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  1. I recently attended a lecture by a friend who’s been researching the Ricardo-designed petrol engines used in British WW1 tanks. They’re fascinating things in their own right, but I’m particularly interested as they were built, amongst other places, at the Mirrlees Bickerton & Day factory in Stockport where I used to work. It seems they had at least one tank as a test vehicle that used to roam the surrounding fields that later became a golf course. Some friends of mine would like to acquire a complete Ricardo tank engine and one of them has written a summary of the five engine types to help locate and identify possible candidates. He’s agreed that I can reproduce it here in case anyone has a surplus engine lying around. Unlikely, I know, but unless you ask, you’ll never know.... It is known that in addition to those used in tanks many were used throughout the 1920s for various applications including generating sets, power for various agricultural implements (e.g. Fowler Gyrotiller) and for light locomotives. Peter Brotherhood listed the Ricardo engine ranges for sale as part of its product range in the immediate post war period and also produced around 300 tractors using the 150 BHP engine which were mainly sold for use in Australia and New Zealand. The knowledge base concerning these engines is gradually increasing as more information comes to light from various sources. One key difficulty is that unlike the first Ricardo design rated at 150 BHP, later designs appear to be devoid of much in the way of manufacturer identity. The first design had the makers name, e.g. “Mirrlees Bickerton & Day” or “Brotherhood” clearly cast into the sides of the bedplate. We don’t know how many names actually appeared, as some of the smaller makers may have received ready finished bits to assemble. This means that describing the engine range is difficult when trying to locate other remaining examples around the world. The five designs in the range can be described as follows and are illustrated by the five photos below in the same order: 1) 150 BHP 6 cylinder ‘heavy’ engine This was by far the most common engine in the series with cast iron major components and most if not all have the manufacturer’s name cast into the bedplate which is visible in the side view of the engine 2) 100 BHP 4 cylinder engine This derivative of the original design was not produced in huge numbers before the war ended. The example shown below was installed into an agricultural unit by Fowlers of Leeds and is now on display at the Leeds Industrial museum in Armley. 3) 300 BHP V12 engine This engine was produced as a means of extracting twice the power for later tank designs fitted with armour plating and like the 4 cylinder was not produced in large numbers before the war ended. 4) 225 BHP 6 cylinder engine This engine was a development of the original 150 BHP with quite a lot of design changes and was produced in reasonable numbers towards the end of WWI. We believe this engine may have TS4 included in the number stamped on the side of the engine but no clues on the manufacturer. There is a beautifully restored example of this type built as a generating set in an Auckland museum, see photo. below. 5) 150 BHP 6 cylinder ‘light’ engine This variant was a lighter version of the 150 BHP design using aluminium major components but retaining many running parts of the original design. The photograph shown below was only recently discovered showing the aluminium light 6 cylinder on a test bed at the Mirrlees works in early 1919.
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