This is the story of the Wolseley WD9 that I have just finished.
Ist December 2004
Year of manufacture: 1966
Country of origin: Great Britain
Assembled by: Vetsak Limited, Isando, South Africa.
Owned and restored by Jerry Evans.
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The Wolseley WD and WLB range of stationary engines was very
in South Africa and some were manufactured or assembled by various
and Co-op's as part of the South African local content programme
others were imported complete from Great Britain. The nameplate on
was usually the Wolseley nameplate but the different agents or
assemblers would put their own name on the timing gear cover. As a
result we have Vetsak (Vrystaat en Transvaal Sentrale Aankoope
Kooperasie or in English, Free State and Transvaal Central Buying
Co-op.), Boeresake (another Co-op in Belville, Cape Province), Senator
(Malcomess Ltd.), Trojan (African Gate & Fence Works
Negwac (Natal and East Griqualand Agricultural Co-op) and Wolseley but
are all Wolseley engines. Some of our collectors prefer to call them by
name of the assembler and others prefer the Wolseley name.
Cross AC was also believed to be a Wolseley but was in fact not a
but a copy of the Wolseley WD2 made by the Australian Southern Cross
in their Bloemfontein factory. To the best of my knowledge the Southern
AC was only made in the 5 H.P. version.
at Southern Cross (Bloemfontein) said the following:
Now, just to complicate the issue, Derick Kleynhans from Heidelberg reports that he has a Boeresake with a smooth hopper, which was fitted from new. According to the history books, the last smooth hopper was on the WD1 range, but was abandoned in favour of the ribbed one for better cooling........ "Now isn't that something our climate would require? Very confusing to us enthusiasts!" asks Philip Gray-Taylor.
Hendrik V d Berg in Douglas has been poring over old Farmers Weeklies, and has come across an advertisement for Wolseley engines, stating that in 1963, they were 'the most sold and most popular engine in the country' Prices at that time were R132.00 for the water cooled 3HP, and R148.00 for both the 5HP water and air cooled models! Interestingly enough, the advertisement was placed by Isando Industries, who called themselves the 'Sole Agents for the Free State and Transvaal'
is quite difficult to distinguish between the different types (WD8
WD9) on a purely visual inspection due to the fact that it would appear
that our local manufacturers used whichever parts were available when
As a result we find later models with earlier magneto's (one of my
Wolseleys - a 1971 (click here to view it)
for instance has a Wipac/Wico magneto in spite of the fact that
changed to Lucas mags many years earlier - the previous owner had
the engine new and assured me that the Wico mag was fitted when he
the engine). Other parts that were commonly "mixed and matched" were
crankcase inspection cover, timing gear cover, fuel tank and brackets
the plate covering the water jacket at the front of the engine. There
seems to be a slight difference in the main casting (block) between
and locally produced castings although I have not been able to confirm
As a matter of interest the "front" of the engine is the side facing
cooling water tank in the above picture. The silencer, carburettor and
are mounted on the "back" of the engine. This is according to the
The Wolseley WD range of engines has a rather
ancestry as it's design was based on the Ruston
Hornsby PT and they do bear a strong likeness. I have read that
sold R&H PT's sometime in the 1930's under the Wolseley name and
acquired the rights to the PT design. I have also read that the
WD2 and the Ruston PT were identical but I also have not been able to
this - in fact, looking at pictures on the Internet I have seen quite a
differences, my Ruston PT looks more like a Wolseley WD1 but the
drive is very different. This was the beginning of the WD series
started with the WD (sometimes called the WD1) followed by the WD2
mistakenly referred to as WD11 (eleven) due to the Roman Numerals
The next was the WD8 and finally WD9. I have no idea what
the numbers in between (from 3 to 7 - if anybody knows, I would love to
from you!). The WD prefix stands for War Department as these engines
originally built to spec. for the British War Department). I am still
the information contained in the above paragraph and make no warranties
to it's correctness or not. I would love to hear from anyone who can
more light on this information. My eMail address is on the front page
9th March 2010 - "WD" designation:
Many South African Wolseley enthusiasts seem to (mistakenly) believe
that the "WD" prefix is derived from "Western Desert" as the first
batch of these engines was destined for delivery there during the
"Western Desert Campaign" of World war 2.
This is however
incorrect and possibly stems from David Edgingtons book, "Wolseley Stationary Engines"
in which he states:
"(in) 1942 they (Wolseley Sheep Shearing
Machine Co.) were "commanded" by the Ministry of Supply to make a batch
of small engines for the War Department to ship to the western desert,
hence the term 'WD'!"
David Edgington has
confirmed to me that the engines were built for the "War
Department" and that the "WD" designation was derived from that - the
fact that both "War Department" and "western desert" share the same
initials is probably what accounts for this misconception.
David also mentions in his book:
"For sheer silence in running the WD1 and
2 are in a class of their own thanks to the Ministry of Supply spec.
silencer which was obviously designed for war time use."
I have also heard of
this "silent running" used to justify the "western desert"
moniker (they needed quiet engines) but the above debunks that idea as
it clearly states that the silencer was built to M.O.S. specs designed
for war time use.
(My thanks to David Edgington for assistance and the use of quotes from his book "Wolseley Stationary Engines" in compiling some of the above information).
Apart from this
initial "War Department" production of the WD series in 1942 the
engines became commercially available in September 1943
and production ended in 1972 with the exception of the air cooled
version which appears
to have been manufactured as late as 1975. This information is also in
as I have seen pics on the internet showing
earlier dates and also believe
that one of our local manufacturers produced water cooled engines until
least 1975. All this is difficult to confirm.
Back to my engine.
This engine spent it's life on a farm in the Pretoria
pumping water from a borehole and sometime in the 1990's was removed
reconditioned by an engineering shop. Sadly the owner passed away
he could reinstall the engine and it ended up in the storeroom of a
member. I came across it at a local auction but the seller had an
idea of it's worth and it was not sold. After the auction I made him an
which he eventually agreed to a week or so later and it moved to it's
Another problem was that the person who rebuilt the engine must have been some sort of idiot (we do have them in South Africa). The tapered gib key in the flywheel had been hammered in so hard that the key itself was distorted (we have people here who think with their muscles instead of their heads) and appears to be cold welded to the crankshaft. Attempts to remove it made by myself and others proved unsuccessful. Had any more force been used damage to the crankshaft or flywheel could have been the result. As it is, the key snapped off just a few millimetres from the flywheel and although it could have beem spark eroded or drilled out this was just not justified. We stopped short of cutting the flywheel off with an acetylene torch! I decided to paint it with the flywheel still attached to the crankshaft - difficult but not impossible. I was concerned about the condition of the main bearing oil seal on the flywheel side but now that the engine has been re-assembled it appears that the seal is O.K. Maybe the aforementioned idiot did replace this seal before hammering the tapered key to death!
Now that I am finished with his restoration he prefers to be called "William Wolseley the Second" - I just call hin "Willy 2". He is the 2nd Wolseley I acquired and although he is older than my first Wolseley he is named in order of acquisition - not age!