Ruston Hornsby CR Diesel (circa 1937)

Ruston Hornsby CR Canadian Elevator Engine

In the Spring of 2008, I was working in Saint Johns, Newfoundland when I receive a call from my buddy Andrew.  He excitedly told me about this engine that was on eBay and that for the price, it was a must for my collection.  I said I would look into it.  Well I did.  This engine was right up my alley as it would be my first side shaft, but also was not supposed to be stuck and very simply restorable.  Now, there is one thing I have learned in this hobby and that is to never trust the statement “it was working when I parked it”; but I digress.  The engine was a little over my age deadline (1929) but was the correct size for what I was interested in.  I emailed and then phoned the owner who was in Saskatchewan and got the full history.  As I like to have the background of the engines I am collecting, I was very pleased with this one as I found out the complete history as well as its former places of work.  Satisfied with this information and the fact that the seller would allow for my payment scheme, I bid and eventually won.  These are the pictures of the engine as posted on eBay.

These pictures were taken by the owner, Les Leis as the engine sat in his barn just outside of Kamsack, Saskatchewan.  The engine had been part of the family for a number of years, and had been working right up into the 1990′s.  Les and his father ran grain to and from the elevators from the early 1960′s.  Les’s father had purchased the old Federal elevator in Runnymeade SK in approximately 1975 and used it for their family farm operations.

Les makes mention that the annex by it’s self in the other pictures is what is left of the Searly Grain Elevator that the two had actually bought grain in for 9 years previous.

The engine pictured here was the second engine for the elevator. By the mid 1980′s the original Ruston developed some problems and needing what was determined to be an extensive overhaul the decision was made that it would be sold. This engine, number 52 came from the Saskcatchewan Wheat Pool elevator in Marchwell, SK to replace it. As a note, the Marchwell elevator had just be converted to electric and was shortly there after shut down.

Initially, the idea for the pickup of the Ruston engine was simple. My Fairbanks Morse Y was waiting in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and this engine was in Kamsack, Saskatchewan. Sort of a straight line between the two, with the option of other trading stops and visitations along the way. But soon a year went by and a number of times, other things got in the way of a timely pickup. A planned family trip to Ontario, with me meeting the others while picking up engines fell apart. The rest of the family still went to Ontario, but I ended up working. Of course, engine shows were still attended. That coupled with Les’s insane schedule all conspired against me obtaining my shinny new object of desire.

Suddenly, the opportune moment arose. It was a long shot; a disparate attempt to make the delivery of a sale as well as the long awaited pickup. It was the first weekend of January 2009. I had literally a weekend to make a 24 hour round trip, in the dead of winter with minus 30 degree snowy weather. This was also my first driving trip under full winter conditions with the trailer. Daunting? Yes, and the weather conspired to make my trip all the more interesting with white out driving, and sections of the trans Canada highway which were so slippery that I was lucky to make it through alive.

Initially, the idea for the pickup of the Ruston engine was simple.  My Fairbanks Morse Y was waiting in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and this engine was in Kamsack, Saskatchewan.  Sort of a straight line between the two, with the option of other trading stops and visitations along the way.  But soon a year went by and a number of times, other things got in the way of a timely pickup.  A planned family trip to Ontario, with me meeting the others while picking up engines fell apart.  The rest of the family still went to Ontario, but I ended up working.  Of course, engine shows were still attended.  That coupled with Les’s insane schedule all conspired against me obtaining my shinny new object of desire.

Suddenly, the opportune moment arose.  It was  a long shot; a disparate attempt to make the delivery of a sale as well as the long awaited  pickup.  It was the first weekend of January 2009.  I had literally a weekend to make a 24 hour round trip, in the dead of winter with minus 30 degree snowy weather.  This was also my first driving trip under full winter conditions with the trailer.  Daunting?  Yes, and the weather conspired to make my trip all the more interesting with white out driving, and sections of the trans Canada highway which were so slippery that I was lucky to make it through alive.

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Les was a great person.  I really would have liked to have spent more time with him and his wife, but unfortunately the very long day and load up was seriously taxing me.  I wanted to try and rest in Regina, but sadly only made it as far as Yorkton.

During the coffee we did have together, Les related to me the family history of the engine as well as the background of why he was not keeping it.  It seems some offers were made to museums as well as other family members and such but it eventually just worked out that it had to put it on eBay.  The engine itself had sat in cold storage in a shed for quite some time as the elevators it had sat in were demolished a few years previous.

The trip itself was long and taxing.  At some points I was the only vehicle which seemingly could stay on the road, with other light trucks, cars, and vans all in the ditch at Walsh near the Alberta / Saskatchewan border.  I even had one heart stopping moment where the trailer was determined to slide forward of me.

This trip is now a distant memory as a few months later I uncovered the trailer for the first time.  It was a long cold January and February and the best thing to do was to keep the engine in its tarped deep freeze.

With untarping the unit and storing all the pieces that came with it, I began to photograph and document the engine for my files so I could reference them when putting it all back together.

In the meanwhile I wrote “THE” Ruston historian to get ahold of any manuals available for this engine. Ray Hooley is the Ruston guy. He seemingly has the keys to the library and any information has to be obtained through him. Peter Forbes in the UK maintains Ray’s site which is full of Ruston information and resources. Click here to view the site. Ray sent copies of the manuals and I felt I was well on my way to having a running engine within a few months.

Well the description that Les gave me of the engine was great. It was in really good condition with original paint. Tons of history which I have documented here. It was also running when he stored it. That statement alone however, should have been my first clue of the impending problems which would become evedent at I began to strip it down for restoration. Les had been running the engine right up into the 1990′s and he had done alot of the maintainance on it. Les had done a great job of it too.

Below are the miscellaneous parts which came with the engine. Yes, one of the ways to start this engine when not using the pressure vessel is with the crank. Actually you place a rolled paper with a glowing ember into a special port and then crank with the decompression valve open. Many swear that this was the best way to start a Ruston from cold. Also pictures were a pair of crank end bronze bearings, a cracked set of main bearing oil slingers, as well as temperature gages and other assorted bits. Sadly the measuring iron which was provided with all Rustons from the factory (for tuning the lengths of rods and arms to exact running specifications) was not included.

The items pictured below here are the additional major support units for the functioning of the engine. The air start vessel with it’s cast iron base as well as the radiator and the day fuel tank.

Stuck
Rocking the flywheel back and forth
Pulling the piston

Cleaning the piston
Clearing out all valves, orifaces, and checking the bearings

Pulling off the bearing caps on the crankshaft connecting rod was a bit of a suprise.  The shells for the connecting rod were made of bronze, but had a babbit skin.  The babbit had a number of issues as one can see from the pictures.  It was badly scored, delaminated, and cracked.  In all it was in poor condition for any sort of restoration.  Future writings here will include the re babbiting of the connecting rod end, as well as the design and construction of the new base and display cart for the engine.

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