The idea to build an internal combustion engine was founded during the Christmas holidays of 1901 when Sir Harry and his cousin Ralph attended a series of lectures given by Sir Dugald Clerk at the Royal Institute in London. Through the many discussions, they became interested in the concept of stratified charge; resolving to put these theories into practice in creating their own petrol engine based on this principal.
They built the engine in stages during the school holidays between 1901 and 1903. Some parts, including the cylinder and other castings were designed by the boys themselves; whilst others including the piston, connecting rod and crankshaft were salvaged from a disused gas engine.
The result was a 2 litre single cylinder engine that was reliable, quiet, smooth, and economical to run. It was used for many years to pump water from a 100ft well at Sir Harry’s parents’ country home in Graffham, West Sussex.
The engine has since been presented with the Engineering Heritage Award by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and until recently has been a static display in the foyer of the Ricardo Shoreham site.
This project aims to restore the engine into motion again and provide a moving display for visitors. Throughout the year the engine will be dismantled and refurbished so that it can be belt driven by an electric motor at low speed. The display will be operational via a trigger button allowing visibility as it rotates at a low speed.