For a good number of years I have built working steam engines and electric engines of 5” and 7¼” gauge plus many other projects.
However, it has been a long idea of mine to build a replica of the first engine I sailed with deep sea. This was the Doxford Opposed Piston oil engine. My first ship deep sea was the MV Hartismere owned by J&C Harrisons of London. I joined on 12 January 1954 in Liverpool and the trip lasted 22 months and 20 days. I was a deck cadet on £7.10s a month. I obtained my Master’s certificate when I was 26, but came from an engineering family, hence the interest.
Doxfords go back to 1840 and from 1900 they developed many internal combustion engines. The first experimental opposed engine was designed in 1913 and had a bore of 500mm and a combined stroke of 1500mm. The engine was a single cylinder developing 336kw at 130rpm. Much progress was made over the years and in 1935; a Doxford ‘economy’ was developed, being a 3 cylinder engine. This engine would power a 9500 DWT ship at 10.5 knots (good weather) on approximately 7 tons of fuel a day.
The engine on the Hartismere was of a similar type, but 4 cyl. Many were built up to 6 cylinders and at one time, Doxfords powered nearly 50% of the Merchant Navy. The Dominion Monarch had 5 cyl engines (built in 1939) and was rated as the highest powered motor ship in the Merchant Navy at the time. There is a working replica in the Science Museum in London. I visited the museum a good few years ago and this started my correspondence with Doxfords in Sunderland.
My engine is 2 cylinders only (4 pistons) and is purely to show the working replica motion. I have not included cooling hoses and many other items. I had no drawings, only illustrations from books and my own memory. It is driven by a small geared down motor (turning gear), but also can be turned by hand. I will be giving talks to a few interested parties and taking the engine as a working exhibit.
P H LEWIS
“Cyrene”, Loddon Road
Norton, Norwich, Norfolk, NR14 6RT