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Cornwall Works, BIRMINGHAM.

Size 4hp No.774 type C

(Photos lower down)

Tangye's, an old established company, were formed by five Cornish brothers to produce hydraulic jacks and lifts. They launched Brunell's SS Great Eastern and the Great Eastern launched Tangyes. Robson two-stroke were built in 1879-81 also engines by Dugald Clerk in 1885---86. Four stroke engine production started in 1891 with gas engines using Pinkneys Patent governor, which was of the inertia type. Oil engine production started in 1895 using Pinkneys patents also. Engines were designated by letters, (i.e. 'C' is 3 hp, uprated to 4hp). Early engines were converted from the gas engines by changing the cylinder heads and replacing the lubricator with an oil flask. One or two lamps were used to heat the hot tube and the vaporiser bulb, the second being put out when the engine is running. Tangye's believed there was sufficient lubrication in unburned fuel to oil the piston.

By 1906 automatic ignition was introduced in all engines and the range was also increased. This range was designated the 'O' type, the main difference is no detachable cylinder head, and the adding of cylinder lubrication.

A range of Diesel engines was made from about 1930,finishing in 1963.

The engine shown is 4hp petroleum, engine No.774, 'C' type, the original gas engine No.3549, made about 1898. The engine was originally used to generate electricity, as it was fitted with two flywheels. The engine was used in or around Marlborough, Wiltshire, England. Bought at the sale of an agricultural engineer in 1971. The engine was in a sad state, the complete hot bulb assembly was missing, no fuel flask, and very rusty. I bought the engine in 1990 from a friend, who had already found some original plans of the hot bulb.

Patterns were made of the hot bulb parts, and the castings made. Many hours were spent machining the three main parts as they are fitted together with a turnbuckle nut between them. The air bend made and fitted also. After studying prints of Tangye engines the design of the burners was decided. These are worked by having a high fuel tank about 12 feet from the ground. A fuel flask was made complete with lid and side box.

The pitting on the flywheels was so bad they had to be turned. A simple lathe was made from a large gearbox, steel channel, and an old toolpost. Almost 1/8 in was taken off to give a good finish.

At this point it was decided to try to start the engine. Wear on the cylinder and piston caused so much leakage that it was impossible to start the engine. The liner was removed and mounted on the lathe carriage and bored using a boring bar. A spun cylinder casting was turned to fit and slid in. The whole was then rebored to the size of the piston. The ring grooves were turned and new rings made to fit them. All was refitted, the engine restarted with the help of a donkey engine. Fuel settings were adjusted as the engine settled down and was run in.

The Tangye was running in 1998, its centenary year, after eight years of work.


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