An undoubted highlight of the day was the re-launch of one of the most spectacular engines in our collection, the very rare 1921 Vickers Petter engine. It was re-started following 2 years of repair works, necessary after it developed a major fault in 2014. It has always been a particular favourite with visitors since it requires blowlamps to heat up the cylinder heads before it can be started, and there was spontaneous applause when it was back in action.
The engine developed a lubrication problem which resulted in damage to the main bearings and one of the big end bearings which all needed recoating with white metal. After the engine was dismantled to discover the full extent of the damage, and funding secured, the bearings were sent away to STM Engineering to be machined, remetaled, peaned and machined back to size, complete with oil ways. During the works to rebuild the engine, by the Museum ‘Tuesday gang’ volunteers, all gaskets have been hand-made (20 O-ring & main copper per cylinder). A new oil pump has been installed and the cooling water rerouted. New blowlamps were needed and these were recast with a purpose made pattern by East Coast Casting. The fuel injectors needed to be sent away to be re-machined by Colchester Fuel Injection Ltd, at a generous discounted cost.
When the Vickers Petter was being put back together and trialled, water leaked from the seals on the cylinder heads. Two cylinder head gaskets had to be specially made by East Anglian Sealing Company Ltd to solve the problem. After a few teething problems, which have been resolved, the engine now runs better than it has done for many years.
We are very grateful to the Association for Industrial Archaeology for their grant, for donations from local companies and individuals, and for the many hours put in by our volunteers, which have made this restoration possible.
We are very grateful to people who attended the OuseFest Family Day and joined in the celebrations of the restarting of the Vickers Petter after two years restoration works. It was great to see so many people enjoying themselves, particularly the young, who will be the lifeblood of the Museum in the future.
John Jones, treasurer of AIA, Association for Industrial Archaeology, one of the major supporters of the project
This is a superb restoration of a historic engine and it is great that we have been able to assist the Museum in giving the engine another life.
Bob Lucas, volunteer engineer at the Museum
It was so rewarding to see the Vickers Petter back in action after all the hard work. The spontaneous applause from the visitors when it was started up made it all worthwhile.
Oscar Thomson, aged 10, a regular visitor
It was awesome – watching the flames start up the engine again was amazing!