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Why People Collect and Restore Ronaldson Tippett Stationary Engines

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I have always had a love of machinery: wheels connecting to rods, pulleys connected to shafts, engines connected to wheels.

Ronaldson Brothers and Tippett

Ronaldson Brothers and Tippett was an Australian company that created everything concerned with engineering and construction—from cast iron gadgets to engines. They manufactured stationary engines for farm use—corn crushing, chaff cutting, log sawing—as well as tractors. They were one of the more renowned engineering companies in the world during the early 1900s. Their engines were innovative, sturdy, and reliable.

The Fascinating Look and Sound of Old Engines

Why do collectors love these Ronaldson Tippet engines? I can answer for only one enthusiast: myself.

I was at a local showground, My curiosity awoke when I heard the pop-pop-pop sound of a stationary engine that suddenly went silent. This silence was followed by the sound of the engine still turning but slowing. Suddenly, without warning, pop-pop-pop-pop-pop, the engine roared into life again.

Of course, this was many years ago when I was just a lad. But curiosity grabbed hold of me that day. I went to take a look at this machine. The machine had a massive heavy flywheel. For the uninitiated, a flywheel is basically a heavy wheel that spins and carries the spinning momentum of an engine.

At the time (I was probably about 12 years old), the old fellow that owned the engine explained to me: "If you are on your trolly cart and want to stop, you put your foot on the ground, and you grind to a halt."

"Yes," I said.

"What would happen if you had two fat friends on the cart with you?"

I think this question was the best question I have ever been asked.

This "Hit and Miss" engine had a contraption on the side that was basically three steel balls spinning on a hinge. And like a ball on a string, the faster it went round, the higher the ball went. If you slowed down the balls dropped to the ground.
I was fascinated by this contraption. As the balls got to a low point, they clicked a lever. MAGIC! Pop-pop-pop until the balls hit the high spot.

Just like me on my bicycle. I could stop pedalling and coast for a while. When I got too slow, I started pedalling again.

Innovative and Technologically Unusual Engines

Ronaldson Brothers and Tippett were known for creating innovative and technologically unusual engines such as the Type N and the Type CF Vertical. But while the likes of Type N marked the company for greatness, one particular engine helped start the engineering revolution: the Ronaldson and Tippett Austral kerosene engine.

Ronaldson & Tippett Austral Kerosene Engine No. 2502 –

Ronaldson & Tippett Austral Kerosene Engine No. 2502 –

The Ronaldson Tippett Austral

The Austral is a label given to some earlier Ronaldson and Tippett engines of the line that later came to be called Type N. As one of the significant manufacturers of engines at that time, Ronaldson-Tippett sold these engines to other companies for their use, giving them different names. The earlier Type N models were called the Austral, a kerosene engine that has the trademark characteristics of the usual Ronaldson and Tippett engines; rugged, reliable, robust, and versatile.

It is difficult to imagine how much work has gone into restoring these engines, this photo shows a load of parts arriving from somewhere, and I can only presume they are for Engine No. 2502.

It is difficult to imagine how much work has gone into restoring these engines, this photo shows a load of parts arriving from somewhere, and I can only presume they are for Engine No. 2502.

Ronaldson-Tippett Type N.  Petrol/kero three hp 900 rpm.

Ronaldson-Tippett Type N. Petrol/kero three hp 900 rpm.

The Ronaldson Tippett Type N

The engine that catapulted Ronaldson Tippett them into fame and made them one of the world's most significant engine makers was the Type N, an update of the Austral. It was considered to be among the more reliable engines at that point, rugged and durable.

Like some of the company's later engines, the Type N is a tank-cooled engine which was made in both kerosene and petrol models. Its horsepower varies from the modest two to the impressive four. It had a combined intake and exhaust manifold—a first during the time.

Ronaldson-Tippett Type CF Vertical Diesel (4 hp 600 rpm)

Ronaldson-Tippett Type CF Vertical Diesel (4 hp 600 rpm)

Ronaldson Tippett Type CF Vertical Diesel – 4 hp 600 rpm

The Ronaldson Tippett Type CF Vertical is a four-horsepower, 600 rpm engine that looks pretty much what how its name describes it—vertical and imposing. Its look makes it a famous collector's item for steam engine enthusiasts.

Ronaldson Tippet “Lightning” cement mixer engine. Four-stroke water cooled.  Owned by Arthur Timms, Gladstone.

Ronaldson Tippet “Lightning” cement mixer engine. Four-stroke water cooled. Owned by Arthur Timms, Gladstone.

Ronaldson Tippet "Lightning"

Hundreds of these engines were produced during World War II. These engines were given different names for the different applications they were used for. This one, called “Lightning," was used in a cement mixer. There were 68 other names.

Ronaldson-Tippett Type CH Diesel Engine

Ronaldson-Tippett Type CH Diesel Engine

Type CH Diesel engine

The Ronaldson Tippett Type CH diesel engine was one of the later productions of the Australian company. It has that classic rugged feel, as well as the robust reliability expected for most of the company’s productions. But since it was a later production, it has that sleeker look that reflects the trends of the time.

Technically speaking, there are also some differences from other Ronaldson Tippett engines—which is, of course, only expected. For instance, the cylinder head of this model is different (it has a conical shape, which is beneficial since it increases the engine’s compression ratio). It has an inch-long combustion chamber and a massive flywheel. Of course, the most significant change is that this model is a diesel engine (the previous ones had been kerosene and petrol).

From the Type N and the Austral engine to the later Ronaldson Tippett Type CH diesel engine—the Ronaldson Tippett company had proven itself worthy of the label as an industry pioneer.

Stationary Engines in Action

© 2020 Pat Davis