No. 42693, Tandem Roller "Stumbles," 1925
It was the acquisition of a Tandem Roller that led to the creation of the Robey Trust in 1983. Damaged and corroded after 20 years in a playground, the roller was donated by Tavistock Town Council to The Robey Trust, formed to restore it to original condition and full working order, a task that took 11 years.
No. 45655, Tri-Tandem Roller, 1930
Cylinder (hp) 4 ¼" dia. (lp) 7 ¼" dia. x 7" stroke. Boiler pressure 250 lbs.sq.in
Wirksworth Quarries bought 3 Tandems new: 43755/1929 (now scrapped), 44083/1930 (in Kent) and our 45655/1930, and had them converted into Tri-Tandems by Goodes of Royston using parts supplied by Robeys. 45655 is known to have rolled the Hertfordshire section of the M1 - Britain's first motorway - and various by-passes and trunk roads
In 1965/6 Walter Lisle, an employee of Wirksworth Quarries, bought 45655 (and 44073 for spares) on his retirement. He took 45655 to rallies from the later 1960's on; it was based in a yard in Great Wymondley. Due to ill health, Walter sold it in 1978 (for about £100) to John Mayes of Luton. After him, a dealer, then to John Woodley of Ipplepen. When John wished to sell, it was offered to the Trust [which couldn't afford it], so a share issue was launched in 1992 so that the Trust could secure the engine. The Tri Tandem Partnership was established, raised the purchase price, and 45655 was delivered to Tavistock on 4th April 1993.
No. 32387, Ten ton 3-Point Roller, 1913
Purchased by J. Stevens & Son, Contractors, and used all its life in Pembroke, South Wales.
Fitted with a scarifier for ripping up the road surface.
Considering the extent of the repairs to the rear rolls, the roller had a hard life.
Reputedly acquired by a farmer in Pembroke, who stored it in his yard. It was then sold on to a ship's captain who lived locally, but because of his infrequent homecomings, decided to sell it into the Trust collection. Tuesday 16th August 1994: collected from Pembroke and taken to Dingles for temporary storage till The Robey Trust works was finished.
This is a privately-owned engine.
No. 40991, 10-ton Tractor/Road Roller,
Compound cylinder, 5" dia. & 8¼" dia. x 9" stroke. Working pressure, 200 psi.
The two speeds are quoted as 2 and 3½ mph, but the engine is evidently quicker than that.
Built as a steam roller, owned by Lisburn UDC, Northern Ireland, till 1935. Sold to James Warke Ltd., Contractor, Co. Derry, till after 1948. Then to Ingram Wallace in Co. Antrim in 1952. Laid up, and became derelict in a quarry in the 1960's, but rebuilt by them as a tractor in 1972.
1985, bought by Freddie Frost, Scotland, and registered as DS7819. 1988, bought by Robin Munday, then in 1997 to Martin Hunt. Bought by Brian Sismey, who continued ongoing restoration work including fitting a set of rubber strakes. After Brians untimely death, 40991 was left in the care of the Trust and purchased by Norman Emmett and John Turner, 2006
Restoration. 40991 was extensively rallied by Brian, so it arrived here, somewhat worn in places but in full working order. Ongoing maintenance, including a full overhaul of the valve gear, has continued
No. 42522, 6-ton Steam Wagon, 1924
Purchased from Alan Rundle in 2013. One of only 266 Robey wagons built.
Originally built as a six wheel articulated tanker wagon the engine and boiler were later used in a Robey tandem roller. However the numbered chassis remained and it was back converted as a 6-ton wagon.
A superb addition to the collection of a rare vehicle type.
This is a privately-owned engine.
No. 31821, Five-ton Steam Tractor, 1913
One of a number of assorted engine makes and types exported to the Sena Sugar Estates in Mozambique. Unlike in the UK, it was fitted up for direct ploughing. Its working life over (by the 1950's) it was left to decay, and corrosion was extensive. It was extensively robbed of all brass fittings.
Along with many other steam engines (including 24 railway locos) was repatriated to the UK in 2000. Purchased from dealer by an enthusiast in Durham where it was dismantled. Purchased thus for the Robey Trust collection in Feb 2002.
No. 33429, 8nhp GP Traction Engine, 1914
In June 2011, a rare relic was offered for sale, that of an 8nhp Robey compound traction engine. It had lain abandoned for many years and the owner had struggled with the idea of restoration, but had come to the conclusion that it was never a realistic probability in view of the amount of work needed along with a host of other projects. Rather than placing it on the open market, the owner took the view that first refusal should be offered to The Robey Trust as a safe pair of hands for this grand project.
Very little is known of its history; the description given in the Robey paperwork is: "... 8nhp compound GP traction engine". The dealership in Australia which handled the order was Arthur Leplastrier and Co. of Circular Quay, Sydney who dealt with Robey and a range of other British machinery manufacturers of the time. Although it is recorded as a "general purpose" traction engine, the classification of Robey engines sent to Australia and New Zealand at that time has been subject to much discussion.
On the under-side of the boiler is a bracket for a belly-tank, a feature commonly found on a road locomotive, although one can imagine that in a vast country such as Australia, there may be fewer opportunities for water-stops and a facility for extra water-storage would be an advantage for any type of road steam vehicle.
The Robey literature informs us that an 8nhp traction engine had rear-wheels with a diameter of 6 foot 6 inches while that of a road locomotive was 7 foot; the larger diameter wheels obviously having an advantage in terms of speed. The engineering drawings show other features on 8nhp traction engines including a solid flywheel and sprung front and rear axles.
Much restoration work has been carried out on various components to date and with the arrival of the repaired boiler (Mar 16) rebuild can commence in earnest.
This is a privately-owned engine.
No. 49116, Single Cylinder Undertype, 1940
Offered for sale by Cheffins on 14th May 2016 in the dispersal sale of the late John Keeley, who was a collector of all things mechanical. This very rare example of an undertype portable is thought to be the only one of its type in the country. Being built in 1940, it is a very late engine and was supplied new to Hesleyside Hall, a large private country estate in Northumberland. It ran a small sawmill on the estate for 15 years or so and was kept in immaculate condition.
Dr John Middlemiss of Bellingham, who was the physician for the estate, notified the well-known preservationist Jack Wakefield of Hetton le Hole, Co. Durham of its availability. It was removed by him in 1960. After a period of time at the now defunct Penrith Steam Museum, it was bought by John Keeley of Knowle, Berkshire in 1994 for £2,800. The last boiler test is dated 1995.
It arrived on a rainy day on 21st May 2016. On examination the engine does not turn over but is complete and original and has not been subject to any restoration work. It is an addition to the Trust's growing collection that will, after a thorough boiler inspection and hydraulic test, be returned to steam.
This is a privately-owned engine.
No. 19xxx, Twin Cylinder Undertype, c.1900
Robey Undertype, installed at Mashfords Boatyard, Cremyll, in South East Cornwall around 1900. The engine provided all the electrical power used in the yard and in addition drove many woodworking machines by a system of shafts and belts. The boiler also provided steam for two two-hundred ton slipway winches.
The engine operated until 1926 when mains electricity reached Cremyll. The engine was then put out of use and various components were removed for scrap.
The engine is the only one of its model surviving in the United Kingdom, and was given to the Trust by Mashfords Ltd., the current owners of the shipyard. The engine was removed and brought to Tavistock for restoration - a removal process that took five months, being completed in July 2010.
The restoration is now underway which entails cleaning, painting and having new parts cast which we will machine to replace missing items.
The restoration work has been made possible by the generous award of a grant from the Association for Industrial Archaeology that, together with match funding, has enabled the Trust to commission the casting of many components which had been removed from the engine. A flywheel was donated to the Trust by a private enthusiast which was gratefully received. The restoration is progressing steadily.
No. 12787, Class A, 1892
Supplied new to Pearson's Pottery, Chesterfield, in 1892, this engine was rescued from the derelict remains of the pottery in 1972 by a local haulier. Due to ill health etc he sold his business and this engine was purchased by Dave Davies.
This 16nhp engine weighs 5 tons and has an 8ft diameter flywheel. Its maximum speed is 88 rpm.
No. 18921, Class B, 1899
One of three (No's 18921, 18922 and 20039) purchased by Truemans Black Eagle Brewery, Brick Lane Stepney, to drive hoists which lifted beers kegs from the cellars to the loading dock. 20039 was donated by the brewery to Kew Bridge Museum in 1975 and restored in 1987 where it is to be seen, often in working order under steam.
18921, the last of the three to remain in use (also for raising casks) was taken out of use in 1970, mounted on a purpose built substantial steel table and placed on display in the foyer at the brewery. On closure of the Brick Lane site, 18921 'disappeared': it was thought to be still in existence, but no-one knew where. Eventually, after many years of persistent research, it was found, with the help of Richard Albanese, of Kew Bridge: it had been donated to the Ragged School Museum, Copperfield Road, where it lay in store, in pieces, for many years.
It was collected by the Trust, and on 7 Aug 2005, brought to Tavistock.
No. 50571, Class C, 1935
Cyl 5¾'' dia x 8" stroke.
Supplied to an Oxford University college, together with vertical boiler 50572.
Purchased by a collector in Oxford (presumably direct from the college). He also took the condenser, (the pump for which is still attached to the bedframe and driven by a crankshaft eccentric), decided he didn't want to keep it, and as it was full of copper condensing tubes, weighed it in at a scrapyard to realise the value of the copper. This engine was the second Robey engine acquired by the Trust, and our first stationary engine. As soon as we acquired it, a letter to the college enquiring about the boiler elicited the reply that it was still in use. However, a few years later we acquired that, too, and so engine and boiler were re-united.
No. 38315, Class D, c.1919
This 99% complete engine was purchased from a farmer in Honiton who had owned it for approximately 20 years. He had bought it with the aim of restoring it but had never got round to it. This particular example is an 8nhp engine with a flywheel of 5 1/2 ft diameter and, weighing in at 2.5 tons, is the smallest of the Class D range. It will undergo restoration in the near future.
24462 Class E Drop Valve Single Cylinder Fixed Engine 1904
Purchased in 1905 by 'The Three Countries Asylum' in Stotfold near Hitchin, Hertfordshire and installed in the laundry. When inspected prior to removal in 1985 the three-throw pump was still in existence and the remains of line-shafting through the wall was evidence of further machinery that the engine drove.
This was the second engine acquired by the Trust. Advertised in SERG Bulletin, Summer 1984, Dave Davies and Nigel Bowman visited the Asylum 7-9 May, 1985 to dismantle it. Arrived at Launceston Steam Railway, June 1985.
Restoration of the large components was done at the Launceston Steam Railway, the liftable items at Marjons.
(number unknown) 6 or 7 HP Portable, Single Cylinder c.1875
This is the oldest Robey portable known to exist in the UK. Acquired in 1996 from a farm near Leicestershire, it had lain derelict for about 50 years. The wrought iron boiler has been repaired, a new front fore carriage made and new wooden cartwheels have been made by a wheelwright. The motion is currently being repaired and rebuilt by Simon Williams.
3331 Thrashing Machine c1880
This is the oldest Robey thrashing machine to survive, by far, yet discovered anywhere.
Purchased from Aberdeen, unseen (too far to go!). Chap phoned up, "Would you like a Robey Thrasher?". Arranged transport as a return load; delivered to Dingles as our Works had at the time, not yet been built.
Generally, in fair condition but new wheels have had to be made by Gavin Graham who started in late 2004 and delivered them in 2008. Restoration proper has to wait till we find a competent woodworker to make a start on the top boards. Otherwise, it needs a good clean, rub down, varnish, etc.
(number unknown) Donkey Pump c1900
A standard Mumford boiler feed pump. The steam cylinder is above, driving the water pump plunger below. A double curved connecting rod, called a banjo, connects the flywheel and crank to the crosshead.
This pump is an interesting example of standardisation: Mumfords made so many of these that it wasn't economically worthwhile for other engine builders to make their own.
After making their own boiler feed pumps, to what became a fairly standardised design, Robeys ceased manufacture and bought in Mumford pumps instead.
Flywheel 17½ dia x 2½ wide, heavily weighted one side
Probably supplied with the Robey Undertype, at Mashfords Boatyard, Cremyll, about 1900.
Kindly donated to the trust by Mashfords. Restored at Marjons. Painted in Robey maroon
32243 Double-Diagonal Textile Mill Engine 1913
A 9" x 14" Double-crank Diagonal supplied in 1913 to Calico Printers. The cylinders are at ground level, pointing up at 45-degrees to a common crank about 6ft from the ground, driving the rolls. The engine is about 9ft wide and 9ft high and, with rolls 14ft long and the weight 8-10 tons.
37035 3.5'' x 3'' SCOF Vertical High-Speed Engine 1918
A small, inverted-vertical, single-cylinder, single-acting high-speed engine, originally mounted on a cast-iron baseplate integral with a dynamo which was coupled directly to the end of the crankshaft at the flywheel.
We have no idea from where it originated, and as whatever it drove didn't make it into preservation, we have no idea what it was used for.
We had a phone call out of the blue from a gentleman in Surrey who had a small steam engine in pieces, but as he was to move house, he couldn't see that he would ever get around to restoring it so he was looking for someone to give it to. The engine was collected by Robin Luff. It arrived in cardboard boxes and biscuit tins, looking the worse for wear, with parts quite rusted, so much so that there was no original paint left. The baseplate and dynamo did not come with the engine.
Member Simon Williams took on the restoration.
37530 5.5" x 5" Open Crank Vertical Engine 1919
Purchased new by the Rickmansworth and Uxbridge Valley Water Company, but it is not known what it was used for.
The engine was removed by collectors from the water works but the bedplate and whatever it drove were left.
The engine was given to a Mr D. in Buckinghamshire in thanks for his assistance in removing a number of other engines. It was stored in an outhouse on a farm 'til Aug. 2004 when it was purchased, bought to the Robey Trust works and restored.
Restoration. The engine has been totally restored from derelict condition. The piston valve was completely rusted into its bore, and a new one has been made for the rebored cylinder.
37679 3.5" x 3" SCOF Vertical High-Speed Engine 1918
With Lancashire Dynamo & Motor Co. Ltd. Manchester.
Dynamo. Size 4. No.4000. 1918. 2.5kW. 100V. 25A. 700 revs.
41200 Class AP 4.5'' Single Cylinder Vertical Engine 1922
Cylinder, 4½ x 7". Stroke 36" x 5". Length over crank, 40". Width 36". Height 52"
Purchased by Oxford University and fitted with some interesting experimental equipment for use in research and teaching in a heat engines laboratory. Subsequent history is unknown
Purchased from Robert Jameson (of the steam plough club), Billingshurst
41560 9'' x 7'' Enclosed High Speed Vertical Engine 1923
Made in 8 sizes from 4½ x 3 (2 bhp @ 500 rpm and 50 lbs pressure to 7½ bhp @ 800 rpm and 100 lbs) to 12½ x 9 (27 bhp @ 250 rpm and 50 lbs pressure to 93 bhp @ 375 rpm and 100 lbs).
Of fairly robust construction. All working parts enclosed, except for a portion of the piston rod. Pumped lubrication system fitted with a pressure gauge. Supplementary mechanical lubricator.
Cyl 9"dia. x 7" stroke. 2'6" dia. disc flywheel. Size 5th out of 8. This engine can develop 13 bhp @ 300 rpm and 50 lbs.sq.in. steam pressure up to 48 bhp @ 500 rpm and 100 lbs. pressure. Weight 30 cwt. (3360 lbs) or 1½ tons.
Purchased from an engineering firm in Southampton, who had acquired it in pieces . The piston valve was found to be missing.
42759 4.5'' x 4'' SCOF Vertical Engine 1926
Generator by Telford Grier Mackay & Co Ltd. Engineers, Electricians. Glasgow. No WS3925
100 volts. 32 amps. 3.5 kw.
Obtained from a collector in South Wales 2007. Evidently, the engine has been dismantled previously, as one or two components are not original, and the paint scheme was certainly not Robeys.
Has been totally dismantled, appropriate castings shotblasted, repainted. The armature has been professionally rewound.
This engine is privately owned.
43525 3.5'' x 4.5'' x 3'' open frame Vertical Tandem Compound 1927
In stationary engine terms, compounding (ie. using the steam twice, in two cylinders successively) was arranged either as a cross-compound (cylinders side-by-side) or as tandem compounds (cylinders in line sharing a common piston rod, connecting rod and crank) By placing these vertically, such engines took up little ground space, yet the operator would benefit from greater power and economy of steam a compound would give, especially where operating conditions favoured the type, ie running at or near full load for lengthy periods of time.
Although the Robey Trust holds copies of over half the publications that Robeys produced, especially catalogues of their products, the tandem compound vertical engine is not mentioned in any we have.
Generator made by Cutting Bros Ltd. No. 25980 210volts 28amps 600rpm
After removal from the Rickmansworth & Uxbridge Water Co Waterworks the engine changed hands on a number of occasions, eventually reaching a dealer in Kent. Purchased for the Trust in 2007.
Restoration. As the original paintwork has survived in relatively good condition, complete with lining-out, it has been decided to leave it all in as near original working condition as possible.
51097 Enclosed Vertical Engine 1945
Supplied with an Aveling vertical boiler this small engine awaits its turn to be restored to display condition.
52309 Single Cylinder Oil Engine 1951
Bought by Southall Technical College heat engines laboratory. It was supplied with a rope drum attached to the flywheel and the remnants of some associated test equipment survived.
Flywheel: dia 5'6" x 5'' wide. Fitted with a friction rope drum so that experiments on power output could be made. Weight: 42 cwt.
When no longer part of the curriculum, the College dismantled the engine and sheeted the parts over in an outside yard. They contacted Kew Bridge museum who, as it wasn't really their thing, offered it to us. Alan Jones and Dave Davies collected it on 8 Sept 1986.
54192 Enclosed Vertical Engine 19xx
Acquired in 2016 in fully restored condition.
In its working life it was used at Queen Mary college in conjunction with a waterbrake, presumably for thermodynamics experiments. The waterbrake was separated from the engine some years ago.
Robey Stone Crusher c1910
50572 Watertube 'Vebac' type Vertical Boiler 1935
Height 7' x 2'6" dia, sloping tubes, 17 @ 2 ¼ " dia. Working pressure 100 lbs sq in.
Purchased by Oxford Technical College. Boiler 50572 supplied steam to Class C engine 50571. The engine was sold to a collector but the College retained the boiler for other purposes. The College was informed of our interest, and in October 1994 we were advised that it was no longer required.
Collected by Eddie Heywood in 1995 and reunited with Class C engine 50571.
As we have another boiler of this type (No. 52442) it was decided to restore this one as an educational exhibit. Thus, it was shotblasted inside and out and painted, so that the interior construction of this type of boiler can be studied.
The outer shell has been repainted as original, ie. in a sort of 1950's college green!
52442 Vertical Boiler 1954
Same type as 50572, this boiler was acquired from Liverpool many years ago. Unlike 50572, it is intended to return this boiler to steamable condition to supply stationary engines within the works.
57193 Portable Loco Boiler 1955
Used originally as a portable steam raising plant, this item has been cosmetically restored and is outside the works as an external exhibit.
(number unknown) Steel-Framed Trailer
A derelict item pretty well beyond restoration, it has been used as a pattern to produce another from scratch. Originally such a trailer would have been towed by a steam tractor such as 31821.
(number unknown) Living Van 1913
Found on a farm at Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, near Grantham. Placed next to a Fowler living van, the two were nailed together and 'doorways' cut through the sides for family accommodation, probably during the 1940's.
17th September 1993: advert in OG. Collected by Eddie Heywoods Hiab-equipped Leyland truck on Saturday 2 October 1993
Because of the extent of the deterioration, restoration will be extensive. However, despite appearances, quite a few parts will be saved, rather than replaced.
40513 Compressor 1922
Vertical, single cylinder (8'' x 5''), water cooled.
Used by Messrs. Triggs Monumental Masons at Newton Abbot. Was found on a farm stored in a barn near Bovey Tracey. By 1988 it was stored at Powdermill Forge. Came into the ownership of Dartmoor National Park. By then, the electric motor which drove it had been removed, as was the original switchgear. The water in the jacket surrounding the cylinder had frozen and cracked the outer shell.
Acquired by the Trust, Summer 1998. Originally painted in light green with traces of yellow lining.
Frost damage to the water jacket has been repaired and the compressor has been generally overhauled. Crankpin was seized, crank was precision ground and bearings remachined. A new motor has been provided and suitable period switchgear added.
Fowler/Crompton Parkinson Diesel-Alternator set 1944
Nothing is known of its early life but it was latterly located at Forges Cross Nursery, near Newton Abbot, as a back-up supply. It was acquired in a 'frosted' condition (cracked block) when the site was cleared for re-development and has subsequently been restored to running order. The engine is a Fowler 4-cyl diesel and the alternator is a Crompton Parkinson 3ph, 400V, 27 kVA, separately-excited machine. The switchgear is also manufactured by Crompton Parkinson.
Gardner Diesel/Holman Compressor Unit
Matbro C60 2.7 ton Counterbalance Forklift