Oddball Stuart Turner engine

Posted by Chris Graham on 10th March 2020

Stephen Williams has his interest peaked by an oddball Stuart Turner engine he spotted on social media recently

Can anyone help with information on this oddball Stuart Turner engine?

While checking the Stuart Turner Ltd Instagram page the other day – you can find engines on all forms of social media now! – I came across an interesting couple of photos of the Shackleton Expedition. What’s more, lo and behold, there was a picture of an odd-looking Stuart Turner single-cylinder generating set there, too.

Was this an example of the often-quoted engines used on the Shackleton Expedition? I needed to know more! I’ve been provided with a ‘Thank you’ letter from Capt. Frank Hurley, to Stuart Turner, singing the praises of the Stuart Turner set.

The engine drove a 0.5kw generator which charged a 200A/h battery; this was used to provide flood-lighting during the Antarctic nights, and for the scientific experiments being conducted. The flood-lighting raised morale or, as Capt. Hurley put it: “Provided an inestimable boon”, during the 10 months the Endurance was trapped in ice before being crushed.

He praised Stuart Turner for the set’s reliability, economy and lack of attention required, commenting that the engine ran right up until the Endurance was crushed and that the room it was in flooded with water; the lights continued to operate from the batteries, even though they were submerged under six feet of water.

The photograph seen here shows a small, single-cylinder engine, which has a passing resemblance to half a Stuart Turner flat-twin, which is a side-valve, four-stroke. Looking at this little Stuart set, it would seem the carburettor intake is attached to the crankcase, so I’m inclined to think it’s a two-stroke.

There’s no firm evidence that this is an example of the engine used on the Shackleton Endurance Expeditions; it could also be a concept engine produced for a War Department contract, that was later filled by the flat-twin engines.

Would one of the early, two-port, water-cooled two-stroke engines have survived the cold? Sadly, there is no one around at the Stuart Turner factory to confirm any of my speculations, so this will remain a Stuart Turner mystery, for the time being.

The engine is housed in the Stuart Turner Factory Museum in Henley-on-Thames, but I’ve been unable to get more information about it. I would be interested to hear if anyone has visited the museum, and been able to get a closer look at the engine to gauge its construction.


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