Ronaldson Bros. & Tippet 1 1/2 H.P. / Alfa Laval Seperator Engine.
This is the story of my Ronaldson Bros & Tippet Model N engine.
The restoration - this page will be updated as it happens!
For those who do not want to read the story just click on the links to the pics that are scattered in the text. When I have a bit more time I will also put all the pics as thumbnails at the bottom but for tonight I am too tired and need to get to bed and get my "beauty sleep".
It all started in early 2005 when I wrote to the SEL
(Stationary Engine List) and Old Engine List that I would like to get
an Australian made engine to add to my collection.
The brief was simple:
1) I was not looking for a "rare" or "exotic" engine - I am not blessed with an unlimited budget. All I wanted was a popular Australian made engine, something that, although common in Australia would be unusual in South Africa.
2) It had to be complete as parts would be hard to come by in S.A..
3) The size I had in mind was not bigger than about 3 H.P.
Well on the 3 Aug 2005 I received a mail from Reg Ingold asking"Do you have Ronaldson & Tippet "N" engines there?"
A few quick telephone calls later and I had established that someone "thought" that there was a 7 or 8 H.P. R&T in the Cape Province (about 800 miles away) and a big diesel one somewhere in the north. Apart from that most of my friends had never heard the name. My answer to Reg was "No", we did not have them.
Things progressed from there and Reg found me this beautiful little 1 1/2 H.P. "Alfa Laval" badged Ronnie N.
Click here to see the first pic that Reg sent me.
Of course you Aussies know all about these engines but for the others let me explain. The Ronaldson & Tippet Model N was built by (surprise) Ronaldson Bros. & Tippet of Ballarat in Australia. I imagine it to be Australia's equivalent of the Lister "D" - an excellent and reliable engine with a multitude of uses and with a very long production run. It was rebadged with many names (68 I believe) including International Harvester "Ideal", "Cooper" and of course "Alfa Laval". (The Alfa Laval Company was known as De Laval in North America but did not use this engine on their cream seperators over there.)
From correspondence with list members I have established that the 1 1/2 H.P. was only made in limited quantities early in the production history and is fairly popular with collectors due to this fact. There were many larger models (2,3 & 4 H.P.) made but the 1 1/2 seems a bit harder to come by. Aussies, if I've got any facts wrong please feel free to correct me. It is, after all, your engine - on loan to South Africa.
Thank you Reg for finding me such a nice little engine.
I spent a good few months trying to get the engine over to South Africa as cheaply as possible but in the end just contacted a local Freight Forwarding company and let them handle the whole thing. This turned out to be the best method in the end because, although it was a bit on the expensive side, they handled all the paperwork including import permits, taxes, clearances etc. Nothing like letting the experts handle everything. The whole process was actually quite painless (apart from the serious dent in my wallet) and I collected the engine from their depot on the 16th January 2006. I think that it was collected from Reg at the beginning of December. Here is a pic of Reg saying goodbye to the engine :-). Is that a sad look on his face or is he happy to get the space back in his workshop? It shipped from Sydney Australia and went via Singapore and Maylaysia (thank goodness there was not a Tsunami this year) to Durban (South Africa) and from there by road to Johannesburg where I collected it. (As an aside, a parcel of engine parts posted to me from Pennsylvania early in November only reached me about 3 weeks later).
Click her to see my first sighting of the engine - still on the back of the truck that brought it from Durban and the forklift loading him onto my pickup
When I got it home that night I tinkered a bit, blocked the bottom water pipe and filled the water jacket with water and soon had it running still in its packing crate (It is running in the pic - the flash photo just froze the movement). We then stopped it and connected a hose for cooling water and ran it for about an hour or two while I celebrated with "Brandy and Coke" and drank many toasts to Reg. Anyway all good things must come to an end and it eventually lost spark and we packed up for the night. The next day my friends Neville Botha and Justin Ludewig came around and established that the steel springplate holding the points was stretched and touched the magneto casing causing the loss of spark. We put a temporary strip of plastic between it and the body and all was well again.
I rigged up a temporary water tank and took him to his first South African show the following weekend - still in his packing crate with all the shipping labels in place and although I just got him to "fire up" he would not run - the modern plastic I had put in as a temporary insulator had worn away. In spite of this he attracted much attention and viewers made all the right "Oooooh's" and Aaaaaah's".
I had wanted to start work on him at that time but due to pressures of work was not able to do so until this weekend (4 March 2006). As Norman Spykerman says, "It's terrible when your job interferes with your hobby".
My daughter and I had an "Executive Meeting" soon after he arrived and between toasts to Reg and the engine I decided to name him "Reginald" in honour of "you know who" so in future he will be called Reginald. Arnie Fero replied that, if I was going to call him "Reggie" then I should expect him to misbehave - he must know something that I do not!
4 March 2006:
Well I eventually started last night but that was only to drain the oil and take the spec plate off. I'm doing a run of brass spec plates and thought I'd include a new one for him. The "bumpy" bubbles on the pic are just bubbles in the expired "rattle can" varnish that I coated it with to stop it from tarnishing until I have time to work on it. I like the effect of the brass letters and frame on a copper background but do not know if I can duplicate this (I used a different etch solution this time.)
5 March 2006:
I stripped him down - damn, those Aussies sure know how to put pulleys on tight ! Here is the pulley, flywheel and crankcase cover off and then the piston, head an barrel off and a pic of the back of the flywheel showing hammer marks from a previous removal (they're under the green paint!). I'll get Justin Ludewig to skim it on his lathe.
Tomorrow I'll make and fit "Perspex" sealing covers for all the openings taking him to the local sandblasters. The engine is in excllent condition so this will be a very easy "restoration" - pretty much just a good paint job and a few little "extra touches". The "Alfa Laval" engine was originally black with grey flywheel "rims" and a gold "Alfa Laval" logo on the side of the barrel (cylinder) and I plan on restoring him to this - at present he has been painted green but the original black is showing through.
6 & 7 March 2006:
No work on the engine. It's a bugger when your job interferes with your hobby!
8 March 2006:
I worked in the evening with some assistance from my son - cleaned the outside and inside of the engine. Our degreasers are no match for that old Aussie oil. I used various degreasers (undiluted), petrol, a paste made from Surf (a high quality washing powder) which is painted on thick, left to dry and then washed off with water and a brush. It usually works better than any degreaser but this was its first time against the Aussie oil :-).
I eventually got it accepteably clean and we reassembled the engine with silicone gaskets and made various plugs and plates to keep the sand out of the engine and off the machined surfaces.
9 March 2006:
Dropped the engine and some parts from a Ransomes "Moon" corn sheller off at the sandblasters. They were busy and could only do it the following day. In the evening I polished up the brass governor lever (which was very rough and had been painted) and started to smooth and polish the brass carburettor - this will take a while to finish as it was never originally polished - the brass casting was just left rough - the pic shows how far I am now.
10 March 2006:
Collected the sandblasted parts late today. The casting looks quite good but does have a fair amount of "cleaning up"
and grinding to do. I discovered a bunch of holes in the bottom of the petrol tank but will just solder these closed and look for something to seal the inside of the tank. There is also a previous repair visible but these are all on the bottom of the tank and not visible in normal use. I wish we had Red-Kote available in South Africa. You guys overseas have all the really useful products readily available to you. Tonight I will solder the holes in the tank and put some red oxide primer onto the corn sheller parts. I'll also spread some filler onto the engine to fill the many small pitmarks. This will be ground off later to just leave the pitmarks filled.
11 to 25 March 2006:
Damn I have not touched the engine - work has kept me busy.
26 March 2006:
Got going again - but just for today (Sunday), I've got work to do again tomorrow but treated myself to a day off today to get some work done on the engine. I'm off to a big "Do" at Sandstone Heritage in 10 days and would really like to take this engine with but cannot see myself finding the time to get it completed.
I ground off the filler with a "flapwheel" and spent a few hours with a pneumatic die grinder (pencil grinder) smoothing off the castings and giving them some "definition". The castings were worse than I had originally thought and very rough, especially in the "nooks and crannies" hence a few hours with the die grinder.
Thereafter I masked everything in readiness for the first coat of primer. I have a sign business and use offcuts of signmakers vinyl for masking and it works very well. I applied primer and its looking good - I can also see which parts need a bit more attention. Here is the crankcase and the barrel.
That is as far as I am now (11.20 PM - 26 March 2006). I'll just get this uploaded and then off to bed.
The saga will continue !!
31 March 2006.
Good News - Reggies new Hopper arrives.
No work since last Sunday but I had good news today. Douggie Kriel, a friend of mine, who has a sheetmetal shop has been busy making me a hopper for the engine. He brought it over today and I'm very happy with it. He has fabricated it from 3mm Stainless steel and it is welded inside and outside. The brief here was to get it to look as close to the original cast Ronnie hopper as possible and this meant radiused corners all round. Douggie actually built a special bending brake to do this . It uses a 20 Tonne hydraulic jack to apply the force to a 32mm round bar which bends the metal into a normal "Vee" block. The result is exactly as I wanted it - it's good to have friends like this. Here is a pic of Douggie with the hopper and another just of the hopper. I still have to grind everything smooth but that's the easy part.
Thanks also to all my Aussie friends on the lists who answered earlier calls for sizes etc. of the hoppers. I received many replies and eventually used sizes supplied by Steve Kitto ( 17" x 8" x 7"). Thanks to you all.
The other good news today is that Justin Ludewig has finished skimming the flywheel and I'm going over to him later today when he will fit the con rod and make sure that all is well there as well as check out the oil seals. The crank has a bit of a groove where the oil seal runs and we want to see what we can do about this - maybe replace the seals with a metric size as he did on my Ruston & Hornsby PT as Imperial sizes are very hard to come by here.
Update - 10 April 2006
Reggies first South African show (after restoration).
I took a few days off and worked on "Reggie" and pics will follow but to "cut a long story short" - I finished assembling him at 3:00 am on Thursday 6th April 2006 - a few hours before I was due to leave for Sandstone. I just made a rough cart for him from "oregon pine (sp.?)" which will have to be replaced with an Australian timber soon, and a set of wheels from one of my other engines. I mean "rough" - I did not even have time to sandpaper and varnish the wood. I sent Reg Ingold 2 "sneak preview" pictures (preview 1) and (preview2) and went to bed. The following morning I fitted the "rough" trolley, loaded and left for Sandstone.
Here are a few pics of him on display at The Sandstone Heritage Trust's Cosmos Festival.
(Pic 1) (Pic 2) (Pic 3) (Pic 4)
There will be picture links here soon!!
(for now please use those links scattered in the text - there is a pic behind each one)
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