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York Stationary Engines in Australia.

September 4, 2019

* This story was originally published in issue #137 of The Old Machinery Magazine and was submitted by guest author, Barry Hickson

 

   Our Club, the Moruya Antique Tractor and Machinery Association.Inc., has been awarded the guardianship of a circa 1904 York 6hp portable farm engine by the Clark family of Moruya, NSW.

   The engine is reputed to be the first petrol driven engine to come to Moruya when it was purchased secondhand by the Luck family for their dairy farm at Yarragee on the river near Moruya, in 1906.

   The engine was used to drive a peg-toothed drum thresher and winnower to process crops for stock feed. It was contracted to process crops for the various small farms in the area as well as the family’s own crops.

   The engine was used up until World War Two, and was again started in 1946, but wasn’t used again. Ray Luck, who remembered seeing it run when he was six years old in 1930, went looking for the engine in the early 1980’s. He actually found it, and rebuilt the trolley and replaced the original wooden wheels at the head end, as all the wood had rotted away. The wheels at the battery box end were steel, and were still in good condition.

   Interestingly, Ray wrote an article about his restoration for an early issue of The Old Machinery Magazine in 1988, and we were fortunate to obtain a photocopy of this, which was extremely helpful in our own restoration efforts. The engine is an ‘igniter’ model with an enclosed hit and miss mechanism covered by a cast plate which reads YORK with underneath “Pat applied for”. The patent was apparently granted in 1906. The engine starts by battery and has a decompression tap under the head. Once running, a sparker unit is pivoted against the clutch flywheel and is driven by an angled leather-covered bevel drive.

   We now have the engine running beautifully, after some time trying to work out the timing with the igniter striker, as all the igniter bits were in a box when we picked up the engine.

   When Ray Luck retired to the North Coast, he sold the engine to Steve Clark, a local solicitor who also owned a farm, and provided farmstay holidays. Steve had assembled a small private museum of various horsedrawn equipment and other old artifacts, but, sadly, he passed away at a relatively young agein early 2007, and his wife, Beverley and their daughters wanted the engine to be retained in Moruya for historic reasons, and as a memorial to Steve.

   Our club received a $1,000 Heritage grant to enable us to complete the restoration which will include replacing the mower wheels fitted by Ray, and a full repaint, etc.

   We are only aware of one other York engine in Australia which is apparently owned by the Higgins family in Victoria and which was photographed by Patrick Livingstone at the Heyfield National Rally. It appears to be a 4hp model, and has smaller flywheels and hopper than our engine. We would like to contact the owner of this engine, to be able to compare and exchange information.

   Our engine has no serial number listed on the agent’s plate; only “6hp”. No other sign of a serial number can be found elsewhere on the engine.

   Patrick Livingstone also kindly sent a photo of a restored York in America; most interestingly, the engine from Heyfield is painted in a light ‘Pea Green’ as is ours, whilst all the American engines are painted ‘Brewster Green’ which Keith Billet of Billet Industries in Pennsylvania, USA, tells us is the correct colour.

   Keith owns a number of York engines, and has been most helpful with photographs and information. If anyone has any information on the engine from Heyfield, Vic., or knows of any other York engines, please contact: editor@tomm.com.au

 

 

 

 

 

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