Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 163,139 pages of information and 245,599 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

North British Diesel Engine Works

From Graces Guide
1921.
1921.
1/8th scale model of MacLagan patent engine at the Scottish Maritime Museum, Irvine
1/8th scale model of MacLagan patent engine at the Scottish Maritime Museum, Irvine
1924. 1/8th scale model[1]. See text

North British (Diesel) Engine Works, 739 South Street Whiteinch, Glasgow[2].


1912 Swan, Hunter and Wigham Richardson took over Barclay, Curle and Co.

The two companies formed a new business, the North British Diesel Engine Works Ltd, Glasgow to develop the diesel capacity gained by Barclay, Curle in acquiring the North British Engine Co.

1913-14 The Works were erected and a fitting-out tidal basin was then formed.

1922 the North British Engine Co was re-registered as the North British Diesel Engine Works (1922) Ltd

1925 North British Diesel Engine Works (1922) Ltd went into voluntary liquidation, its assets being acquired by Barclay, Curle and Co Ltd.

1968 The North British Engine Works was awarded contracts for marine machinery[3]

Sliding Cylinder Engine

The company built several examples of the novel double-acting two-stroke diesel engine patented by John Campbell McColl MacLagan.

The first example, built in 1922, was a 240 BHP two-cylinder unit driving a generator on a ship.

In 1923-4 a three-cylinder engine was built, to develop 2000 BHP at 200 rpm. Cylinder bore 24.5", stroke 44". Installed in MV Swanley. See photographs of 1/8th scale model of the engine.

See The Engineer[4] [5]

Each piston had a gudgeon pin which protruded fore and aft, connected to the crankshaft by a pair of connecting rods. The piston and cylinders moved up and down in phase, but the cylinder stroke was less than that of the piston. Each cylinder had an upper and lower part, separated by a gap to accommodate the gudgeon pin. The upper and lower parts of the cylinder moved up and down as one, being connected by a pair of tie rods. An ingenious arrangement, having a pair of connecting rods attached to the gudgeon pin, working two pairs of levers, caused the cylinders to reciprocate. This system of levers can be seen in the photographs of the model, above. In the second photo, the left end of the prominent lever is connected a fixed point, while the right hand end is connected to a slender rod, whose lower end is connected to the gudgeon pin (the little end of the connecting rod is just visible).

It is very difficult to envisage the mode of operation based on a brief description, but fortunately an excellent animation and detailed description are available here and here.

These propulsion engines were fitted to three ships - Swanley, Storsten and City of Stockholm. They proved troublesome, and the ships were re-engined at the builders’ expense.

The Scottish Maritime Museum, Irvine have done valuable service to marine engineering history by putting the one-eighth scale model on display. Evidently it was not well-respected in the past, and its condition discourages close scrutiny. In fact it was built as a sophisticated working model. It was probably this model that was exhibited at the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley in 1924, on the stand of Swan, Hunter and Wigham Richardson, of which the North British Diesel Engine Co was a member. See above for 1924 photograph of the model as it was when new.

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