Ruston, Hornsby 

  Elevator Engine

Photo 17

This engine was featured in the following article: Thompson, Glenn. "Elevator Engine; A 17 hp Canadian Elevator Engine and a Brief History of Ruston, Hornsby, Ltd." Gas Engine Magazine, vol. 53, no. 2, February/March 2018, pp. 6-10.

To view detailed photos of the Ruston, Hornsby Mark CR engine, please click on RUSTON, HORNSBY ENGINE PHOTOS

Dierre Smith of Fredericksburg, Texas, is a collector of vintage engines in the Texas Hill Country west of Austin. One of his more recent acquisitions is a Ruston, Hornsby 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 of Tatum, Texas, (no relation to Dierre) purchased the engine from a gentleman in Indiana and Dierre acquired it from him in 2012. This model engine was popular as a source of power in a large grain elevator, where it probably was installed in a pit or a separate room to isolate it from dust and quite possibly was connected to a radiator to assist with cooling.

Ruston, Hornsby built the 597 cubic inch Mark CR engine from July, 1936, to June, 1943. Dierre's engine is serial number 215075; it left the factory on November 4, 1942. It has a 7.25 inch bore and a 13.5 inch stroke. The engine generates 16 horsepower at 360 rpm or 17 horsepower at the factory-rated speed of 370 rpm. 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. An engine of this size is usually started using compressed air from an auxiliary tank; however, it can be started by holding the decompression valve open, inserting a smoldering 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 & Company

Joseph Ruston was born in Cambridgeshire, England, in 1835. After serving an apprenticeship in a cutlery firm, he joined Burton & Proctor as a full partner. The firm produced a variety of agricultural machines and implements, including steam engines.

Burton left the firm in 1857. Joseph Ruston was a gifted entrepreneur and by 1889, the firm of Ruston & Proctor had established itself as a major producer of traction engines, steam rollers and locomotives. These were exported to foreign countries as well as sold domestically. Ruston & Proctor went public in 1889.

When Joseph Ruston died in 1897, his eldest son Joseph Seward Ruston assumed his position in the company. Ruston & Proctor 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.

R. Hornsby & Sons, Ltd.

Richard Hornsby was born in 1790. He was employed by Richard Seaman in 1810, and the two opened a blacksmith shop in Grantham in 1815. When Seaman retired, Hornsby established the company R. Hornsby & Sons in 1828. This firm produced agricultural machinery, steam engines and traction engines. The firm began building oil engines in 1891 when it became the sole manufacturer of an engine designed by Herbert Akroyd Stuart. This was a low compression, paraffin-fueled engine which was started by heating a hot bulb with a torch. The Hornsby-Akroyd engine was an immediate success and enjoyed sales in other countries as well as England. For example, a Hornsby-Akroyd engine powered the generator that produced electricity for lighting the Statue of Liberty.

In 1896, R. Hornsby & Sons began producing the world's first tractors and locomotives powered by oil-fueled engines. The company also built engines for submarines, light houses, radio stations, etc. In 1905, Hornsby-Akroyd built the world's first fully-tracked vehicle. The concepts for this were sold to the American Holt Tractor Company (later Caterpillar).

During World War I, Hornsby-Akroyd produced guns, ammunition and fighter aircraft—including the famous Sopwith Camel.

Ruston & Hornsby, Ltd.

Rustin & Proctor merged with R. Hornsby & Sons in 1918 to form Ruston & Hornsby, Ltd. The merged firm produced Ruston high-compression oil engines, Hornsby safety paraffin engines, gas-fueled engines, steam boilers, traction engines, road rollers, pumps, farm implements, etc. A Ruston, Hornsby automobile was introduced in 1920, but it was too expensive to compete with automobiles produced by more established firms, and it was discontinued in 1925. Likewise, a British version of the American Wallace tractor was also introduced in 1920, but only 300 were built before it was discontinued. During the 1920's, Ruston, Hornsby began to specialize in large, multi-cylinder oil engines such as those used in ships, and small, petrol/paraffin engines used on farms and in factories.

Products produced by Ruston, Hornsby were so extensive that a decision was made to diversify, and agreements were worked out with a number of other companies. For example, Ransomes, Simms & Jeffers in Ipswich produced steam engines, threshing machines and other farm implements; Barford Perkins of Peterborough and Aveling & Porter of Rochester merged to built road rollers; Ruston and Listers jointly produced small, vertical, high-speed diesel engines, and Ruston affiliated with Bucyruse Erie in Milwaukee in 1930 to produce large equipment in the United States.

In 1931, Ruston, Hornsby developed the first successful underground oil locomotive. The firm also introduced narrow-gauge railroad locomotives and later expanded to make standard gauge shunting locomotives.

During World War II, Ruston, Hornsby produced stationary engines of all sizes and engines to power boats, ships, tanks, etc. A gas turbine was developed for jet aircraft. After the war, gas turbines were produced for use in oil and gas fields.

In 1966, Ruston, Hornsby were taken over by the English Electric Company which, in turn, was taken over a few years later by the GEC Group. After that, the various divisions of the original company was split up and lost their unique identities.

Ray Hooley in Great Britain has compiled a large amount of information about the products, individuals and firms associated with the Ruston, Hornsby Companies. He can be reached at