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British Industrial History

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Oswald Wans

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1951.

Oswald Wans (1879-1951) of Ruston, Proctor and Co


1951 Obituary [1]

"OSWALD WANS, whose death occurred on 2nd February 1951 at the age of seventy-one, was formerly chief engineer and technical director of Messrs. Ruston and Hornsby, Ltd., Lincoln. He had an exceptional career as a designer of oil engines and was one of the few remaining engineers whose experience covered practically the whole field of development of the industrial oil engine, towards the evolution of which he made many notable contributions. He was educated at Banff Academy and Dulwich College and began to serve a three-years apprenticeship with Messrs. Bryan Donkin and Company in 1897.

After gaining experience in the drawing office of the Sturtevant Engineering Company, Ltd., and with the Simms Manufacturing Co, Kilburn, he went to India in 1904, where he was first employed as junior draughtsman and later as chief assistant mechanical engineer to Messrs. Burns and Company, Ltd., Calcutta.

Shortly after his return to Great Britain in 1896 he received an appointment as leading draughtsman to Messrs. J. I. Thornycroft and Company, Ltd., for which he was chiefly concerned with experimental work on oil engines for industrial purposes and for the propulsion of submarines. He left that firm at the end of 1909 and in the following year became head of the oil-engine department of Messrs. Ruston, Proctor and Company (now Messrs. Ruston and Hornsby), Lincoln. There he soon concentrated on the development of cold-starting engines with airless injection, in direct succession from the design covered by the original Akroyd Stuart patents.

He had previously decided to this to adopt the high compression engine and as the result of exhaustive tests in the experimental department, which he had established at Lincoln, he was successful within a short time in raising the compression pressure from 280 to 500 lb. per sq. in. The innovations in oil-engine design for which Mr. Wans was responsible were numerous, many of them having become standard practice. In 1918 he developed a duplex oil-pump and an atomizer for dealing with tar oils. In the following year he brought out his first vertical oil-engine, a unit of 400 b.h.p. running at 250 r.p.m., which led to considerable developments in electric power generation, the first vertical high-compression airless-injection engine being installed by him at Maidenhead in 1922. An important extension of the capabilities of this prime mover was its adoption for marine work and particularly for the propulsion of fishing craft in which they have been fitted extensively.

In 1926 he installed four engines of 250 h.p., running at 300 r.p.m. in the motor vessel Dunster Grange and eventually designed and produced marine engines of the four-cycle type up to 2,400 b.h.p. He then turned his attention to pressure charging, the first Ruston engine of this type being set to work in the power station of the firm's works at Grantham in 1928. Chain drive for camshafts, and oil-operated reverse gear, were also introduced by him at about this time. Some three or four years later he broke fresh ground and devoted much energy to the development of oil-engined locomotives for shunting and mine haulage, these latter being fully flameproof. More recently he was impressed with the possibilities of the gas turbine as a prime mover for industrial, rail, and marine work, and to this end caused a gas-turbine research unit to be set up at Lincoln.

Mr. Wans had a long association with the Institution dating back to 1898 when he was elected a Graduate. He was transferred to Associate Membership in 1905 and to Membership in 1914. He was the author of two papers, the first of which, "Comparison of the Working Cost of the Principal Prime Movers", he presented in 1917, and the other on "Suction Gas from Waste Products" in 1935. He contributed a number of papers to technical and engineering societies and in 1931 delivered the third Akroyd Stuart Lecture at Nottingham University on "The Development of Heavy-oil Engines". He was also a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers and a past-president of the Lincoln Engineering Society. In addition he served as chairman of the British Internal Combustion Engine Research Association from 1945 to 1948. Mr. Wans became technical manager of Messrs. Ruston and Hornsby in 1918, chief engineer in 1930, and technical director in 1937. He retired from the executive position of chief engineer in 1949, continuing, however, to hold office as a director until his death."


1951 Obituary [2]

WE have learned with deep regret of the death of Oswald Wans, who was born on November 17th, 1879, received his education at Dulwich College and served an apprenticeship at Bryan Donkin and Co., Ltd. Following this he added to his engineering experience by service with a number of firms, including Sturtevant Engineering Company, Ltd., Simms Manufacturing Company, Burns and Co., and John I. Thornycroft, Ltd., before joining Ruston, Proctor and Co., Ltd., in 1910..."More


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