Jerry's Old Engines in South Africa Page

This is the story of the Wolseley WD9 that I have just finished.

Ist December 2004

1966 Wolseley WD9
Make: Wolseley WD9
Number: 72792
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 popular in South Africa and some were manufactured or assembled by various factories and Co-op's  as part of the South African local content programme - others were imported complete from Great Britain. The nameplate on these engines 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  Ltd),  Negwac (Natal and East Griqualand Agricultural Co-op) and Wolseley but they are all Wolseley engines. Some of our collectors prefer to call them by the name of the assembler and others prefer the Wolseley name.

     The Southern Cross AC was also believed to be a Wolseley but was in fact not a Wolseley but a copy of the Wolseley WD2 made by the Australian Southern Cross Company in their Bloemfontein factory. To the best of my knowledge the Southern Cross AC was only made in the 5 H.P. version.
Read more about the Southern Cross here.

Update - 1 October 2008.

        I managed to get the following article from Andy Selfe (thanks Andy) - originally published in issue 16 of his newsletter "Paraffinalia" (May 2002) and written by the late Udo Uhlmann who did much research into Wolseley engines in South Africa:
Udo Uhlmann from Greytown in KwaZulu Natal wrote:
    He says that Wolseleys appeared in no less than six different guises in this country, apart from the 'genuine' Wolseley. They were marketed by the big agricultural Coops under three names, Boeresake, found mainly in the Western Cape; Vetsak, mostly in the Transvaal and Freestate; and Negwag in Natal and East Griqualand. In order to get around agency agreements, three further names were attached to them, Senator was made for Malcomess in the Eastern Cape, (Mr Malcomess was a Senator!) and was painted Signal Red, and had a smooth water hopper. The Trojan was made for African Gate & Fence in Johannesburg and was painted white. He says that all five of these brands were made in England along with the 'genuine' Wolseleys,  and their serial numbers are intermingled. Udo has examples of all these models, including the air cooled engine. Parts of the Southern Cross, Wolseley copy, however, were cast here in South Africa, the engines were assembled in Bloemfontein, and were painted mid green. Rob Laurent, who's writing a book on Southern Cross engines has yet to find out whether these copies were made with or without permission from Wolseley.

    Gilbert Correia at Southern Cross (Bloemfontein) said the following:
    The AC pattern paraffin engine was last sold seventeen years ago (Ed's note. 1985). It was made almost entirely in their factory apart from the magneto, from patterns that came from Australia.
This comment prompted Rob Laurent to get in touch with Ian James, the ex-S.C. engineer now living back in Australia, who had worked in the Bloemfontein factory during the 1960s-1970s. Rob reports: He's very familiar with the Wolseley copies and said they were a completely South African venture, no connection at all with Australia. He said he's sure that Wolseley engines were used for patterns, with a couple of small modifications made to suit manufacturing processes. The castings were made by a firm called Light Castings from Boksburg, outside of Johannesburg. (A firm run by some Scottish brothers). The first of the engines were made before his time, he thinks somewhere between 1950-1955. Ian was the man who set up the Southern Cross Foundry and galvanising plant which started operating in 1968. They then took over all the work which had previously been done by Light Castings. They made many Wolseley engines during his time there, in batches of 40-50 at a time.  

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'

As a result of the popularity of these engines (as well as the Lister D and DK series) in South Africa many "newbies" to this hobby (as is the case with me) start off with one of these engines as they are still relatively easy to come by and, in fact, many are still in daily use.

    It is quite difficult to distinguish between the different types (WD8 & WD9) on a purely visual inspection due to the fact that it would appear as that our local manufacturers used whichever parts were available when needed. As a result we find later models with earlier magneto's (one of my other Wolseleys - a 1971 (click here to view it) model for instance has a Wipac/Wico magneto in spite of the fact that Wolseley changed to Lucas mags many years earlier - the previous owner had bought the engine new and assured me that the Wico mag was fitted when he bought the engine). Other parts that were commonly "mixed and matched" were the crankcase inspection cover, timing gear cover, fuel tank and brackets and the plate covering the water jacket at the front of the engine. There also seems to be a slight difference in the main casting (block) between imported and locally produced castings although I have not been able to confirm this. As a matter of interest the "front" of the engine is the side facing the cooling water tank in the above picture. The silencer, carburettor and magneto are mounted on the "back" of the engine. This is according to the Wolseley manuals.

       The Wolseley WD  range of engines has a rather illustrious ancestry as it's design was based on the Ruston & Hornsby PT and they do bear a strong likeness. I have read that Wolseley sold R&H PT's sometime in the 1930's under the Wolseley name and later acquired the rights to the PT design. I have also read that the Wolseley WD2 and the Ruston PT were identical but I also have not been able to confirm this - in fact, looking at pictures on the Internet I have seen quite a few differences, my Ruston PT looks more like a Wolseley WD1 but the magneto drive is very different.  This was the beginning of the WD series which started with the WD (sometimes called the WD1) followed by the WD2 (often mistakenly referred to as WD11 (eleven) due to the Roman Numerals used). The next was the WD8 and finally WD9.  I have no idea what happened to the numbers in between (from 3 to 7 - if anybody knows, I would love to hear from you!). The WD prefix stands for War Department as these engines were originally built to spec. for the British War Department). I am still researching the information contained in the above paragraph and make no warranties as to it's correctness or not. I would love to hear from anyone who can shed more light on this information. My eMail address is on the front page of this site.

Update 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 question 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 at least 1975. All this is difficult to confirm.

Back to my engine.

      This engine spent it's life on a farm in the Pretoria district pumping water from a borehole and sometime in the 1990's was removed and reconditioned by an engineering shop. Sadly the owner passed away before he could reinstall the engine and it ended up in the storeroom of a family member. I came across it at a local auction but the seller had an inflated idea of it's worth and it was not sold. After the auction I made him an offer which he eventually agreed to a week or so later and it moved to it's new home.

     Fortunately all the openings had been plugged up and the engine was in excellent condition with new piston, rings and bearings. Even the oil was clean. The appearance was not bad without much rust but with the typical mass produced look - rough castings - bad spray job and some quite bad dents in the fuel tank. The only real problem was that the timing gears were noisy but with help from Justin Ludewig and Neville Botha this was sorted out. It runs very well and has plenty of power.

    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!

Click here for Page 2 - a step by step account of painting this engine.