Very rare JF Coates stationary engine saved!

Posted by Chris Graham on 17th January 2023

Luke Coates recounts the rescue and subsequent shipping from Australia of a very rare JF Coates stationary engine.

JF Coates stationary engine

Luke Coates standing with the rescued JF Coates stationary engine, which gives some indication of its size.

On October 10th, 2021, I was doing my usual scout arounds on the Facebook engine groups when I came across a post by an Australian collector, Frank De Groot, on the Stationary Engine Collectors’ page. Frank, who was from Mount Isa, in Queensland, had taken a trip to a scrapyard where he saved four engines that were just about to be cut-up for scrap. There, sitting among the pile, was the JF Coates engine.

JF Coates stationary engine

The damaged crate, as it arrived from Australia.

He stated in his post that he wanted to find them new homes, so I messaged him instantly asking for more photographs and enquiring whether or not he would be interested in shipping it to the UK? Luckily, he was. Neither of us had previous experience of shipping engines so, after a couple of months spent exchanging messages, we finally got a plan in place.

JF Coates stationary engine

Our first sighting of the engine. Note the collapsed floor.

The first job was to sort the vessel that would bring the engine to the UK, although the most complicated issue was getting it transported to Brisbane. However, after searching some Facebook groups, a company was found that would be able to move it down south for us.

JF Coates stationary engine

Front view of the engine.

What with numerous vessel delays and complications – which saw the engine going to the wrong UK port – it was finally delivered to our house on August 26th. The crate containing it arrived on two pallets, but it had gone through the top pallet and damaged the box, and was standing at an angle and resting on the flywheel, which was the only thing preventing it from tipping over.

JF Coates stationary engine

Pulley-side view of the engine.

The next challenge was to get it off the pallets and on to the floor. So after a lot of wood-sawing and some dodgy use of an engine crane, we eventually had it sitting securely on the ground – it had finally landed!

JF Coates stationary engine

The crankcase breather cover.

The first thing to do was to evaluate what we needed, and to think about sourcing parts as, sadly, the fuel pump, water pump, oiling system and blow-lamp bracket had been broken off at some point before it was rescued from the scrapyard.

A very nicely cast flywheel with ‘JF Coates & Co, Manchester’ and ‘Coates Semi-diesel’ in raised letters.

With no other surviving JF Coates engines known to exist, the only reference I had was a picture found on Grace’s Guide of a different model, but it gave us an idea about what it once looked like. No doubt the on-going renovation work will involve adapting parts to fit.

Father, Jamie, with the engine. He was somewhat exhausted after we’d finished the un-crating.

If anyone has information, photographs, drawings etc, I would very much like to hear from you, via the Stationary Engine magazine editor.

This was found in Grace’s Guide; it’s the only image of a Coates engine that I’ve been able to find.


This advertisement was kindly supplied by Geoff Challinor, of the Anson Engine Museum.

This items comes from the latest issue of Stationary Engine, and you can get a money-saving subscription to this magazine, simply by clicking HERE


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