 year old engine runs again!

David Edgington and the Petter engine

David with the Petter engine.

A LARGE Petter stationary engine, now regarded as an important historical artefact by Industrial Heritage, has left Westbury for a new home

This new home is at Internal Fire—The Museum of Power at Tanygroes, Ceredigon, Wales, where a team of volunteer/engineers have put it back into working order with the intention of running it throughout the summer season of 2014.

The five-ton engine, built by Petter of Yeovil in 1913, was saved in 1975 by David and Doreen Edgington, who stored it for 36 years, until a good home could be found where it could be preserved for posterity.

The engine last worked in the 1950s driving machinery at a mine in Cornwall. After being ‘pensioned-off’ it was handed back to its maker and housed at a factory at Staines, Middlesex.

During the recession of the early 1970s, the warehouse had to be vacated quickly for financial reasons, putting the future of the engine in jeopardy. After being offered unsuccessfully to various appropriate institutions, even The National Science Museum, it was rendered homeless, at which point storage was offered in Westbury by David and Doreen who, at the time were co-editing The Stationary Engine Magazine, a monthly for engine preservation enthusiasts.

On Saturday 12th October a ceremony was held at the museum in Wales to commemorate the first start-up of the engine which had not previously been run since the 1950s. The centenarian started instantly, the resonating bark from the exhaust echoing across the nearby valley!

For the technical reader, the engine is of the 2-stroke, hot-bulb, or semi-diesel, type requiring a blow-lamp to heat a hot surface in the cylinder head—the hot bulb. After starting, the blow-lamp is extinguished with ignition being maintained by combustion heat retained in the vaporiser, aided by compression.